Two weekends ago, Mike and I visited our friends Krin and Etan in Ann Arbor. Nearly 2 years ago, when we were last there, we had gone on a road trip with Krin and Etan. Now they live there! They moved back to Ann Arbor this Fall, and are now the proud owners of their very first home, which we couldn’t wait to see. Mike and I took Friday off of work to make a 3-day weekend out of the trip.
A Syrian Lunch
We were starving when we arrived, so we started out with a late lunch with Krin at Exotic Bakeries & Syrian Cuisine, a family-owned Deli restaurant that has been open since 1990!
They had a huge selection of items from which any 3 could be chosen for a combo plate – it was such a tough decision!
The star of my sampler was the Cauliflower-Tahini Salad which was absolutely incredible (even Krin who wasn’t a fan of Cauliflower thought it was delicious). Between the fried cauliflower and generous amount of tahini, it was sinfully-rich but oh so delicious. This would be a fun recipe to experiment with lightening up.
The Damascus Lentil Casserole was the most unique item on my plate. It was topped with fried pita chips & fried onions and comprised of soft noodles and lentils flavored with pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, and cilantro. It was a very interesting balance of a comforting texture with a light & bright flavor.
And I rounded it out with a classic and very green Tabbouleh. With such huge portions, I was glad I picked a lighter option for at least one of my three dishes.
Other standouts of the meal included the perfect Falafel that Krin ordered and the lemony and bright Eggplant Salad on Mike’s plate.
As the restaurant’s name implies, the dessert selection was huge. The staff was very helpful at steering me towards their one vegan option: the Tahini-Pistachio Halawa, (not to be confused with the Halwa that I recently made, which is something different entirely). The Halawa is a traditional Middle Eastern nougat made of Tahini and Sugar. It had a very strong Tahini flavor, a nice creamy-crumbly texture and was only slightly sweet. I love tahini so I thought it was wonderful, but the bitter tahini-flavor might be too intense for anyone not used to it.
Afterwards, we walked around the rest of the shopping plaza, stopping into a Middle Eastern grocery where I picked up my first-ever bottle of Pomegranate Molasses in addition to a bag of Semolina Flour.
A walk around Ann Arbor
When we got back to Krin and Etan’s house, Etan was off work and we all decided to take a walk around their neighborhood together.
Part of our walk was on a trail around a nearby frozen pond that was absolutely beautiful. I liked that it felt more like a true “hike” than a trail “walk” since the ground was slushy and slippery from the melting snow and ice. We even found a long branch in the woods for a much-needed Hiking Stick for me.
But one of the most wonderful sights to my eyes wasn’t something conventionally beautiful: check out that gorgeous COMPOST BIN!
Dinner at Seva
For dinner Friday night, we headed out to Seva, a completely vegetarian restaurant and an Ann Arbor favorite of mine. Seva offers a free entree to anyone who submits a photo of themselves travelling in their Seva t-shirt. I took plenty of pictures wearing my Seva shirt on my Southeast Asia trip last year and was so excited to visit the restaurant again and claim my prize!
The submitted photos wind up on the restaurant’s map-covered wall. This has been a Seva tradition for decades – we even spotted a photo on the wall of Etan as a kid!
I savored every bite of the spicy Winter Curry (a weekly special) that I ordered. Both the Lentils and the Veggie Curry were absolutely delicious – and very spicy. It was the perfect dish for me, and somehow managed to be even better the next day for breakfast.
Another stand-out at the table was the Peanut-Kale Salad with carrots, butternut squash, and red peppers, in a peanut-cider marinade. I would even go so far to say that this was even tastier than their famous sweet potato fries.
We all had quite a lot of delicious food, and I love that Mike and my friends let me taste at least one bite or sip of everything they ordered including gingery cocktails, a decadent pasta, pad thai, stir-fry, and a sincronizada (sort of a cross between a quesadilla and a burrito). My Kermit’s Lagoon green-juice (cucumber, celery, spinach, kale, parsley, apple) is also pictured below and was super yummy.
Everyone said they were too stuffed for dessert (and we had a mountain of boxes of leftovers to prove it), but when I ordered a slice of the gluten-free, vegan Chocolate-Peanut Butter Mousse Cake for the table to share, everyone miraculously found room in their stomachs for it.
Afterwards we headed back to Krin and Etan’s place for a doubles-match of Ping-Pong in the basement, and then our very wonderful first day in Ann Arbor came to an end. Stay tuned for more sights & eats in Ann Arbor!
I’d love to hear from you!
Where do you like to Road-Trip to?