Category Archives: Local Food

‘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.




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 .


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).


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.


Chick-fil-A opens in Gaines Twp.; Wyoming store coming

Is was cold in Bloomington, Minn., in 2013 when people lined up outside a soon-to-open Chick-fil-A; it likely will be cold in Gaines Twp. when a new store opens this week. (Supplied)

WKTV Staff


A Chick-fil-A restaurant will be coming to Wyoming soon, but those who want their first taste of the menu can sample it this week as the first of several West Michigan franchises opens on Thursday, Jan. 12.


This week’s opening is at 1545 Edgeknoll Dr., S.E., off the M-6 and Kalamazoo Avenue exit, just south of Wyoming city line in Gaines Township. The City of Wyoming store, located at 700 54th St., S.W, is currently scheduled for a February opening.


As with other store openings nationwide, the Gaines Township store will also provide an opportunity for 100 people to win free meals for a year, as well as the ability for the community to donate books to a local youth organization, according to supplied material.


According to supplied material, the “First 100” party is a “family friendly” event where people will line up — even camp out overnight — to earn a meal a week for a year. The event is open to persons residing in specific zip codes surrounding the restaurant. (Eligible zip codes and rules are available at


The donated books will be place in a “Book House” built from reclaimed wood, and will serve as a free library exchange. Chick-fil-A has collected more than 27,000 children’s books which have been donated to 162 local organizations since 2014, according to supplied material.


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


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).







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.

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

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!

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.

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.


Downtown Market has classic comfort food classes to warm body and soul

Thanksgiving should be a time for fun family feasts, but even thinking about putting it all together can be enormously stressful.

Perhaps this is the first time you’re preparing the feast. Or maybe baking the perfect turkey has always eluded you. Whatever the stressor, Grand Rapids Downtown Market has cooking classes that will help you master the art of Thanksgiving meal making.


Here are just a few classes to help you out.


turkey-basicsTurkey Basics

Wednesday, November 2 from 6-8:30pm


In this class, you’ll learn some tricks to make the holiday a lot easier: how to properly brine, carve and roast a turkey; master gravy for those super creamy mashed potatoes; cook classic cranberry chutney; and prepare an easy stuffing that’s not soggy or boring.


Click here to learn more and to register.


autumn-nightsAutumn Nights East Coast vs. West Coast

Friday, November 4 from 6-8:30pm


There are not too many better rivalries than East Coast vs. West Coast. In this class, you’ll decide which coast you like the best by creating culinary classics that represent both sides. You’ll make classic chowders, roasted chicken with salsa verde or orange harvest topping, and see if Washington apple pie can win out over Boston cream pie.


Click here to learn more and to register.


beyond-the-pieThanksgiving Cocktails and Desserts: Beyond The Pie

Wednesday, November 16 from 6-8:30pm


Celebrate the indulgences of Thanksgiving with two favorite excesses: cocktails and desserts. In this class, you will make the best hot buttered rum batter this land has seen, shake an entire egg in a New York Flip cocktail (it tastes amazing), and learn how to make a cranberry walnut pear tart.


Click here to learn more and to register.


pie-crustPie Crust to be Thankful For

Monday, November 21 from 6-8:30pm


Learn how to master an easy-to-make pie crust! You’ll roll, mix and stretch for a beautiful custard pie, blue ribbon pecan pie and an award-winning apple pie. You will head home with three full pies to share with your loved ones.


Click here to learn more and to register.



Going Local: Load A Spud Potato Bar

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Joanne’s Portion


I thought I had seen it all when it came to restaurants since in my past life I was an entertainment editor. But the Load A Spud Potato Bar was a new one for me.


And it makes sense. After all, you have Subway that makes customized sandwiches and Qdoba that does the same with tacos and other Mexican-style cuisine. Also, when you think about it, potatoes do make a perfect base for just about any taste combination you could imagine.


loadaspud1Load A Spud Potato Bar, which is based in Grand Rapids, has six locations with one right in Kentwood at 1710 44th St. SW, just east of the Kalamazoo Avenue and 44th Street intersection. Enter in and the place is immaculate. Posters of various potato combinations and boards of potato quick facts adorned the walls. Centerstage was the potato bar itself.


The first thing we were told is that there are 20 different potato combinations or you could create your own. The most popular combinations are the Meat Lover’s, with chicken, bacon, ground beef, and steak; the Steak and Cheese, seasoned steak and cheese topped with A1 Sauce; the Cheese Broccoli with melted cheddar cheese and broccoli pieces; and the Taco featuring seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, onions and taco sauce. For $5 you can get a potato with any cheese or any veggie or with butter and sour cream only.


I opted for the Gyro ($7.99) which had gyro strips, feta cheese, onions and tomatoes. I also added lettuce and broccoli. The only hiccup I ran into was that Load A Spud puts butter on all of its potatoes, otherwise “it is going to be a very dry potato.” I am not a butter person, meaning I rarely put butter on anything. I agreed to just butter — the restaurant has several kinds of butter including a sour cream butter — and to be honest, I could not taste it. So the next time I go, I’m going butterless.


loadaspud2I did opt for the yogurt sauce — it’s a gyro so you must have yogurt sauce — and my traditional Diet Coke. Once fully loaded, Mike and I found a seat and dug in.


It was good. The favor combination of the meat and onions with the potato was a nice mix. However, a third of the way in, I fell into the majority of Load A Spud’s customers — I couldn’t finish the meal. The meal comes in a carry out container, so you can snap a lid on it and take it home for snacking later or tomorrow’s lunch. I actually had more at dinner with my daughter snacking on it as well and we still had about a third left.


My entire meal came to $9.53 and considering it ended up becoming three meals, I certainly got quite a bang for my buck.


Mike’s Portion


My first experience with a baked potato bar came at a high school graduation party four years ago. The potatoes were baked, covered in tin foil, and ready to be dressed in the amenities laid forth on the bar. Bacon, cheese, ham, lettuce, spinach, green peppers, onions, sour cream and lots of butter were jovially added and I pondered to myself about the lack of a consistent potato bar in my life.


Fast forward four years to Joanne and I walking into Load A Spud Potato Bar at the corner of 44th Street and Kalamazoo. It had been far to long, but alas, me and my long-lost flame were about to be reunited once again.


img_2016As we entered the restaurant, potato facts lined the walls. No, seriously, there are facts about potatoes and the nutrients they provide all over the inside of the restaurant. Did you know that a potato has as many calories as a large apple? Or that nutritionists have shown that potatoes are low in calories and are an excellent source of carbohydrates? They are high in vitamins and contain no fat or cholesterol.


The wall of facts made me feel good about myself and the large quantities of food I was about to throw down the gullet. That’s all that matter in a restaurant, right? To make you FEEL good about what you’re about to eat. Load A Spud get’s an A+ for the feels.


