Category Archives: Food

Good tunes, great food at ‘Music at the Market’, July 19

By Downtown Market GR

Stop by during Music at the Market to enjoy a little after-hours live music!

What’s better than good tunes, great food, and delicious drinks? Aperitivo, Love’s Ice Cream, Rocket Pies, Slows Bar-B-Q, and Social Kitchen & Bar are open late!

On July 19 from 7-9 pm, enjoy live strolling music while soaking in the sun on Downtown Market’s patios.


‘Grandwich 2017’ is here — help pick the best Grandwich in the City!

By C. Davis


Get out there and eat — and vote for your favorite Grandwich!


The Grandwich competition is a battle between area restaurants, delis, cafes, bakeries, etc. to create a sandwich that earns the title sandwich of the year for Grand Rapids, or “Grandwich”. Each participating business creates their version of what the Grandwich should be. It doesn’t have to be a savory, lunch time food. It can be a breakfast sandwich, a dessert sandwich. You get the idea.


Here’s how it works: Participating businesses put their sandwiches on their menus and the public goes to each establishment and vote on their favorite sandwiches. The top 10 sandwiches will go on to a judging event where a panel of judges will determine the winning sandwich.


This year’s Grandwich public vote runs from July 5th thru July 21st. The top ten finalists will be announced on the Grandwich website and social media outlets on July 24th. The competition will conclude with the third annual judges tour of the top ten restaurants on July 27th.

2017 Official Grandwich Particpants:

  • 7 Monks Taproom
  • Anna’s House
  • Blue Dog Tavern
  • Brick and porter
  • Cheshire Kitchen
  • Crepes by the Lakes
  • Dad’s Classic Grill
  • Elk Brewing LLC
  • Fishlads of Grand Rapids
  • Flat Landers
  • Furniture City Creamery
  • GP Sports @ Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
  • Grand Rapids Brewing Company
  • Grand Woods Lounge
  • Hopcat Grand Rapids
  • Long Road Distillers
  • Matchbox Diner and Drinks
  • Mazo
  • Peppinos Pizzeria and Sports Grille
  • Rockwell Republic
  • San Chez Bistro
  • Slows BBQ
  • Social Kitchen & Bar
  • Stella’s Lounge
  • Sub Shack
  • Tavern on The Square
  • Terra GR
  • The B.O.B.
  • The Bull’s Head Tavern
  • The Holiday Bar
  • The Knickerbocker New Holland Brewing Co
  • Two Scotts Barbecue
  • Wheelhouse

How it all started

In 2011, Nicole Infante first presented the idea for Grandwich at a 5×5 Night competition. Since then, this sandwich competition has grown with support from local organizations who wanted to help make Infante’s concept a reality. Over 50 different businesses have competed in the competition’s six years of existence, many returning year after year to take their shot at the “Grandwich Winner” title.




Emergency Food Assistance: Providing high-quality, nutritious foods to families in need

Your Community in Action!

By ACSET Community Action Agency

The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) is a federal program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). TEFAP supplements the diets of low-income Americans by distributing nutritious food at no cost to the recipients. In Kent County, ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) organizes regular distributions across the county.

The USDA purchases a variety of fresh and shelf-stable foods from domestic producers and distributes to states based on their low-income/unemployed population. The items vary depending on the season, availability and state preferences but always include a mix of fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and protein products. Food items have reduced levels of fat, sodium and sugar and can include canned and fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, pasta and cereal.


The cost of healthy foods and the accessibility of grocery stores make good food choices a challenge for families with limited incomes. For example, you can purchase a package of hot dogs for under $3, while fresh pork or beef costs several dollars per pound. TEFAP ensures that more families have well-rounded, nutritious meals to eat. And because the food is purchased domestically, it also supports American agriculture markets.


Residents of Kent County who have a household income at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines can qualify for emergency food assistance. To receive food, individuals need to supply a photo ID with current address at the distribution site. The next TEFAP distributions will happen on Thursday, July 13 at the following locations:


ACSET CAA – Kent County Human Services Complex
121 Franklin St SE, Suite 110, Grand Rapids
Distribution hours: 1-7pm*

Flat River Outreach Ministries
11535 E Fulton St, Lowell
Distribution hours: 9-11am & 2-4:30pm*

North Kent Connection
1075 Northland Dr NE, Rockford
Distribution Hours: 9am-3pm*

*Or while supplies last

To learn more about TEFAP and find a full distribution schedule with locations, visit:

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

Make your food dollars go further at the farmers’ market

Your Community in Action!

By Community Action Partnership of Kent County


The summer months in Michigan offer plenty of locally grown, fresh and healthy food choices. But what if you rely on food assistance dollars for your grocery budget? Can you use them at the farmers market or a roadside stand? The answer is yes! There are programs specially designed to help everyone access local produce.

Double Up Food Bucks
This program will match the money you spend on SNAP-eligible foods at the farmers market using your Bridge card. You can receive up to $20 in Double Up Food Bucks per market day. Just take your SNAP Bridge card to the market’s office or info booth before you shop. Learn more here.

WIC (Women Infant and Children) clients qualify for this program. Clients can receive five coupons worth $5 each to spend on fresh, local produce. Coupons can be used any time between June 1 and October 31. Vendors and/or farmers markets must have a contract to accept the coupons and will have a sign posted reading “Project FRESH Coupons Accepted Here.” Learn more about Project FRESH here.

Senior Market FRESH
Similar to the WIC program, Market FRESH provides eligible seniors with ten coupons worth $2 each to use with vendors/farmers markets contracted to accept them. Coupons are accepted June 1 through October 31, and participating vendors/farmers will have a sign posted reading “Senior Project FRESH/Market FRESH Welcome Here.” Learn more about the program and eligibility here.

The following farmers markets in Kent County participate in the Double Up Food Bucks, Project FRESH and Market FRESH programs.

  • Byron Center: Byron Farmers Market
  • Grand Rapids: Fulton Street Farmers Market, Southeast Area Farmers’ Market
  • Kentwood: Kentwood Farmers Market
  • Wyoming: Metro Health Farm Market

You can search all farmers markets and filter by what food assistance benefits are accepted at:

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

School’s Out: No more pencils, no more books, no more… food?


By ACSET Community Action Agency

In Kent County, more than 47% of K-12 students were eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch in 2015. Nearly 50,000 children in our community rely on school meals to get the nutrition they need. What happens in the summer when school isn’t in session? How do families on very limited budgets provide those meals?

To address this issue, many groups in our community host summer meal programs. These programs provide free meals to children under the age of 18 on weekdays throughout summer break. This helps families stretch their food dollars and ensures kids are getting healthy, nutritious meals when they’re not in school. Many locations offer both breakfast and lunch.

Multiple hosts will be providing free student meals across Kent County this summer. Click the links below to find a location near you.

If your family is struggling to put food on the table, ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) can also help. The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) provides low-income families with nutritious, pantry staples once per quarter. Many distributions are happening this week!

Find TEFAP distribution locations and dates on their website at:

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

More than taste: the definition of ‘Good Food’

By Ellie Walburg, Access of West Michigan

What makes food “good”?

It may be taste. If you have a sweet tooth, maybe you’d consider a decadent layered chocolate cake with fluffy whipped frosting “good”. Or for the savory side, a bowl of soup that has a harmony of seasonings and flavors singing out. That sounds good.

Or based on presentation. They say we eat with our eyes, so the appearance of a plate could mean everything. Freshness is also key–does it look like it just came from the garden or was it forgotten on a counter at the back of the kitchen somewhere.

At Access of West Michigan, we appreciate a more specific definition than something that just tastes yummy and looks appetizing. And for good reason. In our effort to promote sustainable, wholistic solutions to poverty, the food we work toward is more than just a plate of chocolate chip cookies.

According to the Michigan Good Food Charter in 2010, which presents a vision for improving Michigan’s food system, “good” food has four requirements.


First and foremost, food that is good is food that is healthy. Which means those packages of frosted mini donuts probably won’t cut it. The charter states that healthy means the food “provides nourishment and enables people to thrive.” Healthy foods like ripe red strawberries, bushy stalks of deep green kale and whole grain oats provide essential nutrients to give energy and sustainability.


No, in this case green does not refer to money. Rather, the charter defines green as food that “was produced in a manner that is environmentally sustainable.” Biting into a crunchy Granny Smith means that the grower didn’t need to use harmful pesticides that hurt the earth, animals and humans. No obnoxious or harmful fumes were emitted into the air while washing potatoes. Good food is not only based on the food itself but protecting and preserving the environment in which it’s grown.


This has become a buzzword in today’s culture, referring to justice in the production of food from start to finish. Yet it’s a concept of the food system that is of high importance. The charter describes “fair” as “no one along the production line was exploited during its creation.” This element of criteria for good food ensures that those involved won’t get abused or taken advantage of in supporting both those who eat and those who grow or produce it.


Having food that is healthy, green and fair is so important. But what if people can’t even purchase or obtain it? Affordability means that no matter their income level, social status, age or gender, everyone should be able to have access to such food.

So why is this definition of “good food” important?

For our co-executive director Emma Garcia, it provides a path toward improving how food pantries serve their community.

Charitable food organizations, or those that distribute emergency food such as a pantry, don’t often find it easy to follow these guidelines. Garcia said that when the charitable food system began, it was a fairly straightforward concept.

“For the surplus of food, rather than it ending up in a landfill, give it to people who need it,” Garcia said.

Yet a lot of the food that is produced in surplus and is often donated is unfortunately foods that don’t meet these four criteria for “good” food.

Through our Farm to Pantry program, we are working to make good food a reality for all by investing in our local food economy and partnering pantries with small West Michigan farms to better our community and practice good food values.


Local international market Russo’s to return ‘home’ downtown, open 2nd location

Kentwood area’s Russo’s market — shown in 1949 at it original downtown Division Street block, plans to open a second market. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


Russo’s International Market, located on 29th Street in Grand Rapids but right on the City of Kentwood border, has announced plans to open a second location in downtown Grand Rapids — a return home, of sorts, according to the company’s president.


“Since opening in 1905, my grandfather made it his mission to serve the Grand Rapids community. Our first location was on Division in what was known as ‘Little Italy’,” Phil Russo, president of Russo’s International Market, said in supplied material. “When we needed more room, we opened up on 29th Street. … We always knew we would return to our roots and this second location will allow us to serve the downtown community as we once did 112 years ago.”


Russo’s International Market, located on 29th Street on the City of Kentwood border, has not plans to close its current location. (Supplied)

The new location is planned for the former Bagger Dave’s location at 241 W. Fulton St. The new location is in the city planning and approval stage at this time. According to a company spokesperson, “there are no plans to close the 29th Street location” with the opening of the downtown location.


