Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sweet Celebration Planned at Murdick's Fudge - The Original Mackinac Island Fudge Shop Celebrates 125th Anniversary on July 26

Visitors to the Original Mackinac Island fudge shop, Murdick’s, will enjoy a sweet celebration this Thursday, July 26, 2012. Murdick’s Fudge Mackinac Island will celebrate their 125th anniversary with free samples, promotions and more!

“We want everyone to share in our excitement as we celebrate our 125th anniversary,” commented Bob Benser, Jr., co-owner, Murdick’s Fudge Mackinac Island. “We are happy to share Murdick’s birthday fudge (You didn’t really think a fudge shop would celebrate with cake, did you?) with all of our visitors on Thursday.”

The first 125 customers in each of the five Straits area stores (Mackinac Island, Mackinaw City and St. Ignace) will receive a free slice of fudge. In addition, visitors to the stores will receive a 1/3 slice of fudge to enjoy while shopping. Customers can also pick up limited-edition treats created for the 125th Anniversary, including Triple Chocolate Espresso fudge as well as Almond Brittle.

While Mackinac Island doesn’t claim to have created fudge, Murdick’s Fudge does claim to have started the tradition and perfected this delicious confectionary treat. Fudge making began as Mackinac Island transitioned from a wealthy fur trading post to a famous summer resort. In 1887, as resorts were being planned and constructed, Mackinac's first candy shop, Murdick's Candy Kitchen, opened. It was here that the marble table was first used to make fudge, a process which gave the fudge a unique texture and also provided a great show for visitors. Over the years, music was added along with large ceiling fans to blow the sweet smell of fudge into the street.

The Original Mackinac Island Fudge, since 1887, Murdick’s has been serving fresh homemade fudge, brittle and confections from the finest all-natural ingredients. For more information, and to order online, visit www.murdicks.com.

To plan your Mackinac Island getaway, including a stop at Murdick’s Fudge Mackinac Island, go to www.mackinacisland.org.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Reserve Wine & Food in Downtown Grand Rapids Recognized by Wine Spectator magazine

Reserve Wine & Food in downtown Grand Rapids is one of only three restaurants in Grand Rapids (and one of only five in West Michigan) to be presented an “Award of Excellence” in the August issue of Wine Spectator magazine.

“We are excited and honored to be recognized by a magazine of this caliber,” says Peter Marantette, Reserve General Manager.

Reserve is home to one of the country’s largest cruvinet systems, holding 102 wines that are served by the glass. An additional 400 wines are available by the bottle.

The criteria for winning an “Award of Excellence” is extensive and is based on things such as breadth of selection, back vintages, large format bottle offerings, and vertical offerings, as well as looking for strengths in certain regions.

In 2011, Reserve was named a winner of OpenTable’s Diner’s Choice Awards for Top Wine Lists in the United States – one of only two restaurants in Michigan to make the list. Earlier this year, Chef Matthew Millar was named a 2012 semifinalist in the James Beard “Best Chef: Great Lakes Region.”

“Accolades such as these reinforce that what we’re doing here at Reserve works,” Marantette says. “Wine is just part of what we offer, and when we pair that with the locally-sourced cuisine that Chef Matt and his team are producing, we serve up one of Michigan’s premier culinary experiences.”

Located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids at 201 Monroe Avenue NW, Reserve Wine & Food offers a world-class menu fully embracing the West Michigan farm-to-table philosophy in an elegant yet casual fine dining setting.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Big Changes Ahead for Michigan-Based Northern United Brewing Company

Big changes are underway at Northern United Brewing Company (NUBC) – the maker of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales, North Peak and Grizzly Peak beers, Civilized Spirits and Bonafide Wines, and operator of Jolly Pumpkin Cafes in Ann Arbor and Traverse City as well as Old Mission Table Restaurant in Traverse City.


Yet this year, Northern United Brewing Company will open a new 70,000-square-foot brewing facility in Dexter, where Ron Jeffries will oversee all brewing operations for both the Jolly Pumpkin and North Peak beer brands. The new site allows for expansion of up to 150,000-square feet in the future.

“I've always said I’ll brew as much sour beer as folks want to drink. Whoever would have guessed it would be more than we can possibly brew at our existing facility,” says Ron Jeffries. “I’m very excited to be making the 1.5 mile move to our new plant. More sour beer can only be a good thing! And did I mention IPAs? Taking over the brewing of the North Peak line with those fantastic hoppy beers – are you kidding me, it’s a(nother) dream come true!”

