Have a recommendation? We'd LOVE to hear it!
Salutations Readers!

Kalamazoo has good food.
Great food, in fact. We have made it our mission to check out all the local eateries one at a time - and more for our own poor memories than any other reason, we'll be chronicling our adventures in food here. And some places float our boats way more than others, which is why we have developed the very scientific
five golden forks rating scale. Ok. It is not scientific at all. It is actually quite unscientific. But, it is something. And now, you can search all of our reviews by the forks rating. YAY!

But, wait! There's more!
Kalamazoo Foodies no longer just eat at restaurants then review them. There are recipes posted, some easy, some less easy, all delicious. There are, or will be, book reviews, the new
Foodie Movie Review-y which will focus on movies about food or ones that have a lot of beautiful food in them. There are other food musings, and hopefully soon contests and so much more. But, Foodie Friends, it is all about food. Because we love it!
And, we want to hear from you!

We want to hear your comments on our recipes and reviews. We want to know where you love to eat. And, we are looking for GUEST bloggers to broaden our horizons a bit. And, if you haven't found us on Facebook, you should do that too. Like our page for other fun Foodies stuff like photos, polls, and more.

SO KALAMAZOO PATRONS - where do YOU love to eat? Because we'd love to check it out and share our thoughts here. Give us a comment below, and quickly! Our tummies are grumbling in anticipation.

A Note from the Foodies about our typical fair:
So, you may notice as you read our blog that we often order the same thing wherever we go. OK, maybe not quite, but we do often order similar things. Kristin has her caprese salads and mushroom dishes. Kate has her baked goat cheese and things with tofu. Well, readers, we wanted to let you know that this is absolutely intentional. A) We love those things, so why not order what you love? And, B) It is a lot easier to compare apples to apples than it is to compare apples to comquats. So, we like to order similar things to have a good sense of how to compare them. Just wanted to let you in on that little secret. Bon appetit!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Foodies on Vacay: An "UP North" Michigan Adventure

It was time for our annual trip "Up North" to visit our friends, the Ouwingas, in Cadillac, MI. IN addition to celebrating their daughter, Tessa's 2nd birthday (with a funny looking but delicious cake I made) we were able to take a grown-ups only trip to Traverse City and the surrounding areas for some fun.

But, before we embarked on our trip, we enjoyed some DELICIOUS french toast made with whole wheat cinnamon-walnut swirl bread I made. I am not sure why I hadn't thought of this before, but it was a winning dish. With fresh homemade syrup and some bacon, we had quite a decadent breakfast. It was a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal. That sure didn't stop us from indulging more throughout the day, but I just couldn't help but share the wonder that was this delightful meal.

As you may or may not know, Sleeping Bear Dunes was just voted the most beautiful place in America by Good Morning America. It really is quite a treasure. We visited the dunes last summer, and hope to go back soon. But, in the reporting of Sleeping Bear Dunes as the most beautiful place, Good Morning America interviewed Mario Batali, who summers in Traverse City every year (how cool is that?) and through that interview, we found Black Star Farms and the Hearth and Vine Cafe.

Black Star Farms

We greatly respect Mario Batali, and because of that would probably eat chicken beaks if he said it was the best. Fortunately, it wasn't chicken beaks that he was talking about, b
ut instead was the Hearth And Vine Wine Bar and Cafe at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay, MI. I am SO glad Paul caught this interview, because we certainly discovered a gem!

As you pull onto the property, you are struck by the beauty of the place. The hill is lined with grape vines. There is a charming Inn with 9 guest rooms you can stay in. There is a farm. The tasting room and creamery, and gorgeous Michigan nature all around.

For some reason, we skipped the tasting room and went straight for dinner. I am not sure why. Silliness I guess. We certainly weren't famished, especially after that breakfast! But, we wanted to grab a seat, and I know I was anxious to check this place out. We were able to choose a table outside and began to explore the menu.

It is not a large menu. And, I get the sense that it changes frequently. Using breads, greens, and other seasonal produce from local farms as well as cheese from the creamery and fresh herbs that they grow on site, the menu has to shift depending on what is available. But, even with the short lists of salads, white pizzas, red pizzas, and sandwiches, we still struggled to choose the evenings menu as everything sounded amazing.