To give you an idea of what Load A Spud is all about, it’s much like a Subway or Qdoba but uses a potato as its base instead of bread or a tortilla. This is no skimpy potato either. We’re talking a full pound that is then mashed together at the bottom of a bowl and topped with ingredients.


About those toppings, because a potato is a high quality base, there’s a lot of treble that can be added on top. In fact, Load A Spud has 20 signature combinations including a taco potato, shrimp alfredo potato, pizza potato, gyro potato, and many more. These signature combinations can then be further customized by a choice of four separate butters – regular, house (with cilantro), garlic, and sour cream – and a bevy of vegetables.


img_2017I decide to give the jerk chicken potato a whirl at $6.99 and added garlic butter, spinach, lettuce, red onions, green peppers, broccoli, colby jack cheese and tomatoes. I took the ‘load’ part in Load A Spud very seriously.


The meal was placed into a large bowl with a microwavable top just in case you couldn’t finish and needed to bring it home to heat up for later. How difficult could it be to finish a one pound spud and an assortment of goodies on top? Turns out, pretty dang hard. I shoveled the food into my mouth with no regards for Joanne or my own dignity. I dug into the spud with vigor and passion. As my stomach began to send the signals to my mind and mouth to stop destroying the bowl in front of me, I took a step back to see the damage inflicted upon my prey. My eyes bulged and my heart sank, how could it be that I hadn’t even finished off half of the meal? What is this sorcery!?


My mind quickly recalibrated and realized that what I had in front of me was now a meal for another time. One potato, one invoice, two meals.


One signature combination down, 19 more to go.

Organic farmer Anthony Flaccavento discusses sustainable development

Anthony Flaccavento
Anthony Flaccavento

Local First will host Anthony Flaccavento this fall as part of the organization’s fall celebrations. Flaccavento is an organic farmer, small business owner, author and activist who has worked for more than 30 years to strengthen the economy and food system in both rural and urban settings. He speaks about the importance of sustainable development.


His book Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up: Harnessing Real-World Experience for Transformative Change (Culture Of The Land) connects a broad foundation of experience with a clear economic analysis and an array of public policy ideas that, taken together, help point the way towards more widely shared prosperity and a more resilient, vibrant economy. It is a call-to-action for innovators, entrepreneurs, policymakers, community activists, environmentalists and all citizens who want to create thriving, locally-based economies, and a more just, sustainable world.


The presentation will be at Holland’s Windmill Island Gardens, 1 Lincoln Ave., Holland, at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27. Then celebrate the season at Coppercraft for the Lakeshore Fork Fest at 6 p.m. More information about both events at


Chef Cook-Off at Lakeshore Fork Fest: Coppercraft Distillery vs. Butch’s Dry Dock


defaultcoppercraft_squareJoin the Lakeshore community for an evening of flavors, brews, baked goods and more at Coppercraft Distillery! The chef from Coppercraft Distillery will go head-to-head with Butch’s Dry Dock in a live cook-off. Each restaurant will compete to create the most mouth-watering dish using items provided by a Visser Farms.


Presenting sponsor, Coppercraft Distillery, is working with the Township to finalize plans to build a kitchen making the Lakeshore Fork Fest a good opportunity to showcase their Chef and some of the food they’d like to offer in the near future. According to General Manager Paul Marantette, “Local First does great work and it is always fun joining their team to plan a successful event!” Look for Coppercraft at other community events throughout the year. So far in 2016 Coppercraft Distillery has participated in four large-scale events including being the official sponsor of Tulip Time for the third consecutive year.


Coppercraft Distillery started in Holland in 2012 by Kim and Walter Catton when they decided to take their passion for whiskey and bourbon to a new level by opening a distillery. Marantette says Coppercraft “focuses on a premium product using quality ingredients from the very start with our grain that comes from a farm just five miles from our location, to the locally sourced produce and citrus we incorporate into our cocktail program.” Coppercraft chooses to support local businesses such as Central Park Market and the Farmers Market to secure these needs, and let the freshest ingredients speak for themselves as featured on the weekly cocktail specials menu.


Coppercraft will host this year’s Lakeshore Fork Fest, which will feature samples from an array of local food vendors while you enjoy the live cook-off. The cook-off will feature a Chef from Butch’s Dry Dock and Chef Kelsey Winter-Troutwine of Coppercraft Distillery. The Grand Rapids native has spent the last six years working in some of the finest restaurants in downtown Chicago – most recently as a Sous Chef at mk The Resturant, a staple in the Chicago dining scene.


Feast on an array of flavors with Local First at the Lakeshore Fork Fest on Tuesday, September 27 from 6-8:30 PM at Coppercraft Distillery. For tickets, click here.


To learn more about Local First and upcoming events, visit the group’s website,

Take an ‘awesomely autumn’ class at the Downtown Market this October

downtown market logo


Fall is just around the corner, and you know what that means: Time to celebrate the season with classes at the Downtown Market!


For the complete fall schedule, go here. To download a pdf of classes and events, go here. (There are classes for everyone — family, kids and adults.) Meanwhile, here are just a few highlights:


autumn nights in mediterranianAUTUMN NIGHTS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Fri, October 14, 6p-8:30p • $65

The Mediterranean always offers bright flavors and healthy meals. You’ll master an olive tapenade, herb-fresh tabouli, chicken souvlaki, and a citrus semolina cake. Learn how to select authentic ingredients and how the right olive oil can add the finishing touches to your meal. Register here.

stews and brewsSTEWS & BREWS
Tue, October 18, 6p-8:30p • $65 (21+)

Pair some great beers while snacking on Beer Nuts and make a classic gumbo, a hearty meat and bean chili, sweet cornbread and chocolate stout brownies. Register here.

pumpkin patch cookingPUMPKIN PATCH COOKING

Fri, October 21, 6p-8:30p  • $55

Celebrate pumpkins in the most delicious ways! You will enjoy some fresh-roasted pumpkin hummus while creating pumpkin sage soup, roasted herb chicken with pumpkin polenta and festive pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. Register here.


Tue, October 25, 6p-8:30p • $55

In this class, you will learn how to make cocktails along with an appetizer and dessert to host the spookiest Halloween cocktail party. Learn how to make Pumpkin Cauldron Rhum Punch, Apple Cider and Bourbon Spritzers, mini pumpkin cream soup, and a fall tiramisu. Register here.

Don’t miss Yassou! Grand Rapids Greek Cultural Festival Aug. 26-28


Photo by Tim Motley

Food. Dance. Opa!

The smell of lemon, oregano and garlic fill the air as fresh meats are grilled over open flames and the sight of the pastry table proves to be more than anyone’s willpower could bear. From a great live band and dance demonstrations, to wine tastings and cooking classes, there is something for everyone at Yassou!



