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Local News / Entertainment

Tuesday, 7 June, 2011 3:30 AM

Thousands showed up to enjoy the Taste of Ann Arbor on Sunday

PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Attendees packed the Taste of Ann Arbor festival along Main Street on June 5, 2011.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Thirty-eight local restaurants and seven local bands performed. The weather was sunny and in the upper 80's. Thousands of people walking up and down main street. Those are the words that describe the 2011 Taste of Ann Arbor, which proved to be the perfect ending for participants in the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run on Sunday. It reminded me of midtown Detroit's Comerica Cityfest or Tastefest, which was canceled last year. Every type of food that one could imagine was available in taste-sized portions in Ann Arbor.

"This is my first time ever," said Argelia Vidal, an attendee from Ann Arbor, Mich. "I think it's very, very good. You have the opportunity to have a little taste of the restaurants. We had the swordfish, which was excellent. We had a tiramisu and tortellini, which was also very good. I think the price was very decent. I think everybody should come and try it. The next time you come downtown, then you know which restaurant you want to go inside and have a nice meal."

Melange won the best-of-show award for it's food and it's display at the 2011 Taste of Ann Arbor. Other award winners included La Dolce Vita for best dessert (chocolate cake filled with white chocolate mousse), Jazzy Veggie for best appetizer (couscous salad with ginger lime dressing), Melange for best entrée (watermelon gazpacho and chicken saute), Cafe Japon for WEMU Taster's Choice (baked goods), Vinology for the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run's Fit and Fabulous Award (aqua frescos).

"It seems to be a lot bigger and a lot more crowded," said Robert Olive from Whitmore Lake, Mich. "I've been to the Taste of Chicago festival a few times. This is actually impressive with the comparison of the city sizes. I tried to have a reasonable progression of food, not really. Fish, chocolate, drinks, a little bit of everything--anything that sounds exotic, something I normally wouldn't get. I had a cinnamon tea of some sort, a fruity Sangria tea somewhere. I just order it if it sounds crazy. Some of it seems pricey, but for the most part, it's reasonable. The bands sound good for being local Ann Arbor bands."

The FlatTop Grill, Argerio's, Cafe Felix, Bar Louie, Marnee Thai and Jimma's BBQ were some of this year's participating restaurants. Additional restaurants that were on site included Blue Tractor, Jazzy Veggie, Conor O'Neill's, Gratzi, Real Seafood Company, Cupcake Station, Carlyle, Mediterrano and Mahek Indian Cuisine, among many others.

"It was really hot and I did really well, I was excited for myself," said Zoe Lu, a participant in the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run, which ends at the festival. "It was my first time doing a half-marathon, 13 miles. I was really pushing myself and challenging myself. I came in under two hours, so like a 9-minute mile roughly. I haven't tried the food yet, but I'm excited to. I just had brunch so I might just do something lighter, more desserty, more ice cream items."

The Taste of Ann Arbor is a great way for out-of-towners to sample some of the best restaurants on the University of Michigan campus. Then, they can return to A2 and order a full meal at their new favorite eatery. It is also lots of fun for local residents of tree town, Ann Arbor.

"It's amazing, I didn't know where to begin," said Amanda Enderlin, an attendee from Ypsilanti, Mich. "We definitely went to the Blue Tractor and got a bunch of ribs. We've gotten a lot of pulled pork sandwiches and things like that. Now I'm ready for dessert. I think it was pretty reasonable definitely for the amount of food you get. I hope they have many more of these. I can't wait to come to those ones."

Chris Good, a soloist, kicked off the music on the Bank of Ann Arbor stage at 11 a.m. He was followed by soloist Katie Lee, folk band Small Houses, rock bands Gun Lake, Bear Lake and the Wolfie Complex. Detroit-based Motown band 1's & 2's wrapped up the entertainment at 4 p.m. A smaller music stage was located in the beer tent on Washington Street.

"I came last year and I work over at the Black Pearl," said Davis Smith from Ann Arbor, Mich. "I'm pretty experienced in this event. It's great this year. I love that people are getting out and tasting the food of Ann Arbor. I really like Shalimar's stuff, I had their lamb shish kabob, that was really awesome. The Jimma's BBQ was really great. I'm a huge fan of Argerio's, I think that's one of the most underrated Italian restaurants in Ann Arbor. Their eggplant parmesan is second to none. We had some great sushi today, nothing too over the top or monstrous."

Free chair massages were offered from Relax Station. The children's area included crafts, hoolahoops and sidewalk art. The Ann Arbor District Library signed up kids and their families for their summer reading program. In addition, representatives from the Ann Arbor Summer Festival passed out brochures for the three-week festival, which begins on June 17 and runs through July 2.

"Ive been here several times, it's fantastic," said Richard Bottorff, an attendee from Ann Arbor, Mich. "The people coming out on such a wonderful day, the food is fantastic. We had fish tacos and a little bit of wine. I think it's very reasonable for the types of food you're having and the chefs that are preparing it. We heard the entertainment and it's alright for the background. But conversation is prevailing today."

The Main Street Area Association (MSAA) was the organizer of the Taste of Ann Arbor. Another great event produced by the MSAA is the Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, which runs from June 12 through 17. Most of the restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor are offering special deals of $12 for lunch and $25 for dinner.

For more information on Ann Arbor Restaurant Week, visit www.annarborrestaurantweek.com.

Related Story: 38 Restaurants to Participate in 2011 Taste of Ann Arbor on June 5

 

PHOTO BY GLORIA RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

BD's Mongolian Grill food booth

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A worker serves a cheeseburger to an attendee.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Earle's food booth

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

A woman purchases a piece of chocolate cake from The Earle.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

The Grizzly Peak Brewing Co. food booth

 

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