One of the things I learned shortly before my birthday is that in Ann Arbor, there are a number of businesses that give away free things on your birthday. While this may be the case elsewhere, it is so prevalent here that there’s a whole page on the ArborWiki dedicated to free birthday items, and organized in such a way as to maximize your freebies. After some consultation and careful planning, and in the absence of any other significant birthday plans, we decided to rack up as many free things in 24 hours as we could.
Let me preface this truly ridiculous list by saying that Shane and I split almost every single thing on this list, and some of the items went straight into our freezer for later consumption. Still, I think I could not eat desserts for a month and be OK.
1. We started the morning off with a free ridiculous coffee beverage at Caribou Coffee – a sugar-free turtle latte with whipped cream and Snickers bits, to be precise.
2. Up next, free aero-press coffee at Zingerman’s Coffee Company, obtained while picking up beans.
3. And then, free “John-do-ya” gelato at Zingerman’s Creamery. We tried many flavors, but this was literally like frozen Nutella – therefore the obvious winner. The gelato guy congratulated me on having a birthday in the best month of the year. His is next week, I think. We ate about 1/3 of the gelato before moving on to the next stop.
4. A free 1/2 dozen bagels at Zingerman’s Bakehouse! The bakehouse folks made sure to remind me to get the other 1/2 dozen at the Deli later.
At this point we took a break from the free stuff to enjoy a very lovely brunch, complete with croquembouche, at our friend Shana’s. More on this later!
5. On our way home from Shana’s, we stopped for the second free 1/2 dozen bagels at Zingerman’s Deli – it was too busy and crowded for photos, so one from home will have to suffice.
6. Having rested up and returned a few phone calls, we moved on to get a free chocolate-covered strawberry cupcake at Cake Nouveau. It was tasty, but had nothing on any of Buzz’s cupcakes. I miss you, Buzz Bakery.
7. Next door, I picked out my free tea at Tea Haus – a cup of the Vietnam Yen Bai. The woman who made my tea recommended that we check out the birthday deal at Weber’s, where she very nearly got a free lobster on her son’s 2nd birthday.
8. We’re not huge fans of Arbor Brewing Company, but they offer a free appetizer, so we stopped in for dinner. We had free nachos, played some shufflepuck, and drank a couple of beers before rolling on.
Several restaurants offered a free dessert, free logo pint glass, and free $10 gift card for birthday people – however when we tried both Grizzly Peak and Cafe Habana, we were told that the purchase of an entree was necessary. After all of this free stuff, though, neither of us were hungry enough for an entree, so we made a mental note to edit the ArborWiki page and moved on.
9. …to The Arena, where you get a free shot with purchase. Any purchase. I have no idea what my shot was called, but I know it had Bailey’s and I know it was on fire. Shane took one for the team and purchased a beer for our required purchase.
Once we were firmly wrapped up in our alcohol blankets, we wandered around downtown, stopping in at an art gallery and a record store, where Shane bought Remain in Light, before continuing on to our final destination for the night.
10. …Ashley’s, where we got a Free Tollhouse sundae – freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, ice cream, chocolate syrup, etc. Sooo good.
11. On our walk back to the car, we stopped in for my free scoop of ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s. This was, I might add, the first time all day that anyone had checked my ID to confirm that it was my birthday.
In addition, I might add that the following free things were obtained either shortly before or shortly after my actual birthday:
1. Free entree at Noodles & Company, split for lunch earlier in the week
2. Free “creation” at Cold Stone Creamery
3. Free scoop at Baskin-Robbins
All told, a pretty ridiculous way to spend one’s 30th birthday, and that’s without me describing the pastry-building process that took place just before brunch. I was feeling pretty blue about not being able to celebrate my birthday with family and old friends – but I think we totally made up for it in fun and food.