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Suggestions for an apple picking & winery day trip in SW Michigan

I was hoping to take a little day trip this fall (ideally the second weekend in October) and am looking for tips. I'd like to hit up a couple of wineries that offer tastings and do some apple picking all in the same day. My boyfriend is a bit of an oenophile so I'd like to go someplace where the wines are decently good (Alexis Bailly in Minnesota comes to mind as a comparison for a winery that is not in a traditional wine producing region but still makes stuff that is good in its own right) and perhaps with a bit of ambiance, but I'd definitely take the former over the latter. Same is true for the orchard. Places with cute country stores and what not are always nice but for me lots of grounds to pick and proximity to wineries is preferred.

Thoughts?

Sep 20, 2011
ctowncook in Great Lakes

ISO dog & vegetarian friendly restaurant

I'm looking for restaurant recommendations. Hoping to dine this Wednesday but need a place that will be vegetarian friendly (Not vegan so dairy, eggs, etc. are fine) but that also has outdoor seating that is dog friendly as we'll be dining with 2 small (15-20 lb) dogs. Any recommendations? And I should say when I mean vegetarian friendly, I'm thinking of a place that has a few vegetarian options to choose from as my dining companion is the vegetarian so I'd like to be polite. Open to different kind of cuisines and ambiance.

May 30, 2011
ctowncook in Chicago Area

Reviews from our trip: L2O, Girl/Goat, Big Star, Purple Pig

I wouldn't rethink your reservation at all. I went and had the exact opposite experience. Everything was incredibly well balanced and beautifully executed. There were some dishes we liked better than others (we had a party of 6 and ordered about 3-4 things/person so we tried a fair bit of the menu) but overall we all had a great experience and many of us are picky critics. I'm sure it also depends on what night of the week you go. We went during the week and felt completely comfortable having a long, leisurely dinner and the pace of the dishes matched it - spaced apart enough that you felt comfortable lingering, but not so slow that you were wondering where your next course was.

The one thing I will say is that the flavors were definitely on the subtled, nuanced side, but in a good way. I've had hit you over the head with flavor type dishes and these were more subtle and refined.

Oct 07, 2010
ctowncook in Chicago Area

Suggestions of where to grab a first date drink...

I'd love some suggestions of where to grab a drink for a first date on Friday. No time has been set but I'm imagining 8 pm.

He's new to the area and I'm relatively new as well (6 months) so I need a little bit of help. We're both foodies with a penchant for things that are a little more gourmet or upscale, but not necessarily creme de la creme. (Not that this intimidates me but going too fancy on the first date to me seems out of place.) We're also both in our late 20's/early 30's if that makes a difference.

Ideally I'd love a place that:

A) Has something unique going for it - a cool atmosphere or expertise. Something with more of a touch of special than your average pub. I am definitely drawn to great wine bars or places that have prohibition themed cocktails.

B) Isn't going to be TOO loud or crowded. A bit of a scene is okay but I'd like to be able to grab a table and hear him or it defeats the purpose.

C) Isn't just about beer. I don't personally drink it (though a good artisan hard cider or cocktail is a-okay) so if something is exclusively a brew pub I'm going to feel a bit odd.

Any suggestions. He's in Old Town & I'm in Lincoln Park but I'm completely open to anything that is reasonably cabable if it's good. (I'd offer up suggestions of what I normally like but given they are places in Boston they might be meaningless. However, in the off change anyone has I'd love the Chicago version of a place like Drink or OM.)

Oct 07, 2010
ctowncook in Chicago Area

Artisan Cheesemakers open for visits in Twin Cities Area?

Cheeseguysgirl - These all sound perfect. Thanks.

Jul 13, 2009
ctowncook in General Midwest Archive

Curd to make fresh mozzarella?

I agree, you're probably better off making the curd yourself. It's not terribly difficult and produces good cheese. I've made my own and it's by far one of the easiest cheeses to make.

Jul 13, 2009
ctowncook in Greater Boston Area

Artisan Cheesemakers open for visits in Twin Cities Area?

I'm heading back to the Twin Cities this July (21-28) to visit family and am hoping I can get a recommendation. I'm looking for any farms that do artisan cheese making that are open for visitors. Can anyone give some recommendations? I recently finished a cheese certificate course out in my current hometown of Boston and make my own cheese on an amateur level so I'd love to visit some farms when home in MN. Willing to do a little driving but would prefer something within 1 1/2 hours from Saint Paul.

Jul 13, 2009
ctowncook in General Midwest Archive

Dinner for 20-25 people - what to make?

I would suggest something like a braise because they are not very fussy and the bulk of the prep work is done ahead of time so you can actually spend time with your guests. I know you said you have your nibbles handled, but you could also consider making some appetizers ahead of time and freezing them so all you have to do the day of is reheat. This works well with so many recipes.

Jan 16, 2008
ctowncook in Home Cooking

Cookbooks & recipes for those on Weight Watchers Core Plan?

I know I'm a little late with my post, but still wanted to chime in because a) I did weight watchers (flex) and lost 15+ pounds and have been maintaining ever since b) I am both a foodie and a healthy cook. Initially I felt like being healthier was going to make it hard to be a foodie, but I've actually found the opposite. Since I now eat less I am more willing to splurge on ingredients and I spend more time really savoring flavors.

My short list:

Canyon Ranch Cooks: More Than 200 Delicious, Innovative Recipes from America's Leading Health Resort

Canyon Ranch Cooks: More Than 200 Delicious, Innovative Recipes from America's Leading Health Resort -- I love this book. The recipes have huge flavor, aren't skimpy on portion size and still surprisingly healthy.

Conscious Cuisine

The Professional Chef's Techniques of Healthy Cooking, Second Edition (Hardcover)

The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life

What I love about these books is that they are all about good food that happens to be healthy vs. a strict focus on nutrition with less attention to taste. I also do have a subscription to Cooking Light and do get inspiration from there as well.

Jan 16, 2008
ctowncook in Home Cooking

Cape Ann? Gloucester?

I second Farnhams if you are coming when it's open. I really enjoy their lobster rolls and fried clams. It's also more affordable and less touristy than Woodman's. I personally enjoy the seafood shack feel.

Jan 16, 2008
ctowncook in Greater Boston Area

Best place to buy affordable lobster?

Thanks for all the suggestions. I do infact live in Charlestown so a lot of these options are close although I work on the North Shore so I will have to check out the places in Rockport and such as well. Thanks for all the help.

Jan 16, 2008
ctowncook in Greater Boston Area

Best place to buy affordable lobster?

I've been looking at the old posts on this topic and was hoping I could get some additional insight. I need some lobster tails for a dish I'm making this weekend and was hoping I could get some advice on where to get good quality lobster at semi-affordable prices. Mind you I'm willing to pay for quality so I don't need the cheapest of the cheap recommendation, but don't want to get ripped off either.

Jan 15, 2008
ctowncook in Greater Boston Area