Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: The Beach Grill

"One if by Land,

'Two if by Sea ...

'No matter how you get there, it's always a party! (How's that for poetry?)

'This 19,000-square-foot 'restaurant and resort' is home to one of the most popular party scenes in the summertime. Every Friday, you can check out the Mega 80's obliterating the dance floor with '80s pop, rock and metal covers in the Aqua Bar. Saturdays bring you DJ Mike Anthony and DJ Matt A with the sexy summer party series called 'Disco Beach.' Most recently, Playboy Playmate (and the world's sexiest DJ), Miss Colleen Shannon, spun for an A-list crowd at their 'Midsummer Night's Dream' ('wet dream' would be more like it).

'The place is expansive — soaring windows and ceilings drenched with light and color create a swanky resort feel, while the 5,000-square-foot patio (complete with a tiki bar) offers a lively outdoor experience in the heart of the Nautical Mile directly over Lake St. Clair. The Aqua Bar is a destination all its own, with a state-of-the-art light and sound system and 30-foot video projection, as well as a dance floor bigger than most people's apartments.

'Let's see ... indoor/outdoor destination for the land-dwellers and water-logged alike; ultra-trendy nightclub and lounge that attracts world-class DJs and celebrities; award-winning restaurant serving a variety of fresh seafood and tropically-minded dishes. This place is basically a paradise-themed playground for adults — a Caribbean-concept Vegas resort as imagined by Michiganders, where it's Spring Break all summer long!..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beerfest in Pictures

I had the intention of photographing Beerfest (Note: it's not actually called "Beerfest," but has some other more civilized and proper name. I thumb my nose at civilized and proper.) and posting a nice photoblog of participating vendors and general merry-making, knowing full well that this is the kind of event in which my communication abilities would be reduced to short, declarative statements such as "I'm drunk," "I'm hungry," "I wanna go," and "I think I'm gonna puke.". This is what I ended up with.


Nothing like buying your wicker chickens and moon pies all in one place. Also, a great place to practice foot-shuffling.


A solid basecoat.


Look, it's Paulie!!!



My two favorite words: Media Pass.


Blessed be thine name.


Whole lotta white people running through mud, drinking beer, wearing sweat bibs.

PS, I coined a new term for "wifebeater": sweat bib. Go forth and procreate.


This guy actually walked into a tattoo parlor and said, "You know what I want? I want a tattoo of a big fucking Guinness logo. And I want it right above my ASS." And so it was.


Sitting on the dock by the river, smoking ciggies, drinking beer. A near-perfect day.



What surprised me the most was the number of people wearing galoshes. Who knew so many people owned galoshes? Must be a white person thing.



Mud.



Our thoughts on mud.

Oh the things one can achieve with a BAC of .14


Mine too, bro. Mine too.



Beerfest: The Deevolution.



And we devolve even further.



I'm not even sure what I was trying to do here.


We've all been there, pal.


Thanks to Dianna Higgs Stampfler for all the love...I hope you can enjoy the rest of your summer!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Sherwood Brewing Company

"Once upon a time, in the magical kingdom of Shelby Township, lived a captivating couple — Sir Ray and Lady Lisa. Sir Ray was a wizard; his spellbinding potions were called "beer" by the populace. And Lady Lisa possessed a beguiling charm and warmth that all the good people in the kingdom adored. Then, a long, long time ago (but not too long — four years on August 31, to be exact), Sir Ray and Lady Lisa decided to combine their considerable powers in a lovely and enchanting place called "Sherwood," and thus, Sherwood Brewing Company was born.

'Ray had already been brewing for several years and saw brewpubs were scarce in this particular corner of Macomb County. He makes beers that are just one parameter off from the "standard styles," specialty brews that would be considered Frankensteins by "proper beer authorities," but beers his customers love nonetheless — a wheat IPA, a hopped amber. You like hops? So does Ray. The Green River Wheat IPA, on tap now, is a holy hopmonster. Coming soon is the dry-hopped Asylum Amber, as well as the Daily Grind Kona Porter, Entire Buzz Honey Porter and Mistress Jade's Hemp Ale. Their Buxom BlonDDe Ale is one of their most popular beers, on tap year-round and light enough in both color and body to appeal to the quantity-over-quality types of beer consumers, but with enough depth to also appeal to the aficionados as a stellar golden ale..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

BEERFEST!

Das boot! Das boot! Das boot!

