Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pig & Whiskey

Our dating adventure for the weekend took us out to Pig &Whiskey in Ferndale.  Ferndale borders Detroit and is where all the cool kids live who want affordable car insurance rates.  The summer festival showcases BBQ, whiskey (and beer) and live music.  It was our first year at the event and we had a really good time.  Danny ate some candied bacon from The W.A.B., we each got a taco from a newly discovered Detroit taco joint Alley Taco, and shared Pigs Gone Wild (creme brulee ice cream with bacon and raspberry sauce) from Treat Dreams.  I was the DD so Danny had a couple drinks.  He had the only available beer option from his favorite brewery that he hadn't tried and a shot of Rittenhouse Rye which he loved.

Delicious food + great environment = perfect Saturday afternoon.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Extra! Extra!

It appears the Illitches are looking to show up Dan Gilbert.  For decades, the Illitch family (owners of Little Caesar's Pizza, Olympia Entertainment, Detroit Tigers and Red Wings) were the talk of the town and praised for their commitment to Detroit.  Five years ago, Gilbert moved to Detroit and dedicated his resources to reviving the city.  His swift, dramatic and public action outshone the Illitches and left many questioning the accolades given to pizza czars.  Turns out they have had big plans of their own.

The plans for a new stadium for the Red Wings has been slightly controversial.  Joe Louis is honestly a dump but it's historic and means a lot to a very dedicated hockey fandom.  Consequently, there is a contingent of people who don't want to see the Wings move.  The bigger controversy has been the decision to use millions of dollars in public funds to finance the construction of a stadium that would not formally be returned to the city.  The plan's defenders claim the development spurred by construction would increase the tax base (via new business and residents) and, therefore, benefit Detroit; however, promises of development as a result of a new stadium is old news.  The same story was sold when Comerica Park (2000) and Ford Field (2002) were built but the reality is that not much changed.

This time things might be different. Yesterday the Illitches revealed a dramatic and ambitious plan to develop 5 neighborhoods in the Downtown/Midtown area in the next 3 years.  Touted as one of the largest construction project in the country, it will undoubtedly change the landscape of Detroit.  Between the Illitches development north of Grand Circus Park and Gilbert's development south of it, my favorite buzz word is even being thrown out - Target!

It's incredible how much the city has changed in five years and I feel like the city's core will be completely unrecognizable in another five years.  This latest development project is really exciting and hopefully a sign of continued progress for Detroit.

(Source: Crain's Detroit Business)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Happy Friday

I love this because it's actually the title of my story!  Except mine is not particularly short - very nearly 50,000 words.  My life has been consumed with writing the past two weeks but I'm almost finished and will be able to return to my usual activities.

For the weekend. I'll be hanging out with Melissa tonight and catching up on the latest wedding news.  Tomorrow I hope to go to Eastern Market and watch a couple episodes of The Americans with Lindsey.  Sunday should be a day of rest.  There is rain in the forecast but I'm hoping to get run a few miles.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Alegria Pops

A key component of the Concert of Colors Festival is the showcase of local business.  I was excited to see that one of the city's newer businesses, Alegria Pops, would be participating in the event at the BUILD Bazaar.  BUILD is a small business program offered through the Detroit welcome center D:hive.  I knew I wanted to try a popsicle but I also held out hope for an interview with the business owner, Ofelia Saenz.  I got lucky on both fronts.  The ice pop I tried was Mango-Coconut and it was fantastic!

How did you get into the Popsicle business?

I knew I wanted to start a food business and I thought popsicle would be a nice way to connect with people in terms of a product that has common ground. My ice pops are based on Paletas which are Mexican. Mexican ice pops are generally fruit based and they come in flavors that are a little less common than what we know as ice pops.  I thought Paletas would be a way to introduce something new to people in a form they're already familiar with.

What is your background?

My background is PR and marketing. I've cooked my whole life.  I figured if I was going to start a business from scratch it had to be something with food. I've been working on these recipes for two years.  I knew it would be fun but also a challenge because working with ice pops is like learning to cook all over again because food does not behave the same when you're freezing it.

I know you're a graduate from BUILD program.  What can you tell me about the organization?

