My One-Day “International” Vacation

Steve and I took a vacation last Saturday. We hopped in the car and visited four countries in less than five hours. Supersonic transport? Nope. We just headed to the Detroit area, to visit some great ethnic restaurants and markets.

Bi Bim BopFirst stop was Bi Bim Bop for lunch. Bi Bim Bop is both the name of the restaurant and the name of a traditional Korean dish. Traditionally Served in a hot stone bowl, it’s mostly rice with seasoned ground beef (or chicken, or tofu) and five or six veggies (mushrooms, spinach, squash, beans sprouts, and carrot slivers)  on top circling a fried egg. The egg is sprinkled with a few sesame seeds and something that look like hair from a bad wig. No idea what is it is. It’s all delicious. Bi Bim Bop is seasoned to taste with a red, hot sauce. It’s pretty bland without it. If I put on too much my eyes start to water.

Stirring is very important, so that all the toppings are mixed in with the hot sauce as the rice sizzling against the oven-hot stone bowl. No matter how long it takes me to eat it (and I am a very slow eater, especially with chop sticks) the food never cools down.

20121130-062323.jpgFive or six condiments are served with the Bi Bom Bop. Brocoli spears in a peanut sauce, bean sprouts, and kimchi are standard. Then there’s mayonnaise based potato salad (who would have imagined?) or potato wedges in a sweet sauce, pickled stringy stuff, and some type of seaweed. I forgot to photograph those, and by the end of the meal there was nothing left anyway.

Next stop was Contoro’s Italian Market. I wish my camera took smells too! Delicious! This is not a large place. I think they have a dozen parking spaces and on a Saturday you sometimes have to wait to park. Inside it’s elbow to elbow with not much room at all for the teeny tiny shopping carts.

They have home-made pasta (tortelini and ravioli too), plus seasonal goodies like panetone (soft fruit cake, that’s more like bread inside than cake).  They bake their own bread and import meats, olives, and cheese from Italy. Vino, too!
CheeseMeatPastaMore MeatDolce (sweets)PanetoneBreadOlives

 Next stop. I’m repeating my self to get the spacing better.

Next stop was Mexican town in Detroit. The community got the short end of the stick when they ran the new freeway right through the middle of it, but in spite of that, they seem to be flourishing.

We stopped at the Honey  Bee Market and were greeted by an enormous display of chips and guacamole, with free samples! They had more avocados that I think I’ve seen in my whole life, cactus (I need to try that some day), all sorts of spices, and Inca Cola for Steve’s classroom.

Cactus and...?!

Guacomole and ChipsAvocadosInca Cola

 And if somebody who works with WordPress could tell me how in the world to make a hard line break, I would be eternally grateful.

Our final stop was at the Dearborn Market across the parking lot from the Arab American Museum. There were bins of exotic spices, more cucumbers and pickles than you could shake a stick at, and rice! Woah! Lot’s of rice! I’ve never seen rice in 25 pound bags before! There was lots of tea and sweets and ready-to eat food too. 

What's THIS?!cuckesAll rice!hibiscusspicespickles

In case you were wondering, I sampled something from every stop and snacked all the way home. It was fun to get away for the day and I can’t wait to do it again!

In case you were wondering, I sampled something from every stop and snacked all the way home. It was fun to get away for the day and I can’t wait to do it again!

19 thoughts on “My One-Day “International” Vacation

  1. Oh the joys of a diverse city! Lucky you! We have many lovely things in our new home in rural NC but this smorgasbord isn’t one of them!


  2. Sounds like a really excellent day!! Bet Scooter would have loved to join you. By the way, that horse video was fantastic!

    Thanks for all you do. You truly are a very special blessing to this world!


  3. How fun was that – for us too. How lucky we are to live in an area that offers such diversity. Did you also grab some of your favorite bagels while you were in the area?


  4. My family absolutely LOVES Panetone. Generally I have to hide some of it or it gets eaten as soon as it comes in the door. If you are ever in Seattle I hope you will go to the Pike Place Market where you will encounter a lot of different cultures, and as a bonus you can watch the fish mongers tossing the fish to each other! Great fun.


  5. sounds like lots of fun. The cactus fruit is really good but in the case of the fruit or large leaves be very very careful of the spines. The fruit has nearly invisible spines that are brutal. I have heard that there can be a great tasting and colorful (Magenta) margarita from the fruit.


  6. Okay, now you’ve done it! LOL. I’ve been putting off going to the Detroit area because I don’t like the traffic and have heard such bad press it makes me extremely leary. Seeing what you just did and the delightful restaurant and shops, I may just have to do that — AFTER the holidays. I really need to find a place that sells Chinese/Japanese food items, such as Sweet Soy, so I don’t have to keep sending money to my son in Washington, D.C. to hit China Town to purchase my supplies.

    Can you make any suggestions as to some stores/shops to visit for obtaining herbals and various ethenic foods? Would need name/location so I can google to get directions to plug into my car’s navigation system. I can’t read a map for the life of me. Hmmm, perhaps I could entice you out for a lunch/sampling trip. My treat!

    All the best Ami, it makes me smile to see just how far you’ve come. You have been an inspiration and the advice you gave me to help with my dad, who is in end stages of Alzheimers, has been passed on to my sister with whom he lives. It seems to have made a “big” difference. So far she is able to keep him at home and for that we are thankful.

    God Bless you dear lady!

    Terri at the Drake’s Nest in Ossineke


    1. No ideas about a good Asian market, but will be on the lookout now. If you can get to Windsor, there should be some good ones there.

      Glad whatever advice I gave has helped.


    1. Detroit also has the Detroit Spice Co. I have never been there, but have mail-ordered many times. The fragrance of the package is like heaven (I hope!). Sounds like a wonderful day!


  7. I was mistaken. It was the Rafal Spice Co. in Detroit that I remember so fondly. Sadly, they are apparently no longer in business.


  8. You description of the Korean food brought me back to my two years in Seoul. I have had the dish many times. Next time try the Chicken soup in the crock. I think it was called Sam get tong. Tong is soup in Korean. Don’t quote me on the spelling. It is a whole small chicken with spices and rice served with the boiling broth. You usually get a spoon along with the chop stickes ;-)

    I had cactus once in a salad while visiting San Antonio. It just looked like slivers and reminded me of what aloe leaves look like. I didn’t care for it at all. But I haven’t had the “fruit” or other parts. Maybe they taste better. Perhaps you should see if Scooter likes it first!


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