Saturday, July 26, 2014

Old German Bar and Bierkeller

There are a lot of places to drink in Ann Arbor, and I don't mean sports bars or university meat markets. Though these places do exist in abundance, I refuse to step foot inside them. No, my boyfriend Greg and I prefer to haunt the Main Street area and do our drinking in slightly more sophisticated environs where drinking is serious business. 

Take the relatively newly opened Old German Bar and Bierkeller beneath the already popular Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. located at the corner of Ashley and Washington. (A bierkeller is "a public house decorated in German style, selling German beers," though it literally translates to "beer cellar" from German.) My first impression of Old German was that is was dark. Very dark. I could barely see two feet in front of my face and as we made our way to an open table, Greg smacked his shoulder against a pole that neither of us had realize was there. 

As my eyes adjusted, however, I realized the interior is very, very cool. Sadly, it was too dark to take pictures. Imagine a dark cellar - but not a dank one!- with wood furniture everywhere and smoky lanterns swinging overhead. Greg and I agree that one day we would like to have just such a cellar as part of our home, hopefully with the same giant vats of beer behind the bar and pleasing array of spirits on the shelves. 

The food is German. Very, very German. There is a lot of pork, so my choices were limited. I decided to play it safe with a chicken brat that turned out to be stellar in the taste department. Greg ordered the bacon and beer brat, which he quite enjoyed. Both came with a side of German potato salad, which I don't often like because it is warm and lacks mayonnaise. This one was more than tolerable, and I ate most of mine. (The vinegar-dense potatoes at the bottom proved to be too much for my tastebuds.)

But this is a bierkeller, so onto the drinks! I didn't actually get a beer. I got a Snow Weiss, "Berentzen Apfel Schanpps, Absolut Citron, Bacardi Melon Rum, Sour Mix." Mmmmmm..... I loved it. I could have ordered probably three glasses, it tasted so good, but I would have definitely been stumbling. All of the spirits looked pretty amazing, especially the Hasselhoff, which has a lot of blue in it. Greg enjoyed the beer selection, as I am sure any beer-loving person (especially of the German variety) would.

If you enjoy German food and/or German beer, Old German is a real gem. I would absolutely hang out there with friends, and it is totally a bar I would bring friends to who are visiting from out-of-town. I wish Old German all the best! And I might be seeing it again soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Friendly and Fun Lena of Ann Arbor

At the corner of Liberty and Main in downtown Ann Arbor, there was once a terrific Greek restaurant called the Parthenon. Not long after I moved to Ann Arbor, they closed. It was with great curiosity and some anxiety that I watched the space be gutted and rebuilt as a new restaurant, Lena. Stairs? Those hadn't been there before. Where did they come from? Where did they go? And what's with that egg-shaped fireplace that seems to hang from the ceiling. 

It wasn't until Art Fair this past week that my boyfriend Greg and I at last were able to give Lena a chance. You'd think any downtown restaurant would be packed at this time, but we were able to get a table right away. Our waiter was friendly, attentive, and personable. He was also very knowledgeable about the menu and was ready with food and drink recommendations. 

First we ordered drinks, an iced tea for me and a vanilla clove mojito for Greg, and a plate of plantain tostones because Greg loves plantains and I am always game for new food. The vanilla clove mojito had an intense flavor and was strong. Greg fell in love with it, though he dared not order a second. "If I keep drinking these, I'm not walking out of here," he said. 

For the main course, I decided on the blue crab burrito. I love crab, especially blue crab. I wasn't sure if it would be any good this far from the coast, but I wanted to give it a try anyway. I enjoyed it! Thought the flavor was a bit on the fishy side. (There was fish mixed in with the crab, which I don't begrudge them. Crab is expensive this far from the coast.) Greg had the Cuban sandwich. He raved about this, too, dubbing it "like the most tender Cuban sandwich ever." I did not try it because I cannot eat most forms of pork without becoming horribly, painfully ill. 

Both of us were too full for dessert, so I can't report on anything there. But the friendly staff, terrific food, and strong drink will draw me back. One day!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti

About a month ago, my boyfriend Greg and I went to the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, MI for the first time where they were hosting what turned out to be a very cool and entertaining burlesque show. I've had many invitations to go to the Corner Brewery - there was even a work event held there once - but it just never ended up working out for me. I liked it a lot better than the original location, the Ann Arbor Brewing Company (ABC) Pub in downtown Ann Arbor. The atmosphere is more inviting, and I enjoyed my food considerably more. 

