Thursday, December 27, 2012

Beer City, USA to Host 2nd Annual GR Beer Week

Monday, February 18 – Saturday, February 23, 2013

In February 2012, Grand Rapids played host to the Inaugural GR Beer Week. In May 2012, Grand Rapids was named “Beer City USA.” One cannot deny that these two monumental events are unrelated.

Michigan's second largest city, whose metropolitan area is home to 13 craft breweries (17 if you include nearby Hudsonville and Holland into the mix), will again host GR Beer Week when the week-long celebration of all things craft beer returns to the city in the week leading up to the fourth Saturday in February.

This year's GR Beer Week coincides with Experience Grand Rapids' Cool Brews Hot Eats promotion, which takes place February 18 – March 2 at participating restaurants in the GR area. MIBeerWeeks, a subsidiary of Liquid Table Beverage Solutions, and producer of GR Beer Week, is partnering with with Experience Grand Rapids in the marketing and promotion of both efforts. Many of the same restaurants will participate in Beer Week, along with many bars and breweries, by hosting beer-centric events such as tap takeovers, beer dinners, rare beer releases, pubcrawls and more. Many “Beer Celebrities” will be in town throughout the week, participating in many of the events.

GR Beer Week is also being produced in cooperation with the Michigan Brewers Guild, whose 8th Annual Winter Beer Festival in Comstock Park on Saturday, February 23, is considered the “finish line” of the week's festivities.

“We are excited to be affiliated with GR Beer Week in its second year,” stated Eric Briggeman, President of the Michigan Brewers Guild. “The Winter Beer Festival sold out in record time this year, so a whole week of beer events leading up to the festival is not only great added value for festival attendees, but wonderful for our beer fans who were not able to get tickets this time. More focus on craft beer in Michigan is always a great thing.”

MIBeerWeeks and Liquid Table staff will host several signature events each night during the week, along with supporting additional events to be organized by breweries, wholesalers and the bars and restaurants themselves, dubbed Beer Destinations. Constant updates will be posted on Facebook and the GR Beer Week website.
More Information Online

About Liquid Table / MIBeerWeeks
Liquid Table Beverage Solutions is a privately-owned Detroit-based company. Formed in 2009 by Jon Piepenbrok, Liquid Table focuses on producing and marketing Experiential Beverage Events, including “Beer Weeks” in Detroit, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids under the banner of MIBeerWeeks, focusing on craft beer, with an emphasis on local products, mead, wine, cider, and artisan spirits. Liquid Table also offers trade services, such as on- and off-premise consulting, education, marketing, and brand management. Our mission is to be the first and final word in educational, event, brand management and consultancy services to beverage industry professionals and consumers alike; growing market share and spreading knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the craft beer segment and beyond. Put simply, we promote better living through better drinking. For more information, please contact

About the Michigan Brewers Guild
The Michigan Brewers Guild exists to unify the Michigan brewing community; to increase sales of Michigan-brewed beer through promotions, marketing, public awareness and consumer education; and to monitor and assure a healthy beer industry within the state.
The Guild fully endorses and supports the efforts of Liquid Table and MIBeerWeeks in the production and marketing of such efforts as GR Beer Week, A2 Beer Week, and Detroit Beer Week.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry contributes over $24 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $133 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #5 in the nation, with 129 current licenses – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.” More information can be found at

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Promote Michigan’s Top 12 Eats of 2012

It’s no secret that I LOVE to eat! It’s my favorite pastime...and fortunately, it’s also my job! As I travel around Michigan throughout the year, I’m always taking mental notes and posting photos on my social media channels to chronicle my culinary adventures (if you are fan/friend/follower of mine, you are well aware of this fact).

People often ask me, what my favorite restaurant is…and that just doesn’t seem fair (like a parent singling out a favorite child). I love many restaurants…but often there are specific dishes that stand out in my mind, that I crave for days and weeks (or sometimes months) after I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. Here is my recap of my Top 12 Eats of 2012…a little trip down foodie memory lane!

