Avalon in Ann Arbor

It seems like just yesterday that I was running soft whole wheat loaves of yeasty bread through the faded green bread slicer at Wildflour Bakery in Ann Arbor. I watched in awe and delight as co-founder Annie, in her long hippie skirt, ate raw cloves of garlic, baking bread at dawn. It was the 80s, and I was a periodic student volunteer, in between political science classes and protests against intervention in Central America.

Ann Arbor sure has changed in 25 years!

Writing this, I am sitting by the wood fireplace at Selma Café, a weekly breakfast at the Ann Arbor home of Jeff McCabe and Lisa Gottleib. As many as 186 people pay $12-$15 to fund local farms, hoop houses and a sustainable food system in SE Michigan. Jeff just cut off a sliver of homemade proscuitto at the table cloth covered card table where I am sitting, duck livers are soaking in milk for the “duck confit and poached egg on charred bread” entree, and the conversation is about advanced engineering of hoop houses. Executive Chefs from U of M Catering Department, donned in crisp white chef coats, are braising local beet greens, warming buckwheat crepes and frying up local root vegetables. The coffee is strong and locally roasted (Roos Coffee); the tea is loose and locally–grown; the salad greens are perfectly dressed and grown in a 4 season hoop house nearby. And, by the way, I haven’t been around this many carnivorous locavores…well…ever.

This is not the tofu-crunching Ann Arbor of the 80s.

Ann Arbor and Avalon have always had a special relationship. Wildflour, which closed just months before Avalon opened, was an original source of inspiration for Avalon. And throughout the years, our Ann Arbor wholesale clientele has continued to grow in both size and enthusiasm. More and more cultural tourists visit us from Ann Arbor; students from U of M are now a steady stream of new Detroit residents.

The loop is beginning to close. I am thrilled to be a guest chef (ok, really a sous chef and trafficker of Praline French Toast and brioche sticky buns) with Maggie Long, Executive Chef and Proprietor of Ann Arbor’s famed Jolly Pumpkin (and loyal Avalon customer) next Friday, March 4th at Selma Café, I’ll sling root vegetable hash along dozens of Ann Arbor folk giving their hard earned time and money to create a new vital and sustainable regional food economy.

Check out Selma’s wonderful website at www.repastspresentandfuture.org to find out more about the incredible work they are doing. And join Maggie and I on Friday, March 4th, from 6:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. at 722  Soule Blvd. You will see a few familiar faces from Avalon. You will meet some great new people from Ann Arbor. And you can help close the loop further, creating an even stronger local food movement in SE Michigan.

And the food is gonna rock.


The Menu:

Posted in Ann Arbor, Avalon, Selma | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Avalon in Ann Arbor

  1. Katt Hernandez says:

    hi there

    i have, on a lark, been looking for pictures of and references to things about that previous ann arbor you discuss here. its where i grew up, and has so transformed that at times i feel like trying to describe it to someone is rather like being a sailor trying to describe the beautiful, impossible sea creature they encountered. . . . . .i went to wildflour all the time as a commie high student in the late 80s and early 90s- i still have a copy of Uprisings, too! i remember how both the coop and the bakery were small and all the fixtures were made of dark, well worn wood- they looked like businesses in a hobbit village! and full of folks really dedicated to ideals. . . . .eh! anyhow- do you happen to know where i might find photos of either place before they closed and/or modernized?good luck with your pursuits and food adventures at avalon and beyond! :)

    katt hernandez

  2. Katt Hernandez says:

    oh! and ps my email is katt at gmail dot com. . . .

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