The food

An assortment of freshly prepared authentic Greek food and pastries will tempt even the most stubborn palate. Great effort has been put into obtaining fresh, local ingredients wherever possible, from the eggplant in the Moussaka, to the tomatoes that go on your Gyros and in your salad.


Choose from appetizers, full meals, sandwiches and side items. And do not forget dessert — baklava is only the beginning. Menu items are available as complete meals or a la carte. Prices range from $5 for most a la carte items to $14 for most complete meals.


The dance

Besides irresistible Greek food, there will be plenty of Greek dancing, a very old tradition that has been documented by Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and Lucian. Traditional Greek dancing has a primarily social function, bringing the community together at key points of the year, such as Easter, the grape harvest or patronal festivals; and at key points in the lives of individuals and families, like weddings.

Photo by Tim Motley


Holy Trinity’s youth dancers will don traditional Grecian dress and perform some of these spectacular dances. Then, when the time is right, join hands with members of the dancing circle and join in. Beginners are always welcome.


The wine (and beer)

Greece is one of the oldest wine producing regions in the world — evidence of wine production dates back more than 6,500 years. Since that time, wines have been shared and enjoyed not only in households, but in communal celebrations. And what cultural celebration would be complete without access to the local libations?

Here’s what’s happening and when

Friday, August 26, 2016: 3 -10 pm

  • Live music from open to close, The Levendes.

  • 4 pm:  Greek cooking class.

  • 5 pm: Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17 y/o).

  • 6 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (5-12 y/o).

  • 7 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17+).

  • 8:15 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (18+).

  • 8:35 pm:  Dance lessons and open dancing for all!

  • 8:00 pm:  Children’s play area closes.

Saturday, August 27, 2016: 11 am – 10 pm

  • Live music from open to close, The Levendes.

  • 1:00 pm:  Greek cooking class.

  • 2:30 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17 y/o).

  • 4:00 pm:  Wine tasting.

  • 5:00 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17 y/o).

  • 6:00 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (5-12 y/o).

  • 6:00 pm:  Greek cooking class.

  • 7:15 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17+).

  • 8:15 pm:  Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (18+).

  • 8:35 pm:  Dance lessons and open dancing for all!

  • 8:00 pm:  Children’s play area closes.

2016 Yassou Sponsorship - 1(1)


Sunday, August 28, 2016: 12-4 pm

  • No live band. DJ playing modern Greek music.

  • 2:00 Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (5-12 y/o).

  • 3:00 pm: Traditional Greek dance demonstrations (12-17 y/o).


OK, so you’ve been warned. The Yassou! Grand Rapids Greek Cultural Festival is always a crowd pleaser, and this year it’s happening Friday, Aug. 26 through Sunday, Aug. 28 at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 330 Lakeside Dr. NE between Fulton and Michigan.





Farm Market Recipe of the Week: Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado Sandwiches

Bacon, Lettuce, Avacado, Tomato SandwichBacon, Lettuce, Tomato & Avocado Sandwiches


Makes: 2 sandwiches
Active Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes


4 slices center-cut bacon, halved
1/2 ripe medium avocado
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon finely grated or minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
4 slices wheat bread
1 small tomato, cut into 4 slices
2 romaine leaves
1/2 cup alfalfa sprouts




1. Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning once, until crisp, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
2. Meanwhile, mash avocado in a medium bowl. Stir in basil, mayonnaise, garlic, salt and pepper. Toast bread.
3. Spread about 2 tablespoons of the avocado mixture on 2 slices of toast. Top each with 4 pieces of bacon, 2 tomato slices, a lettuce leaf, 1/4 cup sprouts and the remaining toast.


Nutritional Information


Per serving (1 sandwich): 345 calories; 16 g fat(3 g sat); 10 g fiber; 37 g carbohydrates; 15 g protein; 60 mcg folate; 15 mg cholesterol; 2 g sugars; 0 g added sugars; 1065 IU vitamin A; 13 mg vitamin C; 21 mg calcium; 2 mg iron; 542 mg sodium; 452 mg potassium


Recipe from

Going Local: Le Kabob

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By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


When Mike pulled Le Kabob out of the hat, I was happier than a freed canary. I love Mediterranean food. Tabouli, hommous, shawarmas…bring it on!


That enthusiasm probably showed on the way over. “Should I start looking?” “No, we have three miles.” “Should I start looking?” “We have about a mile.”


Located in a strip mall near the corner of 28th Street and Shaffer Avenue, we finally got there and the place was humming with activity. Upon entering, the aromas immediately made me smile — these are the smells I know from Dearborn when visiting the restaurants there.


Le Kabob has only been at its current location for about two years — before that it was located on Alpine — but the owner has made it feel like home with some Mediterranean touches.


Le Kabob saladWe were seated at a booth and Mike immediately spotted the $6.99 lunch special that included a soda, any sandwich and soup or salad. Our server informed us the salad was a traditional side salad but for a dollar more you could select any of the other salads such as tabouli, fattoush, or Greek. I was sold and went for the fattoush salad paired with the falafel, hommous, tabouli wrap cause a girl has got to have her falafel! For those who do not know, a falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. I prefer my falafel with a little hommous, so this wrap was screaming my name.


Expecting half portions, I was surprised that the salad was full size. What really makes a fattoush salad is the cumin and baked pita bread and Le Kabob’s had a nice mixture of both along with lettuce, onion, tomato, and cucumber. I was loving it. In fact, I was loving it long after Mike had finished his soup and moved on to his first shawarma wrap. Finally moving on to my sandwich, I was delighted to find the bread was slightly toasted with the wrap getting a thumbs up for freshness and uniqueness.


One of the servers thanked us for being patient as they were short-staffed that day. I actually thought for the good-size lunch crowd they had the staff did pretty well on serving everyone and handling take-outs. There was a wait for us to be seated, but the food certainly made it well worth it.

By: Mike DeWitt


We’re only three weeks into Going Local, but it has already been a massive success in my opinion. Granted, that opinion is based solely on my own selfish joy of eating lunch at local havens and being able to call it “work”.


Seriously though, I had absolutely no idea the quality of food that exists right in our backyard. Sure, everyone talks about Grand Rapids being beer capital and the food that comes with it, but Kentwood and Wyoming has knocked it out of the park three weeks in a row. The best part is that all of our lunches have been very reasonably priced. So much so that I might even call it generously priced, and Le Kabob was no exception.


I’ll admit, I was never big on Mediterranean food until my girlfriend brought me to a place in Detroit last year for some chicken shawarmas. It’s not that I didn’t like Mediterranean food, more that I had never really given it a chance, and I quickly realized what I had been missing. I had a new love, her name was Mediterranean and I can’t thank my girlfriend enough for introducing us.


