Friday, January 28, 2011

North Peak Brewing Reaches into Ohio Market Beginning February 1

Beginning February 1, craft beer lovers throughout Ohio will be able to enjoy a selection of North Peak beer thanks to a distribution program managed by Premium Beverage Supply. This is North Peak’s first venture outside its home state of Michigan.

“We are very excited to add North Peak Brewing to our existing portfolio of strong Michigan breweries,” says Ron Wilson, Owner of Premium Beverage Supply. “Its lineup of year-round and seasonal beers makes for an excellent selection for the Ohio craft beer stores to choose from.”

The majority of Premium’s craft retailers around the state of Ohio will add North Peak beer – Vicious, Diabolical and Siren, for starters – to their line-up. They will be available in both bottles and on draft.

"For a long time we have been eyeing Ohio as our first expansion market due to its consumers’ knowledge and support of not only craft beer but specifically Michigan craft beer," says North Peak Brewer Mike Hall. "We are very excited about bringing our exceptional lineup of delicious North Peak beers to such a savvy craft beer market.”

“North Peak Brewing appears to be well structured to make a strategic run at its first out-of-state market,” Wilson says. “The Premium Beverage sales staff is extremely excited to hit the market with a quality lineup from an up-and-coming brewery such as North Peak.”

Based out of Hilliard, OH, Premium Beverage Supply has been distributing the world’s finest craft and specialty ales, lagers and spontaneously-fermented beer throughout Ohio since 1994.

"From the moment I met with Premium Beverage I knew they would be an excellent partner to embark on this journey with us,” says Mike Turiff, North Peak Vice President of Sales. “Their management and sales force is well versed in not only Craft Beer but especially craft beer for the Great Beer State. We are extremely confident that this will be a mutually beneficial partnership and we can't wait to bring even more Craft Beer to the consumers of Ohio."

Drawing on nearly 50 years of combined brewing experience, Mike Hall and Ron Jeffries collaborate and perfected the North Peak recipes. These clean, classic beers resonated with casual beer drinkers and die-hard aficionados alike.

In late 2009, at its new, secluded, state-of-the-art brewing facility on Old Mission Peninsula, the first bottles of Siren Amber Ale, Diabolical IPA and Majestic American Wheat rolled off the bottling line and quickly found their place on the retail shelves and in the hearts of craft beer enthusiasts. Since then, the North Peak line has expanded to include Vicious – a dry-hopped Wheat IPA, Archangel Summer Wheat, Furry IPA, Burly Belgo IPA (due out in February 2011) and Sinuous Celtic Ale (coming in March 2011).

Distributed as part of a distinctive packaging and visual branding in six-pack retro-style stubbie bottles, each North Peak brew proudly holds a legend steeped in rich Northern Michigan lore behind its creation, its name and its unique label design.

The North Peak is part of Northern United Brewing Co., which also encompasses the Grizzly Peak and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales craft beer brands, as well as the soon-to-be-released Civilized line of spirits. NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. All of the beers and spirits under these brands are produced at either the new 5600-square-foot facility on Old Mission Peninsula adjacent to Mission Table (former Bowers Harbor Inn) restaurant or at the original Jolly Pumpkin facility in Dexter.

Find NUBC products at stores, restaurants, and bars all throughout Michigan, including: North Peak Brewing Company, Mission Table and Jolly Pumpkin Brewery, all in Traverse City; Jolly Pumpkin and Grizzly Peak, in Ann Arbor.

Northern United Brewing Company
Jolly Pumpkin Brewery | Mission Table at Bowers Harbor Inn
13512 Peninsula Drive
Traverse City, MI 49686
(231) 223-4222

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Robinette’s Celebrates Centennial with Free Cross Country Ski Clinic and Wine Tasting

Join expert guide Jon Holmes from Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus at Robinette’s Apple Haus on Saturday, February 5 from 2-5pm for a free afternoon cross country ski clinic and wine tasting.