The market is also plans to expand its offerings with the new location by adding a restaurant, coffee bar and a gelato bar in addition to the market, deli and beverage products currently available at the 29th Street store.


Russo’s is a family-owned business — for many years it was named “G.B. Russo & Son” — and the family plans to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony and community celebration once approval and construction is finished. Russo’s International Market is currently run by the 3rd and 4th generation of the Russo family.


A big reason for the decision to expand back into downtown, according to a release from the company, is the expansion of residential offerings in the area and other economic factors.


According to the Russo’s release, “with the growing number of downtown residents, the need for retail options within the downtown area is evident.”


According to Downtown Grand Rapids, 183 residential units were added to the downtown Grand Rapids area in 2015, with an additional 1,437 proposed units to be developed shortly after. With the addition of the proposed units, downtown Grand Rapids would house 5,201 residential units. Downtown Grand Rapids’ goal is to reach 10,000 residential units within the downtown area by 2025.


“The Grand Rapids community has been so devoted to our family-business throughout the years, and our goal is to continue to serve the community to the best of our ability, Russo said. “We realized the lack of offerings for downtown residents, and this gave us the opportunity to return to downtown Grand Rapids and serve the growing residential population,” said Russo.


The Fulton Street location is in addition to the store’s existing 18,000 sq. ft. location on 29th Street, which was purchased in 1976, and expanded in 2008. The expansion comes nearly two months after a rebrand to commemorate the company’s historic 112 years in Grand Rapids. For more information visit .


Harvest Health Foods celebrates 65 years of healthy business


By Silvia Atsma, Harvest Health Foods


Local West Michigan business, Harvest Health Foods, is celebrating a milestone anniversary of 65 years of business. The anniversary celebration begins in May with special sampling events on Fridays and Saturdays, health seminars and special savings for customers throughout the month.


Henry Diedering, now 90, opened the first Harvest Health Foods in 1952 on Wealthy Street, shortly after he came to the United States from the Netherlands. It was the first grocery store dedicated to natural groceries, herbs and vitamins in West Michigan. For 65 years, it has been Harvest Health Foods’ passion to provide West Michigan with healthy groceries, healthy vitamins, and healthy answers, way before Jazzercise or kale became a rock-star vegetable.



Still family owned and operated, Harvest Health Foods has grown to three locations and employs 70 people. Henry’s granddaughter Emily and her husband Mitchell represent the third generation to be involved in the business. While specializing in natural and organic foods and supplements, Harvest Health Foods has recently expanded their wide range of local Michigan products with craft beers, organic wines and many varieties of kombucha.


Harvest Health Foods will celebrate with sampling events on Fridays and Saturdays the first three weekends in May. In addition, there will special anniversary savings throughout the store, free health seminars, give-a-ways, and prizes all month long.

Eat Local: Why choosing in-season, locally grown produce is good for you and the community

Your Community in Action!

By ACSET Community Action Agency


Summer is right around the corner. That means plenty of locally-grown produce options will be available. But why is choosing local produce good for you?

  • It’s fresh. Most wholesale produce is picked up to a week before it reaches a supermarket and travels an average of 1500 miles! Veggies and fruits grown by local farmers don’t spend days in transport. This means they can be harvested at peak maturity when they are the most nutritious and tasty.
  • It supports local farmers. The money you spend on local products stays in the community and boosts the local economy. It’s a win-win for you and the farmers.
  • It can cost less. When you purchase produce that is grown locally and in-season, you aren’t paying for the transportation costs of getting food from across the country.

What about families who have a limited grocery budget? Many local farmers markets participate in food assistance programs. Programs like Double Up Food Bucks, Senior Project FRESH and WIC Project FRESH can make buying local an affordable option for those that qualify.

For a list of local farmers markets and their food assistance program participation, visit and select Kent County.

ACSET Community Action Agency (CAA) also provides food assistance for qualifying families. When in-season, locally grown produce is combined with the pantry staples offered by CAA, low-income families in Kent County can put healthy meals on the table.

Visit CAA’s website to learn more about their nutrition programs and see if you qualify:

Your Community in Action! is provided by ASCET Community Action Agency. To learn more about how they help meet emergency needs and assist with areas of self-sufficiency, visit

Historic family-owned Italian grocer celebrates 112 years in West Michigan

By Jeremy Witt


Family-owned Italian grocer, G.B. Russo & Son, has announced a rebrand to commemorate the company’s history dating back to 1905.


For 112 years the Russo family has been committed to the Grand Rapids community by offering one of the largest selection of wine and gourmet food; craft beer and liquor, kitchenware, homemade Italian entrees and more. G.B. Russo & Son will now be known as Russo’s International Market. Russo’s will host a variety of giveaways, in-store events, and promotions spanning over a three-month period. A community celebration will be held in May.


“My grandfather left Montelepre, Sicily at the age of 17 and by 20 years of age had opened his first store in East Grand Rapids,” said Phil Russo, President of Russo’s International Market.


“He made it his mission to serve the community and fed many through the Great Depression regardless of background or race. He was an entrepreneur and risk-taker and in spite of natural disasters, the Great Depression and race riots, the store continued to prosper and expand to make us what we are today.”


In 2008, the business doubled the size of the store to 18,000 square feet and expanded parking at the 29th Street location. Today, the store has a 45-foot deli case with over 300 meats and cheeses from around the world, olives, fresh baked breads, oils, private label pastas and sauces, homemade Villa Russo frozen entrees, a vast selection of craft beers and liquor, thousands of wines, kitchenware and more.


Russo’s International Market is currently run by the 3rd and 4th generation of the family and in the past few years the business has expanded to include:

  • Catering for events, business meetings and more
  • Wine delivery
  • Custom corporate gifts
  • In-store educational beverage tasting events and more
  • A large selection of Michigan and Grand Rapids products
  • Additional private-labeled items
  • Expanded homemade products such as sandwiches, dips, sauces, breads and more

“In honor of our anniversary we will share history on Grand Rapids in the 1900s while celebrating the present and future endeavors,” said Kelley Russo of Russo’s International Market.


“It is our goal to constantly reinvent ourselves as my great-grandfather would’ve encouraged us to do.”


Historic Items of Note:

  • In 1908, Giovanni Russo moved the store to Division near Franklin. This area was once known as Little Italy. At that location, he owned apartments, Roma Dance Hall, Grand Rapid’s first pizzeria, a pasta-making factory, and warehouse.
  • In 1914, a near kidnapping of his 18-month-old daughter by the Black Hands Gang was thwarted by the Russo nanny. The gang went on to threaten and harass the family until the Grand Rapids City Police were able to build a case, with Giovanni’s help. The Grand Rapids Press wrote an article dated Nov. 5, 2914, that stated: “It was through Russo’s activities and his disregard for the Black Hand warning that enabled police to capture the gang.”
  • Russo established Roma Hall above the store on Division during the Great Depression and prohibition era. Throughout the Hall’s history, Giovanni rented it to anyone, regardless of ethnicity or status, for dances, weddings, dinners and jam sessions featuring the likes of Ray Charles and Jimmy Reed.
  • Known musicians such as Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Mary Wells performed for Roma Hall audiences in the 1950s and 60s.
  • Due to Giovanni’s acceptance of all races and economic backgrounds, his was the only business on the block not burned down during the race riots of the 1960s.

Visit Russo’s Facebook page for more information.


Kentwood 50: Railtown’s golden ale a natural fit for celebration

Railtown Brewing’s Gim Lee, at the brewery’s tap room, will be serving up some spacial Kentwood 50 golden ale this year. (K.D. Norris/WKTV)

By K.D. Norris


Following the City of Kentwood’s special City Commission meeting Monday, held as the kickoff event of the year-long Kentwood 50 celebration of the city’s 50th anniversary, the reception was held at Railtown Brewing Company and the beer of choice was — naturally — a golden ale brewed with a touch of mango.


Two reasons for the beer being the natural choice of the celebration: a 50-year anniversary is considered a “golden” anniversary, and the brew was the pick of some staff at the city’s Park and Recreation Department, which has, shall we say, a relationship with the 2-year-old Railtown.


The addition of the mango flavor? Well, the parks people also liked it so that was good enough for the brewery.


“A lot of the Kentwood Parks and Recreation Department are actually mug clubbers here, they have a mug on the wall over there, they are just regulars,” said Gim Lee, who along with his partner Justin Buiter opened the brewery in late 2014. “They are friends and they asked if we would like to do something special (for the anniversary celebration) and we said ‘absolutely.’


“A group of them came, we sat down and collaborated on what they were celebrating and what kind of beer would work with that. They threw a whole bunch of different styles on the table, what they might want to try. They, as a team, actually landed on the golden ale — this is their golden 50th — and the mango being a golden fruit, that would be a perfect pairing. They wanted something unique and mango is a flavor not used too frequently.”


Railtown is located at 3555 68th St., in Dutton but just across the border with Kentwood. Since it opened it has grown to be a 3,500-square-foot space at the east end of the Village Mall plaza. The brewery’s tap room has 10 taps and usually 10 different brews available, and it has started to distribute kegs to other restaurants.


While the special Kentwood 50 brew was tapped at Monday’s invite-only opening ceremony reception, Lee said it would be available to the public — just maybe not until they brew up some more.


“We will have it on and off throughout the year, so people should be able to come in here and get it through the rest of the week — assuming we do not blow it out that first night,” he said. “We’ll see.”


If you fill the special Kentwood 50 growler at Railtown Brewing a donation will be made to the city’s Park and recreation department. (Supplied)

Also debuting on the night of the reception were growlers with a special logo, which are part of the brewery’s continuing support of the Kentwood 50 event. The brewery will be donating a portion of its growler sales as the celebration continues.


“We are raising some money for the parks and recreation department by doing this,” Lee said. “When you buy a growler, we will be donating a couple bucks back to parks and recreation every time you fill that growler, regardless of what beer it is. It doesn’t have to be the golden ale. This will be an on-going promotion.”


As far as the process of developing the new brew, Lee admitted it was pretty much like Railtown decides on any beer it brews — they like to drink it, so they know other people will like to like to drink it. Although, he said, this time they had to satisfy more tastebuds than just the staff’s.


“We have brewed golden ales, we have done a lot of that. That part is easy,” he said. “We took a different golden ale, we racked it off to what is called a firkin, a 10-gallon cask, it is an old-fashioned way of serving beer. In the firkin you can dose whatever you want in it, that is part of the fun of using a firkin — you can add a little fruit, extra hops, a little coffee, whatever you want. It is a really good way to experiment with different flavors. … based on that, that flavor profile, we can scale it up to a bigger scale” for brewing.