Time to get sloppy!

This weekend is the 13th Annual Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti's Depot Town. So if you're on your way out to the Ann Arbor Art Fair, make a pit stop here first (trust me, the beer will make the A2F2 crowds much more tolerable. And attractive!); see why Michigan has more than earned the name "The Great Beer State" (we're considered one of the top craft brew states in the country in both production quantity and quality, did you know that? Now you do.) I'll be there with bells on...and hopefully reflectors and a GPS tracker just in case I get lost and it gets dark.

A joint resolution by the Michigan House and Senate officially designates July as Michigan Craft Beer Month. Senate Resolution 0164 introduced by Senator Mike Nofs (R – Battle Creek / 19th District) and House Resolution 0301 introduced by Representative Rebekah Warren (D – Ann Arbor / 53rd District) each support the state’s growing craft brewing industry.

“The craft beer industry is one of the bright spots in our economy,” said Nofs. “It has seen double-digit growth over the past two years, despite the overall economic downturn. Our brewers employ thousands of residents, and support the state's agriculture, restaurant and tourism industries. It has also taken the lead in promoting the safe, responsible use of its products.”

The Michigan Brewers Guild encourages residents and visitors to the Great Beer State to celebrate Michigan Craft Beer Month by visiting area brewpubs and microbreweries, purchasing Michigan craft beer at retail outlets and restaurants and attending regional celebrations like the 13th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival (July 23-24) at Riverside Park in Ypsilanti’s historic Depot Town.

More than 50 Michigan craft breweries will showcase 300-plus craft beers at the Summer Beer Festival, which runs from 5-9pm on Friday, July 23 and 1-6pm on Saturday, July 24. Admission tickets for the 2010 Summer Beer Festival, (including 15 drink tokens) are:

Friday (7/23) - $30 in advance ($35 at the gate if available)
Saturday (7/24) - $35 in advance ($40 at the gate if available)

This year’s entertainment includes Trouser (alternative rock) followed by Harper (world beat/blues/funk) on Friday and Dead String Brothers (blend of Americana and Motown), followed by Witchdoctors (swampy blues) on Saturday.

The Guild will continue efforts to keep this highly popular festival – which expects to draw more than 9000 individuals over the course of two days – into an event with a lower environmental footprint. Local organizations, such as Recycle Ann Arbor and Green On-Site, will once again assist in a series of initiatives to help keep the post-festival waste a minimum. Such efforts include:

* Placing recycling bins throughout the festival grounds, allowing for the separation of food products from recyclable products.
* Using plates, bowls, cups, hand-towels and eating utensils made from biodegradable products, which will be disposed of at a local composting station instead of a landfill.
* Setting up bulk water stations, instead of plastic bottles of water.
* Utilizing volunteers to assist at recycling stations, making sure all the recyclables are properly sorted from the food items.

Advanced tickets for the Michigan Brewers Guild Summer Beer Festival may be purchased online at www.michiganbrewersguild.org, at participating member breweries and select retail locations around the state or by calling 877-772-5425. Attendees must be 21 or older to attend. Designated driver tickets are available online and at the gate for $5 each. Additional drink tokens are available for 50 cents each.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes over $24 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education; and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state. For more information, including a list of Michigan microbreweries, log on to www.michiganbrewersguild.org.

Think globally. Drink locally. Join me in my self-righteousness beer snobbery. Next time someone offers you a Miller, wave your hand with a look of disgust and sneer "What is this swill you insult me with? Be gone with you!" Seriously, try it; it's fun.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July Supper Club at Iridescence

Foie gras peanut butter and jelly torchon at Iridescence

This is the one we’ve all been waiting for…on Wednesday, July 28 starting at 6:00PM, Supper Club will ascend to the top level of the Motor City Casino and revel in a feast for the eyes and mouth at the unrivaled Iridescence.

Iridescence is the only AAA four-diamond-rated restaurant in the city of Detroit. The d├ęcor is nothing short of stunning, with 60-ft windows offering a panoramic view of the city, plush ultra-chic furnishings, LED accent lighting, and a soaring ceiling, diners will feel as though they’ve been transported to one of the trendiest restaurants in Miami or Monte Carlo. The experience is heightened exponentially by Chef de Cuisine Derik Watson’s food – deconstructed comfort food classics gone couture. They also have a Wine Spectator award-winning wine list and an award-winning house pastry chef, Patricia Nash. This is TRULY world-class dining, and will make for an unforgettable experience.

