Lower Peninsula

Michigan Food Producers 

I’m always amazed to see the large number of creative Michigan food producers as I travel around the state. Here’s what I found while at VegFest 2016 in Novi, MI. Look for them online, in stores, and at farmers markets.


I’ve had El Cardenal salsa and tamales when they were in Grand Rapids. Delish!


Ope’s came all the way from Kalamazoo.


Bob loves the spicy popcorn from Cynt-Sation.


A vegan? Where do you get your protein? From lentil snacks!! I’ve also seen these at the Royal Oak Farmers Market. 


MI Pops are from Mason, MI.


Lots of great flavor selection.


Detroit BBQ!

IMG_1050 Available in West MI, Kalamazoo, and Lansing.


Whole food bars.

IMG_1053 Great to find a product with MI oats!


I’ve purchased this pasta at the Detroit Eastern Market; good substitute for those avoiding wheat.


What’s not to like about vegan soft serve?


I had to try a doughnut!


First time I had these was in the U.P. They are available in many areas of MI.


Gotta have some savory with the sweet!


Gourmet Dressings.


More gourmet – from Clarkston.


Bakery that caters to those with food sensitivities.


More MI granola!


Oh my. Pie is my favorite dessert.



Preserves and condiments made in MI.




Get your gut health here! The Brinery in Ann Arbor.


They also have fitness sessions.


Looks like a great choice for a special occasion.

To see the restaurants at VegFest Novi 2016, visit this link.

To Live For

You’ve heard people describe a meal as “To die for,” right? Well there’s a new restaurant, GreenSpace Café, in Ferndale, MI which serves food to LIVE for. It’s owned by the Kahn Family; Dr. Joel Kahn is a Detroit area cardiologist. He, his wife, Karen, and their son Dan hatched a plan to provide healthy, plant-based food that is delicious and served with ambiance. Of course, I had to visit!


They chose Ferndale because it’s centrally located, and the residents have a reputation of being progressive and community minded. It’s about a 20 minute drive from anywhere in the Detroit area.


The Kahns and their staff are interested in building strong relationships in the area – including with local farmers. They source from a variety of local farmers and food producers, and will frequent farmers’ markets during the growing season. The Martin Family Farm of Capac, MI is a major supplier.


They use locally produced maple syrup, as well as tempeh and sauerkraut from The Brinery. There are several Michigan beers on the drink menu: Bell’s, Founders, Short’s, Roak, and El Chavo. The custom cocktail menu features fresh pressed juices from Drought (which also has a sales space in the front of the restaurant.)


I spoke with the café’s publicist, Cyndi Summers. She said, “The food is fresh and flavorful, and full of healthy ingredients in support of Dr. Kahn’s goal of preventing one million heart attacks. The concept is also eco-friendly, because eating plant-based is the ‘greenest’ way to eat; and we emphasize how delicious, nutritious plant-based meals will leave our customers satisfied.”


Talking to Summers reminded me of meal I had in Chicago several years ago. My (meat-eating) colleague said that he thinks about what he’s hungry for and then finds it on the menu. And, I said, I find something on the menu that can be adjusted without being ruined, and just eat it.


So, finding a restaurant where I can eat anything is a real treat – and a quandary. I’m not used to being able to choose from more than a couple of items! Fortunately, the menu features a lot of small plates, so we could try several items. We did, and they were all delicious. We will be back!


Visit their Facebook page, where you can view a copy of the day’s menu (and order carry out if you like).  The photos below are courtesy of GreenSpace Café.

GS cheese board

GS soup

GS tempeh burger

GS salad

GS cocktail

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8th Annual Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival

Grand Rapids Wine Beer and Food FestivalThis is my favorite festival of THE YEAR! It’s happening in Grand Rapids on Thursday, Nov. 19 (5-10pm), Friday, Nov. 20 (4pm-10pm), and Saturday, Nov. 21 (Noon-10pm) and held at DeVos Place, Downtown. There’s nearly three acres of food, beer, wine, cider, fun and more! It’s $15 – Thursday (and advanced ticket sales for Friday & Saturday); $20 – Friday & Saturday. A day pass is available for $40, this option allows admission each day of the Festival and is intended for those who want to get the most out of their tasting experience. Online sales end Thursday, Nov. 19 at 5pm (Box Office sales for the pass end at 10pm on Thursday, Nov. 19). All food and beverage samples require varied amounts of sampling tickets of 50-cent denominations (sold at the Festival). It is suggested that guests start with at least $20 worth of tasting tickets. Attendance at this festival is for those 21 years of age and older. ID is required for admittance.