“The (Kentwood 50) beer has been done for quite a while, and that was intentional,” he said. “I wanted to make sure if they did not like it at all, I would have time to brew something else if I had to. Its been done for a month. They came in and tried it, and I tried it, and my brewers tried it. We all thought it was pretty nice.”

For more information on Railtown Brewing Company, call the taproom at 616-881-2364 or visit (leads to a Facebook page).


Beer Explorers program teams breweries for barrel-aged comparison

Last year’s Beer Explorers program at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


The Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Beer Explorers program will team with Founders Brewing Company and Brewery Vivant for a “learn while you taste” class where participants will sample barrel-aged beers on Thursday, Feb. 16.


The program includes discussion the topics of what makes barrel-aged beers unique, including sampling barrel-aged beers along with a non barrel-aged beer to taste the differences, according to supplied material. Representatives from Founders Brewing Company and Brewery Vivant will lead this tasting and answer any questions participants have on beers. Brewery Vivant will give participants an even more unique experience by offering a sour barrel-aged beer to taste.


The class begins at 6 p.m. Admission to each class includes general admission to the museum as well as three beer samples. A cash bar will also be available. Tickets are $8 for museum members and $18 for non-members. Participants must be 21 and older.


Tickets and information available by visiting


February culinary classes at Downtown Market Grand Rapids

It’s February! (And you know what that means.) Downtown Market celebrates Valentine’s Day with a bevy of culinary classes.



Fri, February 10, 6p-8:30p • $65/person


Looking for a fun way to kick off Valentine’s Day weekend? Arrive early to this class and enjoy your first drink at the Downtown Market Ice Lounge. Then make your way to the Teaching Kitchen to meet new people, cook in groups and socialize—all while making seasonal crostini small bites, pomegranate lamb chops, herb cous cous and heart-shaped whoopie pies.



Sun, February 12, 6p-8:30p • $65/person


A Valentine-themed sushi class! Learn how to make three sushi favorites: a sweetheart roll, salmon roll, and spicy tuna roll—each will have you falling in love instantly!



Tue, February 14, 6p-8:30p • $150/couple


If you love drinking wine, then you’ll love cooking with it! This class will explore the new dimensions you can add to your culinary repertoire by incorporating the legendary beverage into your meals. The menu will include classic creamy cheese fondue, white wine tomato mussels, coq au vin with herb rice, and double-chocolate profiteroles.



Thu, February 16, 6p-8:30p • $65/person


Cook away your winter blues! In this class you’ll make it happen as you create a velvety butternut squash soup, deliciously perfect braised short rib ragu on whipped cheese polenta, and a most comforting warm sticky toffee pudding with whipped cream.



Sun, February 19, 5p-7:30p • $60/person


In this Mediterranean cuisine class you’ll take  a journey with a few of Chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s famous vegetarian dishes such as sundal, mee goreng, seaweed ginger carrot salad, tahini and halva brownies.



Thu, February 23, 6p-8:30p • $65/person


Take a trip to Thailand with hands-on Thai roll instruction and other tasty traditional dishes. You’ll craft Thai spring rolls, a vegetable gang gai (vegetables in red curry), tom qha gai (coconut curry soup) and an unbelievable lemongrass custard.



Tue, February 28, 6p-8:30p • $50/person


Celebrate Fat Tuesday like you’re in the Crescent City with the Downtown Market Teaching Kitchen. We’ll be demonstrating traditional jambalaya and king cake while sipping on hurricanes and sazeracs. Good food and good cocktails, just like NOLA.




435 Ionia Ave. SW

Grand Rapids, MI, MI 49503




Chick-fil-A set to open Wyoming store on 54th St. SW

The family-friendly overnight First 100 party at the Gaines Township opening on Jan. 9 had 66 people get in line at the 24-hour mark. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


Chick-fil-A this week will open its second Western Michigan restaurant in the New Year, with a new Wyoming location set to open Thursday, Feb. 9, at 700 54th St. S.W., in front of the Meijer supermarket at 54th and Clyde Park Drive SW. The fast-food chain opened a restaurant in Gaines Township in January.


As with its Gaines Township opening, the Wyoming restaurant will feature a community “First 100” camp out, where people camp out and wait in line to earn one of the 100 prizes of a year of free Chick-fil-A food, as well as an opportunity to donate books to the Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids.


The family-friendly overnight First 100 party at the Gaines Township opening had 66 people get in line at the 24-hour mark despite the early evening freezing rain and snow flurries that continued through the next morning, according to supplied material.


This community event is open to guests residing in specific zip codes surrounding the restaurant. A complete listing of eligible zip codes and rules can be found at
The donated books will be placed in a nearly 3-foot Book House, built from reclaimed wood, to serve as a free library exchange and will be given to the Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids. Since 2014, Chick-fil-A has collected more than 33,500 children’s books which have been donated to 213 local organizations in 42 states and Washington, D.C., according to supplied material.


The Wyoming restaurant is the second of three scheduled to open in Western Michigan within six weeks of each other. The first opened Jan. 12, in Gaines Township off the M-6 and Kalamazoo Exit. The third location is opening Feb. 23, in Portage/Kalamazoo at 6202 S. Westnedge Ave.


Wyoming’s Kitzingen Brewery to host KD aLe tour

Wyoming’s Kitzingen Brewery will host a visit from the Kent District Library’s KD aLe program this week. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


The Kent District Library’s continuing KD aLe program will visit Wyoming’s Kitzingen Brewery on Wednesday, Jan. 11, for a brewery tour — and a little taste of Kitzingen’s speciality: German beers and German food.


The event beings at 7 p.m. The brewery is located at 1760 44th St SW.; Suite 8A; in the Chateau Centre strip mall. Attendees receive a discount on beer when you show your library card.


The beers produced by Kitzingen brewmaster Rommie Bailey include between 9 and 15 brews on tap, including an IPA, a stout and a seasonal authentic Hefeweizen, according to its website: “We’re inspired by the proud German brewing tradition but we will give it a healthy twist of the innovative American craft brewing spirit,” Bailey said.


For more information on Kitzingen Brewery call 616-805-5077 of visit . For more information on the library’s KD aLe program visit


Beer City’s airport to host new Founders flavored brewhouse

An architectural rendering of Prospect Hill Brewhouse, opening at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in summer 2017. (Supplied)

WKTV staff


Travelers out of Gerald R. Ford International Airport will be able to get a final taste of Beer City, U.S.A., in 2017 as Prospect Hill Brewhouse, a new eatery featuring Founders brews, will be opening as part of an expansion and upgrade of airport amenities.


The brewhouse will be located in the post-security area of the airport. The addition is part of a series of additions including two new Starbucks — one pre-security and one post-security, a restaurant called The Local @ GRR on Concourse and an as-yet unnamed casual dining restaurant on Concourse B, according to supplied material. A Burger Federation restaurant along with a Firehouse Subs is also planned.


“We are excited to have a local flair in our restaurant scene, and what better way to own up to our title of Beer City, U.S.A. than adding the Prospect Hill Brewhouse right here in the airport?” Phil Johnson, airport acting president & CEO, said in supplied material.


Prospect Hill Brewhouse is set to open in summer 2017, with the other additions occurring soon after.  There will also be retail offering changes including a Touch of Grand Rapids store featuring West Michigan themed products and in partnership with the Grand Rapids Art Museum.


Wyoming set to have a brew, or two, with TwoGuys Brewery

Owner and brewmaster Tom Payne is in the process of renovating two buildings in the Wyoming Park area for TwoGuys Brewing (WKTV)

By K.D. Norris


After nearly 10 years of working a small business plan, and recent action by the City of Wyoming, TwoGuys Brewing has taken over an old firehouse and a rundown one-time 7-Eleven convenience store in the Wyoming Park neighborhood and — with any luck to match hard work — should be serving up craft beer for guys and gals who like microbrews in 2017.


Tom Payne of TwoGuys Brewery. (WKTV)

“Now its about six months of demolition and renovation, were we turn this ugly old 7-Eleven into a beautiful tap room,” Tom Payne, managing partner and brewmaster of TwoGuys Brewing, said Nov. 10 at a friends-and-neighbors open house at what will be the new brewpub. “We are hopeful for September 1” to open.


“This business came about about 10 years ago,” he said. “I realized I was not just another home brewer, at least I did not think so. I had entered beer in outside competition, outside of just (treating) my normal friends, and it was taken very well. I said ‘You know what? I think we’ve got something here.’ And then my wife and I, after hours and hours of talking, we said ‘This is something we are going to do.’ At that time we put together a 10-year plan, and we are at the end of that 10 years. It is time for TwoGuys Brewing to open.”


An old 7-Eleven story will become TwoGuys Brewery’s taproom. (WKTV)

Opening the brewery and brewpub involved the leasing of two buildings located across from each other on Porter Street SW, the old 7-Eleven at 2356 Porter Street SW and an unused fire station at 2385.


An old city fire station will become TwoGuys Brewery’s brew house. (WKTV)

The leasing of the fire station to Tamaz LLC (an LLC doing business as TwoGuys Brewery) by the city was part of three actions taken by the Wyoming City Council in late November. The actions included granting the business a liquor license, a waiver of city zoning code to allow for the sale of alcohol within a certain distance from a church or residential area, and the lease of the old fire station, which had been used by the city for a meter shop and a temporary laboratory but was currently vacant.


City support of business


“The City of Wyoming has been absolutely instrumental in this,” Payne said. “We approached the city three or four months ago, we completely laid out our business plan and what we wanted to bring to Wyoming Park. They put together a timeline … a ‘we need you to do this and we need you to do this’, and we have done everything the city has asked for. … They have been fantastic.”


Wyoming City Manager Curtis Holt made clear the reason for the city’s actions:


“Our region is increasingly embracing craft beer,” Holt said. “You can look around our community and see the many brewpubs that have sprung up over the last five years. We are pleased that TwoGuys Brewing has identified Wyoming as its location and feel that it will be a welcomed by the neighbors — and by Wyoming residents in general.”


Several of those neighbors visited the open house on Dec. 10 as well, and Payne said he expects to be an attribute to the neighborhood.


“The biggest reason (for placing their business in Wyoming) is that this is where we live, my wife and I,” he said. “I grew up in Wyoming Park. I graduated from Wyoming Park. I have lived, aside from my time in the Marine Corps, in this area and it has always been my home. When we decided to open up our brewery, it was going to be where we live and provide our neighbors with something they could certainly be proud of.”


