Tag Archives: Chocolate

Hamtramck: How Sweet !

25 Mar

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Have you heard there’s a new French pastry shop in Hamtramck ? What about the new reclaimed woodworking store or vegan restaurant ? Let’s go check ’em out. le detroit macaron resides on Evaline in a narrow brick building formerly occupied by bon bon bon. The black and white striped awning is new, the sandwich board on the sidewalk signals us the shop is open. I step inside to the pastel-colored world of macarons. The shop is adorable; turquoise paint, black and white tiled floor, tin ceiling and a glass chandelier. The main attraction is the display case filled with the authentic French pastry known as the macaron; made in the traditional method, these little bundles of meringue have a firm outer shell and soft insides–they are extraordinary. The shop makes 10 signature flavors and a couple of seasonal options. I order a cup of coffee as Kris and I mull over our choices, this is not an easy task! We choose chocolate malt, fruity pebbles and Bailey’s, they are absolutely delicious, the texture is perfect, chewy but not gooey; the chocolate malt is my favorite.

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Woodward Throwbacks inhabits the old Garrity Dodge building (circa 1939) on Joseph Campau. Detroit residents Bo Shepherd and Kyle Dubay  learned that abandoned buildings are full of usable materials and relics. Through their salvage efforts they have filled this building with reclaimed wood, materials and vintage finds that have been repurposed into attractive, useful items. In the showroom I find really cool pieces like the tool box end table, a coffee table made from a slice of tree trunk, vintage mid-century chairs, wood bottle openers, signs and Michigan-shaped magnets. Wire bins and metal drawers hold hinges, knobs, hairpin legs, hooks and hardware to build your own piece. A fun mural covers one wall; artwork pays homage to Detroit, Hamtramck, Dodge and Garrity, a 1954 green Dodge truck is parked by the large front windows, reminding us of the buildings days as a Dodge dealership. 

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Through an open doorway we find a bounty of reclaimed wood, antiques and great finds. Canning jars, tin signs, table bases and doors compete with tin ceiling tiles, tin molding, manufacturing molds, coolers and church pews for our attention. Reclaimed lumber leans against the far wall, tree trunks have been cut into lengthwise slices, I like the live edge. The scoreboard and locker room benches came from Mae C Jemission Academy in Detroit.

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Around the corner are more remnants of the old dealership, the 5-star Chrysler Dealer sign was probably from the Deeby Dodge years. Curiosity leads Kris to a ramp leading to the second floor, what a cool feature, walking the ramp you really get a feel of the age of the structure. This level is home to the workshop part of the business, an old Powermatic planer shares floor space with a ban saw, work tables, and handmade goods-in-progress. The original paint booth is still being used in some capacity. The whole place is a fun, tasteful, thoughtful mix of old and new. There’s something different each time we come.

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Out on the sidewalk, I hear something, I stop to listen and realize it’s chocolate and it’s calling my name… bon bon bon relocated their shop from Evaline to a much larger space on Joseph Campau at Caniff; their manufactory. The signature orange and pink bon bon bon covers the front door and back wall.  Inside the ‘babes’ are hard at work making chocolates using classic French technique. Behind the glass wall a chocolate fountain flows, blending 7 different chocolates to create bon’s secret recipe.  I watch as chocolates are being made and packed. When you’re here you have to get the ‘Hot Mess’; a chocolate shell filled with warm liquid chocolate, we always get dark chocolate. This one has to go right in your mouth, the whole thing at once, let it sit there, close your eyes, revel in the warm chocolatey goodness, yum. You can’t get just one so Kris chooses the End of the Rainbow, Harp lager caramel, 4-leaf clover ganache in a dark shell. I pick the Irish Car Bon, stout chocolate cake and Bailey’s ganache in a dark shell, it’s so good!

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Over on Yemans the folks who operate the Nosh Pit Detroit food truck have opened a restaurant, after all of our treats a nice, healthy meal is in order. The low brick building sits across the street from Polish Village, glass block front windows give no clue to the cozy interior that awaits diners. One large room holds several community tables, the one on the left is huge. The floor is made of wide wood planks, a star-shaped light and a couple of wrought iron fixtures light up the space, funky art decorates the walls. The dining room immediately feels welcoming, like I’m attending a big family dinner. We’re the first ones in the door when they open so we have our choice of seats, we’re instantly greeted, given menus and water. The Nosh Pit food truck has been roaming the streets of Detroit and the Metro area for almost two years, serving tasty vegetarian and vegan food to hungry patrons. We’re happy they’ve opened a brick and mortar space. We start with the Amanda, a layered salad of lentils, hummus, collards, pickled carrots, roasted red peppers and roasted beets, it looks pretty and tastes delicious! Next up is the Mac Un’Cheese, their house made vegan mac and cheese, the macaroni is cooked perfectly, the dish has a nice taste even though I was expecting something creamier. The Kaz is a house made veggie patty topped with Granny Smith apple slices vegan cheeze and  garlic aioli on a bun; very nice. The patty itself has a nice texture, not too mushy, and nice flavors. It comes with a side salad that was great too. From the moment we sat down Kris has been eyeing the desserts; cookies, cupcakes and brownies sit on pretty serving plates tempting customers. After much debate we decide to split the vegan brownie with sweet potato caramel; super moist and sweet, a nice ending to a nutritious, pleasurable meal.

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PLYMOUTH: Looking Back….