Follow me on Instagram for my highlights!

Below is their 2015 media information.

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

Beer City Station — The Festival’s popular beer area has been moved to the Main Floor of DeVos Places (off the Grand Gallery in Exhibit Hall C, meaning no more congestion and no more lines! Step into the world of creative craft beers, imported and domestic brews, hard ciders and foods that pair well with both. Meet the American craft brewer—the small, independent and traditional producers who display passion and excitement for their unique beverages. New products, as well as traditional favorites, will be offered for sampling.

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

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

Five select restaurants partner with distinguished wineries and breweries for special Pairings – gourmet multi-course meals served on-site in a casual yet intimate “bar top” setting. Tickets are $45-$60 each and may be purchased in advance online or at the Festival on a first-come, first-served basis. This year’s restaurants include: Ganders, San Chez, six.one.six, Vintage Prime & Seafood and Wolfgang Puck’s The Kitchen. Buy tickets online here.

Additionally, chefs from the 14 of the area’s top restaurants prepare and serve small plates of their culinary specialties.

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

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

Shop the Riverfront Market for gourmet food, specialty items, wine accessories and holiday gifts including chocolates, pastas, cheeses, oils, olives, sauces, mixes, dips and more—even fashion! Cash and carry or order for easy delivery.

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

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We CraVe Detroit

Chef Jared DelarioOver the past few years I’ve enjoyed getting to know the Southeast Michigan area. Before I started blogging about all of MI I had only visited the Detroit area for business. There’s so much going on there!

The pop-up supper club, We CraVe Detroit is one thing now happening in the area. I heard about it through a colleague, Chef Jared Dellario; he has cooked professionally for the last 13 years in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids, Las Vegas, New York, Ann Arbor, and now in Metro Detroit. I originally met him when he was the chef at Casa Bolero in Kalamazoo.

We CraVe Detroit create the pop-ups all around the Detroit area. The venues, menus, and chefs all change depending on the event. “We love to connect people, and this is a great way to do that,” said cofounder Vera DeVera. She partners with Craig Dalrymple who is originally from Western Michigan. CraVe comes from a blending of their first names. (So cute, right?) They previously lived in San Francisco Bay area where they organized pop-ups since the early 2000s. The dinners are held twice monthly; locations vary.

I attended a dinner in mid-October at a private home in Bloomfield Hills. It was a deconstructed craft beer dinner with Michigan beers and local food from Detroit Eastern Market and Kalamazoo People’s Food Co-op. And, the food was delicious. Chef Jared was able to adjust the menu to suit my plant-based diet. See the posted photos; below them is the original menu. If you have diet considerations check with We Crave Detroit before ordering tickets.

Click here to see what they have coming up!

purple cauliflower

purple cauliflower

Go ahead, put beer in your squash and bake it.

Go ahead, put beer in your squash and bake it.

Last of the MI blueberries on risotto.

Last of the MI blueberries over risotto

Apple dessert!

MI apple dessert

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Here’s the original menu from the October dinner.
Amuse: “Starter Wort” Maple Creek Micro Greens tossed in Citrus Emulsion, Berkshire Bacon, Bosc Pear with English Style Pale Ale

1st Course: “Yeast and Malt” Fish and Chips Rosemary Pomme Frittes, Amber ale, and Malt-battered Perch

2nd Course: “Mash Making” Red Devil Squash, Serrano and Thai Chile Hybrids, Pineapple heirloom tomatoes, Sweet Onion Marmalade, Zingerman’s Great Lakes Cheshire cheese with Reduced Wheat Ale

3rd Course: “Sparging & Boil” Blueberry Duck Duo Confit Duck Confit and Grilled Breast Over English Hops and Lemon Balm Risotto with IPA Blueberry Compote.

4th Course: “Cooling” English Shortbread Sandwich Ginger and Vanilla Shortbread Cookies, Cinnamon Basil Gelato, and Vanilla Stout Cream Sauce

EarthKeeper Farm in the Fall

fall 2015Last autumn I visited the three-generation homestead of EarthKeeper Farm located ‘on the ridge’ near Grand Rapids. I’d met farmer Andrew Bostwick at the Fulton St. Farmers Market; I’ve been purchasing his produce for a couple of years. After writing a conventional apple blog series last year, I went to the farm to explore organic apple farming.

