This summer Lottie + Doof is hitting the road and exploring the Midwest. Like too many Chicagoans, I don’t leave the city often enough to visit the surrounding area. This summer I’m in search of good food and good times and I’ll be taking you along for the ride. First Stop: Ann Arbor, Michigan.
For me, Ann Arbor is synonymous with two things: the University of Michigan and Zingerman’s. I happen to care more about the later and so the main focus of our trip was getting to know the Zingerman’s empire. For those of you unfamiliar with Zingerman’s, the business started as a small deli and exploded into a food empire that includes a wonderful catalog full of gourmet products that can be delivered to your doorstep (more on Zingerman’s HERE). Having ordered many delicious things from their catalog in the past, I was excited to experience the magic in person. Bryan, my friend Katie and I set off for Michigan early one Saturday morning with the goal of arriving in time to catch the farmer’s market.
Well, we got a flat tire halfway there. After struggling to remove the tire we received a very valuable piece of advice from a friendly mechanic we called for help: Horse Kick it! Worked like a charm. We lost a couple of hours waiting at a tire shop in Hartford, MI (Thank you, Hartford!) and eventually made our way to beautiful Ann Arbor.
[My traveling companions. Don’t they look like they’re having fun? (Iggy Pop grew up in Ann Arbor!)]
We spent the next 24 hours eating. We went to every Zingerman’s outpost (The Roadhouse, The Deli, The Bakeshop, The Creamery, and the Coffee Shop) Yes, We completed the “Tour de Food”—and what a tour it was! The food was all excellent, but I knew it would be. What really impressed me were the people. At every single stop we were greeted by enthusiastic employees who seemed excited to help us make decisions and learn more about food. At the bakeshop we were given an impromtu tour behind the scenes and saw bakers loading loaves of bread into the ovens. We learned that in less than a year they had already baked close to 2 million loaves of bread. At the creamery we tried samples of gelatos and cheeses and I bought some seriously delicious butter. At the Roadhouse our server gave us a taste of one of the desserts we had been debating over because he didn’t want to see us coming all that way without trying it. Who are these people?! In any other circumstance they might have freaked me out. I’m always skeptical when I encounter that sort of corporate loyalty, but this was the real deal. These were people who liked their jobs and loved food. The excitement over the food was contagious and I left more in love with Zingerman’s than ever. We also left with a cooler full of cheeses, some fancy olive oils and vinegars.
[The peanut butter gelato was my favorite]
[The reuben really is fantastic.]
[Pimento cheese and bacon was a close second!)
Obviously our food consumption was dominated by Zingerman’s but we did happen upon another gem that is worth mentioning. Ann Arbor has a charming shopping arcade called Nickels Arcade and right in the middle is a small coffee shop named Comet. It is an incredibly well-designed space. The coffee is top notch and the employees were so friendly that we started to believe only nice people live in Michigan. One of them even offered to draw me a map! In addition to coffee, the shop sells some pastries and a bunch of coffee brewing equipment including fancy siphon systems from Japan and ceramic single cup drip brewers. I really fell in love with this place and would rank it among the top coffee shops I have been to in this world of ours. It is a perfect little place and I wish we had gotten to spend more time there.
All in all, it was a really fun trip and well worth the drive from Chicago. Thanks, Ann Arbor, for the good times.
422 Detroit Street
16 Nickels Arcade