Showing posts with label Grand Rapids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Grand Rapids. Show all posts

Monday, August 1, 2016

Grand Rapids Beer and LaughFest Finale

My friend Lisa and I started our morning with a room service breakfast at the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton.

I had the Michigan Cherry Bread French and she chose the Eggs Benedict. Both were excellent.

After breakfast, we headed to Founders Brewing Co. for a tour and tasting. It was pouring rain so we decided to take an Uber.

I didn’t know too much about this place before we arrived, but left with a lot of knowledge and a very positive experience.

From the outside, the building could blend into the neighborhood. Inside, Founders Brewing was massive, new, and modern, even though they are working on yet another expansion.

The history of Founders Brewery only goes back a few decades, but it’s rise in its industry came swiftly and has continued to flourish. The tour is definitely worth it to learn more about it. I have never seen such a clean and detail oriented brewery.

It has been set up so that everything could be done to make quality beer under this roof.

All the employees we encountered were also generally happy to be working there.

At the end of the Founders Brewing tour, we finished up in their tap room. This was far from an ordinary tasting room. 

They give the option to enjoy all of their beers here, in addition to buying food.

Lisa, my official beer taster, really liked the rich, coffee-flavored Kentucky Breakfast, as well as their signature Dirty Bastard.

I was quite impressed with the deli menu.  It included snacks such as nachos and Beer Cheese Dip, as well as handcrafted sandwiches.

I had to give the Louis A. Cornelius a try when I read the description: Corned Beef, Roasted Chicken, Cheddar & Cream Cheese, Dirty Bastard Sauerkraut & 1,000 Island Dressing on Polish Rye.

I am not a sauerkraut fan and left that out. The sandwich was outrageously good, and so big the two of us together couldn’t finish it.

Lisa and I still had a full night to go on this rainy day so we decided to head back to the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel for a few hours of rest before we showered and got ready for dinner.

We just had to walk across the street to the Six One Six restaurant at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids.

There we met Stephanie and Kelly from Experience Grand Rapids for dinner.

Everything on the menu sounded wonderful. We took some advice from the women, who had been there before, and ordered some small plates to start with our cocktails.

I was unable to eat the Truffle Fries because they were cooked with the seafood, but Lisa loved them while I enjoyed the Cheesy Pesto Flatbread.

All the main courses were popular, but I definitely picked the best of the bunch with the Butternut Chevre Pasta, filled with fresh ingredients and a perfect balance of flavors.

The desserts at Six One Six were also hard to pick from. We ordered an assortment. While the Crème Brulee was very good, the winner was definitely the Chocolate Madcap,  a chocolate lover’s dream.

We didn’t have long to sit around with our desserts as Lisa and I needed to go down to the Fountain Street Church to catch one of the LaughFest acts I was especially looking forward to.

Chris D’Elia is known for his stand-up comedy as well as his stints on the television sitcoms Whitney and Undateable. I had enjoyed watching him on the latter and his performance kept everyone in the audience laughing.

We headed back to the Amway Grand Plaza by Hilton for our final night in Grand Rapids after the show. It had been quite a trip and I was sure I’d be returning to this city again. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Introduction to Grand Rapids and LaughFest

I had been to Grand Rapids only once, for a short trip. I was happy to return with my friend Lisa to explore the city and attend my first LaughFest.

The annual event is in honor of Gilda Radner, a former comedian best known for her role on Saturday Night Live. Radner, who was married to fellow actor Gene Wilder, died in 1989 of ovarian cancer.

The Michigan native is the namesake of Gilda’s Club, which helps those affected by cancer. LaughFest raises money each year for this worthy cause.

Lisa and I checked into the largest hotel in the city, the Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton.

The hotel is quite opulent and the service was great from the start. Our room had a great view of the river.

We quickly got settled in and headed downtown to the Grand Rapids Art Museum.

As we walked the few blocks to the museum we could see that the entire city was ready for LaughFest.

Signs and logo products were everywhere, especially the art museum where the official headquarters was.

