Tag Archives: visit detroit

EASTSIDE: Divine Dining

28 Jul

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As Detroiters we work hard and we play hard; beautiful summer days are something to celebrate. Today we are doing just that. It’s Thursday, a perfect July day; the sun is hot, the sky is blue, we are meeting friends for dinner at 8pm. With plenty of time before we have to be there, we take a spin along Lakeshore Drive through the Grosse Pointes; the sunlight sparkles off  turquoise water, boaters are out in numbers, we make a loop around the Lake St Clair shoreline, then duck into Grosse Pointe Park. There are a lot of changes taking place on this section of Kercheval; restaurants have opened, a bakery is in the works, and then of course, there’s the new Brewery: Atwater In The Park. That’s right, the good folks of Atwater Brewery have converted the former Grace Community Church on the corner of Lakepointe and Kercheval into a Biergarten and Tap Room. 

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We secure a parking space on Kercheval, two brick columns and a metal arch form the entrance to the Biergarten; the patio can seat up to 100, there’s a covered bar with limited seating and a table or two. We enter the tap-room/restaurant through the original church doors, the hostess stand is the former church’s pulpit, today we seat ourselves. Rounding the corner there’s a small dining area on the left with a fireplace, the main dining room is to the right, this is where mass was held. The sun is in a perfect position to illuminate the three stained glass windows at the front; this is also where the brewing process takes place. Original light fixtures hang from the wood-beamed ceiling, leaded glass makes up the side windows. We take a couple of seats at the large horseshoe-shaped bar, additional tables line both walls, church pews are re-purposed for seating. A clipboard holds menus, the selection is huge……they have 40 taps! I am trying the Shaman’s Porter, Kris, the Blueberry Cobbler Ale; patrons all around us are enjoying dinner and a beer. The bartender returns with our selections; Kris’s comes in a plain pint glass, I can smell the blueberry, mine comes in a fancy footed glass. First off, we take a sip of each other’s beer; Kris’s is delicious, like blueberry cobbler and beer——–in a good way! The Porter is dark and smooth, having been aged in a bourbon barrel. Not a bad way to start the evening. Off to our dinner reservation……

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 We drive through a traditional suburban neighborhood in Harper Woods, not far from Eastland Mall, turning on Old Homestead Dr we keep watch for the monastery. A white picket fence runs the length of the property, blue onion domes rise above surrounding rooftops, buildings have a distinct Russian flare. At the covered entryway we are greeted by a monk, following the red-colored concrete pathway, we find ourselves in one of the most charming settings around. St. Sabbas Orthodox Monastery began with the purchase of a single property in 1999, a lone house that now serves as the Monastery Library and Visiting Monastic Quarters. Later that year construction began on the Monastery church, which has been added on to in stages and still has several to go. Today the monastery is situated on roughly 6 acres which include the Monastery Kathlicon, library, Abbot’s quarters, trapeza and candle making shop. The Royal Eagle Restaurant also occupies the monastery grounds; built in the traditional Venetian Style to honor the memory and bequest of an Italian-American church patron, it serves traditional Eastern European Cuisine. Royal Eagle operates as a non-profit, all proceeds go directly toward the building and maintenance of the institution.

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Beautiful gardens surround the monastery, fountains and mosaic shrines are tucked into the greenery replicating the style of the ancient monasteries of Jerusalem, Russia and Poland. It’s beautiful everywhere I look; flowering shrubs, petunias, lilies, purple coneflower, marigolds and hostas are blooming in beds and urns, water trickles in the distance, you would never imagine this paradise exists in the midst of a neighborhood… We requested a table on the patio, we are shown to our seats and delighted to find we are sitting by the pond with a perfect view of the gazebo and bridge; there is definitely a sense of tranquility and serenity in the air. The four of us look over the menu, it all sounds delicious; everything is prepared in house. It’s impossible to pick just one thing; we order three appetizers and each of us chooses a different entree……. plates will be passed around the table.

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 Guests are permitted to bring their own wine, so we did. We start with a sparkling white from L Mawby in Suttons Bay, our appetizers arrive, we commence to cutting them up and passing the plates; the Tower of Basil is a stack of ripe red tomatoes, alternating with fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzled with an aged balsamic vinaigrette, oh, so good! The crab cakes are meaty and delicious the lemon aioli and pomodoro sauce are perfect sides. The Siberian Pelmeni are little round dumplings stuffed with beef, veal and pork accompanied by a garlic dipping sauce, wonderful. When we are finished we open the bottle of Rioja as the rest of our meal arrives. There are four of us at the table, we have enough food for eight! As plates arrive and glasses are filled, the sun sets, throughout the gardens tiny white lights illuminate the grounds, the glow of the gazebo reflects on the water, it is so enchanting I don’t ever want to  leave. The food is magnificent, truly one of the best meals any of us have had in recent memory. I cannot list it all, but here is a sampling of what we had: the most heavenly Chicken Paprikash with divine Eastern European style dumplings, potato pancakes, homemade sausage, barley/mushroom kasha, pirogi dumplings, salmon, and the most amazing sauerkraut ever! We ate and we drank, we shared stories, then we ate and drank some more.

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It seemed impossible to eat anymore, but when dessert was offered we couldn’t resist. While we waited, we wandered over to the church to get a glimpse inside. Built and beautified in original authentic iconography, over 30 icons adorn the walls and ceiling, it’s gorgeous. The gold surrounding the renderings of saints reflects off the glossy floor, they are hand-painted by a local iconographer in the strict, traditional Orthodox style; a tiny chandelier is the only source of light. There is not another Katholicon church like it anywhere in the world. Returning to our table we notice night has fallen, strings of lights are draped across fences and over the entrance, it’s lovely. Coffee is served as dessert arrives; the yogurt cheesecake is rich and delicious, but it’s the Russian Napoleon Cake that we all go crazy for, absolutely outstanding. Talking over candlelight, somebody notices the time, it’s after 10 pm, our server who is dressed in a traditional Russian costume approaches, she couldn’t be nicer; she offers boxes for left-overs and tells us to take our time finishing up. We can eat and drink no more, we are the last people left on the grounds, alas, it is time to go. We all walk out together, leaving this magical place; it is a night that will stay with us, it was an extraordinary experience shared with good friends.

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DETROIT: Eastern Market….Sunday

30 Jun

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Sunday’s were made for relaxing, taking it slow, easy. It’s a day to sleep in, enjoy a leisurely cup of coffee, go shopping  just for fun. If that sounds good to you, we have just the place for you to spend a Sunday: Eastern Market. That’s right, since the beginning of June, sheds 2 and 3 are home to the new Sunday Street Market; let’s have a look. 

