Peter Greenberg Puts Spotlight on Ann Arbor, Michigan

When you think of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan might first come to mind. But did you know that Ann Arbor is also home to a number of unique cafes, storefronts and art galleries? With a mix of eclectic shopping, world-renowned music venues and more than 200 restaurants, it’s a town that offers something for everyone.

This past Saturday, May 26th, Peter Greenberg put Ann Arbor in the spotlight to explore these unique offerings during his weekly radio show. While broadcasting from the University of Michigan Museum of Art, Peter spoke with local influencers and subject matter experts that helped him answer questions like “How did the town of Ann Arbor gets its start?” and “What on earth is a ‘fairy-door’?”

Guests include:

  • Dhani Jones, former University of Michigan football star and current collaborator on the non-profit organization Bow Ties for a Cause
  • Tom Murray, owner of Conor O’Neills, Ann Arbor’s “real” Irish Pub
  • Jonathan Wright, founder of urban-fairies.com and creator of Ann Arbor’s “fairy-doors”
  • Joseph Rosa, director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)

Check out a recap at PeterGreenberg.com, or visit iTunes or stitcher.com to download the full show.

Salad Love in Pure Michigan

A sweet-savory salad of pear slices, bleu cheese, spiced walnuts and field greens dressed with tarragon shallot vinaigrette at Lulu's

George Hendrix, contributing writer for Michigan Travel Ideas, might not look like your typical salad eater, but he can’t get enough at two of chef Mike Peterson’s restaurants—Lulu’s in Bellaire and Siren Hall in Elk Rapids.

Put me in a line up, ask a dozen strangers to pick out the salad eater, and I’m everyone’s last choice. I’ve got the body for bratwurst, but I have a taste for micro greens. On my most recent visit to northwest Michigan, I particularly enjoyed salads at Lulu’s in Bellaire and Siren Hall in Elk Rapids. Both restaurants are the creations of chef Mike Peterson.

More on the salads in a minute. First, a bit about Mike.

Lulu's has a sleek minimalist design, and is a must-visit for foodies in Bellaire.

His is a fairly typical story in this exceptional-food realm radiating outward from Traverse City to encompass the resort towns along and near Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse and Little Traverse Bays, the Leelanau Peninsula and the dozens of inland lakes. The story is: local boy or girl with a talent for food leaves to get a world-class culinary education; completes apprenticeships in one or more foodie heavens; gets homesick for blue water, golden beaches, a cornucopia of fresh ingredients, a mellow lifestyle; and comes home. In Mike’s case, the education came at the Culinary Institute of America and the apprenticeships took place in Paris and New York kitchens.

In 1993, Mike and a few partners opened Spencer Creek in Alden. Now closed, that restaurant served as the dress rehearsal for Lulu’s. Since 2001, the downtown Bellaire bistro, with a sleek minimalist design and decor, has been among the region’s must-go dinner destinations. The chef’s latest project is Siren Hall in downtown Elk Rapids, a few blocks from the Victorian-Era home where he and his wife, Rebecca, are raising their four kids.

Siren Hall has an emphasis on oysters and other seafood with a name that honors the mythical sirens of the deep.

Siren Hall is even more Spartan, with concrete block walls, exposed roof beams and other industrial touches. The look is the creation of Rebecca, another northwest Michigan native, who earned her design chops in New York City.

Now the food.

At Lulu’s, I enjoyed a sweet-savory salad of pear slices, blue cheese, spiced walnuts and field greens dressed with tarragon shallot vinaigrette. I chased my healthy repast with a cup—well, more like a soup bowl—of Lulu’s chocolate cherry cake ice cream. “Some of my cooks love making ice cream,” Mike explained.

I finished the evening down the street with an Americano at Moka, the coffee shop, bakery and restaurant owned by Mike’s brother Bill.

The concrete block walls, exposed roof beams and other industrial touches create the atmosphere at Siren Hall.

My special-of-the-day salad at Siren Hall consisted of warm haricot verts (or as they’re known outside of France, baby green beans) dressed with truffle oil vinaigrette, blue cheese and bacon curls. Marcona almonds provide an amazingly tasty crunch.

The salads are straightforward enough that, even if I have to go looking for the almonds (if you go searching, try Costco) and truffle oil, I think I can re-create them while waiting for the bratwursts to grill, right?

George Hendrix, freelance writer and former Travel Editor of Midwest Living, also contributes to Michigan Travel Ideas. From snowmobile adventures to the centennial of the Model T, he has written about Michigan for nearly 25 years.

 

Nostalgic Football Weekend

Emily Tennyson, a contributing writer for Michigan Travel Ideas, cheers on her alma mater during a football-weekend trip with her husband.

As a proud Michigan alum, I love to visit nearby Ann Arbor, especially now that I don’t have to take exams. My husband, a fellow Wolverine, also enjoys trips to his alma mater, especially for sporting events. While I’m a (fairly) devoted Wolverine, Ann Arbor caters to my more artsy side. I opt out of the game and use the time to explore the eclectic shops and art galleries.

When planning our last-minute weekend getaway, I knew that on-campus lodging would be overbooked and spendy due to the game, so I moved to Plan B. On State Street, the Comfort Inn & Suites offers a Michigan Travel Ideas discount; free Internet, a pool and breakfast sweetened the deal.

Once on campus, I explore old haunts. First, at the University of Michigan Museum of Art, I examine Tiffany architectural glass from a demolished early-20th-century Fifth Avenue mansion in Manhattan. Next on the list—cheese shopping at Zingerman’s and a Sister Hazel sub packed with provolone cheese, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and sub sauce at Pizza Bob’s, a favorite college hangout. My husband, meanwhile, bonds with 100,000 new friends in the Big House. After a Michigan win (thank you, Brady Hoke!) the whole city beams.

Alfresco dining at the elegant and contemporary Logan, a tiny storefront bistro on Washington, seems like a great way to celebrate and avoid the college swarm. A toast for the Michigan football victory with our glasses of Viognier starts off the meal. The pan-seared grouper is amazing, but the chocolate mousse dessert is my favorite. Post dinner, we cruise past ivy-covered dorms, throngs of happy coeds and campus bars blaring the Michigan Fight Song. I hum along and throw in a fist pump for good measure, even though my college days are long gone. Deep sigh. Was I ever really 18?

Back at the Comfort Inn, it’s time for a dip in the pool and some relaxation in the hot tub. When we get to our room, my husband turns on the 46-inch flat-screen TV and finds yet another football game. I cozy up in the king-size bed with a book.

The next morning, we head to the sunny breakfast room for our complimentary meal—fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, bagels and make-your-own waffles. After eating, it is time to check out and bring our fun weekend trip to a close. Our short trip almost makes us feel like college students again. I sigh as the car pulls away and realize that we definitely don’t come here often enough.

Emily Tennyson, devoted University of Michigan alum, relishes any time spent at her alma mater and appreciates a good getaway.