About that name …


And the name of of TwoGuys? Where did it come from?


“10 years ago, there was me and one of my best friends, Charlie, I had gotten him started brewing,” he said. “So, long story (made short), we entered another competition and took best of show on an IPA (India Pale Ale), which at the time had no name. We brewed this beer at Founders. We brewed 10 barrels having won the best of show. … About half an hour before tapping, Founders said ‘You guys need to name this thing something.’ I told them ‘Its just the two of us, we are just two guys, so how about TwoGuys IPA?’”


Now, though, the name takes on another context, Payne said.


“Our TwoGuys, today, is, well … everybody’s two guys. You’re the other guy. My grandson is the other guy. Everybody is the other guy. I am just one guy. It is all about community, which is what brought us to Wyoming Park. … I will consider every guest that comes into these doors, starting next year, as the family, as the other guy.”


Plans at this point the business will focus on an array of craft-brewed beers — maybe wines, meads and sodas — as well as what the business calls a “pub-centric” menu of food. Payne’s brewer pedigree includes his having been involved with Osgood Brewing in Grandville as well as head brewer at 57 Brewpub and Bistro in Greenville.


“We are going to focus on traditional styles, beers that you don’t necessarily find everywhere else,” he said. “A lot of English style ales that no one brews around here …  I am not knocking any other brewery in town, there are some fantastic ones, but it is going to be all about the other guy, what they like.”


Tentatively, seating at the brewpub will be for about 80 with a possible outdoor patio planned. The property has about 18 parking spaces in front, with about 50 possible behind the building and another 25 or so across the street at the old firehouse.


Start off your New Year right — take a few healthy (and fun) cooking classes!

Experience the magic of the season, Downtown Market-style and check out the January 2017 class schedule below for your next fun food experience.


weekly_meal_prep_550_275_90WEEKLY MEAL PREP

Wed, January 4, 6-8:30 pm • $60


You’ll prepare enough meals to get through the entire week. Learn how to make root vegetable chorizo enchiladas, rustic pasta bake, autumn squash soup, pork vegetable stir-fry and a hearty beef stew. At the end of class you’ll head home with containers filled to the brim with scrumptious delights.






Thu, January 5, 6-8:30 pm • $60


If you’re an athlete or trying to live a healthy lifestyle but are having a hard time being creative with food, this class is for you. You’ll make a multigrain Moroccan chicken stew, whole grain pasta salad with winter vegetables and a filling shake with banana, chocolate and peanut butter.





Sun, January 8, 10 am-12 pm, • $45


Join Malamiah Juice Bar as they introduce you to the practice of juicing in order to get the maximum nutrients from your fruits and vegetables. You’ll learn about the health benefits of juicing all while creating delicious juice combinations with targeted health benefits. Plus, you’ll learn how to include boosters and enjoy ample samples.


knife_vegetable_550_275_90KNIFE SKILLS: VEGETABLE BUTCHERY

Tue, January 10, 10 am-12:30 pm • $60

Tue, January 10, 6-8:30 pm • $60


Vegetables aren’t just a side dish, in this class they are a rock star! You’ll learn proper techniques on how to select, prep, slice and dice, and then masterfully cook a variety of vegetables—from beets (smashed and seared with chimichurri and goat cheese crema) to zucchini (zucchini olive oil cake with lemon drizzle).







GR Public Museum returns Beer Explorers, with pour by Founders

Last year's Beer Explorers program at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Supplied)
Last year’s Beer Explorers program at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


Grand Rapids area beer lovers this fall will again get a chance to belly up the bar and learn more about their favorite libation as the Grand Rapids Public Museum returns its Beer Explorers program starting Thursday, Dec, 15.


A sampling of beers at the Grand Rapids Public Museum's Beer Explorers program -- yes there is glasses of what you like available for purchase. (Supplied)
A sampling of beers at the Grand Rapids Public Museum’s Beer Explorers program — yes there is glasses of what you like available for purchase. (Supplied)

The series — which explores the roots of brewing beer with hands-on experiences related to the brewing and tasting of beer — will include programs on Jan. 12 and Feb. 16.


Classes begin at 6 p.m. and will be held on the 1st floor of the museum. Admission to each class includes general admission to the museum as well as three beer samples. A cash bar will also be available.


The December program is titled “History of Beer” and will feature museum curator Alex Forist talking about the history of beer but focused on the brewing history of Grand Rapids, as well as Michael Steil, from Founders Brewing Company, discussing the science of brewing.


The January program, “Beer Pairings”, will feature Founders experts discussion why certain beers and desserts work together. The February program, “Barrel Aging”, will focus on the process of barrel aging and how different factors affect the taste and quality of the beer.


Tickets to Beer Explorers is $8 for museum members and $18 for non-members. Participants must be 21 and older.


The Grand Rapids Public Museum is located at 272 Pearl Street, NW. For tickets and more information visit


Did you catch our story on the expanded Beer City Passport and Brewsader program?


Expanded Beer City Passport, ‘Brewsader’ program debuts

Not only does the Beer City Passport program allow you to get great beers, you get to fly your Brewsader freak flag with a t-shirt. (Supplied)
Not only does the Beer City Passport program allow you to taste great beers, you get to fly your Brewsader freak flag with a t-shirt. (Supplied)

By K.D. Norris


So many brews; so little time.


For those of you who, like me, are on a mission to fill out your Beer City Brewsader Passport book by visiting all the participating Western Michigan breweries and brew pubs, the constantly growing list of brewers is a pleasant frustration.


expgr-brewsader-logo-final-copyBut good news: The passport book now has an addendum adding nine additional beer stops to the original 23 locales — including Wyoming’s Kitzingen Brewery — where stamps and brews are available.


Experience Grand Rapids officially rolled out the second edition of the Beer City Passport last week. Among the new stops are Atwater GR, Bier Distillery, City Built Brewing, Creston Brewery, Elk Brewing’s Comstock Park location, Greyline Brewing Co., Schmohz Brewing Company, New Holland Brewing’s The Knickerbocker, and Fountain Hill Brewery at Grand Rapids Community College.


For those of us with a partially filled out passport already, the addendum sticks on the back of the original. But it is a little bit of a tricky maneuver, so do so before you start tasting at you next beer city stop.

The Beer City Passport, which debuted a little more than a year ago, has had more than 4,200 beer lovers get at least eight stamps and join the Brewsaders club, according to Experience GR.


“The Beer City Passport was a huge success in the first year,” Janet Korn, senior vice president of Experience GR, said in supplied material. “We created the second edition to add new craft beer locations and prepare for future breweries. When a new brewery opens, we will announce on our website if they are going to be a part of the Passport. If they are, visitors can go there and collect a stamp on one of the newly included blank pages.”


To become a Brewsader, the passport must be either take to the Welcome Center in Grand Rapids Art Museum or mailed directly to the Experience GR office. New this year, collect all 32 stamps and earn an Ultimate Brewsader wallet card which offers discounts on the Beer City merchandise at and perks at local businesses.


According to Experience GR, Longwoods Intl. found that 1 percent of Western Michigan tourists come specifically for beer compared to the national average of about 5 percent.


For more information visit and join the social media conversation at #GRBrewsader.

Meet the folks of Full Hollow Farm

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Photos courtesy of Full Hollow Farm website


There’s a small family farm in Belding, Mich. where a wide variety of vegetables and an ever-expanding selection of fruit grow. It’s called Full Hollow Farm and it’s an understatement to say that owners Jamie Wibraham and Brad Smith aren’t afraid of hard work. They use only earth-friendly, sustainable growing practices, and biodiversity is encouraged. The farm is working towards Organic Certification.


Over the years, Wibraham and Smith have worked on seven different vegetable and fruit farms. They began their farming career in Michigan, moved through Kentucky and Pennsylvania, and eventually returned to West Michigan. Now in its second year, Full Hollow Farm is well-rooted and thriving. You can see, smell, touch and taste their produce at the Rockford Farmers Market when the market is in season.


Check out Full Hollow Farm’s website for photos, recipes and more. To visit their Facebook page, go here.

The Witch of Kilkenny, Ireland

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By Lynn Strough

Travelynn Tales


I went for the arts in Kilkenny, and instead I found a witch!


It’s an hour and a half drive from Dublin south to Kilkenny, a medieval town, with a castle built in 1195. Picking up my rental car in Dublin, I was a bit nervous, since driving is on the left side of the road here but it was fine. After all, I’d had three weeks of practice in New Zealand, although that was almost seven months ago now. I headed straight to the tourist office and spent about two hours there, as they tried to help me find rooms for the next three nights — it appeared there were none left anywhere near the places I wanted to go.


People had told me not to worry about booking ahead at this time of the year — late August — as the kids are headed back to school, but they were off by a week. They finally found me some rooms although they were definitely over my budget. Just a reminder to double-check the area you’re traveling to for special circumstances. Sometimes it’s beneficial to just arrive at a place, as a lot of the nice, smaller places don’t use booking sites, and are also willing to bargain on price. On the other hand, if it’s a busy time, without booking ahead, you might find yourself sleeping on the proverbial park bench.


The tour office lady asked if I wanted to join the walking tour that was about to start. Sure! It’s a great way to get an overview of a town. We saw Butter Alley, where they used to sell butter in medieval times; the Black Abby, which dates back to the 13th century; and Smithwick’s brewery building, where they no longer brew beer (that’s moved to Dublin) but you can pay a chunk of change to stop in their visitor’s center to shop for merchandise if you choose (I chose not to).


Kilkenny is known as an arts and crafts town, and includes the Medieval Mile, with many shops lining its winding lanes along the River Nore. I just missed the annual arts fair, which was probably just as well, since accommodations were hard enough to come by post-festival.


12You can tour the castle for a fee, or just have a wander around the grounds for free. With notoriously gray skies and many buildings made of gray stone, the Irish find other ways to brighten their cities including flowers, graffiti, paint and lights. Kilkenny is not a town that’s too worried about safety — check out the security system on their kegs…


And about that witch…


In the middle of town, there is a restaurant called Kyteler’s, which was once a stone house owned by a woman whose four husbands all died under mysterious circumstances. She was tried and convicted as a witch, but she was rich (from her four husbands), and her wealthy friends helped her escape to England. Her maid was not so fortunate, and the punishment was carried out on her — she was whipped through the streets and burned at the stake, supposedly the first in Europe. Quite a sad tale.


The establishment is supposedly haunted and there are photos someone took hanging on the wall that show a mysterious shadow climbing up the stairs. There is also a curious story of an artist and an author related to the Kyteler’s witch tale (see The Spooky Story below).


