Month: December 2019

450. Detroit Sip – December 7, 2019 – Detroit, MI

December2019DetroitSip1 (3)December2019DetroitSip2 (2)I love the spirit of Detroit Sip, exemplified by the motto emblazoned on a wall of its interior: “Uniting the community one sip at a time.”

When I visited the Detroit-based, independently-owned coffee shop near the University of Detroit Mercy campus earlier this month, I definitely felt welcomed into community by the owner, who was working the counter that day. She was lovely, chatting with me about the shop and her background and asking me questions about myself as she made my cappuccino, while a man who was visiting with her joined in on the conversation.

I spent about an hour at Detroit Sip during that visit, settled into a comfy armchair near the windows. Soaking up the warm sunlight streaming in, the delicious, caffeine-infused richness of the cappuccino, and the overall cheery vibes of the place made configuring my monthly budget MUCH more enjoyable (here’s to making tedious tasks pleasant with a change in scenery!).

While I loved this prime window perch, I appreciated Detroit Sip’s other, ample seating options, including at brightly-painted tables splashed with uplifting sayings. Festive holiday decorations festooned the walls during my visit, while a Christmas tree graced one corner.

Besides offering tasty coffee and tea drinks, Detroit Sip serves fresh-baked goodies and snacks from beloved local vendors, such as Germack and Faygo. Handmade jewelry for sale is also on display.

In today’s world, community can feel difficult to find – but as I was reminded of by my visit to Detroit Sip, a sense of community is really not hard to foster. Simply visiting somewhere new and engaging in conversation with the people you find there can make the world a much more friendly, connected place. Thanks, Detroit Sip, for reminding me of that!

7420 W. McNichols Rd.

Detroit, MI 48221

(Open Thursdays through Sundays)

www.detroitsip.com

449. Mongers’ Provisions – November 29, 2019 – Detroit, MI

November2019Mongers'Provisions1 (3)I was drawn into Mongers’ Provisions by the prospect of cheese but blown away by another of its offerings: its chocolate collection.

I love cheese, but chocolate, that resides in a place smack-dab at the center of my heart. And WOW, does Mongers’ Provisions proffer a LOT of chocolate! Artisan chocolate bars, from all parts of the world and infused with all kinds of flavorings, fill shelves along one wall of the shop based in the Midtown/Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit. Study those shelves, and you’ll see varietals as wide-ranging as chili-infused dark chocolate and white chocolate melded with duck egg, curry, and cereal (!).

Both of those varietals listed above, by the way, were ones I got to sample during my visit to Mongers’. The employee assisting me insisted that I sample any chocolate I was interested in, an offer that I found to be extremely generous, as the bars offered at Mongers’ are not cheap. It showcases artisan chocolates, with many – if not all – focused on using cacao procured via fair-trade means. These are distinctive chocolate bars, crafted with superior ingredients. I can’t recall exactly how much that white chocolate/duck egg/curry/cereal bar cost, but I believe it was in the $12-to-$14 range. And it was phenomenal, I might add. Who knew such seemingly discordant ingredients could meld into such creamy, flavorful deliciousness?

The chili-infused dark chocolate variety I sampled at Mongers’ was quite good, as well. But it was the third bar I tasted, the Raaka Raspberry Mint, in which I decided to invest. I love the rich, almost jammy raspberry flavor and subtle hint of mint in this creamy, 65-percent dark chocolate bar, which uses unroasted cacao beans sourced from the Dominican Republic. And at $8, the price of this bar was admittedly more in line with my current budget than some of Mongers’ other chocolate offerings.

Since my visit, I’ve definitely been keeping this shop and its fantastic chocolate collection in mind. Not only do I hope to delve into it more in the future, but I also think the singular bars that comprise it would make excellent gifts, different as they are from the generic (and oft subpar) chocolates commonly found at chain grocers.

Similarly, the cheeses offered at Mongers’ are a far cry from the waxy, hyper-processed, is-there-even-dairy-in-here? stuff that often passes as cheese. They are specially curated varieties, with some – such as the Bayley Hazen Blue featured on its website – priced at over $30 a pound. These are cheeses that are meant to be savored, perhaps alongside a nice glass of wine or squares of that artisan chocolate.

