Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ann Arbor Part 4

Emi told me to write the last Ann Arbor blog post. She loves Ann Arbor and loved our trip, but after all we did, she's probably getting a little burned out from all the blogging about her hometown. To the rescue, here I am.

We enjoyed a special dinner and night out with the Lookers for our last night in Ann Arbor. They were the best hosts and made sure we were well fed throughout the whole trip. They also put up with the "kids" coming home around 4am every night. However we were soon to learn that they could party into the early hours too.

Emi's Ann Arbor Farmer's Market heirloom tomatoes with fresh basil, sea salt, olive oil, and Emi's 18 year aged balsamic vinegar that we picked up earlier in the day.

The finished product served with some fresh mozzarella from Zingerman's. Delicious. Nothing is smoother and perfectly sweet like a great aged balsamic. The cheap stuff is vinegary and burns your throat a little, but this stuff you could sip.

Mark made his famous paella for us. Here he is searing the giant scallops.

He premade a tomato mixture on the stove inside and seared the seafood to make sure they were evenly cooked, then threw everything into his greased, authentic paella pan that had been heating up on his BBQ.

Here he is mixing the rice into the tomato mixture. Usually he buys Spanish rice from Zingerman's, but they were out so the recommended Arborio rice which is what you would use for risotto. Mark wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it ended up amazing.

Adding in the fresh mussels.

The finished product. Prawns, mussels, and fat scallops. This was an amazing meal and made me want to go out to buy my own paella pan. We ate the paella with Emi's caprese salad and a great crusty freshly baked bread. Usually I don't order prawns or scallops at restaurants because usually you only get 4 or 5. This was the best of both worlds because I love prawns and scallops, and with our small group, I could eat and eat until I couldn't anymore.

We had a blast with the Lookers and enjoyed some great Pacific NW wines that we packed with us that night for dinner. They even went out with us after dinner and took us to their favorite local Ann Arbor bar. I think we got home around 2am that night. What a great way to end the trip.

We had one more fancy meal while we were in Michigan, but this time it was in Auburn Hills. Unfortunately the lighting was pretty dark inside the restaurant, so the pictures didn't come out so well.

I received a recommendation for Lelli's from someone I had met earlier in the day while at work. Emi looked it up on Yelp and found out it had received great reviews. It reminded me of somewhere the Detroit mafia would probably have eaten back in the day. Definitely an old school type of place with great steaks and Italian food.

We decided to splurge a little and this is what ended up as anniversary meal #1 with many more to come over the next month.

Each meal was a six course meal, so although not cheap, it came with a ton of food, and it was all good. Our meal started off with an antipasto plate that came with salami, shrimp cocktail, cheeses, and pickled beets to whet the appetite and to enjoy with our wine.

Our really good Caesar salad.

A creamy minestrone soup that came highly recommended. Our waiter said the recipe is top secret. We've never had a creamy minestrone before, but will probably compare minestrone forever to the one we had in Auburn Hills, MI. Lelli's also had really good warm, soft rolls that went great with all of our pre-main course meals.

On to the next one, spaghetti with meat sauce, now the meal is getting fun! I already had my antipasto plate, minestrone soup, now spaghetti, and my main course isn't even here yet!

My tender, flavorful, Midwest raised Filet Mignon. You can tell they put a lot of love into this dish and by love I mean butter...

We ended the meal with a lemon gelato. What a sweet way to end a great meal and a fun trip out to Michigan.

This was my first time to Michigan and to Ann Arbor, Emi's hometown, and what a fun trip. Little did I know that I would be back in Ann Arbor just weeks later and I even had time for a quick trip to Zingerman's. Future blog post to come!

- Kyle

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