Food in the D

DSC_7655 DSC_7659 I started my internship at an education technology start up a little under two months ago, and have grown to love not only the start-up culture but also the city I work in. While the city itself is fighting urban blight and slowly picking away at its negative media image, a rich food culture has remained strong and continued to flourish.

I find myself at Hot Taco on a weekly basis, as it is a favorite amongst the team and someone always wants to go there. I am a sucker for their 3 for $6 tacos, especially because they are always made with fresh avocado. Food truly is a uniting factor, and over a Hot Taco meal, I am fortunate to get to know my co-workers better as well as the culture that defines Detroit. DSC_7662 DSC_7667

Today Clothing

DSC_2244 The world of menswear is rapidly changing. While the gaping disparity in the availability of clothing between the two genders still exists, smaller contemporary clothing stores like Today Clothing are growing in popularity all across the nation. Here are some glimpses into the cool menswear they have presented in a beautifully minimalistic space.

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Life In The Fast Lane

_DSC0088 As a student, it is so easy to get caught up in the hectic schedules we make for ourselves. We focus on what we have to do (homework, studying, meetings) and often forget what we like to do (hobbies, see friends, relax). Indeed, I frequently find myself running from a meeting to a class only to run from to another meeting later that evening.

The pace of life seems even more quick in the face of final exams. I am relieved that I have finished two exams already, but still have three ahead of me before I can savor the sweet taste of holiday cookies and freedom. Despite having important deadlines and work priorities ahead though, it is important to take time for ourselves and keep in mind what the highest priority of all is: overall physical and mental wellness. Take time out of your schedule to enjoy a glass of merlot or catch up on a favorite TV show; although it may not directly help you study, it will ensure your stress levels don't go through the roof.

Fall Necessities

Fall is something I never really appreciated until I moved to the midwest. The abundant colors, corn maizes, and apple orchards give the season a certain feel and truly capture this time of year as a special one--and also one that we can't help but find ourselves anticipating every year. This year, I finally had the chance to go to an apple orchard. The sweet Golden Delicious apples, fresh cider, and warm donuts all made this inaugural experience a very special one, especially in the company of good friends. Indeed, experiencing a midwestern fall definitely is something everyone should have on their bucket lists.

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Grand Haven

When I moved from San Francisco to mid-Michigan, swimming in the ocean topped my list of things I would miss. However, I soon discovered that the large bodies of water surrounding the state identified more closely to a large sea than just a lake. I was absolutely blown away the first time I visited a Great Lake, and pleasantly surprised by the freshwater. No salt stinging my eyes or destroying my hair was definitely a perk. Grand Haven is one of Michigan's more popular beaches, with a quaint little downtown and many yummy food offerings. We stopped at Porto Bello for dinner, and left with our stomachs stuffed with not just our entrees, but unlimited bread and salad as well.

DSC_0385DSC_0450DSC_0467DSC_0472[Pesto Fettucini Alfredo with vegetables]

Huron Canoeing

  DSC_0241By far, canoeing is my favorite Michigan outdoor pastime. I grew up always loving swimming and being near coastlines, and so I find a certain comfort in floating along a gently flowing body of water.

I definitely held the wrong mindset about canoeing the first time I went. I would race my family members, pushing the other person in my canoe to paddle faster so we could finish first. I have long since learned that this is the exact opposite of what the activity should be: indeed, canoeing should be a peaceful experience, centered around relaxation and forgetting the hectic schedules we are so accustomed to.

My personal favorite is an 8-mile trip with Skip's Canoe Livery that takes us through some light currents and also past a nice little picnic spot. It takes 3-4 hours: a perfect amount of time to cozy up with a drink and soak up the beautiful scenery around you. DSC_0209DSC_0198DSC_0279DSC_0293  [Reggie: a new corgi friend we made.]

A2SF

DSC_0212 Nothing says summer like outdoor concerts, and the Ann Arbor Summer Festival manifests that sentiment.

I spent my Friday evening at the kickoff of this 3-week long event, in the company of Lady Sunshine and the X Band and some good friends. And for an unexpected yet pleasant surprise, my ballroom dance partner also happened to be there.

