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Beverages are flowing at Art of the Table!

May 30th, 2011

We’re in full swing of our new schedule of wine & beer tasting events.  Join us!

It’s June, and that means Thursdays are for wine tasting!

Every Thursday in June we’ll be uncorking sample bottles to let you taste wines!  Our June theme is a bubbly, white & red.  Each Thursday one of each will be opened from a specific country. Come in each Thursday and learn by taste!

June 2 ~ Spain: Bubbly, White & Red

June 9 ~ Argentina: Bubbly, White & Red

June 16 ~ France: Bubbly, White & Red

June 23 ~ Italy: Bubbly, White & Red

June 30 ~ USA: Bubbly, White & Red


It’s June, and that means Fridays are for beer tasting!
Fridays in June we’ll be flipping open those sample bottles to let you taste beers:

June 10 ~ Local Ciders: Black Star Farms from Traverse City & Goldfinch Cider from Ada!

June 17 ~ Brooklyn Brewery

June 24 ~ Lagunitas Brewery

June 29 ~ Dark Horse Brewing Co.

All tastings from 4-8pm on their respective dates!


B Nektar B Good 4 Summer!

May 11th, 2011

Inspired by B Nektar’s website we were!

…we were inspired to have many varieties of B. Nektar Meadery’s mead on our shelf and keep them coming.

…we are inspired to describe just what is this B. Nektar is and they do a pretty great job on their site describing their processes and flavors, so i’ll mostly leave that to them but know that I as a non-sweet wine drinker LOVE mead for its fun honey flavor and range of sweet to dry.  Normally I will drink it after dinner as a sweet end to a hot day or evening, but check out this fun recipe that follows! Yum!


While trying to concoct our most recent batch of sangria for summer, we found this to be quite a charming and flavorful rendition of sangria.  Splurge on a little B Nektar this summer.  It’s local (Ferndale, MI) and it’s delicious and without further adieu…

B. Nektar Sangria!

Makes a little less than a gallon:

You will need:

- 2 bottles Wildberry Pyment B Nektar Mead

- 1 liter Ginger Ale – add more or less to taste

- 2-3 shots of Gin (Can use Vodka)

- 1 Large Orange

- 1 Large Lemon

- 1-2 Limes (use two if they are small)


- Mix Wildberry Pyment and Gin in a 1 gallon + container

- Wash and quarter all citrus and remove seeds

- Squeeze citrus into mixture and add to mixture (rinds and all)

- Refrigerate and let sit over night

- Add ginger ale to taste and serve (add right before serving to make sure it is bubbly)

Note: You can use club soda in place of the ginger ale. I have even added a tablespoon of honey or two with it.

I’ve never done this with Vodka, but if you hate gin, try vodka.

Amy’s (but not that Amy’s) dinner thoughts

March 25th, 2011

My name is Amy, and I work at Art of the Table, but my name is not Amy Ruis.  I am the “new” Amy, known among staff as “tall Amy”, since I stand at an even 6 feet tall.  The name “long-armed Amy” has also come into play, especially when things are needed from a high shelf.  It’s a good thing that I’m not afraid of heights, since I get called to go up on the highest ladder quite frequently to do things like change lightbulbs :)

Today I wanted to talk, however, about another perk of working at Art of the Table – discovering some great food and wine!  Living as a single girl, I am often called upon to prepare dinner for just myself.  Usually this can make for some boring, repetitive meals, since no one is going to eat it but myself.  Tonight, however, I had quite a treat for dinner, and can thank Art of the Table for making it possible!

One meal I love to whip up for myself is a quesadilla made with cheese and refried beans.  Today I used Ossau Iraty cheese from our cheese case.  Yum yum!  I shredded it into my tortilla and it melted great on the stove top.  A fantastic sheep’s milk cheese from France, Ossau Iraty has a great creamy almost buttery, mild, and smooth flavor.  In fact, it’s recently become one of my favorite cheeses!

For dessert I indulged myself with an apple dipped in Smitty’s Hot Sludge. Wow – the decadence!  This hot fudge is made right here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and not only is it local, it has a fantastic, home-style chocolate flavor. It’s just like you melt

Smitty's Hot Sludge

ed a chocolate bar down, only better!  It was great with my apple, and would be simply divine on some Ciao Bella Vanilla gelato!

