Category Archives: Reviews

The Doughbar Doughnuts

Last week REB and I indulged in a treat he had shipped to our house from The Dough Bar – protein doughnuts! As promised, here’s a quick review on them, what they are, how they tasted and overall thoughts!**

For those of you who don’t know what it is, The Dough Bar was started by a husband-and-wife team in California with a mission to provide a healthy alternative from traditional doughnuts and theirs are handmade, baked, lower in carbs and sugar and full of protein. It’s a great way for people to indulge in something sweet without straying from their fitness goals. They created this company, which will ship a box/pack of doughnuts right to your door.

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Orders are placed on a Thursday through their site, and then shipped on a Tuesday. And they sell out quick! It’s a pretty hot commodity I guess! REB placed the order the Thursday prior, they were shipped on a Tuesday and we received them on a Thursday; so about a week turn around time from order-to-door.

Upon arriving, the packaging was cute! I liked how they looked like homemade, hand packed boxes because they are. I also liked their little note card that explained their mission, how to eat them, store them and how to spread the word of the product and business.

My favorite thing is what they stood for: “We are excited and humbled to share our vision with you – which is defined by nutritious eating, active living, and giving back to others.” They find ways to give back to the community and charities. A portion of sales go towards a charity of their choosing for the month, like helping reduce childhood obesity or helping kids get up and moving. I really liked this about them!

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So now, onto the doughnuts! The doughnuts are in vacuum sealed plastic and the glazes that come with are in little plastic containers. REB ordered a dozen doughnuts in various packs/flavors:
• The Classic Variety Pack with 1 of each: Maple, Cake Batter, Chocolate and Vanilla
• A 4 Pack of Cookies & Creme
• A 4 pack of Vanilla Bourbon

We put half the doughnuts in the freezer to help keep them fresh since we knew we weren’t going to eat them all in that day. We placed them in the fridge to thaw overnight when we were ready to eat them the next day or whenever.

The concept to consume is pretty simple: remove doughnut from plastic, place on plate, warm in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Warm the glaze in the microwave for 5-8 seconds until melted/thinned out, drizzle over doughnut, add garnish if provided. E N J O Y !

We did find we had to warm the glaze up in batches of 3-4 seconds at a time since we didn’t want to melt the plastic container it came in, but other than that, the whole process is pretty fool-proof.

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Cookies & Creme with Oreo Crumble

Now, here’s the thing: you have to take these for what they are. These are not Krispy Kreme doughnuts, nor are they trying to be. You aren’t going to bite into it and taste something from your local bakery. However that said, these are not bad at all.

I will say that there are certain flavors I favored over others. For one thing, the chocolate did not remotely taste like chocolate or look like a chocolate glaze, which was a little bit of a disappointment. The vanilla bourbon and maple were probably my favorites – the glaze was more like an icing and tasted delicious! The doughnuts are pretty dough-y and can seem a little chewy, but again, you’re nuking them in the microwave and they’re baked, not fried.

Here’s the breakdown of Macros per doughnut on average (this includes the glaze):
Calories: 179
Carbs: 21-23g (depending on flavor/glaze)
Fat: 5g
Protein: 11g
Fiber: 2

Overall I am pleased with the product. It was a no-guilt treat for us. I know some of you might think “Well, if I’m going to treat myself, I’m going all out” and that’s totally fine! I’m not a big doughnut person to begin with, but these are something I can feel OK about eating every once in a while if I want that sweet treat or need something with protein post-lifting/working out a shake won’t cut it. They are a little expensive, but they are handmade, hand packaged and shipped from California. Plus, I really like their mission and the way they give back to the community, too! If you guys try them, let me know what you think!

What is your favorite doughnut flavor?

 

 **I was not compensated for providing this review. Nothing in this post was sponsored. The views and opinions are my own!

Mikette Bistro and Bar

Both REB and I recently went to the new French bistro and bar on the north side of Ann Arbor called Mikette Bistro and Bar. It’s the third restaurant opened by owner-operator Adam Baru. He owns two other places both located next to each other in downtown Ann Arbor (on the same block as my office building actually!) called Mani Osteria (a wood fire pizza place) and Isalita (higher end Mexican street food). We have been to both Mani and Isalita, and I have to say, I think Mikette may get the higher vote from me!