The move means that NUBC’s 5600-square-foot facility on the Old Mission Peninsula in Traverse City will be dedicated to the production of Civilized Spirits and North Peak’s Nomad Hard Cider, under the auspices of Mike Hall.

“We’re excited for the North Peak and Jolly Pumpkin brands to have a new home to continue to meet our growing demand. This will allow us to focus on our micro distillery, and expand our production of Civilized Spirits,” says Mike. “We will continue to create the highest quality craft spirits, and we are also looking forward to knocking out some exclusive experimental brews at the JP pub.”


NUBC has also announced the hiring of Tony Grant as the company’s chief financial and chief operating officer, effective July 1. His primary focus is working with the executive team to develop the near and long-term strategies for the company.

“The shift taking place in our industry is amazing and the brands of Northern United Brewing Company are on the forefront of what makes craft creations so special,” Tony says. “This is a dream job with an incredible group of talented people as the dream team and I feel very lucky to be a part of it. The future is full of opportunity!”

Tony has more than 10 years of Fortune 500 experience in strategic finance, operations and executive management in retail, commercial and industrial real estate and manufacturing operations. Most recently, he served as director of corporate development with Owens Corning where he focused on all aspects of global acquisition and divestiture activity and various strategic projects for the company.

Prior to Owens Corning, he served as an executive officer and vice president of strategic planning, real estate and international franchise operations for Borders Group – where he also managed various asset dispositions and worked very closely with major shareholders and the company’s board of directors. Tony was also the architect of and managed Borders very successful airport bookstore expansion across the U.S. earlier in his career with the company.

Tony received both his MBA and electrical engineering degrees from Michigan State University, where he also played varsity football under Nick Saban and Bobby Williams.

“We are extremely excited to add a person of Tony’s caliber to our executive management team,” according to Jon Carlson and Greg Lobdell, who along with Ron Jeffries and Mike Hall are managing partners of NUBC. “His experience along with his tremendous work ethic and ability to lead will allow NUBC to continue on the path of growth that we have been experiencing and allow the company to reach its full potential.”

NUBC’s philosophy focuses on a dedication to conservation, inspiration and locally sustainable practices. 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.

Northport Dog Parade & Wine Festival Planned for Saturday, August 11

Fine wine, food and fun will be the focus on August 11 in Northport when the 16th annual Northport Dog Parade’s Old Un-Salty Dog parade takes to the streets followed by the opening of the 25th annual Northport Wine Festival. The fun begins at 1 p.m. when the Northport Dog Parade takes off from the Mill Pond on Third Street in Northport. The Northport Wine Festival will begin at 2 p.m. and run until 6 p.m. in Northport’s Haserot Park, located at 105 Rose Street.

The Northport Wine Festival and the Northport Dog Parade are sponsored by the Northport-Omena Chamber of Commerce. This year the wine festival will exclusively feature the wines of the Northern Wine Loop, 11 wineries and cideries located in the northern tip of the Leelanau Peninsula.

“We’re delighted to pair with the Northern Wine Loop this year to create a new and different wine festival for Northport,” says Northport-Omena Chamber of Commerce President Lisa Drummond. “We’re excited about the great wines they offer and we’re looking to a fun day in beautiful Haserot Park listening to the music of the Windy Ridge Boys and enjoying all that Northern Michigan has to offer.

“We’re also pleased to be able to continue the Northport Dog Parade, which was started by and run since 1997 by Old Mill Pond Inn owner David Chrobak,” Drummond said. “Each of these events are a unique part of Northport’s summer celebration.”

The dog parade participants – both canines and their human handlers – will take to the streets in costumes representing this year’s “Old Un-Salty Dog” theme. Prizes are available to those participants who pay the $5 pre-registration or $10 day of registration to be in the parade. Winning costumes will be judged at the parade’s start – Northport’s Mill Pond – from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Prizes will be awarded at the parade’s end – the pavilion at G.M. Dame Marina Park.

At the wine festival the Chamber is starting a new tradition with a People’s Choice award for favorite wine and food pairings. Each winery will serve wines that pair especially well with the food offerings of participating restaurants and visitors will be asked to vote on their favorite wine and food pairing.

The wineries of the Northern Wine Loop include Bluestone, Boathouse Vineyards, Circa Estate Winery, Forty-Five North Vineyard & Winery, Gill’s Pier Vineyard & Winery, Good Neighbor Organic Winery, Leelanau Cellars, Raftshol Vineyards, Silver Leaf Vineyard, Tandem Ciders and Verterra Winery.