First course
Onion Soup Gratin
~OR~
Cold Asparagus salad arugula fried duck egg, prosciutto, black truffle vinaigrette

Second Course
Confit of Chicken Pappardelle
Mushrooms, squash, parmesan cream
~Or~
Tomato-crusted Atlantic salmon
Vegetable succotash, yukon gold potato, pistou broth

Third course
Dessert,
Chef’s choice

Tickets are $40.00 in advance at the DSG store, http://shop.detroitsynergy.org/, and include tax and gratuity. Tickets to this event are available by online purchase only, and all purchases must be made by Tuesday, July 27.

Detroit Synergy is a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization. Its mission is to generate positive perceptions and opinions about Detroit by bringing together a diverse community and building upon the City's strengths and resources to realize a common vision for a greater Detroit. Please visit http://www.detroitsynergy.org/ for more information about the group.

If you want to see more, check out this video filmed for Do Detroit TV in which I got to interview Executive Chef Don Yamauchi and Chef de Cuisine Derik Watson.






Nikki Does Detroit: Restaurant Week Spring 2010 from doDetroit TV on Vimeo.

Monday, July 12, 2010

3D + Wheelhouse Detroit Brunch Bike Tour


What varieties of flavors can you savor at the largest historic public market district in the United States? Join Discover Detroit Dining as we partner with Wheelhouse Detroit on a brunchtime bike tour of bustling Eastern Market and discover for yourself a whole new world of imported flavors, artisanal treats, and Detroit classics!

Join us Saturday, July 31 and experience Eastern Market as you never have before. We’ll start our tour at Wheelhouse Detroit, located in the Rivard Plaza on the beautiful Detroit Riverwalk, at 1:00PM. From there we’ll bike through the Dequindre Cut Greenway, a non-motorized urban recreational path which connects the Riverwalk to Eastern Market and still retains much of the graffiti art the Cut was previously known for.

Once at the Market, we’ll have plenty of time to peruse the variety of shops and vendors and don’t worry – bikes will be equipped with baskets so you can take your favorites home!

Make sure you bring your appetite: we’ll start at Gabriel Import Co. for a taste of the Mediterranean: a huge selection of imported olives float in massive jars of brine, and we’ll get to sample those along with feta cheese and a variety of meat, cheese, & spinach pies as well as tabbouleh and hummus with pita bread, all made fresh daily.

From there we’ll stop by R. Hirt Jr. Co., the specialty foods market which feels like an old-fashioned general store. They boast more than 300 different varieties of cheeses, several of which we’ll be sampling along with crackers and salami. A cheese expert will also be on-hand to explain the different varieties and help you pick the cheese that’s right for you.

And no brunch would be complete without Bloody Marys! Last on our culinary bike tour we’ll head to Vivio’s, a Detroit staple for 40 years which serves Bloody Marys properly, with a beer shooter. You can even buy their famous mix! While we’re there we’ll dig into their buckets of mussels, sampling 5 different varieties: traditional steamed with white wine, garlic & butter; Jamaican Jerk; Spicy Cajun; Pub-Style with Italian sausage, beer & red onion; and Tomato Basil with diced tomato, white wine & pesto. There will be plenty to go around! (Note: one Bloody Mary per person; buckets of mussels are shared.)

This all-inclusive package includes all of the tastings listed above as well as the guided tour for only $40 per person ($50 with bike rental). Tickets are available here through Wheelhouse Detroit.*

*Additional items throughout the Market can be purchased on an individual basis; be sure to bring cash. The tour will last approximately 3 hours. Parking is available in several nearby lots and structures. Please wear appropriate attire for outdoor biking/walking (tennis shoes; loose, comfortable clothing). Because of the limited number of spots available, refunds will not be issued. We reserve the right to reschedule the tour in the event of inclement weather. Please visit http://www.discoverdetroitdining.com/ for our complete Terms of Service.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Real Detroit Weekly: Larry Flynt's Hustler Club

Now now now diva is a female version of a hustler...

"Hey, hotshot, here's a question: in this blue-collar meat-and-potatoes town that is Detroit, who's got the best steaks on the menu? As we've watched our old-school steakhouses slowly die off one by one (Carl's Chophouse, Laffrey's Steaks on the Hearth, etc.), there is one breed of steakhouse still serving top-grade USDA choice beef at prices that might make you blush.

