while i’m not a fan of college towns, there is something to be said for the convenience of them, they usually have good restaurants, good beer bars, and food co-ops. so while i’m not big on visiting ann arbor there are a few things that make it worth it, among them is zingerman’s something i also want to dislike. i do for the most part hate the actual zingerman’s deli, the sandwiches and products are hugely overpriced, but they also have a love and care for food, of all sorts that is rarely seen. but all of their food is just completely inaccessible, and the sort of elevation of peasant food to gourmet status, something i like to refer to as the gentrification of the food system. the deli is loud and crowded, and full of things i can’t afford but it does have samples. lots of samples. i like samples
we had heard that there was paw paw gelato at the zingerman’s creamery, and while i promised that the last paw paw post would be it till I started seeds in the spring, i didn’t know about the gelato at that time. the creamery is far from down town ann arbor which helps to keep the hungry hoards at bay, allowing for us to peruse the fermented dairy products in peace. the clerk asked us what we came in for and i explained we were big fans of the paw paw. we got gelato and ate that while browsing. i the paw paw and ma – being an avid fan of all things bee related got the honey. both were wonderful, served in a small amount so it was not too much, and the two combined together was amazing.
we looked over all the cheese products, and most of them were priced out of our range, ma and i have expensive taste, but are still cheap which is why i think we like to make so much of our own things. some times you have to do a little research and so we settled on a wheel we could afford. we sampled a few more cheeses, and then checked out. the clerk remembering that we had said that we had come in because we were fans of the paw paw offered us some to go, which we of course took him up on the offer. he produced this big bag of monster size paw paws.
after the trip to the dairy, it was time for a walk at the nichols arboretum. i enjoy the nichols arboretum, i make no illusion that it is a particularly natural place to go for a walk, plenty of the specimens are from different bioregions and countries, but it is a nice place to improve my id skills since they throw those nice little signs on trunks. it also has varied topography and types of ecosystems – river,meadows, prairie, hardwood forest, and evergreen forest. i was also able to snack as i went.
i found cornelian cherry’s a type of dogwood, with edible fruit. they are some what astringent until they are fully ripe, at which point the wildlife gets it. i had to settle for the slightly under ripe ones, which were not all that bad, but did make me pucker a little. they are not native to the u.s.
i also was surprised to find some elderberries clinging to the bushes. usually the birds will pick them off as soon as they are ripe. these were actually very ripe to the point that they were starting to dry up, and while an elderberry will never really get sweet, they certainly were full of flavor and some sweetness.
next to the prairie we were able to find some wild strawberries. I thought that it was too late for strawberries since it was so late in the season and we had several frosts. i gave ma several which i thought were good and ripe, and ate the one seen in the photo. her’s were tasteless, and mine was great, which was not my intent. i had meant to share the best with her. we were also able to find a chinese chestnut which had drop plenty of nuts but were already eaten by the squirrels. i had hoped to find some mushrooms, especially hen of the woods after the rain we had had, but no luck.
after a nice long walk, we were ready for food and drink, a trip to zingerman’s deli for th overpriced but well-regarded sandwiches, a trip to the peoples’ co-op for some groceries, and finally jolly pumpkin for beer.
jolly pumpkin should be considered among michigan’s greatest treasures. they are churning out some of the best beers in the country specializing in wild fermented belgian style beers. i had been looking forward to going to the ann arbor location. the space itself was pretty quite and warm and seemed to be nonsmoking. i was a little disappointed that they only had a couple of their sour beers, both rather tame – the bam, and bam noir. the other 3 beers we sampled were more traditional offerings, oktoberfest, ipa and a chocolate stout. all were great, soft and mild, severed on the warmer side and lower in carbonation, just the way I like them.