Since I’m not getting much done in the way of course prep tonight, let me instead tell you about yesterday’s race.
Back in May, before I ran my first half, I was convinced to register for Detroit by a coworker who enthusiastically told me that the Detroit half is his favorite race. Running to Canada and back! Crossing the Ambassador Bridge as the sun comes up over Detroit and Windsor! Racing through the Detroit Windsor tunnel! Sign me up!
And so I spent the summer running home from work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Every weekend started with a long run, often followed by breakfast at Afternoon Delight.
I was under the weather this last week, and as the race approached, my anxiety grew. I read about the course. I read about nutrition. I tapered my runs. I changed my diet to make sure I was properly fueled. I looked at elevation maps. And then on Saturday, we drove to Detroit so that I could pick up my race packet.
We shared a back seat picnic and spent the afternoon at the DIA. We had cappuccinos at Astro and read the race materials again. I made polenta for dinner and we went to bed early.
And then the moment of truth. The alarm went off at 4:30, and by 4:45 I had eaten a bagel, fed the cats, and dressed for success.
Two things of note today. First, we went to Detroit for the afternoon, where we did some shopping at the Detroit Urban Craft Fair and had lunch at Slows, where Shane ate this sandwich:
Second, Ms. Little Big posted earlier in the week about a cooking challenge she was taking on – tackling (and blogging) 25 dishes you haven’t made but have always wanted to try. I’m into signing up for things that will challenge me to do things I should be doing anyway – see my 12 Books challenge – and with Shane on board, here is our list in no particular order:
- Homemade pasta
- Gnocchi – which I’ve made before, but from potato flakes ::shudder::
- Tuna noodle casserole – updated to not involve canned soup
- Goulash – fancied up from our childhood memories of ground beef and macaroni noodles
- Ragù – in both the bolognese and napoletana forms
- Crab rangoon
- Spring rolls or egg rolls
- Pho or hot pot
- Pot roast
- Cured meat – prosciutto, pancetta, etc
- Shellfish, possibly with pasta, definitely still in the shell
- The long-lost Bonnaroo sesame gingerdilla
- Something lactofermented
- Something pressure canned
- Cream ale
- A successful loaf of No-Knead Bread
- Curry crackers
- Sweet potato biscuits
- A totally from scratch pie
- Escoffier’s mother sauces: velouté, espagnole, béchamel, and hollandaise
A few weeks ago, we made our inaugural trips to both Detroit and Slows Bar-B-Q, returning home with glowing things to say about both. I posted a review on Yelp talking about our really positive (and delicious) experience at Slows, and almost immediately received a note back from another Yelper, telling me that Slows was good, but Smoque was “10x better”. So, when Keem suggested that we go to Smoque for lunch for delicious, delicious BBQ, I was suitably intrigued. AND also hungry.
We met up with Angie and Laurie at Smoque on a sunny Super Bowl Sunday afternoon, our mouths watering by the time we walked in the door. A number of people were in and out picking up Super Bowl catering orders while we made our selections – in fact, about half of the restaurant was blocked off for Super Bowl pick-ups – and justifiably so, as this is just the kind of grub I’d want at my Super Bowl party, were I to have one. We all settled on pulled pork sandwiches, available in the full or half size, with varying sides. I had a vinegary cole slaw and a very large bag of hand-cut fries that we all shared – in addition, the others tried the cornbread and the macaroni and cheese, both baked in little foil ramekins. Our sandwiches came with a bit of tangy sauce ladled over the top and a small cup of vinegary sauce to add at our discretion. For me, the half sandwich, shared sides, and a soda were just the right size for lunch – though I regretted not being able to try the brisket (available chopped or sliced) and the various ribs on the menu.
How does it compare to Slows? In my non-expert opinion, I’d say they’re just different animals. Slows has a more expansive menu, but what Smoque does, it does well. I liked having more sauce options at Slows, but I also liked the simplicity of the Smoque experience. I felt like the meat was more flavorful at Slows, but I liked being able to get a half portion AND sides for a lower price at Smoque. BBQ is something many people take seriously, and I am not one of them, but I am grateful that Slows is nearby, and that I can visit Smoque whenever I’m in Chicago.
I would tell you about tonight’s dinner, except that there really wasn’t much dinner to speak of. We made our first trip to Detroit proper today, and as is the challenge in any new city, we had about five times as many restaurants to visit as we had meals to eat. Some time ago, we realized that restaurant meals are generally just too damned big for either of us to enjoy without guilt, especially if salads, drinks, or dessert are in play. We also realized that splitting meals means we can try more things – definitely a good strategy when, as in Detroit, we had more things to eat than could be reasonably managed in one day.
Our first stop was Slows Bar-B-Q, where we split an amazing pulled pork sandwich and Shane enjoyed a remarkable pour of Bell’s Expedition Stout off the firkin cask. The meat was tender and flavorful, the flavor only enhanced by the array of sauces available for (liberal) application at your discretion. I really can’t wait to go back to Slows – Shane said that it alone was worth the trip.
Our second food stop was at Supino Pizza, located in the Eastern Market complex. We split the only slice they had on hand – a very thin piece of cheese with a crispy crust. Other diners were folding their pizza New York style – with just have a slice each, we weren’t able to enjoy the full experience – or the amazing line-up of other zas. Another must-return location!
Finally, after wandering around the Cass Corridor for a bit, we grabbed a couple of beers and a pot of crab dip at Motor City Brewing Works. The beers were unremarkable – I think Shane’s going to review his – but I enjoyed the crab dip, hot and bubbly with a bit of a bite. I continued scraping the little pot with my spoon long after all salvageable dip was gone.
Detroit, you were delicious, and I can’t wait to visit you again.