Thursday, June 27, 2013

Portofino - Wyandotte

Portofino is located on the Detroit River in Wyandotte.  People get dressed up and go here for special occasions in the Downriver area.  

Outdoor seating at Portofino's
Their house specialty is a Michigan Perch fry with lemon caper sauce.  They also have lots of Italian dishes as their name suggests.  The best part of the restaurant, though, is the view!  On the night that we went, we saw three freighters pass, and were treated to a wonderful sunset.  You can even see the top of the Detroit Skyline in the distance.

Detroit River from Portofino's
I also love the historic pictures that they have throughout the restaurant that tell the rich history of Wyandotte - which includes Native Americans, the Steel Industry, and Ship Building to name a few pieces of history.   Themed cruises also depart from this location on Fridays.

Interior at Portofino's

The bar at Portofino's

We shared a huge portion of Lasagna, which was a little spicy and a lot cheesy.  Just the way I like it.  It came with Salad and Bread.   I also had a Short's Soft Parade beer.  (Michigan Brewery!)  This is a summer beer that has lots of subtle fruit flavor.  Portofino's bottled Michigan craft beer selection is pretty impressive.  

Half portion of Salad at Portofino's

Half portion of Lasagna at Portofino's and Short's Beer
This is a great location to spend a sunny afternoon or a relaxing evening.   Expect to wait a while on the weekends, and even longer for outside seating on a nice day.  Considering this is a pretty nice restaurant, the prices are really quite reasonable.  Check out this Downriver favorite!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Somerset Collection - Troy

Somerset Mall (or the Somerset Collection as it is officially named) is a shopping destination for people all over Michigan and beyond.
Somerset Collection - Atrium outside of Saks Fifth Avenue

I remember when it expanded and re-opened in 1996 with the Skywalk connecting the two parts of the mall across Big Beaver Road. I grew up going to Southland Mall about an hour south of Somerset, so I remember being shocked by the fashion and prices when I first went there at the age of thirteen. I distinctly remember a large pair of fur boots for over $300. Although I still don't like large fur boots, I do enjoy many of the stores there now. This is a great place for upscale shopping. It is the type of mall that people dress up to visit. The main department stores are Nordstrom, Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue. Some of my favorite stores to window shop are LK Bennett, Anthropologie, Cole Haan, Kate Spade, Tiffany, and Sephora.
Main floor outside of Saks Fifth Avenue

I recently got to spend the morning there with 3 friends, where we had a great time and I even bought a new item from Wolford. Even if you're not a huge shopper, it is nice to meet someone for lunch and walk around this mall. The natural light, statues, and water features are nice to veiw. The people watching isn't too bad either!  I especially recommend visiting during the holidays.  The decorations are amazing, and there are so many dressed-up people bustling around the mall.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Keyhole Bar - Mackinaw City

My uncle loves a good olive burger, and the Keyhole Bar in Mackinaw City does not disappoint (The Passion Burger!). Our family loves this place, and we have been here a million times. They have been in business for about 30 years, and you see familiar wait staff when you return. I believe that it was remodeled about 10 years ago (maybe more than that now?). I remember the old exterior, and the fact that there always seemed to be a bat or two hanging around by the door. No bats anymore, though!  

The Keyhole Bar in Mackinaw City
The Bar is right on a touristy strip near the Mackinac Bridge, but the interior feels very local. Expect to wait a bit on busy days, but it's worth it. I believe on the day of the Bridge Walk, we waited about 1.5 hours.  It was fine, because that's about how long my Grandma needed to wait while we walked!  They have great burgers at a great price, but also have Michigan items like Walleye, and Perch. They are known for their Onion Rings and Whitefish Fingers, but my Aunt and Uncle had something a little different the day that they went - Taco salad and a huge Burrito.