6 Apr

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I can’t remember a nicer March. We’ve had 9 days in the 50’s and 8 days above 60 degrees. All of these warmer-than-usual days inspire us to get in the car, enjoy a ride on a sunny day,do something different, take a day trip. About 35 miles northwest of downtown Detroit is the city of Plymouth; beautiful historic homes, parks and a vibrant downtown filled with independent restaurants and shops make it an attractive destination. Our first stop is the Plymouth Historical Museum on S. Main Street. I have to admit I really enjoy visiting local history museums, not only does it shed light on what makes the city unique, it also shows us what we have in common. I always end up saying something like: they made that here? Or, that’s where that comes from? I’m always learning something new.

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Inside the museum we pay the admission fee, climb the stairs to the second floor and find ourselves in a re-creation of Main Street, circa the late 19th century. The exhibit theme through June 12 is Downton Abbey. Items from the museums extensive collection of  historic clothing and artifacts are arranged to highlight the events of the popular television show comparing them to what was going on in the US at the time. Beautiful Victorian items fill parlors with bold-patterned wallpaper, heavy drapes and busy rugs. Shop windows are cluttered with clocks, carnival glass, knickknacks, plates and Birth Banks–popular at the time. There’s a general store and a dentist office, reproduction items from the Titanic. Queen Victoria (1819-1901) reigned Great Britain and Ireland for 63 years, a period now known as the Victorian Era, it was a time of industrial, cultural, political, scientific and military change.

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Off in a corner sits a permanent display from the office of the President of Daisy Manufacturing, a fireplace surrounded by dark wood paneling, a small table and seating area looks cozy; more on Daisy later… With the purchase of the Weldon Petz Abraham Lincoln collection, the Lincoln Room opened in 2002. Display cases hold artifacts from Lincoln’s youth, the books he read as a boy, rare family photographs, handwritten legal documents, artifacts from the assassination, even a lock of his hair. This is the largest Lincoln collection in the state of Michigan, it’s absolutely fascinating to see.

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The museum’s lower level is dedicated to the timeline of Plymouth from the native tribes to modern times. This is our favorite part. We wander into an exhibit featuring the Phoenix Plant, one of Henry Ford’s Village Industries. In this small-scale factory the all-female employees made generator cut-outs, voltage regulators, gauges and light switches for Ford vehicles. This was the first factory in the US to pay women the same rate as men. Be sure and watch the videos, the women’s stories are amazing! The factory was open from 1922-1948. Next door is the Daisy Air Rifle room, it’s super-cool. What a story–The Plymouth Iron Windmill Company ended up making the most popular air rifle in the country. They brought actual items from the old Plymouth factory to be used in the museum, including the original floor, bb’s and all–check it out. Did you know Daisy made the world’s first water pistol, the Squirt-O-Matic in 1913?

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The Made In Plymouth section is next. The Alter Company was in business from 1914-1917, this is the only Alter automobile still  known to exist. The 1916 edition sold for $685, they even have an original stock certificate. We meander up and down aisles, the projector and seats from the Penniman Allen Theatre look really old, we see a slice of life during WWII; what a kitchen looked like, a crazy machine used for giving women a permanent wave, personally I think I’d have stuck with straight hair… Dozens of portable adding machines from the Burroughs Company fill glass cases and shelves, an Evans bicycle hangs on the wall, typewriters and telephones were made here too.

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A sign, speaker, menu and trays from Daly brings back memories. The first Daly Drive-In opened in the summer of 1948, serving Dalyburgers, Dalydogs, banana splits and shakes, it was a favorite hang out for decades. One location remains on Plymouth Rd. in Livonia. Cloverdales soda fountain and Kemnitz Fine Candies are also represented. I’m getting hungry.The Plymouth Historical Museum, as it exists today, is due in great part to the generous donations of Miss Margaret Dunning. Margaret, a businesswoman and philanthropist, lived in the same house on Penniman Ave for over 90 years. She passed away in 2015 at the age of 104, her legacy lives on.

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We head downtown for lunch, Simply Fresh Mediterranean Grill looks inviting. The space is bright and airy with a white tin ceiling and walls. Menu items are made fresh from family recipes and traditions. We order at the counter, while we wait we notice black and white historical photographs; one group is Plymouth, the other a small town in Jerusalem the family came from. We are sitting in a cozy space in front of a sun filled window when the food arrives, one plate after another of tasty Mediterranean fare. We get our usual favorites: hummus, fatoosh, stuffed grape leaves, and a new dish to us, Chicken Kifta. Ground chicken mixed with onions, parsley and spices, grilled and served with pickles and a side of garlic sauce, the food is beyond delicious.

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We’re pretty full, but something sweet would be nice, Kris suggests chocolate; we know just where to go. Kemnitz Fine Candies has been making homemade candies and chocolates fresh daily since 1951. The little shop on Ann Arbor Trail has been a favorite for generations of Plymouth families, this is our first visit. Gold letters above a striped awning direct us inside the shop, it’s crazy busy, Easter is tomorrow. Everywhere I look I see bunnies made of milk, dark and white chocolate wear identifying numbers, bags of pastel foil-wrapped chocolate eggs, individual chocolates and jelly beans. Girls behind the counter wearing bunny-ear headbands wait on customer after customer, our turn. We each pick a couple of items, all we need now is coffee.

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At Espresso Elevado on Main St. you can get a fantastic cup of coffee, an espresso drink, loose-leaf tea or coffee beans roasted on-site; we’re here for the cold brew coffee. Bright yellow walls surround tables and chairs, a cooler with cold drinks, the counter crowded with organic and local pastries and chocolate from Mindo Chocolate Makers in Dexter. We wait in line and hope space opens at one of the tables, we’re in luck. I retrieve the bag of chocolates from Kemnitz, wow, incredibly good, is there anything better than coffee and chocolate?  I’ll have to think about that one…..