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Corez Wine Bar & Chanticleer

January 25th, 2009

What does a 12-person all male choir and Corez wine bar have to do with anything?  Last night, my hubby, Steve and I along with 8 other family members went to hear Chanticleer at Calvin College.  And I won’t digress too much on the Chanticleer subject but if you’ve never heard them before and you’re fascinated with music, you should hear them. They are quite amazing.  Men singing as low and high as I have ever heard.  Crazy.

So the 10 family crew headed to Corez Wine Bar for a nightcap after the concert.  Being it was Corez’s third night open I wasn’t sure what to expect – giant crowds? or would we be doing them a huge favor by bringing 10 whole people?  Turns out there had been about 150 people in over the dinner hour and there were still quite a few lingering when we arrived after 10pm. (There were still people there at 1:30 when we finally left!)

We started ordering -

First a carafe of the “house red” to share around the table.  For $15 we had a great little wine – they will always have a red and white “house wine” at $15 a bottle.  that’s pretty cool.  one doesn’t need to drop a ton but can try something new. Last night’s was a Sangiovese blend that did just fine thank you.

then we all went our separate ways tasting things.  they offer 2oz pours or 6oz pours of 20+ wines; whites, reds, cava, pank! (which in Mike Dombrowski language means pink/dry rose).  I can’t tell you how many wines they offer by the bottle…it has its own list and with all the activity around me there was no time for deep perusing.

They offer nice cocktails with unique labels of spirits (similar to many of ours at AOTT – different, not necessarily top-shelf expensive but really good) made by bartenders that really know what they’re doing.  My dad, a martini purist tried the Saffron Martini – not up his alley but my mom loved her Manhattan made with Bulleit Bourbon.

We weren’t really hungry but decided on ordering a smattering of small plates for the table, the most popular items were those off the charcuterie list; from cheeses (from their supply partner Art of the Table) to house made pate, they were all impressive.  The favorite small plate was the escargot with chunks of roasted butternut squash, garlic and thyme cream.  Delightful little snails they were!

The place is coming together nicely.  The night was relaxed, our waitress, Heather, was great.  They all seemed to be putting their best foot forward.  Sitting anywhere near the door proves drafty and it’s a little on the loud side, but really for their third night, they have me excited to return and try some really cool wines at a decent price.

Why was it significant I recalled where we had been prior?  Because at the end of the concert, we handed my business card to one of the members of Chanticleer.  On the back of the card I wrote “Your Chanticleer fan club will be at Grand Rapids’ newest wine bar, Corez.  919 Cherry SE, open til 2am”.  Some of them showed up.  That was pretty cool too.

products by people

January 2nd, 2009

It’s really a pleasure for me to work with ‘people’.  It thrills me to find people who make products that are beautiful or delicious and I can say “I’ve met the person who makes that ___ product”

I love that Patricia’s Chocolate is one of our absolute bestselling items of all time.  And I love that Patricia will drop anything and drive in a dreadful snowstorm to meet me with more chocolate because we were out.  No delivery fee, no whining, no waiting.

Then there’s Barbara of the Dancing Goat Creamery and the Koeze people and the Grassfields people and the Glass Formations lady and Pearl the Potholder girl…

One of the newest creations I’ve discovered is from Miami.  Her name is Jennifer and her homemade line of flatbread, a thick but flaky cracker with real rosemary inside and with ample sea salt on the top.  And Jennifer was overjoyed when one of my customers emailed her directly to say, ” I’m sitting here savoring your rosemary flatbread! It is just the BEST!  So this is a thank YOU and a Happy Holidays!  I purchased your delicious product at the best store in Grand Rapids – Art of the Table!  We all love this store and having your flabread there is frosting on the cake!”  And Jennifer emailed her right back and said “You made my day!”

I love stories like that. They make me very happy.

Jimtown Olive Spread

December 30th, 2008

jimtownolivespread1New to the store today is this New Years’ ultimate easy appetizer – In the NEW refrigerated case we have brought in another lovely food from Healdsburg, California. All natural and made in small batches at the Jimtown Store – we think it makes a tasty for sandwiches or fabulous dolloped atop a cream cheese and ‘party toast’ for a hors d’oeuvres, and can be subbed in anywhere olives are requested – though they suggest NOT in a martini. Too messy. Fresh and $6.50, it will take you a long way…enjoy!