This restaurant used to be the small cafe called Cafe Marie, which was known for its weekend brunch. I’m sad we never got to try it, but after more than 20 years, they closed their doors in 2015. Ann Arborites were curious as to what would go into that space, and were pleasantly surprised it would be this new French place!

Walking into Mikette, both REB and I felt like we were going to a brasserie or cafe like the ones we frequented in Paris. Given Adam apparently spent summers in France, it was pretty spot-on. The only big difference is that the places in Paris are tiny and tables are right next to each other since they try to pack as many people into it as possible. The “American” touch of having it be more of a place suited to fit Americans so you actually have room for your elbows, was nice. But the details! Ohhh the details!

The central area was lined with the giant red booth and then little bistro tables were set around around it. The bar was long and beautifully lit and actually crowded with folks seated there. They even had tall two-person booths along the window to the side. The ceiling is kept exposed for the most part, but there are giant French posters stuck up there so when you’re sitting you can look up and see a vintage fashion or entertainment French poster.

We could tell the menu had a southern France theme to it, since so many dishes features flavors of Procvence and there are even some Moroccan-influenced dishes. FullSizeRenderFrench food in general is actually a vegetarian’s worst nightmare. There isn’t a lot the French can offer people who don’t eat steak, chicken, or raw ham tartare (yes, we did see that while in Paris). We had a hard time during our honeymoon since we were getting sick of having eggs, goat cheese salads or bread for almost every meal – haha. However, we were surprised and happy with the options Mikette did have for us! REB figured out quickly that the left column of their small plates menu was all vegetarian-friendly and the right was all non-vegetarian. After perusing the menu for a few minutes, our server suggested we order several things since they would come out as they’re prepared. We decided to go with:

• Gougeres (goat cheese popovers)
• Pomme Frites (because obviously)
• Ratataouille
• Bread & Butter (because Zingermans)
• Omelette to split

I was so happy with our choices! The bread and butter we knew wouldn’t be a bread basket, but probably just a baguette with some salted creamed butter and it was just delicious! Honestly, I could have eaten more than they offered ;)

The popovers were a-ma-zing! The goat cheese and black pepper were bold flavors that didn’t clash! The dough was so soft and almost delicate that it felt like it melted when we’d bite into it.

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I don’t think I need to go into detail about the French fries. They were cooked to perfection, crispy and the aioli that came with it was delicious. The star of the night for us was the ratatouille. It was served almost like a bruschetta! The Provencal flavors were so prominent, the tomatoes and vegetables roasted to perfection and were still juicy and when topped on the goat cheese crostini – I can’t tell you the magic that was happening. It was so, so good and I secretly wished we had ordered two I didn’t have to share with anyone.

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Next up: the omelet. When it was originally served, one of the servers came by and said they noticed it looked to “herby” so they took it back in order for it to be prepared the proper way. I was actually shocked by this but so happy they did this for us! It was a pretty classic omelet, complete with French trifold, still soft and not overcooked and while we would have probably eaten the super heavy-on-the-herbs one, they get top marks for recognizing that and redoing it for us!

Our night ended with dessert: creme brulee for me and pot de chocolate for him as well as a kir royale to finish. I have to tell you: The French know how to do dessert and the folks at Mikette took that on pretty well. Both were so rich, decadent and I’m glad they were the serving size they were since it was so rich!

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Overall, we had a wonderful dining experience: the staff was well informed, recommended some great things for us, offered tips when ordering and were friendly and attentive. The food was superb and the atmosphere wasn’t stuffy like some French places can be. We will absolutely be back here and we’ve been raving about it all weekend to friends in the hopes they too will go and enjoy!

So, well done Adam. Not only do have two successful restaurants in downtown Ann Arbor, but you’ve managed to create a pretty authentic French brasserie experience for residents too!

What about a restaurant impresses you the most?

In Other Words in my words

I recently finished the book In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri and I’m left still processing my feelings and thoughts on it.

I have been a fan of Lahiri’s work for years. I have read and own all her other books and loved reading all of them. I think the obvious reason I’m so pulled into her writing is because much of what she writes about is relatable to me. In The Namesake I felt exactly as the protagonist, Gogol.