Holmes will provide tips and suggestions to improve your cross country ski experience during a 30-minute clinic. Following the clinic, there will be free skiing throughout the historic and scenic Robinette’s orchards.

Following your snow-covered trek, there will be complimentary wine and cheese tasting in the Winery. This will include a free souvenir wine glass to take home – which may be brought back to the winery at any time for additional complimentary tastings.

This afternoon of winter fun is for all ages, with the exception of the wine tasting which is for people over 21. All experience level skiers are welcome – even beginners. There is no fee for this event, however, reservations are encouraged so we can plan appropriately. To RSVP, call (616) 361-7180.

The Homestead Wins 2011 Best of Weddings Editors' Pick Award from The Knot

Longtime local favorite The Homestead has been recognized this year by The Knot as a top pick amongst wedding venues.

As the leader in wedding news and information, The Knot surveys thousands of brides and grooms every year to find the very best of everything for its newly-engaged readers. Between its national and regional magazines and its dominant online presence, The Knot has become the go-to resource for wedding planning throughout the US and in parts of Canada.

The Homestead offers several sites for picturesque wedding ceremonies and receptions for up to one hundred and eighty guests. The Leelanau County resort has hosted scenic weddings along its private Lake Michigan beachfront for over thirty years, but has grown exponentially as a wedding destination since adding the top of its ski area, Bay Mountain, to its list of venues, as well as building both Mountain Flowers Lodge and Camp Firefly, two private event facilities that host scores of newlyweds and their guests in celebration each season.

The Knot awards its “Best of Weddings” status every year to the select vendors that have proved themselves standouts either by earning the endorsement of the brides surveyed, or by actually being selected as an “Editors’ Pick.” Having received one glowing review after another from happy newlyweds, The Homestead is a 2011 Best of Weddings pick not only according to former clients who rated venues for The Knot, but also according to the publication’s in-house experts, who have deemed the resort an Editor’s Pick in the wedding venue category.

Planning a wedding can be an overwhelming task, so many brides and grooms rely on the ratings and reviews in all of The Knot’s categories as they pin down the details for their own ceremonies. The magazine rates vendors of even the tiniest of wedding products and services so its readers can learn all they want about local caterers, cake makers, dress shops, jewelers, bands, bartenders, and anything else their events require. Having two full-time wedding planners on its team, The Homestead also helps brides-to-be with the planning process, sharing inside information and recommendations for a number of area experts like photographers and florists. The resort has developed special relationships with several of its favorite local vendors, which can help couples to negotiate as they contract for services at one of The Homestead’s venues.

The resort’s owner, Robert Kuras, was thrilled with the recognition, which he says his team has earned. “The Knot is the industry leader in rating wedding services, so we know how well they understand what makes a great wedding venue. We’re just incredibly honored that they’ve selected us,” said Kuras. He went on to say that in-house wedding planners Barb Ellis and Lindy Kellogg have always “gone the extra mile” for brides and their guests to be sure everything goes according to plan. “Our outdoor views of Lake Michigan are incredible,” Kuras commented, “but when someone’s big day arrives and the forecast isn’t cooperating, I’ve seen them move everything inside totally seamlessly and then move it back outside again when the sun starts to shine, no questions asked. We’re really lucky to have such great people here, and I think that personal touch has been important to a lot of couples.”

Both Ellis and Kellogg were elated at the news of The Homestead’s honor and are anticipating a very busy 2011 season.

For more information, visit or call 231.334.5000.

Grand Traverse Distillery Ranked Among Top 50 Spirits by Wine Enthusiast Magazine for Second Consecutive Year

For the second consecutive year, includes True North Vodka made by Grand Traverse Distillery – Northern Michigan's original vodka micro-distillery, based in Traverse City has been named to the “Top 50 Spirits” list published by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

This distinguished list, which appears in the December 2010 edition, reflects an excitement and diversity of elite brand in each of 13 categories. It is compiled by the editors of Wine Enthusiast Magazine along with new spirits taster, Kara Newman. Only three other unflavored vodkas were identified; True North being the only one from the Great Lakes Region.

