I have a fabulous co-worker who used to live in Belgium and when she came to town once brought waffles coated in Belgian chocolate as gifts. They were sugary, crunchy and the chocolate was unbeatable (this coming from non-chocoholic). I’ve been in search of something similar locally ever since. I’ve been a fan of this place called Taste of Belgium at the North Market in Columbus, OH where they make both delicious crepes and waffles, but I wanted something here in Michigan.
The Wafel Shop is another in a series of new restaurants to open in downtown Ann Arbor in the last several months. Josh and I stopped in to The Wafel Shop for a light breakfast this past weekend, the first weekend they were open. Their standard waffles come with butter and powdered sugar, additional toppings are extra. I went with the Liege style waffle because it sounded very similar to what I had been looking for, sugary and crisp with the same dense texture. I added Biscoff spread and fresh raspberries. Josh chose the Brussles Wafel and added peanut butter and banana. To drink I had a caramel latte and Josh had a hot chocolate.
The food and drinks came up quickly, everything seemed well organized and they had the right amount of staff while we were there for the early morning rush. My latte was decent, not as good as some coffee shops in the area, but definitely serviceable. Josh really enjoyed the hot chocolate, and he’s pickier about that type of drink than most.
I loved my waffle. It was thick, crispy on the edges and I could taste the sugar pearls that were inside that give it a real distinction from the typical American waffle. The Biscoff spread was sweet and had that sugar cookie goodness. I was glad I added raspberries because their acidity and tartness were perfect for cutting through the sweetness of the spread so it wasn’t too much. Next time I would leave the butter off, it didn’t add much with the other toppings already adding a richness. I tried a bite of Josh’s waffle and it was tasty too, although not as much flavor in the waffle itself it did have a nice light airy texture. It was good Elvis style with the banana and PB combo.
I would definitely go back, but I think I’d prefer it for a snack or dessert to breakfast. I like more food in the morning and while I commend them for not trying to overreach and do too much, their menu is simple – waffles and drinks. The toppings aren’t enough to fill me up. I think they should continue to keep it simple though. They certainly seem to have mastered these Belgian style waffles and I don’t want to see that change. Dessert is just fine with me!
They also had chocolate covered waffles in a case, why I didn’t get one on the way out is beyond me, especially because it may have been very close to the original Belgian treat my co-worker gave me! Next time for sure.
Category: Restaurant Reviews | 2 Comments January 27, 2013
I had a yammerin’ to bake a fruit dessert this weekend (yeah, that’s right, a yammerin’). Most women think first of chocolate for dessert, I am one of the rare few that would pick fruit-based desserts over chocolate almost any day of the week.
I ruffled through Pinterest, one of my newer online addictions, for some enticing photos of various fruit galettes. A galette is a simpler, more rustic version of a pie that doesn’t include the fuss of a pie plate or nicely crimped crust so it’s perfect for a day when you’d like to put together an easy dessert.
I came across this recipe for a Honey Pear Galette which sounded right up my alley. I liked that it had a slight twist of adding a cinnamon vanilla pastry cream to the base of the crust. Other fruit galettes I’ve made before where simply fruit, sugar and the crust, this added a more elevated appeal that didn’t add too much effort.
I opted for using store-bought refrigerated pie dough (baking blasphemy, I know!), because again, my original intent was to make this an easy dessert. I’ve also had good success with the Pilsbury pre-made pie crusts in the past. I chose some lovely red Anjou pears for this treat, which I hadn’t tried before. They were perfectly sweet, but still firm. I followed the original recipe note to sprinkle some flour over the top of the fruit after it was layered on the pastry cream, but before baking. I think next time I would toss the pear slices with the flour and salt before layering the slices for a prettier presentation. As you may see in the photo, even after baking, not all of the flour absorbed into the pears.
The smell that permeated the kitchen while this baked was intoxicating. The crust was colored a lovely golden brown after baking from the egg wash brushed on just before it went in the oven. The pears were the perfect tenderness and had a touch of added sweetness from the drizzle of honey added while the galette was still warm. The pasty cream added a lusciousness beyond the basic fruit version, just as I had hoped. What a tasty winter treat!
What are some of your favorite fruit desserts?
Honey Pear Galette with Pastry Cream
adapted from kokocooks
Print Friendly Version
- 1 c whole milk
- 2 Tbs cornstarch
- 4 Tbs sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- Pilsbury Refrigerated Pie Crust – one round layer
- 3 ripe red Anjoy pears or another variety, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 Tbs all purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 2 Tbs honey
For the pastry cream: Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix together cornstarch, sugar, salt, and egg in a small bowl. When milk starts to boil, remove from heat. Slowly pour 1/3 c of the hot milk into the cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the hot mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk, whisk to combine. Place saucepan over medium heat until the mixture thickens, whisking constantly (about 2 minutes.) Pour pastry cream into a small bowl and chill for 20 minutes.