#1 Catfish BLT — Chef Brian Brown at the now defunct London Grill in Plainwell. So good I had it twice within one week, just before the restaurant closed after 20 years of service to the community. This delicious summer dish featured heirloom tomatoes grown by Chef Brian himself…serving as the “bread” in between which breaded pieces of catfish and homemade mayo were sandwiched, topped with strips of crispy bacon. I still have a picture of this dish on my phone, and eagerly show others (including other chefs) the picture as I relive the moment, whenever possible.

#2 Gnocchi — Chef Matt Millar at Reserve Wine & Food in Grand Rapids. Served in the summer with heirloom tomatoes and in the fall with smoked rabbit, both featured the lightest, fluffiest, tastiest gnocchi I have ever tasted. As I sit and write this, I’m contemplating a “tie” with the Pork Belly Hash (boasting a beautifully fried egg) which was a popular item early in the year on the winter menu. Full of color and flavor (as most of Chef Matt’s dishes are) it was simply delectable! Last year, Chef Millar’s pierogies (with leeks and chestnuts) rated as my #1 eat. Of note, Chef Millar was nominated for a James Beard Award in 2012.

#3 Chilean Sea BassRed Ginger in Traverse City. I guess I never really believed people when they said this is among the most wonderful fish dishes – until I had it over the summer. This tiny filet had perfect caramelization and the texture was much like lobster – meaty and flaky all at the same time. A bit pricy, even by my standards, it is definitely a “treat” to be savored.

#4 Lamb RaguMichael Symon’s Roast in Detroit. Funny, when I went back to pick up the picture of my Facebook, I noticed that even then I referenced this would make my list of best eats for the year. Ironically, it wasn’t the dinner I ordered – but thankfully one of my friends let me try a bite…and it was incredible – rich, flavorful and filling. I tried, unsuccessfully, to trade my entrée for this one – but I did get to have a few more bites before it disappeared from the dish.

#5 Vitello Carciofini — Chef Jeffery "Hoffa" Hoffman at Café Cortina in Farmington Hills. Not typically one to order veal, I enlisted the recommendation of owner Adrian Tonon during my first visit to this amazing Italian restaurant in suburban Detroit. Mouth watering and dressed with artichokes (one of my favorites) in a white wine cream sauce, it was a delicious way to end a hot summer evening – dining under the twinkling lights on the elegant patio.

#6 Kale Salad — Chef Christopher Madsen at at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids. So good, I had it every chance I could. Kale – a “super food” is super tasty as its cut coarsely in this salad, with juicy currants, crunchy pine nuts and freshly grated parmesan cheese atop.

#7 Goat Cheese & Crab Ravioli — Chef Robb Hammond at Food Dance in Kalamazoo. I’m working my way through this menu, and have lots of favorites, but I’m a sucker for ravioli – especially when it encompasses goat cheese and crab! These little pasta pockets were packed with flavor. I also loved the tiny edible flowers that decorated the top.

#8 Porchetta — Chef Steven Grostick at Toasted Oak in Novi. Into every life, a little pork must be served…and that is certainly the case at this award-winning restaurant. Thankful I took a guest with me on my first visit, so that we could order and sample more. From a fine selection of charcuterie to one of the most amazing cornbread muffins I’ve ever tasted, to this beautifully rolled porchetta, it was a long and delightful evening of wining and dining.

#9 Shrimp & Grits — Chef Justin Dalenburg at Tavern 109 in Williamsburg. Admittedly, I hadn’t had grits since I was a kid and I honestly wasn’t thrilled about this dish but took it as a recommendation from my server. Always trust your server! It was full of flavor, textures and colors – perfect for the cold, rainy day that it was.

#10 Whitefish Grenoble — Chef Tom Rose at Four Roses in Plainwell. A tradition in my hometown of Plainwell – started at the former Aries Café (where Chef Tom earned his wings), this amazingly delicious entrée is one of my absolute favorites and has been since the first time I had it way back in high school. A flaky whitefish filet, topped with lemons, capers and tomatoes, with a side of Jasmine rice and veggies. Always a treat!

#11 Tabbouleh — Chef Kristin Karam of K2 Edibles in Traverse City. I found my liking for the fresh, Middle Eastern salad while visiting Jordan in 2005. Luckily, I’ve found a local source that is more than happy to supply me when a craving hits. A private chef and caterer, Kristin is a regular at Left Foot Charley Winery and also sells pre-packaged Lebanese foods at the Underground Cheesecake Company, both located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons.