The farm is certified organic and biodynamic by the Stellar certification body. This is the second part of a two-part series. The first was posted last spring; it describes their growing and labor practices.

They grow 50 crops (280 varieties) including garlic, carrots, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, rutabaga, cabbage, broccoli, melons, onions, garden transplants, flowers and herbs. This fall they are selling produce at the Fulton St. Farmers Market in Grand Rapids. Over the winter, they often sell at Sweetwater Farmers Market in Muskegon. However, this year they are not planning on it. So, visit them at Fulton St. until Thanksgiving.

For the fall trip, I specifically went to learn about home cider making. They had a new hand press, and they and their neighbors, family, and friends used it on a regular basis during apple time. They don’t have a commercial space, so they cannot sell the cider. It’s too bad, because it’s has an amazing fresh taste. (Apple slices also dehydrate well and are such a treat over winter.)

Their apples are heirloom Jonathans, planted in 1940s. The cider tastes like an apple fresh from the tree – which of course, it is. It’s a pretty simple process. The apples are sorted, and the ones with no damage (normally about 20% since they are never sprayed with pesticides) are sold at the farmers market for general eating. The others are used as home apple sauce and cider.

Hand pressing apples is a pretty simple process – and a good ABS work out. After the apples are picked, sorted, and rinsed they are sent through a grinder that chops them up as they land into a bucket lined with a netted bag. The contents are divided by plastic screens to aid in the pressing process. Then the apples in the bucket are pressed by cranking down a round wooden board. Out drops the golden juice.

I’m totally spoiled with the fabulous fresh taste! This is too bad, because the hard winter damaged the trees, and so there were not enough apples to sell this year. They will be spending time this winter planning some additions to the orchard.

Visit them at Fulton St. Farmers Market until Thanksgiving. They are there on Saturdays from 8am to 3pm, and occasionally Fridays during peak season. Read my Spring post about the farm here.




Traverse City Hidden Gems

Old Mission PeninsulaMichigan is a popular place to visit during the summer months especially. That’s why all live here, right? We all have a favorite hiding place – away from the crowds. I’m sharing with you some of the fantastic foodie places that I’ve come across in the Traverse City area. These locally owned businesses are either brand new or a bit off the beaten path.

Northern Natural restaurant and cidery is on the east end of Front Street in downtown. The restaurant opened in a couple of years ago and supports 29 farms. They serve several flavored ciders made with Michigan apples. The food menu is small, but I always enjoy my meals in their casual atmosphere.

Harbor View Nursery and Lavender Farm has a stand on Center Rd. on Old Mission Peninsula. They sell lavender plants, dried lavender flowers, natural body products, and some food products. I took a mini- tour with Sonja Richards and also got some tips for trimming the lavender in my own herb garden.

The lavender ice cream at Harbor View is made by Buchans Blueberry Farm. Their stand is off on Nelson Rd. between Peninsula Dr. and Center Rd. They sell berries, vegetables, ice cream, baked goods, and blueberry confections and snacks. They have a nice play area for kids too.

While in the Traverse City area, I came across a unique product: grape skin flour. It was developed by Grand Traverse Culinary Oils in cooperation with Black Star Farms. According to the package, they start with spent pomace after wine fermentation. The seeds are separated out and cold pressed into grape seed oil. The skins and meal remaining are dried and powdered into flour. It can be used to supplement other flours (one-to-one ratio), and it’s loaded with antioxidants. I found it at the Black Star location in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

Over on Leelanau Peninsula, is the newly open (May 2015) Hoplot Brewery. Founded by two brothers who moved back, from Chicago, to their home state of Michigan. This business includes an actual hop garden onsite. They serve several of their own beers and are working out their menu.

There’s a new ice cream place on Front Street across from the State Theater. Last year it was Cherry Cone, and based on the layout, it had been a Cold Stone Creamery at some point. But, I think that Milk & Honey has it right. They are using locally sourced products for their farm to spoon ice cream; vegan products are available too. They also serve coffee and deli sandwiches.

Acoustic Mead tap room now has me hooked on mead. They use local honey from Sleeping Bear Farms to make several meads flavored with local fruit. They have a piano and other musical instruments for spontaneous music-making (surely inspired by the mead).

