Posts tagged: Collectibles
If I told you I’d gone to the city to see a few shows, listen to some impressive live music, catch a cutting-edge film festival, spend time in world-class museums, and chow down on an astonishingly diverse and multicultural dining scene including Cuban, Ethiopian, Mexican, Italian, Asian and Turkish food, you’d probably assume I was talking about a big city. Somewhere like Chicago or Seattle or New York.
Ann Arbor, with a population of around 116,000 and home to sports and academic powerhouse, University of Michigan, rivals big urban destinations in terms of food, entertainment, and culture.
I spent a few days looking, tasting, and exploring. Here’s a roundup of my favorites:
Feed Your Mind
Ann Arbor boasts a number of superior museums. The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) offers an impressive collection of fine art and artifacts. Two of my favorite pieces were the Samurai armor in the Asian collection and John Stanley’s “Mt. Hood from the Dalles”, a beautiful landscape painted in 1871 with an iconic view of Mt. Hood from the Columbia River.
Another fascinating stop is the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology. This state-of-the-art facility, housed in an exquisite Victorian-era Romanesque building complete with turret and Tiffany window, is centered around the late-19th Century and early-20th Century collection of it’s namesake, Francis Kelsey. Some highlights of the more than 100,000 artifacts include Roman glassware, Egyptian masks, and an elaborate sarcophagus. The coffin’s owner, the missing Mummy Djehutymose, has his own popular Twitter feed and Facebook page.
The nearby Gerald Ford Library Museum and archives is also worth a visit. Primarily a holding place for more than 25 million pages of historical documents pertaining to Ford’s political career and the Cold War era, the center offers an intriguing view of the man, including the story of Ford’s birth and childhood.
Taste the World
My first meal in Ann Arbor, a Cuban burger and batida ( a frozen concoction of mango, pinaeapple, scoop of ice cream and a splash of dark rum) and a basket of what may be the best fries I’ve ever tasted, at Frita Batidas, set the tone for the rest of the week. Everything was delicious and often unexpected. Some of my other favorites were the Ethiopian Injera (soft bread) and Gomen (collard greens cooked with spices, onions and jalapeno peppers) at Blue Nile and lamb-stuffed grape leaves and cold vegetable salads at Ayse’s Turkish Cafe. Of course, no visit to Ann Arbor counts unless you stop by world-famous Zingerman’s Deli. For beer lovers, there are a growing number of microbreweries in the area and you won’t regret a day spent tasting local brews.
Football may draw the crowds in the fall, but Ann Arbor hosts large events throughout the year. Seasonal favorites include the winter Folk Festival, a springtime FestiFools puppetry and public art festival, and a three-week summer festival with art, music, food, and film.
The number of antiques, collectibles and vintage shops within walking distance of Main Street was a nice surprise. Treasure Mart, in the Kerrytown area near the farmer’s market and Zingerman’s Deli, is a rambling historic building full of all kinds of interesting things. Some of the rooms are decorated and arranged like an antiques mall, others are crammed with goodies strewn on tabletops or piled in corners just waiting to be discovered.
Located in the Nickles Arcade, a 1918 covered passage lined with unique shops that make the place feel like a bit of Paris in the mid-west, The Arcadian antiques is a jewel box. Crystal and china line the shelves and the store stocks fine antique furniture, but the highlight is a collection of beautiful estate jewelry. I watched a couple shop for wedding rings, trying to choose from trays of lovely old diamonds and gemstones.
I did a lot of window shopping but I didn’t come home empty-handed. At Antelope Antiques and Coins, a funky store on the lower level of a downtown building. I plucked an autographed photo of Woody Herman ($10) out of a box of old photos and postcards, and did a little happy dance when I found a Waterford goblet in my (somewhat obscure) “Kylemore” pattern, for only $15.
Like most travelers, I have a fantasy “I could live here” list in my head made up of places I’ve been and couldn’t forget. After this first visit, Ann Arbor moved to the top of the list. A robust arts scene, a vibrant main street, an energetic farm-to-table movement and a cosmopolitan foodie-friendly ethos, paired with a dedication to preserving the past, makes Ann Arbor, Michigan hard to resist.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the U.S. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This morning, at Chaps, one of my family's favorite places for Sunday brunch, I noticed a young family sitting at the table beside us. Three young boys and their parents.
The mother and father had their hands full with the two younger children, one just a lap baby. But the oldest boy, no more than five years old, was no bother at all. As we ate and sipped our coffee and talked over our own food, I kept stealing glances over to the other table. As good as my plate of eggs and bacon was, watching him was more delicious.
The boy had a big plate of the house specialty, Blueberry muffin French toast, in front of him. Each time he put a bite, smothered in syrup, in his mouth, he would wiggle a little, reacting to the sheer pleasure of it. I found myself smiling at his involuntary reaction, waiting for his next bite. When he turned his attention to the thick slices of bacon, I settled back with my mug of coffee and watched the show.
Lost in a daydream, the boy placed the the end of one slice of bacon in his mouth and proceeded to chew on it the way a farmer might chew on a stalk of wheat. Bit by bit the bacon disappeared as he stared dreamily out the window, his hands slack at his sides and his legs wrapped around the legs of his chair. When one piece was finished, he repeated the process with another.
Finally, the little brothers were done with their breakfasts and the parents had taken one last sip of coffee and were bundling up everyone to go home.
The little boy who had needed no help polishing off a platter of food, stood up and slipped his arms into the sleeves of his coat. And then, as he turned to leave, he noticed a piece of his French toast in his chair where it had fallen from his lap. He stared at it for a few minutes and then looked over at his mother and his father. They had turned away and were already moving toward the door. He stood perfectly still another minute, as I watched, and then reached out, picked up the bit of fallen bread and popped it in his mouth. Just as he did so he looked over and caught my eye. I winked over the rim of my coffee cup. He smiled at me and then skipped off to join the rest of his family.
That, I thought to myself, is how each of us should appreciate a meal that was prepared and put before us. With gratitude and pleasure. Savored from start to finish. Especially that last delicious bite.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Home Planet , Treasure Hunting and CAMera: Travel and Photo blogs, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at email@example.com