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Grand Rapids Brewsader Tour

1 Jan

It took me a while to getting around to writing this post – Hubby and I did our own Beer City Brewsader Tour of Grand Rapids, Michigan, over a weekend in the Fall. We mostly walked between breweries (gotta earn our beers!), with a couple of Uber rides thrown in. Since winter is a great time to hang out indoors while tasting craft beers, hopefully this post is still relevant.

Kick off the morning with brunch at Grand Rapids Brewing (1 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503). Have a pint, a beer sampler, or hit the Bloody Mary bar.


Hubby had the breakfast platter – it’s a good amount of food with eggs, a sausage, potatoes, and toast.

For smaller appetites (since you’ll have to pace your eating for the day), there are several brunch appetizers. I had a salad and a Scotch egg – I have a weak spot for Scotch eggs…The sausage was good, but the egg was fully cooked, without the soft-centered yolk I had hoped for.


Don’t forget to ask your server for a Brewsader passport – collect stamps at 8 or more participating Grand Rapids area breweries, then submit your “passport” to receive a free t-shirt (to advertise your love of alcohol, or you can use it as pajamas since it’s very comfy and soft). All of the breweries I mention here are part of the Brewsader program. And if you use the Untapped beer app on your phone, you’ll also get the Brewsader badge (more incentives to drink).

Just a couple doors down you’ll find HopCat ( 25 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503). Grab a seat at the bar for a drink or two. The beer list is great, the bartenders are fantastic, and so is the decor. 

If you need a break from beer, head to the Grand Rapids Downtown Market for a bite to eat – you’ll find soups, tacos, Thai food, pizza, and fantastic ice cream at Love’s. From there, it’s a 1 mile (20 minute) walk along Wealthy Street to ELK Brewing (700 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503). Though ELK’s brews weren’t really my style – I found the flavors too obvious and overpowering – there were a lot of local regulars who came in to refill their growlers.

Then it’s another 20 minute walk (or short cab ride) to Brewery Vivant (925 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506), a brewery in a former historical funeral home. Once inside, under the vaulted ceiling, you’ll feel as if you might be in a small Belgian town. My photos don’t do it justice.


I recommend trying the charcuterie plate at Brewery Vivant:


But save room for dinner, because you’ll want to head to Harmony Brewing Company (1551 Lake Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506) to enjoy some good beer, and some of the best pizza in town (I forgot to take photos because I was too busy devouring that  pizza!)

Finally, finish off the night at Founders Brewing Co. (235 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503), with its large beer hall, fantastic patio, and beer shop. 


Mitten Brewing
If you have room in your belly for one more brewery, kick off Day Two at Mitten Brewing Company (527 Leonard St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504). It’s a bit further afield from the others, but it’s a cool place – in a restored Victorian-era firehouse, decorated with a baseball theme. This place is kid friendly – we saw many families enjoying pizza together. We opted to snack on the trout dip, which is absolutely delicious!!
Happy new year, and happy brewsading!!

Grand Rapids Brewing Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Brewery Vivant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Trendy and Yummy: Cook, Newton

8 Feb

Newtonville finally has a spot worthy of gastronomes, and it’s called Cook. It’s no wonder this place is packed on weekends, even when it’s bitterly cold outside. It can sometimes take a while to be greeted by a host when you first walk through the door, and then wait times for a table easily exceed half an hour.  But it’s all worth it. After my husband and I first visited Cook, we came back for a second meal within a week!

While waiting for a table, we’ll usually grab drinks at the bar – I love the unique habanero blood orange margarita (which I ask for on the milder side because I’m weak sauce when it comes to spice). Cook’s beer and cider list has many of our favorites – Jack’s Abby’s Hoponius Union, Kentucky Bourbon Ale, and Downeast cider, to name a few.

We always kick off our dinner with a couple shrimp tacos – the best I’ve had in the Boston area. The lightly breaded shrimp are delicate and fresh, with avocado, red onion, and crema on a soft tortilla.

Cook, Newton - shrimp taco

The fried calamari is a large portion, with fried pickle slices and mild peppers. Again, lightly breaded. It’s a solid dish, though it doesn’t particularly stand out against the versions at other good restaurants.Cook - calamari

One appetizer that does really stand out is the French onion soup, where melt-in-your-mouth beef accompanies the Gruyere and bread.

