Sunday, January 27, 2013

Frankenmuth. . . It's not just all you can eat chicken dinners

As a family we really like Frankenmuth. A lot of folks will question this, equating the experience with an all you can eat Chicken Dinner at either Zhender's or The Bavarian Inn. Not so! We do go to Zhender's but not for Fried Chicken or an all you can eat buffet. I really like Wiener Schnitzel and my husband enjoys Beef Tips and Noodles. This week happened to be the Annual Snow Festival so we had another reason to visit, but it also meant traffic that impacted the schedule. We missed the lunch menu and therefore it was dinner time which impacted our meal choices but still proved delicious.

Beef Medallions
Paul ordered the Beef Medallions instead, which are whole cuts of meat rather than small beef tips, and a side of buttered noodles to create his favorite dish. The dark gravy with the noodles was a close facsimile to the lunch menu item. He did say that if we go at dinner time again he will order the noodles plain rather than buttered so the gravy will remain the showcase.

Pork Schnitzel with Marsala
There was a special for Pork Schnitzel in Marsala Sauce yesterday which was a slight variation of the Wiener Schnitzel I enjoy. I have to say it was delicious, with nice crispy cutlets of thin pork, topped with a lovely Marsala loaded with fresh mushrooms and sweet onions. Add a side of spaetzle and it made for a great hearty meal that warmed me up after being outside navigating the crowds.

We headed for Zhender's first because of the crowds but I should add that the wait wasn't long. Walk ins seemed to get seated quicker than those with reservations. It's a really large place and they can accommodate a lot of diners. Kids had macaroni and cheese and chicken. What is really great about dinner is that you get a whole lot of extras. Before having our main dishes we had bread (both white and a fruit stollen) with butter and strawberry jam, cranberry relish with bits of oranges and frosty cold, sweet creamy coleslaw, chicken noodle soup, and toasted croutons of bread (buttery) with cheese spread and chicken liver pate. It is a necessity to pace yourself with the spread.

Before and After Dinner Portraits

There seemed to be an underlying theme of hearts during our adventure. . .
Left: Toasted Crouton at Zhender's. Right: Discovered Ice Sculpture Fragment with a Heart

 Frankenmuth Snow Festival

After our hearty meal we went happily went outside to tour the snow and ice sculptures around town, heading into stores to warm up as we walked around. The sculptures were worth seeing; I was amazed at the sheer size of some of the pieces and there were all kinds of themes. It was really a beautiful day, cold enough for the sculptures to stay intact but without any wind to make the event miserable.

So here is one of the wonderful sculptures so I at least acknowledge the weekend's festival. It's an alligator and it's very cool. But this is a food blog for the most part and if you wanted to see this you could go elsewhere I'm sure. Let's move on to the food now!

Glockenspiel Mice

The Bavarian Inn across the street from Zhender's is also famous for chicken dinners as well as typical German Fare. They also have one of the tourist attractions that draw visitors in with the Glockenspiel Tower.  At designated times, the clock opens up with music and animated robotic figures to celebrate the culture. What does this have to do with food? I'm glad you asked because in the basement of the Bavarian Inn are stores and lot of yummy treats (bakery, wine, chocolates and candy. . . ). One of our favorites are the Chocolate Glockenspiel Mice.

Glockenspiel Mice
 Aren't they cute?!!! They come in white or milk chocolate. The head is a Hershey's Kiss, attached to a chocolate covered maraschino cherry and then decorated with little sliced almonds for ears. They are absolutely delicious. If you think you see a very deformed mouse in this pic, it's really a marzipan truffle that managed to sneak into the photo.

River Place Shops: Great Lakes Olive Oil Company

Great Lakes Olive Oil Company
A little bit south of the chicken dinner mecca is a relatively new strip of shops called the River Place Shops with lots of treats (fudge, candy, cupcakes, gelato) and plenty of opportunities to visit specialty stores for souvenirs. You cross over to the shops over a concrete bridge and get an opportunity to see the damn. At this time of year, kids are venturing on the ice (as my own kids did) that cover the river but the waterfall is still going. Once you cross the bridge you are immediately struck by the aroma of fudge. They actually pump the smell outside by the windows where you can watch them forming the loaves. It's heaven and you probably gain 20 pounds just breathing in the wonderful smell. 

Chocolate Covered Bacon at Sugar High Bakery
I typically stop at the Sugar High Bakery but the line was out the door. Apparently they recently were featured and won The Cupcake Wars on the Food Network. I honestly do not go there for cupcakes. Chocolate Covered Bacon and Cinnamon Sugar Bacon. Try it! Seriously, great stuff. I made candied spicy bacon at home but I think it's sometimes easier to buy things and chocolate dipping can be messy! Look at that photo? Doesn't that look divine? It really is, I assure you. I'm sorry I couldn't have any this time.

Black Truffle Oil
We trek over to this side of the town for a primary purpose. The Great Lakes Olive Oil Company has a wonderful assortment of flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars that you GET TO TASTE!!!! Now for regular olive oils I have been known to purchase them locally at Trader Joe's that has some very high quality grassy and peppery offerings for low prices. But for truffle oils I have not found any better than GLOOC. In the past I had the white truffle oil but they had Black Truffle Oil yesterday and it packed quite a kick! Of course I don't have to tell you it's now in my kitchen. I'm already conjuring up images of what I can do with this stuff. Of course Truffled Lobster Risotto comes to mind with this extra indulgence but I'm thinking some simpler dishes with pasta tossed with some green olives, sun dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. I'm also thinking about a vinaigrette dressing as well. I'm still thinking about it! I'll get back to you.

Chicago Flavored Popcorn

So as much as I dream about olive oil, and yes, I really do. The husband and kids have a similar attachment to Chicago Flavored Popcorn that is at Mac's Fudge Kitchen. It's apparently all over town and it's a combination of a trifecta of flavors: Cheddar Cheese, Caramel, and Salted Popcorn. Delicious. No picture but check out the link.

So it's important to note that there are many other food items and treats we could have discussed today but I have to some limits. It's about self control isn't it? I have to at least pretend. . .

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