Rare Bird Brew Pub is located a bit away from downtown but is still walkable from there. They serve a handful of their own beers along with many MI favorites on draft. They have a small food menu.

You’ve probably heard of the Boathouse on Old Mission Peninsula. But did you know that owner Doug Kosch and his wife own 10 acres on the peninsula where they grow much of the vegetables, fruits, and herbs used in the restaurant? They also raise turkeys, ducks, and chickens – they are fed the raw vegetable scraps saved from the restaurant kitchen.

Many of the wineries in the Traverse City area are now tasting and selling hard cider made from MI apples. So, be sure to look for it on tasting menus. We tasted the one at Chateau Chantal, and it has a classic apple-y flavor. We also tasted a few at Bowers Harbor Vineyard; they were flavored with other fruits and drier. We enjoyed both types, and I think you will too.

I also checked out the new solar panels at Chateau Chantal Winery. Last year I went on their Sensory Treat Tour and blogged about it. There’s still time to travel around northern Michigan before ‘the snow flies’. But, really any time is fantastic in the Grand Traverse Area.

LEARN TO EAT LOCAL – all over Michigan!


Tasting hard ciders at Northern Natural.

Tasting hard ciders at Northern Natural.

Lavender garden at Harbor View Nursery and Lavender Farm.

Lavender garden at Harbor View Nursery and Lavender Farm.


Look for the Buchans Farm on Nelson Rd.

Grape Skin Flour - can't wait to bake with it when the weather cools off.

Grape Skin Flour – can’t wait to bake with it when the weather cools off.

Hoplot Brewery is in a beautiful setting on Leelanau Peninsula.

Hoplot Brewery is in a beautiful setting on Leelanau Peninsula.

My new go-to for treats.

My new go-to for treats.

I love the creative re-use at Acoustic Mead tap room.

I love the creative re-use at Acoustic Mead tap room.

Brew list at Rare Bird.

Brew list at Rare Bird.

The Boathouse on Old Mission peninsula supports the peninsula wineries.

The Boathouse on Old Mission peninsula supports the peninsula wineries.

Flipping the Switch

If you’ve been reading my posts for a while, you would have noticed that I add environmental issues to my foodie stories. Last week I visited with Chateau Chantal Winery president, Marie-Chantal Dalese to check in on how their new photo voltaic (PV) solar panels are doing. They’ve been running for two months now. It’s the largest solar agribusiness installation at a Michigan winery.

The 148.5 kilo Watt (kW) solar array was installed by Harvest Energy Solutions. It’s annual production of 172,351 kW is like saving the CO2 emissions for the electricity of over 18 homes per year. The PV panels are on track to meet the goal of providing 40% of Chateau Chantal’s electrical needs annually.

The panels are tilted not only for sunlight but also so the snow falls off to leave them open for the winter sun. (Yes, we DO have winter sun.)

Below are photographs from the day that the switch was flipped to turn on the panels! Senator Stabenow was on hand for the celebration. (Photos are courtesy of Chateau Chantal.)

Senator Stabenow Chateau Chantal Solar EventCropped

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Day Trip to Our Capital Area

We love to travel around Michigan seeing what’s new in the locally-sourced food scene. We take day, weekend, and sometimes week-long trips – especially during the fabulous Michigan summers!

Last weekend we spent a day in the Lansing area. We started out with a trip to Horrock’s. They had the first Michigan sweet corn that I’d seen for sale. And, they are the go-to for Michigan beer, wine, and hard cider. They have an extensive selection, and a bar area where they fill growlers. They were also sampling wine that day. Personally, I went for the fresh-pressed juices that were packaged and on ice as I walked in the door. It was just what I needed for a road trip.

For our next stop, we went to Bad Brewing Co. in Mason. They have a large variety of beers on tap. Also in downtown Mason, is The Vault Deli which has a vault full of wines. No, really. The building used to be a bank. Mason is a quick trip south of Lansing, and a place I’d like to explore more.

The last stop of the day was west of Lansing in Williamston. We had dinner at Gracie’s Place; I had a salad and the stuffed chard in tomato puree. Both were quite good and healthy. This is a place to watch! I chatted with their new Executive Chef, William Davis. He’s doing a lot of research for local food sourcing. I was able to send him some resources to help get his new gig going. Be sure to stop there when in the area and ask for Michigan food and beverages. I hope to do a full blog post about them soon.


