Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Beer City Springfest Welcomes Area Brewers to Hudsonville Fairgrounds – Saturday, May 3

More than 25 Area brewers are bringing hundreds of beers to the Hudsonville Fairgrounds this spring, including several special offerings during the inaugural Beer City Springfest on Saturday, May 3.

An exorbitant number of talented and creative breweries in West Michigan and surrounding communities, has prompted the American Legion Neal E. Fonger Post 179 to celebrate the long awaited coming of spring with a Michigan beer festival. Thousands of beer enthusiasts weren't able to get tickets to the Michigan Brewers Guild, Winter Beer Festival in February at Fifth Third Ball Park, so Springfest will offer them another opportunity.

“The discerning palates of the real beer lovers in this area are wonderful, and is the fuel driving us to be great brewers.” said Bill White, owner of White Flame Brewing, “Many of the incredible beers being made around Greater Grand Rapids are becoming sought after country wide.”

Tickets for Springfest go on sale Thursday, March 27 at Noon and online at www.beercityfestivals.com. Only 2,500 tickets will be available, for $30 each, and include 15-three ounce sample tickets.

There will be an option to upgrade to VIP, and a limited number of bus tickets will be available for a $15 ticket upgrade. Busses will transport hundreds of guests from locations throughout downtown Grand Rapids to the fairgrounds and back downtown.

Gates will open at 12:00 Noon for VIP guests and 1:00pm for the general public. Food trucks will be on hand for those bringing an appetite along with a thirst. Springfest will be a full day of live music, and beer tasting for the craft beer lovers.

Follow the Springfest Facebook page (www.facebook.com/beercityspringfest) to get updates on VIP ticket releases and giveaways.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

St. Julian Named Riesling Champion at 2014 International ‘East Meets West’ Wine Competition

Vineyard & Winery Management combined two of its oldest and most established wine competitions into one by creating the first International "East Meets West" Wine Challenge, February 19-20, 2014 in Sonoma County, CA. The 2012 Reserve Riesling from Michigan-based St. Julian Winery was named “Riesling Champion” – and received one of 964 medals presented during the competition.

Along with this award, the Riesling also took home the “Best of Show” white wine and “Best of Class” – the latter requiring unanimous agreement among judges. In addition, St. Julian also brought home a “Best of Class” for Red Heron and a “Double Gold” for the Braganini Reserve Traminette.

“We are more than proud and honored to be the first Riesling Champions of the International ‘East Meets West’ Wine Challenge,” says Head Winemaker Nancie Corum-Oxley. “Michigan Riesling continues to prove that they are world-class wines. Grown in Southwest Michigan, our 2012 St. Julian Reserve Riesling is a classic semi-dry style that will impress even the most sophisticated palate.”

The Wine
The winemaking technique used to produce this wine begins in the vineyard – specifically, the Burgoyne Ridge Vineyard. With farming roots coming from Germany, the Nitz family started growing juice grapes in Southwest Michigan in the 1940s as a grower for Welch’s and home winemakers. In 1971, the farm started planting wine grape varietals. Dan Nitz, the fourth generation grower in the family, currently manages over 250 acres of juice grapes and 260 acres of wine grapes, while employing more than 20 year-round staff. As the farm continues to focus on wine grape varietals, Dan’s passion for grape growing is evident in the wines that St. Julian produces.

The grapes for the 2012 Reserve Riesling are harvested in the early morning hours, so the fruit is cool when it reaches the winery. After harvesting, the fruit is crushed and destemmed. The juice is pressed to a tank, chilled and settled for 48 hours. The juice is then racked to the jacketed fermenter tank, where the wine underwent a long, cool fermentation at 58 to 62 degrees, Fahrenheit. This process extends the fermentation, which contributions to preserving Riesling’s fresh and fruity character. A special strain of yeast was used in order to “arrest” the fermentation, meaning that cold temperatures were used to inactivate the yeast, giving the wine retained natural residual sugar.

According to Oxley, St. Julian’s 2012 Reserve Riesling is “absolutely pure in flavor, harmonious and well-proportioned in its architecture, this Riesling seems crisp and light, yet packs intense flavors of super-ripe peach, mango, lemon zest and mineral. Its vivid acidity jammed with fruit leaves a wonderful sensation on the palate creating a luscious, food-friendly style. Literally, like liquid fruit.”

This is a bright, clean wine designed to be consumed shortly after release. There is no oak aging to weigh it down. All the aging that took place in chilled stainless steel tanks before bottling to preserve the fresh fruit character.

