Until Easter Sunday, I never knew that there was something called Detroit-style pizza. The Detroit Free Press has a feature on its site explaining Detroit-style pizza (and an interview with the owner of the new Detroit-Style Pizza Company, so you can kind of figure where this idea comes from).
Once I took a look, I realized what they were talking about: the square pizza that you find at pizza places around the Detroit area. The downscale version comes from Little Caesar’s, the locally founded chain owned by the Ilitch family. There, it’s called “pan-pan.” A slightly more upscale version is available from Buddy’s, which has been around since 1946 and has a big fan base.
To me, this kind of pizza is an excuse to pile on sauce, cheese and toppings. I’m not a big fan for the same reason I don’t like Chicago deep dish pizza. First of all, it’s not a smart nutritional choice. You’re eating way too much glop. Second, even if it’s made well, it’s still going to be a lot of toppings without much to support it.
This kind of pizza is fine if you want to eat melted cheese and ingredients. But don’t fool yourself into thinking this has anything to do with real pizza, which to me, is a blend of crust and toppings, with nothing overwhelming anything else.
I realize people love their treats (which right now, for me, include See’s chocolate covered marshmallow eggs). And I’d never tell you not to eat Detroit-style pizza. Only, don’t believe that everyone here knows what it is, or that you can get it everywhere in Detroit. Pretty much anyone you ask about it will say, “Oh, like Buddy’s?”
April 1, 2013 No Comments
Every town has — or used to have — a place like Knight’s Steakhouse. It’s five minutes from my house in Ann Arbor, Mich., and for the most part, only townies know about it. Knight’s doesn’t advertise. It doesn’t offer Groupons. You won’t find it on lists of famous restaurants.
Knight’s is just Knights, the kind of place where everyone from babies to great-grandparents gathers for good, top quality meals. I always joke that it looks like your rec room, if it were a restaurant, because of its wood paneling, leather booths and swivel chairs. I know the names of the waiters, waitresses and bus boys. Don Knight is usually the host and always gives my mom a gracious hello and an arm to our table.
For my entire life, Ray Knight, the family scion, has been a fixture at the bar, or one of the round tables near the bar in the front dining room. Mr. Knight called all the women “dear” or “sweetheart.” Before the restaurant offered plastic gift cards, Mr. Knight would sign the gift certificates, and give you a smile. There was a poker game, or a bridge game, in the back room on weekday afternoons. Sometimes, people came for lunch and stayed for dinner. Back when Ann Arbor restaurants allowed smoking, the bar was three-deep with smokers, casting a fog over everyone else.
Everybody came, and ate, and drank (those who were old enough) and Mr. Knight greeted us all. And so, Ann Arbor mourned two weeks ago when Mr. Knight passed away, at the age of 84. We knew something had gone wrong on Feb. 16, because we stopped by for dinner after a Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast. Don wasn’t at the front podium, and everyone seemed subdued. You can read his obituary here. [Read more →]
March 3, 2013 No Comments
You might not know the name Paul McIllhenny, but I’ll bet you know what his family’s business makes: Tabasco Sauce.
It’s probably the best known hot sauce in the country, if not the world, and you really can’t look at the label without smiling. In New Orleans, the McIlhenny family is food royalty, they’re conservationists, and they’ve turned Tabasco into more than just a sauce. It’s a brand, it’s a shop, it’s the Heinz of the Crescent City.
McIlhenny died at his home in New Orleans Saturday, at age 69. The New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote,
“During Mr. McIlhenny’s years at the helm of the McIlhenny Co., he worked aggressively to expand the number of items to which the familiar Tabasco logo could be affixed. They include T-shirts, aprons, neckties, teddy bears and computer screensavers, as well as seven varieties of hot sauce.
In 2009, Queen Elizabeth II granted the company a royal warrant, which entitles it to advertise that it supplies the pepper sauce to the British royal family. In honor of the queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year, the company turned out a Tabasco-sauce box for its British market emblazoned with drawings of dozens of diamonds.
In the United States, the company provides hot sauce for Air Force One.”
Now, hot sauce is a personal taste. I happen to like Crystal more than Tabasco. One of my friends is devoted to sriracha. But I know people who are so devoted to Tabasco that they carry it with them when they travel. Pay your respects next time you’re in New Orleans.
RIP, Paul McIlhenny. You leave a spicy legacy.
