Sunday, April 13, 2008

Leon and Lulu - Skate On In!

My wife got really excited about a store a couple of weeks ago. She had gone there mid-week, and insisted that we all should go see it. So off we went to it's 'Terrible Two's" birthday bash - an event that doubled as a fund raiser for the Gilda's Club.

The store that caused this excitement was Leon and Lulu in Clawson. Now, to label this store is no easy task. It's a furniture-gift-book-nicknack-toy store. And it's a lot of fun.

What makes this place pretty unique is that it's located in Clawson's old Ambassador roller rink. There's a lot of evidence of this scattered all around the store - it just adds to the diverseness of the place.

There's still a lot of the skate rink stuff here - Above is the lobby

The original score board. I don't know what games they play in a roller rink - roller hockey?

Now if it wasn't enough fun wandering around this roller-rink-emporium with a coffee, Gilda's were havening all sorts of flying monkey contests. These little monkeys had elasticated arms , which, then pulled and released, propelled the whole monkey across the room. And, if you wanted to have even more fun, you could aim it at a table with bottle-targets, and if you're a sharp-shooter like me, hit a little bottle and win a fabulous (!) Foot In The Door doorstop!!
OK, mine was black but this was all I could find.

Lots of little wind-up old-time toys - these were the kind of things I had a child.

The pic above and below are chalk boards , with notes from patrons of the original roller rink, detailing their injuries and memories.

Above and below - just some of the bits and pieces they sell there.....

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Dog Poop DNA

On another website, I posted something about this - here are the bare bones now that I have 5 mins to spare.

I was out with my mutt one morning recently - and a really nice morning it was. We were walking past some stores when we seen a guy walking his black lab (I think) ahead of us - he stopped as the dog went onto a small somewhat grassy areas right next to the sidewalk. I slowed up a little - my pooch can be overly friendly and jumpy (she's still got a lot of pup in her).

Eventually we reached where they had stopped. Quite close to the sidewalk was a steaming heap. Black lab man was too far ahead to say anything - although he may well deny it. To me it was pretty undeniable that it was his dog - you generally don't allow your dog to sniff poop.. and thats where the dog had spent some time... Man that makes me mad - stupid irresponsible show-off dog owners who probably own dogs to look cool.

I'm not sure if I was glad I was out of the 2 bags I took with me - if I had one I may have felt compelled to pick up some one else's dirty work.

Anyway, through discussions, I came up with the National Dog Poop DNA Registry concept - or NDPDR as I like to call it.

We all required to resister our dogs, i.e. license them. What if it were mandatory to submit a poop sample with the paperwork for the license? (just think, a wee sandwich bag with poop in it stapled to the application and rabies shot cert). The city would then run a DNA test, and record the results. They can then do with the poop what they wish - although what to do with it would likely get buried in bureaucratic, well, crap.

But seriously - look at the benefits.

No need for dog-chipping - a dog gets lost and picked up by animal control- check out its DNA and off you go!
Dogs phantom-crap on your lawn or sidewalk - take a photo and a sample - and you'll catch the offender!
Dog hits the town and barfs in your doorway - a swab and you know where he lives to exact revenge!
Parental canine disagreements - DNA is all on record!
Mutt involved in violent crime - he better not leave a hair or we'll nail the scoundrel!

Ah, the possibilities are endless.

But imagine the newspaper headline!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Blue Nile in Ferndale. An Ethiopian Experience

A few days back, we wanted to eat out and have some fun. I wanted to try somewhere that we hadn’t been before - after a lot of ‘no I don’t wants’ and ‘urghs’ we finally settled on The Blue Nile in Ferndale. I’ve heard about this place, even attempted to go there when it existed in Greektown quite a few years back – it was closed (I don’t even know if it exists there anymore).

All we knew about it was that it was Ethiopian, and that you eat the food with your fingers.

We got there – the place was pretty much only 1/3 full – but it was Thursday night.

Seating choice was either a booth or sitting around what looked like an upturned straw hat into which a plate full of food is placed. Having kids, and being our first time, we opted for the safer booth. Next time, we’ll sit around the hat.

Decor - Wood, with rotating upside-down umbrellas hanging from the ceiling.

The deal there is this: the menu is fixed to either a fully vegetarian or meat and vegetarian served-up buffet – that is, they load a large round plate with food, put it onto your table (or hat), and you all have at it. The waiters will drop by to serve you more of anything you finish on there and want more of.

We opted for the meat and veggie as we figured the kids might not be too big on the lentils and cabbage.

The first stage of the meal was the hand washing – the waiter came out with steaming hot hand towels, which we used to wash out utensils, i.e. our hands. Next came the large plate, about 18 inches across, which had a layer of Ethiopian flat bread on it, topped with about 6 or 7 different piles of veggie foods – cold lentils, spicy lentil paste, a spicy vegetable curry, collard greens with onions and chillis (Gomen(, cabbage (Tekki Gomen), and spicy split peas. Then the bread arrived – I’ve since learned how this stuff is made - it’s pretty simple, flour, water, salt and oil. The Ethiopians use teff flour – I’m not sure if this is what they use in Ferndale – either way, the bread in simple and nice.

The 4 meat dishes then arrived – Doro Wat – which is chicken in herbed butter, and Berbere sauce (which, co-incidentally, was described Saveur the day after we went – complete with recipe), Doro Aleche, which is the chicken in herbed butter without the other stuff, slightly spiced lamb cooked, in my opinion, to perfection, and Zilzil Wat – lumps of tender beef in a sauce that resembled madras curry. All 4 meats were dropped onto the bread, and we were ready to go.

The bread, we learned, is used to eat the other foods. You tear a little bit off and use it to punch up bit of food. This the kids loved – we normally let them know about it if they used their fingers. Not here.

Overall, the food was delicious – there was nothing wrong with anything. The veggie dishes were really flavorful; the meat was spiced just right and as tender as you could ask for.

The service was really good, attentive, and friendly. Heck, they kept coming over and offering us more food – remember it’s an eat as much as you can deal. We tried…

A tip for future visits – take it easy on the bread as it’s really filling. The not bread is where the flavor adventure is – so it’s worth only using a tiny bit and enjoying everything else fully.

Drinks: My wife had a glass of Ethiopian Honey Wine – apparently interesting and very nice. Me being me had beer – a Heineken. Therein was my only gripe about the place – a very poor beer selection. Being that the place is way out there in a culinary sense, I kinda hoped that I might find some way-out there beers. There are a few interesting Ethiopian beers – but none served here.

Prices were about $18 per adult and $9 per child. Given it was an endless feast of good food – it was worth it and definitely recommended.

And the bathrooms are like a continental trip back in time…