Le Kabob garlic pasteWhen we walked into Le Kabob, I was caught off guard by the size of the restaurant. The last two places we had been to were small and we were the only people there for lunch. Le Kabob was not only much bigger, but it was packed with people there for lunch. Apparently we weren’t the only ones Going Local. We had a slight wait before we were seated and the $6.99 lunch special immediately caught my eye. The picture of the shawarma looked small, so I decided I needed to order two, a chicken and a lamb, on top of my lamb chili. I did not need to order a second one. I repeat, I did NOT need to order a second one.


Fresh toasted flatbread was brought out to the table as a starter along with a crush garlic paste to spread. The paste was 98 percent garlic and had some other spices and jalapenos thrown in for good measure. It was crushed up to spread like butter across the bread. It was phenomenal and a second basket of bread was quickly brought to the table after the first was engulfed almost immediately.


The lamb chili was good, not exceptional, but it had a little bit of heat and was a great size as a precursor to my two shawarmas. When the shawarmas were set down in front of me, I knew my eyes were bigger than my stomach. However, in my defense, they didn’t look THAT BIG in the picture on the menu. That is my excuse and I will stick with it. But I ordered my meal and I needed to finish the whole thing… my job depends on it.


Le Kabob ShawarmaBoth shawarmas were exceptional. The meat was tender and the pita was baked with the right amount of crisp. The lamb shawarma comes rolled with onions, tomatoes, pickles, parsley and tahini sauce. It went down smoothly as the chicken starred me right in the face. The chicken shawarma is rolled with pickles, lettuce, and garlic sauce – I think I hit my yearly garlic intake during the meal. The second shawarma was just as good, but my stomach said no more! Fortunately, I was able to take half the sandwich home in a box and have it for another Going Local lunch the next day.


If you even remotely like Mediterranean food, you need to stop in to Le Kabob. The food is prepared daily and the lunch special is very fairly priced. The entrees are a little more expensive ($11.99 – $26.99), but I would imagine they’re every bit as tasty as the lunch.


Le Kabob is located at 3122 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512. Their phone number is 616-272-4135.

Going Local: Dallas Deli

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By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


“Make sure to tell your friends about us,” said the blue-and-white Facebook sign above one of the tables at Wyoming’s Dallas Deli. Have no fear Dallas Deli, I shall take to the modern-day form of shouting it from the rooftops, a.k.a. Facebook.


Yes, our traveling troupe, Mike and joining us, Victoria, moseyed on over to 3660 Byron Center Ave. SW, home of Dallas Deli and Lions Mane barbershop (separate owners). I learned a long time ago that some of the most amazing food places are small. In fact, a friend had warned me that the seating space at Dallas Deli consisted of three tables — one that sat about six and two that sat two. Even with the warning, I was surprised how small the space was. According to owner Sam Barnes, the place started as an ice cream parlor then was a pizza parlor, before Frank and Mary Weikert opened Dallas Deli some 30 years ago. Sam and his wife Kim took over the place – along with Weikert’s original Texas-style barbecue recipes – in 2003.


Chili Dallas DeliWhat Dallas Deli lacks in space it certainly makes up for in food — at least my chili packed a wallop of flavor being voted best meal selection by our little group and leaving Victoria and I planning chili runs in the winter. I had the World Class Chili which was topped with the restaurant’s signature brisket, cheese and onion. With the right mixture of heat and sweet, it was perfect even for our blistery hot summer day visit. (By the way, the air conditioning was not on while we were there but the place stayed pretty cool with the door open and a breeze moving through the building.)


After the first bite, I really did not want to share but Mike and Victoria were being generous with their selections, so I did…a little. I did order the medium-size portion to share, but could have easily eaten it without any help.


This little Wyoming gem is garnering quite the reputation. Most recently, Dallas Deli was part of the Grand Rapids’ Barley, BBQ & Beats and named one of the top 12 Hole In the Wall Restaurants in Michigan by “After that we had about 500 people come in in about a week. It just about killed us,” Sam said with a laugh. So let’s keep the stampede to perhaps a trot.


But do come because even if you can’t find a seat, take-out — along with catering — is a big part of the Dallas Deli’s business and quite honestly, I can not think of better way to saddle up and go then with a half rack of ribs. Oh heck, we’re make that full. Yippee-ki-yay!

By: Mike DeWitt


When Dallas Deli was drawn out of the hat earlier this week for our Going Local location, I almost fainted. I love meat, I love BBQ, and I love it smoked. This is my job? Seriously!? In the words of the great Belinda Carlisle, “Ooh heaven is a place on earth!”


Joanne already covered the decor and atmosphere above, so let’s dive right into the only thing that matters… the food!


Taking a glance at the menu feels like trip through the meat market with Oprah as your tour guide… “You get a brisket, and YOU get some pulled pork, and YOU get some ribs!” How on earth am I supposed to fit it all on one plate?


The combo dinner isn't playing around
The combo dinner isn’t playing around

Two words, Combo Dinner.


The Combo Dinner comes with two different meats, two sides, and a choice of bread. The two meats can then be enjoyed with one of three BBQ sauces available at each table, Dallas Deli Mild Sauce, Sweet and Tangy, and Hot & Spice. All three have their own distinct taste and are worth a try. My meal consisted of rib tips, sausage, collard greens, baked beans and corn bread. Talk about a full house on a plate!


The rib tips were excellent and very rich, but I’m still kicking myself for not taking the brisket as my second meat choice. Don’t get me wrong, the sausage was good, but passing up the brisket at a BBQ joint? Rookie move, DeWitt.


As for the sides, the collard greens and baked beans were excellent compliments to the overall meal. While the meat and BBQ added a rich flavor, the beans and greens kept things at even keel with a consistent texture and flavor.


Now, about that corn bread, it was warm, full of taste, and melted in your mouth. Cornbread for me is very hit or miss and Dallas Deli hit one out of the park.


Dallas Deli BBQThanks to the size of the meal, I had some leftover for lunch the next day (that doesn’t happen very often) and it kept its taste upon a second serving. The corn bread tasted even better the next day, if that’s even possible.


Overall, Dallas Deli lived up to the hype. It’s well priced – only $12 for my whole meal – tastes great, and it feeds the beast. I will be making a second trip.

Summertime is the perfect time to try new recipes at Downtown Market GR

downtown market


August is just around the corner… and it’s Downtown Market’s mission to introduce you to some refreshing new recipes. Whether you want to become more confident in the kitchen; have the desire to eat healthier, be greener, cook more; or simply want a new and fun activity for your next “date night” or “girls’ night out”, you’re sure to find something you love among all the fun classes and programs offered here.


