Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina Review & Giveaway

Bigalora, food, pizza, Royal Oak, Metro Detroit, things to do

I received complimentary cocktails and dessert. All opinions are 100% my own. Bigalora

Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina located in trendy Royal Oak. I had walked past a few times before I decided that I need to check out the food at this popular restaurant. I totally parked in the wrong spot, so I had to walk a few blocks. It gave me time to appreciate the happening, busy vibe around the area. So that you know, there is fabulous parking right across from the restaurant. 


My friend was a few minutes late due to the crazy traffic, so it gave me time to check out the menu and the decor. The decor was ultra cool. It was urban which is wood mixed with metals. I fell in love instantly when Fiona Apple was crooning her smokey tunes. In fact, the music the whole evening was fantastic. Music always sets the mood, good job Bigalora!


I asked my waiter to recommend a signature cocktail. The waiter suggested that I try The Luchador. The Luchador is a blend of tequila, Cocchi Americano Rose, Elderflower Liqueur, Honey-Ginger Syrup and lemon. I love anything citrus. This cocktail sounded unique, so I wanted to give it a try. It was intense but delightful. It was unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. The flavors were unique. You would have to try it yourself. I would order it again.


My friend ordered Tuscan Fries which is a small plate or appetizer. The fries seasoned with garlic, rosemary, Grana Padano, and sea salt. They were delicious and seasoned perfectly. The best fries that I’ve had in a long time. 


For the main course, I went with pizza. Bigalora offers a variety of salads, red pizzas, and white pizza. I selected the Salame Finocchiona which is pizza with mozzarella, olives, artichokes and cured pork. I loved how the flavor blended so well together especially the olives and artichokes.

For those who eat gluten-free Bigalora has a wide variety of foods to choose from including dessert!


Now we have arrived at my favorite course, dessert! My friend and I both selected parfaits. She chose the Salted Caramel, and I the Strawberry Shortcake. We had to be able to taste test more than one delectable dessert. I thought the Salted Caramel was okay. I’m not a huge fan of caramel. The Strawberry Shortcake was good; the ladyfinger made that dessert from average to above average. I wouldn’t order either of these two again but would try something different.

Would I recommend Bigalora? Yes, I fell in love. The music, the atmosphere, location, and food were all terrific. You will just have to find out for yourself. Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina located 711 S Main St., Royal Oak, Michigan.

In honor of my fantastic time and my birthday being this week I’m giving away $10 Paypal cash. Enter to win below.

Best Cider Mills Metro Detroit

Cider Mills, cider, donuts, things to do, Metro Detroit, fall

Cider Mills

It’s almost that time of year for Michigander’s. The exciting time when the cider mills open.  I’m already picturing cozy sweaters, vibrant colored trees, crisp temperatures and hot apple cider with spiced donuts. Therefore, I’ve come up with the list of top cider mills in Metro Detroit. 

  1. Franklin Cider Mill opens the Saturday before Labor Day and remains open until the Sunday after Thanksgiving. If you ask around you will find that Franklin Cider Mill is a local favorite. Franklin presses and bottles all of their cider. There are no preservatives in the cider; it’s not filtered or pasteurized. The mill uses an old German family recipe to make their favorite donuts. Franklin Cider Mill located 7450 Franklin Rd, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
  2. Parmenter’s Cider Mill is set to open on 8/27/16. Parmenter’s is my personal favorite cider mill. The donuts and cider are super flavorful. On the location, they also have a winery and brewery. Permenter’s has been a local tradition in the community since 1843. Parmenter located at 714 East Baseline Rd, Northville, Michigan.
  3. Diehl’s Orchard & Cider Mill is now open! Diehl’s is a family owned business for over 60 years! You will find mouthwatering cider, donuts, and apples. This cider mill offers families wholesome fun with a corn maze, kids parties, and hay-ride dinner parties. Diehl located at 1479 Ranch Rd, Holly, Michigan.
  4. Yates Cider Mill is also now open! Yates is the oldest continually running store in Michigan and takes you back in time where things moved a little bit slower and nestled along the waters edge. They sell cider, donuts, pies, jams, and caramel apples just to name a few things. Also, Yates was featured on Food Network! Yates located at 1990 E Avon Rd, Rochester Hills, Michigan.
  5. Three Cedars Farm opens on 9/2.  Three Cedars Farm offers lots of fun for the entire family. You will find u-pick pumpkins, a 7-acre corn maze, a play area, hay rides, train rides and bonfire sites. I won’t forget to mention they have a cider & donut hut. Three Cedars Farm located at 7897 Six Mile Rd, Northville, Michigan.