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Parking is a cinch compared to your average Saturday; we are in front of Germack Coffee, perfect, we grab a cup to go, cross Russell Street and begin to browse the market. Shed 2 is open-air; a cute vintage trailer with pink and green stripes is parked just inside the entrance, a swimsuit hangs from the open door, scarves hang from a line on the side. A table in front holds old hats, suitcases and other funky items, the set-up is great, like an outdoor vintage store. Across the way an artisan has set up shop, Two Stix 5 Stones sells handmade knits and accessories; her shawls are gorgeous. We take our time strolling past various booths, there’s a nice mix of antiques, handmades and vintage; a mannequin wears a cool old STP jacket, photographs of iconic Detroit buildings are transferred onto pieces of wood, a large jewelry case holds rows of antique rings. Rehash By Amy has taken ordinary light fixtures, given them a whimsical paint job and converted them to solar power, what a great idea! They would look fabulous hanging above a porch or deck. Across the way we spot a grouping of antique signs; Coke, beer and old street signs are all for sale along with a parking meter, you never know what you may find.

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There are a few different T-shirt makers, another booth has a wide selection of items from automotive pieces to the old aprons the newsboys used to wear. On my right I notice an old delivery truck that has been converted into a boutique; step up into the make-shift store, clothing hangs from a rack on the right, accessories are on the left, very clever! Making our way to Shed 3 we pass The Detroit Pop Shop, flavors include chocolate peanut butter banana, blueberry lemonade and cucumber lime basil;  by the number of people eating them, I’d say they’re pretty popular. Shed 3 is completely enclosed, a large Shinola clock hangs from a post, food trucks are serving up lunch, there’s even a gelato truck. A few vendors are selling fresh fruits and veggies, another is selling flowers; dahlias are eye-catching in peachy-pink, scarlet and lavender, zinnias are blooming in bold red, yellow and orange. Live music is being played in the distance, sounds like a xylophone, buskers perform throughout the market. Looks like the Sunday Street Market is a hit!

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The Eastern Market area is also known for its vast array of graffiti, it’s fun to drive up and down the streets looking for new pieces. Right on Russell St a huge mural covers the front and side of Wholesale Produce Distributors; done in shades of turquoise and purple on a tan background, a slew of characters from a guy in a hat, to a shark, are in action. Take the time to really absorb it, the detail and expressions are fabulous! I still favor the grazing cow on the side of Eastern Market Cold Storage, it’s like he’s watching over everybody while he eats—-we are his entertainment. There’s another cool one over on Division, the Greenbriar Foods and Corridor Sausage building; it’s a great scene with a cool cast of characters. Throughout the area you can find wild colors, groovy settings and hip creatures on anything from a building to a dumpster or a roll-up door. We did stop to check the progress on the expansion of the Dequindre Cut, currently running from the riverfront to Gratiot, when the next phase is completed it will continue all the way to Mack; look for it to be completed sometime after Labor Day. 

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It’s such a lovely day we are having lunch on the patio at Mercury Burger Bar on Michigan Ave. The space is really charming; picnic tables are right at home on the brick patio, gardens surround the fence line, nearest to us a goat made from a recycled Quaker State sign appears to be eating the flowers. A graffiti mural covers one wall, strings of lights criss-cross over head, I bet it’s a sweet place to hang out in the evening. While we wait for our food to arrive I notice many Boston Coolers and shakes being delivered to surrounding tables, mmmmm, they look good…… Before long our meal is set in front of us; the French Onion Burger is wonderful, the meat is tender and juicy, topped with crisp bacon, carmelized onion, Gruyère cheese and onion straws, makes you hungry doesn’t it? The Chicago Dog is done up right; mustard, relish, tomatoes, sport peppers, onions, pickle and celery salt packed into a poppy-seed bun. No meal would be complete without an order of Mercury’s hand-cut fries, the sea salt and black pepper are our favorite; the perfect amount of seasoning on incredibly fresh, just from the deep fryer fries…..yum!

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DETROIT: Something New, Something New……..

23 Jun

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Coffee and (____) began life as a pop-up in the West Village neighborhood, it popped-up again last June on Jefferson in the up-and-coming Jeff Chalmers district; the popular coffee shop and bakery has returned to its charming space on Jefferson as a permanent fixture, hooray!  Conferring with Angela, the space was built out last year by the Detroit division of the AIA, she has added her own personal touches such as colorful pillows, potted plants and fresh flowers on the table daily, walls are covered with colorful artwork by local artists. The stars of the coffee shop are, of course, the pastries. Angela is a formally trained pastry chef who knows her way around Key Lime Pie, heavenly scones, gooey chocolate brownies and the best banana bread you’ve ever tasted. Each day a variety of pastries from the full flour, sugar, butter variety to vegan and gluten-free sit under glass domes, tempting all who enter. Let’s not forget the coffee; regular and decaf, drip, espresso or our favorite cold-brew in town, you can have it made to drink in-house or to-go.

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We pull up in front of the shop; the patio has sprung back to life with bright red umbrellas, plants, tables and chairs. Inside, there are open seats at the counter, our favorite place to sit; while Kris takes a seat I eyeball the pastries, it’s no secret I love chocolate—a brownie it is! The atmosphere here is very laid back; customers often engage in conversation with one another about this and that. As I devour my chocolately brownie and sip on cold-brew coffee I take in the large paintings that hang on the walls; Kris and I each pick a favorite. When we have finished, we check out the courtyard in back; benches are made from reclaimed wood, colorful cactus, a money tree and potted palm add color, miniature white lights are strung overhead, it’s truly an oasis. Hello Records second location is taking over the space adjoining Coffee and (____), currently open on weekends, more on that later.

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The transformation of the Detroit riverfront over the last few years has been amazing! There are now 3 miles of completed pathways, parks and green space making the river accessible to all. We are visiting the east riverfront; Mt Elliott Park has been completely renovated by the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to include a plaza, water features, restrooms and a cafe—today is opening day. We follow the freshly poured concrete pathway toward the river, the grass is green and lush, benches are arranged here and there, LED light poles flank the path. The tented park pavilion is off to the right, but what really grabs our attention is the water feature to the left; a life-size replica of a great lakes schooner appears to have sunk into the plaza, masts poke out from the ground spraying water into the air. As we approach we notice stacks of crates, the ship’s wheel, treasure chests and barrels, all with the ability to give you a soaker. Here a layer of soft material in shades of blue cover the ground, making it user-friendly, I spot a few yellow disks marked with a blue footprint that activate the water flow, it’s really cool! Further on kids are spraying one another with water cannons,  jets of water shoot up from the ground intermittently drawing screams and laughter from those who are now wet. A trio of children hang on to a giant cattail and spin around, further on, wind chimes are ringing in the gentle breeze. As we head to the silver railing that lines the water a small boy bangs on drums, another bangs on pipe-organ-style hollow tubes, the sight of all of this activity brings a smile to my face. The MacArthur bridge connecting Detroit to Bell Isle is picturesque from this spot. The pathway continues to the right, colorful concrete circles add whimsy to the route, where there is no railing rocks are piled high, where the pathway ends we find ourselves overlooking a Coast Guard boat. Turning around I am able to take in the entire park; the scene is picturesque, even nicer than I had anticipated, seating is plentiful, flowers spill from large planters, multiple generations are enjoying a little fun in the sun at this most welcomed park.