For the galette: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Roll pastry pie crust into a 12-inch circle on parchement paper. Transfer crust on the parchment to a baking sheet. Spread pastry cream in the center of the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Toss pear slices with the flour and salt in a small bowl. Arrange the pear slices on top of the pastry cream. Fold edges of the crust over the pears. Brush the crust with a small amount of the egg wash. Bake until the crust is golden, about 35 minutes. While the galette is still warm drizzle exposed pears with honey transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Category: Recipes | Leave a comment December 16, 2012
I promised my husband that I would publicly credit him with find of this new restaurant in Ypsilanti, the Blue Wolf Grill, so here it is Josh (if you’re reading this). Granted, I had not heard that it was coming and I’m usually the first to know when a restaurant will be opening within a 20 mile radius of where we live, let alone right in our own town. However, I haven’t driven down that area of Washtenaw in a while and he was picking up dinner the other night and happened to drive by this new find. Lucky for me (and him) he mentioned his sighting of this new restaurant that had opened just this past Friday near the corner of Hewitt and Washtenaw in what was the old Cosmic Garden years ago (oh, how I miss their sweet potato fries to this day!) and more recently was a Middle Eastern spot. I was thrilled to hear that it was no longer empty and even happier when I looked up their website and found an interesting, well-priced, local ingredient based menu.
We stopped in for lunch today and were not disappointed. They had a soft opening for friends and family earlier last week, but just opened to the public as of Friday. We were the only diners around 3 p.m. on a Sunday, but our waitress was friendly and quick and the food was delicious.
The tables are dressed with real cloth tablecloths and cute little mission style candle holders. My husband hopes they upgrade the black plastic chairs at some point, but I didn’t mind because they were still comfortable which was what was important to me (and my behind).
The menu has a nice mix of soups, salads sandwiches, pastas and entrees with a nice little twist to each. The prices range from $6-$10 for salads and sandwiches to $12-$18 for the nicer dinners, which include a side, a salad and a roll. It would be easy to find something to please a wide range of palates and pocketbooks at the Blue Wolf.
I have been eating a lot more meatless meals lately and was happy to find several vegetarian options that appeared to be well thought out, not just your typical black bean burger or pasta with sauce here. I considered one of the interesting salads, butternut squash ravioli with roasted apples and curry cream sauce, but decided on the Grilled Veggie Panini.
The sandwich came on fresh herb focaccia with mozzarella and had a nice assortment of vegetables, including portobellos, yellow squash, roasted red pepper, red onion, fresh spinach as well as a hummus spread. This was not your standard veggie sandwich that is slapped on the menu to appeal to a few vegetarians. The vegetables were nicely grilled and well seasoned, the bread was herby and fresh. The flavors of this sandwich came together nicely. It also came with a pickle some tasty ruffled chips, although you can upgrade to the house fries for another dollar.
Josh opted for the Wolf Sliders, four sliders with your choice of pulled pork or chuck burgers, or a mix of both. He went for two of each. The sauce on the pulled pork is on the sweeter side which is right up his alley. I had a bite and thought it was pretty good too. He really enjoyed the burger sliders which had a slight char to the outside of the meat, but not too much. The fries came with his meal, but they were a bit on the crisp side for our taste.
We saved room to try one of their three desserts. We had a choice between the whipped chocolate ganache with berries, a croissant bread pudding with creme anglaise or a chocolate Michigan apple cake with vanilla sauce. Our waitress sold us on the bread pudding saying she had it earlier that day and it was her absolute favorite.
The bread pudding was fantastic as promised. The croissant pudding was studded with dried fruits throughout, a touch of chocolate chips on top and served with a delectable vanilla sauce that wasn’t overly sweet. Fresh berries that surrounded the dish were a perfect accompaniment for their acidity. I cannot believe all their desserts are less than five bucks. If I hadn’t been so full I think we would have tried more than one!
I love that another restaurant that has put some thought into their menu, considers local ingredients and something other than just the ordinary has given Ypsilanti a chance for their success. They follow in the footsteps of Beezy’s Cafe, Red Rock, Wurst Bar and Bona Sera. It’s so nice to see something aside from fast food chains becoming a part of the Ypsilanti community. I believe the that the Ypsi folk are welcoming to these types of establishments and they will see strong support. We’ll be back here for sure!