Mongers’ Provisions offers more than thoughtfully compiled chocolates and cheeses. Keeping to the provisions part of its name, it also sells beer, wine, drink mixers, cured meats, and dry goods that would pair well with cheeses and chocolates, such as aged balsamic vinegar and one of my favorite locally-made products EVER, Gus & Grey jams. It also offers epic cheese and charcuterie boards; check out its website for oh-so-pretty (and mouth-watering) images of them.

I’m happy to have become acquainted with this shop that brings such care and attention to detail to its offerings and to its customer service. Thanks, Mongers’ Provisions, for being such a top-notch provider of charcuterie, cheese, and that element most near and dear to my heart: chocolate!

4240 Cass Ave., Ste. 111

Detroit, MI 48201

(with an additional location in Ferndale)

www.mongersprovisions.com

448. Spread Deli – November 29, 2019 – Detroit, MI

November2019SpreadDeli1 (3)November2019SpreadDeli2 (3)November2019SpreadDeli3 (2)Spread Deli, thank you for being you!

The deli/coffee shop based in the Midtown/Cass Corridor neighborhood of Detroit served up a mega-tasty, mega-huge sandwich to me during Thanksgiving weekend (because you know me: instead of braving the malls on Black Friday, I was trying new places!). And it did so with a friendliness that made me feel welcome to stay and hang, which I did for a while.

I started out my visit to Spread with its Big Al sandwich, a gargantuan and most delectable concoction of sliced turkey breast, mashed avocado, lettuce, onion, tomato, provolone cheese, and sriracha-infused mayo. The sandwich came with a bag of kettle-cooked potato chips and was so filling that I opted to take half of it home.

Then, from Spread’s coffee bar, I ordered a cappuccino. I savored its delicious flavor and ample amount of foam (good foam action: so integral to a cappuccino!) while I typed away at my computer from a stool at the window-facing counter.

While I was facing that window and the streetscape beyond it while at Spread, I dug the deli’s interior and the contrast between its white walls and the vibrant artwork displayed on them. Those walls were also host to numerous scrawlings (spelling out messages of gratitude for Spread and the always-fun-to-read variety of musings).

While I ate and drank and worked, patrons filtered in and out of the restaurant; Spread’s owner (who was working the sandwich counter) seemed to know most of them. I love when places foster that sense of community and repeat customers. And I know from personal experience: Spread Deli is worthy of a repeat visit!

4215 Cass Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.spreaddelidetroit.com

447. Berkley Common – November 14, 2019 – Berkley, MI

November2019BerkleyCommon2 (2)November2019BerkleyCommon3 (3)On a gloomy night during these, the shortest days of the year, Berkley Common was for me a beacon of warmth, conviviality, and culinary goodness!

I met a friend at the restaurant based in downtown Berkley on a weeknight in mid-November. Right away, I was captivated by its interior, which I would describe as a mix of rustic (forest-scape murals on the walls, lots of wood finishes), industrial-chic contemporary (minimalist light fixtures, exposed ductwork, earth tones), and retro (it’s got a jukebox!) all wrapped into one.

Next, I was knocked out by my drink selection. From Berkley Common’s menu of craft cocktails, I chose the server-recommended Smoke Ring for my Halo, which was FANTASTIC with its melding of blanco tequila, mezcal, lime, blueberry, jalapeño, and agave. I loved the mix of sweet, smoky, and spicy – SO perfect!

And then, I was blown away by my dinner choice. From the menu of appetizers, sliders, salads, hirata buns, burgers, tacos, and other goodies (which included various vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free options), I chose spare ribs with a Thai peanut barbecue sauce. They were oh-so-tasty, tender nuggets of meaty goodness slathered with rich, flavorful sauce, sprinkled with crushed peanuts and water chestnuts, and served on a bed of roasted vegetables. My stomach definitely had the warm-and-fuzzies after eating them!

And I left Berkley Common feeling all-around full of the warm-and-fuzzies after that lovely evening of dinner, drinks, and bonding with a friend. It was dark outside, but the light of that positive experience would buoy me in that darkness!

3087 12 Mile Rd.

Berkley, MI 48072

(Closed Mondays; open for dinner Tuesdays through Fridays, brunch/lunch and dinner Saturdays and Sundays)

www.berkleycommon.com

446. Ochre Bakery – November 10, 2019 – Detroit, MI

November2019OchreBakery1 (2)November2019OchreBakery3 (2)November2019OchreBakery2 (3)Here’s Ochre Bakery, combining two of my favorite things: coffee houses and baked goods! I had a wonderful time there during my visit a month ago.