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Truly though, the weather was perfect and the night could not have been any more splendid. DSC_0199

Restaurant Week: Marnee Thai and Cafe Felix

The idea of Restaurant Week is to make high end Main Street restaurants accessible to broke college students eating ramen in their dorm rooms. Restaurants condense their menu with their special Restaurant Week choices, and offer lunch entrees for $15 or 2/$15 and dinner for $28 or 2/$28. It's a nice idea. And I did indeed participate. But....

I definitely discovered some things:

1) College students are not actually broke. Somehow I am an exception, but the rest of the student population seems to be faring quite well. I shall continue dreaming about the day where I won't cringe at the "$$$" and above places on Yelp and Urban Spoon.

2) At the higher end places that you manage to find 2/$15 deals for, they will give you less food. Gasp! Granted, a smart person probably would have assumed this, but somehow my belly always speaks before my head.

3) Reservations are a great thing to have.

With that said, my first restaurant week stop was Marnee Thai.

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I ordered panang: a thick red curry with coconut milk, and it was average. There wasn't anything particularly special about the dish, but I enjoyed what I got for the amount I paid. DSC_0049

My experience at Cafe Felix was definitely more memorable.

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I wanted to try something new, so I ordered their ratatouille. Upon first glance, it was so strikingly similar to my side of tomato bisque that I thought the two would taste pretty similar. However, looks really can be deceiving--the eggplant that was hiding under all the red made my first ratatouille experience delicious. DSC_0065

My friend ordered their margarita pizza:

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For desert, we ordered bread pudding and brandied chocolate mousse. DSC_0073

Hands down, this was the BEST chocolate mousse I had ever had. The consistency and texture was spot on--not runny or chunky or anything else that would raise eyebrows. If I come back, it will solely be for this dessert. DSC_0074

Tomukun

Growing up in an Asian household, I would always hear my parents say how there is nothing more comforting than a warm bowl of 汤面 ("tang mian", noodles in soup). So naturally, I took them to Tomukun for dinner. I love it when my family comes to visit Ann Arbor and pick up my dinner tab spend quality time with me. We always have a great time bonding over food, and sharing stories that we've accumulated during our time apart. We discuss how things are going, anticipate future plans, and just enjoy each other's company.

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My mom got the kitsune udon:

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And my dad got the beef ramen:

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And what did I get? A great time.

Pretty Peonies

It is my first peony season at the Nichols Arboretum, and already I am delighted by the beautiful large blossoms. DSC_0037DSC_0034

Clad in my new ankle boots, I took a quick stroll through the grounds and shots some of the vibrant colors. Aside from the "ooh"s and "aah"s I have expressed toward these pretty flowers, I have little else to say--the pictures really just take the words from my mouth.

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The Blimpy Burger Experience

Any legitimate student here knows what Krazy Jim's Blimpy Burger is, and definitely does not need a Food Network feature to remind them how delicious it is. DSC_1024

Blimpy Burger is more than just a burger joint--but rather, an efficient and streamlined experience yielding a succulent grease-battered work of art.

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One does not simply order a generic burger. One orders fresh beef patties on thick Kaiser patties with bacon and fried eggs. Grease on grease on grease on grease? Yes please.

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When you finally make it through the assembly line of heart-attack inducing goodness and pay (cash only!), you might have to fight the temptation to start digging into your masterpiece without bothering with politeness and manners and actually sitting down. With something so yummy though, I completely understand.

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And uh, oh, did I mention I'm a vegetarian?

Why "The Machine"?

11746_10151558705203330_884196816_n My name is Jiaxin, pronounced like "Machine" but with a "J". I love all kinds of food, and am rarely seen without my camera.

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I have always had an interest in blogging, but never really did any quality blogging. I am trying to transition from a strictly photo blog with sporadic posts, to this more in-depth and broad lifestyle blog.

Inspired by blogs like Cupcakes and Cashmere and Sea of Shoes, I want to share all the great food and style that I am so fortunate to be surrounded by! I am inspired by the many things I find in Ann Arbor, and hope to have some great travel anecdotes to share as well.

Happy blogging!