Tom took me down “south” yesterday, to Ann Arbor, where I’ve wanted to go for some time but always seem to be doing other things when the opportunity arises. Despite it being U of M’s homecoming weekend, we chose to explore downtown when the game was being played, which worked out perfectly because we pretty much had the place to ourselves.
After driving through by the stadium and holding back the urge to hang out the window and yell, “OHIO STATE RULES!”, we stopped by Trader Joe’s for some vittles. I had actually never been to a T.J.s and was pleasantly surprised. There is a store down in Cinci called Jungle Jim’s and it is a huuuuge warehouse-like store. I thought this would be similar. But it actually reminded me more of Wild Oats in that it was smaller and had more of a farmer’s market feel to it. Sadly, we had to skip the cheeses and meats since we were to be in town all day and didn’t bring a cooler. But we did check out some three cheese pomodoro sauce, salsa, and a Spanish lentils mix. And wine. Glorious, glorious wine.
After Trader Joe’s we headed downtown and found a cheap parking garage with no problem. We wandered around and bought a couple Christmas presents, visited two amazing used bookstores, and picked around in a home and garden warehouse, where I drooled over two $125 paintings and a platter that looked like a leaf and would match our new leaf placemats perfectly. Oh, well. Maybe next year.
We then found Beaner’s Cafe, a coffee chain, and despite being a little disappointed that we hadn’t decided to stop for coffee when we saw the sign that said, “Best Hot Chocolate in Town,” it was pretty good. I got something caramel-y and we passed a few pleasant moments resting our feet.
Then it was out to the street again to a new bookstore, Shaman Drum on State Street. What a delightful independent bookstore! I loved checking out their displays and recommendations – you know, this is really what makes an independent stand out for me. They probably will have a lot of the same books for sale, but their staff personally recommends their favorites. Picked up a book of poetry (odd for me, poetry) and Tom and I wandered around until we were hungry.
Finally made it back to across from our parking garage to the Arbor Brewing Company, which came highly recommended for their handcrafted beer. We got a sampler and agreed our favorites were Red Snapper Amber Ale, Brasserie Blonde, and Espresso Love, which is made with real cold-brewed coffee from an indie coffee shop in Ypsilanti. Also had the roasted garlic app, which came with pesto and grilled peppers and onions to accompany the soft, spreadable garlic cloves. Tom got a standard burger for dinner with their famous garlic fries. I got their Sacred Cow IPA-soaked chicken sandwich, served with pesto and goatcheese, and their homemade pub fries. Nothing disappointed me.
Next time we head down there I really want to try the Greek restaurant we passed. Really, you could just go down there and stuff yourself all day, between the awesome local spots and BD’s Mongolian BBQ, ice cream, “The Best Hot Chocolate in Town,” and multiple chocolate shops. I’ll remember to skip the $3 Swedish meatball meal at Ikea next time so I can have a more empty tummy!