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

Like this post? Then, be sure to SUBSCRIBE.

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,, 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.

2014-11-20 19.48.55


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.

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.


The Sovengard

Can you picture a beer garden here? Rick Muschiana can. I met him when he was the assistant general manager at Brewery Vivant. Over the past few years, I’ve watched his career and his family, with wife Kelly, expand. Their current project is especially exciting.

The project: The Sovengard Biergarten and Kitchen. It’s a small restaurant and beer garden to be located in Grand Rapids’ near west side. They’ve selected a space between where New Holland and Harmony will be opening their second brewery locations. One of the main features will be an outdoor biergarten that will utilize repurposed shipping containers.

Muschiana has a rough translation of the name Sovengard, which originates from Danish and Norwegian words. “So” means lake, “ven” means friends and “gard” is a general term for a piece of land = “Land of the Lake Friends.”

Much of the funding is secured, and there was always an intention to include a crowd funding campaign to get the community involved early. View their Indiegogo page to see the cool gifts you can get for lending your support. Hurry! Because, the campaign ends June 30th.

During my visit, we spoke extensively about local food and sustainability. The Sovengard has a progressive company culture that’s a departure from the status quo in the restaurant industry and ties into their sustainability goals.

The menu will feature locally sourced food; they’re starting to talk to farmers and producers. The menu will include a lot of vegetarian and vegan options, since that’s a priority the Muschiana family. It will also include thoughtfully sourced animal products and fish in moderation. “It’s important to research the food source,” said Muschiana; “especially the animal products. Seasonal and humanely raised food are part of our developing sustainability mission.”

The food style will be loosely based on a Scandinavian food theme. The menu will change frequently, featuring everything from small plates to full entrees. The drink menu will largely focus on Michigan produced products. “However, we feel that honoring current producers who’ve been doing things the right way for a long time is also important, and therefore, we will have some high quality continental and European offerings too. Think: new school meets old school,” said Muschiana.

He continued, “Restaurants like Grove, Reserve, Terra GR, and Brewery Vivant cultivated the concept of great cuisine in Grand Rapids in the diner’s minds. We want to build on this and add this new cultural exposure.” Muschiana noted that our seasons here in Michigan are similar to Scandinavia and both areas are surrounded by water.

The Sovengard is scheduled to open later this year and will be designed to include greenspace, which the owners feel is an important element in the center of the city. For now, visit their social media pages:

A Gathering at Ganders

IMG_1543When you think of local food in Grand Rapids, which areas do you think you will find it? Uptown and Downtown? Well, yes BUT, take a look at the new Ganders Restaurant (named for Michigander!) in the DoubleTree hotel near the airport. They have a great Michigan menu filled with Michigan seasonal produce, dairy, beans, and meats, along with beer, wine, and spirits.


Monday – Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. (Kitchen is open until 11:00 p.m.)
Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. (Kitchen is open until 11:00 p.m.)
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

They also have private and semi-private spaces for groups. They recently hosted the West MI area bloggers for a complimentary dinner event. It was great to learn about other blogs over such delicious, locally sourced food. Give them a try!



Although my dinner was provided by the restaurant, these opinions are my own.