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Ann Arbor

After my diagnosis with breast cancer, my husband and I decided that choosing experiences over stuff was vital. The first opportunity we had to getaway we took it. After 18 months of two children we finally had a chance to getaway, just us. We chose Ann Arbor. I wrote about much of it in my previous blog about Michigan football. But I’ve always wanted to write about the places I visit, so here we go.

On Friday, we landed in Detroit, Michigan, we were greeted with crisp and cool, 46-degree air…we were in Heaven! After retrieving our rental car, we drove the short, but scenic drive to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Scenic you ask? Yes, the fall foliage was just gorgeous…in Texas when you drive down the highway instead of tall trees, we see concrete and businesses. I love driving in the north where all is hidden by the big, beautiful trees.

Once we arrived in Ann Arbor we checked in to our darling bed & breakfast, the First Street Garden Inn, it is run by a lovely couple. The street was out of a rom com, the building was quaint and our room was cozy. I promptly changed and put on the best fall outfit I could muster up. Then we walked the short ½ mile walk into town. Our first stop, since we hadn’t had lunch, was at Jolly Pumpkin Brewery…the atmosphere was cozy…the front by the bar had more interesting and eclectic décor, but in the back, there was a beachy Hawaiian theme going, which seemed out of place. Nevertheless, we ordered beer (of course) Evan the North Peak Diabolical IPA (he loves the hops) and I ordered the Cherry Wheat (I love seasonal and anything with local ingredients added in), they both were delish. Mine had hints of cherry without the sweetness and the wheat added a comfort to the brew. We then ordered the Gardener’s Snack Board which came with beer friendly cheeses, roasted carrots and marinated radishes, black and green olives, and a baguette. It was the perfect start to our afternoon. We then ordered the Grilled Chicken with Brie sandwich, it came with apricot jam on a rosemary sea salt focaccia and an order of truffle fries. It was delicious. Just the right amount of salt, fat, creaminess and bite to get our bellies full for our afternoon of exploring.

Next, we stopped by Grizzly Peak, we soon learned that that craft beer scene in Ann Arbor is jumpin. Grizzly Peak had a cozy feel, Evan ordered the Victor’s Gold a Kolsch-style beer, he wasn’t hugely impressed. I had the Grizzly Pink #thinkpinkgoblue beer which helped support the Think Pink Go Blue Fund at University of Michigan’s Breast Care Center (which I only found out about on their website not when I went in…I wish I would have known this when I was there, they should have made this more public). It is made with pureed beets which gives the beer a pink hue. It was definitely a yummy beer, refreshing and interesting.

After that, we walked through campus which was beautiful… the gorgeous fall tree colors of red, orange and maize…the ivy-covered buildings, built in the late 1800s. We went to MDen, to load up on new gear for the game and then found the oldest bar in Ann Arbor, Old Town Tavern. The atmosphere is just what I would expect from the oldest bar in town…cozy and crowded. We squeezed up at the bar and ordered seasonal ales. I tried a pumpkin seasonal and a porter. Evan stuck to his pale ale. We enjoyed our surroundings and decided it was time to make our way to dinner.

For dinner, Evan found a noodle bar that just seemed right up our alley. Especially when we are chilly butts (that is our family term for… really really cold). We had a bit of a wait, but stepped next door and had a glass of pinot noir. Then we were sat in the hustling, bustling restaurant, Tomukun. We ordered the Pork Buns and Tako Yaki, the pork buns are pork belly and pickled vegetables in a steamed bun…if you haven’t tried them, you’re missing out, seriously so good. The Tako Yaki, is fried octopus with Japanese mayo and dried seaweed. Something we haven’t tried and are so glad we did…salty, crunchy, and delightful. We then each ordered a bowl of the pho, our cold weather fav. It was divine! We chose the House Pho, which comes with meatballs, oxtail, sliced beef, tripe, fried garlic, cilantro, scallions, Thai basil, mint, onion and bean sprouts plus homemade chili oil. SO GOOD. We drank every drop…okay I had to pass my bowl to Evan to finish. But when we left, we had seriously happy and warm bellies. We walked back to our room and cozied up with our duvet, sans kids.

Saturday was the big game day, we had a scrumptious breakfast at the inn of an omelet with mushrooms, spinach and prosciutto, raspberries with yogurt and a fluffy, buttered English muffin with great coffee and a spot of orange juice. Kathy did a wonderful job of decorating the inn and making the dining room a true getaway. The dishware was lovely and added special touches to make the stay that much more memorable.

After our breakfast, we headed out the door. We stopped at the renowned Zingerman’s Delicatessen for sandwiches…what an awesome place. The décor was designed for foodies…a bread stand with gorgeous loaves of interesting breads from a farm loaf, sourdough, babka, panettone along with homemade mozzarella and various other cheeses, an old-fashioned grocery store you’d picture in New York City back in the day. Then as you walk further back you see the line snake around to order food. We wanted sandwiches to take to the game. The line was out the door and around the corner, I stood while Evan parked. We got through the line and each ordered a rendition of the reuben: Evan the original, mine the Georgia, with turkey vs. corned beef…both come with Swiss Emmental cheese, Russian dressing, coleslaw (original has sauerkraut) on Jewish Rye bread. We had to wait quite a long time beginning to end, but they would come around to pass out various samples of hot soup, sausage, noodle salad, potato salad and once we actually got to enjoy our sandwiches we were glad we waited.