It's been great.  The class itself was tremendously helpful as far as learning how to build my business plan but it goes so far beyond that.  They provide networking opportunities.  They do activities and workshops.  They had a series where once a month there was a panel speaking on a different theme or a different topic.  It's geared towards entrepreneurs that aren't your typical business person.  We're starting businesses because we are fulfilling something that we were missing at our regular jobs but we didn't necessarily start out thinking 'I'm an entrepreneur, I'm going to start a business' - at least I didn't. BUILD nurtures a collaborative spirit among its grads.  I highly recommend it if anyone is thinking about starting a business to use this as your launching pad.

Have you worked with other small business organizations?

Detroit Cooks is a collective of five women owned businesses.  They're all Detroit based business. Four out of five of us are BUILD grads.  That's another example of how BUILD facilitates the collaborative atmosphere among the entrepreneurial community in Detroit. We cook out of a shared commercial kitchen in Midtown at Hannan House.  There is a little cafe area that is attached to the kitchen that will eventually be used to showcase whoever is part of the collective at any given time.  The collective is more of an incubator for new food business.  And then when a business gets big enough and moves to the next step, it makes room for someone else to come in.  I'm really happy to be part of the group.

What's your long term business plan?

This is my first season actively selling.  I started the business late last year but I really only did one even at the end of the season. The business operates as a pop-up right now but when I get to the point that I can settle into a brick and mortar my hope is that I can settle somewhere in Southwest (Detroit).

What's the most popular seller?

It changes but it's been Mango Coconut with Mexican chili and salt.  I had those at an event last Saturday and they sold out in 15 minutes.

This is what I want my freezer to look like!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Concert of Colors

This weekend I attended my first Concert of Colors festival at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  The free event lasted two weekends and hosted various musical guests and a local business bazaar.  I went with Aunt Margaret, B and Mom and to celebrate our Irish heritage we saw Black 47.  The performance was fun and rife with political commentary.  My favorite part was definitely the bagpipes.  The first song we arrived for reminded me of one of my favorite Celtic inspired songs and piqued my interest in listening to other Irish music.  It was a fun event and I will definitely go back next year.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Happy Friday!

What a week! Our computer was completely fried (we lost everything), my car is broke and we lost electricity.  Fortunately, it's was a short work week AND the Wayne County building was finally purchased.  The beautiful domed structure downtown has been vacant for years and was one of the standout examples of Detroit's deficiencies.  Details on the buyers and their plans are scarce but I'll definitely be monitoring the development closely.

As for the weekend, I plan to write, write, write.  I'm suffering from hand cramps but I don't mind.  I absolutely can't write on a computer.  My creative thoughts flow through the pen only.  Since I can't be a recluse all weekend, I have some real-life plans Saturday night.  I'll be in Midtown for the Concert of Colors and dinner with Mom, B and Aunt Margaret.  I also want to make it to the Hs bonfire.  I've seen plenty of Gwennie but not so much Lindsey.

P.S. This is Detroit

(Source: The Rap Sheet)

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Summer Pasta Salad

I brought a pasta salad to my sister-in-law's for the 4th of July and it was delicious.  I picked a salad with radish because I had leftovers from the Thai chicken tacos I made earlier in the week (and highly recommend).  The picture is from the original recipe but I doctored it up a bit.  If you want the recipe from the picture follow the link; otherwise, my recipe is below.

This pasta is very simple to make and great for a party because there is no mayonnaise.  It was served chilled at the BBQ without meat and we decided to add lamb for a more satisfying dinner the next day.  One night we ate the pasta cold with warm lamb. The following day, I heated up the pasta and lamb.  There is a lot of flexibility to do what you'd like.

Lamb, Radish and Fennel Pasta
Servings (8-10)

    • Box of whole wheat rotini pasta
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup lemon juice
    • 3 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 3/4 cup diced fennel
    • 1 cup radish
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
    • 3 tablespoons minced green onion
    • 1 pound ground lamb
  1. Cook pasta according to package.  Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine salt, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and pepper; mix well.  Add fennel, radish mint, and onion; mix well.  Add cooled noodles and thoroughly coat with mixture.  
  3. It's a matter of preference if/when you cook the lamb.  It can be added warm to cooled noodles or chilled with pasta.  The pasta can also be eaten warm.