Detroit’s Hunger Problem

12 08 2009

J found this article on CNN.com.  It’s an interesting look at the food supply chain in Detroit and it’s really sad.  The picture of the armed guard protecting a delivery man is really scary.  I wouldn’t think this scene would happen anywhere in America. 

In this recession-racked town, the lack of food is a serious problem. It’s a theme that comes up again and again in conversations in Detroit. There isn’t a single major chain supermarket in the city, forcing residents to buy food from corner stores. Often less healthy and more expensive food.

As the area’s economy worsens –unemployment was over 16% in July — food stamp applications and pantry visits have surged.

Wow!  No major supermarkets?!  Again, not something I would expect anywhere in America.  Chicago has had to forcibly keep Walmart out of the city.  You would think Walmart would thrive in depressed urban setting like Detroit.  People are always amazed that there was no supermarket in the town I grew up in, but there’s only 750 people there.  Driving a half hour to the supermarket wasn’t that big of deal.  Getting in the car and driving out to the ‘burbs isn’t really an option for most people  in the city.

It isn’t all doom and gloom though as the article points out.

Detroiters have responded to this crisis. Huge amounts of vacant land has led to a resurgence in urban farming. Volunteers at local food pantries have also increased.

[snip]

Detroiters are also helping themselves in smaller ways. Thanks to the dearth of big supermarkets in Detroit proper – a phenomenon largely attributed to lack of people – and plenty of vacant land, community gardening has caught on big.

It’s not so much that these gardens are going to feed the city, although they certainly help. It’s more that they can be used to teach people, especially children, the value of eating right.

“I use vegetables every day,” said one child at an after school gardening program run by Earthworks Urban Farm, near the heart of the city. “Last night, an onion I picked from here, I had in my potatoes.”

Very cool.

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Buddy’s Pizza – Conant Street

13 07 2009
  • 17125 Conant Street
  • Detroit, MI 48212
  • (313) 892-9001
  • Website
  • Menu
Buddys Pizza on Conant Street in Detroit.

Buddy's Pizza on Conant Street in Detroit.

Finally!  This weekend finally got here.  It’s a weekend that J and I have been looking forward to for quite a while.  My family, including my 9 month old niece, was coming to see us.  The purpose behind the trip was to take in a ballgame at Comerica Park.  It was unfortunate that we couldn’t pick a weekend that the White Sox were in town, but my brother and sister-in-law already had vacations planned for this week and since the Tigers were home, we got tickets and planned on enjoying a long weekend in Michigan.

Before we could go to the game, we had to find food.  As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, pizza is the easiest thing for us all to agree on.  Most people recommended Pizza Papalis in Greektown which, up until a few weeks ago, was the plan.  As I was surfing the Chow.com boards, I kept reading about Buddy’s Pizza. 

I’ve eaten at the Pizza Papalis in Southfield and loved it, but, it was Chicago-style pizza.  My family is from Chicago, so I wanted to give them a uniquely Detroit experience.  When I posted a thread on Chow.com, I got several replies that Buddy’s would give them the uniquely Detroit experience and it was some of the best pizza in the country. Read the rest of this entry »





Roast

1 03 2009
  • 1128 Washington Boulevard
  • Detroit, MI 48226
  • (313) 961-2500
  • Website
  • Menu
Michael Symons Roast in downtown Detroit.

Michael Symon's Roast in downtown Detroit.

Finally!  The present I’ve been looking forward to.  When I told J I bought her tickets to a concert in Windsor, she suggested going to Roast for dinner.  Her treat.  I was so excited when I read an article that Iron Chef Michael Symon was opening a Detroit restaurant and when I saw the menu for it, I knew I had to go.

Roast is in downtown Detroit on the corner of Washington Boulevard and Michigan Avenue in the recently restored Westin Book-Cadillac hotel.  The restaurant is on the bottom floor of the Washington Boulevard side.  There is an entrance from the hotel, but there’s also a set of doors next to the hotel’s main entrance that lead directly into the restaurant.

We surprisingly found parking at a meter about a block away.  Had we not, the choices looked to be very limited.  I think I saw a self park on Michigan Avenue next to the hotel.  There’s also a valet service if that’s more your thing. 

We arrived at about 5:45 for a 6:15 reservation.  We checked in with the matre’d figuring we were going to have to wait, but they actually seated us right away.  Roast has a couple huge dining rooms.  They are street level with huge windows looking out into downtown Detroit.  The space is covered with dark, subdued colors with pops of light.  From the dining room, you can see into the kitchen and you can watch the “Roast Beast of the Day” being slow roasted on a spit.  We didn’t sit in the dining room.  Instead, we were seated in the bar area which actually worked out really well.  Read the rest of this entry »





Europa Pastisserie Cafe

1 03 2009
  • 546 Monroe Street
  • Detroit, MI 48226
  • (313) 237-5370
  • No Known Website
  • No Online Menu
Europa Patisserie Cafe in Detroits Greektown

Europa Patisserie Cafe in Detroit's Greektown

After checking out the Eastern Market and snapping some pictures of what’s remaining of Tiger Stadium for my brother, we headed towards Greektown.  We’re still not really familiar with Detroit, but we knew Greektown was a walkable area and probably had a coffee shop or something for us to relax in for a while.  Luck was on our side, we actually found a metered space about a block from where we wanted to be.  After showing off my parallel parking skills, we headed towards the restaurant area. 

