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Is your Thanksgiving menu/setting formal/informal, traditional/contemporary, family/friends?

I am the third generation to host a Thanksgiving dinner that my Grandmother, a professional cook, started well over 50 years ago for my Mom's extended family on a farm on the Boardman River in Traverse City, Michigan. My Mom inherited the dinner after my Grandmother died, then passed the torch to me (I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan). We'll have about 30 people, all extended family. It will be fairly informal, with traditional recipes (I only have so much leeway and get a lot of points for making anything that "tastes like Gram made"). The menu: roast turkey, honey baked ham, wild mushroom stuffing, mashed potatoes (the only real "ingredient" is lumps so everyone knows the potatoes are real), gravy, cranberry cider relish, creamed spinach, roast asparagus with garlic breadcrumbs, diced brussel sprouts with bacon, grilled onions, and pecans, stewed tomatoes, creamed onions, skillet cornbread, rolls, and pumpkn bread. Others bring the dessert. Later on that evening some good friends who will spend the afternoon being told they are Godless will come over to our house for leftovers and some very, very good wine. One other tradition my wife and I started a couple years ago is to have neighbors and other friends over on Saturday night - I'll make a turkey sausage gumbo and whatever else I can figure out to make using leftovers. And beer.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Nov 20, 2007
G Mo in General Topics

Joe's Shanghai, Chinatown -- better than you think

A few years back I took my 9 year old daughter for a weekend trip to NYC, and both mornings we roamed around Chinatown tasting dumplings. We ended up rating Joe's Shanghai tops, with New Green Bo a close second, and Fried Dumplings on Allen Street a solid third if for no other reason than value. Only regret was we ate so many dumplings we didn't get to try much else. So I'm taking the entire family for another weekend trip (NYC Marathon) and thanks to your post, decided it's time to revisit Joe's, and New Green Bo, on Sunday night to try something besides dumplings. Odds are I will have the appetite for it!

Oct 25, 2007
G Mo in Manhattan

Trattoria da Alfredo

In the late 70's, I used to eat at Trattoria da Alfredo at Hudson and Bank. Loved that place. Does anyone who may remember it have a recommendation for someplace today that is comparable?

Oct 19, 2007
G Mo in Manhattan

Best Corned Beef Sandwich in Michigan...

I have eaten the corned beef at Zingerman's, and it is pricy, but very, very good. Sort of like anything else you might buy there.

Jun 28, 2007
G Mo in Great Lakes

Celebrating Bloomsday

What is anybody doing to celebrate Bloomsday on June 16 (the day on which James Joyce's Ulysses takes place, involving Leopold and Molly Bloom et al.). A group of us in Grand Rapids, Michigan are having pints at the Black Rose, then a six course Irish-themed dinner at bloom, a new restaurant in town. I'll post a review of the dinner - which will include, among other things, a twist on the goronzola cheese sandwich ordered up by Leopold Bloom, as well as a tribute to his passion for innards - on the Midwest board. Is anyone else doing anything to celebrate this occasion?

Jun 15, 2007
G Mo in General Topics

Grand Haven Goodies

Thali Bistro - Sri Lankan food - great fun.

Apr 11, 2007
G Mo in General Midwest Archive

Restaurant Bloom - Grand Rapids, MI

That's the place (two doors down from the Pickwick Tavern which is at 970 Cherry).

Apr 08, 2007
G Mo in General Midwest Archive

Restaurant Bloom - Grand Rapids, MI

A friend and I ate at Restaurant Bloom this week. New restaurant on Cherry Street near Diamond. We had a great meal. The tasting menu included such items as salmon belly with tuscan oil and fennel, and grilled sweetbreads with brown sugar and raisins. This place is really trying to push the envelope on the Grand Rapids food scene. And the food was damn good. Try it! Tell your friends to go too.

Apr 05, 2007
G Mo in General Midwest Archive

Breakfast in Holland, Saugatuck, 196 Route

I recommend driving just a bit farther to Stevensville (just south of St. Joseph) and going to the bakery that is attached to Tosi's restaurant. I've stopped there several times en route to Chicago and never been disappointed.

Apr 03, 2007
G Mo in General Midwest Archive

ReLo to Grand Rapids, MI

I amend my post to state that most of the restaurants of any note on your list are connected to the advent of the Arena, which was built 10 years ago. More importantly, we just disagree as to what is great, and I think that is an important distinction on a site dedicated to chowhounds. On your list, Leo's serves good fish, but the Spinnaker is average by any standards. The Gilmore restaurants serve good food and only sometimes very good food if they are not too busy on a given night, but not great food. Look, there is nothing in Grand Rapids close to the Rowe Inn (expensive eats). There is nothing close to the Stack in Grand Haven, meaning in particular their Hot Italian Beef "Harbor Style" with fries (cheap eats). Grand Rapids is much improved in the past 10 years, but it has a long ways to go to deserve the label "excellent." All that said, if you think these places are great, the opinion that counts is yours, not mine, and there is no need to state your disagreement again. Just go out to those places and enjoy!

