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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.

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

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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.
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I recommend trying the charcuterie plate at Brewery Vivant:

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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. 

Founders

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!!
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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

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Delicious in Des Moines: Alba

18 Jul

Being a big city girl, I was pleasantly surprised by Des Moines, Iowa. It’s a fast growing city, with a small, but beautiful downtown. The streets are wide and it’s easy to get around and park your car. Beautiful walkways and gardens on either side of the Des Moines River, joined by eye-catching bridges are a focal point. And there are lots of great restaurants to choose from. Based on the recommendation of a client, B. and I went to Alba in the East Village, not far from the river.

We stepped into what looked like a long and dark, slightly divey bar. But then our host led us through a doorway on the right, opening up to the complete opposite – a bright square-shaped room with windows along two sides. The ceiling was decorated with mismatched and colourful doors  (that seems to be the trend nowadays).

Alba ceiling

Alba’s menu changes often. That day featured a silky smooth pea soup.

Alba soup

B. dug into her chicken and smeared the sauce before I could snap this photo of it.

Alba 527

My pan-roasted salmon over tortellini with fresh peas and Shitake mushrooms was so delicious!

Alba salmon

With a great wine list and knowledgeable servers, Alba is a great place for modern American cuisine. I can’t wait to come back and see what new goodies are on the menu!

Info: Alba, 524 East 6th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309 USA

Click to add a blog post for Alba on Zomato

German Food in the German Village, Columbus

31 May

During a recent trip to Columbus, my colleagues and I had to stop by the legendary Schmidt’s Sausage Haus in the German Village – it’s been around since 1886! On tap you’ll find several great German or German-style beers, including a house dark brewed by Elevator Brewing.

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The Old World Sausage Platter is a nice sampler for four different kinds of sausage. The sausages were good, but not outstanding.

Old World Sausage Platter

Old World Sausage Platter

I ordered the Wiener schnizel – a great veal schnitzel with a choice of sides. I got potato pancakes with chunky apple sauce and vegetables, which turned out to be green beans and a medley of carrots. I appreciated the variety of carrots, but they were overcooked for my taste.

Wiener schnitzel

Wiener schnitzel

The pork shank was the highlight of the night. You won’t be hungry after eating this meal!

Braised pork shank

Braised pork shank

The strudel, like the sausage platter, was also good though not outstanding. It was full of large apple pieces but the crust was not crispy.

Apple strudel

Apple strudel

In case you didn’t fill up on pork shank and beer, there are always the giant cream puffs – no, they don’t just look big in my photo, they really are the size of a small child’s head.

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An epic cream puff

IMG_20150423_220252640Overall, we had an enjoyable night out. Even if the food isn’t outstanding, it’s still solid. The atmostphere at Schmidt’s is upbeat (with live music on the Thursday night we went) and inviting. The building is on the National Register as a historic building too!

Info: Schmidt’s Sausage Haus, 240 E. Kossuth Street, Columbus, OH 43206 USA
Schmidt's Sausage Haus on Urbanspoon

Busy Foodie is on the Move

23 May

Where is home base for the Busy Foodie anyway? Everywhere! Kidding. I love to travel, so you’ve seen posts of restaurants all over the continent, with a few reviews of restaurants from further abroad too. But up until now, you might have noticed that a large portion of restaurant reviews have been of establishments in New England. I’ve also been a little MIA lately – that’s because I’ve been busy with my relocation to the MidWest. I hope you’ll continue reading though – perhaps you’ll come across a gem to keep in mind in case you find you find yourself in the area. And of course I’ll continue sharing favourite recipes and other food- and drink-related finds I discover.

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How about let’s kick off the warmer weather with some ice cream tasting? I stumbled upon an Oberweis Ice Cream and Dairy Store in Chicago (3055 N. Sheffield Avenue, and several other locations) and just had to try their limited edition Pistachio ice cream. It was absolutely delicious, creamy, and full pistachios. And, all natural pistachio flavoured things aren’t bright green… this ice cream is a tan/yellow kind of colour.

For added fun, some of the tables at Oberweis are printed with chess boards, and the chess pieces are neatly lined up, and ready for you to play!

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