Great food will be provided by area restaurants including The North End Eatery, knot Just a Bar, Stubb’s, Deep’s Corner Store and the Bluebird restaurant.

Leelanau Cellars, one of the first wineries in established in Leelanau County and based in Omena, is the gold sponsor of the Northport Wine Festival. Leelanau Cellars owner Mike Jacobson, a long time Northport summer resident and the founder of Leelanau Cellars in 1974, has participated in all of the 25 Northport Wine Festivals. “This is a wine festival that has been so well received by residents and visitors alike,” says Jacobson. “Focusing on wineries that are geographically located in the northern end of the county creates the opportunity for a unique tasting experience for wine lovers at a festival that is a significant local event.”

During July members of the Northern Wine Loop are raising funds for A.C. Paw through their Pours for Paws campaign. Funds raised for A.C. Paw will be presented at the Northport Wine Festival.

Northport-Omena Chamber of Commerce was organized in 2005 to help develop, enhance, sustain and serve commerce in Leelanau Township. To learn more about the Chamber and the Northport-Omena area, please visit the website at northportomenachamber.org. For more information on the wine festival, please visit http://www.northportomenaevents.com/search/label/Events%20in%202012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Allegan County Tourist Council Reveals New Heritage Trail Website

The Allegan County Tourist Council has recently launched a new website for its award-winning Allegan County Heritage Trail at www.AlleganCountyHeritage.com.

The website, which focuses on a 122-mile route and 28 historic sites, features photos, audio files, news clips and information on area attractions – such as restaurants, lodging properties, natural sites, shops and agricultural venues – tied directly to the Tourist Council’s website at www.VisitAlleganCounty.com.

When selecting any of the 28 historic sites from the interactive map, users will be able to bring up a detailed account of that location – along with photos and audio files. Users can also choose additional sites – such as antique shops, art galleries, boat launches, parks and preserves, seasonal activities and many other categories – along the trail.

“I think users will be amazed at how much detail this new site offers when it comes to tailoring a trip along the Heritage Trail,” says Kevin Ricco, Director of County Development. “We’re also happy to see our two sites working together to better market Allegan County as one of West Michigan’s premier travel destinations.”

A project of the Allegan County Tourist Council and its Heritage Preservation Advisory Board, the Allegan County Heritage Trail and the official 38-page guidebook were unveiled in May 2003, followed by a companion CD in the fall of 2004. Both the guidebook and CD feature interviews with county residents, written and oral histories and a collection of photographs – all of which can now be found on the new website.

Brown directional signs can be found along the route to direct travelers on the trail. In 2007, informational panels were erected at the various locations to provide greater detail about the history of the area.

In 2009, the Historical Society of Michigan presented a “Special Programs Award” to Jan Cushman, Tourist Council member and chair of the Heritage Preservation Advisory Board, for her tireless work in spearheading this important project.

The tour is a loop route that runs from Saugatuck east across the farmlands of northern Allegan County and on through the towns of Hopkins, Wayland and Martin, down to Plainwell. From there, the trail heads back along the Kalamazoo River through Otsego and Allegan, then past Lake Allegan and through the Allegan State Game Area. The tour continues past orchards and vineyards to Lake Michigan, and then up the lakefront back to Saugatuck.

This self-guided tour is designed to be driven in a clockwise direction, which provides the best scenic vistas. Figure on taking a full day if you plan to tour the entire route, stopping to view the various sites and enjoy the experiences along the way. Driving non-stop, it would take you about 4-5 hours to travel the route.

The Allegan County Tourist Council was formed in 1982 and serves to market and promote the county’s rich travel, tourism, hospitality, cultural and heritage resources. For more information on Allegan County, call 888-4-ALLEGAN or visit www.VisitAlleganCounty.com.

Jolly Pumpkin Takes to Hawaiian Islands for Latest Collaborative Beer: Sobrehumano Palena 'Ole

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales has released its latest collaboration beer – Sobrehumano Palena 'Olo – a red ale brewed with liliko'i and Michigan cherries – brewed with Maui Brewing Company. Brewers Ron Jeffries (Jolly Pumpkin) and John Walsh (Maui Brewing) spent time in each other’s breweries earlier this year to craft this ale. Both versions of Sobrehumano Palena 'Ole were introduced at SAVOR, an annual craft beer and food exposition, held in Washington DC each June.

Maui Brewing Company used standard fermentation to produce approximately 4000 cases of cans and 80 barrels in draft for its version. This is the brewery’s first collaboration beer.