#12 Wood Fired Toasted S’more — Chef Matthew Pietsch at Salt of the Earth in Fennville. With a restaurant widely renowned for its local produce and fabulous pork products, I expect you think it’s strange that I single them out for a dessert. But if you’ve ever had this monster s’more, you’ll know why it made the list. Big enough for a table of four, it’s baked in the wood-fired oven and boasts a decadent cake filled with chocolate and topped with a heap of marshmallow. Other online reviews call it “out of this world” and “masterpiece” and all are true. Definitely a fitting way to end an evening (and this list).

I look forward to visiting even more restaurants in 2013 – including some close to home and those spread out around the state of Michigan. Your recommendations are welcome!

Bon Appetit!

New Magazine – Flavor 616 – to Focus on West Michigan’s Hot Culinary Scene

West Michigan has garnered national attention in recent years for its thriving culinary, beverage and agricultural offerings – offering a prime foodie destination centrally located between Chicago and Detroit. Flavor 616 magazine is being introduced in January to celebrate this culture and share the stories behind the area’s top eateries and producers.

“We are extremely fortunate to have the support of some of the region’s top writers, photographers and designers who believe in what we’re doing and want to be a part of something bigger,” says CEO/Publisher Rod Glupker – who honed his experience in the publishing and culinary worlds during 4 years as magazine manager at the now defunct Food For Thought magazine. “The energy that this group of individuals brings to the table is contagious and we are so excited to see what the coming issues may bring.”

Articles in the inaugural issue include a feature of Jarred Sper of Perrin Brewing Company in Walker by Tiffany Ewigleben; a focus on Mia & Grace restaurant in Muskegon by Marla Miller; “Getting Lucky” (Auspicious Foods for the New Year) by Michelle Swift; George Aquino’s “Foodienista” take on West Michigan eats and eateries; Allie Merrick’s “My Wine Words” column; “Spicing up those Tatas” by Cindy Krzykwa; Just Can It by Missy Black; the column “Beer and Food with The Beervangelist” by Fred Bueltmann and much more.

Flavor 616 will be distributed for free, monthly, and will launch with a circulation of 10,000 copies at locations throughout Grand Rapids, Holland, Grand Haven, Muskegon and everywhere in between. It will also be available in PDF format online at

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Nation’s Leading Beer & Food Pairing Expert to Release “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy”

When it comes to the art of pairing food and beer, few are as knowledgeable or passionate as Fred Bueltmann – aka The Beervangelist. His ability to marry food and beer, combined with his flair for entertaining prose, make him one of the most impressive and charismatic individuals in the culinary world. As an industry leader and Certified Cicerone™., Fred has a keen sense of focusing on the local while spreading his message on an international scale – both in a verbal and written sense.

In 2013, Fred will take his message to the masses with the release of Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy – which is being published by Black Lake Press of Holland. Yet, unlike traditional publishing methods, Fred is taking a more personal approach to his project. Utilizing the online funding platform, anyone in the world can contribute to this exciting culinary project and in return receive everything from a limited-edition advanced autographed copy of the book to a VIP in-home four-course beer dinner for eight, prepared by Fred himself.

Essentially, this online system represents pre-orders for contributions of $25 to $1000. With a 30-day window, the project must accumulate $10,000 by Noon on January 18, 2013 in order to be fully funded. Given the return-on-investment, it’s a goal that should be easily accomplished. Once the funds are accounted for, the timeline takes a fast track with the book expected to be released via “print on demand” before the start of summer entertaining season.

“The Beervangelist’s Guide will connect readers to seasonal cooking, demonstrating that pairing begins with understanding when and where our food is coming from,” says Fred. “I’ll focus on sourcing, preserving and preparing food in a way that authentically connects us to our ingredients, making pairing opportunities abundant, rich and immensely enjoyable.”

Dispersed throughout the pages will be delicious and poignant photos from Jeff Hage of Green Frog Photo in Grand Rapids, who has helped chronicle Fred’s culinary contributions for the past several years.

