Editors Note: GR|MAG contributor Missy Black was invited by the Downtown Market and the JW Marriott to test out the Gourmet Getaway package to fully report on the experience. All opinions and words expressed here are the writer’s.
With January’s slow, nothing-to-celebrate slump settling in, I was looking for an experience to set the tone for the new year ahead. I craved a getaway or staycation that catered to exciting the senses—something my husband and I could enjoy together in our own town, on our own time.
If you’ve never been to the Downtown Market I pity you. I’m teasing but it’s not something to take lightly. To have this foodie mecca in our city is a big deal and one worth exploring. The market has partnered with the JW Marriott hotel for a Gourmet Getaway package because these two downtown favorites know and love food.
The package includes overnight accommodations (we cozied up in a corner room overlooking the city’s twinkling lights), breakfast for two at six.one.six, an in-room charcuterie board as well as a Downtown Market swag bag filled with a $50 gift card to the market, adorable shopping list notepad and a coupon book featuring exclusive deals and discounts.
After check-in, our first stop was dinner. We took off arm-in-arm on our way to the nearby restaurant Wheelhouse, a perfectly walkable distance from the hotel. Our dinner was lovely, but the appetizer haunts me. If you stop in you must try the shishito peppers. I lost all my manners and practically licked the plate clean. Imagine peppers topped with avocado puree, spicy honey, whipped feta and chorizo crumble.
All I could think about was how to recreate this at home. With one sip of my cocktail, the Southern Belle, the weekend had started. The recipe calls for Tito’s vodka, blackberry puree, lemon, simple syrup and elderflower foam. Life changing is a phrase that applies here. Completely inspired by our first drinks, we decided to cocktail hop back to the hotel dipping into little spots here and there to beat the chill.
I was thoroughly frozen when we arrived back at the hotel, but Mixology did right by me with their hand-crafted Liquid Mittens cocktail. It’s a mix of el jimador reposado, steamed milk, dulce de leche, chocolate bitters and maple smoke and I was warmed to my soul. It was the perfect nightcap as we talked the evening away, listening to live music in the lounge, watching the traffic of people stopping in to socialize.
We were ready to retire to our room and binge watch our favorite shows when I remembered our next surprise—the charcuterie board! A woman in a hotel room wearing a robe with a charcuterie board is the new kid in a candy store—it’s the same euphoria. We ordered some rosé wine to arrive with the board, which is the most adorable Michigan-shaped wood platter.
I instantly wanted to own one and found out you can purchase them in the hotel gift shop. They come in various sizes, running from $20 to $50. It was all rosé and sweet dreams in our room in our huge and comfy bed (give me all the space to sprawl out).
In the morning, Gourmet Getaway guests receive complimentary breakfast at six.one.six and it’s pretty much everything you could ask for. There are tons of sweet and savory offerings, quick service and our two completely opposite taste buds were happy. My husband, Sean, goes for heavy breakfasts while I’m into lighter fare. I had a great view of Sean’s back the many times he waited at the custom omelet station while I enjoyed granola cups and fruit to fuel our day. Side note: the yogurt was so good that both my husband and I wanted to follow up with our server about it (nerd alert!).
My morning started happy and healthy and I’m pretty sure it was because of the Signature J-Juice. I’m a beverage freak and this light and refreshing breakfast drink consisting of raspberry, cucumber, ginger, orange, lime and guava blend is beyond fresh.
It was off to the market for our day date. While I’d been before, Sean hadn’t, so this was a new adventure for him. Aperitivo was our first stop (a favorite of mine) and our mission took shape here: snacks. We wanted to find items to recreate that amazing hotel charcuterie board, so we loaded up on two different kinds of cheese while I debated the merits of purchasing a crème of dates with almonds jam over rose petal preserves (fleur-flavored food gives me life, so that won). Add in some whole grain mustard spread and our charcuterie board accouterments were off to a good start.
So much time was spent drooling and sniffing around at Carvers, the artisan butcher shop, and Spice Merchants. It’s so nice to gather ideas and dream around the various stations as you think about meals and hosting brunch and celebrations in your home. At Michigan Awesome, we grabbed granola (and the cutest coffee mug). My husband is a huge popcorn fan, so we swung by Dorothy & Tony’s Gourmet Popcorn and purchased the Jalapeno Cheddar flavor and our coupon booklet provided us one free bag.
A visit to Malamiah Juice Bar is a given. Normally, I go for their smoothies but since it’s January and I’m sporting a dull complexion, I tried their Face Lift juice for a little skincare boost. My drink was 10 percent off with our coupon book so savings were twofold, financially and for my skin.
It was my duty to pry Sean away from the display case at Fish Lads. He was adamant that we purchase smoked salmon jerky. I was skeptical about it but now I’m sneaking bites and hoping he won’t notice the dwindling pile. Guaranteed, we’ll be back for more.
I was thoroughly impressed with Relish Green Grocer. They are a farm-fresh retail spot focused on locally-sourced produce and food products and in true snack-mode fashion, I stocked up on some antioxidant-rich Bee’s Water and a Rose Lemonade beverage (the bottle was darling, so I think it can double as a hip vase for the kitchen).
Our final stop was to swing back into Aperitivo (also in our handy coupon book) for drinks. With our market day afterglow, we sipped on bubbly champagne (with an addition of elderflower rose) and Jolly Pumpkin ale with front row seats to the creation of a bruléed cheese, honey and glazed apricot appetizer.
Because there’s so much to see, smell, taste and fawn over at the market, we’re coming back for dinner at Social Kitchen & Bar (our coupon booklet affords us a free appetizer). Dessert will be at either Sweetie-Licious Bake Shoppe or Love’s Ice Cream. While this getaway started as a day trip, it’s turned into a future dinner date and a legit, new hang out.
The Gourmet Getaway package is available now as well as a host of other themed-getaways including a Japanese Gardens package (a collaboration with Frederik Meijer Gardens) and a Beer City USA experience.