A couple years ago, I wrote about how the unique, small burg of Auburn attracts folks from afar. Historically, it has been known as the Dekalb County seat, but there is significantly more than that distinction.
Auburn is probably most famous for the Kruse International Auction America every Labor Day weekend. Many of the antique cars sold are extraordinarily rare and some go for millions of dollars.
Another attraction is the National Military Historical Center that displays a huge collection of World War II artifacts, vehicles, armaments, airplanes and other items. Included in this collection is a kiosk of German army artifacts sent by my brother, Lewis, during his tour of duty with Patton’s Third Army. The items arrived just before Lewis was killed in an ambush on April 6, 1945. I don’t remember Lewis but tell his story through his letters in my book, “In Search of a Soldier, The Unknown Brother,” available at many local stores and Amazon.com.
The Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum housed in the original Auburn Automobile Company Administration Building is a National Historic Landmark. Many of the cars built by E.L. Cord in that era are on display.
Lastly, there are a myriad of boutiques, consignment shops, microbreweries, gift shops, restaurants and galleries. A must-stop is Nina Bennett’s Expression’s Gallery. Nina is an old friend and has sold my books for years. Her gallery in the Auburn Atrium Marketplace displays local artisan works and offers art classes and framing. Also, within this mini-mall are two other stores, a new wine-tasting café and a balcony where local artists create their works.
WHITE OAK WINE CAFE
This cleverly designed café opened last August. Created by Brandy and Mathew Kirchner, the former Ann Arbor residents wanted a less hectic environment (and less costly) to showcase their love of wines.
Brandy is a sommelier and has created an extensive and eclectic wine list not seen in these parts before. Varietals from around the world are offered by the glass, bottle or flights. The “Somm Selects” list offers 36 choices by the glass or bottle, while the “Cellar Wine List” presents 30 additional bottles. One of the more unusual choices tasted was a wonderful cab from Israel.
The food menu offers “tastings and charcuterie.” Charcuteries are served on slate slabs or boards and make gorgeous presentations. From the tasting section, there’s “Simple Goodness,” which is simply a croissant toasted with sharp white cheddar served with Brandy’s classic tomato soup and a harvest salad.
For “Grilled Sandwiches,” there are six gooey selections with the turkey, apple, cheddar sandwich served on cinnamon bread, but all the others are served on Texas toast. There are three grilled cheese variations, including a pepperoni and cheese and a Brie and pear.
On this day, however, we had to go with the meat charcuterie slate. The slab included sausages, smoked meats, cheeses, olives, cucumber, crackers, pickles and mini tea-like, grilled cheese sandwiches. Those little sandwiches were a real treat, especially when dipped into the side of bacon jam.
To wash down all this glorious goodness, I chose a wine flight of Sovereign blanc, Chenin blanc and Pinot noir. Gayle, my wife, went with a glass of Sovereign blanc and a very rustic Gerard Betrand, Cotes du Roussillon. It’s a delightfully rustic and deep red, quite complex with hints of blackberry.
The café also serves an apple nachos dessert, which we’ll have to try on the next visit. It’s apple slices layered between all kinds of goodies and topped with toffee bits. Thankfully, you can get a half-order.
Auburn is only 45-minutes from Lake Country and, with so many interesting places to visit, it could take more than a day. Now, with this exciting new café drawing great raves, Auburn remains another luscious location.