Ochre Bakery bills itself as a bakery and café, serving up tea, coffee, and espresso drinks; fresh-baked breads, croissants, cakes, and pastries; and smoothies, sandwiches, salads, breakfast foods, and other goodies.

The café is in a nondescript area of the Woodbridge neighborhood of Detroit, on Grand River Avenue. On Yelp, I’d read reviews recommending using a cluster of nearby shipping containers to help identify its location, which did aid me in spotting its white-brick façade dappled with navy-blue dots and the cute courtyard area fronting it.

Inside, I learned that half of the tables at Ochre Bakery are reserved for patrons who desire the restaurant experience – to be waited on by servers – while the other half are available for those who’d like to order from the counter and seat themselves. Coming from a meal at Coop Caribbean Fusion via Detroit Shipping Company, I opted for the less formal experience of ordering at the counter.

I’d been so full from that meal at Detroit Shipping Company that I’d skipped dessert there. Here I was a scant half hour later, spying Ochre Bakery’s house-made chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream frosting and suddenly sensing an appetite inside me (I always have room for chocolate cake). I ordered a slice of it and a cappuccino, which were delivered to my table when they were ready.

The chocolate cake tasted as delicious as it looked; it was pure decadence! I savored its layers of rich, moist cake and creamy, sugary frosting. It paired well with the flavorful cappuccino.

I also savored Ochre Bakery’s excellent vibes. Every staff member I encountered there was lovely, and the café’s interior emanated cheerful tranquility with its earth tones and potted plants, its counter of veined white marble and blond wood and tile painted with designs done in blue and its namesake color. I loved sitting inside there, reading and writing and sipping and savoring and soaking it all in. Ochre Bakery is the kind of place I yearn to return to.

4884 Grand River Ave., Ste. 1B

Detroit, MI 48208

http://www.ochrebakery.com

445. Detroit Shipping Company / Coop Caribbean Fusion – November 10, 2019 – Detroit, MI

November2019DetroitShippingCo.1 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.3 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.5 (2)November2019DetroitShippingCo.4 (2)The Detroit Shipping Company is a container for a lot of things: art galleries, live music, event space, bars, a food hall. There’s a place that sells coffee and ice cream (-320º Coffee and Creamery), a space that holds pop-up shops, a podcast studio, and plenty of outdoor seating (ah, patio weather!), including on a rooftop deck.

The 10,000-square-foot complex located at 474 Peterboro Street gets its name from the fact that it’s been constructed from metal shipping containers, which have been painted a striking metallic blue hue.

I visited Detroit Shipping Company on a Sunday afternoon in November. I went solo, a status I admittedly regretted upon walking into the food hall on the first floor of the building.

The place had the kind of atmosphere that begged to be shared with someone: lively, convivial, celebratory. Groups of family and friends clustered at the long wooden tables in the food hall, eating, drinking, and having a ball. I wanted to be there eating, drinking, and having a ball with my friends! But I decided to make the best of my solo time on that day, reminding myself that I could always do a revisit with pals.

Detroit Shipping Company’s food hall reminded me of a mall food court – except much hipper and with much more compelling offerings. Communal tables presided in the center, and a full bar and stalls staffed by local restauranteurs ringed the perimeter. A guitarist serenaded patrons from a second-floor balcony.

When checking out the foodstuffs offered at Detroit Shipping Company prior to my visit, I was immediately intrigued by the choices. There was a taco joint (Brujo Tacos and Tapas), a place that offered Thai cuisine (Bangkok 96 Street Food), a stand serving Nepalese dumplings (Momo Cha). And there was the stall from which I decided to eat: Coop Caribbean Fusion.

I was attracted to the restaurant’s flavorful-sounding food, specifically the Motor City Chicken Sandwich and Caribbean Fries. Those become my lunch!

After ordering that sandwich and fries at the Coop counter, I was given a buzzer that lit up and vibrated when my meal was ready.

Greeted by the sight of the open-face fried chicken sandwich nestled on a bed of Texas toast and slathered in barbecue sauce, bacon, cilantro, coleslaw, and aioli and French fries loaded with queso fresco cheese, Caribbean seasonings, cilantro, and cilantro-infused aioli, I was excited to dig in.