I bet you can’t wait for cider and donuts! I know this girl is excited to hit the cider mills. What is your favorite cider mill? What is your favorite item at the cider mill?

Nut-Free Pesto & Tomate et Pistou Salade

Nut-Free Pesto, pesto, salad, summer, tomato, garden, gardening, food, foodie


There are a plethora of summer pleasures just waiting in the garden during the summer time.  Sweet corn, tomatoes, heirloom melons and honey are just a few.  It’s also the perfect time to check on that herb garden your children planted on Mother’s Day.
Basil grows rampant if left unchecked and August sees the most blossoms on most varieties of the fragrant herb.  While tossing it in a Caprese salad is great, the real jewel of the herb garden bounty is pesto.  Pesto can be made quickly with only a few ingredients on hand.  It can be stored for weeks, frozen for months and plays well with the other kids of summer like cold pasta, grilled chicken, and yes, salads but I will get to that.
I nearly missed my chance at falling in love with pesto, that is.  Several trips to the emergency room, and we discovered early on that our son was allergic to peanuts.  While out with friends at dinner, he had a reaction after eating pesto.  I soon learned that pine nuts, a staple ingredient of pesto, are often roasted in peanut oil to preserve their freshness.  If the oil comprises less than 2% of the total product (in this case, pesto), the manufacturer does not have to include the peanut in the list of ingredients.
For nut allergy sufferers, that means one thing.  If you are buying store bought pesto, you might be taking your life in your hands.  There is a better, and dare I say, tastier way to enjoy the splendor of pesto and all of the applications and still, well, live and breathe.  Replace the pine nuts with parmesan.
Wait, my story gets better.

Pine nuts contribute several attributes to pesto.  They thicken, and they give the sauce a sharpness that the olive oil and basil are lacking.  Parmesan can easily stand in and fulfill both roles for thickener and sharpness and richness without sending anyone to the emergency room.  Parmesan, even high quality, is often a bit less expensive than pine nuts.  Here is the recipe for nut-free pesto.

Nut-Free Pesto
2 cups raw basil leaves, packed
3/4 cup parmesan cheese
olive oil for drizzling into the food processor or blender
One clove of garlic (optional)
In a blender or food processor, add basil leaves and parmesan cheese.  Add 4 Tbs of olive oil and begin to blend by pulsing.  Add garlic if you like that flavor added to your pesto.  Add olive oil, a Tbs at a time until you reach your desired consistency.  Pesto freezes well up to 6 months.
And now, besides the obvious application to pasta and chicken, why go through the hassle of making pesto at home?  The answer is in the salad.  I recently made this salad for a group of die-hard burger and steak fans, and they have been singing its praises ever since.  Perfect for a dish to pass as it has no mayo to worry about in the summer heat.  It is fresh, gluten-free, local (hopefully from your garden or farmer’s market) and best of all, pretty good for you.
Tomate and Pistou (Pesto) Salad
Four enormous heirloom tomatoes, chopped
Three small courgettes, (zucchini) chopped
One cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
2 heaping Tbs. of pesto (see recipe above)
juice of half a lemon
One shallot peeled and diced
salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients together and chill one hour before serving.  Makes 8-10 servings as a side dish.
 Michele Roger is a Senior Food and Travel Writer for SEARCH magazine (  She writes the food blog, “Oui, Michele” at  When she isn’t writing or cooking, she is a harpist who teaches and performs in the Detroit area.
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