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Posted on Thu, Jun 7, 2012 : 8 a.m.

In addition to stories, entre-SLAM offers tasty bites from sponsors

By Mary Bilyeu

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Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

I attended the latest entre-SLAM last Thursday evening and had a wonderful time meeting new friends and visiting with old ones.  I even missed the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee for this ... wow!

Jeremy was shocked to hear I was going out that night; he knows I'm a nerdy girl who actually listens to the preliminaries at work, since I can't be home to watch them live. And I always watch the final round, trying to see how many of the words I can spell myself.  (Very few in the later hours, I have to admit, despite my English degree, despite being a naturally good speller and despite having studied French, Latin, Italian, Russian, and Hebrew. I have immense admiration for the kids who excel at this event!)

But spelling bee or not, I had such a good time at the April slam that my friend Marcie Greenfield (hostess extraordinaire of the walking tour company Savor Ann Arbor) and I signed up not only to attend the May session, but also to partake of the pre-event dinner with items that could be ordered and delivered from Mark's Carts.

Now, I could tell you that there were fabulous stories, inspirational stories, heartwarming stories, funny stories, and all sorts of other stories about entrepreneurs living the night's theme of "The Show Must Go On" ... and there were wonderful speakers, absolutely, sharing their experiences in the wild and wooly world of business ownership.  But you know me — I'm all about the food.  And there was plenty of it, including some amazing samples from some of the slam's sponsors.

So let's start with dinner, shall we? 

I visited Mark's Carts last summer, during their inaugural season; but there are new vendors at the food cart courtyard this summer, The Beet Box, and A2 Pizza Pi among them.  And there's also Cheese Dream, whose "You Donno Jack" sandwich was calling to me as I perused the menu trying to determine what to order while registering for the slam. This was a grilled cheese, nicely toasted and crisp, filled with Monterey Jack cheese, poblanos and a generous helping of corn relish. With this option, I could eat my comfort food and still get a serving of vegetables, too!

For dessert, I'd ordered a Mexican hot chocolate cookie from The Lunch Room, the vegan cart. Jeremy and I had attended their pie party this past winter, so I can personally attest to how fabulous their desserts are. And this crisp, chewy, spicy, rich, delicious cookie was just as amazing as every other treat I've enjoyed from them.  (It's pictured on a plate because I took it home — there were so many goodies that I simply couldn't eat everything in one evening.)

Marcie, who unfortunately suffers from a number of food issues, was giddy to have The Lunch Room's ice cream sandwich: decadent chocolate cookies filled with strawberry-flavored coconut milk ice cream that accommodated both her gluten and dairy intolerances. She absolutely loved it, and insisted upon my taking its picture and showing it off in all its glory.

Hut-K Chaats, which offers "nutrilicious" Indian street food — healthier, with less fat and sugar than traditional recipes — was one of entre-SLAM's sponsors.  Owner Dr. Mahaveer Swaroop Bhojani, a cancer researcher whose passion is to feed people food that can also help to heal, was offering samples of Shanu Chaats: a fabulous, slightly spicy chickpea and potato dish topped with crispy rice noodles and multigrain chips. I went back for seconds... after eating dinner. And Dr. Bhojani very sweetly made a special sample cup for Marcie, leaving the problematic chips out of the mix so that she could enjoy the rest of the dish.

I was also able to taste two treats from "The Kosher King of Ann Arbor," Emil Boch — another sponsor, with his catering company From the Hearth Food. Emil and his beautiful and wonderfully friendly wife, Monica, were offering two delicious items, one savory and one sweet. The former were small crisp and chewy breads topped with blue cheese (one of my very favorite foods) and arugula, which were wonderful!  The flavors weren't overpowering, and they blended very well together; even people who admitted to not being aficionados of blue cheese found these were deliciously addictive.  

The sweet option, unfortunately, didn't photograph well in the — shall we say? — romantic lighting; but it was luscious enough to compensate for its lack of photogenic qualities. It was a soft, biscuit-like shortbread topped with a white chocolate whipped cream and fresh strawberries... sigh.

I was also thrilled to get more tastes of my beloved Iorio's gelato, which I'd just written up for a Frugal Floozie Friday post a few weeks ago.  This gave me a much-anticipated opportunity to meet owner Mary Lemmer (Iorio's Gelateria was another sponsor) and her friend Carrie, a fabulously enthusiastic employee who even filled in for an absentee storyteller and participated in the slam. I couldn't resist the dark chocolate variety, and Marcie was able to taste both the vibrant and luscious mango as well as another wonderfully fresh dairy-free offering — cucumber watermelon.
So, at entre-SLAM I met great new people, lined up a future interview, visited with friends, ate exceptionally well, and was highly entertained... a great night, even if it didn't involve any spelling!  (And no, despite having been fluent in French before I proved the truth of "use it or lose it," I couldn't spell the winning word: guetapens.  A huge mazal tov to Snigdha Nandipati for being able to do so!)

It's not too early to sign up for the next entre-SLAM at Live Ann Arbor and to join founders Christa Chambers-Price and Jeannie Ballew for another fabulous evening of networking and encouragement on Thursday, June 28.  

You can register here and choose whether to watch the festivities, tell a story, co-sponsor the event, partake of dinner, or some combination thereof.  entre-SLAM is a great local event supporting the community, nurturing businesses, and fostering friendships.

And the food is fabulous!



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Mary Bilyeu writes about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions or comments or suggestions: yentamary@gmail.com.

You should visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — on which she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related.  And be sure to look for her monthly articles about holiday foods and traditions in the Washtenaw Jewish News.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.