Haunted or not, it is a spooky place but in a fun way, and both my tour guide and my B&B host said to go back there for dinner, for good food and free music after 6. I followed their advice and dined on traditional Irish stew — a hearty bowl full of meat, potatoes and carrots and after, enjoyed a lively room full of music and laughter.


My B&B Mena House, was a nice, big old house with lots of rooms, walking distance to town. I ended up talking to Catherine, the proprietress, for quite a while. She was friendly and funny and said she’d love to do what I’m doing — travel the world alone — but wouldn’t dare.



“You’re very brave,” she told me. I keep hearing that and at first didn’t think it was true as I find traveling fun and exhilarating, not scary. But the more people I meet around the world, the more I see how everyone has dreams, and most don’t follow them out of various fears.


I’m not sure doing this makes me brave, but I do feel fortunate, for my many misfortunes, like divorce, losing my job and my home, that led me to make this journey. To me, the brave ones are those who quit their good-paying jobs in order to follow their dreams.


Leaving Kilkenny, I made a brief stop at The Rock of Cashel, which local mythology says originated in a mountain called the Devil’s Bit, when St. Patrick banished Satan from a cave, resulting in the Rock landing here. I spent a couple of hours exploring the ruins of the cathedral, which was built between 1235 and 1270, and its graveyard with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.


It was especially nice when I bypassed a giant tour group that was listening outside to their guide while I got to slip into the tiny chapel, all dark and damp, completely alone. And also when I headed out, to the strains of Celtic music as three young guys played their hearts out.


Ireland is full of historic sites scattered throughout the country, so a road trip is an ideal way to see it, as you can stop at will wherever you fancy. I was about to spend the next two and a half weeks doing just that, much of it along the famous Wild Atlantic Way.



About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.


“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”


travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission

Tips on how to store, cook & prepare sweet potatoes

Just in the nick of time for the holidays

sweet-potatoes-mThe sweet potato — a perennial holiday meal favorite — is one of only a few cultivated vegetable crops with origins in the Americas. Traced back to 8000 B.C. Peru, it’s neither a potato nor a yam but a rooted tuber and member of the morning glory family.

To prepare sweet potatoes, simply scrub the skin clean using a vegetable brush and running water to remove any dirt and grime. Then cut away any damaged areas.

Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place for up to several weeks. Do not store in plastic or refrigerate. Temperatures below 50 degrees will cause off-flavors, and excess moisture will encourage sweet potatoes to rot or sprout prematurely. Resist the urge: Do not scrub clean or wash until just before preparation.

Sweet potatoes taste great baked, boiled, steamed, grilled or mashed.

Interested in trying new sweet potato recipes?
Highlighted this week: roasted pumpkin and sweet potato pilau, crispy sweet potato wedges, curried sweet potato apple soup and honey-roasted sweet potatoes with honey-cinnamon dip. Below is the recipe for Extra-crispy Sweet Potato Wedges. Get the other recipes.

Extra Crispy Sweet Potato Wedges


  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled (or unpeeled, if you like skin) and cut into wedges
  • 2-½ tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with tinfoil (shiny side up); place baking rack onto prepared baking sheet; set aside. Peel the sweet potatoes (if preferred) and cut off the pointy ends. Slice the sweet potatoes in half (lengthwise), then cut each piece into wedges. Place the sweet potato wedges in a large bowl, then add in the olive oil, salt, sugar, seasoning, and black pepper.

Mix well, making sure each wedge is coated with oil and spices. Arrange the sweet potato wedges in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, then turn on the broiler and bake for another 3-5 minutes, or until they’re well browned and crispy. Keep an eye here – it’s easy to burn when the broiler is on! Cool wedges on pan for 5 minutes, then serve at once.

cropped-wmggadm_logorgb1Recipe courtesy of Baker by Nature

SCA: Gear up for the holidays with time-saving recipes, Nov. 9

wine-tasting-scaJoin Mike Gustaitis of Wine Sellars of Saugatuck and Chef Doug Rempel as they help you gear up for the holidays with delicious time-saving recipes and the perfect wine pairings. This event happens at the Saugatuck Center for the Arts (SCA) (400 Culver Street) on Nov. 9 from 7-8:30 pm.


Tickets are $35 and space is limited. For more information please visit or call 269.857.2399.


Those attending this event will have the opportunity to sample four holiday-inspired small plates that can be prepared in advance for a dinner party so you can spend time with your guests, not in the kitchen.


Mike Gustaitis is an accomplished Advanced Sommelier with extensive knowledge of wine from various wine-producing regions including Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and the USA.


Doug Rempel has been cooking for more than 30 years, entertaining clients, family and friends with his unique recipes and inspired flavors.


Mike and Doug will work together to pair each small plate with the perfect red or white wine for a combination that will have your taste buds smiling.

‘Sip Local’ during Cocktail Week GR Nov. 9-20

cocktail_week_logo_This year’s Cocktail Week Grand Rapids runs from Nov. 9-20, when local bars, distilleries and restaurants showcase West Michigan’s craft beverage culture. For $25 or less, you can enjoy two craft cocktails and a shared plate at any participating restaurant or distillery. It’s the perfect time to grab a cocktail, take a tour, taste something new—and sip local.


Sponsored by Valentine Distilling Company, the event overlaps with Grand Rapid’s annual Wine, Beer and Food Festival, which runs from Nov. 17-19 and draws craft beverage enthusiasts from all over the country. This year they’re unveiling an expanded spirits area in honor of Cocktail Week GR. Tickets can be purchased for one night of the event or at a discounted rate if you plan to attend all weekend long (it may take that long to hit every booth).


Another event overlapping with Cocktail Week is the Grand Rapids Art Museum’s newest fashion exhibit, Fashionably Buzzed, which will be at the GRAM until January 15th. GRAM has invited 10 neighboring mixologists to design cocktails inspired by Iris van Herpen’s fashion collections, and museum-goers and members will receive a discount when they grab a drink after touring the exhibit.


Courtesy of Experience GR

If you want to enjoy cocktail week free of any distractions, head to the source of the spirits. Long Road Distillers on the west side of GR offers hospitable tours and a close look at what goes into crafting the main ingredient of cocktails — liquor. Gray Skies Distillery opened just over a year ago on Ottawa Ave. and offers a collection of spirits crafted in Grand Rapids. New Holland’s newest location, The Knickerbocker, is doing a lot more distilling, as well as Atwater Brewing Company’s new location (both on Bridge St.). Stop by to see their operations and appreciate some of the newest buildings in town.


No matter what sounds fun on a night out in Grand Rapids this fall, remember that Cocktail Week GR is happening Nov. 9-20. Keep an eye out for the menu releases from all participating restaurants and bars on November 2.


Call 616-459-8287 for more information and to get tickets.

Election Day: Get out the VOTE, get deals and freebies

vote-marcos-pizzaAs if there already weren’t several good reasons to vote in this election, some restaurants and companies are upping the ante with freebies and deals. The catch? You really do have to vote and you have show your “I Voted” sticker to prove it.


Here’s a sampling:


Marco’s Pizza: “Vote for Marco’s” on Election Day and get a voucher for a free, medium one-topping pizza. 2355 Health Dr. SW, Wyoming.


Bob Evans: Use this coupon and get 30 percent off your entire dine-in or carryout order. 6565 Kalamazoo SE, Gaines Township.


7-Eleven: You’ll have to use the 7-Eleven mobile app to cash in on this deal, but a free cup of coffee is worth the trouble. At participating 7-Eleven locations.


Firehouse Subs: Wear your “I Voted” sticker and get a free medium drink at participating Firehouse Subs locations.



Chuck E. Cheese: Get a free personal size pepperoni pizza with any pizza purchase on Election Day with this coupon code.


Krispy Kreme: Get a free doughnut when you show your “I Voted” sticker. At participating Krispy Kreme locations.


Uber: New Uber riders get $20 off with the code “VOTETODAY.” As part of Uber’s ongoing campaign to encourage users to vote, Uber is teaming up with Google to launch a special in-app feature on November 8th that will help you locate your polling location and then seamlessly request a ride with just a push of a button.


Deals, freebies or not… just get out there and VOTE!

Going Local: Lindo Mexico

lindomexcioshirtJoanne’s Portion


Being it was Mike’s last week here at WKTV, I let him decide on which restaurant we would visit. So we did not pull Lindo Mexico out of the hat, but let me assure everyone that it was in there.


Actually, I had heard a lot of good things about the restaurant, which along with several Wyoming and Kentwood business is up for the Celebrated Service Award. Having moved earlier this year to its new location at 1742 28th St. SW., Lindo Mexico is a family-owned business known for its familiar Mexican dishes along with beer and margaritas. The new location is beautiful…no gorgeous. It looks and feels like some swanky restaurant you would find in New York or even downtown Grand Rapids, but the best part is you do not have to fight the downtown traffic to get there, just 28th Street, which on a bad day is still better than traveling U.S. 131.


The place is bright, cheerful and features a gallery of artists’ work on the walls that appeared to be available for purchase. (I did not get that up close to check.) My biggest regret is that it was raining the day we went so we could not take advantage of the really cool patio that reminded me of the ones I saw on a recent trip to San Diego. Since the weather will be turning cooler soon, I probably will not be able to take advantage of that patio until the spring. Sigh.


I also completely understand why Lindo Mexico is up for the Celebrated Service Award – our waitress, Lupata, was just a doll. She had a full section but still took the time to explain menu items and checked back on a regular basis to make sure we were doing fine. Due to the fact the restaurant was hopping, I could bet that the service is consistently top-notch.


lindomexicoWe stuck to the lunch menu and I settled on #10, the Chimichanga Lunch Special. So I dare admit this while writing about a “Restaurant Mexicano,” but I grew up on Chi Chi’s and one of my favorites was the chimichanga which is a flour tortilla filled with your choice of meat, refried bans, and cheese then deep-fried. I got the chicken and had it topped with mild sauce and melted cheese. I was not enthralled with the chimichanga for a couple of reasons: one, I should have had the sauce on the side, which would have let the chimichanga have more of a crunch. I love crunch and vegetables, which brings me to  reason two: I was in love with Mike’s choice, the Alhambra lunch Special, which had green peppers, onions, meat and cheese. It reminded me of a nacho I order from another restaurant and I knew I would have loved it.


So with my next plate decided on and knowing the service is exceptional, I’ll be back with hubby in tow just so he too can dream with me about a lazy summer evening sitting on Lindo Mexico’s patio, sipping a margarita. Who knows, we might even invite Mike to join us.