We spent some time going through the museum, which had quite a lot of art from Michigan artists as well as additional exhibits from around the world.

Lisa and I returned to the hotel for dinner at The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck. We found both the cocktail and food menu of small plates to be quite eclectic.

We ordered a Passionfruit Cosmopolitan and a Wolfgang Puck Margarita, and sat back trying to narrow down the menu. 

We ended up with a well-rounded group of small plates: Gnocchi, Kale, Roasted Mushroom Truffle Pizza (our favorite).

For dessert, we shared a Crème Brulee and a Chocolate Molten Cake.

After dinner, we left the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel and headed to our first LaughFest event, comedian Anjelah Johnson at the Fountain Street Church.

This church is best described by the headline of their website, “Fountain Street Church is about deeds more than creeds.

About liberation more than salvation. About justice more than righteousness. If these principles strike a chord with you, please visit us.”

It is spectacular – especially the art and stained glass -- but it was a bit strange for some people having it used for adult comedy!

Lisa and I just enjoyed Anjelah’s show, which was quite good.

It was only about 9:00 when it finished and we decided to head over to The BOB for the Chris Farley Tribute Night.

The LaughFest event was over by the time we arrived, but we checked out this large restaurant, with multiple bars and stages for live music.

We wondered over to one of those bars at The BOB and were enamored with a drink on the menu: Not Your Father’s Float.

Although I’m not a beer drinker, I do love hard root beer and Not Your Father’s is my favorite.

Fortunately, we only ordered one because the huge concoction not only included the root beer, but also had Pinnacle Whipped Vodka, vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce!

It took us a while to get through it. We decided we needed to burn the calories so we walked back to the Amway Grand Plaza by Hilton. It was a busy today, but the next was going to have even more for us to do in Grand Rapids.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Traverse City and Grand Rapids for Michigan Finale

It was time to head home after another adventure with my friend Lisa, but I wanted to squeeze a bit more into the Michigan experience.

We had an early breakfast with J. Michael DeAgostino, Public Relations Manager for Grand Traverse Resort. I wanted to hear about the seasonal activities available here that I might be able to check out on future visits.  

He told me about the exciting winter he was looking forward to at the resort, with snowmobiling, snow shoeing, ice skating, cross country skiing and even dog sledding. All of these winter sports operate out of the golf pro shop, which is a busy spot in the spring, summer and fall as they have three award-winning courses and a golf school here.

We bid J. Michael farewell and made a stop at the Dylan’s Candy Store in the hotel’s lobby. I had never been to this outlet and I definitely felt like a “kid in a candy store” with all these options. I was overwhelmed , and had a long drive ahead of me, so I decided to escape quickly with just a few interesting lollipops while the candy buttons attempted to call me back to my youth.

The drive from Traverse City to home is a long one. Lisa and I decided to break it up by stopping in Grand Rapids. I had never been before and Janet Korn of the Grand Rapids Convention and Visitors Bureau invited us to lunch at one of the city’s popular restaurants.

The owners of Bistro Bella Vita are known in Grand Rapids as they also have two other eateries. I can’t speak for those, but I certainly enjoyed this one.  The menu used a lot of fresh local food, including lots of vegetables. We started out with a yummy, house made Hummus Trio and some Mushroom Crostini.

Lisa and I couldn’t decide what to choose from the vast menu so we shared the Harvest Ravioli and Michigan Turkey Sandwich. The ravioli was stuffed with sweet potatoes and mushrooms in a roasted vegetable, honey-truffle sauce. It was unique and incredible. The sandwich – smoked Michigan turkey with cashew butter, red wine-cherry jam and goat cheese on sourdough – was equally satisfying.

We talked about Grand Rapids, which has its own Beer Trail, as well as five museums, antique galleries and high end boutiques, hotels and spas. We also discussed a visit to explore more of it on a return visit (hopefully this spring). It would have been nice to spend more time there, but it was time to go to my favorite place of all… home.