Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and a New Chevrolet Camaro

First Base: Start With The Motor City

My bosses sign off on the notion of a half-day on Friday -- provided, of course, I forgo a traditional lunch break. No worries. I wait an extra hour, and hop over to the Grand Traverse Pie Company on the outskirts of Ann Arbor and ignore mom’s time-old warning about spoiling dinner by sampling desert first.

GTPC was originally founded in its namesake Michigan city, but has since expanded into a chain of roughly a dozen stores spread throughout both Michigan and Indiana. Though the restaurant itself follows the “bakery-café” formula popularized by Panera Bread, it’s still known for the pies. I purchase a fresh slice of crumb-top apple pie, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream, and shell out a little over $5 total. I’m mesmerized by the sight of the ice cream sublimating off the pie, evidenced by the small wafts of steam rising off the crust. Thankfully, it tastes just as good as it looks -- quite sweet, with just a hint of cinnamon.

Next stop? Detroit, where the Tigers are hosting the San Francisco Giants for a night game at Comerica Park. That marks a roughly sixty-mile drive over some of the worst pavement Michigan has to offer, but I’m pleasantly surprised by the Camaro’s behavior. Damping and suspension rates are firm, but not to the point where I’m counting the number of fillings lost per mile. Cutting the top off any vehicle inherently compromises its structure, but I’m impressed with the Chevy. There’s some cowl shake to be found, but far less flexing than I’ve seen in other modern convertibles, including the drop-top form of its cross-town competitor, the Ford Mustang.

I wish I could say the same about the Tigers’ performance this evening. Both teams are at or near the top of their respective leagues, and for the first half of the game, things appear to be at a stalemate. Pablo Sandoval’s double in the top of the fifth helps bring in the first run of the game, which goes largely unanswered by the Tigers until the bottom of the 8th, when a single from Brennan Bosch brings Brandon Inge across home plate. The Giants take the lead with another three runs in the top of the ninth. Despite raking in another two runs in the bottom of the inning, Detroit winds up one run short of a win.

Bummer, but it’s now 10 pm, and I’ve thus far abstained from dinner in order to avoid the traditional ballpark frank for something a little more bespoke to Detroit. Smack dab in the middle of town sit two Coney Islands -- American and Lafayette -- which, I’m told, serve some delicious eats. Each can be traced back nearly seven decades to the Keros family, but a longstanding rift has kept the restaurants spiritually apart (but not physically, as they’re next door to one another). The rivalry, along with slightly different recipes for the same staples, has crafted two distinct leagues of adoring fans, each proclaiming their restaurant to be the best. So, how do you pick which one to sample?

Easy enough: at 10:30 at night, my stomach is growling, and customers were lining up down the street just to step foot inside Lafayette. Sign of a better product, perhaps, but American also has nearly three times the footprint and offers immediate seating. Lafayette devotees may claim I missed out, but I like what I find at American -- a great-tasting Coney that’s made fresh and delivered to my table less than two minutes after I place the order. The dog is perfectly cooked, delivers a crisp snap when I bite into it, and the meat-based chili had a pleasant, mild seasoning. Delicious -- although I still can’t help but wonder how good the dogs next door are…

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