I honestly don't remember what food Greg ordered, but I got a fantastic quesadilla that was packed with flavor and quite filling. I highly recommend it. Greg also ordered two different beers over the course of the evening that he enjoyed. I am not a fan of beer, and only enjoy certain wines. (I don't generally like California wines, for example, or French. Too dry. Italian, Great Lakes, or Pacific Northwestern wines can be downright delightful!) I do like mead and hard ciders, so when Greg ordered his first beer, I requested a cider. 

"Which one?" the tapster asked. "Apple or blueberry?"

BWUH? I had never heard of blueberry hard cider and got very excited. Blueberries are far and above my favorite berry. I was definitely not disappointed with my choice. I could have drunk a barrel full and still have been thirsty for more. It went surprisingly well with the quesadilla, as well. 

I really want to return and try more food! We ate outside at one of the many beer garden-style tables because the weather was fine, but the inside is cozy, too. There are games you can play inside and out, giving the place a relaxed, festive air. I really liked it! So did Greg, and there are an awful lot of beers that he did not try. Maybe next time we can meet up with friends and play a game or two. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Low Carb Diets Are Very Restrictive

Totally forbidden.
First, I have to say that my car accident last week has really thrown my schedule! As has working 20 days in a row. (I only missed one shift for the car accident, and worked half of another before being taken to urgent care, then the ER. Riding in the ambulance was not nearly as exciting as it had sounded.)

Anyway, I have been seeing a nutritionist lately to see if a change in food and adding supplements to my diet would help the health problems I have been experiencing that conventional medicine has completely failed to address. Good news, it is helping! Bad news, I am being asked to cut out next to all carbs from my diet. I'm down to a limit of 165 per day, which is extremely difficult when I eat a fairly balanced diet already of vegetables, fruit, and milk. I may have to cut out my morning (and only) serving of milk with cereal because it puts me over the daily limit, which is stupid. 

No more fresh fruit and Greek yogurt parfaits - too many carbs! No more blueberries, cherries, raisins, or apples, either. Turns out they're riddled with carbs and super unhealthful. The only fruits listed on the sheet I was given are avocados (yes, avocados are a fruit), chayote (I have no idea what that is), raspberries, and strawberries. Most nuts are also verboten due to their unhealthfulness. I am allowed only macademia nuts and pecans. 

Vegetables, greens, dairy, and eggs make up the bulk of the list, in that order. Which makes little sense since the largest contribution to my daily carb intake is the half cup of whole milk I put on my cereal at breakfast (yes, it contains more than cereal itself). I've been keeping a food diary for a month now, and I am really struggling on where to cut out carbs. I don't eat sandwiches at lunch, so there is no bread there. We also don't have bread with dinner, and rarely eat pasta. The true bulk of my daily carb intake comes from fruit. I refuse to believe that eating fresh fruit is bad for me. 

This has also severely cut down on the number of calories I intake a day, which may sound like a good thing until you see that I go from 1600 calories a day to 900. I have been led to suspect (by a dietitian I met with in college mostly) that less than 1000 calories per day is not really so great a thing.

These things will kill you.
I was told I can have a treat every now and again, like ice cream, but how can I do that when my normal fruit and dairy diet is already maxing out my calorie intake? I don't think fruit should count as "carbs." When I think of carbs, I think of bread, oatmeal, cereal, pizza, ice cream, cookies, cake, etc, not blueberries (a superfood) and apples.

A typical breakfast for me was once a bowl of cereal or oatmeal with a tablespoon of raisins over-top and sometimes a glass of 100% juice. Now that is forbidden. 100% fruit juice is especially forbidden. The carb count is ridiculous! I used to eat an apple or some cherries with my lunch. Had to cut both. I had no idea what a terrible dietary lifestyle I was leading. Fruit, the silent killer.

Keeping the diary does make me more aware of what I am eating, but I don't think it is helping me curb carbs. Scurvy may sound funny, but I would rather not get it.