Saturday, August 30, 2008

Staycation in Detroit- Eat at Cozy House

Pittsburgh isn’t too far from the “D”-- just around six hours. So, with economic times being what they are, a staycation in Detroit seemed like a good idea. Afterall, Kwame Kilpatrick is on a court ordered staycation, with a tether. So, what’s good enough for the Hip Hop Mayor should be good enough for lowly old Sisterdoc and Brotherdoc. And it was…generally. Let’s start with the fabulous.

This year was the (free) 26th annual African World Festival in Detroit at Hart Plaza. We breezed through on a steamy Saturday, August 16. I am so glad we did. There were vendors galore selling all things Black…”soul” mixtapes, DVDs (poor Tyler Perry…if you only knew), shea butter, black soap, textiles from across the continent of Africa, jewelry, clothes, all manner of Obama wear, carvings, art, bags (poor Coach…if you only knew)…wow! Sisterdoc picked up: a nice workbag made from a patchwork of African cloths, loc jewelry, shea butter, and a Barack and Michelle “Yes We Can” pin. Then we took in a double-dutch demonstration and a step-show. We got a kick out of the stilt-walkers—jammin’ up high! Sisterdoc got a little line-dance instruction. Music filled the air. And food filled the ole’ belly. Ethopian, Caribbean, soul food, and even a little Greek and seafood. We had to get back on the road, so we missed Mo’Nique and the OJays. But, we’ll catch the event again next year…fabulous, for sure.

Then, on the 23rd, we took in the (free) Heidelberg Project Festival over on the East side of the D. There was plenty of spoken word, comedy, and a fashion show. There was a hair show too, but we had to hit the road, so we missed it. This Festival is unlike any I’ve ever been to. This Brother, Tyree Guyton, was raised on Heidelberg Street. He watched with dismay as his neighborhood turned into one of the worst, blighted communities—more empty lots and condemned houses than homes. Poor city services left the place trash strewn. So Tyree started picking up the trash, refashioning it into art. Vacant lots became “lots of art” (clever!) and the dilapidated homes became giant art sculptures. I liked what he did with the abandoned houses…he strung up stuffed animals, shoes, discarded appliances, and what not to create what to me looked like some seriously spooky haunted houses. He likes to mark his creations with his trademark polka dots and, of course, he makes sure to thank God on most everything. Tyree turned his neighborhood into an art project, bringing in tourists, vendors, and revenue. Fabulous, for sure.

Before hitting the road, the ‘Docs took a ride down McNichols, trolling for restaurants. Our plan was to get lots of take-out and have a little buffet when we got back home. A few places were (unexpectedly) closed. Others, too crowded given our time crunch. So we settled on two places—Rono’s Caribbean at 14001 W. McNichols and Cozy House at 7504 W. McNichols. Cozy House was wonderful! A beautiful young Sister greeted us at the door, and handed us a menu—one full of imagination. Okra… Salmon salad… Ribs… Catfish… Tempura shrimp… Crab… Smothered chicken… Meat loaf…Steak… Red beans… Black eyed peas… yams… collards… mac and cheese… cakes… pies.. Wow! We got a blackened catfish dinner and a chicken dinner with THREE sides. Yum. While we waited for our order, the “chef” sent out a little taste of muffin. When we got home, I couldn’t get enough of the cornbread stuffing with gravy, which was good-as-whew! And don’t even get me started on the sweet potato muffins! The interior of this restaurant is pristine and sprawling. I hope this joint makes it. They try really hard to please.

Rono’s Caribbean on the other hand did not. Take-out was handled through bullet-proof glass, and you had to yell your order at the waiter. You waited for your food in a tight little entryway that was so hot, I thought I was going to faint. Hello…can a Sister get a cup of water???? I ordered the curry chicken, while Brotherdoc tried the jerk chicken. We also put in an order for some curry powder and homemade gingerbeer. And then we waited… 10, 20, 30 minutes. We went to the parking lot, but no one even noticed we had left. I decided to go back about five minutes later to see if someone had missed us…they hadn’t. I tapped on the glass for someone to tell us what was up. A guy peeked out and said, “its coming.” And then he disappeared. Another five minutes, and our order was given to us through one of those bullet-proof slots that rotate open. We can’t figure out why it took 40 minutes to get our food. Nothing in our order was fresh cooked. The rice was, literally, h-a-r-d…like when you leave it out all day, uncovered. The chicken was dry, dry, dry and hard. There was no curry or jerk sauce to speak of. Just dry rice and chicken. They did give us a small spoon-full of cabbage, which was really tasty. As for the “homemade” gingerbeer, it was just a bottle of soda from the grocery store, but they charged us the special price of $2.75 instead of the regular buck-fifty for a pop. We were really disappointed, especially since Rono’s cost the same as Cozy’s, but Cozy’s gave you lots, lots more (delicious) food. Next time, we’ll try Karibbean Kitchen—sources tell me it’s the good joint. But we will be sure to hit up Cozy House again!

(Images: The Heidelberg Festival)

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