Dozens of Cousins

Even if you’ve only read one single blog post in my series since its inception in July of 2010, it should be obvious that I have a lot of love for my over-sized family. I grew up in Huntington Woods — a teeny tiny suburb of Detroit — with cousins by the dozens. Every Shabbat — for as long as I can remember — my Great Aunt and Uncle have been hosting dinner for as few as 10, and as many as 100 relatives. Jewish holidays are held between houses — the first night there, the second at my house, or my cousin Diane’s — and for an equally long time, my parents have hosted the not-at-all religious Fourth of July barbecue before the annual Huntington Woods Fireworks.

My favorite Fourth of July was when my family had a float called Dozen of Cousins. Part of the family sat in a car, while the others marched around the float, tossing out candy, and celebrating our close-knit bond in the city we call home.

Now, years later, I will not be present at the 2012 celebration . . . and it didn’t really bother me until talking to my brother tonight. He was driving to my cousin Diane’s house to see family in town from Israel, and ran into my little cousin Ben, who insisted on speaking to me when he heard that I was on the line. I always fear that my little cousins — 10 years and under especially — might not remember me now that I’ve moved away, so the fact that he wanted to talk to me for a second, really reassured me that our family bond is still strong.

My Fourth of July will be spent somewhere in New York, watching some sort of firework production, but it will never replace the soft spot I have for the Huntington Woods pyrotechnic display above Rackham Golf Course.

Mambo ‘talanio Ristorante & Piano Bar [review]

Last weekend, my mom visited me. Despite having three of her four children move to cities that are far more engaging and entertaining than Detroit, my mother is a homebody. Like her mother before her, she is rooted in her Michigander routine — including daily visits to Nello’s, nightly yoga, with work and errands in between. That said, my mother has made it abundantly clear that she has no interest in New York beyond Ellis Island and the city’s many diners and dives.

I didn’t have time to plan a full-fledged itinerary, so instead, we had a walk-and-see kind of weekend. After spending an afternoon walking through Union Square Park and then down to SoHo, we wandered into Little Italy in search of a bite to eat.

Unlike many New Yorkers — native and transplanted — I love Little Italy. I don’t mind being flirted into a restaurant, because ultimately, I’ll have the last laugh on Yelp if I’m not satisfied with the food or the service — and in some cases with both.

Olive Miste

After a few odd turns, we happened upon Mambo ‘talanio Ristorante & Piano Bar. We were seated quickly, but it took a bizarrely long amount of time to be recognized for water service and the delivery of a bread basket. Said bread basket was strike one against Mambo ‘taliano. I would be shocked if the bread was homemade. It was boring and commercial. Another strike – how can an Italian restaurant in Little Italy not have a fresh pepper grinder at the table,  while providing me with fresh table-side olive oil and vinegar? #noexcuses

Famished and unsatisfied with the bread, we each ordered an appetizer. I had the olive miste, and she ordered fried calamari. I loved the olive dish – which was also served with some lightly marinated eggplant and roasted red peppers.

For the main course, we each opted for a pasta dish. I had the orechiette alla checca, which was really just orechiette with tomato sauce. Nothing too special. I am a big fan of orechiette noodles, as I find that they hold chunkier sauces like marinara and arrabiata quite well. My mom had the trenette al pesto. It was good, but in a “maybe I was craving that over this” kind of way.

The food was not super special. So far, I’m still more partial to Pellegrino’s and Da Nico when in Little Italy. As I’m watching my figure (down 26 pounds since early August!), I passed up the normally non-negotiable, super-indulgent trip to Ferrara that any trip to Little Italy merits.

Overall, the service was painfully slow, and the food was lackluster and non-competitive given the area. Not sure that I’d return.

Talk to the Hand

I’ve been neglecting this space lately. My days and nights are filled with work, with little time or energy for anything else. Bygones.

I came up for air today and noticed a neat link on my best friend’s Facebook feed, promoting a contest she entered through AIGA Detroit. I have a natural bias for my friend’s amazing postcard design (please vote for her), but I’ve selected my top 10 favorites, and assembled a list, visible after the jump.

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With Love from Detroit

It’s hard to prove love for a city that has been on the decline since I was born. I can say I love the community I grew up in, but who would understand? Marshall Mathers, or as others know him best, Eminem, took part in a great commercial spot, promoting Chrysler, but in turn, giving a shout-out to the Motor City, and the classic urban charm it has to offer. In addition to sharing the YouTube clip of the commercial, I thought I’d share my top 5 list of my Motor City favorites.

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Holidays [not] On Ice

I spent most of my day yesterday trying to travel to the Hamptons, specifically to Amagansett, but my wait time at Penn Station and on the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) inspired a weird amount of thought. [I should also probably cite Joni Mitchell as inspiration, because “River” was playing on repeat on my iPhone.]

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