Category: Food, Restaurant Reviews | 2 Comments October 17, 2012
I have fallen in love with a little cafe in Ann Arbor, Michigan called, The Songbird Cafe. I find reason to stop in at least once a week or so. The staff is very pleasant and efficient and the coffee and food are simple, but delicious.
Their caramel latte is just the way I like it. They don’t skimp on the foam, which tastes like a coffee marshmallow to me! So many places these days only fill the latte with milk and leave off the froth, which is my favorite part when done right (and Songbird does it right!).
I know I’m enjoying a great latte when it tastes rich and luxurious even when I order it with skim milk, and that’s exactly what I’ve gotten every time I’ve ordered one at this sweet little cafe. Beezy’s, and now The Songbird Cafe, are my two favorite places in the Ypsi/Ann Arbor area to order an espresso drink.
I’ve also had some tasty food at Songbird, including: oatmeal cookies, a divine apple hand pie, a simple, but delicious caprese sandwich and breakfast.
For breakfast I always order the green tea muffin with candied ginger and topped with walnuts, their cherry granola yogurt parfait, a side of fresh fruit and a caramel latte, of course!
The muffin is lightly sweet and heavenly. I love that the walnuts are sprinkled on top so they don’t interfere with the soft texture of the muffin too much. The candied ginger wakes up the taste with a subtle and sweet zing. The granola parfait is made to order in a cute little mason jar. The yogurt is plain Greek yogurt so I usually grab just a touch of honey from the coffee bar to take the edge off. The fruit Songbird serves has always been well picked and absolutely fresh.
I also enjoy seeing the love that went into the decor of this little place. I never went into this building when it was the beloved Flim Flam diner, but I imagine it’s quite a bit different inside now than it was then.
You walk in to be greeted by the friendly staff at the coffee counter and the chalkboard with specials of the day (their daily soups are fabulous as well!). The counter has lovely slats of wood and a granite top. The side walls have a touch of exposed brick for a rustic feel.
To the right is the dining area, the open entryway to the seating area is accented on side with a lovely leaded glass door. The tables are plenty with a mix of cushioned benches and simple wooden chairs. Library shelves line the back wall. Light pours in from the front window making for a very comfortable and cozy atmosphere to enjoy some simple, but lovely food.
Category: Restaurant Reviews | Leave a comment August 31, 2012
After eating Mary’s Wild Oats at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor a number of times I was on a quest to recreate it at home. At $7.50 a pop it’s not cheap to eat granola at their restaurant, but it’s made from inexpensive and easy-to-find ingredients so I figured I could make a similar version myself. I searched the web, but Zingerman’s has not yet parted with their recipe, although their description on the website gave me a enough clues of what ingredients to look for when comparing other recipes. Oats, of course, honey, butter, dried cranberries and whole almonds.
Of course, the beauty of making your own granola is that you can adapt it to your tastes, which is what I’ve done here. You can easily change out the choice of nuts, sweeteners and dried fruits to your own favorites. I found a good base recipe on CDKitchen’s website and adapted that to include my favorites. I’ve experimented enough times that my current favorite recipe combo is the recipe below. It includes, pecans, dried cherries, cinnamon and honey. Shhh… but I’d argue that my version is even better than the recipe I was first out to find.
I purchased a yogurt maker a number of months ago, so in addition to making my own granola each week I also make a batch of fresh vanilla yogurt. I also pick up fresh berries or bananas and consistently eat the combination for breakfast every morning. It keeps me full until my workday lunch at noon and I never get bored with it. This past week I made a version with pistachios and maple syrup, also tasty! So, feel free to try different variations until you find the perfect one for you!
Cherry Pecan Granola
Adapted from cdkitchen
- 4 cups old-fashioned oats
- 1 cup pecan halves
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup honey (or other sweetener)
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
Mix oats, pecans, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl combine oil and honey; you do not need to stir. Microwave for 60 seconds then pour over oats mixture.
Stir oil mixture into oats until it is completely incorporated into the oats mixture. It will still look a little dry. Spread on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
Bake for 40 minutes, stirring carefully every 10 minutes. Let granola cool completely then add to a large Ziploc or other storage container. Mix in dried cherries. Store at room temperature for up to one week.
Category: Recipes | Leave a comment August 24, 2012
I love that we found a new breakfast place recently, but Back to the Roots is a bit of a destination breakfast for us as it’s located in downtown Chelsea, about 30 minutes from Ypsilanti, where we live. Chelsea is a cute little town with some interesting shops so I don’t mind making the trip. We’ve been to this restaurant four times since we first discovered it about 2-3 months ago.
