Tamar Alexia Fleishman was the youngest girl violinist to solo with the Chicago Symphony when she was 12. She's a member of the Maryland Bar and has appeared on TV with celebrities such as Bill Maher, Greta Van Susteren, and Peter Frampton. Tamar has been writing about food for several years and has judged the Roadkill Cookoff, the International Water Tasting Competition, and the Mason-Dixon Master Chef Tournament. Tamar is a Kentucky Colonel, a beauty pageant winner, and has managed several Southern rock and alt-country bands. She writes for The Examiner.
Remember those foreboding, black and white Chrysler commercials with the heavy bass beat? There's so much more to Detroit than what's in them. The city has taken a beating in the press with the hard times that have befallen the auto industry and with emergency management, but it still has a vibrant culture: diverse restaurants, museums, architecture, and lots of live entertainment. Detroit was also my home away from home as a kid: my grandparents lived there. I was dispatched to Detroit when my sister was born, spent all the major holidays there, recuperated after Interlochen's music camp there...as my grandfather was a surgeon and I had my fair share of childhood illnesses, many times I was just plain recuperating in Detroit. I always found the place comforting.
You can learn the stories behind America's favorite songs at the Motown Museum; you might even get to sing in the famous Studio A. See America's treasures like the bus where Rosa Parks made her historic ride, along with gleaming historic cars, at the Henry Ford Museum/Greenfield Village in nearby Dearborn. Count on at least a full day to take it all in. Around Halloween, they have adult-friendly trick or treating at night amongst the historic houses! While Greenfield Village has several dining options, the most unique is Eagle Tavern, which is an actual 1831 Michigan tavern serving 60% local period fare. You'll find delicious offerings like juicy quails, whitefish, hard apple cider and Michigan corn liquor. Count on Dearborn for Middle Eastern food. Al-Ameer serves homemade specialties and fresh raw juices.
In the museum district on the city's main drag - Woodward Avenue -- listen to rare music recordings on the gorgeous third floor of the Detroit Public Library, for free. Learn about Detroit's history and pop culture at the Detroit Historical Museum, which takes controversial bits of its history and challenges you to see both sides of the issue. The Detroit Institute of Arts houses a wide range of art in a setting just as glorious as its collection. Don't miss the world-famous Diego Rivera mural.
Since the Detroit River being such a narrow crossing to Windsor, Ontario, the area was an important stop along the Underground Railroad. Sander's is a 134-year-old dessert parlor that served what is believed to be the first ice cream soda. With several locations -- including the tony suburb of Birmingham -- their caramel tea cake is a must eat. The Mackinac Island fudge ice cream (rich vanilla fudge with chocolate chips) topped with caramel pear sauce redefines decadence. The scoops are HUGE.
Cadieux Café was featured on Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations." A Belgian restaurant/pub, it has live music and featherbowling. Pegasus is a family-owned restaurant in Greektown, connected to the Greektown Casino, that's open until 4 a.m. on weekends. Their spanakopita is creamy, not overcooked, and full of fresh nutmeg. Their saganaki (flaming cheese) has a choice of kasseri or the more pungent halloumi cheese. The Whitney is an elegant restaurant housed in a historic downtown mansion. Try their Detroit Opera Cake.
For a country feeling downtown, stay at the Inn on Ferry Street: a collection of six historic homes with different styles. I wish someone would film the gorgeous homes that people still live in, not merely the blight.
Detroit, you're still beautiful to me!