'Well, that wouldn't be the ONLY thing making you blush. If meat is what you want, take thee to the booby bar. Known for having better steak specials than a Las Vegas buffet and being home to some of the best chefs in the area serving up gourmet cuisine to VIP clientele, if it's top-quality eats you're after, the topless joints are the way to go..."

Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

J. Baldwin's: Eastside Gets All Uppity...Sort Of.


What happens when a chef who made his name in the kitchens of such noteworthy upscale spots as the Whitney, the Van Dyke Place, and Mac & Ray's, who received accolades all throughout his career in fine dining finally decides "fuck it" and opens his own casual contemporary American eatery in the heart of Clinton Twp.? J. Baldwin's is what happens. (Okay, so I used a little creative liberty there with my description of how this place came to be...I don't actually KNOW that he said "fuck it" in regards to the rest of the restaurant industry, though it would fit and it makes for an entertaining read so that's just what we'll go with.)

Jeff Baldwin has quite an enviable fine dining resume, but five years ago he shucked it all to open his own casual restaurant and catering business J. Baldwin's Restaurant & To-Go. The "To-Go" in the name is an almost intentional rejection of any kind of upscale stamp critics might want to brand it with, given the man in the kitchen. Instead, Baldwin has steadfastly refused any kind of claim of the hoighty-toighty; he has made this an upscale family business, one in which eastside families go out and dine together, where the children's menu is a highlight, where Jeff and his family can often be seen eating together at one of the large tables in the dining room and his wife Rose personally goes from table to table, shaking the hands of every new customer and treating returning customers like visiting family members. I about shat myself when she did this to my gal pal and I, welcoming her with a big smile and a "where have you been" and warmly shaking my hand as if she really were that truly excited that I came. (And NO, I didn't pull the "I think I'm so fucking important" card; to her I was just another punk from Mt. Clemens who took Cass Ave. down just a bit too far. I was just sitting there looking scrubby with flip-flops and convertible hair, hungrily eyeing the pizza oven and putting down my fair share of ice martinis.)



Oh, but what's an ice martini? Well, sir, I'm glad you asked. An ice martini is frozen conical-shaped form of win. A new form of technology to make us better at drinking, the rights to the ice martini making-machine are owned EXCLUSIVELY in this state by J. Baldwin's for the next 15 months...which means if you want to experience this awesomeness, get ready for a bit of a drive. I'll save you the lengthy explanation of how the machine works (largely because I spaced out about 15 seconds into it and was thinking this, as I was drinking this delightful thing called Rumchata and it was empty). But basically, it is a cone of ice placed in a glass with a reservoir at the bottom into which your tasty alcohol treat is poured, keeping the beverage in constant contact with the ice BUT never allowing the ice to dilute it, as the ice melts from the outside in (something something something about the machine) and the melt drips down into the glass's reservoir. WUAH!!!! The downside is you're drinking directly out of an ice cup (it's a little cold, you know), but the upside is that your alcohol will no longer be tainted by that vile thing called water. I was drinking this most amazing creation called a Choco-Chata, which is a blend of ChocoVine and Rumchata (and Rumchata is a most amazing creation that is basically Bailey's meets Captain Morgan's). You can ask for the ice martini glass with any of their cocktails, or even order it with white wine to keep it properly chilled (Rieslings just aren't the same lukewarm and people who put ice in wine make me want to give up drinking).



We ate, too. We started with Jeff's signature calamari, made with diced tomatoes, scallions, and capers in a lemon butter sauce. It was good but not remarkable. I question the "award-winning" descriptor but I guess you never know. Probably the best in Macomb County, truth be told.



Then, salad: the 18th Street Rocket Salad to be exact. Arugula, pesto, goat cheese, red onion, diced tomatoes, and shaved parmesan served on a thin pizza shell with a lemon vinaigrette. Fergilicious. (As in, "tay-stay, tay-staaay.") A strong combination though I picked around the onions which were most fortunately not diced.