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There’s an old 4-story, red-brick building near the park entrance. Kris notices the new awning and balloons over an open door, I fall into step behind him to check it out. The name on the awning says “Fun Shop“, let’s see what it’s all about. The shop is a combination art gallery, cultural gifts store, snack shop and overall ‘fun’ place. Near the door you can purchase sunscreen, bottles of water and towels, snacks are sold by the register. The walls are covered with old posters of names like Iggy Pop and MC5, works by Gary Grimshaw, Carl Lundgren and Leni Sinclair can be purchased here along with t-shirts, bags and jewelry by local artists, indeed, lots of fun stuff. I pay for my really cool Detroit watch and we are off to get some lunch.

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Southwest Detroit  seems to be calling us; traveling a little off the beaten path we end up on Springwells at El Asador. A brown brick building with red trim, it’s sits across the street from Vince’s, a well-known Italian restaurant that has been around forever. Inside, the walls are painted a golden-yellow, black chairs are pulled up to white tablecloth covered square tables. As usual, we take a table near a window; our server greets us with menus and returns quickly with chips, salsa and glasses of ice water. Along with traditional Mexican favorites, the menu concentrates on steak and seafood dishes, it all sounds good. After taking our order, our server returns with a cart which holds a large stone bowl, avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, salt, onions, lime juice and chopped jalapeno’s—-they make the guacamole tableside, awesome! As ingredients are added and softly smashed together we are asked how spicy we like our guac, she continues to add items from small bowls, mixing them in until, voila’, it’s done. The dip is garnished with freshly made flour tortilla chips and placed on our table; immediately we  scoop up the flavorful green mixture, wow, it is outstanding! We have never had guacamole so fresh and delicious, you have got to try this. Everything is made fresh to order so dishes do not arrive rapid-fire from the kitchen, but don’t worry, it’s worth the wait. This time we have a chorizo taco, tasty and different from any other chorizo we have had, a lobster taco, delish, served with its own sauce and veggies and chicken enchiladas verde. The enchiladas are moist and flavorful, topped with sour cream and diced fried potatoes, they come with yummy rice and refried beans that are an orange-ish hue, also excellent. The food here is wonderful and unique to the area, service is excellent; next time you have a hankering for Mexican food, you know where to go…….. you’re welcome…….

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Vintage In The Metro

5 May

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Spring in the Detroit area can be tough; days can be chilly, windy and rainy, not exactly an invitation to spend time outdoors. Still, we have spent so much time indoors, we are antsy to just get out. Days like this, lunch and a little shopping get our mind off the weather and onto fun things. We are actually more the browsing type, our shopping trips usually lead us to great vintage shops, antique stores and flea markets; lots of looking and every once in a while, a great find we have to bring home.

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Our first stop is Vogue Vintage Surplus, a warehouse-type space on Wolcott St in Ferndale. This is nitty-gritty type shopping; it’s colder in the building than outside, items are everywhere, shelves are full of smaller pieces. An old dryer chair catches my eye as soon as we walk in the door, its sparkly blue vinyl is cool. There are so many things to look at I have to stop and really focus. A true treasures hunter’s emporium, goods are sorted as opposed to displayed, couches, end tables and large landscape scenes are huddled together. Used telephones span the decades from rotary dial to cordless, desks vary in size from single to multiple cubbies. Old trophies, a complete set of china, wacky knick knacks and an old wooden canoe make it fun to look around. The warehouse has everything a home needs, light fixtures, glassware, televisions, stoves and refrigerators; while some of it is antique or vintage other items are simply ‘used’. If you’re looking for a milk can, traffic light, a pair of wooden shoes from Holland a piano or an old radio, you know just where to go!

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Traveling up Woodward into Pleasant Ridge we park behind Vogue Vintage and enter through the back door. Once things have been gone through at the Surplus, the nicest items come here to be sold. Racks of vintage clothing are separated into men’s and women’s sections, pieces are in nice condition, funny how many of the styles are popular again today.

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 The shop has a fabulous array of lighting, everything from table lamps and pole lamps to sconces and hanging fixtures. Furniture and accessories are set up in vignettes, a living room here, a dining room there, all very swanky; it’s sometimes surprising how well mis-matched pieces go together. Along with traditional Mid-Century pieces there is a nice selection of 1960’s and 70’s; you know, shiny chrome, bright colors, bold designs, Lucite and yes, a sofa pit. With the impending arrival of summer, outdoor furniture, a super cool bbq, coolers and bicycles are timely items. From large pieces to small, hats to vintage games, posters to metal wall sculptures, they have an awesome selection. Vogue Vintage is now located at 2747 Hilton Rd Ferndale 48220

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Going shopping and out to lunch go hand in hand, there’s a cute little diner on the east side of Woodward called Mae’s. There’s an open parking spot right out front and no line, good timing by us. From 1959 to 2009 this tiny space operated as Anna’s Coffee Shop, in 2010 Sean and Jessica Mc Carthy re-opened the diner as Mae’s, it is Pleasant Ridge’s oldest restaurant, a bit of a landmark, you might say. There are two unoccupied turquoise and aluminum stools at the counter, we take a seat and begin studying the menu. Serving breakfast and lunch, most of the items are made in-house from scratch; biscuits and gravy, jam, baked goods and pancake batter are all made in the 7-foot wide kitchen, bread comes from Zingerman’s in Ann Arbor, chips are Better Made and the pop is Faygo and Vernors. We have a great view of the goings on; hot food comes through an opening in the kitchen, servers are busy taking orders, running the espresso machine, filling containers with jam, and delivering food. Ours arrives piping hot, the Mexicantown Skillet is two scrambled eggs sitting atop a combination of homefries, sausage, black beans, sautéed onions, jalapenos and pepper jack cheese. A side of 8 grain 3 seed toast and pico de gallo make this dish delicious. The Portland Special is a sandwich made up of Cap’n Crunch breaded chicken tenders (seriously), pepper jack cheese and hot sauce between grilled farm bread, a side of blue cheese dressing and a bag of chips complete the meal, yum! UPDATE Mae’s is now closed for business.

