Saturday, March 24, 2012

Toast Birmingham: You Gotta Eat Here #4

Woke up with a "Flat White" on my mind.  

Got dressed, 
packed my writing bag 
and headed south for Astro Coffee.

A few miles in, I realized I wasn't up for the drive to Detroit.  

Besides, breakfast was what I really wanted.  

Breakfast and a really good cup of coffee.

Great coffee but a little too whole grainy for me today.

The Original Pancake House (not I.H.O.P)?  
The line of people waiting to get into that restaurant convinced me to keep moving.

So, I drove into the heart of Birmingham, Michigan and was greeted by an empty parking space two doors down from Toast Birmingham.  I'd heard good things about this restaurant so I parked, dropped one quarter in the meter and ventured in.

Beyond the door I passed a life-sized, big head, tiny waist Betty Boop statue, clad in red, holding a serving tray.   The hostess welcomed me and said there'd be a short wait.  A look around explained why.  It was packed with happy "Saturday morning" customers.  This place was quaint and appeared to be sectioned into three areas; casual dining on one side, more upscale on the other, and in between stood a bar.  

I borrowed a menu then took a seat near the door to enjoy the cool morning air.  What a selection of gourmet omelets, eggs, french toast, breakfast cocktails and yes...really good coffee!  I decided on a greek omelet with a side of grits. 5 minutes later the hostess lead me to my table.  

The waitress took my order and returned shortly with a cup of coffee.  The first sip convinced me I'd made the right decision to zip out earlier and feed the meter another 95cent.  This spot was cozy with red, fifties era, vinyl upholstered booths and two toned table tops.  After the second sip, I realized no two customers had the same style coffee cup (kind of like my selection at home).  My older sister would love this!  Mental note: bring her here for breakfast.

The order arrived on a white plate.  The omlete was fluffy and overflowing with spinach, tomato, kalamata olives, pine nuts and feta cheese.  Grits with a topping of cripsy Parmesan cheese coverd the other half of the plate.  I have to tell you, this omelet ranks in the top two of the best I've ever eaten.  The flavors blended well together but never lost their individuality.  The grits were creamy and satisfying.

As I sipped my second cup of coffee and finished off the omelet, a couple was being seated at the table beside me.  The lady wore a sharp black, leather jacket.  I could not help but compliment her on it.  Soon the three of us were in unexpected pleasantry.  We spoke lightly about retirement, enjoying life now, and feeling young at our age. 

Then, as I was preparing to leave, they did the sweetest thing...paid my bill.  I thanked them for that and the enjoyable conversation we'd had.   I left Toast Birmingham feeling the joy that couple wanted to share by their generous gesture.  I also realized I wanted it to continue.  So, I made a silent promise to do the same for someone else in the near future.

The next time you're in downtown Birmingham, Michigan, make your way to Toast for a wonderful meal and experience.

Toast Birmingham:  You Gotta Eat Here!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Feet On The Street Tours - Detroit's Eastern Market: Come Hungry, Leave Happy & Healthy

     My parents first introduced us to Detroit's Eastern Market in the mid sixties.  We'd load into our station wagon and cruise down Woodward to Mack and Russell.  As kids, we weren't impressed with the vegetables because we'd helped our parents with their vegetable gardens every summer.
However, the pepperoni in the meat market got our full attention.

     Years later, on a hot summer day, my oldest daughter reacquainted me with the Eastern Market.
We enjoyed walking through the open sheds while checking out fresh veggies, coffee and baked goods.

This winter my youngest daughter introduced me to the market in a brand new way...a two-hour, walking and eating tour with Feet On The Street Tours.  

Rocky Peanut Company

The tour began at Rocky
Peanut Company on Russell street
with fresh coffee and chocolate cherry
cookie samples.
Here we met our guides, Linda Yellin,
Founder of Feet On The Street Tours, and
Brittany Trapp.  

Rocky Peanut Company

Brief education on peanuts
from a peanut.
Rocky Peanut Company

Finally, we sampled freshly roasted peanuts before 
venturing to our second stop, Supino's Pizza.

Supino's Pizza

 Linda shared Supino's
Pizza's history.  It was featured on
"Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives"
last summer.
 One taste and I understood why.

Supino's Pizza

Excellent Portabella and
Pepperoni pizza.
Supino's offers specialty
pizzas from seasonal items on Saturdays.

Two slices of pizza later, we
left Supino's and followed
Linda to Shed 2 of the market.  

Interesting art!

Shed 2

It was one of the coldest days
of winter but no worries.  This
shed in enclosed and warmed
with geothermal heating.
I learned that on the tour.
Shed 2

I made a mental note to
return to this area after the
tour.  Something about fresh eggs...

The scent of wood smoke takes
my mind far away from the city.
It adds to the ambience of the
Linda and Brittany synchronized watches
and we split into two groups.
I went with Brittany to Shed 3.

Shed 3

Welcome to Shed 3!
It's huge, enclosed and warm.
Love this pic.  The sign on a stick
reminds me of the market tour in the movie,
"Under the Tuscan Sun".
Mumby Pie Company

Brittany shared information about the Mumby
 Pie Company as John shared samples.
I have to tell you, the samples here
were more like full servings.

Great Lakes Coffee

I sneaked off the tour for a minute
to get coffee from these guys.
They were right beside the Mumby Pie stand.
McClure's Pickles

And what did I buy here?
Potato chips.

Greenleaf Turkey

Flavorful and juicy gourmet turkey patties.
Shed 3

"Still Life with Vegetables"

Gabriel Import Company

Later, Linda escorted our group
to the Gabriel Import Company.  We
sampled green, Kalamata, and
Moroccan olives.  I bought
Olive Oil soap from Greece.

Our next stop,
Germack's new location
on Russell.


Coffee and a fruit/nut mix.
Just what I needed after a brisk
walk from the Gabriel Import Company.

Such a wonderful selection of most
any kind of nuts you can think of.
I bought some natural peanut butter.


A historical sight for Motowners!
From this storefront you's never know there
is a concert hall that seats hundreds of people

Our Guides

Linda and
Brittany share historic information
about the area before we leave
for our final stop.


Motown memorabilia adorn the walls
 bringing back musical memories of
of days gone by. 


Remember the Motown Review? I wasn't
old enough to go.


The tour ended here after Linda and Burt
shared information about Detroit rich African
American and musical history.

There must have been thirty other people in the group.  
We all walked away more knowledgeable of Detroit's Eastern Market thanks to 
Feet On The Street Tours.