In the listing for True North Vodka, which ranked 90-95 as Superb/Highest Recommended, editors wrote: “Very nice bouquet consisting of pleasant aromas of bread dough, black pepper, new leather and toasted grain. The grainy toastiness and spiciness continue at palate entry; mid-palate shows a touch of spirit heat in line with the inherent peppery quality. Finishes with tastes of fudge, egg cream, toasted wheat and toasted rye bread.”

“Last year we were elated to be listed as one of the top unflavored vodkas in the country, says Kent Rabish, who began distributing the True North Vodka in June 2007. “Making that list for a second consecutive year reinforces our dedication to crafting world-class vodka here in Michigan, which is recognized and ranked on a national scale.”

The original True North Vodka has been ranked a “Gold Medal” spirit by the Beverage Tasting Institute (BTI) twice (92 - 2009 / 92 - 2007) as part of its annual International Review of Spirits Competition. It also received a “Gold Medal” rating in 2008 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where Pacult was Director of Judging.

True North is super-premium vodka that celebrates the natural gifts abundant to Michigan's 45th parallel. Ingredients originate from the beautiful Grand Traverse region, where the rich soils produce the quality rye and the crystal clear glacial waters blend to create this premium vodka. With these quality ingredients and the triple distillation process, each True North Vodka is truly one of a kind.

As a Michigan distiller, using Michigan grown grains is a top priority for the distillery. As such, Grand Traverse Distillery is proud to support Michigan agriculture and has purchased over 300,000 pounds of rye, wheat and corn from local farmers since it began distilling its hand-crafted spirits.

Hand-crafted in small batches, more than 4000 cases of True North Vodka, Grand Cherry Vodka and Wheat Vodka have collectively sold in just the past 30 months. It can be found in over 800 retail outlets and 250 restaurants/bars in Michigan and is distributed in Michigan by Great Lakes Wine & Spirits.

For more information, log on to

Find Grand Traverse Distillery on Facebook:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Homestead Announces 2011 Winter Sweepstakes

Well, folks, it only happens once in a great while, but it’s that time again… time for Skistakes at The Homestead!

The holidays may be over, but the excitement is just getting started at America’s Freshwater Resort, where this weekend kicks off a whole winter of droolworthy prize giveaways like getaway weekends for two, romantic Italian dinners, and luxuriously long days of pampering at Spa Amira.

“Summer is the most common time of the year for hotels or resorts to run a sweepstakes contest,” says Jamie Jewell, Senior Manager at The Homestead. Instead, says Jewell, “We decided to spice up the winter season with an exciting contest filled with prizes that winners will enjoy in all four seasons. And another thing that makes this sweepstakes so fun is that winners are selected every weekend during January and February.”

Over $5,000 in prizes will be awarded with over the eight-week period, including:

• Day of skiing including lift ticket and ski equipment (four prizes)
• Dinner with Executive Chef John Piombo at Nonna’s (four prizes)
• Day of treatments at Spa Amira (three prizes)
•Eighteen holes of golf and lunch at Manitou Passage Golf Club, winner of Golfweek’s 2010 Best New Golf Course Award (three prizes)
• Couple’s Duet Massage at Spa Amira (two prizes)
• Lift-and-Lodging Weekend that includes dinner at Nonna’s (two prizes)
• Wine Tour Weekend that includes dinner at Nonna’s (one prize)
• Beach Getaway for three days that includes dinner at Café Manitou on Lake Michigan (one Grand Prize)

Anyone can enter the contest by registering online or in locations throughout the resort, like shops, restaurants, the Reception Center and the Ski Ticket Office. And whether you’re visiting The Homestead this winter or not, be sure to enter as many times as you like to maximize your chances of becoming a winner!

Drawings will be held each Sunday during the eight-week event from January 9, 2011 to February 27, 2011, and the lucky winners will be contacted via email and announced at

Be sure to place your entry today for a chance to visit this incomparable destination: Northern Michigan’s largest waterfront resort community, The Homestead is nestled in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a part of the National Park Service. Along with its unmatched natural setting and miles of frontage on Lake Michigan and the Crystal River, the resort offers guest pools, tennis and golf in the summer; downhill and cross country skiing in the winter; plus shops, restaurants, meeting centers, wedding facilities, and the breathtaking Spa Amira.