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There’s still more old stuff to see…… Moving on to Royal Oak, we stop in at Lost & Found Vintage; specializing mainly in clothing, the shop is laid out as a great little boutique with men’s items on the lower level and ladies on the upper. Mannequins are dressed in spring outfits, basket-type handbags and pastel scarves polish off the look. Old street signs top off a large wood cabinet that holds accessories and colored bottles. Downstairs a fellow can find everything he needs to be fashionable; denim jackets, plaid sports coats, silky ties and bowling shirts. The space is masculine with trunks, antlers, an old shoe shine chair and stylish hats. Upstairs is definitely girly; skirts, dresses, purses, sandals and hats. Merchandise is all good quality, many items are sure to bring a smile…..or an eye-roll as the case may be.

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Oddfellows Antiques is on 12 Mile in Berkley. The 9,000 sq ft  building was built in the 1920’s for, you guessed it, the Oddfellows. This is one of those antiques stores that divide the building up into smaller dealer spaces, there are nearly 50 here. Opened eight years ago, it is a favorite of locals and has been voted “Best of Hour Magazine” for the last three years. We enter on the lower level; lots of folks seem to have had the same idea as each aisle is busy with shoppers. You never know what you’ll find in a store like this as the variety of items is wide. Kris and I browse slowly through the shop, I see owls are back in vogue, Elvis never went out, glassware is abundant. Dealers sell a little bit of everything; great old tin signs, soda pop memorabilia, beautiful antique mirrors,tools, rugs, even a little bit of Mod from the 70’s. I love all the old glasses, each with its own purpose; juice, water, highball, martini anyone? There are things we remember from our grandparents homes and things our parents had too. All of these things create a link from the past to the present–maybe that’s the real draw, familiarity, fond memories, good times. 

 

DETROIT: Something Old Something New….

21 Apr

 

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We start our fourth year by going back to where we began (more or less) with a visit to Historic Fort Wayne.  Twice a year they host a Flea Market in the Visitors Center gym, the grounds are also open to the public and tours are available, it’s a fascinating way to spend the day. You never know what you might find at a flea market, that’s part of the excitement of going. The gym is transformed into a bargain hunters paradise, rows of folding tables create aisle ways the length of the room, items are stacked on the floor and tabletops, an American flag is draped from the rafters. Crates of vintage record albums, children’s games, dishes and glassware are among the many items for sale. Antique trunks and suitcases have been re-purposed into tables, vintage insulated ice cream carriers are out of the ordinary. Through an open doorway we find ourselves in another room, clothing, doilies and jewelry are plentiful, I am taken with jewelry boxes that open from a simple rectangle into an elaborate display with tops that go up, drawers that open and compartments that unfold. We take one more walk through to be sure we haven’t missed anything then make our way outdoors. 

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The original 96 acres where the star fort and many buildings remain is steeped in history going back to about 1000 AD when 19 Native American burial mounds were present in the area. One burial mound remains, when it was excavated in the early 20th century, human remains dating back over 900 years were discovered, today the area is fenced off but you can still have a look at it. In the War of 1812 Detroit had been captured by the British Army and held for over a year–the only major American city to have this distinction. The US government realized Detroit had no counterpart to British Fort Malden down river at Amherstburg Ontario to resist a British attack on American soil, the Army chose this site, the narrowest point of the Detroit River to build Fort Wayne. Construction began in 1842 and was completed in 1848, it was named in honor of Gen. “Mad Anthony Wayne”, a hero of the American Revolution. In 1861, after the attack on Fort Sumter, President Abraham Lincoln asked for 75,000 troops from the northern Union states, two weeks later the Michigan 1st Volunteer Infantry Regiment was mustered into federal service at Fort Wayne.

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We begin to walk the grounds, starting with the section closest to Jefferson, we pass the Post Theatre built in 1939, a guard-house and a giant bell. On the left is the Tuskegee Airmen Museum housed in a former residence, the door is locked so we move on. A row of non-commissioned officers houses still stands, single residences and duplexes built from 1904 to 1939, houses are on a slight rise from the sidewalk, it must have been lovely. Further on, huge storage buildings seem to have been maintained and are still in use, army green tanks are parked off to one side. The door to the guard-house is open, the floor is wood, a stove was used for heat, jail cells are tiny, cots for the sick fill a small space. A row of Victorian houses line the next street over, a the Post Commanders residence has been restored to its original wood exterior.  The trees are still bare, the grass just beginning to turn green, the abandonment is unnerving; random panes of glass are missing, I imagine the inside to be laden with spider webs, roofs have deteriorated to a weave like pattern of shingles and rafters, I feel as if we have stumbled into a ghost town. Climbing a large hill we have a panoramic view of the grounds and the Detroit River, the riverfront parade ground is now used for soccer games, nets are in place the grass is well maintained. Making our way to the river we have a spectacular view of downtown and the Ambassador Bridge, the river sparkles in the spring sunlight, old concrete is piled along the shoreline, Canada is just a stone’s throw away. Retracing our steps we circle an old storage building on the other side of the hill, it seems it is still in use as a storage facility, everything around her looks really, really old. 

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The barracks were constructed between 1842-49 and are said to be one of the best examples of Federal-style architecture outside the seaboard states. Exterior walls are rough-hewn blocks of limestone that came from Kelly’s Island in Ohio. The interior is set up with tables and chairs today for some type of meeting, upstairs we find the sleeping area complete with bunks, comfortable is NOT a word I would use to describe the sleeping arrangements. Just outside to the right is the Powder Magazine building, it has an arched ceiling and displays showing us what it looked like back in the day. A dry moat surrounds the star fort itself, originally constructed of earth and wood, the fortifications were rebuilt in masonry during the Civil War. We enter a long brick hall through an open doorway, this leads us to the fort itself, we walk up a couple of stairs into darkness, it feels really damp, water is puddled on the concrete floor. Light sneaks through narrow slits intended for attack on the enemy, the fort has never mounted cannons. We feel our way around, larger windows allow us a better view of which way to walk, we travel down another walkway and enter another area of the fort, once again we traverse the few steps into the building. Wrought iron hardware hangs on unbelievably thick wood doors, they did  everything they could to keep the bad guys out. It’s hard to believe this building still exists, thankfully it was dedicated as a military museum in 1950, otherwise it may not be here.