February 24, 2013 No Comments
Some CW News Tidbits:
1) I mentioned that Janice Waugh, the creator of the Solo Traveler blog, joined me in Mt. Pleasant last week for a cooking class and doughnut excursion. This week, Janice writes about our class for her blog. Take a look at what she wrote. Aren’t her pictures stunning?
2) Our doughnut destination, Cops and Doughnuts, is featured in the newest issue of Saveur magazine. So is Sweetwater’s Doughnut Mill in Kalamazoo, one of my other places worth driving for a good doughnut. Be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine and bask in all the photos of glorious doughnuts.
3) Back to Janice. She’s putting together a reader’s retreat for NEXT winter (a little too late to plan one this year). If you’re interested, you can find more info here. I’d love to go and help you all find some great food in Ontario.
February 20, 2013 No Comments
Doughnuts evoke a variety of reactions from people who enjoy eating. Some people can’t get enough. Others turn up their noses. And still more people are like me: it has to be just the right doughnut.
But one thing I’ve found is that doughnuts are becoming like barbecue. People are willing to get in their cars and drive tens or even hundreds of miles for a good doughnut.
Last week, Janice Waugh, the creator of the Solo Traveler blog, came over from Toronto to speak with my students at Central Michigan University. I took Janice to a cooking class at The Market On Main, and I’d suggested seeing a movie on her second evening in town. Of course, I joked over peppermint tea in our hotel lobby, we could drive up to Clare, Mich., and visit Cops and Doughnuts. My brother had suggested I pay a visit, since Clare is just a short drive from Mt. Pleasant.
The desk clerk, a Clare native, overheard us, and you’d think I’d suggested a visit to the Eiffel Tower. We got a lengthy explanation of the history of Cops and Doughnuts, which was founded by nine police officers in Clare who were distraught at the idea of losing their favorite bakery. She was so enthusiastic that Janice and I decided we had to make the trip. [Read more →]
February 17, 2013 3 Comments
If you were watching the Super Bowl earlier this month, your ears might have pricked up at the ad featuring Paul Harvey, the legendary broadcaster. The commercial, for the Ram pickup, used Harvey’s speech, “So God Made A Farmer.”
My friend Ed Garsten, who you might remember from his days reporting for CNN, is a member of the communications staff at Chrysler, which owns Ram. This week, he was stuck in Orlando waiting to fly home to Detroit. He and I corresponded on Facebook, and I convinced him to write a version just for CulinaryWoman.
He calls it, “So God Made A Cook.”
I got a little teary eyed reading it. And I laughed, too. It’s a nice tribute to those of us who find satisfaction in the kitchen (or in eating). Here is our CulinaryWoman exclusive.
So God Made A Cook, By Ed Garsten
And on the 8th day, God had a hankering for foie gras and a tablespoon of wisdom.
So God made a cook.
He looked upon the college dorms where students subsisted on Pop Tarts, ramen and Tang.
So God made a cook.
He gazed across the land and saw the grain, the greens and tubers and legumes and wondered who could possibly turn them into breakfast, lunch and dinner, with taste, and imagination.
So God make a cook.
After Moses complained that manna was kinda bland, and could He possibly mix it up a little with some bruschetta, there was consternation and a pinch of disdain.
So God made a cook.
He noticed a disturbing trend, coming from California of course, of using items such as crystals and karma as appetizers at ridiculously high-priced Malibu restaurants. This must be corrected.
So God made a cook.
At a particularly unfortunate church dinner in 32 A.D. where the well-meaning congregants offered the first known cans of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee Beefaroni as a main dish, He despaired.
So God made a cook.
He found Himself staying up at night struggling with the issue of what to do with the names Julia and the even more troubling, Emeril.
So God made a cook.
In the end He decided the world needed a class of human that could emulate His creativity by transforming simple food into wondrous dishes through precise measurement, proportion, timing and knowing when to pop it out of the oven.
So God made a cook.
February 12, 2013 No Comments
When you’re traveling with friends and family, you have pretty much a built-in entertainment system. But when you’re on the road by yourself, sometimes you can run out of ideas, especially once you’ve exhausted all the most popular sights. After all, how much time can you spend watching E!, reading and going to the movies?
I have a perfect antidote to travel boredom: cooking classes. Last month, I joined a group of people at The Market On Main in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., for its Chop and Chat series. We spent two and a half hours making soups, learning and tasting. The market is a sister business to The Brass Cafe, where chef Emma Currie rules the kitchen. On a cold Tuesday night, she ruled the Market’s teaching kitchen, giving us a lengthy demo and lots of samples of hearty winter soups.