The Competition
Since 1982, the West Coast Wine Competition has annually recognized wines produced and bottled in the West. The International Eastern Wine Competition, started in 1975, is one of the oldest and longest-running wine competitions in the nation. This year, the competitions merged into one large event.

Wines were simultaneously judged in two established regional divisions: International Eastern Wine Competition and the West Coast Wine Competition. Traditional awards were given in each division. “Best of Show” winners moved on to compete in the “East Meets West Taste Off” to see which wine was best overall. This afforded each entrant two chances to win medals: one in its own division and one in the Taste Off. A Riesling Championship was also held for Eastern wines.

“This challenge allows eastern and western wines to compete in their own right while allowing each to contend on a national scale. We've gotten great feedback from everyone involved,” said event producer and Vineyard & Winery Management magazine publisher Robert Merletti.

According to Director of Wine Competitions Debra Del Fiorentino “Keeping these established brands intact and adding a twist like the East Meets West Taste Off put an exciting spin on the challenge.”

The International Eastern division garnered 34 best of class, 25 double gold, 94 gold, 285 silver and 151 bronze medals. The West Coast division collected 18 best of class, 7 double gold, 38 gold, 179 silver and 133 bronze medals.

For over 93 years, St. Julian Wine Co. has produced award-winning products. From the first shoots of the Michigan spring through the harvest and barrel tasting of late fall, the family tradition that has flourished transforms grapes to wine, fruit to nectar, as passion and science converge bottle after bottle, case after case. St. Julian Winery is Michigan’s largest, oldest and the Midwest’s most awarded winery.

St. Julian Winery
716 S Kalamazoo Street
Paw Paw, Michigan

Valentine Distilling’s Liberator Old Tom Named World’s Best Cask Gin

Michigan-based Valentine Distilling has added another accolade to its growing trophy case with the recent announcement that its Liberator Old Tom had been named “World’s Best Cask Gin” by the World Gin Awards. This follows on the heels of the traditional Liberator Gin winning “Best in Class” and “Best in Category” – “Best American Gin” – by the American Distilling Institute in 2013.

According to the World Gin Awards website, Liberator Old Tom Gin is perfect for mixing. “The oak provides this gin with added notes of vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg, these combine nicely with the juniper making it a good, complex spirit with a touch of balancing sweetness.”

Aged in American oak barrels for two years, Liberator Old Tom Gin has an aroma of juniper and pine, with hints of oak, woody spices and citrus peel. The initial bursts of juniper berries are mellow and tame, and are followed by touches of vanilla, citrus, cardamom and cinnamon.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to return to the times that America led the world in the manufacturing of quality products,” says Owner/Distiller Rifino Valentine. “What made our economy great was that the highest grade products in the world came from here in the United States. If we are going to make an impact on the US economy in today’s marketplace, we need products that not only compete on a state and national level, but ones that stand up internationally as well. Our philosophy has always been ‘don’t drink Valentine spirits just because they are local – drink them because they are better.’”

“Old Tom Gin” (or “Tom Gin” or “Old Tom”) is a gin recipe popular in 18-century England. In modern times, it became rare but has experienced a resurgence in the craft cocktail movement. It is slightly sweeter than London Dry, but slightly drier than Dutch Jenever, thus is sometimes called “the missing link.” Unlike many gins which are produced in a column still today, Old Tom Gin is provided in a pot still.

Liberator Gin is named in honor of the B-24 Liberator Bomber. Early in World War II, Ford Motor Company built the Willow Run plant near Detroit to produce the B-24 Liberator – cementing Detroit’s nickname as the “arsenal of democracy.” Carefully hand-crafted, this delightfully-unique gin salutes Rosie the Riveter and all the American workers who helped secure victory.

The World Gin Awards are part of the prestigious London-based World Drinks Awards program, launched in 2007 with the World Whiskies Awards and World Beer Awards. Presented by TheDrinksReport.com, the world’s No. 1 online resource for drinks professionals. The World Gin Awards select, reward and promote the best Gin Taste and Design to consumers and trade across the globe.

Valentine Distilling launched into the Michigan market in early 2009 and has since been ranked one of the top-rated craft distilleries in the country. Operating out of a 5000-square-foot facility in Ferndale, Valentine Distilling proudly produces its original spirits in two world-class Christian Carl Stills. Valentine Distilling products can currently be found in more than 3000 locations throughout Michigan, Illinois, Tennessee, New York, Maryland, Delaware and Washington DC.