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Of the original 96 acres, 83 still belong to Fort Wayne, the rest belongs to the Army Core of Engineers as a boatyard. The fort was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1971, it served as an Army base for 125 years. Most people probably do not think of Detroit as a military city, that just goes to show you what an amazing place it has always been.

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I check my watch and am glad to see we still have time to catch brunch at Detroit’s newest restaurant, Zenith. Robert and Melissa Jasper moved to Detroit from the East Coast to open their unique, quirky restaurant on the main floor of the Fisher Building. We walk through the Fisher to the restaurant entrance, one foot in the door we know we are going to love this place! To the left is a small city-scape rising from the floor, the space is huge, 8,ooo sq ft, there’s another 8,000 sq ft on the basement level too, along with the original safe from the bank that originally occupied the space in 1928 and a small banquet room. We are greeted at the door and told we can sit wherever we want, that’s a tough decision in a place this cool. We settle on a table central to everything and begin checking out the menu, the selections all sound incredible. After we place our order we are free to roam around; the pieces they have amassed through the years are awesome; statues of jungle animals, beer displays, original funky artwork, advertisements for household items, food and auto-related products. There’s a fabulous lounge area in the back that puts me in the mind of the 50’s era Cuban style; rattan furniture, exotic lamps, tropical flowers–it’s fantastic! The tiki bar itself is just waiting for the liquor license to arrive to get into full swing, it will be a great place to come and have a cocktail. The original integrity of the building remains, columns have been boxed in, walls and surfaces are painted in bright green and blue, everywhere you look, there’s something to look at.

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Our food arrives, we dig in with enthusiasm, we are splitting the Passion Fruit Pound Cake French Toast (I kid you not!) and the Poutine Deluxe, my mouth is watering as I write this….The french toast is utterly delicious, served with a buttermilk cream sauce it is just the right amount of sweetness. On the other hand the poutine is a savory mix of french fries, scrambled eggs, cotija cheese, hollandaise sauce, 4-pepper gravy and crumbled bacon, alright, so it’s not low in fat, for something this good I’m willing to put in a little extra work-out time.  As we savor our brunch I continue to notice things, like the planters playing host to doll heads, the giant Calypso sign above the kitchen, the Lone Ranger and fun window displays featuring great items from the 40’s and 50’s. The food is a fusion of Southern and Mexican style, with so many interesting things on the menu to try, we’ll definitely be back. So there you have it, from one of Detroit’s oldest places to one of its newest, its been another great day in the city !!

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DETROIT: Boats, Bagels and Beans ??

13 Jan

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When the weather turns cold we head indoors to local museums to see the latest exhibits. Today we are on Belle Isle visiting the Dossin Great Lakes Museum; closed for five months for renovation we’re excited to see what’s new. The museum is dedicated to telling the story of maritime history on the Great Lakes and the Detroit River spanning 300 years; everything from shipping fleets and industry to social history. After parking in the lot we stop at the Miss Pepsi Pavilion for a look at the first hydroplane racing boat to top 100 mph. Raced by the Dossin family in the 1950’s, she’s quite a beauty; wood is varnished to a high shine, paint scheme is red, white and blue, the dashboard surprisingly ordinary. On the lawn nearby lies the bow anchor of the Edmund Fitzgerald, it’s huge! 

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Once inside I am happy to see the “Gothic Room” looking better than ever; removed from the passenger steamer City Of Detroit III before it was scrapped, the room exemplifies the golden age of Great Lakes cruise ships. The vessel carried passengers between Detroit and Cleveland or Detroit and Buffalo, the Gothic room itself was originally three times this size and even had a pipe organ. The elaborate English oak carvings are done in true Gothic design, stained glass windows and unique chandeliers exude elegance. Display cases in the room contain memorabilia such as dishes, schedules and renderings of the ship.  No matter how many times we come here I am still in awe of the beauty of this room!

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Further into the museum old exhibits have been revamped and new ones installed, here we find hands on activities; quite popular is the interactive video display simulating a speedboat racing down the Detroit River, there’s an 18th century re-creation of a canoe that you can climb into as the early settlers did. The newest permanent exhibit called Built By The River explains the ways in which Detroiter’s have used the rivers and lakes around us, did you know that at one time the Detroit River was the busiest waterway in the world or that Detroit shipyards built more vessels that any other city in the region? All pretty cool stuff! A River’s Roar will be on display until April, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s all about the history of hydroplane racing in Detroit. For over 100 years the Detroit River and Belle Isle have featured some of the finest racing in the country during the Gold Cup–the oldest trophy in Motorsports. Boats, trophies and artifacts along with vintage programs, pins and buttons are displayed behind glass. Trophies are quite elaborate and elegant, photos of racers such as Gar Wood, Guy Lombardo, Wild Bill Cantrell and Bill Muncey hang on walls along with stories about each man.

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We stop to look at the showcases filled with model ships then make our way to the former pilot house of the SS William Clay Ford, one of the city’s most noted freighters. From here we look out across the river to Ontario Canada, the sunlight dancing on the river’s surface. The entire interior is painted mint green, children love to pretend they are captain standing at the ship’s wheel. A voice comes over a speaker, we are able to listen to communication between ships on the river, you can also watch the action on the river right from home by clicking on to the Detroit River Watch Webcam.

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The Detroit Institute of Bagels on Michigan Ave opened Thanksgiving week and has been busy ever since. Reworking and adding on to an existing building, the end result is a cozy space made up of exposed red brick, beam ceiling, white walls and blonde wood floor. Tables line the perimeter of the space, we hang our coats on chairs in front of a sunny window then place our order. A handwritten menu board hangs behind the counter, metal baskets overflow with plain, sesame, poppy, salt, cinnamon raisin and everything bagels–made that morning they are boiled and then baked. There are six regular and small batch flavors such as bacon cheddar or rosemary olive oil available each day. While we wait for our sandwiches to be made we peek into the open kitchen, it gleams in white and stainless steel, the bakers are finished for the day. We have ordered two different sandwiches, each taking a half we dig in; the ham, egg and cheese on a salt bagel is delicious, the bagel tender with enough filling to make it hearty. The turkey, bacon, avocado is a handful, lots of textures working together; chewy bagel, crispy bacon, creamy avocado–yum! Definitely get a new dill pickle with your sandwich, they’re excellent! Open everyday except Tuesday, give ’em a try.