To give it all extra bonus, I enjoyed a glass of our Coto de Hayas wine.  Probably our best-selling wine in the store, this wine has a great flavor rich in tannins yet smooth enough to drink on its own if you desire.  It’s got some great red fruit flavors and is a fantastic wine for the $9 price tag!  I will be highly recommending this to you if you come visit us at the store.

Wine Tastings for the Fall and beyond (i can’t say winter)

August 4th, 2009

Art of the Table is attempting to be the tasting capital of Grand Rapids this fall.  This is only the beginning, we have about 3 other beverage tastings up our sleeves before the end of the year AND we have food tastings and classes and sharpenings in the works too…we want you to be able to clear your calendar for the following dates to join us at a wine or beer tasting at restaurants around town. (Some still say TBA, as in to be announced, but the dates are set in stone.)

All of our tastings include 6 generous ‘pours’ of wine, we don’t skimp like at some tastings.  We also offer friendly banter, education about the wines and hopefully new found wine friends.  All tastings have crackers, cheese & fruit and also a plated appetizer to pair with one of the wines.

We request that you sign up ahead of time – as soon as possible as some tastings sell out.  Starting this fall, we must ask that when you call you leave a credit card number with us to confirm your reservations.  If you need to cancel, we ask for 24 hours prior notice; we will not charge it unless you’re a no show – in which case the restaurant will charge you for your tasting.

Wednesday, August 12    Spanish Values $25* @ Republic ~ 45 South Division

As Spain continues to make great strides in wine, we continue to make great strides in bringing those delicious Spanish wine values to your table. Our love for Spanish values tonight will cover you in a cloud of joy and will include a cava (bubbly), two whites, a rose and two reds. It’s time to select some of these for your everyday drinkers. Expect wines from $9-16 retail.

Wednesday, September 9    Zinfandel Rocks the World! $30* @ Republic ~ 45 South Division

Still I can’t figure out the ratio of Zin vs. Zin-no-way people in this world. For me, I enjoy a zin for sipping in the nighttime. People tend to love it or laugh at it. We’re talking about red colored Zinfandels. Zinfandels tend to be big in the berry department – more jammy, velvety and sometimes total sugar bombs! Zinfandels also tend to be higher in alcohol and overstated (and that could be an understatement!) Then again, Zins can be big yet elegant and regal. Tonight we’ll try a Primitivo or two from Italy (aka Zin) and some of our favorite Zins from the west coast as well. Be prepared to fall in love!

Wednesday, September 30    Oktoberfest Beer Tasting $25* @ Graydon’s Crossing ~ 1223 Plainfield NE

Feel the fall in the air? It’s going to force you into a whole new plane of beer. Try out this years coolest new fall finds for the cooler and features at Graydon’s Crossing. 7 beers in your face along with some foods of fantastic fall folly.

Wednesday, October 7    Mystery Winemaker Tasting!                                 $TBA


Keep your eyes peeled for details on this evening.  We are hosting a winemaker, one of those true ‘garragistas’ (yes, those who make wine basically in a garage, they’re that small!) We can’t yet tell you the details but when we can, oh you’ll know!

Friday, October 23     Anniversary Tasting  $TBA @ TBA

It’s hard to believe but it’s going to be six years in October that we have been in existence…and we are throwing a party! This party will be unlike our ‘regular’ tastings in that we will have tables set up with our beer & wine distributor reps and their (and our) favorite beers & wines amongst them. You’ll be able to walk around and peruse different selections and chat with people who know a lot about what you’re sipping – or noshing – on! Normally we have the restaurant make tons of food but this year, in addition, you’ll be having a taste of Art of the Table foods!  Appetizers & desserts from Chef Kate Leeder (also Art of the Table gal) will give you a chance to taste SO many of the items we carry on our shelves on a daily basis. From sauces and dips to chips and crackers to cheeses and meats and delightful little chocolates & such. Tickets will be sold to this event and must be prepaid.   Please contact us via phone to purchase after September 1.

Wednesday, November 18    How do you spell T-U-R-K-E-Y? $25* @ TBA

When you think turkey, do you think about white wines like Riesling and Gewurtztraminer? Or do you think red wines like Beaujolais and Pinot Noir? Are you ready to test your taste buds with some turkey and six wines we choose? We’re thinking about doing this one ‘blind’ (wine in bags, analysis by vision and taste – but not vision of the label.) This way the turkey and the wine will refine your ideas for what to serve on that day, the day we will all indulge in food and give thanks.

