Month: August 2014

54. Waldenburg Park – August 31, 2014 – Macomb, MI

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I went to this little park today with the intention of taking a jog. It has some paths that wind around a wooded area; they’re not very long, but the scenery is very pretty. I only lasted about twenty minutes, however – and that was a stretch – because the mosquitoes were fierce! The way they were attacking me – it was unnerving. I would stop to take a picture, and several would immediately be swarming onto me, buzzing in my ears. It was a nightmare. I got so bit up! So my time at Waldenburg Park wasn’t exactly enjoyable. But if you bring bug spray, or go there at a time of year when the mosquitoes are less prevalent, you’ll likely be able to enjoy the natural beauty of the walking trails. Or you can just hang out at the basketball court or the playscape.

19225 21 Mile Rd.

Macomb, MI 48044

https://www.macomb-mi.gov/Parks%20and%20Rec/ParksOurParksPage.html

 

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53. Blake’s Ciderhouse and Winery – August 30, 2014 – Armada, MI

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My flight choices: Autumn Apple and Wisteria ciders; and a sweet cherry wine

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I’ve always associated Blake’s Cider Mill with pleasant childhood memories. I used to love going there and watching the cider get made and eating batches of freshly made donuts. I still do. Cider mills make me happy.

My visit last night to the new-ish (opened in the last year) on-site restaurant/bar, Blake’s Ciderhouse and Winery, felt a bit premature. The place was pretty empty for a Saturday night (although it is Labor Day weekend, and restaurant attendance is always lackluster over such holiday weekends). But I bet in a couple of weeks, the place will start getting packed and stay that way until winter. People will let go of summer and get into autumn mode, watching football and wearing sweaters and taking their kids to Blake’s to ride the wagons and pick out pumpkins.

Where did this summer go? I feel like it slipped away before I got a chance to enjoy it. That’s how pretty much every summer has felt for me as an adult, but I especially feel it this year. I love fall; it’s my favorite season, and there’s a part of me that is very excited for it, but there’s another part of me that is sad. It’s never easy to say goodbye to summer. Warm weather is my jam.

Enough of me waxing poetic. For those of you who are also blue about summer being over, take consolation in the fact that you can visit this place and drown your sorrows in one of the multiple varieties of hard cider, ranging from dry to sweet, that Blake’s brews and offers. They have a flight option that costs $9 and gives you the choice of any three of their ciders and the Michigan-brewed wines that they also offer. Each offering in the flight is only supposed to be a half-pour’s worth, but our server poured my friend and me full glasses; she said sometimes she is feeling generous and does that. So needless to say, it was a great deal!

One of the ciders I tried, the Wisteria, was a lavender-infused hard cider – delicious. The mini ham-and-cheese pretzel-bun sliders I got were awesome, too.

17985 Armada Center Rd.

Armada, MI 48005

http://www.blakeshardcider.com

52. Union General – August 28, 2014 – Clarkston, MI

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What a delightful little store! It’s owned by the same people who own the Union Woodshop and the Clarkston Union (which I also hope to visit). There are lots of cute little trinkets and delicious cupcakes and frozen custard here. I bought a PB&J cupcake with peanut-butter buttercream frosting and a jelly center and a devil’s food cupcake with white-chocolate buttercream frosting – and wow, the icing on both was amazing. I also got some Anne Taintor crazy cat-lady napkins, because if being a cat lady is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

50 S. Main St.

Clarkston, MI 48346

http://www.uniongeneralstore.com

51. Union Woodshop – August 28, 2014 – Clarkston, MI

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The barbeque theme continued this week, as I visited the Union Woodshop, a restaurant famous for being featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and for being a favorite of Kid Rock. More ribs, pulled pork, mac ‘n’ cheese, and sweet-potato mash (love the charred jalapeñoes in theirs!) for me. I definitely think I hit the recommended limit on saturated-fat intake for the next month between my meal here and the one I ate at Bad Brad’s!

18 S. Main St.

Clarkston, MI 48346

http://www.unionwoodshop.com

50. Bad Brad’s BBQ – August 25, 2014 – New Baltimore, MI

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The halfway mark has officially been hit! Monday I finally hit up Bad Brad’s, an East-Side institution that I had heard friends and coworkers rave about for years but that I had never made it around to. A friend and I visited the New Baltimore location, which has a gorgeous patio (you know my penchant for patios. We gotta savor them while the warm weather is still here!). I went all out and got the two-meat platter with pulled pork and sliced brisket, mac ‘n’ cheese, and sweet-potato mash, and I added a quarter-rack of ribs. I ate most of it there, and by the end, I was practically oozing pork fat out of my pores (at least that’s how it felt!). Everything was awesome; I especially enjoyed the mac ‘n’ cheese.

35611 Green St.
New Baltimore, MI, 48047

(Locations also in Clinton Twp. and Shelby Twp.)

http://www.badbradsbbq.net

49. Amici’s – August 22, 2014 – Berkley, MI

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Photo courtesy of http://www.amicispizza.com

I am so bummed, because I took some pictures of Amici’s delightfully flower-festooned patio, but I accidentally deleted them off of my phone, thinking I had already emailed them to myself . . . yeah. So the picture of the patio above is one from the Amici’s website. The restaurant’s interior itself is cute, but as you can see, the patio is where you gotta be on a gorgeous summer day!