Food at the Keyhole Bar

As the name suggests, there are keys glued on everything throughout the bar. If you are making your way up to the UP, be sure to stop in here for a bite to eat. Thanks to my Aunt, Uncle, and Grandma who visited recently and took these pictures for me! The Keyhole Bar's facebook page:
@jenn_headley and @thankyouknots on twitter provided pictures of the keys and food

Saturday, June 15, 2013

General Motors Heritage Center - Sterling Heights

I recently took a trip to the General Motors Heritage Center in Sterling Heights. Although only about 100 cars are shown at any given time, they actually have about 500 more in storage, and rotate regularly. The Center is not open to the public, so this is a special look inside. It is opened during special events to GM employees and sometimes their family. External Organizations with connections to GM can also reserve the facility for special events.

GM Heritage Center

The current display had so much to look at - current and past vehicles, concept cars, even an old GMC motor home! The most expensive vehicle in the facility was the 1938 Buick Y - the first concept car in the world.

1938 Buick Y

One special car that I saw was the 1940 Chevrolet Super Deluxe. I asked the host if they had this vehicle, and I was excited that they did. This car is special to me because it was a car that my grandparents had. I texted this picture to my 92-year-old grandmother, and she said that it was great, but hers was light blue and convertible! The host informed me that this is a very rare car these days for a few reasons. First, this was one of the last passenger cars before they were forced to switch to building just trucks due to WWII. People who had passenger cars in this era tended to wear them out since there were no more being made. Additionally, some were melted down for metal. My grandparents weren't able to keep the car after having it for about a year, but my Grandma always seems to smile when she tells us about that car. Her brother even told me a great story of when he got to borrow it once. He was told that he couldn't put the top down, so he waited until he turned the corner, then of course put the top down and, as he put it "let the wind blow through my hair with a huge smile on my face."

1940 Chevy Super Deluxe

Here are some other cars that I saw at the Heritage Center:
1918 Series D Chummy, 1903 Cadillac Model A (red) and 1902 Cadillac Runabout (black), 1925 Buick Standard Six, 1926 Series X

1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS, 1960 Chevrolet Corvette, 1969 Trans Am, Corvettes Then and Now

Experimental Electrovair II (1966), 1954 Experimental, 1959 Firebird III Experimental, Cadillac Experimentals

1911 Oldsmobile Limited

1941 Cadillac V16 had a speedometer and a clock in the back seat!

Lots of great interiors and hood ornaments!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Comerica Park - Detroit

Comerica Park has been open for 13 years now, but I have somehow never been there. I remember going to the old Tiger's Stadium once when I was younger with my best friends and their Dad. Although I'm more of a hockey person, I was excited to go to a game and see the Field.
Aerial Picture from @jjthomas06 on twitter
 We spent the first part of the game in our seats, which had a great view of the whole field along with the Detroit Skyline and Ford Field. The game wasn't too bad either with Verlander at the mound (we won!). The second half of the game, we walked around to see the rest of the Park and watch the game from different vantage points. The game can be watched from anywhere in the Park, which I thought was great. It still looks very new. It reminded me a bit of the new Florida Marlin's Field - the skyline, the great views of the game.
Our view at Comerica Park

Panorama from @zinfandel601 on twitter

There was a lot to explore at Comerica - the Baseball Ferris Wheel for the kids and the all-Tiger Carousel.

Tiger Carousel picture from nurse_marbles on flickr, Baseball Ferris Wheel by me!

The fan shop was huge and fun to walk around. There even appeared to be a nice sit-down restaurant where you can eat and watch the game. My favorite part was the Michigan craft brew area. They had a bunch of beers from Michigan Microbrews, and specialty snacks like Bacon on a stick.

Michigan Craft Beer List

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Motor City Casino - Detroit

We got a free room during a promotion at the Motor City Casino in Detroit.  We were really excited to play some penny slots and have a good night's sleep in the room.  One thing that we loved about our stay was the free parking and free shuttle down to the Tiger's game.  That was so much easier than finding parking close to the field.
Motor City Casino - picture from their website

Inside the casino, there are lots of light displays and nice decorations - similar to the exterior of the building!  It was a little tricky to find two slot machines next to each other since it was so busy on Friday.  They have a small non-smoking slot area which is nice.  They also have live bands playing throughout the night.  We like the penny slots because they are pretty relaxed and you can get in lots of people watching.  One of our favorites is the Big Buck Hunter game - which has an arcade-style bonus round.  There's fine dining, buffet, or a food court for when you get hungry.  We tried the Little Ceasar's Pizza at night and the buffet in the morning.  The pizza must have been sitting there for a long time, and was pretty much inedible.  The buffet in the morning was good and had a nice variety, especially for just $10.  Although, some of the pancakes and biscuits were pretty hard.   I also thought that the coffee was awful.  They do have an omelet station which is always fun!