Click here to download the full May-August Class Schedule. Learn more by going here.


adult ice cream and sorbetsADULT ICE CREAM AND SORBETS

Thursday, August 4, 6-8:30 pm – $40


Downtown Market GR teams up with Love’s Ice Cream to teach you all about what goes into making great ice cream while enjoying a few light snacks along the way. Must be 21 or older Register here.


summer bbq essentialsSUMMER BBQ ESSENTIALS

Tuesday, August 9, 6-8:30 pm – $55


Head outside and heat up the grill! You’ll learn to make a variety of marinades for grilled chicken, learn the perfect cooking technique for mouthwatering burgers, and create a light, refreshing coleslaw to put right on your burger. Then you’ll wrap it all up with a grilled pound cake with seasonal fruit. Register here.


hot nights in spanish rivieraHOT NIGHTS IN THE SPANISH RIVIERA

Wednesday, August 17, 6-8:30 pm – $65

Take a food journey to the Spanish Riviera with Spanish style grilled meats and seafood; baby octopus salad, sweet potato empanadas and torta Santiago (the classic Spanish almond cake). Register here.


intro to home cocktailingINTRO TO HOME COCKTAILING

Tuesday, August 30, 6-7:30 pm – $35


You’ll learn the top techniques and tools to become an expert at your own bar. Get hands-on experience in shaking (classic Margarita), stirring (traditional Manhattan) and muddling (seasonal smash) your way to a better home bar. Register here.



Check out the August schedule here.



5th Annual GRJazzFest announces line-up April 27


By GRandJazzFest


Summer’s still quite a way off, but it’s never too early to get excited about good jazz!


GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation returns to Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., this Aug. 20 and 21, for the fifth annual festival. The popular family-friendly festival, which attracted more than 10,000 people last year, is West Michigan’s only free, weekend-long jazz festival. The two-day festival will again be free because of Presenting Sponsor DTE Energy Foundation, the City of Grand Rapids and other sponsoring organizations and individuals.


Edye Evans Hyde performed last year

“Grand Rapids and West Michigan have embraced GRandJazzFest,” founder Audrey Sundstrom said. “We’re proud to say GRandJazzFest is one of the most diverse, community-oriented festivals for people who live here, who travel here, and who want to enjoy two days of great live music in a vibrant downtown setting. THIS is what community is all about.”


Each year, GRandJazzFest has been held at Rosa Parks Circle in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids to enable festival-goers to take in all that downtown has to offer: restaurants, clubs, museums, microbreweries and shops. The festival typically occurs during Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids. The festival’s location provides easy access to those who ride the bus, walk or bike, and is also close to parking.


The 2016 festival lineup will be announced on April 27 at the House of Entertainment and Music (H.O.M.E.) at The B.O.B. That night at H.O.M.E., the band Evidence led by saxophonist Michael Doyle takes the stage. Evidence performed at the 2014 GRandJazzFest.


Like last year’s reveal, festival organizers will coordinate with leaders at International Jazz Day to include GRandJazzFest’s reveal announcement as a sanctioned International Jazz Day event.


At the 2016 festival in August, 11 diverse jazz artists and bands will perform, including a student jazz band and two major headline acts.

Walt Gutowski performed last year


Free face painting by Fancy Faces will be available for kids and, if lines aren’t too long, for “kids at heart.”


GR and Jazz (the non-profit, all-volunteer-run producer of GRandJazzFest) is pleased to announce a special collaboration with the Grand Rapids Art Museum: Under an agreement with GRAM, the festival’s VIP area will be located on the GRAM front terrace where refreshments and snacks will be provided. The VIP area is for sponsors of GRandJazzFest. Additionally, GRAM will have an outdoor bar area set up at the base of its front steps adjoining Rosa Parks Circle for attendees who would like to purchase and consume refreshments and enjoy the festival.


Grand Rapids city commissioners approved GRandJazzFest as one of 24 events that it will co-sponsor in 2016, a distinction only given to events that have proven to be successful and enrich the community. GRandJazzFest 2015 received distinction as a Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. Signature Event along with two other festivals, ArtPrize and LaughFest.


In addition to DTE Energy Foundation, the City of Grand Rapids, and GRAM, sponsors for the 2016 event to date include GR and Jazz, IntentPR, Gilmore Collection, Comcast, Hilger Hammond, Amway Hotel Corporation, Experience Grand Rapids, ICON Sign, Meijer, Moxie Men Incorporated, Hungerford Nichols, WGVU, Steelcase and Clark Hill. Sponsorship opportunities are here.

Grupo Aye performed last year


“We are so grateful to all of our sponsors for their support – we could not do it without them,” Sundstrom said. “We’re seeking additional sponsors to help us bring a full weekend of FREE, family-friendly live jazz performances to West Michigan!”


Get a taste of past GRandJazzFests by viewing the “recap” videos here.


More information on the 5th annual GRandJazzFest presented by DTE Energy Foundation can be found here and at the festival’s Facebook and Twitter sites.

Big Screen Cuisine: ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ March 13 at the Downtown Market and UICA

grand budapest hotelBy UICA

Join the Downtown Market and UICA for Big Screen Cuisine, the scrumptious series and hands-on cooking lessons at the Downtown Market inspired by your favorite food-focused films.

Enjoy dinner and a movie, Wes Anderson style. Learn how to make Courtesans Au Chocolat inspired by the film’s pastry shop, Mendle’s. After indulging in delicious pastry treats, head to the UICA Movie Theater to watch the film.


About Grand Budapest Hotel:
In the 1930s, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a popular European ski resort, presided over by concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes). Zero, a junior lobby boy, becomes Gustave’s friend and protege. Gustave prides himself on providing first-class service to the hotel’s guests, including satisfying the sexual needs of the many elderly women who stay there. When one of Gustave’s lovers dies mysteriously, Gustave finds himself the recipient of a priceless painting and the chief suspect in her murder.


Sunday, March 13, 2016
Class/Dinner: 3:00-5:00 pm at Downtown Market, 435 Ionia St. SW, Grand Rapids.
Call 616.805.5308 for more info and to register.


Movie: 5:30 pm at UICA, 2 Fulton West, Grand Rapids.
Call 616.454.7000 for more info.




Includes class registration, snacks, and movie admission.

Wyoming KDL Vegan Cooking Demo Draws a Crowd

Vegan1By: Carrie Bistline


Youth Librarian and workshop presenter Kristen “Kris” Siegel demonstrated how to cook easy, delectable vegan comfort foods this past weekend, proving that opting for vegan does not equate a sacrifice for the palate. The spread included demos and taste samples for brunch, lunch, dinner and dessert, using a multiple-table spread spanning half the width of the Wyoming KDL community room.


“I’m a vegan for animal rights, environmental and health reasons,” said Kris, who has been vegan since 2009. She admitted to the audience that switching to vegan wasn’t easy, initially. It took practice, preparation, trials and errors and a great deal of help from her ever-growing collection of vegan cookbooks. She’s found a routine, formed her own adaptations, and she’s willing to share her tips for cooking vegan with all who seek the knowledge.


