Isn’t that a great way to advertise a product? Actually it was, at the beginning of the last century. It was the slogan for Finck’s Overalls, which curiously are still in existence, but now known by another label. The Finck Overall Company has been intertwined with another company, known as Carhartt, which is very big in working man’s clothing and for a short time; it was the attire for the “hip-hop” trade. In fact the clothing store that I was with for most of my career had originally begun in the working man’s clothing business and they carried Finck. As the business evolved they went from the top of the line work clothes to the top of the line work clothes, but the new clientele appreciated the finest in business attire (when men wore suits). All this is a segue to an article that I remembered seeing in the paper, and then several follow ups on a Social Media site that I follow. The Finck Mansion in a part of Detroit called Indian Village, because of the names of the streets in the area, was and still is, one of the elite addresses in Detroit. The Finck Mansion was in the midst of a sale, and parts of this fine old building was being dismantled, not by scavengers that plague the city for scrap, but for fine architectural pieces of the building, and who the proper owner is in question, and the home is part of the National Registry, so the dismantling is a big no-no. I hope that I haven’t lost you yet in this introduction that seems to be rambling.
I had the good fortune to be taken as a guest to a fine restaurant while I was a college student, and it was because of my avid interest in wine that got me the invitation. I guess I talked and rambled even back then. The restaurant that I was taken to was the Van Dyke Place and it was in the Finck Mansion (there I finally got there). It was a grand experience and the building was beyond my limited knowledge of what a mansion looked like, other then from the cinema. Not only was the experience grand, but so was the cuisine and the menu was in French, thankfully there was a translation as well. My host for the evening explained most of the dishes to me, and wanted me to try something new, to spread my wings, which was a scary thought to me, as I had a limited knowledge of food beyond what we usually had at home. So I tried, instead of what I considered fancy and ordering Escargot, which I had enjoyed already I tried an appetizer of artichokes with spinach done with Pernod and crab meat and Gruyere. I had bisque of shrimp as the next course (and I had had bisque of lobster before, so I was trying to be safe). The salad course concerned me, as I had really only had Italian dressing all of my life, which I still enjoy to this day, but it was a creamy dressing that had spice, so I made it through that course. I had a crispy duck for my entrée and that dish started me on a quest for duck dinners ever since. My host tried to coax me to try two other dishes, one had Foie Gras, which during the explanation of I declined, but have since learned to savor this delicacy; the other was Veal Sweetbreads, now I had eaten at home liver and kidney dishes, but this gland did not make me excited, and I still have not tried it to this day (I know that I am so pedestrian about certain things). For dessert we had fruit and cheese, and this was where I discovered that certain cheeses do not agree with me at all and I allowed my host to finish most of the cheese, though I did enjoy the vintage port that was served with that course.
We started off drinking cocktails and I had a Vermouth Cocktail, while my host drank a couple of Manhattans, so I was a little frou-frou compared to his manly drink of the day, but he understood why I was drinking Vermouth, as his drinks also contained Vermouth. We were discussing Clarets and I told him that I was really enjoying the wines from Saint-Emilion at the time, and he thought that was a fine choice so he selected a Grands Cru from that area. He selected a bottle of Chateau Figeac 1972. Now the varietals of choice for Saint-Emilion are Merlot and Cabernet Franc, but Chateau Figeac is from the North-western corner of the district which has a unique gravelly soil, where Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc excel. The other winery that has this soil is Chateau Cheval Blanc, so it is in great company. What a unique evening that was, and I remember years later as I was driving around in Detroit, a building was being razed and it exposed a wall of the adjoining building which had almost the entire side of the building with a painted sign which was the norm for advertising back then and it was for Finck Overalls for “the man who thinks, invests in Finck’s.”