Ann Arbor Art Fair 2017

Every couple years, we make a pilgrimage out to the Art Fair, so we can blister our feet in humid, skin-scorching weather. But the art is always great, with prices that actually are affordable, and the set-up is (equally important, in my opinion) unpretentious.

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NJ: Zinburger

Zinburger is one of those upscale burger joints–greasy diner fare reimagined for surbubia and deeper pockets. The logo is a cow, drinking a glass of wine, which I think sums up the concept rather well.

logo-home-zinburger

Snarkiness aside, its not bad. Not blow my mind good, but respectable.I’ve been there a couple times so far–prices are about right for what it serves, and its been pretty packed each time…the big TV screens showing sports games might explain. It’s certainly found a niche.

But the food is well…forgettable. The problem with pulling diner food upscale is that there is a reason cheap diner food got all that attention in the first place. Does that make sense? Kind of like how street vendors in Asia and elsewhere get awesome, diners spend years and years making the same kind of food and getting really really good at it. They don’t worry about things like saturated fats, excess sodium and cholesterol–the food is unapologetically bad for you but man does it taste good doing it.

 

New York: Momofuku Noodle Bar

I love noodles, and since the weather recently decided to take winter seriously, I’ve had a serious ramen craving.  A giant bowl of chewy noodles and luscious fatty steaming broth just sounds perfect when the chill’s hitting.  So when entropyenator finally booked time at a Manhattan cat cafe, I decided it was time to get the ramen on as well.

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Cox Arboretum, Dayton, OH

As terrible as the weather has been, it’s also been warm enough to make it awkward to be a couch potato the whole winter holidays.  Also, even as people originally from the Midwest, there are only so many times we can go to the mall.

So the other day we took a trip out to Cox Arboretum to stretch our legs.  We’ve both been there before, but years and years ago as children, and like all such places, it differs significantly from memory.  Mostly in a good way: the observation tower was a good step exercise, and also offered great views of the surrounding park.  With the fog and a little imagination, we could even pretend it was a dreary English moor, or something slightly more atmospheric than the reality.

The park was, predictably, almost free of visitors, and pretty barren, but here and there we found little dots of color.  I’d like to return–although in the spring.

Roadtrip: Coeur D’Alene, Idaho

Coeur D’Alene is this odd cross between college students summering over and retired folks enjoying life.  There are high-end art galleries downtown with beach-bum kids in flip-flops, random street art and tattoo parlors.

Coeur D-Alene - street corner crop

Decorative housing for some utility box, Coeur D’Alene, ID

I ate dinner at Crafted, a gastropub near the lake.  The evocatively-named Lips of Faith pluot ale was slightly winey (and sort of light and dry, like the foretaste with no after) and not sweet, thankfully, and a nice beer for the end of a very hot day.  It did not, however, go too well with the garlic fries, although the fries themselves were addictive, with some sort of garlic-cheese confetti piled on top of shoestrings.  The Sam I Am burger (beef patty, smoked pork loin slices, fried egg, green chili salsa) was oversized, slightly more medium than medium rare, and they probably should have stuck two fried eggs on it since the lone egg only covered half the patty.  Tasty, didn’t need the pork loin–which was dry–but it was impossible to eat with your hands.  Knife and fork, and you feel very frou-frou about it given the laidback setting.

Airbnb place was unremarkable, no special history, but very roomy compared to the last couple places.  Everything else in Montana/North Dakota is huge, but oddly, the houses aren’t.  It’s only now that I’m starting to see big sprawling McMansions again.

Weekend in the City: Tribeca 2

Sorry this is a little late…just to cover off, Justtwomorethings came down for the last weekend of Tribeca–unfortunately, weather wasn’t quite as nice as previous weekend, but it wasn’t snowing so I’ll take it.

We went to this little Thai place by our hotel for dinner. Neither of us had actually been before, but it turned out to be pretty good–I had the softshell crab with papaya salad, and Justtwomorethings had the noodles. The Crab wasn’t quite as good as the one in Hong Kong–It was a little dry, but not greasy, and the papaya salad was the right amount of light sweetness to counterbalance.

The movie–Mojave–was all the way over in Battery Park. Again, I’ll leave the full review to my sister, but it was…weird. And this is the second time I’ve seen Oscar Isaacs abandon an animal, and the third time he’s played a deviant, so…

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The next day we returned to NJ to meet Justtwomorethings’s friend for lunch. We ate at the Committed Pig in Morristown–I actually pass by this place everyday on the way to work, so was intrigued and meaning to stop by. it does do pig products well–my bacon was yummy and so was justtwomorethings’s croque madame (though the latter was too heavy to finish)

Roadtrip: Madison, Wisconsin

I’m down to the last twelve or so states on my quest to visit all fifty U.S. states, which means that the remaining ones are either geographically awkward, or are testing my creativity in coming up with reasons to go.  Wisconsin falls into both categories: no direct flights on my preferred airline, and I have no personal connections to the place.  It is, however, within driving distance of my parents’ place, and it is full of cheese, which I eat with glee.  Added to the fact that I am allergic to cats, and spending the holidays with my parents puts me in close proximity to two felines for several days, and you have the makings of a quick post-Christmas trip (non-allergic entropyenator babysat the cats with glee).  Cheese, some exploring, and a couple days off the antihistamines.  Sounds fun.

Well, except first you have to drive through Indiana.  I’ve done this a lot over the years.  It’s still quite boring, although the wind farms are new.

Wind turbines, Indiana

Wind turbines, Indiana

Madison is the state capital and the center of University of Wisconsin.  Typical college town, it was pretty bare and sleepy during a student break.  It was also unexpectedly ugly in a very functional way, all drab concrete blocks and slab walls.  In my experience, college towns and state capitals both tend to have more “statement” architecture, which may or may not be your kind of statement, but which at least are interesting.  Madison, you’re lucky if you even find an overwrought Victorian brick tower.

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Still, there was cheese at quirky gourmet shop Fromagination (half the non-cheese stock seemed to be out of Brooklyn, which amused me to no end), and slightly upscaled pub food at the Great Dane Pub and Brewery, whose menu had some delicious African flourishes in the Inner Warmth peanut stew (squash and peanut base, yummy nutty winter heartiness).  The house brews ranged from mediocre to good; I wish brewers would get that dark beer doesn’t have to mean an anvil to the taste buds.  Lighter beers were better, and I imagine it’s a hot place in the summer.

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