We thought about just going to the Astoria Pastry Shop (review HERE) like we did last time we were in Greektown, but the line was out the door.  We kept walking and I noticed a cafe across the street.  We walked down to the stoplight since I was chicken to jaywalk right in front of the Detroit cop that was walking toward us then double backed to the cafe.

Europa Pastisserie Cafe is on Monroe Street on the bottom floor of the Greektown casino.  There is an exterior door, but there’s also an entrance from inside the casino.  There’s a little marketplace area that has a link to a number of restaurants including a Cold Stone Creamery, a steakhouse, and a Greek tavern.  Read the rest of this entry »





Eastern Market

1 03 2009
  • 2934 Russell Street
  • Detroit, MI 48207
  • (313) 833-9300
  • Website
The Eastern Market in Detroit

The Eastern Market in Detroit

Saturday, February 28th was a big day for J and I.  We delayed our Valentine’s Day celebration by a couple weeks because of a concert in Windsor.  I got J tickets to see Miranda Lambert and in return, she got reservations to Roast in Detroit for me.  When the day finally came, both of us were anxious.  We had been looking forward to this day for so long, it was hard to sit still.  Early in the day, we decided we just needed to leave and go to Detroit even though our reservations weren’t until 6:15.  To kill time, J suggested we check out the Eastern Market.

The Eastern Market is on Russell street.  It’s the oldest public market district in the United States.  Since it’s still winter, things weren’t as crazy as they probably are in the summer.  We got to Detroit just before 4:00.  Since we didn’t really know what was going on, I parked in the first place I found.  During the winter, the market is in Shed 5 which was a two block walk from where we were.  We didn’t know that when we started walking, but I saw signs pointing us that way.  It was cold and windy and it made the walk brutal.  I should have just moved the car, but I didn’t know any better. Read the rest of this entry »





Slows Bar-B-Q

25 01 2009
  • 2138 Michigan Avenue
  • Detroit, MI 48216
  • (313) 962-9828
  • Website
  • Menu
Slows Bar-B-Q on Michigan Avenue in Detroit.

Slows Bar-B-Q on Michigan Avenue in Detroit.

My biggest complaint about the food here in Mid-Michigan is that there’s no good BBQ.  After a rant one day, I was told by more than one person to eat at Slows Bar-B-Q the next time I was in Detroit.  That was probably six months ago, but we’ve only been to Detroit once.  J and I were in town for the North American International Auto Show and we wanted to do both lunch and dinner in the Detroit area.  We were too early for lunch at Slows, so we settled on BBQ for dinner.

Slows Bar-B-Q is on Michigan Avenue in the shadow of what’s left of Tiger Stadium.  There’s no parking lot that we could see, but we were able to find street parking around the corner.  The area looks a little rundown and not some place I would really want to be at night, but Slows stood out as a diamond in that rough.

Our first challenge was getting in the place.  We couldn’t find the door!  There are two doors that actually look like doors, but both are looked and not an actual entrance.  We stood looking at the store front trying to figure out how to get in!  Fortunately, someone came out.  The door is blended in to the facade.  It’s has the same wooden slats the cover the building.  No windows or even a handle.  There’s a hole cut out of the wood to pull the door open.  It’s actually a really cool look and once we figured out how to get in, we had a little chuckle and could appreciate the design.

We made it to Slows just after three o’clock.  Not a prime dinner time.  We thought we’d be ok, but when we got in, there’s was actually a wait.  There were two large groups in front of us as well as a couple normal size parties.  We gave our name to the host who told us it would be about twenty minutes.  A twenty minute wait at three in the afternoon!  Again, that’s usually a good sign, so we stuck it out.  Turns out, the wait was about ten to fifteen.   Read the rest of this entry »





Cobo Center

24 01 2009
  • 1 Washington Boulevard
  • Detroit, MI 48226
  • (313) 877-8111
  • Website
The Cobo Center in downtown Detroit

The Cobo Center in downtown Detroit

I really didn’t want to miss the auto show.  My family has always talked about making the drive to Detroit, but this year, I live an hour and a half away.  I really didn’t have an excuse not to go, so J and I got up early and made the trip to Detroit.  We were going to the auto show.

The Cobo Center is in downtown Detroit near the river.  We made it downtown with no problem.  Being veterans of Chicago traffic made navigating Detroit that much easier.  The problem was, we didn’t know where to park.  There was some confusion on Jefferson street which put us down by Joe Louis Arena.  We didn’t want to park there because we didn’t know where we were, so we took a “Michigan Left” and headed back the way we came.  After another “Michigan Left” we were back in front of Cobo.  Still not sure where to go, I took a right where we finally saw some parking garages.  Surprisingly, it was only ten bucks and a really short walk to the entrance of the conference center.

Inside, the Cobo Center is huge.  It’s probably comparable to McCormack Place in Chicago…but I wouldn’t know.  I’ve never been there.  Sad, huh.  Anyway, we walked the lobby area until we found a ticket kiosk.  There were options to either buy from a ticket window or use a computer.  Buying tickets from a person meant cash only.  Using the computer wsa the only way to use a credit card.  Read the rest of this entry »