Back to the Roots is right off Main Street in the center of downtown. Don’t be fooled when you first walk in as you’ll see the store portion of their business, keep on walking toward the back and you’ll be greeted by a member of their friendly staff who will ask if you’ll be dining in their cafe.
They set themselves apart from other businesses in the area by donating a portion of their proceeds to benefit social justice issues around the world and in the surrounding communities.
I’ve had both their French toast and the buttermilk pancakes. While the French toast is pretty tasty, it’s also very simple. The pancakes are my favorite because they’re topped with a lovely, not-too-sweet apple-raisin compote with spices that make the dish taste like a bite of autumn, my favorite season.
They also have a coffee bar in the front, so you can order a fresh latte or cappuccino with your hot breakfast. I can attest that they serve a mean caramel latte! I’m also addicted to their herb breakfast potatoes. They are full of flavor and cooked up with a great crispy outer crust, but soft potato inside. They’re big enough to share, but trust me when I say you may not want to!
Josh highly recommends the biscuits and gravy, although on our last visit he had something more traditional, their eggs, meat and toast meal – The American – which he also said was good.
Service has been great every time we’ve stopped in, which is very important to me. If the food is good somewhere, but the service is consistently bad I still won’t come back. The staff here are very friendly and even chatty, in a good way. I feel very welcome every time we go in.
This is one of those places that I’ve wanted to hold on to as my own little secret spot, as we haven’t had to wait in any lines on the weekend yet! But, it’s also a place I’d like to get the word out about because they run a great place which everyone can enjoy in addition to promoting fair trade practices and social causes around the world. So, if you visit and enjoy it I encourage you to share it with your friends!
Category: Restaurant Reviews | Leave a comment July 13, 2012
My husband, Josh, and I went to Traverse City, Michigan in late June to enjoy a few relaxing days and eat some fabulous food. We succeeded in doing both. In fact, given the amazing weather we had while we were there, the beautiful scenery, food and siren song of the bay, it was rather challenging to convince ourselves to come back home on the last day. I think our bosses should consider themselves lucky that we didn’t call in to quit and tell them we were buying a cottage on the water up north!
Before I dive into the food portion, take a look at some of the gorgeous morning views of Traverse Bay and sunsets over the water from our great hotel room at The Cherry Tree Inn.
For this trip we decided to plan ahead and make dinner reservations for the nights were there instead of taking our chances with long waits. Friday night was Mission Table on the Leelanau Peninsula, Saturday was The Cook’s House and Sunday was Amical.
Mission Table had great food and excellent service. Our waiter was very attentive, knowledgeable on the food and wine menus and very friendly. The menu is sectioned into four courses which are based on increasing portion sizes. We decided to order a couple of smaller dishes to share and each get our own larger entree course.
Mission Table is part of Bowers Inn Estate vineyards so they make their own wine on the premises. I had a glass of the Peninsula White and, although not generally a wine drinker, really enjoyed it. It was light, crisp and slight fruity. Josh opted for an amber ale also brewed on the property, which he liked.
We started with a salad with fresh red and yellow cherry tomatoes, a creamy white cheese (I can’t recall the type), and microgreens. I found certain bites to be a bit on the salty side, but I loved the tomatoes and cheese. Josh, not a lettuce fan, ate some of the tomatoes and cheese and liked it as well. The colors really popped on the plate!
Next, we had a pork belly appetizer, which of course I forgot to take a photo of because I was so excited to try it. It included, pickled mustard seed, goat cheese, figs and wheat berries. I loved the crunch the wheat berries added to the dish – and shockingly, so did the non-adventurous husband of mine. The pork belly was rich and tasty, with the sweet figs and tangy goat cheese as great compliments.
The main entree I chose was the Walleye, in part because it’s a well known Michigan white fish, I’ve even caught one in the past when I went fishing! This was served in ramp sauce with baby carrots. I really liked the oniony flavor of the ramp sauce and the tenderness of the fish. The carrots were nice and sweet, but still slightly crisp.
We passed on dessert that night because unfortunately nothing on the menu quite grabbed us. Maybe next time, but I definitely would come back for another meal.
The Cook’s House
I was searching local articles and blogs for Traverse City before our trip because you can sometimes find the best insider tips that way. Did you know that Mario Batali has a vacation home in that area? I stumbled across one of his favorite TC restaurants, The Cook’s House, in a blog article. How can you go wrong with a restaurant that’s backed by a Food Network star?
I was really exited about our visit to The Cook’s House and it did not disappoint. It’s situated in what truly appears to be someone’s home and the tables, only about 10, in what would be their living room. I didn’t realize how small the restaurant was at the time I made the reservation, but I’m really glad I had booked a table in advance!