Chrysler Imperial Limo in the Lobby

I think that one really nice part about the casino is the staff.  Everyone is very friendly and helpful.  Even the shuttle driver was super friendly.

The hotel portion of the casino has a very calm and spa-like feel.  The bathroom was huge and very calming.  They provided very nice toiletries from their spa, a huge soaking tub, and a huge shower.  The room was pretty quiet (although I think that a little more sound-proofing would have been nice).  The bed was really soft and comfy.

The room in Motor City Casino

Overall, it was a great night and a great stay.  We really enjoyed the entire experience.  I especially recommend going there before a sports game instead of trying to park downtown.  Just make sure you have your player's card - this can take a few minutes to stand in line and register if you don't have one already.  You go to the end of the casino and scan your card to get a free ticket to get on the shuttle.  Easy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Blooming in Michigan

The first flowers of Spring are beginning to fade here in Michigan.  Make way for the early Summer flowers.  Below are the Peonies of Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor.  "The Arb" is known for their daffodils in Early Spring.  Many of varieties of flowers and plants can be seen there all Summer.

Peonies about to bloom at Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor
Here are some flowers from all over Michigan, found on Twitter.

Replacing the Daffodils on Mackinac Island at @GrandHotelMI, @craigtowens posted a Poppy,  @prettylilworld posted an Iris, @janeridgewood shows one of the last dandelions

Here are a variety of flowers that I saw blooming here in SouthEast Michigan.

 Cornflower, Peony, Unknown, Queen Ann's Lace, Rose

 Unknown, Iris, Wildflowers, Allium, Daisies 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Earle, Ann Arbor Michigan

Today was such a perfect day, we wanted to get out of the house and do something fun. We decided to walk down to Main Street for some dinner and drinks. After passing a number of outdoor dining options, we ended up at The Earle. They are known for their wine selection and Happy Hour specials, including their famous mussels. We each had a glass of Alamos Malbec and split the Risotto Balls, Calamari, and Tortellini with Prosciutto.  It was a great small plates dinner, and we came in just under $50 for everything. We have been here before on the weekend and LOVED the jazz band and atmosphere of students and locals. The atmosphere is like a dark cave with lots of exposed stone and brick along with an awesome wine cork wall.  The calamari is probably our favorite in the city- complete with an amazing garlic lemon aioli. Be sure to check this place out, it is a must see in Ann Arbor! As nice as the dinner was, I think that my favorite part was our walk together!
Tortellini, Arancini, and Calamari at The Earle

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Taste of Ann Arbor

Picture from Twitter @RichRetyl

Today was the Taste Of Ann Arbor.  40 restaurants pitched tents right on Main Street, with two bands and a beer tent too.  I even saw the Relaxation Station giving massages.  The place was packed, but the lines moved pretty quickly.  Tickets were available for $0.50 each, and those tickets could be traded in for food or drinks.  Beer from Arbor Brewing Company was a whopping 10 tickets each!  I got the Blackberry Blonde, which I found to be ok.  Maybe I should have tried the Bliss Hefeweizen or the Mackinac Island Fudge Stout.  My favorite item was the Fish Taco at Black Pearl for 5 tickets.  Piled high on a tortilla was crispy fish, cabbage, marinated tomatoes and onions with a spicy sauce.   This was the longest line at the festival.  They sky was heavy with clouds the whole time, but luckily it didn't rain.

Bands playing at Taste of Ann Arbor
Top picture from Twitter @FreshMyint9
Fish Tacos from Black Pearl, Chocolate Cheesecake from The Earle, Grilling with Grizzly Peak

That's Ann Arbor!
The man in the crochet suit actually sells his items,