Being a taste-tester myself of each of the samples, I’d say it is absolutely time for Kris to write her own cookbook. Who knew the secret ingredient in Tofu Scramble was the sulfury-smelling black salt? Or that pulverized cashews could replace cheese for a creamy, comfort-food pasta? Or that nutritional yeast can be substituted for cheese in thousands of recipes, including Vegan Basil Pasta?

Vegan Pesto
Vegan Pesto


But wait, did I mention there was dessert? A 95-calorie serving of Genius Chocolate-Chip Blondies, created with the unlikely combo of a 15-ounce can of white beans and peanut butter, among other ingredients.


After successfully entrancing us with the kind of spell only expertly prepared comfort food can induce, Kris sent us on our way with an impressive list of her favorite Vegan resources in Grand Rapids (email Kris Siegel at for a copy), a brochure highlighting her favorite vegan cookbooks (circulated by KDL!) and eight pages of vegan honorable mention comfort food recipes. The recipes included her own addendums with tips on substitutions and meal leftover uses.


While the Wyoming KDL Vegan Cooking Demo left vegans, omnivores and multi-faceted dabbler like me, dazzled and impressed, Kris finds a comfort of her own in her vegan venture. “It makes me feel like I’m in alignment with my beliefs,” she said.


The workshop was not only impressive and educational, but also incredibly genuine.


Next up for Wyoming KDL: Parent and Child Yoga. Visit the KDL Events Website for more info on upcoming events.


Carrie Bistline is a freelance writer, blogger and marketer with an MFA in Creative Writing. She divides her free time amongst family, work, sports and Jane Austen, and uses what’s left to chip away at her every-growing bucket list. 

Discover some of Kentwood’s restaurants in this year’s Taste of Kentwood

Participants check out the 2015 Taste of Kentwood event.
Participants check out the 2015 Taste of Kentwood event.

Every wonder what a Smash Burger tastes like? How about a sub from Boardwalk Subs? Or just curious about what food items Celebration! Cinema has to offer?


Thursday, March 3, area residents will have the opportunity to find out as the Kentwood Park and Recreation Department hosts its 15th Annual Taste of Kentwood at the Kentwood Activities Center, 355 48th St. SE.


“It is a nice opportunity to sample several different offerings from various local places,” said Laura Barbrick, marketing and events coordinator for the City of Kentwood Parks and Recreation.


This year, about 13 restaurants from the Kentwood area will participate. Each restaurant brings in samples of some of its well-known food items. Participants sign up for one of the two sessions, 4:30 – 6 p.m. or 6:30 – 8 p.m., and during the session go from table-to-table trying the various foods.


“There will be a nice variety from soup, sandwiches, burgers, pasta, curry dishes and Mexican food,” Barbrick said. There are about 13 restaurants participating in this year’s event. Those restaurants include Peppino’s Grille and Pizzeria, Zoup!, Bloop Frozen Yogurt, Rak Thai, Pizza Ranch, Smash Burger, Jet’s Pizza, Potbelly, On the Border, Boardwalk Subs, Dave & Buster’s and Celebration! Cinema.


The annual event, which is marking its 15th year this year, is quite popular, bringing in about 500 people to the 2015 event, according to Barbrick. On average, Taste of Kentwood raises about $3,000 – this includes money from a silent auction – which is used to provide scholarships to programs at the City of Kentwood Parks and Recreation.


Tickets for the event are$5 in advance and $7 at the door. Children 5 & under are free. For more information or other City of Kentwood Park and Recreation programs, visit the department’s website.

Gravity Taphouse Grille and Aryana’s Restaurant and Lounge kick it up a notch for Cool Brews. Hot Eats.

kathy_grayWhat does Beer City, U.S.A. do to escape the winter blahs? It hosts a week-long craft beer and even craftier cuisine celebration called Cool Brews. Hot Eats. From Feb. 17 through Feb. 28, nearly 50 local eateries will be showcasing special menu items, some made with beer, some paired with beer, all leading up to the 11th Annual Winter Beer Festival at Fifth Third Ballpark, 4500 West River Dr. NE, Comstock Park, Feb. 26 and 27.

Gravity Taphouse Grille


Gravity Taphouse Grille, 3210 Deposit Dr. NE, Grand Rapids, will be participating in Cool Brews. Hot Eats. for the second year. Chef Mary Hunter has been planning her dishes very thoughtfully for months, while General Manager, Jeremy Edwards–using his extensive experience with craft brews–worked to find the perfect pairings for each dish. Edwards explains, “The pairings offer a chance to compliment or contrast the flavors of each recipe.” Not only is each dish paired with a unique beer, beer is also incorporated into the recipe, used as a marinade, brine, or sauce.


Gravity will have three unique offerings during Beer Week:


Beer-brined Chicken Wings using Unruly 21 Guns, tossed in a Sesame Shiso Glaze, served with a carrot and celery slaw (paired with Unruly 21 Guns)

mystery meat at gravity
Filet of beef marinated in New Holland Poet Oatmeal Stout


Filet of beef marinated in New Holland Poet Oatmeal Stout, served on a bed of Butternut Stout grits, Gremolata, and a Stout Brown sauce (paired with New Holland The Poet)


Sticky Toffee Pudding, served with a Black Pepper Fig Caramel sauce (paired with Founder’s Dirty Bastard)

Sticky Toffee Pudding


Brewers in West Michigan are a very collaborative and supportive group. With the explosion of the number of breweries in the state of Michigan, especially locally in the Grand Rapids area, the food industry is growing as well.


“Grand Rapids was well behind the curve,” said Hunter, “Our restaurant offerings were 10-15 years behind those of larger cities like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.”


The need for unique foods made especially to compliment the craft beer expansion has brought Grand Rapids to a new level in the restaurant world. Hunter explains that 17 years ago as a chef, she was the only female in the kitchen and that chefs were almost secretive about recipes and ingredients.

aryana (2)
Aryana’s Restaurant and Lounge


“That is changing,” she states. “Not only are many women staffing the kitchens, but they are part of a more sharing and friendly environment.” Women are also a major clientele of the taprooms and breweries.


Cool Brews. Hot Eats. gives the local craft breweries a chance to showcase their styles, and livens up the restaurant industry in the dreariest month of winter.


“The relationship between beer and restaurants in West Michigan is pushing the limits,” states Edwards. “There’s nowhere to go but up.”