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Her latest book, In Other Words, is a short book that’s autobiographical (her first) and translated from Italian. Lahiri learned Italian and the book shares her journey in learning this language and being able to speak it fluently without losing who she already is.  She learned Italian here in the States, took lessons, recalls her love of the language from her past (even doing her doctoral on Italian architecture and its influence on English playwright) and then she traveled to Italy and decided to write in Italian.

She reflects on how hard it is to learn a new language and then still hold true to your mother tongue and this resonated with me throughout the entire book.

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My sister and I in India before we moved to the States

Some of you may know that I wasn’t born here in the US. I was born in New Delhi and moved to America when I was 3 years old. At the time it didn’t really mean anything, but as I grew up here, it was hard!

I spoke Hindi and Telugu apparently all the time. My parents spoke Telugu at home, but my mom told me that she and my dad were told by teachers that if I had any chance of “succeeding” in this country, I would need to learn English. The school encouraged them to speak English at home so I was exposed to it, and in turn, and unfortunately, I lost my ability to speak it. I still understand it 100%, but I can’t speak a word of it or conjugate a sentence.

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Me, age 5 or 6, when visiting our uncle in Seattle

Imagine seeing family and not being able to communicate with them in that language. Sure, everyone speaks English, but it’s a part of me I totally get discouraged about and makes me feel like a total outsider. Even at work. There are many people who speak Telugu at my office, and with each other, but when I’m there, they switch to English. I’ve told them they can continue speaking it if they want, since I understand, but I think that makes them feel awkward and they just nervously laugh and continue in English.

I took a class in college where I learned about W.E.B. Du Bois and his idea of double consciousness. It’s an idea where you are aware of who you are, but you sometimes still feel disenfranchised from two communities.

One ever feels his two-ness, an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.

The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife – this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He does not wish to Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa.

Growing up, I felt like this. I didn’t quite fit in with the American kids since it was new and something my parents and I had to learn, and at home and with family, I felt like an outsider within the Indian community too.

I sometimes still do. I try to immerse myself within my culture because I’m proud of it and my heritage, but I totally have this fear for when REB and I visit India (which we hope to do within the next few years). I know things are totally different in India now, but I’m almost scared to go just us because I can’t speak a lick of Hindi anymore and feel like this will be a language barrier. Maybe it won’t be, but if I go to India, I don’t want to only see the big tourist cities and what not. I want to see my family, have him meet them, and it would be pretty cool if I could speak with them, and not just in English. I know they won’t be offended if that’s all I speak, since again, India is totally different not. Almost everyone speaks English, but maybe part of me feels like it would be “self worth” to be able to speak in Telegu or even Hindi with them.

At our wedding, which was a south Indian ceremony

At our wedding, which was a south Indian ceremony

My sister and I were talking about this and she said something that really stood out: “we’re all trying so hard to stay in touch with our ‘roots’, but what does that mean anymore?” She said we live in America where it’s all about being a melting pot and embrace unity, but we’re still so focused on ourselves. It’s scary to feel lost in a crowd so you’re holding onto those roots so we know who we were because we’re looking for meaning.

I know she’s right, but I also know I don’t want to let it go. I’ve even thought about re-learning HIndi, as if I’m a toddler learning to speak, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. That’s not an excuse, I realize, but I maybe I should try. So how do I identify myself? I’m an American, but I was born in India. I’m happy to have two cultures in my life and even though I want to try to be better at being in touch with my “roots”, I’m setting up new roots here in America and that’s more than OK. I won’t ever forget where I’ve come from, and I will embrace it as best I can.

Yikes – I got off on a terrible tangent – I hope you’re all still with me!

Regardless, I highly recommend reading In Other Words and all of Lahiri’s other books. She’s an amazing writer and has a beautiful way with words! Even if you can’t relate to what she’s writing, she has the ability to make you stop and think about what you’re reading. Even if it’s a work of fiction. So definitely add this to your reading list this year!

Have any books ever stood out to you on a personal level?

 

Aparna in Wonderland

This past weekend I was able to indulge in a treat fit for a queen! …Of hearts, that is. REB and I went to Mad Hatter Bistro/Bar/Tea Room in Birmingham, MI (about 60 miles northeast of Ann Arbor in metro Detroit). 