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…

the holidays

December 17th, 2008

the holidays bring us ample time to reflect on…wait, what?

the holidays seemingly bring us parties and company dinners and family things that may or may not be all that fun…

so we want to tell you that whether you need boss’ gifts, client gifts, gifts for the impossible-to-buy-for friend or your in-laws, please…let us help.

we’re really good at making custom baskets or gift bags filled with goodness that…

A. you can’t find elsewhere

B. someone just might be impressed with because they already didn’t get 12 of those this year…

C. they might actually enjoy because you, yes you, thought of giving it to them and we helped you pick it out!

Gift ideas that won’t quit. Join us in the festivities daily.

And if you didn’t read it before, there’s 40% off one ‘mystery’ item every day during the 12 days of Christmas. Tomorrow you’ll find peanuts from Williamsburg, Virginia. They’re giant and with just the right amount of salt. Perfect in your gift pack.

Decked Out!

June 12th, 2008

Well now that this sun is shining I’m really feeling “decked out”! I tried giving the brightest and the best of patio dining in the Grand Rapids area and I at least highlighted my favorites or my newest hopes of where to go next! I admit I haven’t been to all of these places so I’d love feedback if you’ve been to a deck and it actually overlooks the dump or a bog or something – I’d like to know! If it’s the best deck you’ve ever been to I think I should know that too! So after you read my latest Rapid Growth article, let me know what you think about the deck dining in our fine city!

From Farm to Table: The Art of Eating Locally

June 9th, 2008


I’m admittedly a newbie to the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) movement. So newbie that I picked up my first allocation from Trillium Haven Farms last week. Thankfully the bounty starts, as my friend Lew says, as “a trickle at first”. I don’t think I could have handled a full faucet dousing of veggies upon my initial visit (and we’re sharing a share!)

I was stunned at the flavor of the green onions. They were so amazingly large, strong and thick, and they tasted like no green onion I’d ever had before! I am using them on everything, in everything! Tonight I made sauteed bok choy (with green onions of course!), using garlic, peanut oil, sesame seeds & a couple dollops of that goopy yummy asian garlic sauce. This was inspired by the recipe in one of my new favorite books From to Table: The Art of Eating Locally. The recipe is aptly entitled “A Versatile Recipe For The Hearty Greens You Don’t Know What To Do With”. I did modify the recipe a bit – I have to, it’s just my way.

Soon we’ll be on to this week’s take where I hope there will be Swiss Chard for my recipe below. Granted in about 4 weeks, I’ll probably be hoping there will be no more Swiss Chard! ~ In the meantime, you might not know the excitement of Amy and a new recipe. There is recipe bliss pouring out of me because of my newfound veggies and my love for cooking new fun things.

In the beginning of this book, Ivy Manning states gives her wholehearted and inspirational dedication. It says,

“This book is dedicated to the farmers and vendors at farmer’s markets everywhere. They get up early, get dirt under their nails, and stand in the blazing sun and pouring rain to sell us the fruits of their backbreaking labor. Blessed are the food growers, for we are always hungry.”

The book’s introduction and resources are fun & usable, good reminders of how we should live when we’re living locally and fresh. I’ll give you a recipe below, then you should come in and buy the book. Because it really is good.

This is the recipe I’m dying to try this weekend using locally grown Swiss chard, spinach AND Dancing Goat Creamery’s fresh feta to whip up a batch of these Swiss Chard and Feta Phyllo Pockets with Yogurt Dill Dip. When you try these I’ll be you will join my desire to eat well all summer and own this book too!

For 6 servings, use (items in bold can be purchased at Art of the Table):

1/3 cup white rice

2/3 cup cold water, plus additional as needed

1 bunch (1 pound) fresh spinach

2 bunches (2 pounds) Swiss chard, washed well and dried

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons Zoe olive oil, divided

1 leek cut lengthwise, white and light green parts sliced into thin rings

1 teaspoon minced garlic

7 ounces (about 1.5 cups) Dancing Goat creamery feta cheese

1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 eggs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 pound phyllo dough, thawed

1/3 cup butter, melted, plus additional for brushing

For the yogurt dip:

2 cups plain full-fat yogurt

2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the rice and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Pour the rice into a large bowl and refrigerate until cool.

Cut off the stems from the spinach and discard. Place the leaves in a large bowl of cold water and swirl; the grit will sink to the bottom. Scoop out the leaves, change the water, and repeat. Scoop the leaves into a salad spinner or colander and dry well.