And because I'm just so fucking predictable, pizza. The space that J. Baldwin's inhabits was something else before (and goddamnit even though I spent all of my valuable teenaged years in that area -- walking to the 7-Eleven at 17 & Garfield to buy Slurpees and smokes, hanging out in the back of the Anthony B's parking lot waiting for my boyfriend's older cousin to buy us booze -- I can't for the life of me remember what), and that something else had a stone-fired pizza oven which was specifically why Baldwin wanted this space. The advantages of wood vs. brick vs. stone vs. coal vs. gas are up for debate, but J. Baldwin's does crank out some crispy crusts. I attempted a design-your-own and basically tried to recreate Supino's "Smoky" on a square deep dish: smoked gouda, roasted garlic, and prosciutto. The effect, though tasty, just wasn't the same. Deep dish and thin crust are just two separate beasts. That being said, the crust was crispy without being too greasy (my biggest bitch-fit when it comes to Buddy's deep dish) and had a good flavor. The prosciutto tasted a bit too suspiciously much like straight-up bacon (they would do well to use some that isn't so heavily salt-cured), but the ample fat cloves of roasted garlic more than made up for it. The sauce was a bright, thick red, sweet with a little spice. Overall, not bad...and that's coming from the mouth of a pizza snob. Next time I'll definitely veer towards the thin crust where I belong, and here's an extra bonus if you made it this far: all during the month of July J. Baldwin's is offering 9 new thin-crust pizzas for $9. Don't let the word "thin" deceive you: these pizzas sport a whole lotta bacon and ranch dressing (there's a Hani pizza, a BLT pizza, a Caesar pizza, a Cheesesteak pizza...). Because counting carbs mean fat grams don't exist! Also, for health-nuts and gluten-phobes, they now have whole wheat and gluten-free crusts.

Speaking of which: just when in the hell did gluten become an allergy? Did people in the '50s have gluten allergies (or lactose intolerances, for that matter)? No. No, they did not. This is a brand-new conspiracy of pharmaceutical companies creating diseases to medicate with costly treatments and prescriptions (they're in bed with all those overpriced organic food companies, too, BTW, and probably L.A. Total Fitness too--seriously, have you SEEN that new monstrosity in Royal Oak???) and whiny white people who thrive of modern-day medical paranoia. I say give 'em all fucking smallpox and let them have a field day.

Where was I now? Ah, yes: about to make fun of the eastside. (I can do this: I'm from there.)

My eastside brethren historically aren't known for their culinary acumen. The whole cluster of Mt. Clemens, Clinton Twp., Sterling Heights, Fraser, Roseville, Utica, Shelby Twp., Chesterfield...it's all kind of a gourmet void. The greatest contributions to cuisine came from the likes of Mr. Paul's and the Brewery (same owners) and Luciano's and Rosebud (the chef from the former defected and opened the latter, which is now closed). In other words, old people food. Yes--Macomb County is brimming over with endless dining options for the olds. Diners and coneys and buffets and "family restaurants;" all of it catering to the geriatric crowd. Nothing hip or trendy; if the young folks wanted a place to party, they were left with skeezy biker bars and pool halls where there was always a cover band cranking out your favorite Motley Crue and Lynyrd Skynyrd classics. Now, I'm not saying J. Baldwin's has totally changed this--I mean, you can lead a horse to water and so forth--but given some of the other adjustments that have happened on the eastside (the Emerald Ballroom and the Bank providing an actual nightlife vibe, if that sort of vibe is what you want in your nightlife; Mt. Clemens transforming itself into a hip little downtown area; mid-life-crisis bar Ernie's developing a fully decent contemporary Mediterranean-American menu instead of old people food and now attracting the same lip-pursing crowd as Crave and South Bar), I think it's safe to say that our auto-plant-workin', hockey-lovin', 'Merican car-drivin' friends are trying to class it up a bit. J. Baldwin's is a solid indicator of this shift while still maintaining the same family-friendliness and isolationist humility that is truly one of the finer points of eastside culture--they know you make fun of them; they just don't care. And that's the kind of attitude I like to see. EAST SYDE!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Real Detroit: Captain's Landing

"Make the trip out to scenic Mt. Clemens and check out the Captain's Landing. Located on North River Road along the winding Clinton River, Captain's Landing feels like a little piece of the East Coast over on the Eastside.

'Captain's Landing opened as a full restaurant in 2000; prior to this, "Captain" Paul Gallas — a graduate of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, worked on freighters for many years before buying his first passenger vessel: the Clinton Friendship. Back then, he was just running a charter boat operation touring the Clinton River. This operation now features a full restaurant/bar, as well as three different charter vessels that are available for private rentals for individual and group tours..."

Read the rest of the article here.