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Often we like to end the day with coffee, located just a few blocks away we choose Anthology Coffee in the Ponyride building on Vermont St. Outside the building a small sandwich board reads ‘Coffee’, an arrow points to a wall covered in black and white graffiti. The space inside is stark; cinderblock walls, four singular light bulbs hang above a simple counter. A chalkboard menu is surrounded by a woodplank wall, a barista is busy at work measuring and weighing coffee beans. I walk over to the counter as Kris explores the space, I order a decaf for me and an iced coffee for Kris. On the tiny counter rests a coffee grinder, scale, pots of hot water, paper filters and a variety of glass bottles. I watch with interest as the beans are ground, then placed in a filter where hot water is poured over them, I love the scent of fresh ground coffee, the process takes several minutes. As Kris wanders over to grab his drink he notices a plate of triangular bar cookies, we each take one, they go perfect with our coffee. Anthology keeps it simple: Source Roast Brew Tasty Coffee. You can’t ask for more than that!

DETROIT: Staycation…

7 Jan

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There’s not a better night’s sleep to be found than a night in the Raymond C Smith Carriage house at the Inn on Ferry Street. Upon waking we dress and walk the short distance to the main house of the Inn, the John Scott House; this is where guests check in and where breakfast and refreshments are served. The house itself is an orange brick Queen Ann with a wide front porch, built in 1886-87, original owner John Scott was a well-known architect. Scott’s firm, John Scott & Co. took in a young Albert Kahn (apparently he was everywhere!) as an apprentice, but let him go because he didn’t think Kahn had a future in the business–oops! The home, 84 E Ferry, resides on land that was originally part of the Ferry Seed Company, the property was later developed into an upper class neighborhood. Today the Inn consists of four restored Victorian homes and two carriage houses, close to museums, the DMC and Wayne State University.

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We enter the house through the back door, the aroma of fresh brewed coffee permeates the air, guests conversation creates a low hum. The breakfast area is lovely; walls are olive green, a fireplace of rectangular glazed tiles graces the back wall, ceiling and walls are accented with beautiful wood. We choose a table near a large window, morning light streams in. We hang our jackets on the chair backs, grab plates and fill them with items like scrambled eggs, waffles, fresh fruit, muffins and yogurt; there is also an assortment of coffee, tea and juices. As we eat, the Inns shuttle driver arrives, he is driving a group of guests downtown; the shuttle is free and will drop you off and pick you up within a 5-mile radius. When we have finished our breakfast I sip my coffee slowly as we decide how we will spend the rest of our day.

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The luggage is loaded and we have checked out. We walk to the end of the block, at the corner of Woodward and Kirby we step inside the Park Shelton. Built in 1926 as a residential hotel called The Wardell, it was named for Fred Wardell, founder of the Eureka Co. Interestingly enough, Kris’s mom and dad spent their honeymoon here back in the 1940’s, even more notable, Diego Rivera lived here while working on his mural at the DIA. The hotel was later bought by Sheraton and in the 1950’s renamed The Park Shelton Hotel; accommodations were luxurious, celebrities such as Bob Hope, George Burns, Gracie Allen and Raymond Burr were guests. In the 1970’s it became apartments, in 2004 the building was redeveloped into 227 luxury condos with retail and restaurants on the ground floor. The lobby has maintained its elegance with indoor fountains, rectangular columns capped in gold leaf, ornate plaster ceilings, dark marble accents and a gorgeous antique clock that hangs near the reception desk.

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Down the hall we wander into the Peacock Room, this is one of those pretty stores; gorgeous architecture and decor, clever displays, attractive merchandise for women featuring great hats, handbags, jewelry, clothing…… Everything a girl needs and then some! A few feet down, we duck into Goods LLC, mainly selling customized and Detroit-centric t-shirts, the shop also sells items from local artisans. Exiting through the Woodward door we proceed to Emerald, the newest of the shops in the Park Shelton, mainly a men’s store they have a wonderful selection of hats, gloves, scarves, ties, cuff links and shaving goods. The space is attractive, the chandelier came from an old theater downriver, it’s super cool, someone told me display cabinets came from the old downtown Hudsons. They have a nice selection of gift items and books too.

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After all that shopping we find ourselves hungry, lucky for us Good Girls Go To Paris Crepes is only a few steps away. Bright red walls are covered with French movie posters, the chalkboard menus of sweet and savory crepes have grown through the years. I order at the counter as Kris finds us a table, it seems this place is always busy. Owner Torya is behind the counter making crepes today, she makes it look so easy the way she spreads the batter, adds the filling and neatly folds each one. The Seine arrives first, a simple crepe with butter and sugar, to me there’s nothing better. The Dana is filled with chicken, Brie, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and herbs, it is delicious. We drop into 14 East next, serving gourmet coffee, tea and pastries it’s also a bit of an art gallery; furniture and decor are reminiscent of  Mid Century design. We order at the counter, cold brew coffee for Kris and a pour over for myself. 

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We are less than a block from the DIA, we decide to stop in and have a look. It’s Sunday, the museum is active with tours, drop-in workshops, drawing in the galleries and the Sunday Music Bar in Kresge Court. We observe visitors of all ages at easels creating pencil drawings with the assistance of artists. The Contemporary Art gallery  is one of our favorites, spanning the mid 20th century to present day, we find great American art from abstract painting to Pop Art. After a leisurely stroll through the building it is time to call it a day. It has been a fantastic weekend get-away, and we never had to leave our home town! 

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DETROIT: It’s getting better all the time….

1 Dec

 

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These days it seems a new restaurant is opening in Detroit every couple of weeks, as dutiful citizens we must do our part to patronize these independent establishments. I mean if somebody goes through all the trouble to open a place, the least we can do is eat there, right? Today we are having a late lunch at Ottava Via on the corner of Michigan Ave and 8th Street (hence the name). Open just a short time, we are anxious to give it a try. The building itself was built sometime in the early 20th century, brown brick and white terracotta, it began life as the Dime Bank, did time as a bakery and before its current reincarnation was a pawn shop, the red-letter LOAN sign is still attached to the building. The inside has a rustic charm, architectural elements are a mix of vintage and contemporary; terazzo floors, high ceilings, communal tables and a gorgeous clock add to the atmosphere. The menu features Neapolitan style pizza baked in a stone oven, antipasti, share plates and pasta dishes. Our meal arrives quickly, the chopped salad is delicious; the greens are fresh with some crunch, the basil is a nice touch, meat is thinly sliced in bite-size pieces. The vegetarian pizza is flavorful, the crust Neapolitan-style thin, toppings include mushrooms, asparagus, onion and olives laying atop a tasty red sauce, yum! 