We ordered the Raclette appetizer, as that is one of the award winning cheeses made by the
creamery. Served melted over seasonal vegetables (we had potatoes and zucchini) and artisan bread, this was an outstanding way to start the meal. The pairing of the cheese with the bread was incredible. A sharper cheese (that is just a bit "stinky") that finds a delightful creaminess when melted, it was easy to see why this cheese had won some awards. It is clearly a cheese that was cared for as it aged.

We also ordered a bottle of the Red House Red to enjoy with our meal. A nice, light red, the fruity notes are strong. This is a table wine that I wouldn't mind having around.
And, finally, it was time to eat, eat. Not appetizer eat, but chow down. And our two pizzas arrived. We landed on the Four Cheese pizza and the Goat Cheese pizza.

For our red pizza we chose the Goat Cheese pizza. Featuring goat cheese (duh), house blend cheese, tomato puree, mushrooms, roasted red peppers, spinach, and sweet roasted garlic, this pizza had a lot going on. Recommended by our server (who is also the chef's wife) because it had a lot of toppings, you might think that it was a bit too much. But, you would be mistaken. No one ingredient takes over this pizza. Each is represented in the exact right amount, and they all compliment each other perfectly. The thin crust holds up to the ingredients too, so it is not a challenge to eat. You know me and goat cheese, if it is listed as an ingredient, I am very likely to order that item. And, this time, I am sure glad I did.

And, if that doesn't sound like spectacular pizza, let me take a minute to talk about our white pizza, the Four Cheese pizza. With parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, and provolone, as well as garlic oil and fresh basil, this pie was pizza heaven. Again, the thin (wood fired. Did I say that already? That is important here) crust does not overwhelm the cheese and allows it to shine. The cheeses blend together so perfectly, there is creaminess, saltiness, a bit of tang, a perfect cheese marriage. I know I went on and on about Park Street Pizza last week, and I still think that it is some of the best I have had, but so is this.

Eating pizza like this makes me think a few things...
a) Why do we ever order pizza from the large chains? These places are hitting the nail on the head, and those places just don't even come close. Convenience, I guess. That is important.
b) Sadness, because I know the pizza I make at home will never come close to the wonder that is this pizza. Though, we had a delicious parmesan, heirloom tomato, and dressed arugula number last night for dinner. And, it was delicious. But, the crust is something that I just can't do!

OK, OK, enough about pizza. But, seriously, Black Star Farms is an experience. One that you should have for yourself.

Moomer's Ice Cream

So, it was time to leave Black Star Farms, sadly, and we headed to downtown Traverse for a beer. (Right Brain Brewing Co. btw, a pretty cool place with decent beer!). As we enjoyed our pints, we were trying to figure out what our next step was. We didn't want to go home, but we didn't want to drink more either. So, I suggested finding some ice cream or dessert. We asked one of the servers where we should go and she responded, "Without a doubt, Moomers!". I am not one to take a local's glowing recommendation lightly, so we continued our quest.

Another "best of"according to Good Morning America (Best Scoops in 2008), this place is a bit off the beaten path. In fact, we drove right past it and had to turn around. But, we got there. And, quickly got in the really long line. Apparently, that is par for the course here. With over 100 flavors (only 20 to choose from each day) there was a little something for everyone. I went with Chocolate Turtle and Cherries Moobilee (you have to get cherry things when up that way).

The ice cream was good. Very creamy. Pretty strong on flavor. I was pleased with my selections and good with the calories I was getting some this treat. The stand out, however, was the waffle cone. Made on site, you can smell them when you walk in. It was the perfect sweetness. Sturdy enough to last through the ice cream eating time. SO good. I think I can say, without question, that it was the best waffle cone I had ever had.

We got there kind of late, which diminished the experience we were able to have. Located right next to the dairy, you can watch the cows from whom the ice cream comes from. Though we couldn't enjoy this part of the property, I am certain this is a place that kids would love.

My ice cream loyalties may still lie in other places, but man, that cone was good and it is a cool place to visit.

So, yes, it was another great weekend of eating delicious food with good friends. I sure can't complain. But, I will say, I am sad to see this summer coming to an end. It is almost done. And, I have enjoyed it ever so much!

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