Eating at the Ann Arbor Book Festival

Laura Stec demonstrates "cool cuisine"Saturday was the annual Ann Arbor Book Festival writers' conference and street fair. I didn't attend the writers' conference this year, but it sounds like it was as jam-packed with great guests, lecturers, and practical advice as was last year's.

This year's highlight for me actually had more to do with food than books: a cooking presentation moderated by Zingerman's co-founder Ari Weinzweig and featuring delicious (and generous) samples. (Pictured at right: Laura Stec.)

Unfortunately, beyond a few ingredients like kale, nuts, chives, baby asparagus, and corn, I can't say what exactly I ate. (I'm sure if I had purchased the cookbooks on sale there, I would know!)

Delicious free samples!What really stood out, over all that nice healthy stuff, however, was Ari's fat-soaked bread topped with pimento cheese and a strip of bacon. Some version of this is served at Zingerman's Roadhouse, and man is it good, again confirming one of my main Rules of Life: "There is nothing that can't be made better by adding bacon to it."

Following our freebie meal, my fellow adventurer and I headed to Ashley's for something to wash it down with. Sometimes when I go into Ashley's, it can be hard to decide what to order, so we decided on a "beer flight" of Brooklyn Savoir Faire, Arcadia imperial stout, Dogfish Head's Aprihop ale, and Arcadia Big Dick's Bourbon Barrel Olde Ale.

Good beer to wash down some good foodThere's nothing really wrong with Arcadia's stout, but it wasn't what I was in the mood for. The Big Dick was most decidedly bourbon-flavored, which pleased my not-really-into-beer lady friend, and Aprihop and the Savoir Faire (a "French farmhouse" style ale) were a lighter, refreshing counterpoint to the stout and old ale.

To wrap up the perfect afternoon, at Ashley's I ran into two more friends who I haven't seen since they left town, one for the UP and the other for Howell, where she lives, and Battle Creek, where she happens to brew for Arcadia.

All in all, it was another great Ann Arbor-centric day.