Eating my Way through Ann Arbor

[Ann Arbor, MI, Apr 15/16, 2019]

Luckily, the evenings provided opportunities to get out of our hotel and explore of Ann Arbor. Spending a few days at a conference hotel can bring on cabin fever pretty quickly for me, so I relish these opportunities!

Monday nights of this conference are typically reserved for the networking dinners. The conference organizers make reservations at a half-dozen or so restaurants in the area and provide transportation to them, if necessary. This year, the restaurants were all in Ann Arbor’s downtown area, about 3 miles away from the conference hotel. Bus shuttles were looping continuously from our hotel to Ann Arbor’s vibrant downtown area all the way till 9:45 pm, so many of us took advantage of this. The rain and wind from the day before had given way to a partly sunny and much warmer day, so walking around felt really nice.

The reservations for the restaurant I wanted to pick was not till 6:45 pm and we had some time till then. To pass the time, we walked to the gigantic M den, the official merchandise retailer for Michigan Athletics. They offer thousands of products spread over two large floors, from clothing and sports equipment to household and outdoors accessories. It was truly impressive!

I had dinner at The Earle, a French and Italian fine dining restaurant. I don’t have photos of the food but I got the salmon in puff pastry, which was absolutely delicious. The highlight, though, was dessert at Blank Slate Creamery afterwards. It was past 9 pm and there was a line out the door, so that was a good sign. I went all out and got a chocolate-dipped waffle cone with Vietnamese cinnamon and chocolate peanut butter ice cream. To die for. We barely got to our shuttle stop in time to catch the last bus back to the hotel, but it was totally worth it.

For four years now, Tuesdays at the conference have been reserved for a fun run/walk. This evolved from a self-organized run some of the conference attendees put together over the years. I like that it’s an official conference event now, which gives more people the chance to participate! This year’s event was at Gallup park, a 69-acre park along the Huron river.

One thing that made the park quite scenic were the many pedestrian bridges connecting the small islands along the river. The planned route went through quite few of them. I really enjoyed my run and managed to stay away from the snack table they had set up near the fishing pond.

Along the way, I ran by a stone commemorating the 25th anniversary of Hikone, Japan becoming a sister city to Ann Arbor. Sister cities partner with each other to promote human contact and cultural links. They interact with each other across a broad range of activities, from health care and education to business and the arts.

Of course, I had to eat back all the calories I burnt while running. For dinner, we went to Zingerman’s Deli, a highly recommended Jewish deli. Their menu had close to 100 different sandwiches, but they had marked the top 10 on there, which made it just a tad easier to pick. I got a turkey Reuben with a kale salad on the side.

For dessert, we crossed the patio to Zingerman’s Next Door cafe, which served coffee, an impressive selection of hot chocolate, and pastries and cakes. I got an orange chocolate torte to go and an Ecuadorian chocolate bar to bring back to B.

All the pastries! My chocolate torte is on the very right of the second row from the top.
I’ve never seen more hot chocolate choices!

Afterwards, we made another stop at The M Den; one of the people in our party wanted to pick up a gift. We were enjoying the walk and lost track of time, so we almost missed the last shuttle again!

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