Be warned, if you were expecting a diatribe about how we’re all being manipulated by Big Hallmark into guilt over not having a big enough box of chocolate to show our love and how real love can’t be expressed with heart-shaped boxer shorts, you’re going to be disappointed. We are and it can’t, but we’re none of us fools, which means that coupled or no, I still firmly believe in the inherent goodness of a day meant to celebrate love. Even on my worst day, I just can’t be mad at Valentine’s Day. I love so many people! In the crush of dozen rose bouquets and special ‘just for two’ menus, we just tend to forget how many forms love takes, which is why this is an important day for us unescorted folks to take back, showering all this love we’ve got to give on our community, our friends, and especially ourselves. Whether you try one or all of the items on this list, you’ll be happier and more fulfilled come this year’s Cupidpalooza. Continue reading
A couple of Saturdays ago was Kalamazoo’s annual Downtown Chili Cook-Off, an event I prefer to think of as CHILI BATTLE ROYALE! From Kalamazoo Beer Exchange through the Pedestrian Mall to all the way down at Orin B. Hayes, the culinarily inclined of our fair city assemble in a tournament that pits the vegan against the triple meat, the Aztec against the Texan, and the Executive Chef against the lady who sells kitty sweaters! You’d be surprised how often the woman in the cat cardigan gets to take the victory lap. Can you see why I get excited? I’ve gone for the last several years, weaving in and out of the restaurants and stores trying their best to impress us all with their chili acumen. Besides the perfect weather we had this year, each cook-off is a wonderful way to get to know downtown and see the folks you just don’t get to see enough of. In spite of so much good stuff, I was still bit bummed out. Continue reading
Throughout my life, there have been many meals that are recounted and relived in a dreamy haze time after time: the morel dinner at Five Lakes, the chef at my favorite sushi joint in Santa Monica making the octopus fresh out of the tank just for me, wild asparagus munched on during hikes through the UP. Moments like this are wonderful and well worth seeking out, but it is a rare thing indeed for me to end a meal energized, eager to get back to my computer so I can write and sort through photos and tell as many people as possible about what I just experienced. Today was such a day. Continue reading
What has been happening to you so far this beer week? We’re three-and-a-half days in and no doubt you’ve already done something you didn’t think you would, and it felt great. Me? I need a nap.
Not a long nap, mind you, twenty or thirty minutes would do, but with all the things I’ve done this week, part of me thinks that a bit of a lay down will make the world a better place. That being said, I am having such a great time this week! I’ve gone to significantly more events than I’d planned, hence the nap longing, but it has been so worth it that I have no intention of stopping. It’s been heartening to know that so many of you found my beer week preview helpful and have been enjoying the events you’ve chosen, but getting to meet those of you I did turned it up to 11. Thanks for having the chutzpah to come over! Continue reading
On New Year’s Eve I worked a very long day, thirteen hours in fact, and since I have a flexible, understanding boss, I was able to take a decent break for lunch/dinner, so I hotfooted it down The Mall to my usual haunt and nestled into my usual table. It. Was. Bliss. It was quiet, but not dead, everyone working was someone I liked hanging out with, and my favorite soup was on the board. After surviving the craziness already conquered and the craziness I knew was yet to come, the relief of being in a place I loved and getting long overdue nourishment had put me in a state of dreamy content. I didn’t even want to read that much, happy just chatting with folks as they passed by and trying to fold the coasters into throwing stars (an unsuccessful venture). All in all, it was the perfect and much needed respite before plunging once more into the breach at work. Continue reading
For those who‘ve had a lot of non-beer related things to do, you may not realize that Kalamazoo has become serious player in the craft beer world, both in terms of actual brewing and the culture that surrounds it. In a short three years, Kalamazoo Beer Week has grown from a handful of tastings, menus, and tap takeovers to a list of 100+ events that grows and changes up to and including the day of. That’s a lot of beer, which means there’s a lot to talk about.
With so many events to choose from, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices and to decide which ones are going to give you experiences you’re looking for, especially with such a wide variety of breweries represented this year. I’ve broken down each day into the happenings I think worth the most attention based on how rarefied the beer, who will be appearing, and what sounds like the most fun. There will be good stuff at every stop, but some folks are bringing an A-game and they deserve special mention. All of them are unique and most picks are easily enjoyed on your own or in a group, though I’m a little partial to the solo friendly events. Make sure to call ahead or check online about pricing and ticket availability. Continue reading
My first exposure to the food of The Blue Dolphin came not at restaurant itself, but at the annual Taste of Kalamazoo several years back, when I had a garlic sauce that…have you ever been kicked in the face by Jason Statham while he was standing behind you? It was exactly like that. Then the clouds parted, the air filled with music of the choir invisible, and my eyes watered, both from the mighty power of garlic and sheer joy. There was burn, yes, but there was also a growing tang of lemon, somehow soothing after the garlic kick, and a creamy olive oil backbone to it all that waxed and waned as I slowly chewed that first revelatory bite. I wanted to hug the woman who had given me the extra big scoop of the stuff for my spanakopita. I had already decided to take it home and put in on everything I ate the next day. It was the garlic sauce I’d always believed could exist, but had never actually encountered. Continue reading
Some days, you just want a burger. Work was long, cooking seems too daunting, and all you can think about is that first beautiful, juicy, Ron Swanson-esque bite, when the crispness of a perfectly toasted bun gives way to the cold jolt of tomato and lettuce, followed quickly by the just barely not too hot burst of cheese, and finally, the primal amalgam of fire and meat. Your head swims, euphoria sets in, and time itself is defied as three seconds stretches into an eternity of omnivorous bliss. It’s full of stars…and bacon. When that urge overtakes you, what then? For many, it means a trip to SmashBurger. Continue reading
5) It’s something new.
Multiple studies on aging show that the brains of people who seek out new experiences throughout their lives have more developed neural pathways, a lower chance of developing degenerative brain illnesses, and better motor function as they get older. Sure, you *could* join a discussion group at the library, but does “Love In The Time of Cholera” come with caramelized brussel sprouts? No it jolly well doesn’t. Keep your mind sharp *and* have a nice navy bean soup. Grab a book or a journal and try someplace new. Let your whims take you somewhere you might not visit on an average day. Even going to a comfy, familiar joint is a new experience when you’re flying solo. See how it makes you feel and what kinds of things you notice that you’d missed before. Take the time you would’ve spent on a dining companion to fully experience all the cool stuff that’s happening around you.
If you’ve found your way here, chances are you already know about me and this project I’m embarking on. Well done, you sneaky thing. I’m not even up and running yet, and you’ve managed to pop by. You’re early for the party and I’m still in the shower, so you’ll have to wait on the lanai for a little while.