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A little way down Michigan Ave Two James Spirits, the first licensed Distillery to open in Detroit since prohibition, is serving handmade spirits in their very own tasting room. Kris and I have a seat at the circular granite bar, the bartender slides a couple of drink menus over and we have a look. Currently the selection of spirits consists of 28 Island Vodka, Old Cockney Gin and Grass Widow Bourbon, all are made in house. I order a vodka and tonic, Kris has something made with bourbon and Faygo Rock & Rye, the cocktails are excellent! The space is really cool, old wooden barrels create a dividing wall between tasting room and distillery, metal globes dangle from a ring above the bar, colorful art decorates walls. The back wall displays bottles of spirits and T-shirts for sale, most patrons are purchasing a bottle to take with them. It’s a great place to enjoy a cocktail and lively conversation.

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Next stop, Detroit Farm and Garden on 21st Street in Mexicantown. Located directly behind 555 Gallery, though it is not exactly gardening season, I love to stop in and see what’s going on at the store. In addition to supplying bulk materials such as top soil, compost, mulch, sand, pea gravel and such to the local community, they offer a nice selection of tools, containers, seeds and fertilizer. Antique and reclaimed furniture pieces are found throughout the space, other items for sale include body products, art, Slow Jams Jam and canning supplies. I check my watch, the gallery is open, time to go.

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Detroit has long been home to art of all mediums. In the last couple of years the art scene in the D has gained notoriety throughout the country and overseas. The 555 Center for Public Arts is a non-profit group serving both emerging and established artists. The current facility holds studio spaces for resident and renting artists, performance space, exhibition and installation space and an arts education studio, even an original Banksy piece from the old Packard Plant has been preserved and is on display. Oh yeah, the building is the former Detroit Police Department 3rd Precinct-complete with jail cells! Today we are exploring the “Eye On The D”, Seeing Detroit With New Eyes. 18 artists express what inspires them about Detroit, how they see the future of the city and what it looks like in their imagination; c’mon let’s have a look.

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Just inside the door people are gathered in clusters, beverages in hand, talking excitedly about the show. A folk singer is entertaining guests in the performance space; open mic’s are held regularly on the first and third Saturday of the month. We avoid the crowd by taking a left, here jail cells are now rented out as studio space, very clever, some are fixed up as little boutiques. Wandering from cell to cell there is a great variety of things to look at; vintage apparel, paintings in oils and watercolors, drawings, photography, ceramics and handmade clothing. A curious group of crows line the floor along the back wall, some have wheels, air pressure gauges, keys and bells attached to them, there’s something about them that I like.

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We cut across the back and find ourselves in the main exhibit space, the work is very personal; paintings, collages convey the artists emotions. One of the featured artists is friend, fellow blogger and a favorite Detroit photographer Amy Sacka (http://www.owenwashere.com/). Amy has three photographs in the show, I am familiar with them, I saw their debut on the Owen blog. She has a way of capturing the spirit and electricity of the people in her photos, it’s like they are live images; Mr. Detroit is my favorite! On the other side of the room an artist has created a series of vintage-looking postcards, each features a well-known image with the words “Greetings From Detroit” across the scene, captions are taken straight from negative headlines such as the bankruptcy. There is a cloth sculpture of a car, another one of a house, a video is projected onto the floor. Near the back a sculpture studio is open to visitors, the work is so life-like we are amazed. A group of heads on wooden blocks rest on a shelf, nearby a larger body waits for a head, the detail is incredible. A full size sculpture of a woman sitting in a chair will have you doing a double take. We browse the gallery one more time before calling it a night. The quality of art in Detroit is truly exceptional, and the number of places to see it continues to grow.

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DETROIT: Pewabic Pottery

27 Aug

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It is a lovely summer day, we have just arrived at Pewabic Pottery on Jefferson for the annual Home and Garden Show. A large tent occupies the paved parking lot, outdoors, large pieces are displayed among groupings of patio furniture, smaller pieces can be found in flower beds and along walkways. Inside the white tent, a banner hangs, this is Pewabic’s 110th Anniversary; tables are draped in turquoise blue cloths, topiary’s act as centerpieces, signature Pewabic pieces and t-shirts are available for purchase. Artist’s tables line the enclosed space, we start from the back and work our way forward. Tiles are a popular item, one table features flowers such as Tulips, Daisies and Poppies, another table is lined with clay pieces shaped like Ginko leaves, the glaze is fabulous, going from milky to metallic. Motawi Tileworks has a fanciful selection of Arts and Crafts style pieces, I like the one with the bunny. Further on, plates, nesting bowls, vases and cups feel free-form, glazed in turquoise, yellow and peach, they make me want to buy all new dishware. A tall tile reflects an up north scene, complete with a Pine tree, sand dunes and a lake in the distance. The next factory tour is about to begin, time to go inside.

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Pewabic Pottery was founded in 1903 by Mary Chase Perry Stratton, this Tudor revival style building was built in 1907 to house the factory. Pewabic is known for its vessels, tiles and architectural ornamentation for both public and private installations, Mary is known for her unique iridescent glaze. Pewabic pottery can be found throughout the United States including pieces in Washington DC, Houston, New York and the Nebraska State Capitol. The building itself is a National Historic Landmark. Let’s go in. We start at the museum store, here tiles and vesselware handcrafted by Pewabic staff members are available for sale. I see many signature pieces such as vases and tiles in colors such as blue, olive and gold. The next area belongs to the Gallery of Studio Artists, you will find a gorgeous variety of items such as mugs, vases and bowls in diverse finishes. The showroom contains tile collections, samples of tiles and glazes, this is where you would come if you were interested in having something done for your house. We climb a narrow stairway to the second floor, story boards and photos teach us the history of Pewabic Pottery and its founder Mary Chase Perry Stratton. We see an antique kiln and some of Mary’s early pieces, the room itself is quaint; leaded glass windows, black painted arches and door frames, and a stunning tile fireplace.

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We proceed to the Kiln room, this is where the firing is done. Think of a kiln as a giant oven that heats up to about 2300 degrees F, it bakes the soft clay pieces called greenware into a hardened piece called bisque, bisque is then glazed (painted) and fired again, the end result, the beautiful items displayed in the store. On the right are two “car” kilns, our guide points out tracks on the floor, kilns are pulled out on these tracks to be opened.  On the left is a fancy computerized version called an envelope kiln, I have to imagine it gets pretty hot in here when the kilns are on. Pewabic makes their own clay, in liquid form it is called slip. We walk through the clay making area, stopping to see the belt-driven equipment, original to the building and used by Mary herself. They make 1500 pounds of clay per week! Further on we enter the Glaze room, all glazes are made here, shelves are lined with five-gallon pails filled with different colors. Glazes are applied by spraying, dipping or hand painting; tiles are usually sprayed, while vessels are usually dipped.  Rolling racks are filled with glazed pieces ready to go into the kiln, the colors are a mystery to me at this point, as they completely change and come to life in the firing process.