161 Vester Street
Ferndale, Michigan


March Means Meat Month Madness at Food Dance

We love meat at Food Dance! It is something to share and savor. From the winter stews, roasts and braises to the summer grilled chops, steaks, burgers or ribs the traditional Midwest plate is anchored by meat.

“True to our vision, we care what we put in our bodies and yours”, says Food Dance Owner, Julie Stanley. ”We chose to serve meat and we look for producers that share our same passion for creating great tasting products, produced with care and integrity in all they do.”

Food Dance proudly sources its animals from farms that practice sustainable, humane animal husbandry – free of hormones, antibiotics or animal-by-products, that are pasture-raised and full of flavor.

“We practice whole animal butchery respecting the life of the animal in all we do,” say Stanley. “Our beef is dry-aged for a minimum of 28 days, which produces more intense flavor resulting in lower yields. We buy local grass-fed beef when available and our pork, lamb and chickens are locally-raised following the same standards.”

Pasture meats are lower in total fat – with more “good” fats and fewer “bad” fats, and are higher in beta-carotene, vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and higher in B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin.

Meet the Butcher!
Former pastry chef, Michael Wegrzyn’s interest in whole animal butchery and charcuterie, began while working as Sous Chef at Haven Gastropub in Orange, California and continued as Chef de Cuisine at Haven Gastropub and Brewery in Pasadena, California. Upon returning to his home town of Kalamazoo, he took the position of House Butcher at Food Dance – with fellow Butchers Guild member Chef Robb Hammond. Working with Robb, Michael has helped to develop their old-world style charcuterie program. Together, they create a variety of fresh and fermented sausages, bacon, and cured-pork products. These items, along with cuts from their whole animal butchering program, are available in the newly redesigned Food Dance market.

Throughout the month, Mike will be doing demos in the market. This Friday, March 7 he will showcase the art of butchering by breaking down a porch shoulder during the monthly Art Hop. Throughout the month, specials will also be offered in the meat market with 20% off special cuts. This week, its pork – followed by chicken, beef and house-cured or made sausages and charcuterie.

To further help your personal meat celebration, Food Dance is offering special events: a knife class, a butchering class, and a sausage making class.

Butchering Class
Wednesday March 12 (6:30-8:30pm)
$75.00 (includes tax & gratuity) * Each guest will also take home a delicious goodie bag.
Join Chef Robb and butcher Michael Wegrzyn, Butcher's Guild members, as they demonstrate butchering techniques with chicken, whole hog, beef and limited hands on sausage making.

Sausage Making Class
Thursday March 20 (6:30-8:30pm)
$65.00 (includes tax & gratuity)
The saying goes “Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.” That’s for shifty politicians and big time weiner companies. When working with whole meat pieces, there’s nothing to fear. Chef Robb will teach the techniques of processing, grinding, stuffing, casing, cooking and, of course, eating.

March Meat Madness Barnyard Dinner
Thursday, March 27 (6:30-8:30pm)
$49.00 per person (includes tax & gratuity)
Gather together with us in celebration of meat month with our in our 4 course dinner. Chef Robb will feature the four basic food groups - pork, beef, chicken and lamb. A great way to wrap up March Meat Month!

Food Dance classes, events and dinners are prepaid, non refundable, transferable up to 48 hours prior. Each has limited availability and reservations are required by calling 269-382-1888.

Check out the Market!
The newly redesigned Food Dance market offers sustainable, humanely-raised meats such as house-made sausages, cured meats, fresh ground beef, beef cuts, pork cuts and more (their very own little butcher shop)... and even more breads and savory baked goods, along with the same great pastries from their talented bakers. You’ll also find more prized-ingredients like olive oil, Anson Mill’s polenta, vinegars, condiments, fresh ground spices and pastas, as well as a selection of wines and local beers. The market is open from 8am to 8pm, Monday through Thursday; 8am to 9pm Friday and Saturday; and 8am to 3pm Sunday.

For those interested, the Food Dance friendly and knowledgeable market staff is also available to handle carry-out orders, help customers put together American cheese and meat boards, or help gusts find the perfect gift for all the foodie friends, no matter the occasion.

Food Dance creates opportunities for people to come together and connect through the experience of food. We passionately cook with the freshest locally produced ingredients and believe in giving great, caring service, and providing great experiences for everyone we come in contact with.

401 E. Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo MI 49007