Thursday, June 22, 2017

detroit, mi. thoughts + a food guide.

When Tyler and I told people we were visiting Detroit, 90% of the people had a look of horror on their faces and asked why, 5% were indifferent, and 5% thought it sounded awesome (that 5% was mostly made-up of my parents and siblings). 

To say I began to question my choice would be a bit of an understatement. 

But Detroit is an incredible city.  Yes there are pockets of poverty and so many abandoned and dilapidated homes (that Tyler and I talked endlessly about rehabbing) but it is place filled with generosity, resiliency, and some of the friendliest people I've ever met. It's a place that feels mis-understood but also on the cusp of its 2nd golden age.  It's a place I could see us living in.   

Detroit has a lot to offer.  Some incredible museums (we only visited one since the weather was so good while we were there), a plethora of breweries, and some of the best food made by people who are truly embracing that whole locavore/seasonal/small-plate thing I love.   Below, find a handful of places we tried and loved.  This was only the tip of the iceberg, but I know we'll be back so I don't feel too bad about it.   


Gold Cash Gold - The first restaurant I had on my list and the only reservation I made.   It's located in an old pawn shop.   Hyper-seasonal with  a really interesting menu the veers in all different directions (some Southern, some Mexican).  We swooned over the cocktails, marrow dumplings, tomatillo salad, and vegan ice-cream sandwich.   

Gather - Our last dinner.  It just opened (like 2 weeks before we arrived) but it had been getting such good press that I felt we had to go.   Small-plate/shareable style (though if you are used to NY small plates then these plates would not be considered small).  Focus on grilled foods (fish, chicken, and bread).  We loved the homemade bread, crunchy salad, and a most excellent strawberry ice cream sandwich.   

Detroit Institute of Bagels - Probably the friendliest bagel shop I've ever been to.  Great bagel sandwiches best eaten in between river swimming.   

Sister Pie - My favorite stop in Detroit.   So many pies (we had Strawberry Pistachio and Marshmallow Butterscotch) and incredibly good cookies (the peanut butter paprika is awesome).   I really hope they make a cookbook.   I would fly back out there solely for more pie

Rose's Fine Foods - I've always wanted to own a diner and if I ever do such a thing, it will be modeled after this place.   Quirky with an emphasis on homemade (they make their bread).  It's diner perfection.   We had an order of pancakes with yogurt and caramelized bananas that may be my new favorite breakfast dish.    

The Farmer's Hand - A corner store/specialty grocer that only sells items made in Detroit.   We stopped her for local kombucha and cookies.   A great place to pick-up something fun to bring home.  

Bon Bon Bon   - A chocolate shop that is anything but traditional.  The flavors are out of control and their packaging is awesome.   


Detroit Museum of Art -  A very impressive art museum that has Egyptian galleries, European art and an awesome contemporary wing.  It's a nice way to spend a couple of hours indoors.

Belle Isle - Probably my favorite stop in all of Detroit.   This is an island situated between Detroit and Canada.   There are a whole bunch of different attractions on the island (golfing, aquarium, etc) but we brought a picnic, a couple of towels, some books and magazines, and spent the day swimming in the Detroit river.  There's a great mix of hipsters and families and and sandy shore to lay out on.  Our day spent there was my kind of perfect day. 

Eastern Market - Due to plane delays we missed going here but if you are a food lover it's a market you don't want to miss.   There are vendors, produce stalls, and other booths selling locally made items.   It's also one of the oldest running markets in the US!   


Jolly Pumpkin Brewery - Great collection of sour beers (something Tyler and I are very into at this moment).   They also sell pizza's to help you sop up some of that beer (and the pizza comes highly rated).  

Detroit Brewing Company - Across the street from Jolly Pumpkin.  They have a great outdoor seating area and nice rotating list of beers so you can always find something seasonal on tap.

Batch Brewing Company - My ideal brewery.   Great bar food (we had a really excellent cubano and homemade pretzels), family friendly (should you be traveling with kids, they have games), and some excellent beers.  They also make a beer slushie for the summer and let me tell you, it's awesome.   

Places I didn't hit but wish I had time for - Mabel Grey, Mudgie's Deli.  The MoTown Museum.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

pistachio cake with strawberries.

I've been eating strawberries with such abandon (we're talking about 2 quarts a week in our house).   For breakfast with keffir or atop pancakes.  For lunch as a side to roasted vegetables and a wedge of cheese (such a lunch makes me think for about 15 minutes I'm not at my desk) and for dessert pretty much every which way. In a bowl covered in a thick layer of whipped cream, in galettes, and baked in strussel bars.  2017 has been the year of the strawberry.   

But for all the ways I've consumed them, this is perhaps my favorite.   I never thought much about the pairing of strawberries and pistachios (strawberries and almonds yes, but not strawberries and pistachios) but let me tell you, it is incredible.   A buttery, fragrant, tender cake (that is quite frankly even better on day 3 then day 1) gets paired with ripe, juicy, bursting with flavor with strawberries.   It's a dessert that epitomizes early June and everything I love about it.   

Pistachio Cake with Strawberries 
Pistachio Cake recipe (without Strawberries) from Smitten Kitchen

For the Cake 

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (140 grams) roasted, shelled, and unsalted pistachios
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
10 tablespoons (5 ounces or 145 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Slightly heaped 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (115 grams) all-purpose flour

For the Lemon-Pistachio Glaze 

1/3 cup (40 grams) roasted, shelled, and unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

Heat oven: To 325 degrees F. Line the bottom and long sides of a loaf pan with a sling of parchment paper. Coat paper and exposed short sides of loaf pan with nonstick spray or butter.

With a food processor: In the work bowl of your food processor, grind pistachios, sugar and salt together until as powdery as you can get them without it turning to paste. Cut butter into small chunks and blend with pistachio mixture. It’s going to be lumpy at first, and then balled for a minute, but keep running the machine until the mixture loosens up into a frosting-like consistency, i.e. smooth and shiny. Add eggs, one at time, blending briefly between each, scraping down sides as needed. Add milk, blend to combine. Add extracts and baking powder and blend to fully combine, scraping down workbowl. Add flour and pulse just until it disappears.

Without a food processor: You’re going to want to start with 140 grams pistachio meal or flour and softened butter and can proceed as with a traditional cake. Beat butter and sugar until fluffy, then beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in milk, then extracts until smooth. Beat in salt and baking powder until fully combined, scraping down bowl well. Add flour and mix just until it disappears.

To bake: Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread top smooth. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes (see note up top by way of explanation/apology). Mine took 70, but it’s safest to check sooner. Look for a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake to come out clean and then, do a second check near the top. I find with loaf cakes that the undercooked batter likes to hover right below the top crust. It often takes 10 minutes extra (built into this baking time already) just for that to set for me.

Let cake cool in pan on rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a knife around cake and transfer to cooling rack. Let cool completely.

To make glaze (optional): Bring pistachios, sugar, zest, and juice to a simmer in a small saucepan; simmer for 2 to 3 minutes then pour over cooled cake.

To serve: Cut into slices.  Top with sliced strawberries (preferably macerated for about 10 minutes in lemon juice and a teaspoon or 2 of sugar) and some whipped cream. Cake is great on the first day but even better on the second, as the ingredients settle. Keep at room temperature for several days, wrapped in foil, or longer in freezer.