Across town, Aryana’s Restaurant and Lounge (found in the Crowne Plaza, 5700 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids) is participating in Cool Brews. Hot Eats. for the first time. Joseph Fragala, Director of Food and Beverage, states, “Restaurant Week was a huge success for us.” He hopes Cool Brews. Hot Eats. will entice people to come out during February.

aryanna food
Poached apple and rocket arugula


Fragala explains, “Being located in a hotel presents a challenge in some aspects, but it is also a wonderful location to showcase Grand Rapids upscale casual dining while highlighting the terrific numbers of Michigan craft beers to our visitors from out of town.” As with many local eateries, “farm to fork” local produce is a major part of their offerings for Beer Week.


Aryana, with Chef Andrew Sprite, is featuring these pairings:


Poached apple and rocket arugula, toasted pecans, braised beer, and local honey vinaigrette (paired with New Holland Monkey Kingdom (saison/farmhouse ale)

food at aryanna
Herb-marinated grilled duck breast


Herb-marinated grilled duck breast, Michigan IPA-Asiago risotto, and fresh steamed asparagus (paired with Frankenmuth Brewery Batch 69 IPA)


Dark chocolate flourless tart, flame-roasted orange coulis (paired with New Holland The Poet)

aryana dessert
Dark chocolate flourless tart


Whether you are in the mood for just appetizers or want to add an entrée or dessert, this is the week to explore what the Grand Rapids food industry has to offer. Each chef has spent hours to meticulously plan the blend of flavors and special ingredients to tempt your palate. With the craft beer and brewery explosion in West Michigan, no doubt you will find the perfect taste to compliment your meal.


Do your part. Get out, eat yourself silly and beat the blahs!

Cool Brews Hot Eats are Back

The 3rd Annual Cool Brews Hot Eats celebration kicks off today in downtown Grand


Through Feb. 28, fifty-one locations will be offering specialties and classics alike in the celebration of Beer City, USA’s sense of crafted beverages and fulfilling food items. In addition to showcasing the local food and drink offerings, the event will serve as promotional work for more than 100 special winter beer events, including the ever-popular Michigan Brewers Guild’s 11th Annual Winter Beer Festival, which is happening Feb. 26 at Fifth-Third Ballpark.


Among the business participants are franchise locations such as Brann’s Steakhouse on Leonard and a few Bagger Dave’s operations in the area as well as smaller operations just outside of Grand Rapids such as Reds on the River in Rockford, Gravity Taphouse on the East Beltline, and the Bostwick Lake Inn on Belding Road. The event coordinators said they expect to treat thousands of foodies and brew aficionados around the region with exquisite beer-infused dishes, like Oatmeal Stout-braised pot roast, fondue infused by Brewery Vivant Farm Hand Ale, and brownies paired with Bell’s Brewery Double Cream Stout.


This event lends itself to variety, as not every beer celebration should be a stein-only affair. The locations vary from sleek and ultra-modern bar operation (Gravity Taphouse), to classic style inns (Cottage Bar), and middle of the road breweries (Founders Brewing Co.). I have personally visited only five of the participating restaurants, but I look forward to adding the other participants to my personal bucket list.

Source: Fox17
Source: Fox 17

This time around, the event offers an exclusive passport for the Brewsaders who participate, which is slightly different than the regular Beer City Brewader passport. Those who collect eight stamps during the Cool Brews. Hot Eats. will receive a Brewsader koozie and bottle opener as well as a Brewsader t-shirt.


In addition to the prize incentives, participating Brewsaders are eligible for discounted growlers and assorted promotions at more than a dozen restaurants and breweries in the event series. Also of mention are the hotel deals offered in the area coinciding with the event series, giving not just residents the chance to enjoy the festive and delicious happenings.


Citizens and beer enthusiasts from all over are invited to join the celebration, break out the old favorites as well as dare to try the newest brews and food combinations. Y’all have twelve days to experience the fun and the fulfillment of living and experiencing the tastier side of Grand Rapids food and beverages. Enjoy it while it’s here!



Participating restaurants and brewhouses

Deals and Promotions

MI Brewers Guild Winter Beer Festival

Beer Tourism Study

Beer City Hotels

Lenten Fish Fry Dinners at St. John Vianney Parish

St. John Vianney ParishLooking for a Parish to enjoy a fried fish dinner with friends of Christ this Lenten season? Look no further than St. John Vianney Parish on Clyde Park Ave.


Starting this Friday, February 12, and continuing for the next five weeks, St. John Vianney Parish will be hosting their annual fish fry dinners from 4:30 – 7:00 p.m.


It’s an all you can eat meal consisting of fried pollock, baked Icelandic cod, baked potato or fries, coleslaw, rolls, drinks and ice cream. Macaroni and cheese is available for children, and takeout is also available! Cost is $9 for adults, $8 for seniors (60 and older), $5 for children 12 and younger, and free for those under 4.


St. John Vianney Parish is located at 4101 Clyde Park Ave. SW in Wyoming. Those attending are asked not to park in the handicapped parking spots, or enter the building, until 4 p.m.

Take Date Night to a Whole New Level

Like-Water-for-ChocolateTreat yourself or your loved one to an unforgettable night of food-focused entertainment. Enjoy the classic romance film, Like Water for Chocolate in the UICA Movie Theater. Then, head to the Downtown Market where market chefs will put together a delectable sixcourse dinner inspired by the food featured in the movie complete with drink pairings.


 Chef’s Dinner:

– Cocktail: Mezcal, pineapple, chile, honey, cinnamon, and lime
– Green salad with crispy pork, avocado, and tomato
– Vinho verde rose
– Chiles in walnut sauce
– Chateau L’Aqueria Tavel
– Quail in rose-petal sauce
– Adelsheim Pinot Noir
– Turkey mole
– Langmeil Shiraz-viognier
– Oaxacan cream fritters
– Cocktail: tepache, blanco tequila, wild thyme, and lemon

like water for chocolate needs cropping


About Like Water for Chocolate:
The youngest daughter in her family, the beautiful Tita (Lumi Cavazos) is forbidden to marry her true love, Pedro (Marco Leonardi) because tradition dictates that Tita must care for her mother. So, Pedro weds her older sister, Rosaura (Yareli Arizmendi), though he still loves Tita. The situation creates much tension in the family, and Tita’s powerful emotions begin to surface in fantastical ways through her cooking. As the years pass, unusual circumstances test the enduring love of Pedro and Tita.


$75 per person


Includes six-course chef dinner, drink pairings, and movie.


Like Water for Chocolate
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Movie: 3:00 pm
Class/Dinner: 5:30 pm


Reserve your tickets today.

Grand Rapids Downtown Market Introduces Artisanal Michigan Pop-Up Marketplace

Downtown Market 3The Grand Rapids Downtown Market recently announced a once-monthly artisanal Michigan Pop-Up Marketplace, which will focus solely on Michigan-made and grown goods such as home decor, furniture and art as well as locally produced food and farm fresh produce.