The menu ranged from tomato soup to spiced butternut squash soup (a fabulous riff on what’s become a winter staple) and a unique offering for The Brass: Dill Pickle Soup. My favorites were hot and sour chicken soup, which was a variation on pho, and kale and farro soup. I’ve replicated both back in my kitchen in Ann Arbor, and they were surprisingly easy.
Take a look at this slideshow of our evening at the Market. Chat and Chop classes are filling up fast for the winter, but if you’re in Mt. Pleasant, see if there’s room available.
February 4, 2013 No Comments
I’m always asking friends for advice on where to eat when I travel. But what if you could ask some of the country’s best chefs for their tips?
That’s the premise behind Find Eat Drink, a new Web site and free iPhone app that calls itself “the insider guide to food.” It offers professional advice for the best spots to eat and drink in a variety of cities. It’s a bit like eavesdropping on a conversation between chefs and food professionals and their friends.
I chatted recently by email with Robin Dorian, a former producer and host with the Food Network, who co-founded the site with Nick Bumstead, former manager of Chambers Street Wines, the eclectic shop in New York. They spent years collecting suggestions, some jotted on napkins, and traveling to various places in search of great food.
I’ve been playing with the app, and it’s got great potential (I would love to see more suggestions in the Midwest, naturally). Here’s what Robin had to say.
February 2, 2013 No Comments
If you took a look inside my cupboards, you’d see a collection of treasures. There’s Crystal hot sauce from New Orleans. Dark honey from Tennessee. Soup mix from France. Kraft peanut butter from Canada. I successfully brought them all home from my travels, and you can do the same.
Traveling with food and wine takes a little planning, as I wrote for Journeywoman last month. And you have to use a little common sense, since you don’t want to end up with a mess in your suitcase, or get food poisoning from the snacks you bring home.
Here are just a few highlights from my Journeywoman story.
- Assemble a food travel kit. Mine includes Zip-loc bags, scissors, express shipping invoice, thawed ice packs, and packing tape. Some people might include sheets of aluminum foil, but my experience has been that any restaurant or take out shop has this available, as well as butcher paper.
- If you’re flying, think suitcase first. The cargo hold of a plane is by far the coldest place on an aircraft. How many times have you gotten home and unpacked cold clothes? That will keep your food safe, as long as it’s well-wrapped and your suitcase doesn’t sit in the sun before your flight. That’s how I was able to bring home a package of amazing fried chicken from the High Hat Cafe in New Orleans.
- Suitcase getting heavy? Ship it home instead. Shipping companies sell all sizes of boxes, or you can cadge a wine box from your hotel. Keep in mind: the shippers can’t pack perishables for you. You’ll need to prepare it in advance. Be especially careful wrapping wine and olive oil.
Head over to Journeywoman to read some more of my food travel tips.
February 1, 2013 1 Comment
Christmas season is over. It’s cold in many places. And work is starting to pile up again. This is the time of year when a lot of people wish they were somewhere else. Instead of a planning a vacation, what about planning a career break?
Career break travel is becoming a way to take a sabbatical from an exhausting job, or even build a bridge to a new one. These are trips lasting three to six months, where people get out of their elements and have the kind of experience that their normal lives don’t allow. I wrote about career break travel for Forbes, and in doing so, I realized it’s perfect for people who love food. In fact, I’ve had a mini-break myself.
Jeff Jung, a career break travel expert, says the best career breaks are spent with a purpose. Some people want to learn a language. Others do volunteer work. Still more study a new skill, like cooking, baking, or something else in the culinary world.
I love taking cooking classes at home and when I’m away. In 2006, I actually combined my career with a break that changed my life. I had recently purchased a new condo, and my plan was to spend the summer outfitting the kitchen with new appliances. Instead, I wound up in Paris studying cooking with Patricia Wells, the author of The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris and many cookbooks.
Usually, her classes sell out months ahead of time (she’s taking reservations for 2014). Months before, I had signed up to be notified in case there was a cancellation. The note came and I had two weeks to decide. Oh, and full payment would be required, rather than the usual deposit. I looked at the calendar and realized that the open week fell just two weeks after the Paris Motor Show, which I was scheduled to cover for the New York Times.
I asked a few friends for their thoughts: buy a refrigerator, or take Patricia’s class? Everyone to a person said, “Take the class. You’ll never regret it.” [Read more →]
January 25, 2013 1 Comment