Join Associate Producer & Correspondent, Suzie Rodriguez, as she explores the dynamic culinary scene in the heart of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Ann Arbor, Nicknamed A2 or A-Squared by locals, this small city — home to the University of Michigan — makes its way year after year onto national “Best Of” compilations. Last year alone A2 landed on a dozen or more such lists, including being ranked #6 among “Best Cities for Well-Being” by USA Today and Gallup, #13 among the “Top 100 Best Cities to Live” by Livability.com, and #1 among the “10 Most Intelligent College Towns” by Zoomtens.com. Vibrant, youthful and hip, Ann Arbor’s cultural attractions includes it array of trend setting international cuisine. And, A2 is Increasingly receiving recognition for its amazing culinary scene. The town has 300 restaurants–about 200 of them nestled into the small downtown area. Add in a wealth of high-energy chefs who thrive on taking chances, a university and townie patronage that seems to encourage and even demand diversity and creativity, and a strong farm-to-table movement in the region, and you wind up with one of the most exciting food destinations I’ve ever come across. This Midwestern town, with a population of 113,000–about 30,000 more when the university is in session–offers every national cuisine imaginable and dozens of fusion matings you never could imagine. On an average mid-week summer evening, downtown restaurants and sidewalk cafes are jammed with customers—and almost everybody is talking about the food! During my weeklong visit I spoke with six Ann Arbor chefs about their work. I met with Ann Arbor’s chef Ayse Uras, owner and chef of Ayse’s Turkish Cafe, to explain A2’s broad culinary diversity. Ayse’s specializes in Turkish home cooking, with dishes such as zucchini stuffed with lamb, moussaka, chicken eggplant kebap, burma (a version of baklava). Turkish wines, beer and spirits take pride of place on a beverage list that also includes selections from Michigan and the west coast. The food was delicious, and I particularly loved the classic red lentil soup topped with sumac, the spicy ground lamb and the basmati rice with spinach.
To learn more about Ayse’s Turkish Cafe, visit www.aysescafe.com.
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