I was going to post about Valentine's Day, but I'm writing this several days before the 14th and won't know what I'm going to be having at our romantic brunch at the Cliff House until we actually go there. Convoluted sentence, anyone? :-)
So I decided to go with a wave of nostalgia I've been surfing for a few weeks. I've been missing old friends, family (when a marriage breaks up, so, sadly, do some of one's in-law relationships), activities, places, and food specific to these places.
Most of my culinary nostalgia centers around Grand Blanc (pronounced Grand Blank, with a total Midwestern disregard for the French origins of the name) and Flint, both in Michigan.
I used to visit Michigan every year or so with Brian, who was born and raised in Grand Blanc before moving out to California, where we met at a Science Fiction convention in San Diego. Yes, I was (and am) a bit of a geek. But a SWORDfighting geek, which made me kind of cool. Yeah, that's right. That's my story and I'm sticking it.
Anyway, my first trip back I was introduced to three culinary treats which have taken their place in Dana's Food Hall of Fame for life: Fannie May chocolates, specifically Trinidads; Angelo's Coney Island hot dogs; and my mother-in-law's holiday nut bread.
This is a box of Fannie May chocolates. Now I am a huge fan of See's Candy (a childhood staple that has stayed part of my diet through adulthood), but the first time I had a Trinidad (rich dark chocolate truffle filling enrobed by creamy white chocolate with little hints of coconut), I was hooked. I have never had a better chocolate in my life, at least not for my particular taste buds. I'm also fond of their truffles (substitute dark chocolate for white chocolate), and mint meltaways.. Whenever we'd visit Brian's family, a trip to Fannie May's was made the first day or so and I'd have a box of the chocolates on my bedside table to last throughout the trip.
These are Trinidads. Creamy, delicious, sinful memories ... I think it's time for me to order a box, something I haven't done in many years...
Now let's move on to Angelo's Coney Islands. Angelo's is a little restaurant in Flint and a Coney Island is a hot dog (specifically Koegel's brand) slathered in a rich meat sauce, topped with minced onions. I don't like the onions, but the meat sauce is to die for. I would go there with Brian and his best friend, Grant, and the three of us would pork out. Two Coneys, fries, and malts or milkshakes. Part of the fun was the food and the rest was the company, and sharing a tradition with Brian and Grant that they'd been sharing for years.
Here's a view of the inside of Angelo's. I recognize and have sat at some of those booths and tables...
While searching Google Images for pictures of Angelo's, I came across an old blog entry waxing downright poetic about Angelo's and Coney Island dogs written by a Flint, Michigan native. Check it out here!
The third item is one I have no picture of, but the memories are vivid and wonderful. Teresa (Brian's mom) would make batches of nut bread every year at Christmas and Easter, a delicately flavored bread with cinnamon streusely filling spiraling through the loaves. Hot out of the oven, thick slabs in the morning with or without butter, accompanied by cups of hot chocolate or coffee ... heaven. I have never had anything like it and never will again. Sure, I may find a recipe for it, but nothing can replace the taste and smell of the nutbread, eaten at the kitchen table at my in-law's house. I am grateful for the memories even though they hurt to remember.