1022 Happy mouths, happy friends.

@ Jolly Pumpkin
Photo by ryanbmolloy

I’m really having a hard time figuring out the best part of tonight. Was it the red chile tofu sandwich at Jolly Pumpkin? The trio of dips split by a trio of friends? The fact that I successfully ate something other than oatmeal or soup? Perhaps it was Shane’s walleye, which he later said he wished he could just eat forever without stopping. If walleye become an endangered species, you can blame him.

zingerman's
Photo by surlygirl

Or was it Laurie’s first visit to Zingerman’s? We were plied with anchovies, cheese, and four or five kinds of ham, culminating with jamón ibérico. Jamón ibérico! $200 per pound! Cue the sounds of angelic delight. And then we went Next Door and tried chocolate studded with cacao nibs, and were told that we were basically making more chocolate in our mouths as we ate.

Chocolates at Zingerman's

Happy mouths, happy friends.

0714 Dinner at Jolly Pumpkin

My husband is the best.  Did you know that?  Because he is.  Apologies to all of your husbands, but mine takes the cake.  I had a super disappointing and frustrating day today – the sort requiring a straight line towards ice cream and a nap.  I had planned to make dinner, but Shane convinced me to let him treat, so we pedded up to Jolly Pumpkin.

Jolly Pumpkin Cafe & Brewery
photo by brian cors

I don’t remember if I’ve mentioned JP here before, but it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite places to eat out in Ann Arbor.  The food and drink are consistently excellent, and we can usually enjoy both without breaking the bank.  The founder of the brewery is vegan, and as a result the menu features exceptional vegetarian and vegan options – in fact, I don’t think I’ve had meat there yet, though I have enjoyed two delicious and filling tofu salads.  Tonight we opted to split an appetizer and a pizza along with our drinks – a beer for Shane, and a lovely strawberry-balsamic cocktail for me.

Our appetizer was a trio of dips – hummus, edamame, and red pepper walnut – served in a perfect ratio to rustic pieces of flatbread. I particularly liked the simplicity of the hummus, which really allowed the flavor of the chickpeas to come through. Our truffle pizza arrived as we scooped up the last bites of dips – not a minute too soon. And oh, was it lovely.

Jolly Pumpkin
photo by william couch

Three rich, salty, gooey cheeses covered a thin layer of creamed shiitake mushrooms, with a fresh bite of arugula and a drizzle of truffle oil on top. We both stopped after two pieces but looked longingly at the last two before finishing off the pie – far too big for just one person, but the right size for two to split.  As Jamie Oliver would say, happy days.

The Last 10 Days of Food

Gees, where to begin?  I’ve been pretty diligent about posting to date, but a weekend of friendos visiting from DC followed immediately by a mid-week trip with some of my favorite girls resulted in 10 days of nothing – and very little desire to catch up.  So here’s what I got:

Mike and Bill rolled in on the 27th, kicking off four days of beer, movies, more beer, vegetarian food, still more beer, a trip to Detroit for the guys, additional beer, dinner at Jolly Pumpkin, and oh, more beer.  I’m still not sure if I accurately captured the amount of beer that was consumed over this weekend.   This wasn’t like a woooo spring break!! kind of blow out – rather, it was a series of tastings, sharing rare or regional treats from each of their stashes.  I wish I’d taken pictures of the very serious boys taking their serious beer very seriously.  I know Shane took a picture of all of the bottles, so that’ll have to suffice.

While the boys were busy with the beer, I made a couple of tasty dinners – Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta (hearty and filling, though not quite what I expected from the recipe) and tempeh tacos (always a crowd-pleaser) – and the killer spinach strata that we’d had at Shana’s on my birthday.  When the boys were late coming back from Detroit, I ate without them, then regretted it as Shane stepped up to make a really delicious Moroccan Carrot Soup (which we’re going to re-run for dinner this week).

Stradaaa

And THEN I hopped on a plane to St Louis, where my friend Erin and I collected some of the best donuts in the country and also some legendary pretzels before hitting the road to Carbondale, where we met up with Angie, Kim, and Laurie for a couple of days of hiking, snacking, napping, drinking, and relaxing with farm animals.

Fritters and Globs

In addition to delicious baked goods and a whole lot of other bad-for-us snacks, we grilled out, toasted s’mores over a campfire, and made breakfast together using two pounds of bacon and the most beautiful farm eggs I’ve seen.  We also checked out a bar and a cute breakfast place in Erin’s neighborhood and had an awesome dinner at Schlafly Bottleworks (including curry crackers that I’m committed to duplicating) on our last night in town.

Farm-fresh free range eggs

Suffice to say that the next few weeks (leading up to um, a special occasion) will should be a bit leaner on the indulgent meals – segueing nicely into the beginning of the growing season and the return of fresh things to the market.  It’s been a delicious and ridiculous ten days – and I’m very much looking forward to getting back into the kitchen and back into more normal eating.

Recipes:
Butternut Squash and Fried Sage Pasta from Self
Tempeh Tacos
Spinach and Cheese Strata from Smitten Kitchen
Moroccan Carrot Soup from Bon Appetit