The Jolly Pumpkin version is an open-fermented, barrel aged and bottle conditioned sour ale, using naturally occurring wild yeasts. Approximately 850 cases of 750ml bottles and 20 draft barrels have been produced by Jolly Pumpkin. This brew is available in draft and bottles, with special glassware, at the Jolly Pumpkin Pub and Cafe in Downtown Ann Arbor. It has also just launched nationally and will be shipped to Michigan wholesalers in immediate future. It will also be available for sampling at the 15th Annual Michigan Summer Beer Festival, July 27-28, in Ypsilanti.

Maui Brewing Company has built a reputation for creating handcrafted beers brewed using their finest natural ingredients. Founded in 2005, Maui Brewing is one of Hawaii’s fastest growing companies and the island’s only microbrewery. All beers from Maui Brewing are packaged in cans, which can be recycled and aid in sustainining the state’s vibrant tourism industry.

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales is dedicated to more than the traditions of old world craftsmanship. Everything they do is designed to create ales of outstanding art and flavor. Focusing on traditional rustic country style beers brought to life through labor and love, Jolly Pumpkin strives to create beers to lighten the spirit and soothe the soul

The Jolly Pumpkin is part of Northern United Brewing Co., which also encompasses the Grizzly Peak and North Peak Beer Co. craft beer brands, as well as Civilized Spirits and Bonafide Wine. 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 5600-square-foot facility on Old Mission Peninsula adjacent to Mission Table restaurant (former Bowers Harbor Inn) or at the original Jolly Pumpkin brewing 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.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Grand Rapids Author Tobin T. Buhk Releases Latest Title: True Crime in the Civil War

True Crime in the Civil War: Cases of Murder, Treason, Counterfeiting, Massacre, Plunder & Abuse features sixteen chapters and examines more than a dozen criminal cases during the long-standing conflict. It is the second solo title by Michigan author Tobin T. Buhk, who also co-authored two books with Dr. Stephen D. Cohle, Kent County Medical Examiner.

“Crime was rampant, both in the North and the South, during the Civil War,” says Tobin. “In my latest title, I've peeled back the layers to reveal the bloody truth about the Civil War.”

In True Crime in the Civil War, Buhk examines the more inglorious aspects of the conflict, including:

• The murder of Gen. Earl Van Dorn
• The bloody draft riot in Detroit
• Sam Upham’s currency-counterfeiting scheme
• The tyranny of Gen. Benjamin Butler
• Violent raids by William Quantrill and “Bloody Bill” Anderson
• The devastating Fort Pillow Massacre
• The rebel plot to burn New York City
• Horrific prison conditions at Andersonville
• The fate of the Lincoln assassination conspirators

True Crime in the Civil War (320pgs | February 2012 | Stackpole Books | $21.95) is available at retail outlets and online resources now.

Tobin T. Buhk is a Grand Rapids-based freelance writer and author of True Crime: Michigan (2011), as well as coauthor (with Dr. Stephen D. Cohle, Kent County Medical Examiner) of Cause of Death: Forensic Files of a Medical Examiner (2007) and Skeletons in the Closet: Tales from the County Morgue (2008).


"Crime did not take a holiday during the Civil War, far from it. As Tobin Buhk shows in this fast-paced narrative, the war created new opportunities to gain profits from illegal activities, to settle old scores against personal enemies under the cover of fighting the nation's enemies, to pillage, plunder, and murder amid the carnage and destruction that seemed to offer license to legitimize such crimes. Students of the Civil War will find new information in this readable account." — James M. McPherson, Author of Battle Cry of Freedom

"A rare novelty in the profusion of writing about the Civil War, a volume that takes a different approach." — Susan Branch, Joplin Independent

"Freelance writer Buhk has pulled many famous-and infamous-Civil War crimes into one excellent volume. . . . Easy to read with occasional humorous turns of phrase; highly recommended." — Karen Sandlin Silverman, Library Journal

"Buhk wrote an engaging, well-documented collection of tales . . . It is his efforts at mediating the sources, the "voices," that elevates True Crime in the Civil War above a simplistic version of Cops. . . . Both Civil War aficionados and fans of crime dramas will find much to enjoy.” (Full review here). — Neil West, Armchair General

“A fascination with forensic science led to an interesting hobby for English teacher Tobin Buhk. He has written several books on true cases and the history of forensics. His latest is “True Crime in the Civil War: Cases of Murder, Treason, Counterfeiting, Massacre, Plunder and Abuse.” (Listen to broadcast here). — Matt Olien, Prairie Public Broadcasting