Hubby always orders the Bolognese for his main. Hand cut tagliatelle is tossed with veal, pork, beef, and marscapone. We can’t order Bolognese anywhere else now, because it can’t come close to the version at Cook!

Cook - Bolognese

Every night there is a list of specials. I’ve had haddock with hearty heirloom carrots, a chorizo flatbread with goat cheese and cute fingerling potato chips, as well as this lamb sandwich on pitas that are fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside. Yum!


One popular dish which I forgot to nab a photo of is the NFC – three gigantic pieces of delicious fried chicken with a flaky biscuit, fluffy mashed potatoes, and awesome coleslaw. During a recent visit to Cook, 3 out of 4 patrons at the next table all ordered the NFC!

My husband and I usually don’t order dessert at Cook (because we’re stuffed after the appies and mains!) but on one occasion we got the brownie sundae – a big brownie square topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, crunchy chocolate pearls, and a cherry. Definitely large enough to share, though you might not want to.

Servers and bartenders are always attentive each time we’ve dined at Cook .The decor is unpretentious and the atmosphere is warm and lively. My only gripe is that the bench seats at Cook are a bit low and soft, making me feel a bit like a child when I first sit down. All in all, Cook is one of my favourite restaurants in Newton – that ‘s why I keep going back!

Info: Cook, 825 Washington Street, Newton, MA 02460 USA

Cook Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Snow Day: Spiked Coffee and a Bailey’s Liqueur Deal

27 Jan

Irish-CoffeeWinter storm Juno has hit the East coast, with New England getting the worst of it with hurricane-force winds and up to 30 inches of snow in some spots (so far). It’s still snowing here, and travel is still banned in parts of Massachusetts. But I think it’s beautiful outside, and what better way to enjoy a snow day than to snuggle up with a hot mug of spiked coffee?  

One of my favourite coffee drinks is the Nutty Irishman:

  1. Combine 6 oz. coffee + 1 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream + 1 oz. Frangelico
  2. Top with whipped cream


For those of you hit by Juno (residents of Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, and Rhode Island), you can get $10 off Bailey’s Irish Cream*! This brings the price of a 1.75L bottle down to the regular price of a 750 ml bottle).  Just thought I’d share this little deal with you. It’s good for purchases made by February 15, 2015.


*Mail-in rebate for $10 off one 1.75L bottle or one 750ml or larger bottle AND a bottle of Bushmills Irish Honey. The mail-in rebate coupons are found in stores.

Toronto Gems: Fried apples, Milk tea, House-made pita

1 Jan

Happy new year! Not only is this my first post of 2014, but also my 100th post! What could I write about to make this post extra special? Such pressure…So I thought I’d share some gems I recently found in my hometown.

1. Fried Apples.

No, this isn’t some redneck deep fried apple you might find at a deep-fryer party, beside some deep-fried Twinkies. In fact, the English name doesn’t do it justice. In Chinese, these are “silk apples.” At Asian Legend (505 Hwy. 7 East, Thornhill, ON Canada), they are apple pieces fried golden brown, brought to your table along with sugar syrup, and a bowl of ice water. The server coats the apples with the syrup, and then dunks the pieces into the ice water.

apples in ice water

The sugar caramelizes over the tender apples pieces, forming a delicate, crunchy layer. If prepared exactly right, you’ll see thin sugar strands on the apple pieces, like silk.


Silk apple

HK iced milk tea2. Milk Tea.

Not too far from Asian Legend is Marathon Cafe (155 East Beaver Creek Road, Richmond Hill, ON, Canada), the home of award-winning Hong Kong-style milk tea. If you go in the summer, try the iced version. Absolutely smooth!

Marathon Cafe

3. House-made Pita.

In Toronto’s downtown core, Paramount Fine Foods (253 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON, Canada) is a Lebanese restaurant that makes the largest, poofiest, pita bread I’ve ever seen.

Paramount - pita

Dip it in mousakaa – a delicious combination of grilled eggplant, diced tomatoes, onions, peppers, and chickpeas mixed in a tomato sauce. Or, wrap the pita around crunchy falafel and top with tahini.

falafel (Paramount Fine Foods)

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