The meal was a flavor explosion! The barbecue sauce on Coop’s Motor City Chicken Sandwich was rich and flavorful, as was the coleslaw; its crispy chicken was juicy and tasty. And with their creamy queso fresco and zesty seasonings, the Caribbean Fries were the show-stealer of the meal for me, fried to an ideal crispness and loaded as they were with those luxurious toppings. Mmm mmm and MMM!

I’d planned to end my visit to Detroit Shipping Company with some ice cream from -320º Coffee and Creamery, but I was so stuffed from that decadent lunch from Coop that I opted to forego it. A return to this receptacle for ample food, drink, creativity, and community is in order, anyway; Detroit Shipping Company is the kind of place that entreats one to visit again and again – whether solo or with friends.

474 Peterboro St.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.detroitshippingcompany.com

www.coopdetroit.com

444. Sawmill Creek Farms – November 9, 2019 – Richmond, MI

November2019SawmillCreek1 (2)November2019SawmillCreek2 (2)Sawmill Creek Farms, I’m so happy to have been introduced to you!!!

The Richmond-based family-run farm breeds livestock and sells the resulting wares at a shop on the farm premises. A coworker brought the farm to my attention, raving about how great tasting the meat was, how reasonable the prices were, and how well treated the animals appeared to be.

Her high praises had me intrigued. Scoping out Sawmill Creek Farms’ website, I read about the husband-and-wife duo, Sarah and Nick, who run the farm and their philosophy of raising livestock humanely, livestock fed on grain and hay grown on the farm and without antibiotics or hormones added to their diet, as well as the farm’s use of an USDA-inspected processing facility to process the animals into meat and its holding of a retail food license.

Liking what I saw on that website,  I knew a visit to Sawmill Creek Farms was in order. So on a sunny Saturday in early November (just two days before that snowstorm that dumped mega inches on us!), I jaunted out to Richmond.

Perched at the edge of Memphis Ridge Road, Sawmill Creek Farms’ shop was easy to spot as I approached it. It was a welcoming sight with its neat red exterior with white shutters and trim and its cheery fall displays of hay bales, pumpkins, and potted mums.

Stepping inside the shop, I was greeted by Sarah and a visiting customer who was chatting with her. One of Sarah’s two young boys bounced about on a couch in the corner, playing and watching TV.

Sarah explained how each of the white freezers inside the shop was labelled with the different cuts of meat it held. She handed me price lists showing the current costs of the cuts of meat offered as well as a sheet explaining six available meat bundles. She mentioned that depending on the current availability, some of the products offered might not be available at that time.

I was so excited to mine those freezers! They were filled with all manner of cuts of beef, chicken, and pork, plus sausages and bologna. The cuts available ranged from chicken breasts to bacon to beef fajita meat to various types of roasts to various types of steaks to pork chops . . ..

From this dizzying array, I selected: seven pounds of ground beef; two whole chickens; a beef rump roast; and a packet of pork country ribs. I got all of this (plus a Sawmill Creek Farms reusable shopping bag, which I received for free for spending a certain amount) for around $80, which I found to be quite reasonable. My haul is shown in the photo above.

While Sarah was ringing up my order, we chatted about the farm. She confirmed that the animals are allowed to roam the Sawmill Creek Farms pastures during their lives there and are so beloved by her and her family that a few have been taken out of eligibility for processing and designated pets (which she said her husband jokingly refers to as “hay-burners”). I told her how happy I was to find a place that raised meat ethically, how I am an unabashed meat eater but that it’s important to me to buy meat for my home cooking that comes from animals that have had a good life and how such meat can be hard to find.

I really enjoyed chatting with Sarah and getting to shop at her family’s store. I have also enjoyed getting into the Sawmill Creek Farms wares! Since my visit about three weeks ago, I have roasted one of the whole chickens I purchased and cooked two of the pounds of ground hamburger meat I bought (incorporating one into chili and the other into tacos), and all of the meat has tasted most delicious. In my book, Sawmill Creek Farms is emphatically a keeper.

If you are a meat eater and live in the area, I encourage you to check this farm out! Knowing where your meat comes from is most definitely a good feeling.

76320 Memphis Ridge Rd.

Richmond, MI 48062

(Closed Sundays and Mondays)

www.sawmillcreekfarmsllc.com