Mar 29, 2007
G Mo in Great Lakes

ReLo to Grand Rapids, MI

I concede that Grand Rapids is getting better. But that is a recent development - most of the restaurants on your list opened in the last few years after Grand Rapids opened up the Van Andel Arena.

I stick by my opinion that Grand Rapids is an average food town at best and that it will not get better until its residents start demanding something more. The Grand Rapids Press used to have a reviewer whose vocabulary consisted of "good" "very good" "nice" and "very nice." And he reviewed chains! All I'm asking is that we celebrate great cooking - which can be done at different price points - and Grand Rapids does not have a lot of great food (yet).

The best thing about this string of e-mails is it is one of the first I have seen about Grand Rapids in a while - and I now know there is a Pho place, which I am going to try for lunch today!

Mar 29, 2007
G Mo in Great Lakes

ReLo to Grand Rapids, MI

Welcome to GR. This is a meat and potatoes town. Nothing great, but if you look around a bit, you'll get fed.

1. Wei Wei Palace is the first and maybe only place to try for Chinese, and you'll find Dim Sum and fish tanks. That said, sometime go to Seoul Garden and order the noodle dish with black bean sauce (comes with kim chi) - my vote for one of the best "cheap eats" dishes in the GR area.

2. A Pho joint? May I suggest Chicago, which is a comfortable three hour drive?

3. Thai? Bad news - there is no real good Thai in the GR area. Good news - there is a place in Holland (short drive to the coast) that gets decent reviews from foodies.

4. Mexican: drive down Bridge Street and compare the tacos at Maggie's and Tacos el Ganadero. In Maggie's favor, the atmosphere is a little brighter, the shredded beef more tender and flavorful, and the chips come with a real good pico de gallo. At TelG, I like the chicken chipotle taco, they serve beer, and ask for the radish plate on the side (radishes, grilled scallions, and a grilled jalepeno that can be smokin' hot if you're lucky). I saw someone recommend the Beltline Bar, and with all due respect, I'd just as soon eat at Chili's (which is to say I'd just as soon not eat at all).

5. Asian market: there's one in the same strip mall as Wei Wei, which has the fish tanks, as well as a few others along Division in the same general area. [On an unrelated note there's a good Mexican market on the opposite street corner from Maggie's - one of the few places in town you can find skirt steak.]

6. Family restaurant: tough one. How about this - here are some places my family (wife and two daughters) have enjoyed over the years, in no particular order: Bombay Cuisine (Indian - Easttown); Kopper Top (burger joint on the Northwest side, I get the patty melt platter - and they "decorate" for each holiday in a way that has to be seen to be believed); San Chez - this place is very good to begin with, and my kids like it more and more as they have grown and tastes have gotten a little fancier); Tuscan Express (consistently good and, every once in a while, a can't-be-beat plate of pasta); and, just recently, Graydon's Crossing (pub with the best onion rings in GR). For breakfast, the Red Geranium (right near where you are going to work) is OK, and for lunch, the Michigan Coney - just down the street on Michigan - serves GR's best hot dog, which is to say, an OK but not great hot dog (see my comment about the three hour drive to Chicago). PS, in Ada, lots of families (including mine) go to Vitale's - and I do recommend the mussels appetizer with spicy tomato sauce - if you ask, they'll put in on a bed of pasta.

7. Wealthy Street Bakery is my top choice; there is also a neat foodie store (Art of the Table) right next door.

A few other random comments: (1) for a "welcome to GR" date with the spouse I suggest going to the bar at the Chophouse on a weeknight, when Dan is bartending - my favorite bartender anywhere, not just GR, and have him recommend something to drink along with the seafood appetizer platter (downright affordable when compared to the $35 + main course items on the dinner menu); (2) drive out to Grand Haven to try Thali's Bistro, which serves Sri Lankan food; (3) for foodie stuff, Erika's (German) and Russo's (Italian) do a fine job; and (4) a Turkish place, Zaytin's, opened up recently in Ada.

Mar 27, 2007
G Mo in Great Lakes

Need Ideas with Maple Syrup

My grandparents were farmers in northern Michigan and made their own maple syrup each Spring. As kids, we looked forward each year to my grandmother heating up fresh maple syrup, and taking it outside to drizzle over a deep snow drift. The syrup would harden with the snow, and it was one of the best, purest tastes of my life.