“While readers will find numerous recipes and tips, this is as much of a book about entertaining and hosting as it is about food and beer pairing,” says Fred, who has been published in countless magazines over the years – including a column “Beer and Food with the Beervangelist” which has appeared in the no-longer-published Food For Thought and the newly introduced Flavor 616. His articles have also appeared in Women’s Lifestyle, Michigan: The Great Beer State and Michigan HOME & Lifestyle, among others.

As eloquent in person as he is with the written word, Fred has shared his beer knowledge to groups throughout the state and beyond, including the Michigan Brewers Guild; Michigan Restaurant Association; Grand Rapids International Wine, Beer & Food Festival; the former Epicurean Classic; and Siebel Institute of Technology. (Great American Beer Festival, Savor, Great Taste of the Midwest.)

In April, 2013, Fred will speak on a panel with others from the Michigan Brewers Guild at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism, focusing on craft beer and its impact on the state’s thriving tourism industry. Fred has been an integral part of the Michigan Brewers Guild since it was formed in 1997, serving for eight years as the organization’s president.

When he’s not writing, speaking or judging at the Brewers Association’s, “Great American Beer Festival” each fall in Denver, Fred serves as a managing partner and Vice President of Sales and Marketing at New Holland Brewing Company, a post he's held since 2004. His beer career dates back to 1991, when as a hobbyist home brewer he started selling beer for a specialty beer distributor in his hometown of Chicago. He went on to manage the Midwest region for Warsteiner Importers before joining Bell’s Brewing in 1995, where he served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing for more than nine years.

The release of the “Beervangelist’s Guide to the Galaxy” is sure to be a well-used book for those who celebrate the culture of beer and food pairing, as well as those who seek to elevate their skills in the world of home entertaining.

I’ve known Fred Bueltmann, managing partner of the New Holland Brewing Company and past president of the Michigan Brewers Guild, for more than a decade, and his skill as a home cook and expertise in pairing beer with food will certainly elevate and educate your palate! As the Beervangelist, Bueltmann brings the pleasures of chocolate, cheese and craft beer to their rightful place at the table. ~ Lucy Saunders, editor -

When you hear Fred Bueltmann speak about beer and food, it is difficult not to smile. His enthusiasm, passion, and detailed knowledge brings the very complex world of brewing to an understandable and approachable place that inspires those listening to take up the cause. The Beervangelist is also a walking professional resource. He understands how flavors connect and compliment, and explains it in a way that lacks pretentiousness and radiates welcomness. He makes learning about beer a pleasure and brings the world's most social beverage to a comfortable place in every home. ~ John Holl, journalist, contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, and author of Craft Beer Kitchen

Fred is someone others follow. Not because he demands it or is a “natural leader”, but because he gives his life and the lives around him an almost inescapable inertia. His passion for food and drink swirl around him so enthusiastically that is is nearly impossible not to get caught up in it. Suddenly his opinions might become yours and something you never cared about might become your newest obsession simply after giving Fred five minutes to describe it. This is because he grounds his passions with real experience and knowledge. He understands that to be larger than life one must absorb as much life as possible, and share it with the world generously, honestly, and with integrity. Fred knows you can’t fake it and he never tries. Luckily, what springs from him – as naturally as breathing – is enough to keep you captivated. ~ Matthew Millar, Chef, Reserve Wine & Food, Grand Rapids, MI (James Beard Foundation Semi-Finalist, Best Chef Great Lakes 2012)

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chestnuts Roasting over an Open Fire…A Christmas Eve Tradition at Café Cortina

Bring the family and spend Christmas Eve at Café Cortina. A prix fixe five-course menu will be offered (with a selection of six various entrees) on Monday, December 24 from 4-7pm. Chestnuts will also be roasted in the outdoor fireplace – a traditional ending to the yearly holiday dinner. The cost is $75 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Reservations are required by calling 248-474-3033.

The Tonon family opened Café Cortina in 1976 with a sense of family tradition and community responsibility, inspired by old word philosophies. Located in an Italian countryside vineyard setting in Farmington Hills, Café Cortina is one of Metro Detroit’s “best kept secrets”. Now regarded as a world-class culinary destination, Café Cortina proudly operates with a passion for people, memorably delicious food, genuine Italian hospitality, and an inspired philosophy of making a positive difference in their local community and beyond.

Café Cortina
30715 W. Ten Mile Road
Farmington Hills, Michigan