Extensive MI Beverage Selection at Horrock’s in Lansing


Sampling at Bad Brewing Co. in Mason, MI


The Vault Deli wine shop area.


First course at Gracie’s Place in Williamston.


Stuffed Chard at Gracie’s Place.


Pyle Dairy Farm

Ever wonder what a dairy cow on a small Michigan dairy farm does all day? I actually did wonder. I pay a lot of attention to how food animals are raised. Do you? I visited Pyle Dairy Farm as part of a day-long blogging tour organized by Promote Michigan. I suspect, as far as the dairy cow lifestyle goes, that this is as good as it gets. (Don’t assume that any other farm raised animals are treated like these cows. Do your research if you care about animal treatment!!)

When our travel bus arrived, the whole Pyle family was there to greet us. This Michigan Centennial Farm is run by the sixth generation. By the time of our mid-morning arrival, 130 cows had been milked. They are 100% registered Holsteins(R).

So, what’s the life of a Holstein dairy cow (and farmer) like? Well, in this case they hang out in a barn with a sand floor and giant fans on the ceiling. Cows get stressed at about 72 degrees, and the fans keep the temperature tolerable for them. There are shades on the sides of the structure to block heat or cold and for sun control.

Bred to produce way more milk than a calf could ever need, they are milked twice daily – at 4:00 am and 3:00 pm. The whole process, including clean-up, takes the farmers three hours. Twice daily, the cows also get fed, and the manure is removed from the barn.

The manure is stored with waste water from washing the milking parlor, and this is used twice per year to fertilize the fields. What’s in the fields? It’s hay and corn to feed the cows and a little wheat to use for straw bedding.

By two years of age, they are old enough to calve. The cows are artificially inseminated, which I was told they don’t seem to mind. When the calves are born, they are removed to another barn filled with other calves. Each newbie is in her own stall at first. They are fed their mother’s milk (by a farmer) for four days. (I was told by another farmer that they don’t feed directly, because they will feed from any cow and many cows, so they could spread diseases between the herd members.) The female calves are kept as future milking cows and the males are sold – often as beef.

After the initial four days, they are fed a milk replacer – much like human babies are often fed formula. After a few weeks some grain is added to their menu. At seven weeks old, they are ready to be with the other calves eating all grains.

The milker is electronic and each cow has a tag, so the amount of milk can be tracked to tell if they are running out of milk or potentially sick. There are NO bovine growth hormones used on these cows.

The milk gets filtered, pre-cooled, and bulk tanked. Off it goes to either Hudsonville Ice Cream or Leprino Cheese.

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July Staycation is Pure Michigan

The weather in the Grand Rapids area has been absolutely blissful lately as you can see if you are following my Instagram account. This weekend we were outside as much as possible. Here’s what we saw.

1 Reeds Lake

On Thursday afternoon we walked around Reeds Lake in E. Grand Rapids.

4 New Holland

Friday lunch was in Downtown Holland at New Holland Brewing Co. where I tried a drink with one of their spirits.

2 Blueberries at Blueberry Haven

Then, off to explore Grand Haven where we purchased the first MI blueberries of the season.

5 Victorian Kitchen in Museum

Did you know that there is a museum in downtown Grand Haven? It has this cute victorian kitchen.

4 Patricias Choc

Patricia’s Chocolate is opening a storefront in downtown Grand Haven soon!

4 Oddside Ales

A quick, shared taster at Oddside Ales.

3 12 Corners in Grd Haven

12 Corners has a new tasting room in the piano factory bld. in Grand Haven.

8 Ferrysburg beach

Always a beach stop – this is in Ferrysburg.

7 R C Tacos

Tacos for dinner at Righteous Cuisine in Grand Haven.

9 WP Trail

Saturday we took a bike ride on the White Pine Trail

10 maple almonds

Earlier, at the farmers market, I had picked up this maple almond snack for the ride.

11 Sweetlands in Rockford

There’s a Sweetland’s in downtown Rockford now! Dang, not open on the holiday.

12 Mangiamo

After Sunday brunch with family, we walked around the heritage areas of Grand Rapids looking at gardens. Mangiamo restaurant garden

13 Winchester

Winchester Restaurant Garden

14 Henry

Henry Ave. garden

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