Mike’s Portion


My time here at WKTV has opened me up to a whole new word here in the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood. Growing up north of Grand Rapids, I wasn’t aware that both cities are teeming with a mixture of different cultures. This quickly becomes apparent when looking at the local restaurants and food choices, and Going Local opened my eyes and taste-buds to the diversity both cities have to offer.


Lindo MexicoFor my last week, Joanne allowed me to pick a restaurant. No random drawing from the hat, but an actual choice on where we would Go Local for the week. The choice was easy and came about due to our visit to Maya Mexican Grill two months prior. I loved Maya – the food, the wait staff… the margaritas – and willingly shouted it from the rooftops. It was during that shouting that someone mentioned to me, “Have you tried Lindo Mexico?” I had not, at least, not yet.


Lindo Mexico quickly became a destination spot. “I need to compare and contrast,” I told myself, but in reality I just wanted to stuff my face full of delicious Mexican food.


The restaurant was very clean and inviting upon entering, and the place was packed! Lindo Mexico was busier than any restaurant Joanne and I visited over the last five months. I’ll give you a hint why… it’s because of the food. The lunch menu is quite large, the price is reasonable, and the portions plentiful. After surveying the menu, I zeroed in on number 13. My salivary glands are activating themselves just thinking about it – A mix of marinated pork, marinated chicken and steak strips, cooked with tomato, onion and your choice of jalapeño or bell peppers, then topped with cheese; served with refried beans, mexican rice, guacamole and tortillas.


Talk about a flavorful adventure!


Lindo MexicoThe meat and vegetables came out on a hot skillet with the beans, rice and guacamole on the side. My mouth was throwing a party and only the zestiest of flavors were invited. I savored every bite and even came back to work with a box filled of leftovers. That was quickly devoured two hours later at WKTV. I’m like a Hobbit, second lunch is a real thing.


I’ve also heard their margaritas are amazing… not that I had one or anything. I plead the fifth!

Trick your kids into veggies!

trick-kidThe struggle is real: Getting your child to eat just a few bites of his vegetables can be like pulling teeth. Frustrated? Well, here are five ways you can trick your kid into eating vegetables:

  1. Blend them into a smoothie. Add some kale into a strawberry and banana smoothie. Your child will never know the difference.
  2. Sneak them into baked goods. There are many baked treats that you can sneak nutritious veggies in. Check out this recipe for green zucchini muffins!
  3. Take your kids grocery shopping with you. Allow them to pick out their own vegetables. It will get them more excited to try them.
  4. Serve food your child already likes. Try adding peas or other vegetables into macaroni and cheese. This is an easy way to ease your children into vegetables. And who doesn’t like vegetables covered in melted cheese?
  5. When in doubt, turn them into soup. You can make vegetables savory and delicious by adding them to a stew or soup.

If you’re looking for more ways to enjoy delicious and healthy vegetables, check out our Farm Market recipes. You can also subscribe to our mailing list for upcoming food and nutrition classes.

Going Local: Al-Bos Eurocafe-Bakery

albos3Joanne’s Portion


Al-Bos Eurocafe-Bakery was one of the first restaurants I ran across in doing my search of local eateries to put in the Going Local hat.


The Albanian/Bosnian restaurant, located at 2930 Shaffer Ave. SE, is one that I actually have driven past several times, wondering what was inside, and Wednesday was the day I was finally going to find out. The inside was beautiful with dark wood accents and a mix of hi-tops and regular seating along with a bar.


The two-page menu is loaded with items, none of which I had ever tried, making it a little intimating even after our waiter came up and pointed out some of the top suggestions. I struggled in trying to make a decision and looking back, I believe I was afraid of moving out of my comfort zone. The waiter was so gracious in trying to help with a strong push for the stroganoff which had mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes would have to be phenomenal for me to even try them, so that was a no. I finally decided to go with the Mesano Meso or the mixed grill plate. “Good choice! Good choice!” our waiter said. With visions of lots of food, I figured I could take the rest home to the family or have it for leftovers the next day.


albos4When the meal finally came, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was not a heaping plate of meat but a reasonable portion of samples from the various items offered at Al-Bos.


The plate included Chicken Raznjici, a chicken skewer; cevapcici, smaller grilled meat sausages made of lamb and beef; Kranjska Kobasica, a Carniolan sausage similar to kielbasa; pljeskavica, a beef patty, and a breaded chicken that I did not get the name of. Topping it off was Djuvec rice and french fries.


There is a person who wrote on Al-Bos’s Facebook page that they could eat the food “until they were put on a stretcher.” After tasting everything on my plate, I could totally relate. The food was amazing. It was properly seasoned without being overpowering bringing out the full flavor of the individual dishes. Basically a “wow” factor times ten and I loved every bite.


I did manage to save some for the family and watched sadly as my daughter saddled up next to my husband and began to steal everything off his plate. As my husband looked at the empty plate of which he got only a few small bites, I said, “We’ll go there. I promise.” After all, I believe there is a stroganoff with mashed potatoes calling my name.


Mike’s Portion


With the camera on and the Going Local hat nestled in my left palm, I dove my right hand deep into the paper abyss to choose our next location. As my hand finagled through the options, it finally settled on one destination, Al-Bos Eurocafe-Bakery


Another week, and another brand new location I had never heard of. I’ll take ‘A New Experience’ for $200, Alex.


The authentic Albanian-Bosnian restaurant – located at 2930 Shaffer Ave. in Kentwood – has a menu loaded with my favorite thing in the whole wide world… Meat! A power-packed protein binge in always in my wheelhouse and Al-Bos had a selection that was sure to satisfy.


The menu was overpowering, not going to lie, and I don’t mean that as a negative. A whole host of meats and preparations filled the menu and left me slightly dumbfounded. Not only was I struggling to make a decision, I had difficulty pronouncing what I was even ordering. Thankfully our waiter was extremely helpful. He immediately sensed my indecisiveness and pointed me towards a few menu items I would enjoy.


img_2079It felt like a blind date and my waiter was the matchmaker. I couldn’t pronounce my meal’s name, and I wasn’t quite sure what she was going to look like, but I had to trust that there would be chemistry between us. My lunch date ended up being Stufed Pljeskavica-Punjena Pljeskavica. It consisted of stufed pljeskavica (beef), with feta cheese, onion, ajvar, djuvec rice, and french fries.


When the meal was set down in front of me, I was quickly reminded that true love was universal. We may not have spoken the same language, but body language needs no interpretation and my meal and I were on the same page.


The beef was tender and juicy and stuffed with feta cheese. It went down quickly as each bite was followed by an immediate need for another. The rice was delicious and had a more tempered flavor. It complimented the meat quite nicely. The french fries were an add-on seemingly from left field, but I’ll never complain about a batch of french fries and they went down seamlessly.


Fortunately for me, Joanne ordered what was essentially a buffet of meats and allowed me to try some. I was thankful to have two different sausages and devoured them like a ravenous lion.


In all, Al-Bos left a very fine first impression. With all of their menu options, I’d be a fool not to head back for another round.

City of Wyoming, Metro Health & UCOM team up, provide healthy food

farmmarket-recipes-h-439x215There’s much more than just delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers to be gained by gardening — it can also improve your mental and physical well-being.


And although gardening season is just about over, it helps to know that there are three entities in the area that are actively involved in providing food to the community as well as patients and hospital staff.


Founded in 2014 and measuring approximately 1,380-sq.-ft. divided into 11 raised garden beds, the Community Garden is a partnership between United Church Outreach Ministry (UCOM), Metro Heath Hospital and the City of Wyoming. Ten of the beds measure 4×8’ and one bed is raised up on legs, positioned near the front gate of the garden allowing mobility impaired gardeners access to fresh, healthy produce.


The Community Garden’s goal is to introduce fresh, organic produce into gardeners’ and their families’ diets. Over 150 lbs of tomatoes, radishes, lettuces, broccoli, collard greens, kale, spinach, carrots and beets are donated to UCOM’s food pantry each year, with much more produced and shared between gardeners, friends and family.


In addition to fighting hunger in the Wyoming community, UCOM helps neighbors build healthy lifestyles beginning with the food they eat. The organization operates one of the largest pantries in the city, Client Choice Food Pantry, located at 1311 Chicago Dr. SW in Wyoming.


People living in the UCOM service area are able to access the pantry once a month and receive a three-day emergency supply of healthful and delicious food. Committed to personal empowerment, UCOM has encouraged people to select their own food for over seven years.


Starting October 1st, 2016, the food pantry is open to those in need on Mondays from 9 am-12 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 am-3 pm, and Thursdays from 2-8 pm. Office hours are Monday through Thursday 9 am-5 pm.


Metro Health Garden works with its culinary team, master gardeners and community volunteers to grow fresh fruits and vegetables to be used in Metro Café’s patient and staff meals. The garden boasts an approximately 4,000-sq.-ft. area of rich, productive soil located east of the Hospital.


After being harvested, the produce is weighed and recorded. This information is used to track yields and productivity, as well as food costs saved by producing food on campus.


community-garden“Gardening helps relieve stress and improve mental health,” said Dr. Diana Dillman of Metro Health Jenison. “It is also a great way to get outside and get active. And of course the fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy, tasty result of all that digging in the dirt.”


All-organic seeds and transplants are used to ensure that the produce is of peak flavor, nutritional value and integrity. A drip irrigation system allows efficient application of water, greatly reducing water waste.


Cooking classes, community presentations, and tours of the garden are open to the public and staff of Metro Health Hospital. Visit the Events Calendar or like us on Facebook for the most up-to-date information.  If you are interested in volunteering time in the garden, please contact volunteer services.


The garden also offers educational opportunities for youth and community members. The teaching garden is located behind Metro Health Hospital, in Wyoming. To register for these classes, or any of the other free or low-cost Live Healthy programs, visit or call 616.252.7117.


The Metro Health Garden is managed by Metro Health’s Culinary Team and Master Gardeners.