Before we go any further, I need to preface that anyone who knows me well knows how much I love Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and generally, all things Alice in Wonderland. It’s one of my favorite books/stories of all time and I love both the original story by Lewis Carroll, but also the Disney version. My sister and best friends even threw me a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for my bridal shower before I got married! My office has several copies of the book that I’ve been collecting versions over the years. If I ever see a copy with new illustrations, or cover art, or in a different language, I get it. It’s probably silly or nonsense, but…”if I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense!”

So anyway, when I had heard last year (or maybe it was even the year before) there was a tea room, bar and restaurant opening near Detroit that would be Alice in Wonderland-themed, I have been dying to go. I finally decided to make it happen over the weekend. REB was gracious enough to accompany me – major points to him!

The ambiance of this place was very whimsical. It was not a formal tea place, like what REB and I experienced when we went for high tea in Copenhagen last year. That place was a typical place for high tea, where they brewed their own tea blends, had fine china and only open for a few hours a day strictly for tea.

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This place was definitely more like a hipster bar and had a whimsical charm. Dimly lit upstairs, the walls had an array of Alice in Wonderland memorabilia complete with playing cards, clocks, checkered paint details, tea pots, etc.

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I was actually a little concerned that we would be having tea in such a darkly lit place. But then we were taken downstairs where it was a complete 180! They had a cute little tea room downstairs where the walls were covered with fake grass/turf, little water fountains were displayed, the ceiling had silk roses (in red and white!) hanging from it, mismatched tea cups and saucers sat on each table and each table donned a different style and shape of arm chair.

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One thing people need to know about this place is that you have to make a reservation for a tea party. I think if you were to go in for brunch, drinks or dinner you wouldn’t need one, but they do state on their web site that for a tea party, you have to make a reservation. Their weekends fill up pretty quickly, I guess! I also took a look at their tea menu since it’s a fixed price but you receive the following: Three-tiered stand filled with finger sandwiches, scones, clotted cream (or marscapone here), jam/curd, and small local pastries and fruit, and of course, bottomless tea! The finger sandwiches included a salmon one, so when I called to make the reservation I had mentioned we were vegetarian which they took note and said we would just get their vegetarian option.

REB and I first tried different teas and then shared the second pot. The first one I had was a Paris blend of vanilla and caramel and he went simple with English breakfast black tea. The second time around, we got a pot of their Mad House Blend which had strong hints of cardamom — it was delicious!

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Next up: the food! Like I stated earlier with the tea party you receive a three-tiered stand with the bottom layer having cucumber and mint finger sandwiches, canapes of artichoke and spinach; and red pepper and hummus. The second tier had four scones – two chocolate chip, two lemon poppy seed and they came with lemon curd and marscapone cheese (no clotted cream on this side of the pond :( ). The final tier had mini desserts of lemon cheesecake, a chocolate chip cake cookie, fudge brownie and nutella and cream parfaits.

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Overall the food was pretty good. My biggest disappointment was that I noticed other tables that had the meat/salmon option for the finger sandwiches had those plus the things we had. I had hoped and kind of wished that because we said we were vegetarians, they would have just given us more of the cucumber and mint sandwiches, but they didn’t. Kind of a bummer and rip off, but what we did have we liked.

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Lemon poppyseed scone with marscapone and lemon curd

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As stated before, the tea party was a fixed price, which is a touch on the spendy side. It costs $24/person and tip is not included. You’re definitely paying for the ambiance, experience and location (Birmingham is a pretty affluent city).

I thought back to what we spent in CPH and if we had done a similar tea menu there like we did here, it was roughly 225KR which is $32.50, so I guess it’s at least cheaper than Europe! Of course, we didn’t do that in CPH so it was cheaper, but still. Good to know!

I don’t know that we will go here again, at least not for a tea party. Their main menu and brunch menu sound really delicious and have fun names for all the items, though! So that might be worth a try. Having said that, price aside, I could see this being a cute place to have a party for a little girl or something, though it would likely cost quite a bit.

I am glad we went. It was cute, fun and I appreciate the detail they put into making it feel like you were in the hedge garden and having tea with the Mad Hatter and March Hare. And like the Mad Hatter always says….

What about you? Have you ever “splurged” on something silly like a dining experience?