Saturday, June 13, 2015

I'm bringin' foodie back...

As I've stated a few times here on the blog, I have been a bit mum about food lately due to the fact that my IBS issues seemed to have amped up over the past couple of years and I have been working to get them under better control. Plus, those food issues were compounded with my return to teaching after a year off. So not only did I have to be more diligent about my eating, but I had to do so while also navigating my way back into the classroom.

Now that summer vacation is here, I feel like it's time to sample, play, and experiment again.

This post goes to show what one week of freedom can do for a person.

Last weekend my husband and I drove to Traverse City, Michigan for our anniversary. Thanks to people like Mario Batali, this city has been put on the map as a foodie destination. While we were there, we ate at a Batali-recommended restaurant called The Cooks' House, which feels much like the name describes. It is an intimate space that gives you the impression of having dinner at a friends' house rather than a restaurant, with seating for about 25 people. The food is locally-sourced and embraces the seasons, with a blackboard in the dining room displaying the names of the purveyors they patronize.

If I'm being completely honest though, most of the dishes we actually ordered at The Cooks' House did not bowl me over. The salad I ordered tasted like I just walked into the woods and started eating
I'm bringin foodie back
Dinner at The Cooks' House: They spoiled us with their amuse bouche
plants. There was barely any dressing and there were no complementary flavors to try to balance the bitterness of the wild, foraged greens. The main dishes were all heavy and meat-centric, with no vegetarian option. The one saving grace was the appetizer of pasta carbonara we ordered, which was not only delicious and perfectly seasoned, but we could clearly tell the pasta was house-made.

While I wasn't a fan of most of our meal, what I thought The Cooks' House did amazingly well was the little amuse bouche they bring between courses. Their after dinner amuse bouche was a variety of little nibbles, but the one thing that I went gaga over was the kettle corn with ground fennel. I loved it so much that our waiter graciously brought me over a second helping.

So if I could offer The Cooks' House one suggestion, it would be to put more of the little bites on their menu and don't focus so much on the heavy meat dishes and flavorless salads.


Upon our return home from our anniversary weekend, my husband and I needed to go grocery shopping, but with barely any food in the house, we decided to eat out for lunch. We drove to downtown Ann Arbor since it's near the Whole Foods where we shop, and we ate a place called the
I'm bringin foodie back
Pho and ginger tea streetside at Ginger Deli in Ann Arbor
Ginger Deli. This is where I tried pho for the first time, a Vietnamese broth and rice noodle dish. I know, I know. I shouldn't be allowed to call myself a foodie having never tried pho before, but the opportunity just never presented itself.

Having finally tried it, I now understand why it has such a cult-like discipleship. The broth! That magical broth! I don't know how to describe the beautiful balance of sweet and savory in a beef broth, but boy will I be seeking out more opportunities to have pho in the future.


Last night my husband and I decided to try a new restaurant in Ypsilanti called the Bona Sera Cafe. They used to be an underground supper club and turned into a brick and mortar restaurant. Overall, the experience was really positive. They have a great, funky atmosphere, as evidenced by the Elvis lamp that greets you when you walk in the door. Incidentally, the electricity went out midway through our first course, and despite this huge setback, the kitchen and waitstaff rallied and were still able to provide patrons food service.

While my husband and I weren't in love with our main entrees -- he ordered the crab mac and cheese and I ordered something called the bi bada bing, which is an Italian riff on a traditional Korean dish -- what I absolutely fell head over heels in love with was my salad and dessert.

I'm bringin foodie back
Bona Sera Cafe: Fun and funky, with good food
I ordered the orange salad which obviously came with orange segments, it also had arugula, shaved onion, and a white balsamic vinaigrette. There's something so poetic about a perfectly executed salad and that's what this was. It was dressed to the point where you could taste the oil and vinegar but the salad wasn't dripping in it. And it was salted! Never underestimate the power of salting a salad. And this tasted like a beautifully delicate, flaky sea salt. This was the salad experience I was missing at The Cooks' House last weekend.

But let's not forget dessert. I ordered the lime tres leches cake. I am someone who will order anything on a menu if it has lime or lemon in it. I am not usually a fan of rich, heavy chocolate desserts. But I will order something light and citrusy. And the tres leches cake was everything I love in a dessert: light, citrusy, and slightly sinful. You know a tres leches cake is good when the "leche" seeps out the bottom.

Since the Bona Sera Cafe has such a fun, funky vibe and chefs who are passionate about food, I look forward to trying it again to see what their menu is like in the fall/winter. I think if they tweak a few things, they will be a hot spot in the Ann Arbor area.


  1. Happy anniversary! Glad you're back on Weekend Cooking. Your descriptions of your restaurant visits made me drool.

  2. Yum, yum, yum! To the Tres Leches cake and to the orange salad. I am not much a fan of what I call 'weed' salad. I really have a hard time with bitter greens. Just cannot get used to them. And my husband loves pho. There is a Vietnamese restaurant here that he loves. I've gone once with him and tried a couple of things. I need to get more adventurous there. Happy anniversary!

  3. Good luck with the ibs - I finally got mine under control by doing a low fodmap diet and finding out that onion and garlic were my problems - hope you find your answer too. Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

  4. Ha!! I too am a citrus person and barely resist lime or lemon. Every time I hear about Traverse being a foodie destination, I have such mixed feelings. I still remember the Traverse of the 60s and 70s and I love the old charm of northern Michigan . . when only skiers and summer cottage people ever heard of those towns. *nostalgic rant off*

    I'll have to give Bona Sera a try next time I'm visiting family. I clearly need to do an Ann Arbor area foodie road trip.

  5. Sounds like a great week, Happy Anniversary:)

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  6. Hope you enjoy your play time over your summer!! I do love a good bowl of pho.

  7. I agree with you on salting a salad, it can really just bring the whole thing together.

  8. If you ever want to be adventurous in the kitchen, here is an "easy" (her word not mine) recipe that is super yummy: I didn't find it extremely difficult but the prep does take a while.