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In the tile pressing area a woman is showing us how a tile is made, a square chunk of clay is placed in a plaster mold, working with her thumbs she presses the clay evenly into the mold. She picks up a different mold that has been sitting about a half hour and gently coaxes the tile out by tapping it on the table, an image of a bumblebee surrounded by a honeycomb pattern appears. When the clay is completely dry the piece is cleaned and placed on a rack, when enough pieces are ready they will be loaded into the kiln and fired. We end our tour upstairs with a visit to the Education studio, this is where classes and workshops are held. The room is lined with works-in-progress, students work at tables and benches, there is a small classroom area for children. There is no class today, but a few students are hard at work. Downstairs we pass through the store area once more, there are so many beautiful things to look at.

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We decided to choose somewhere close to have lunch, Andrews On The Corner is just down the road on Jos Campau at Atwater. The temperature has gotten steamy, so we choose to eat indoors, our waitress greets us with menus and glasses of ice water. We glance at the selections; soups made from scratch, salads, burgers, fish and steak, it all sounds good. The room is on the dark side, in that dive bar sort of way, dark wood floors and wainscoting, walls are deep red, wood booths line the perimeter of the room, the bar is the centerpiece. The cabinet behind the bar is a handsome piece, in the center an art deco style mirror reflects the light, glass block flanks each side. Just like that, our food arrives; the grilled jerk chicken salad is plentiful, the chicken sits atop a bed of spinach, strawberries and feta cheese are sprinkled about, raspberry vinaigrette is served on the side. The chicken is cooked perfectly, the combination of flavors a winner. The Ground Round burger is also good, we shared both things, making for a nice light lunch.

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The Atwater Brewery ijust down the street on Jos Campau, housed in a 1919 factory warehouse the brewery itself was founded in 1997. In case you are not aware of it, Atwater has its own taproom right inside the brewery, who doesn’t like a cold beer on a hot day? We pull up a seat at the bar, after a brief description of what’s on tap, we make our decision, a Summer Time Ale for Kris and a half Vanilla Java Porter, half Decadent Dark Chocolate Ale for me. As we sip our beer we look around the brewery space, the main brewing equipment is Kasper Schultz brought in from Germany, malt and hops for lagers are from Germany, while American hops are used in specialty ales. Kegs are shrink-wrapped to pallets and stacked high, bottles of beer are packed by hand into cardboard boxes, long communal tables made of planks are set off to the side. I love the names of the beer: Grand Circus IPA, Purple Gang Pilsner, Detroit Pale Ale, and the ever popular Dirty Blonde. Before we know it our glasses are empty, for a mere dollar you can take the glass home. If you are looking for an out-of-the way spot to chill and you like beer, visit the Atwater Tap Room.

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Detroit: Out For The Evening

5 Jul

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We begin our evening in Eastern Market, we park in front of Cutter’s Bar & Grill and head inside, your stereotypical Detroit dive bar, good food, good times. The space is dark, I turn towards a television and let my eyes adjust, the Blues flows from a nearby speaker, the bartender tells us to sit anywhere we want. We take a high-top table in the bar area, surrounding conversation leads us to believe many of the patrons are regulars. Yellow paper menus are kept on the tables, we have a look. Burgers are the main feature here, the meat is fresh, never frozen, high quality and hand-pattied; you can get everything from a 4 oz slider to a full 1 pound burger. What catches my eye is the selection of “stuffed” burgers, I read the list of choices, they all sound good, but the 8 oz burger stuffed with pepper jack cheese and pepperoncini is definitely the winner. We wait for our food to arrive, the variety of music changes, some sing along, the restaurant is small and windowless giving no clue as to whether it is night or day. Our burger arrives in a basket along with a pile of hand-cut fries, I dress it up, cut it in half for us to share, and take a bite. The meat is perfectly cooked and tender, the cheese and pepper rings are  a tasty addition. The fries are delicious, there is no mistaking these for the typical frozen variety. When the burger is gone we linger long enough for Kris to finish his drink and then we are off; we have a party to go to!

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Detroit Mercantile on Russell Street is celebrating its 1st Anniversary and we’re invited. This is one of those shops where you just want to buy everything; each shelf, every display and item is presented in an attractive way. Each item, whether new or vintage is carefully chosen; the store specializes in goods Made in the USA, many are made in Michigan and even more are made right here in Detroit. A large american flag hangs from the back wall, on a nearby shelf I see a vintage roller skate, old Faygo pop cans and a beer stein from Stroh’s. There’s a huge variety of books, they all have something to do with the motor city, I find them stacked on an antique safe and on lovely old trunks. If you are in the market for a Detroit-centric T-shirt, look no further, they have many to choose from. From purses, jackets and Stormy Kromer hats to tins of Better Made chips, handmade chocolates and Germack gift baskets, the store has something for everyone.

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We proceed through the showroom into the warehouse, this area is reserved as rental space for parties, weddings and events such as tonight. Immediately in front of us on the floor a pair of acrobats are in the middle of their routine, in the distance a woman is sifting through guests on stilts. In the center of the room  a young woman is performing on the aerial ring, to the left a juggler takes turns throwing a set of three pins into the air; these would all be members of the Detroit Flyhouse Circus. The space is super cool;’ exposed brick and block walls, red ceiling beams and polished concrete floors. Folding chairs are scattered about the space, a cozy sitting area to the right includes a couch and comfy chairs. A representative from Civilized Vodka (Traverse City) is making drinks with Faygo soda pop, next to him they are serving up coffee made from Great Lakes coffee beans. Whole Foods has set up an amazing buffet of cheese, fruit, crackers and wraps, so much to taste! We wander about in the 5000 sq ft warehouse, a weathered car from an old amusement park ride sits off to one side. In the year that The Detroit Mercantile has been in business we have seen them grow from a small showroom, to a larger showroom with the added rental space. The owners started with a nice variety of goods and now carry everything from jewelry and leather goods to Carhart clothing and bicycles, I can’t wait to see what they do next!

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Before turning in for the evening we make one last stop; the Ghost Bar at the Whitney. We enter through the oversized wooden doors, this 1894 mansion turned restaurant is absolutely stunning! We go directly up the magnificent stairway, passing by elegant stained glass windows, to the third floor. The room is gorgeous; the unique barrel-vaulted ceiling is highlighted with narrow wooden beams, the original skylight is still in tact. We have ourselves a seat at one of the few round tables scattered about and order up cocktails. We sip our drinks surrounded by the elegance of days gone by.

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