For more information, visit or call 231.334.5100.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Salt of the Earth Launches 2nd Annual Michigan Wine & Beer Dinner Series

Coming off an amazing inaugural year, West Michigan’s Salt of the Earth announces its second-annual Michigan Wine & Beer Dinner Series at its downtown Fennville rustic American eatery.

“We’re excited to create a unique experience at each event, ranging from beer and barbeque, to cocktail parties, to formal dinners, where we will pit Michigan wines against global competitors,” says proprietor Mark Schrock. “Winemakers and brewers will be present at each event, along with a very special lineup of guest chefs from around the state. We invite you to come celebrate the best of Michigan food and beverage with us!”

The 2011 series will span five months, and feature three Michigan wineries and two Michigan breweries. Five courses will be served at each event, paired with the best from each producer. Many taste selections are from wine and beer maker’s personal cellars that are not always available to the public.

Each event starts at 7:00pm and reservations are required. Call 269-561-SALT (7258). Prices are per person and do not include tax & gratuity.

WYNCROFT WINES - Michigan vs. France
Guest Chef: Matthew Millar - Reserve, Grand Rapids
Wednesday, January 19
Enjoy special library wines from Wyncroft Winery’s artisan winemaker Jim Lester, pitted against selected French wines. We will enjoy 2004 Wyncroft Riesling (dry), 2004 Wyncroft Chardonnay, 2005 Wyncroft Pinot Noir, 2006 Wyncroft "Shou". (Bordeaux blend), and 2008 Wyncroft Riesling, December Harvest. French selections to be announced. Salt of the Earth Executive Chef Matthew Pietsch will be joined in the kitchen by Reserve Executive Chef Matthew Millar, collaborating on a menu of French inspired dishes. This event is limited to 45 guests and will sell out. Please call soon to reserve your seat!

L. MAWBY - Sparkling Cocktail Party
Guest Chef: Jesse Hahn – Trailer Park’d (former SotE Chef de Cuisine)
Wednesday, February 9
Join noted Michigan sparkling wine pioneer Larry Mawby from L. Mawby Vineyards as he presents sparkling wines from his cellars in the Leelanau Peninsula, paired with rustic canapés and shared plates from Chefs Matt & Jesse in a cocktail party style atmosphere in our bar. Learn about the process of making sparkling wines and make new friends!

SHORTS BREWING COMPANY - Northern Brew and ‘Cue
Guest Chef: Norman Valenti – Michael Symon’s Roast, Detroit
Wednesday, March 9
Northwest Michigan’s Short’s Brewery pairs up unique craft beers with barbecue flavors coming out of the SotE brick oven. We are excited to offer a variety of beers not available outside of the Short’s pub in Bellaire. Chef Matt reunites with Chef Norman Valenti from Michael Symon’s Roast to cook up amazing barbecue dishes.

BRYS ESTATE - Michigan vs. South Africa
Guest Chef: TBA
Wednesday, April 20
Winemaker Coenraad Stassen from Brys Estate returns to showcase his beautiful award-winning wines, and selected wines from his homeland of South Africa, paired with South African inspired culinary treats from the SotE kitchen.

BELL’S BREWERY - Rustic Eccentric v2
Guest Chef: Joel Wabeke – Six One Six, Grand Rapids
Wednesday, May 11
Michigan craft brewing pioneer Larry Bell presents outstanding craft beer from Bell’s Brewery with an “anything goes” eccentric menu to honor Bell’s eccentric café. Chef Matt and Chef Joel will be focusing on local spring flavors as they pair dishes with Bell’s outstanding beers.

