Last Sunday we went to Vinology in Ann Arbor for Ann Arbor’s Restaurant week. The food was delicious, the friendly chef graciously served our entrees and the cocktails were stellar, but you know what might have been a little better? Our pre-dinner trip to Zingerman’s Creamery and Bakehouse.
Both buildings are hidden along a service drive and even though we’ve been once before, we had to look for the familiar orange metal roof. We skipped lunch to justify a sampling of gelato before dinner reservations.
The friendly bearded Zingerman’s employee highly recommended the dulce de leche (sold!) and said he could put several flavors in the petite cups. I chose part dulce de leche and part El Rustico, which is vanilla bean gelato with Zingerman’s commissioned Askinosie’s El Rustico chocolate bar pieces. El Rustico is 77% dark chocolate with crunchy sugar crystals and vanilla bean bites. The texture is coarser as a tribute to traditional chocolate making. Both made for one of the best lunches I’ve ever had. Sadly I had to pass up the pure pistachio, peppermint and chocolate heat.
The creamery is quite small, but full of delights. It was a busy Sunday afternoon with one group of 4 sampling cheese and the mozzarella making class came in while we were there, too. The shelves hold harissa, Grand Rapids Koeze Peanut Butter, Effie’s Oatcakes and more. The refrigerator contained pimento cheese, gorgeous aqua heritage eggs and burrata. Then there’s the cheese display. Oh, the cheese.
They will let you sample anything you want. We browsed as the previously mentioned group of 4 was sampling cheese. The cheese guy cut enough samples so we all could try. Of course, everything was fantastic. We purchased a little hunk of the pricey Dulcinea, a wild-sheep’s milk cheese. Like pecorino, but with a nicely balanced flavor that isn’t too sharp or gamey. Really excellent. We also picked up some cured meat.
We went next door to the bakehouse to browse and choose a delicious loaf of fresh bread. They also have bagels, cakes, cupcakes, baking cookbooks, extracts and a few baking tools. I chose an almond cupcake with cherry filling and Marc chose an amazing, amazing Rigó Jancsi Hungarian torte. It was ridiculous. Two layers of chocolate sponge cake with chocolate rum whipped cream (what!?) and iced with apricot glaze and dark chocolate ganache. It’s named after a Hungarian violinist that seduced and married Princesse de Caraman-Chimay. One of the best baked goods of my life, no joke. The cupcake had great flavor, but was too sweet for me and I had to admit that Marc chose the superior baked good. Good eye, darling! I’m sorry, it was eaten so fast that there is no photographic evidence.
We also picked up a loaf of rustic Italian bread. It made a great late night snack with a little meat and cheese and then it was enjoyed the next two nights crisped in the oven and served with soup. The crispy crust was everywhere, but the mess was completely worth it. I love you, Zingerman’s.