Monday, October 24, 2011

Pride of Baltimore II

Pride of Baltimore II, Boston Harbor

Is anyone still out there? I've been "occupying" the Pride of Baltimore II every Tuesday during the month of October. I have travelled to Boston, New York, DC and tomorrow will be sailing on The Pride out of Old Town Alexandria. I'm over the moon excited. I feel so blessed to have a job that takes me to different parts of the country. Getting to see it from a tall ship is pretty magnificent. More to come soon.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Boonzaaijer Bakery

When in Kalamazoo another favorite stop is Boonzaaijer Bakery. They made our wedding cake and are as classic as apple pie in Kalamazoo. This Dutch family name is hard to spell but rolls off the tongue when you are in a fix for sweets. The company has been around since the 60s when they moved from the Netherlands.

They sell bakery cookies.

And Dutch treats.

There are always cakes available to buy without pre-ordering. We picked up a small cake for the family. My brother made rib-eyes one night and this cake was the perfect end to such a decadent meal.

My brother can burn. (That's a good thing.)

The best part about this bakery is that they sell cake by the slice!

The eclairs looked amazing but honestly I've never had anything, anything, but the plain vanilla cake with Bavarian Cream filling. It's this simple center that wins the prize for the best food memory of all time. I remember having Boonzaaijers (pronounced boon-zayer) at birthday parties and of course the best was at our wedding. The tradition is to cut the cake and feed each other one bite of cake, right? Well E. and I cut TWO SLICES at our wedding. That's why we are laughing so hard in our "cut the cake" photo. We sent that photo as our Christmas card and said, "Wishing all your days are sweet."

Mom and I went in for the cake tasting for our wedding so E. missed out. This was his first time in the actual bakery. E. got his first bite of Boonzaaijers in Tucson a few years ago! Mrs. Braithwaite carried Shannon and Dan's wedding cake on her lap all the way from Kalamazoo on the plane. I swear I had two pieces at her wedding too!

The staff are sweet too.

Sporks are included.

I love the Dutch tulips on the cake tasting table. Duff needs to go here for his show Sugar High!

The Bavarian cream is heavenly. It's light and not too sweet. The cake isn't too sweet either. The frosting is the sweetest and we had fondant rolled over our wedding cake which was delicious. I'm not even that big of a fan but it was perfection without that overwhelming almond extract taste that most fondant has.

Oh my goodness my mouth is watering. This is way off the detox folks.

We didn't have any cake left to save the top from our wedding cake. Rumor has it that Uncle Frank had THREE pieces. One piece just simply isn't enough. We love you Boonzaaijer's!

Please tell me one of my Kalamazoo readers knows someone, who knows someone, who knows the owners so we can get the word to them that we are huge fans. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kalamazoo Farmers Market

When we were visiting Kalamazoo last week there was one spot we had to investigate further. The Kalamazoo Farmers Market on Saturday morning. 

I had never been to this location before but had heard great things about it from my Momma and other friends. I was so proud to see how outstanding it was and that the prices were incredibly reasonable. I feel like some markets mark their prices up because they are in urban locations. Maybe it is cheaper for the Kalamazoo market because the farms are literally miles away. I'm not sure, but we were glad we had the car to load up our finds.

Cranberries were in for the first week. I didn't even know Michigan had cranberries.

All patrons were serenaded by this charming violinist at the entrance.

The score of the century were these stunning Honey Crisp apples. They were $3.00 a box! They are $6.00 a box in Baltimore. I asked how much for a bushel and how long we could store them. He said $25.00 bucks and they need to be refrigerated. Curses, our fridge just isn't that big. So we only bought three boxes and ate them up in one week. They were simply marvelous. Is anyone else out there just in love with Honey Crisps? I first had them in NYC with my aunt. I love how I had to go to the big city to learn about this designer apple.

Brussels sprouts were sold on the stalk.

There were zinnias for miles. I simply adore zinnias.

They even had a few vendors selling tacos and other lunch items.

The market is a large "L" shape and it was chilly the morning we stopped by. It excited me to smell apple cider and see pumpkins everywhere to christen the fall.

Crafts were sold for the most reasonable prices. 

Eric was taken with these planks for grilling.

This artisan uses felled trees and creates cutting boards and grill planks from the wood. He recycles the whole tree.

We bought this gorgeous cherry and walnut stripped chopping block. 

He threw in a few planks for E. for good measure. It's so nice to have a gift for our house remind us of a place and time so exactly. 

I couldn't get over the beautiful dahlia's and flower arrangements.

The arrangements were too cute in the wide mouth Ball jars on this way cool vintage table cloth. Go on with yo' bad self Kalamazoo!

We were gently approached by this precious scout who was raising money for his troop selling popcorn. We gave him a donation and left the corn.

You should be proud to have him Troop 297!

He showed us his favorite badge, the one for conservation. Adorable and awesome. You give me hope for the future young man.

As we headed back to our car with heavy apples, jars of local honey and reclaimed wood, this mural stopped me in my tracks. Again, I'm so proud of my hometown and the creative people that arranged for this painting on the BINGO HALL! Ha. 

You can see the Kalamazoo Water Tower in the distance. I still call this Nelle's Castle, naturally.

We headed to Food Dance for brunch. It is a must stop every time we head to town. It was so nice being home without snow on the ground when the skies were blue and not sad, sad gray. Winters in Michigan are harsh. Not just cold but the sky doesn't seem to turn blue for three whole months. I love it but am happy to live in a state that is warmer and sunnier during the winter time.

We noticed new signage all over the Western Michigan University properties too. Nice touch. 

The houses near campus look exactly like the Bingo mural homes. 

Kalamazoo is the bedding capital of the world for flowers. It is always so much less to purchase flowers when we are home and drive them back. We just didn't have enough space in the car. Mom gave us some of her beautiful china to add to our collection including the cutest little Foo dogs. Our bookshelves are still a work in progress. I need a designer just for this space. I've changed it two times since this photo. I'm close but welcome any advice. Dad gave us my great grandmother's music chest so the car was too full for winter pansies sadly.

We love spending time in Kalamazoo and seeing all of the new things that the city has to offer. When I checked into Foursquare, Caroline's cousin Annaliese had just been there and "tweeted" me. We were both so proud of this farmers market and talked about it at the wedding. When you grow up in Michigan I think the pride of such idyllic places is lost on you until you move away. I may have taken advantage of the shores of Lake Michigan, fields of raspberries, blueberries and acres of cherry trees when I was little. Didn't everyone spend weekends picking fruit? It's why coming home is such a delight.