Salt of the Earth is a rustic American eatery and bakery, tucked away in a historic building in quaint downtown Fennville – in the heart of the Southwest Michigan’s thriving agricultural region. Under the direction of Chef Matthew Pietsch (protégé of ‘Iron Chef’ Michael Symon), this full service restaurant offers a seasonal menu of made-from-scratch entrees, shared plates, wood-fired oven pizzas, pastas, sandwiches and creative desserts – using fresh ingredients, often sourced locally. Artisan bread is baked in house, served with dinner and available to take home. You’ll also find a bar stocked with an impressive selection of Michigan wines, craft beers, and spirit, alongside other domestic and international selections. Salt of the Earth is also a popular venue for local and regional musical artists, with live house concerts held every Sunday. Winter Hours: Dinner served Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday 5-8:30PM, Friday & Saturday 5-10pm. Fresh baked artisan bread is available in our bakery café from 9am to noon every Friday and Saturday.

Salt of the Earth
114 East Main Street
Fennville MI 49408
269.561.SALT (7258)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

January is “Kobe Filet Month” at The Boathouse in Traverse City: Buy-one get a second for just $5!

“The House that Kobe Built”(The beef, not the NBA star…)
By Janice Binkert

Any connoisseur of fine cuisine has undoubtedly heard of – and possibly even tried – Kobe beef, the renowned delicacy that originated in Japan in the mid-19th century and has gained popularity worldwide over the past few decades. Kobe – also called Wagyu – is the most prized and most expensive beef in the world. Why the high cost? Wagyu cattle are raised in mountainous areas under ideal conditions, are fed a special vegetarian diet, and receive massages to relax them – all of which contribute to the meat’s unique and highly desirable attributes.

In the United States, Kobe beef is served in only the finest restaurants, among them Morimoto in New York, Michael Mina at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills and…the Boathouse in Traverse City!

Eric Nittolo, executive chef at the Boathouse, has been serving Kobe beef on his menu since 2008. “Kobe beef built this house,” he says. “Even with the bad economy, our business has grown, and one the main reasons is the fact that we offer Kobe.” In the beginning, Nittolo was getting the meat from Japan, but he now uses Snake River Farms in Boise, Idaho – one of the top producers of American Kobe (also called American Wagyu) and incidentally, the same source that Puck uses. “It’s in the top one-tenth of one percent of all the beef in the world,” he says. “Our customers can order it any way they want it – from rare to well done – and it will still be the best steak experience they have ever had.” In fact, that’s exactly the comment he gets from them, every time. How does he prefer it? “Basically, raw – just seared quickly on both sides.”

Boathouse owner Doug Kosch confirms that customer response to Kobe menu offerings has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. “We serve filet, New York strip and ribeye cuts in various preparations, but the filet is what we sell most. People come to us from far beyond Traverse City, year-round, specifically to eat it,” he says. But Kosch admits that if Nittolo had listened to him three years ago, the story might be quite different. “Back then, when Eric told me he wanted to put Kobe on the menu, I didn’t think we were ready for it, and I turned him down. But he was so convinced that he ordered it anyway, without telling me. I was pretty upset when I found out – especially when I saw the bill – but Eric swore he could sell it all, and he did. And, the rest, as they say, is history.”

Japan uses a grading scale of 1-5 for meat quality. Japanese Kobe beef earns a score of 5. In addition, beef is graded on a marbling scale called BMS: the higher the marbling score, the higher the grade, and correspondingly, the price. This is because the marbling of the meat – that is, the delicate layers of fat that run through it – has a very positive effect on its flavor, texture and tenderness. On the 12-point Japanese marbling scale, USDA prime beef would score about 2 or 6, but Kobe beef from Japan would be a 12. The fat in Japanese Kobe beef begins to dissolve at 77°F, which literally makes it “melt in your mouth.” The American Kobe served at the Boathouse scores an impressive 9-10 on the BMS scale. “It is literally the best beef you can get in the United States,” says Nittolo.