Separate the tough chard stalks from the leaves, finely chop the stalks, and tear the leaves into bite-size pieces. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the chard stalks and leek; cook until the leek has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the chard leaves, and toss with tongs to coat the leaves with oil. Cook for 3 minutes; add the spinach one handful at a time until all the leaves are added.

Transfer the mixture to a fine-mesh sieve or colander and press with a spatula to extract as much moisture as possible. Mix the greens with the rice and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Stir in the feta, dill, Parmesan, nutmeg, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Stack 2 sheets of phyllo dough on a cutting board with the long side facing you. Cover the remaining dough with a clean dish towel to keep it from drying out.Combine the butter and remaining oil in a measuring cup. Pick up the right half of the top phyllo sheet, as if turning the page of a book. Lightly brush the bottom sheet with the butter-oil mixture, lower the top sheet onto the buttered sheet, and press to seal the right side of the sheets together. Repeat with the left side. Cut the dough into four 31/2-inch-wide vertical strips.

Place a heaping tablespoon of the filling on the bottom left corner of one strip. Fold the bottom edge upward, lining it up with the edge on the right side to make a triangular pocket. Fold the pocket upward, then to the left and so on as if folding a flag. Repeat with the remaining strips.

Place the pockets on a cookie sheet and brush lightly with butter. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. (The pockets may be prepared ahead at this point and frozen on cookie sheets until solid. Transfer to a sealable plastic bag and use within 3 months. To bake, defrost the pockets at room temperature for 1 hour and bake as directed.) Bake the pockets until they are golden brown, 40 minutes.

To make the dip, whisk the yogurt, dill, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve alongside the hot phyllo pockets.


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!

Rapid Growth “Foodie” Writings

April 3rd, 2008

I’ve been meaning to write here for a few weeks as a follow up to my first Rapid Growth article entitled Map to the Mac.

Since my writing, I’ve received e-mails from several people encouraging me to include more places on my “map to the mac”. First of all, I’ve been back to the Green Well (not a surprise for the people who know me) and they changed their mac’n'cheese the week the article was photographed but I wasn’t made aware. To me it’s a huge bummer, it used to be made with orzo pasta and now it’s made with corkscrew pasta! But upon trying a bite from my sister’s plate and talking to the owners, I’ve heard that there’s great support for the new ‘format’. If you have tried it before and you don’t like it as much, tell them! That’s the only way those of us in the service world know how to fix things.

And with all the e-mails, I just had to try some more dishes…

I’ve since had the honor of trying the Mac’n'Cheese from Hopcat. Traditional straightforward mac for the most part but really really creamy and topped with the crunchiest of bread crumbs! I haven’t made it to some of the other suggested locales but I word has it that the Red Ball Jet Cafe has mac’n'cheese packed with blue cheese (on special, not always on the menu as I hear it).

Further, I was surprised (and encouraged) to find out that many locals have actually eaten at the new and improved Mariott Courtyard restaurant, The Blue Plate. They have a neat looking menu including a Lobster Morel Mac’n'Cheese. I’ll have to try it sometime!

Now I’m on to my second article with local GR pizza joints as my inspiration! Watch for it next week in Rapid Growth. And if you don’t have a subscription to Rapid Growth, you should, it’s free! And a great way to keep in touch with Grand Rapids happenings!

I’ll have an article in Rapid Growth on a monthly basis, so if you have any ideas for articles, let me know!

Thai food and my pseudo-Thai brother-in-law

March 21st, 2008


My brother-in-law, Jon Ruis, was just written up in the St. Cloud Times (Minnesota) where he lives and spends his time working at St. John’s University. His article helps debunk the fact that Thai cooking is difficult and time consuming and gave inspiration to Thai cooking at home. He returned last year from a four year stint in Thailand where he lived in a small village and learned firsthand just how to cook Thai correctly!

Whenever (and i mean each time!) Jon comes to Grand Rapids, we can be found pouring over Thai cookbooks though seriously 95% of our choices end up coming from the Quick & Easy Thai book by Nancie McDermott. After the recipe study, you can find us over at one of the Asian markets on Division near 36th picking out our ingredients. We make a great team, chopping & blending and then everyone in the family gets to enjoy our authentic delights.

One of my favorite wines to pair with Thai food is Gewurtztraminer. German or Austrian or even some great dry Rieslings are fantastic companions. Try the Thomas Fogarty Gewurtz @ $17.50 for a treat!

Next time you’re inspired to make a fun meal with friends, or for friends, try Thai, it’s easier than you think, especially after you pick up the Quick & Easy Thai book from us!

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