After we left Zingerman’s, we decided to take a pedi cab to the golf course where a lot of the tailgating takes place. I ate my scrumptious sandwich on the way over. We walked a few laps around the golf course scoping out the different groups, and finally I saw the Michigan vs. Minnesota jug they battle over every year. I asked if I could take a picture and then we got to talking. We quickly made friends and joined their tailgate, it was awesome. The people were so generous…they had crockpots full of food, a huge TV with other football games going, all kinds of alcohol, music and best of all a tent. Because it started to pour and the harder it rained the harder these guys partied. We had a great time, the perfect Michigan tailgate to lead up to my first game in the Big House. I was giddy, like a little kid going to this game, I’ll never forget the experience as long as I live.

As for food, I recommend eating before you go. We stopped to get food at the concessions and food trucks and weren’t completely thrilled. The game was thrilling 33-10 victory and I marched alongside the band as they made their way back to the band hall. I was a happy camper that night.

Sunday morning, we enjoyed another delicious breakfast at the inn of pancakes and scrambled eggs. We then had a second breakfast back at Zingerman’s to meet Dylan McCaffrey, a former athlete of my husbands who coaches football. We were thrilled to see Dylan on the Michigan sidelines…so darn cool. We stood in the line again, which was not as crowded as the day before. Did I mention they have every gift you could possibly think of for anyone? Including bags of whole bean coffee, handmade wooden bowls, Michigan made syrup, the quintessential Michigan cherries, preserves, hot sauce, etc…literally something for everyone. This place is so wonderful. I ordered the Paprika Sunrise with smoked paprika fried eggs, Vermont cheddar, pea shoots, on a toasted sesame seed bagel…I love smoked paprika, so this one caught my eye. It was a delicious breakfast sandwich, I loved the addition of the pea shoots. Evan ordered the bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwich and Dylan ordered the lox and bagel. The wait staff was nice and courteous. Fantastic place, and I literally read their holiday catalog like a magazine on the plane ride home. When I am making serious money one day #momtrepreneurbraindreams and you receive a big box from Zingerman’s for Christmas, you’ll know who it is from…yours truly and you’re welcome.

Then we hopped in the car and decided to venture out of Ann Arbor a bit, we drove down the road about 20 minutes to Franklin’s Cider Mill. It was a cute place by a river, we stopped got some hot apple cider and hot apple donuts. All before it started thundering. It is a sweet tradition that was started up north and I love it. I believe you could even go on a cider mill tour there are so many. The cider was warm and soothing along with the delectable cake like donut (my fav), it was best eaten when dunked into the cider. YUM!

From there we decided to meet up with a friend of mine I’ve known my entire life; our moms have been friends their entire lives. It was fun to catch up, see her house and meet her twin baby girls. Then hubs and I decided to trek back to Ann Arbor, we parked on Main Street and walked until we stumbled upon Mani Osteria, very fresh and chic. We sat at the bar and ordered a glass of red zinfandel and some butternut squash soup. The wine was smooth and yummy. The soup was seriously good, salty, but a hint of sweetness from the squash, creamy and luscious with each mouthful and they topped it with some crunchy hazelnuts and lightly fried kale…fantastic touches to the smooth texture of the soup. It was drizzly and chilly, so this was the perfect, romantic spot to stop in that late afternoon.

Then we made our way to Sava’s, we sat in fun oversized chairs facing the bar. The atmosphere was decorated for the season (which I love) had great décor and made you feel much more comfortable than a lot of restaurants. Evan ordered us a bottle of red zinfandel and then I ordered the roasted salmon and he ordered the lobster and shrimp with angel hair pasta. Both dishes were really delicious and made us feel snug. We were able to visit and just take in the evening sans kids.

Afterwards we could not decide what to do without children on a Sunday night. So, we decided to go to a movie, and not just any movie but Bad Mom’s Christmas movie…and what did we take along with us? Oh, just a mini four pack of Sutter Home pinot noir. Boom. That part of our trip was pretty awesome. We laughed, we held hands, suddenly we were boyfriend and girlfriend again. Exactly what we needed. We left the theater feeling a little hungry, decided to go out on a whim and stopped at Fleetwood’s Diner. I ordered the Meaty Hippie Breakfast which came with gyro meat, tons of vegetables, rye toast, tzatziki sauce… man this is a college kid’s dream breakfast. Evan ordered the gyro breakfast, gryo meat, scrambled eggs, toast. A great way to get full before a nice long slumber. The atmosphere was cute, our waitress was interesting, the cook was slammin.

We arrived back at our bed and breakfast, relaxed the rest of the evening together and started to miss our girlies. Ann Arbor definitely did not disappoint. We arrived and were quickly rejuvenated, refreshed, and had a little romance. If you’re looking for an off the beaten path getaway, this is the place. Lovely anytime of the year, but autumn was pretty whimsical.

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