The Boathouse chose Karen Harmon of in Charlotte, North Carolina as its supplier for the Japanese Kobe – which is no longer available in the United States – and for the American Kobe that it now uses. Kosch and Nittolo visited the facility early on to learn more about both the company and its products. As the name implies, the latter includes seafood, but also specialty meats, poultry, wild game, mushrooms and cheeses. Both men were impressed by the customer service level and knowledgeability of the staff there, including three former chefs. “It’s very important to trust your supplier, especially when you’re dealing with a high-end product like Kobe beef,” says Nittolo. “You want to work with someone who is in your court, who takes care of you as the buyer.”

Harmon explains that Kobe is the prefecture in Japan where the cows are raised, and “Wagyu” is the name for cow in Japanese. Each shipment of Japanese Kobe beef used to come with a certificate of authenticity, listing its producer, production area, animal ID, breed, gender, date of birth, quality grade, BMS score and other information. This documentation was invaluable when a USDA ban on Japanese Kobe imports went into effect early in 2010 due to an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease in one of Japan’s major Wagyu cattle breeding regions. Fortunately, long before the ban, because of the high cost of raising the cattle in Japan and increasing demand from consumers around the world, a few exclusive ranches – including Snake River Farms – had begun raising Kobe-style beef cattle in the U.S. and Australia according to traditional Japanese techniques.

In the United States, Japanese Wagyu cattle are usually crossed with Black Angus to appeal more to the American palate and keep the cost within an affordable range. “The USDA sets strict standards for the quality of American Kobe beef,” says Harmon. “It has to be at least 70 percent Wagyu.” She adds that the quality standards maintained by the U.S. ranchers who raise Wagyu cattle are even higher than the USDA requires. “They follow them from birth to market,” she says. “Snake River Kobe beef is aged for 45 to 60 days and then packaged in Cryovac and shipped via FedEx to customers overnight to maintain that quality.”

American Kobe is about one-third as expensive as Japanese Kobe beef – which averaged about $300 a pound – yet the flavor and tenderness is impressively comparable. Granted, in response to a question about the difference between the two, Nittolo says, “If I gave you a piece of Japanese Kobe and piece of American Kobe to try, you’d say that the Japanese Kobe was 100 percent better.” But he is quick to put that comment in perspective, noting that American Kobe is still far superior to regular U.S. prime beef. “I choose it because of its consistency in every aspect of quality,” he says. “The official grade for it here is ultra super prime.” Los Angeles Times food critic S. Irene Virbila is also a fan of American Kobe, writing in one of her columns that she actually prefers it to Japanese Kobe, “especially the New York sirloin from Snake River Farms in Idaho.”

And although people don’t tend to eat luxury foods because of their health benefits, American Kobe beef is actually healthier than even the highest grade of U.S. prime beef. Biochemistry tests conducted by Washington State University on Wagyu fatty tissue indicate that the fat from this breed has a healthier fatty acid profile and an unsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio of 2- to-1 instead of the 1-to-1 ratio of regular beef. It also contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and the increased marbling results in an improved ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats.

One of the ironies of Kobe beef’s heritage is that eating meat from four-legged animals was prohibited in Japan for more than a thousand years prior to 1868. Two main factors contributed to this situation: religious beliefs (Buddhism) and the need for the animals to help cultivate fields. The Japanese diet has historically consisted primarily of rice, vegetables and fish or seafood, but changes in the ruling dynasties, industrialized farming, and rising income levels gradually led to dietary modifications. Beef consumption in particular has been growing steadily in Japan since the 1980s. However, it is still about ten times lower than in most Western countries. And with the increasing popularity of Kobe beef around the world, including Northern Michigan and the rest of the United States, that ratio is likely to increase even more in the years ahead.

Doug Kosch and Eric Nittolo have designated January as “Filet Month” at The Boathouse on West Bay in Traverse City (Old Mission Peninsula), offering a unique opportunity for those who have never had Kobe beef to try it, and for those who are already addicted to it to enjoy it for an incredibly low price. Customers can buy any Kobe filet and receive the second for just $5.

The Boathouse is located at 14039 Peninsula Drive on Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City, Michigan. For more information, call 231.223.4030 or visit