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Wine and food fest features Michigan distilled ... vodka G

rand Rapids International Wine and Food Festival — this preholiday food and wine expo has more than doubled in content in past three years and hosted over 10,000 visitors throughout the weekend, making it the largest food and wine festival in Michigan and one of the premier wine and food festivals in the Midwest. The festival lasted three days, Nov. 18-20 and was held at the 40,000-square-foot Steelcase Ballroom inside DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids. Over 100 wineries, breweries and distillers from around the world provided samples of nearly 1,200 assorted wines, beers and spirits — including some hard-to-find small boutique wines. Michigan brew masters and distillers were also on hand to provide tastes of their hand crafted beers and vodkas.


Food — the best pairing

Chefs from 12 of Grand Rapid’s top restaurants prepared and served samples of their culinary specialties. Six of the 12 chefs partnered with participating wineries and breweries for special multi-course meal pairings served on the exposition floor. The cost was only $30 and was worth every penny. I especially enjoyed the tapas pairing, prepared BILL GING by San Chez — a Tapas Bistro and selected wines from Spain. The five course meal was fantastic and the wines, Chartreuse and Jerez sherry complemented and enhanced each course. Two of the five courses are worth mentioning. 1. The seared lamb tenderloin with a tomato and Chanterelle mushroom ragut paired with a dry Alinde Tinta de Toro was a favorite among guests. 2. As was the roasted quail stuffed with corn bread and foie gras stuffing which would make a great addition to any holiday table. Nearly every corner of the wine globe was represented. In addition to the individual sampling booths, seminars were presented by industry experts on topics ranging from “Cooking with Foods Grown Locally” to” Kanpai: Celebrating Culinary Techniques from Japan.” Chef Akihiro Kotani came from one of Grand Rapids sister cities, Omihachiman, Japan. He is the master chef at Hotel New Omi and has received awards in Japan for his Modern Era Japanese cuisine.

Made in Michigan Of the 1,200-plus beers, wines, ciders and spirits featured this year, more than 200 were crafted in Michigan. Over three dozen micro-breweries, wineries and yes, distilleries showcased their “Made in Michigan” beers, wines and vodkas. This year the Michigan Brewers Guild sponsored a Michigan Craft Brew Hall featuring 12 independent, small and traditional Michigan brewers. The Michigan craft beverage industry continues to grow at an impressive rate, boosting the up-and-coming culinary tourism industry. If you are interested in finding out more about the Michigan wine and beer industry visit these websites:

Janet Howe with Big Cedar Distilling pours what the newcomer to the Grand Rapids International Wine and Food Festivall calls Michigan’s purest vodka. Big Cedar began distilling vodka in 2009, making Incentive Vodka is their first product on the market.

Sipping on gin and vodka Surprisingly, Michigan now boasts 12 licensed artisan distilleries producing top-shelf vodka, gin, rum, and whiskey, brandy, and au de vie; making Michigan second only to California in the number of licensed distilleries. Big Cedar Distillery was a newcomer this year, offering its award-winning Incentive Vodka. Big Cedar Distilling is located in Sturgis and began distilling vodka in 2009. Incentive Vodka is their first product available to the public. Earlier this year it won a Bronze medal at the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco. It is distilled from locally-grown Michigan corn, filtered six times and produced in very small batches. Big Cedar Distilling claims Incentive Vodka is Michigan’s purest and I have to agree. It was very smooth. You could call it Michigan’s sipping vodka.

Learning to pour Not only was the Grand Rapids International Wine and Food Festival a great opportunity to enjoy food, wine and handcrafted beers, it also provided a hands-on educational experience for Ferris State University students enrolled in the Sports,

Entertainment and Hospitality Management programs. State liquor laws require third-party control of serving of alcoholic beverages at special events. Seeing the potential for a great learning experience, FSU partnered with show producers to give 150 students the opportunity to provide pouring services for the festival. But what was even more impressive was the way in which the vendors partnered with these students to share product information to help students showcase their products.

If you go

Whether you are a connoisseur or a novice, the Grand Rapids International Wine and Food Festival was a great experience — and one I highly recommend. For information about next year’s festival, visit www.GRWineFestival. com or call 810-328-6550.

If you would like to see the Supermarket Sommelier Twitter site or better yet become a Twaster, log on to We Twaste every Thursday at 7 p.m. Remember, you don’t have to pay a lot to enjoy a great bottle of wine. Look, smell, taste, you decide. If you would like to comment on our selections, e-mail

TRAVEL BRIEFS Israel says tourism to break record in 2010 JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel’s Tourism Ministry says 2010 will be a record year for tourism, which has already surpassed the high of 3 million visitors set in 2008. The ministry said Monday the increase is partly thanks to improving security situation over the last few years following intense Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the first half of the decade. The ministry said there was a drop in tourism last year because of the global financial crisis and the Gaza war. Some 3.4 million visitors are expected to arrive by the end of the year.

Underwear invention protects privacy DENVER (AP) — It’s a special kind of underwear — with a strategically placed fig leaf design — and a Colorado man says it’ll get you through the airport screeners with your dignity intact. Jeff Buske says his invention uses a powdered metal that protects people’s privacy when undergoing medical or security screenings. Buske of Las Vegas, Nev.-Rocky Flats Gear says the underwear’s inserts are thin and conform to the body’s contours, making it

difficult to hide anything beneath them. The mix of tungsten and other metals do not set off metal detectors. The men’s design has the fig leaf, while the one for women comes in the shape of clasped hands. It’s unclear whether it would lead to an automatic, more intrusive pat down by federal Transportation Security Administration officials.

Philly Flower Show is Paris in springtime PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Get ready for “Springtime in Paris”

— in Philadelphia. The annual Philadelphia International Flower Show will boast a Parisian theme during its run from March 6-13 at the convention center, organizers announced Monday. Visitors will enter under a replica of the Eiffel Tower’s base that is 33 feet tall and 75 feet wide. Floral exhibits will represent all aspects of Paris, from the romantic and opulent to the artistic and avant-garde, said design director Sam Lemheney. The event, billed as the nation’s largest flower show, also aims to be more interactive

in 2011. It will feature painters, strolling musicians, cafes, wine tastings and cabaret dancers. The event attracts about 250,000 gardening enthusiasts annually and pumps about $35 million into the city’s economy. It is generally welcomed as a sign that winter is ending and spring blossoms are just around the corner.

Associated Press/ROCKY FLATS GEAR

Rocky Flats Gear’s Jeff Buske says his invention, radiation shielding underwear, uses a powdered metal that protects people’s privacy when undergoing medical or security screenings.

11.28.2010 Travel page design  

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