Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Detroit Dining: We Came, We Celebrated, We Ate

Welcome back from the holidays, fair readers. It was a nice long break for me! A good chunk of my time off was spent in Michigan, land of cars, wolverines and my honey's family!

So I thought I'd kickoff off the new year with a quick round up of what went down in my hubby's hood.

The rather scary and snowy drive from Michigan back to Atlanta

It's hard to believe, but I've just entered the home stretch of my pregnancy (2 trimesters down, 1 to go!) I was lucky enough over the break to be feted by my mother-in-law and my hubby's family and friends up in Michigan. The Courthouse Grill was kitted out with Christmas decorations galore, and served up a lovely luncheon of chicken cherry salad, chicken primavera and my personal fave, chicken picatta. Good conversation, tasty eats and loads of adorable and generous gifts for Baby V...what's not to love? A huge thank you to everyone for the wonderful gifts and especially to my mother-in-law for putting on such an all around delightful event!

Little know fact (at least in our neck of the woods) - Dearborn, MI, is not only home to Ford Motor Company, but also to America's largest population of Arab Americans. That makes for some good middle eastern dining options. We dined at Al-Ameer Restaurant, which is tucked away in an unassuming strip mall. The ambiance was better than I expected. I was envisioning hole in the wall, but it was a pleasant and fairly traditional feeling dining room.

We have plenty of places in Atlanta to get hummus and falafal, but how many places serve lesser known options like arayes or sujuk? I loved the arayes' combination of textures and flavors, with crisp toasted bread housing crunchy pinenuts and garlicy lamb. Dipping it in a cool, sour yogurt, made it even better. Sujuk is a delectable combination of slightly spicy sausage cooked with tomatoes in a tart sauce. We used pita to scoop up every last bit of tomatoey goodness.

Fried eggplant and cauliflower, although not quite as exciting as I'd hoped for, still rounded out the meal nicely. Bizarrely, they come with a side of fries, so it was a Middle Eastern fried bonanza. Al Ameer is also known for their smoothies. We were keen to try an avocado based smoothie, but they were out so we opted for the recommended milk cocktail (milk, banana, honey, and ice), which was unfortunately pretty bland.

And last up on our dining out in Michigan tour was a stop at Ann Arbor's beloved Zingerman's Roadhouse, a kitschy and cozy upscale comfort food favorite. While we waited I enjoyed a root beer on tap, which is quite the treat when you're el prego. Then we were fortunate enough to get a freebie order of Sea Island Sweet Potato Fries (twice cooked and served with spicy mayo), which although simple, were crazy delicious. So soft and sweet and that sauce was to die for!

For my entree, I went for the fried chicken, and was unfortunately disappointed by that. It seemed a little overcooked and under-salted. Fortunately we also split an order of pimento Bacon Macaroni (Martelli pasta caramelized with applewood smoked bacon and our housemade Southern pimento cheese). At $18.50, it ain't cheap, but there was plenty for 3 of us to share, and it was just as ooey gooey decadent as you'd expect. Yum!

Add to that several impressive home-cooked meals (spaghetti and meatballs, honey glazed ham and roasted turkey...oh my!), and we were well fed indeed. Now on to those New Year's resolutions to cut down on the heavy food and sweets...sigh...
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