I love that this pizza place is a Certified Green Restaurant and that they offer some really unique pies. I ordered the Caribbean spicy jerk chicken pizza, which has a ginger-peanut sauce – quite a surprising flavor for a pizza (I wasn’t really sure about it at first, but it grew on me). I hope to try the black bean pizza when I return.

Probably my favorite part about Amici’s, however, was the two full pages of specialty martinis that they offer. I chose the salted caramel pretzel-tini – yum!

3249 Twelve Mile Rd.

Berkley, MI 48072

http://www.amicispizza.com

47. Public House – August 15, 2014 – Ferndale, MI

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Keef holding it down above the bar

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Boozy milkshakes!

This is yet another amazing bar in Ferndale, reaffirming my major crush on this city. Public House – like Green Dot Stables in Detroit – specializes in sliders. And there aren’t just the usual suspects – there are more quirky kinds and several vegetarian options, such as a lentil burger and a hazelnut-dusted cauliflower slider, which my friend tried and enjoyed. The favorite for both of us, however, was the buttermilk-fried-chicken slider; it sounds simple, but with its pimento cheese, jalapeño, pickle, and spicy sauce, it is totally delish. 

Public House also has a great beer selection as well as some boozy milkshakes (I got the orange one, which was like a liquor-laced Creamsicle). How can you go wrong with boozy milkshakes? Plus, the music they play comes from an actual record player, which I found incredibly cool (but I am a hipster at heart, which is probably why I love Ferndale so much in the first place). And helming the bar is a painting of Keith Richards in his iconic “Who the fuck is Mick Jagger?” t-shirt. Any place that’s good enough for Keef is certainly good enough for me.

241 W. Nine Mile Rd.

Ferndale, MI 48220

 

46. La Saj Lebanese Bistro – August 13, 2014 – Sterling Heights, MI

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Here is a place that I live very close to that’s been there for several years that I didn’t even know existed. And it’s AMAZING! If you like Lebanese food, you need to check this place out. I love garlic sauce, and they don’t charge for garlic sauce here; they set bowls of it down at the table with these mini pitas that you can dip it in and keep bringing both if you want more. And the dish I ordered, the chicken kabob oregano, was excellent. The sauce was so lemony and garlicky and delicious. I highly recommend this place.

13776 Southcove Dr.

Sterling Heights, MI 48313

http://www.lasaj.com

100 Places Halfway Mark / Six Month Overview!

Yesterday I realized I was exactly at the halfway mark with this 100 Places quest (started on February 8). Forty-five places down, fifty-five to go – not too off the mark!

Some stats about the journey so far:

*Forty-five places visited in sixteen cities

*Places visited broken down by county:

-Macomb: 14

-Oakland: 24

-Wayne: 7

*Top three most frequently-visited places (in order): 1. Ferndale 2. Royal Oak 3. Clinton Township.

These stats aren’t entirely surprising. I enjoy Ferndale and Royal Oak, and my current office job in Troy is relatively close to them, so it’s been easy to frequent them. And I live in Clinton Township, where there were somehow quite a few local places that I had never tried prior to starting this challenge.

Going forward, I would like there to be much more diversity in location, and I’d like to travel farther out from where I live to give a broader representation of the Metro-Detroit area. One thing that will definitely help this are career changes I’ll be making very soon. I have gotten a new office job – and will no longer have to work two jobs/seven days a week anymore – yay!!!

The thought of having two days off a week – instead of my current about two days off a month – is blowing my mind. I will have time to do weekend day trips! I will be able to go to farther-flung locations! In general, I will have time to have a life!

Additionally, I will now be working in Dearborn, which is much closer to Detroit, and for me, a whole new area onto itself. I’m hoping working close to Detroit will mean many more trips there in the next six months. I’ve only visited four new places there in the previous six months – pretty lame, especially given the title of this blog! This has a lot to do not only with a lack of free time but, admittedly, with my fear of driving and parking around the city. It’s so crazy, with all it’s wheel-spoke one-ways and unexpected road closures and parking garages that you thought you were going to park in being randomly full. I feel like I’m pretty much always thrown for a loop when I drive down there, and I hate it! But there are a lot of cool places down there that I want to check out, so I’ll have to just plunge in and take it one destination at a time.

Here are some of my goals for the next six months:

*Total cities visited to increase from 16 to at least 35

*Increase places visited in Detroit from 4 to at least 20

*Increase diversity/geological spread of places visited: at least five places visited in Washtenaw County, and a more balanced distribution among Macomb, Wayne, and Oakland Counties

My goals are pretty modest. If there is one thing I’ve realized since starting this project, it is that Metro-Detroit is pretty huge! And there really are a lot of cool local restaurants and stores and parks/attractions in this area. It would take years to properly explore it – which is a good thing, because it means that we all have no reason to get bored.

What I’ve also realized is that the important thing here is really the act of exploration itself. Trying new things is exciting. It’s been great to go to all of these new places – many of which I’ve known about and wanted to try for years – and to realize which ones I really like and which ones I probably won’t feel a need to visit again. I feel like I’ll have a much better knowledge of the area after completing this challenge and will be better able to recommend restaurants and bars, etc. to my family and friends.

I hope you are enjoying the summer and trying new places, too. Happy exploring!