Wednesday, December 2     BFR (aka Big Fat Reds) $35* @ TBA

It’s kind of a Bradford/Art of the Table tradition. Big Fat Reds, first Wednesday in December. Can’t be messed with. Once it was messed with and it fell flat. A few times we picked the wrong restaurant where it was loud. Another time someone picked all old world wines. This year, we are hoping for perfection. First Wednesday, a quieter locale, some wines from the old world, but mostly from the new. The rule always is that they have to be red. And big. And fat. And they will be delicious.

Wednesday, December 9     Bubbles of the World $35* @ University Club

Champagne is a place, they make bubbles that you may call Champagne. All others are bubbly – made either in the “methode Champenoise” or not. Bubbles can be called cava, prosecco or sparkling wines. They are also available in clear, a yellowish hue, pink or red. Join us as we venture around the world with bubbles and some fine bubble pairings.

Wednesday, December 16     Bubbles from True Farmers of the World $50* @ University Club

Champagne is a place, they make bubbles that you may call Champagne. All of the bubbles tonight are from French farmers. The French farmers that make these bubbles really care about their bubbles in a serious way. That’s why they are all impressive and well, just lovely. You’ll never spend the Dom Perignon dollars yet you’ll get twice the bang for your buck. If you haven’t tried the real deal, tonight is for you. We will honor you with super special stuff and great food pairings as well.

Wednesday, January 13     Values for Fireside Chats $20* @ TBA

For our first tasting of the year, we thought we’d give you value and cozy all wrapped up in one. Stunning wines for their price, we will focus in on things that make your January a happier, cozier one.

Monday, Feb 15     Do you still love me? (Monday after Valentines tasting) $45* @ TBA

It’s a dinner. And a tasting. A pairing of sorts. And it WILL be romantic. Or at least sort of. You may come on your own too, no kissy face here. More details will be arriving

Asparagus! A farmer’s market/open house/Stalkumentary and meet the director!

May 20th, 2009

Back when Asparagus! The Stalkumentary was first released, I went to the Wealthy Theatre to view it.  I was intrigued by it then because my business was new and I was getting into the ‘foodie’ scene.  I knew right away through friends that one of the producers & directors of this 53-minute film was Kirsten Kelly, a fellow Calvin grad, who grew up in Oceana County on an asparagus farm – so she knows firsthand how this all goes.

After viewing the film I was provoked to follow it, because WOW – it was funny, sad, politically angering (even though I profess to not care about politics!) and truly eye-opening!  It took a while for it to move through all of the film festivals and such (and very respected ones like Harvard’s The Food Literacy Project) to make its way to mainstream sales and video.  Since it came out on video I’ve been selling it in the store.  It’s $24.95 retail.  Recently it made its way to our local PBS station GVSU and I know more people have now seen it.

However, I know you all haven’t seen this movie.  That would be impossible.  And being as excited as I am about eating local, about eating asparagus in many different forms and about promoting Wealthy Street, I couldn’t help but want to promote this movie to a wider audience.  Did I mention what a fabulous person the director, Kirsten, is too?  She is passionate about asparagus and she will be in the house to talk about these tall green stalks of veggie.  Join us!

So here it is, Art of the Table sponsors a local asparagus festival!

Asparagus: A stalkumentary


Please join us for a local asparagus festival

featuring an open house of samples and information

as well as a screening of the film

& a Q&A session with producer

and director, Kirsten Kelly!

The feature is a captivating & award winning short film which brings to reality the joys and struggles

of Oceana County, Michigan farmers.

The film is described by NY Magazine as “oddly brilliant” as well as “powerful, disturbing, political and yet highly enjoyable!” by local viewers.

Where? Wealthy Theatre @ 1130 Wealthy Street SE

When? Wednesday, June 3

6-7:30pm open “asparagus” house with food sampling, local stores & farmer appearances *see list below*

7:30-9pm film & discussion

Cost? Only $10, all proceeds go to the Wealthy Street Business Alliance!

Advance tickets (recommended) available online @

and tickets will be available at the door.

Open House booths include:

  • Mrs. Asparagus ‘89 and Mrs. Asparagus Runner-up ‘89
  • Brick Road Pizza samples – asparagus pizza
  • Electric Cheetah samples — asparagus bruschetta
  • The Sparrows samples—asparagus crepes
  • Amy Sherman of Slow Food West Michigan samples—asparagus soup
  • The Winchester samples something delectable
  • Art of the Table—store products related to gardening & I heart asparagus “schwag”
  • West Michigan Co-op will promote local farmers
  • Literary Life Bookstore— featuring books on asparagus and local eating
  • Local First – a presence to promote Local First’s foodie members
  • Food for Thought magazine will hand out free copies of its local foodie magazine
  • Asparagus preservation demo by Joy-Elizabeth Lawrence

…and more to come!