Metro Health offers ideas for going green in your daily life

Courtesy of Metro Health

Incorporating green living practices into your daily life may be easier (and more fun) than you think. Here are just a few of Metro Health’s favorite ideas:

  • Go Vegetarian Once a Week (Meatless Mondays)
    One less meat-based meal a week helps the planet and your diet. For example: It requires 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. You will also also save some trees. For each hamburger that originated from animals raised on rain forest land, approximately 55 square feet of forest have been destroyed. Find some meatless recipes featured by our Farm Markets and learn how to make your favorite recipes more heart healthy.
  • Rethink Bottled Water
    Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, instead taking thousands of years to decompose. Buy a reusable container and fill it with tap water, a great choice for the environment, your wallet and possibly your health. The EPA’s standards for tap water are more stringent than the FDA’s standards for bottled water.
  • Make a Rain Barrel
    Do your part to conserve water by taking a Rain Barrel Workshop. Rain barrels are effective in storm water usage and water quality. They can even help lower your water bill during those long, hot summer months.
  • Buy Local
    Consider the amount of pollution created to get your food from the farm to your table. Whenever possible, buy from local farmers or farmers’ markets, supporting your local economy and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas created when products are flown or trucked in. Click here to learn about the Metro Health Farm Markets.
  • Plant a Garden
    Planting a garden is a great way to enjoy fresh produce at home! We are proud to supply our Metro Café with fresh produce and herbs from the Metro Health Garden. We also partner with the United Church Outreach Ministry (UCOM) and the City of Wyoming to provide a Community Garden in a neighborhood where there is great need and limited access to healthy food. Watch for information about our gardens and tips on making your own garden come to life.
  • Community Clean-Up Day
    Metro Health Village is home to a number of walking and biking trails and Frog Hollow Park, making it a great escape for the whole family. So every spring, we host a day to spruce up Metro Health Village, making it ready for another season of family fun. Please join us – this may be the most fun you ever had picking up trash! (High school students can also earn Community Service Hours by participating.) Check Metro Health’s Live Healthy Calendar to learn more.

Going Local: Daniele’s Pizza, the D-Burger Edition

danielles4Mike’s Slice

Three months ago we drew Daniele’s Pizzeria out of the Going Local hat and gave it the full treatment. There was a Facebook Live video of the drawing, an order of scrumptious pizza and cheesy bread, and a Friday write-up for the masses to consume.


However, something caught my eye three months ago while diving into the Daniele’s menu that caused me to pause and think “Is this love?” It was a masterful creation of carbs and grease called the ‘D-Burger’. A half pound slab of sausage topped with jalapeno and onions and sandwiched between two 7-inch pepperoni pizzas. A taste bud’s dream and an artery’s worst nightmare.


An executive decision was quickly made to add the D-Burger from Daniele’s into the hat. Fate would decide when the delicious monstrosity would make its humble abode in my belly, all I had to do was wait. So, you could imagine my excitement when the D-Burger was drawn out of the hat this week. While I tried to contain it, it was to no avail, Joanne and Victoria could see that I was smitten. My only question was, “do I call now or wait three days? I don’t want to seem needy or too available.”


Joanne made me wait until Wednesday per our ‘rules’ for Going Local. Rules don’t matter when love is in the air. Time is a physical construct that can’t measure longing. Does it really matter if it’s one minute or 48 hours? When one second feels infinite, it’s truly unbearable.


Somehow, through sheer will and grit, I made it to Wednesday.


After driving to Daniele’s Pizzeria – now at a new location located at 1429 60th Street, Grand Rapids – and picking up the goods, the sheer girth of the box caught me slightly off guard. A quick peek inside showed a greasy pepperoni pizza, what was underneath would stay a mystery until I returned back to WKTV to share with the staff.


danielles1As my teeth sunk into the burger, fireworks went off  in my head. The pizza, sausage, pizza trifecta was a sensation with every bite. Juicy, salty, and carbo-loaded for the ultimate eating experience. The jalapeno added a slight kick of heat that triggered the taste buds and took them on an unexpected roller coaster ride of flavor.


The D-Burger was shared between five of us at the station as none of us wanted to keel over of a heart attack after eating too much. However, death by eating a D-Burger might not be the worst way to go…


Joanne’s Slice


In full disclosure, I have to state this upfront: I am not a fan of sausage on a pizza. I prefer my pizzas to be simple, usually with just pepperoni or, if making them at home, with green pepper, onion, ham, and pepperoni. Sausage just does not make the list.


danielles2With that said, when Mike talked about the D-Burger at Danielle’s, I assumed it was a burger — as in hamburger — between two 7-inch pizzas. Once I took a bite, I quickly realized it was sausage, which only made sense for a pizza-style burger. And the sausage was very good, very favorable, and even though sausage is not my thing, I have to give kudos to Danielle’s for thinking outside of the box in creating the D-Burger. I did try the pizza separate and it was amazing. The bread was fresh, the sauce was perfect and it was just the type of pizza I would enjoy.


So while the D-Burger won’t make it on my repeat list (I do encourage everyone to at least try it and make their own decision) I will be heading over to Danielle’s Pizza’s new location at 1429 60th St. SE for a pizza…or two, as I do need to share with the family.


Positively Positano, Amalfi Coast



By Lynn Strough

Travelynn Tales


Positano and the Amalfi coast are gorgeous, no question about that. But they have price tags to match. So what is a budget traveler to do? After a little research, I discovered that you can stay in tiny Piano de Sorrento and take buses and trains that link the pricier towns together at a fraction of the cost. And even better, I got to stay in a super affordable hostel in an old Monastery, with bells chiming, lovely staff and some of the nuns still hanging around.


Sisters Hostel is only a few minutes’ walk from nice swimmable beaches, and little trattorias, where you can dine to your heart’s content, on pasta, fresh seafood, fig torte… You can still get a $5 pizza fresh out of the oven at family run places, where Mama and her daughter will serve you while Papa, who resembles a benign Godfather, looks on…


24A short walk to the train station, and an even shorter train ride, will take you to Sorrento, where you can catch a scenic bus along the coast down to Positano and Amalfi. My bus was full, but that didn’t stop dozens more people from climbing aboard and squeezing in, so I followed suit. It was standing room only, so I stood, jam-packed in the aisle on the most winding road I’ve ever seen with sheer drops down to the sea dotted with what looked like toy boats. I could see the driver — he was talking on the phone, holding the phone to his ear with his right hand, while driving that huge bus on those snake-like roads at the edge of precipitous cliffs.


And then he started talking with his left hand, as Italians are prone to do. Um, wait, if his right hand is holding a phone to his ear and his left hand is fluttering about in the air speaking sign language…who’s steering the bus? On top of all that, the older Italian woman next to me kept trying to show him a magazine. But we made it to Positano.


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Positano is positively beautiful, with colorful buildings spilling down the steep hillside to the sea. Stop on your walk down from the bus stop for a frozen lemon slush, the ice cold sweet and sour taste is divine. Lots of fun clothing, jewelry, ceramic and shoe shops, along with art galleries and stands, line the way.


And the beach, dotted with neon umbrellas, beckons you into the azure sea for a swim. The water is the perfect temperature, cool enough to be refreshing, but warm enough to feel like silk. I floated and swam, got out, heated up and did it again. The views from the water are astonishing — rainbow houses stacked like blocks form a giant triangle up the steep hillside.


If you’re hungry, plenty of restaurants wait nearby, most of them with a view… As I was taking a photo of my wine glass with the umbrellas and the sea in the background, one of the young employees called out, “Wait!” and he brought me a little bowl of peanuts with a small silver spoon and arranged it near my wine glass for my picture.21

Suddenly, while I was swimming, a storm blew in. And I do mean suddenly! One minute it’s sunny and lots of people are frolicking in the water, the next minute thunder is rumbling and a huge gray line of clouds is rapidly advancing on us, waves kicked up and umbrellas tipping over.


I stumbled out of the sea (it’s very rocky and sharp on the soles of your feet), and as I struggled to slip my shirt on, my lounge chair blew over. Dozens of us raced up the beach towards the row of restaurants. Huge jags of lightning streaked from heaven to sea, but the sky only dropped a few specks of rain. As hordes of tourists swarmed up the narrow zigzagging streets that climb the hill, I figured the bus would be packed, with everyone leaving at once.


I was right, the street was lined with dozens of people waiting. Luckily, despite the thunder and lightning, the rain held off. I happened to be standing next to a lovely lady from South Africa, and we kept each other company, comparing travel notes, while we waited a half hour for the next bus. We could tell not everyone would fit on — the bus was coming from Amalfi, and the seats were already full. When the bus stopped and the doors opened, the crowd surged forward, a mini-stampede.


Complaints were heard in English, with American accents, “Hey, wait! We’ve been waiting here 45 minutes, you just got here, that’s not fair!” as newcomers pushed ahead to the front of the line. Cultural differences — in America you get skewered for line-cutting, here it’s a way of life. My South African friend and I pushed ahead with the rest of the Italians, and although we stood for the whole hour ride to Sorrento, at least we got on the bus.


And just in time, it appeared, as the heavens opened up and the rain poured down. It grew even darker and the winding road looked like a slick black snake. Heat wrapped around us, and motion sickness threatened, but I managed to keep it in check. The drive took longer than it should have, as a middle-aged German couple couldn’t figure out which stop was theirs, so they kept ringing the stop button over and over, then not getting off. But eventually we made it, just in time for me to catch the last train back to Piano. (Sorry,  no windstorm disaster photos.)


It’s another hour ride further down the coast to Amalfi from Positano, though I have to say to me, Amalfi is not as nice; it’s much more commercial and more expensive. The beach is kind of a carnival, basted with tons of bodies, but people looked like they were having fun. It depends on what you’re looking for.


17About Lynn Strough

Lynn is a 50+ free spirit whose incarnations in this life have included graphic designer, children’s book author and illustrator, public speaker, teacher, fine art painter, wine educator in the Napa Valley, and world traveler. Through current circumstances, she has found herself single, without a job or a home, and poised for a great adventure.


“You could consider me homeless and unemployed, but I prefer nomad and self-employed, as I pack up my skills and head off with my small backpack and even smaller savings to circumnavigate the globe (or at least go until the money runs out). Get ready to tag along for the ride…starting now!”


travelynnlogoAll images copyright Lynn Strough and Travelynn Tales

Reprinted with permission

Going Local: The Food Truck Edition

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Joanne’s Portion


With the news of that food trucks were descending on Kentwood for its Bags & Bites event this Saturday, Mike and I made the decision to taste test some of the items before the trucks arrived.


Unfortunately, finding a food truck after owners have spent two and half weeks at ArtPrize proved to be a little difficult. We also were too lazy to get up at 6 a.m. to go visit River City Cup & Cake which usually can be found at the Amtrak station. However the owner of River City Cup & Cake, Lorin Tate, who is a Kentwood resident and Kelloggsville graduate, was gracious enough to stop by the studio.


He makes a mean hot chocolate (sorry folks, I do not drink coffee or tea). Unfortunately, Lorin had sold out of all his pastries, so I would wait until Saturday.


Still I wanted to try one more food truck and our choices narrowed down to driving to Allendale for Patty Matters or heading to Two Scotts Barbecue’s brick and mortar home at 536 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids. The minute I said “Two Scotts,” Mike was quick to make the “executive” decision.


two-scottsTwo Scotts is only open from 11 a.m. — 3p.m. We were planning to get there around 11:30 a.m., but a friend said to be there before it opens as the place is known to run out. We managed to walk through the doors at 11:07 a.m. and the place was starting to jump. When we left about an hour later, the outside patio was filling up and the parking lot was packed with cars circling in hopes someone would leave.


