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Summer is here and it’s full of travel for me and my family! Kids have only been out of school for a few short weeks and we have already gone on a long road trip to the Midwest to visit family and friends for 4th of July. Although I could tell you about all the time I spent on a lake, boating, visiting family & friends, shopping, etc, I’m assuming you don’t want to hear about that since this is a FOOD blog. So instead, I’ll tell you about all the food I ate!
It was a long drive from Connecticut to the Midwest, but all the good food I ate in Michigan as well as Chicago, definitely made up for it! I was going to write about everything in one post, but since I got carried away (boy, did I eat a lot!!!), I’m just writing about Michigan today and my next post will be about Chicago! Sorry, but I don’t want to hurt anyone’s computer trying to download a reallllly long post and the Chicago portion is realllly long!
In case you didn’t know, I grew up in Michigan and whenever I go back, there are always a lot of restaurants on my list to visit and lots of foodie things to do. When people find out that I enter recipe contests and write a food blog, they automatically assume that I always choose to go to fancy expensive gourmet restaurants. Although I have nothing against fancy gourmet restaurants, I typically prefer quirky casual places. I can get overpriced fancy small portioned food anywhere. :) Unfortunately, my time in Michigan seemed brief and I did not have nearly enough time to go to everyplace I wanted! I’m already making my to-do list for next summer!
We weren’t on the road for long when I noticed a gas station called Snappy’s in Pennsylvania. Ok, this has nothing to do with food, but I thought it was kind of funny. Snappy’s…Snappy Gourmet, get it? (Yes, I know I’m the only one finding humor in this. My kids were not amused with me stopping to take pictures…)
Back to the food…
First up, Olga’s Kitchen! I grew up with Olga’s in the Detroit area. It was the usual stop for lunch when going to the mall. I’m not much of a shopper these days, but will definitely stop at a mall in Michigan just to go to Olga’s! It’s a small chain of restaurants (30 according to their website). Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures. Ugh! So sorry! Speaking of pictures, most of the pictures on this post are from my iphone so I apologize for the bad quality!
There are lots of great pictures on the Olga’s Kitchen website. They are known for their wrapped sandwiches in their special “Olga’s” bread. The bread is flat and kind of looks like a pocketless pita but has a different taste. Sandwiches come with their special secret “Olga’s” sauce which I’m guessing is a cross between plain yogurt and sour cream. They also have incredible curly fries, an Orange Cream Cooler drink, and Spinach Pie just to name a few of their specialties. My personal favorite menu item is their Snackers! They deep fry pieces of their flat bread, coat it with some kind of seasoning blend, and serve it with a cheese spread. Snackers is the perfect name as I could snack on those babies all day long! I’m getting hungry just thinking about them!
Next up on my personal Michigan “food” tour was Stucchi’s, (now Michigan Creamery) which is one of my favorite ice cream shops! I went to the University of Michigan and the ice cream shop of choice at that time was Stucchi’s. Their locations have come and gone, but their ice cream and frozen yogurt is still yummy and they have all sorts of quirky flavors! One of my favorites is Cinnamon Crumb Cake, but unfortunately, it was not available the day I visited. Instead, I decided on Muddy Waters (some kind of chocolate concoction). Kids got Superman and some kind of Mint Chip. They had at least 3 variations of mint and chocolate that day and I have no idea which one we ended up with. Mackinac Island Fudge is always a favorite ice cream flavor when in Michigan! They even had Pop Rocks ice cream. In case you were wondering, Pop Rocks apparently get soggy when frozen with ice cream, so I’d skip it and get your Pop Rocks kick another way. Oh Stucchi’s, how I miss you!!
The last of the Michigan restaurants was bd’s Mongolian Grill one of my favorites since college. They have expanded a lot since then with locations all over. Although there seem to be “Mongolian” type restaurants popping up all over, this one remains one of my favorites. You get a bowl; fill it up with all your favorite raw meats, veggies, sauces, seasonings, etc.; then they grill it all up for you. My kids loved making their own meal and watching the grillers cook their food right in front of them. They also have a large salad and soup bar, interesting drinks and desserts, and occasionally someone dressed up in a large blow-up Mongolian suit. My 4 year-old was a little frightened of the blow-up Mongolian man, but she got over it.
We didn’t have time to stop for some Detroit pizza. Darn! There are A LOT of great pizza places in Michigan and the Detroit area. I’ll write more about Detroit pizza in a future post, but in the meantime, if you haven’t tried it, you have lots of choices! Domino’s and Little Caesars both started in Michigan and probably some other large chains that I can’t think of at the moment. Of course most people think of New York, Chicago, and California pizza, but if you haven’t had Detroit pizza you should definitely give it a try. It’s of course my favorite type of pizza!!! :)
There are lots of great pizza places in the area and lots of different styles of pizzas. My favorite pizza and probably what most people think of when thinking about Detroit style pizza is a rectangular deep dish (similar to Sicilian) pizza with a crispy but light crust and covered with loads of sauce, cheese, and toppings. I’m sure there are MANY new pizza places in the area since I have lived in the Detroit area, but some of my old-time favorite pizza places that are still around are Cottage Inn, The Gathering Place, Jet’s Pizza, and Niki’s. Other popular pizza places in Detroit include Alibi, Shield’s, Loui’s, and Buddy’s. I’m working on recreating a Detroit deep dish pizza at home and hope to share a recipe soon!
I might not have gotten any Detroit pizza this trip, but I was able to stock up on some Sanders ice cream toppings including their caramel, milk chocolate hot fudge, and dark chocolate fudge. They have some ice cream parlors in the Detroit area but I had to stock up at the grocery store due to lack of time! They are also known for their cream puffs and bumpy cakes (my brother’s favorite!). Definitely worth a stop if you are near one of their locations.
I’m sure others from Michigan have many other favorite restaurants and food items that I have forgotten. Please leave a comment below if you want to share any of your favorites from Detroit or Michigan! Michigan is also known for great cherries, apples, and wine so check out the cherry festivals, apple orchards, and wineries! Also, Vernors and Faygo (soda, pop, or whatever you want to call it) are from Michigan, as are Better Made Potato Chips. So much good food, so little time!!
Are you traveling and looking for a few good restaurants to try? Here are a few of my favorite websites to find restaurants in a new area…
– Guy’s Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives
I have a few more long trips planned this summer, so my apologies for the lack of new recipes this summer! My next post is all about my fun few foodie days in CHICAGO!!! Hope to have it for you early next week. Have a great weekend!