Join us – it’s a great way to experience local food & fun & education all at the same time! And supporting the WSBA isn’t a bad idea either!  Hope to see you there!

A weekend of tastes

March 30th, 2009

The book I used solely

The book I used solely

In my life as a store owner, I’m usually pretty busy – my staff and husband might say that’s an understatement! This weekend was exceptionally busy.  Besides working at the store…

Friday night I had the honor of being the wine pro at a friend’s wine tasting of South American wines.  The hostess bought the wine from the store, made all the food and we paired different Chilean and Argentinian wines.  The favorites?  The Terra Andina Reserve Chardonnay ($12.25) was tops on many palates in the white category, and the Ben Marco Malbec ($23.75) from Mendoza, Argentina displayed beautifully!  If you haven’t tried these two shelf selections, I encourage you to do so!


Saturday night was a charity dinner for eight at our house – an annual event for the highest bidder at our church’s auction.  This year the theme was Italian, therefore my/our job was to create a 7 course meal, pair it with wines and serve it.

Being the kamikaze cook that I am, I pulled Maxine Clark’s Italian Kitchen book from the newest cookbooks at the store and pored over it, selecting every one of my recipes for this dinner from it.  Then in true Amy style, I didn’t test any recipes, yes, I made them all for the first time for the dinner.  It’s interesting the reactions I get from people when I tell them I trust recipes and make them for eight hungry guests without knowing exactly how it will come out.

Somehow this doesn’t scare me much.  I did sort of end up ruining the soup; instead of a creamy spinach, egg & cheese soup, we heated the broth too much and though we were cautious about our addition of the egg, it didn’t work out well.  Yes, it curdled.  In fact, we renamed it Italian Egg Drop Soup.  It didn’t taste bad, it just wasn’t creamy and perfect.

Besides that and the smoking of grill pan of eggplant (loaded with olive oil, lemon & mint) the dinner was awesome and featured the book’s Grandmother Cake for dessert.  Our favorite recipe from the book was entitled “Warm Lentil, Mushroom, Tomato & Arugula Salad”…you should try it with the Maculan Pinot & Toi ($15.50) white wine.

Finally, the winning wine of the night? Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico 2001, ($28.50) straight from the hills of Tuscany and beautifully aged for the last 8 years!  Steve and I visited the winery last year and their wines are awesome anyway, however, this vintage of this wine – a 2001! – at this moment in time is stunning and perfect.  I didn’t get a chance to sip & enjoy like I should have, so sometime soon I’ll make a point to get another bottle to linger over!


I decided to take a little time to relax on Sunday and I had some other amazing tastes from our friends over at the Electric Cheetah, the soon to open bistro on Wealthy.  Cory, the owner, arranged a 12 hour marathon Puzzle Bee to take place yesterday in order to ‘wallpaper’ the bathroom with various puzzles.  There had to be around 100 puzzlers there throughout the day making puzzles of choice.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting in touch with my puzzling side once again and I enjoyed trying Cory’s creations from the kitchen throughout the day.  My favorite? I give the veggie breakfast burrito two thumbs up!

Always so many great things to taste -


Ryan’s musings on Grammy & wine

January 18th, 2009

Last Saturday we celebrated my grandmother’s (Grammy) 80th birthday. Most of my family is into wine so I knew it would be an excellent opportunity to grab a smattering of things from the store and try them side-by-side.  Also, my uncle who is originally from Washington has grown interested in Oregon Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. I told him at our Christmas gathering I’d bring a couple nice Pinots to try. It’s a red wine group but I threw in a white just in case.

Here’s the Grammy birthday line-up:

Domaine des Cassagnoles 2007 – Gascogne $10.50

Lurton Malbec Reserva 2006 – Mendoza $15.50

Spada 2006 – Toro $12.25

Thibault Liger-Belair “Les Grand Chaillots” 2006 – Cote d’Or $28.75

Panther Creek Winemaker’s Cuvee 2005 – Willamette Valley $31.00


The Cassagnoles has zippy acidity and went over well, even with those that like whites with some sweetness. I sometimes find that acid driven whites provide a nice transition for wine drinkers who are looking to graduate from the sweeties. The crispness gives them something obvious to latch onto.