The Michigan Pop-Up Marketplace will launch May 22, and take place on the fourth Sunday of every month through September under the Market Shed. Hours will be 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


“There is no shortage of creativity in West Michigan, and as we look to build on the mission of the Downtown Market, we are working to create more accessibility to artisan products whether they be in the form of food, art or function,” said Mimi Fritz, president and CEO of the Downtown Market. “By launching the Michigan Pop-Up Marketplace, we can provide a strong platform, resources and opportunities to small artisans and artists who are looking for a low barrier of entry to consumers.”


In addition to the Michigan Pop-Up Marketplace, the Downtown Market will continue to host its other popular programming, including the Vintage Street Market, second Sunday of each month starting May 8, free “Chefs at the Market” and “Kids at the Market” summer activities each week, with the chef demos on Tuesdays and kids activities on Saturdays outside in the Market Shed.


Guests can also enjoy Downtown Market Happy Hour, an outdoor bar featuring cocktails and craft beer selections from 4:00 p.m. — 7:00 p.m. every Wednesday starting in June.


Grand Rapids has become recognized as a destination for makers, artisans and food entrepreneurs. The Grand Rapids Downtown Market is committed to providing resources and opportunities for those entrepreneurs, while ensuring consumers of all background have accessibility to healthy food options. The introduction of the new Michigan Pop-Up Marketplace aligns with this ideal.

Here’s a Great Date Night Idea: ‘Sideways’ and Wine Tasting at the UICA

sidewaysBy Victoria Mullen


Make it a great date night, and enjoy a special wine tasting led by a professional sommelier. You’ll savor the wines featured in the hit movie, Sideways and complement your palette with appetizers and charcuterie. Then follow the class to the UICA Movie Theater to watch the film on the big screen with a whole new appreciation.


About Sideways:
Struggling writer and wine enthusiast Miles (Paul Giamatti) takes his engaged friend, Jack (Thomas Haden Church), on a trip to wine country for a last single-guy bonding experience. While Miles wants to relax and enjoy the wine, Jack is in search of a fling before his wedding, sending the trip into disarray.


Sunday, January 24, 2016
Class: 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Movie: 5:30 pm


$48 per person includes class registration, food, wine, and movie admission. Reserve your tickets today.

What’s the Big Brew-ha-ha? Beer Week GR, Of Course!

beer week

By Victoria Mullen


Hmmm. Sense that? There’s something in the air.


No, not a smell, specifically. And it isn’t something you can readily see. It’s more like a growing vibe. Or anticipation. Or something.


Ah, yes. There is something brewing in Grand Rapids, and it’s the 4th Annual Beer Week GR, February 17-28. Founded in 2012, the event celebrates and promotes the craft beer culture in the greater Grand Rapids area through a series of unique beer events.


Beer Week GR has grown into a 12-day event that is not only a celebration for beer lovers, but also the local economy,” said Doug Small, President and CEO of Experience Grand Rapids. “The Grand Rapids area beer scene continues to be recognized on a national level. Paired with our ever-popular Cool Brews. Hot Eats. collaboration with more than 50 local restaurants, as well as the popular Winter Beer Festival, Beer Week GR offers beer and culinary fans a unique experience during a period of the year not known to draw as many leisure visitors to the area.”


Ohhhh, yeah. You’ll need your strength–you know, something to soak up that delicious craft beer–and Cool Brews. Hot Eats. is just the ticket. Sort of like killing two birds with one stone (so to speak): Fill the belly and celebrate perfect pairings (food and beer, of course) as local chefs and brew masters offer beer-infused dishes and meals with complementary beer pairings. We’ve listed just a sampling of participating eateries at the end.


But that’s not all, folks.




The 2016 Winter Beer Festival (the 11th annual) will feature more than 100 Michigan breweries and approximately 1,000 different craft beers. Guests will enjoy fine music from local bands and other fun entertainment, and a selection of tasty food will be available for purchase. Takes place at Fifth Third Ball Park, 4500 West River Dr. NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321. $45 in advance, $50 at the gate, (if still available—tickets sell out fast). ‘Enthusiast Members’ with a valid membership ID card are invited to enter an hour early (at 2 pm on Friday / noon on Saturday) to enjoy VIP entry prior to General Admission.


So, devoting 12 days to celebrating beer sounds logical, right? Well, we have inquiring minds over here. What’s the real reason behind this big brew-ha-ha? Why did it start in the first place? Instead of going straight to the sources and asking the founders and powers that be–because, let’s face it, that would be too damn easy–we thought it would be fun to hazard a guess or two.


Maybe we hit the nail on the head. Maybe not. But here’s what we came up with:

  1. “They” started this whole thing to prevent people from going off the deep end in mid-winter. Gets mighty gray around these parts.
  2. They wanted to carve out a niche for Grand Rapids because there will never be enough lists for us to conquer.
  3. They just wanted an excuse to drink beer.


The last, seemingly simplest reason makes the most sense, so we’re going with that, but hell, any way you look at it, it’s win-win-win for craft beer aficionados because the brews will be a-flowing February 17-28.


Yes, the last week of February definitely will be beer-centric and if you’re feeling left out, maybe it’s time to join in the fun. Sure, you could stay inside and cuddle up to a fire with a good book. But where’s the fun in that? No, the answer to braving the elements is beer. We wouldn’t expect anything less from the ‘Best Beer Town.’


For a schedule of all the special events surrounding Beer Week GR, go here.


Cool Brews. Hot Eats. participating eateries:
Bagger Dave’s- Fulton
Black Heron Kitchen & Bar
Blue Water Grill
Bobarino’s at the B.O.B.
Bostwick Lake Innbeer week graphic
Brann’s – Leonard
Brewery Vivant
CitySen Lounge at CityFlats Hotel
Cork Wine & Grille
The Cottage Bar
Donkey Taqueria
El Barrio Mexican Grill
Elk Brewing
FireRock Grille
Flat River Grill
Founders Brewing Co.
Gilly’s at the B.O.B.
Grand Rapids Brewing Company
Gravity Taphouse Grille
Green Restaurant
The Green Well
Harmony Brewing Company
Harmony Hall
The Heritage Restaurant (at GRCC)
Horseshoe Smokehouse
Judson’s at the B.O.B.
Kitchen 67, A Michigan Bistro
Luna Grand Rapids
One Trick Pony
Osteria Rossa
Pearl Street Grill
Ramona’s Table
Reds on the River
Rockford Brewing Company
Rose’s on Reeds Lake
Rush Creek Bistro
Terra GR
Tom + Chee
The Winchester

Check back often, more locations are being added daily. Menus for participating locations will be announced on February 1, 2016.

Interested in participating? Contact Kate Herron –

Area hotels are offering complementary shuttle service to and from the festival to get you there safely. More information here. It’s the responsible thing to do.