Many of the suggestions given sound great though my past experience with using maple syrup to grill poses some risk, as the sugar content makes the syrup prone to burn. Maple syrup makes a great salad dressing with all sorts of things - mustard, buttermilk, etc. And it pairs well with fresh blueberries in tarts, crumbles, crisps, etc.

Now I can't stop thinking about fresh maple syrup in snow. I'm going to have to concoct a sherbert or ice and try drizzling grade b syrup over it.

Jan 17, 2007
G Mo in Home Cooking

Bacon . . . mmm . . . good

This is the recipe my friend used. I think he may have gotten the ice cream recipe from food and wine too. It was basically heavy cream, sugar, and bacon. And did I mention bacon?

Jan 17, 2007
G Mo in Home Cooking

Bacon . . . mmm . . . good

A Church group got together at our house tonight. Mainly foodies. We decided to eat all things pork. I made charcroutte (with bacon, sausage, and spareribs), there was a salad with pork rinds in place of croutons, applesauce (the cook promised he waved two pork chops over the sauce as it cooked), and believe it or not, bacon baklava and bacon ice cream for dessert. I am very satisfied. This was iron chefs without the competition. Though I must say the dessert items blew me away.

Jan 13, 2007
G Mo in Home Cooking

Zeytin, Turkish in Ada MI

I live very near Zeytin and while I like the place, am not sure it is worth a one hour drive. But that may partly be because it is new. My kids like the kebab. Now that said, I noticed that they feature music some nights (the Grand Rapids Press weekend section that comes out on Thursdays will have details). That combined with trying something new might just be worth the drive.

Jan 10, 2007
G Mo in General Midwest Archive

Food Gift from Grand Rapids

American Spoon Foods is the best bet. For a Grand Rapids product, you might sent some Koeze's peanut butter - good stuff - you can order it (at a premium) from the Zingerman's web site.

Dec 06, 2006
G Mo in General Midwest Archive

Great chow in Lawrence

I ate at Cedar Crest many years ago while working in the Lawrence area. Very good, inexpensive food. Not fancy at all, just good. A worthy "chowhound" place.

Branching further afield, My Brothers Place in Andover made a good "Syrian Sub." Don't know if they do any more.

Nov 30, 2006
G Mo in Greater Boston Area

Downtown Boston - "cool" spot needed

OK, here's the report. Based on the early returns, we went to Penang's and had a good meal (my wife and I split orders of Hot and Spicy Crab and Shrimp Green Beans). I doubt the kids think we are any more or less "cool" but my wife and I had an epiphany of sorts: we really do make the effort to expose the kids to the world (we live in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and you probably do not need Route 128 bias to form your own valid conclusions about what that means in terms of isolation); yet, the kids are now just about at the age where they will get more from seeing the world for themselves, rather than what we tell them to see. So - here's the liberating part - we're going to start doing more of what we like, and if they want to enjoy that too, great, but if not, that won't stop us. My wife and I are flying back into town in a couple of weeks to visit some old friends so will be sure to try own other recommendations posted here. Thanks, all, if you ever visit Grand Rapids (which I am very fond of as my home) I can tell you the three or four decent places to eat.

Nov 25, 2006
G Mo in Greater Boston Area

call for Thanksgiving debriefing: the good, the bad & the ugly. Please share your greatest successes and also any duds to learn by

Came to Boston to visit relatives and found out they were expecting me to do all the cooking. Did a pretty standard spread with turkey, ham with cider-bourbon glaze (turkey they bought was too small so my wife ran out to get a backup), mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans with roast onions and bacon, pureed sweet potatoes with toasted pecans and free range marshmallows (Whole Foods does not sell Kraft), and salad.

Best dish was the salad which I based on what 7,000 restaurants are selling these days: goat cheese medallion drizzled with honey, diced roasted beets, grilled red onions, and greens dressed with a vinaigrette with herbs and a dash of A-1 sauce, W Sauce, and dijon (it was what was in the fridge).

Worst was the stuffing, the worst I've made in years - not enough fat. That said, I made a sandwich late last night with turkey and stuffing, et al. that was so good I immediately made another. The Hellman's must have restored the stuffing to appropriate fat levels.

Best moment of inspiration that will pay dividends another day was I taught my sister-in-law how to make gravy.

Nov 24, 2006
G Mo in Home Cooking

Downtown Boston - "cool" spot needed

Happy Thanksgiving all. My family is visiting from Michigan. We plan on going to a play tomorrow evening (Friday) in Boston and need a place for dinner to take the daughters (ages 14 and 11) who have their doubts about the parents' ability to be cool (not that they use that word). The girls like French, Italian, Chinese - not too picky, and it does not need to be expensive. Suggestions, please!

Nov 23, 2006
G Mo in Greater Boston Area