I wanted a menu item that would be on the food truck. The order taker was quick to tell me the menu is usually the same with offerings varying depending on location.


With Two Scotts you can either get your pulled pork, pulled chicken, sliced brisket, burnt ends or sausage as a sandwich or just the meat with homemade pickles and bread. I opted for the burnt ends sandwich ($10) making it a combo (add $3) that included a drink and side because I wanted the homemade tater tots.


We grabbed some sauce, I tried the house, verde, and an orange sauce that tasted like it had mayo. After I sat down, I noticed the tips already had sauce on them so I really did not need any of the sauces I picked but I tried them anyway — they were all yummy and I really could not pick a favorite. As for the sandwich, well burnt ends do not make for a great sandwich. (Something Mike, with a laugh, pointed out.) So after a couple of bits, I discarded the bread, speared the pieces with a folk and dipped them in the sauces. The meat melted in my mouth, and to be honest, I have not had meat taste that good since my husband took me to a really nice steak place.


sandwichI was so happy about the burnt ends, I almost forgot about the tater tots, which were a crunchy delight. I popped them like candy as we sat and chatted about the week. And since I essentially had meat and potatoes, I was full for the entire day.


So if you are headed to the Kentwood Bags & Bites at the Kentwood City Hall (5900 Breton Rd. SE), Two Scotts is definitely one to try. I’m thinking of snagging some for my husband’s dinner since he’ll since be at work when my daughters and I head over. As for me, well I am planning to hit either Patty Matters, offering up an array of burgers, or Gettin’ Fresh, for its burger with bacon grounded in. And of course, hopefully get my hands on one of those River City Cup & Cake pastries.


Mike’s Portion


This Saturday, the City of Kentwood is hosting  their first ever ‘Bags & Bites’ at Kentwood City Hall and a horde of food trucks will decent upon the area. Joanne and I decided to take advantage and visit a couple of food trucks for this week’s Going Local.


On Tuesday afternoon, Lorin Tate stopped by the station after making his morning runs with his traveling business River City Cup & Cake. Unfortunately for Joanne and I, but a measure of the truck’s success on the road, Lorin was clean out of pastries. However, he did make a mean mocha and filled my mental appetite with insight into the food truck business.


rivercity9For starters, food trucks have a lot of room to move around inside! And it makes sense, it’s a one-man restaurant that needs all of the amenities of a kitchen. Space might be limited but it’s packed together like a well-played game of Tetris, everything in the right place. They also aren’t cheap – Lorin’s espresso machine by itself cost $15,000 – and they can struggle to run in the winter due to the water pipes freezing. If you can’t store your food truck in a warm garage during the cold months, better shut it down all season.


Once the mocha was finished, I topped off the rest of Joanne’s hot chocolate as it was just a little too rich for her. I didn’t know there was such a thing as ‘too rich’ when it came to hot cocoa. I guzzled it down. With how delicious the fresh brewed coffee and hot chocolate was, I’m bummed the pastries weren’t available. Guess I’ll just have to stop by the Amtrak early in the morning!


The next day Joanne and I scooted out to Two Scotts Barbeque. Yes, I know, their restaurant on Leonard isn’t a food truck, but their food truck will be at Kentwood on Saturday and we made sure to order what would be on that food truck. We’re always thinking.


Two Scotts has a slight history with me, a year and a half ago I moved into a house about a stone throw away from the barbecue joint. Whenever I wanted barbecue, which is pretty much all the time, I would stop by to see if they were open. With hours slated from 11am-3pm, I struck out every single time. This was my chance to finally the famed joint.


twoscotts2It did not disappoint.


The brisket sandwich called to me and I threw in an order of homemade tots as well. The brisket was flavorful and went down quick – I think I ate it in 30 seconds or so – and the tots were INCREDIBLE. Even if you aren’t a fan of smoked meats, you absolutely need to stop in for their homemade tots. The outside crunched and the inside melted in your mouth. Simply delectable.


Two Scotts, I think we need to make this a weekly thing.


Citizen Journalist Rob’s Potion


Waiting can be one of the most difficult things, especially for more hyperactive people like me, and when you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can be a time of dread. Most of the time, in these waiting situations, I often look for something to do like drink or eat to pass the time. So, you could imagine my excitement and curiosity when I spotted a food truck while waiting for the Megabus to take me back to my hometown Chicago.


rivercity6If you are not familiar with the Megabus pick up location, it’s a parking lot diagonal from the old Amtrak station with very little around that could occupy a wondering mind. River City Cup & Cake sat in the parking lot as a beacon of adventure during my time of waiting. The food truck combined two of my all-time favorite things in the world all wrapped into one catchy name on the side of a truck. Who could possibly deny the insatiable combination of a cup of coffee and a piece of cake? Besides my friend John, of course, who somehow detests both. Truly one of a kind.


As a latte and cupcake/pastry lover, I found the River City Cup and Cake to be inviting with its bright color and simple, but very cool, logo . The espresso sign was magnetic to my soul.


A line had already begun to form as many of us waiters found this to be the best location to wait for our bus. While I can’t remember exactly which cupcake I had, I do remember it was good, baked with the fluffy and buttery flavor that one would expect from a really good cupcake and the latte was also very good. I also remember the customer service being outstanding with an owner who was engaging with his clientele and seemed to be an owner/operator who really enjoyed what he was doing.


I would highly recommend that when you see this vehicle, RUN TO IT!! Get yourself a cup & cake and enjoy. I know I did when I saw it parked in the parking lot while volunteering at WKTV on Tuesday.

The Midwest’s largest wine, beer & food festival is baaaaack

Now in its 9th year, the Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival has established itself as Michigan’s premier tasting event, measured by 1,600 wines, beers, ciders and spirits. From the connoisseur who lives and breathes for the finer things in life to the novice looking for an introduction to the world of food and spirits, this Festival will deliver a grand experience that is sure to please every palette. This is the weekend you won’t want to miss.

WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 17 (5-10pm) | Friday, Nov. 18 (4-10pm) | Saturday, Nov. 19 (Noon-10pm)

WHERE: DeVos Place, Downtown Grand Rapids — with over 100,000 square feet (nearly 3 acres).

COST: $15 – Thursday (and advanced ticket sales for Friday & Saturday); $20 – Friday & Saturday. 3-Day Pass – At $40, this option allows admission each day of the Festival and is intended for those who want to get the most out of their tasting experience. Online sales end Thursday, Nov. 17 at 5pm (Box Office sales for the pass end at 10pm on Thursday, Nov. 17).

Attendees must be 21 years of age and older. ID is required for admittance.

grw-3001On the menu


Blending together award-winning spirits and mixers into craft artisan cocktails, the region’s noted mixologist and distillers will serve up hands-on workshops guaranteed to educate and entertain. These complimentary 15-minute workshops will amp up your bartending skills, just in time for holiday entertaining with family and friends. Held in the new craft cocktail concourse along the river, each workshop limited to the  first 12 people who step up to the bar at the scheduled times.

Bartenders from six-one-six inside the JW Marriott are also planning an exciting “Chopped”-style competition during their Pairing (see below) aimed to perfectly match cocktails with prix fixe menu.

Held in the Secchia Lobby, running along the western edge of the Steelcase Ballroom, overlooking the Grand River.

Located in the center of the Vineyard, inside the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place, this special collection of wine has been selected by our consulting sommeliers and importing specialists as the “best of the best” top shelf vintages, chosen from among 1200 assorted wines. These high-end wines require a minimum 10-ticket ($5) tasting fee due to the cost of the product being served. Each of these wines have at least a 90-point value in a recognized wine rating system and are regarded as among the most elite wines of the festival according to industry experts. No need to invest hundreds of dollars in a full bottle—the Elite Wine Collection allows you the opportunity to sample these wines for a minimal cost.

The Festival’s popular beer area returns to the Exhibit Hall C on the Main Floor of DeVos Place off the Grand Gallery. Step into the world of creative craft beers, imported and domestic brews, hard ciders and foods that pair well with both. Meet the American craft brewer—the small, independent and traditional producers who display passion and excitement for their unique beverages. New products, as well as traditional favorites, will be offered for sampling.

Tap into the Cider Row at the Festival, featuring almost 20 cider producers from Michigan and nationally-known brands. Hard cider is among the fastest growing craft beverages, on a national scale. It is fermented to produce a range of flavors – from dry to sweet. Featured in the Beer City Station in Exhibit Hall C off of the Grand Gallery.

This sector of the beverage industry is taking off with hard iced tea; sodas—such as root beer, orange, cherry, lemon and other fruit flavors; seltzer waters and carbonated caffeinated products. Featured in the Beer City Station in Exhibit Hall C off the Grand Gallery.

Add a little extra class to your glass with an intimate tasting with Bradford Hammerschmidt from Imperial Beverage. These special flights offer champagnes you will not find anywhere else in the Festival. Each of the champagnes will be paired with specially selected cheese and crudités. Flights offered Saturday at 4pm and 7pm only. The cost is $40 per person. Reservations may be made online, or on site – space permitting.

Select restaurants partner with distinguished wineries and breweries for special Pairings – gourmet multi-course meals served on-site in a casual yet intimate “bar top” setting. Tickets are $45-$65 each and may be purchased in advance online or at the Festival on a first-come, first-served basis. This year’s restaurants include: Ganders, San Chez,, Reds at Thousand Oaks and Wolfgang Puck’s The Kitchen.

Additionally, chefs from about a dozen of the area’s top restaurants prepare and serve small plates of their culinary specialties.

The Coffee, Cordials and Dessert Café will be open in the Grand Gallery for the duration of the Festival. Start your Festival experience, or make it a nightcap, with unique pairings of coffee, lattes and cocktails crafted for your enjoyment with a variety of cordials, indulgent sweets and other treats.

Esteemed individuals from the culinary world host demonstrations on the Meijer Food Stage. Complimentary beverage seminars, held classroom-style in the rooms off the Grand Gallery, give attendees an in-depth look into the world of wine, beer and spirits. Cocktail workshops are also offered for a unique hands-on experience for those wishing to learn tricks of the trade from top leaders.

Students from Ferris State University, the Culinary Institute of Michigan at Baker College in Muskegon, the Secchia Institute of Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State University work alongside industry leaders for a premier educational experience.

OFFICIAL PROGRAM: Download the official Festival program here.


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