One of the only slight dings I have against this place is that one of the front staff is a bit on the bristly side. We walked in and she immediately said, ‘What’s the Name?’. A, ‘Hello, how are are you?’ or ‘Welcome’ would have been nice when we were about to drop the amount of money this dinner cost. She also scoffed a bit when we asked for recommendations on the wine menu as we were new to wine drinking. Aside from her the rest of the staff was impeccable, extremely professional and personable.
We were seated at a table that was right next to a bookshelf lined with old tattered cookbooks and food resources. I loved the inviting feeling of being able to pick up a recipe book and start paging through it while we waited. We had a clear view of the chef himself preparing the food toward the back of the room and separated by a counter and deli case showcasing fresh ingredients. My favorite part was the Sponge Bog pail sitting on top of the case amongst the fresh spices – how cheeky and non-pretentious!
I started with a gorgeous strawberry and mixed green salad with sprouts and a balsamic dressing. The lettuce was some of the freshest I ‘ve ever had, I believe they have their own garden out back. The strawberries were perfectly sweet and juicy and the garlic sprouts added a great texture and flavor.
Josh and I shared a Smoked Rabbit Barley Risotto that was absolutely divine. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better risotto. It was rich, complex and almost buttery. The seasoning was absolutely perfect.
I went for Pork Belly the second time in two days when I chose it as my entree at The Cook’s House. I wondered if it would be too much meat for me, since I normally eat mostly vegetarian or vegan the rest of the time. After one bite, my concerns disappeared, it was delicious! It was crusted in a mix of sweet spices and filled with a rhubarb puree. I usually don’t care for anise because of it’s licorice flavor, but the other spices and the richness of the meat made me enjoy the spice in this particular environment. The tartness of the rhubarb puree was a perfect foil to the sweet spice crust and richness of the pork belly.
After three great dishes, I couldn’t leave without trying dessert – that would be a crime! I had the Honey Cake with Vanilla Mousse. The cake was rich as sweet, but again, the only other ding I’ll give the restaurant is that the luscious light fluffy mousse texture I was expecting was spoiled because they set it right on top of the still very warm cake and it melted by the time it came to my table. It was still tasty, but I was missing that lightness I had expected instead of a sauce.
Truly, despite the first front staff contact and the melted mousse, this was still one of the top five meals I’ve ever had. The chef even came out at the end and made sure everything had been to our liking (I confess I couldn’t voice my disappointment about the dessert at the time). I loved the intimate and unique atmosphere of this place. We had a total of three staff attending to our table throughout the night. One gentleman even plucked a crumb, (a crumb, people!) off the tablecloth in front of me as though that was an absolutely unacceptable mess!
Mario did not steer us wrong, and although we did not have a sighting of him that night as I had hoped, it was still a great experience and we’ll be back for sure.
Our last dinner in Traverse City was downtown at Amical. It sits right in the middle of town on Front Street near the canal. I was glad we had made reservations for here as well because even on a Sunday night at 7pm they were packed. We were seated as soon as we arrived at a great table in back near the window. Our server greeted us promptly and was another great server with personality.
We stated with a fruit and cheese plate to share. I can’t remember the specific selection of cheeses that night, but almost all were very good. I’m not fan of strong blue cheese fan so the one on our plate when fairly uneaten, but the Granny Smith apple slices and walnut bread that accompanied the rest were devoured.
I had fish again for my main dish and it was good, but not exceptional. It was roasted salmon with fermented limes and a spicy sauce over broccolini. I didn’t find the fish to be particularly spicy or flavorful, but it was cooked well. I did take a bite of the fermented lime on top, but found it to be very overwhelming. The side of broccolini was well seasoned and tasty though.
When we reviewed their dessert menu I told the waitress how unfair it was that they had so many of my favorite sweets in one place. How was I to choose? She finally helped me narrow it down to the espresso pots de creme and I was very happy with my choice. How can you go wrong with coffee in dessert? This was served in a cute little latte cup and filled with a decadent, espresso-flavored custard and topped with fresh whipped cream and chocolate shavings. I finished every last bit!
So, if you’re looking for a wonderful beachfront town, full of incredible eats and sweet little shops look no further than Michigan’s Traverse City. Sleeping Bear Dunes is only 20 minutes away and was voted one of the country’s ‘Most Beautiful Places‘ by Good Morning America last year.
Category: Restaurant Reviews | 2 Comments
Printed from the Everyday Foodie blog. © 2011 Karen McCullough