New to the store shelves is the Lurton.  I had tasted it a few months ago with other Argentinian Malbecs and thought it was appropriately priced.  It’s complex and interesting~  A nice step up from ten dollars without having to shell out $20.  Both my older sisters liked it a lot.  I always have a difficult time finding wines both they and I enjoy, so I was pleased.

We didn’t end up opening the Spada, a Tempranillo from Toro.  Its screwcap did germinate an interesting discussion on wine closures.  The wine is rich and plush, especially for the price.  When I want to bring an impressive wine to a social gathering that is affordable, I grab this.

I grabbed the Thibault Liger-Belair to represent French Pinot Noir.  We got the wine as part of a direct import (DI) offering.  I leave an explanation of DIs for a future post.  Needless to say, wines that we purchase this way provide an excellent value to customers because we pay less for them, ergo, you pay less for them.  The Thibault was a more delicate wine with more floral notes and softer red fruits.  The nose was extremely ‘poopy’  (it’s a good thing!), which was extremely amusing for me as I grossed out my younger sister.

Oregon Pinots were represented by Panther Creek.  I have had both the ’05 and ’06 now and despite the price tag, I actually think it’s a bargain.  The Panther Creek is much more opulent and dense then the Belair. It ended up being the overall winner of the evening.

We all had a good time and the wine proved to be a focal point of many discussions. Rarely when I bring wine to a function do I bring all the same varietal.  I find it’s a lot more fun to try different wines side by side and when the venue is perfect.  Here’s to Pinots and Grammy’s birthday!

Stuffing the stocking

December 23rd, 2008

We’re in the countdown to Christmas and frankly for most this means a frenzy of preparing for family, holiday meals, checking the list twice – and that’s when you realize that monumental task of stuffing stockings for your adult children or significant other is still looming.

That’s why we’re really excited for you that there is time left to shop for real stocking stuffers.
I say real because I truly believe we have some stocking stuffers that will be used in the upcoming year. I mean, who can’t use a mini shopping bag, a mini cranberry chutney for the next cocktail party and who’s not excited to try out those chocolates we’ve got everywhere?

Your last chance to stuff those stockings:
Tuesday 9am – 8pm
and Wednesday 9am – 5pm

Happy holidays!![/caption]


December 17th, 2008

snowman shortbread

snowman shortbread

i’ve had a love-love relationship with shortbread for a long time now. that explains a lot about me having to go to the gym early in the morning, doesn’t it? the first time i had shortbread cookies there must not have been enough salt…or sugar…or butter….

Sometime after that, though, shortbread became my friend.

We have some amazing chocolate ganache choices to melt over the top of shortbread cookies for the easiest hostess treat ever, or that dessert you forgot to make for book club…or knitting club, or…


April 7th, 2008

Wow…Chicago. I hadn’t been to Chicago for a jaunt in about three years. Yes, I was there for a show about a year and a half ago but that was in the Merchandise Mart and it was an “all work, no play” event. This weekend, we were inspired to travel by a family birthday party in Forest Park and decided to make a weekend of it (which at the last minute also meant a Cubs game!). I made myself a list of stores to venture out to and did it. We ended up at cool stores like Sprout Home, Southport Grocery, Pastoral Artisan for an inspirational cheese visit.

We also landed at Lush, a wine store in the Roscoe Village neighborhood that got written up in Time Out Chicago (a great source of foodie and chicago fun event information). Here’s what they said about Lush that made me smile. “Yes, Nancy Pelosi and Condi Rice have charted new territory for women in this country. But in the wine world, it’s still the 1920s: Women struggle to be taken seriously by the industry, which insists on putting out “wines for women”—pretty rosés with flowery labels. Thankfully, things have progressed at Lush. Though owned by the Einhorn Brothers (the gearheads behind Twisted Spoke), Lush is largely in the hands of a fantastic female staff—tough broads who know their single malts from their Super Tuscans, and who aren’t shy about teaching you a thing or two (yes, guys, even you)”. You go girls!

And I truly hope it’s not another three years before I enjoy time in Chicago again! And I encourage all of you to spend some time there. It’s a close, fun city to spend some time in…and don’t just stay on Michigan Avenue. There are super great neighborhoods. Find them and walk them! And then come home and enjoy your neighborhoods here too – they’re really sprouting up all over! Shop Local!

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