The RIGHT wrong turn

I’m on a bit of a blog overload tonight- too much to write about and not enough time to write.

Saturday, Chris and I ended up having quite an adventure. First we went to lunch at Sawyer’s Pancake House. I ordered a turkey burger with avocado and goat cheese. I’ve had this before and really was tempted to get something off the new dinner menu but it was too early for that much food. Chris and I split the Southwest Vegetable Wontons though. They were tasty and obviously homemade. Chris also had the yellowfin tuna sandwich, another new item. He’d eaten one earlier in the week and said its best with lettuce and tomato added. The fries have changed a little bit since my last visit. they were definitely crispier this time, maybe a little bit too crispy. But, I do like the crunchy end pieces so I “suffered’ through it. Dipped in basil mayo, you can’t go wrong anyhow.

After a few errands, we decided to go see a movie, like a lot of other people in this town. Not much else to do on a rainy day, I guess. Narrowing it down to two movies, I made the choice for the black comedy Burn after Reading. The Coen brothers are great and this movie was very typical of them. Brad Pitt, whether you think he’s a hottie or not, played his character perfectly! We had about 45 minutes to kill until the movie started so we wandered over to the Williams-Sonoma store (in Eastwood).

As we walked in the door, Chris said “try not to spend any money.” I replied, “Are you talking to me or yourself?” We wandered around, I fiddled with the gadgets, my favorite section, and wiped my drool off the glass in front of the knife cases. I turn around and who do I see at the cash register? Yep, there is Chris saying “don’t look.” Silly boy was buying a large cookie press “for me”, visions of sugarplums spritz cookies dancing in his head. I pointed out the cool Halloween cookie cutters I’d found and soon enough, we were adding that to the bag.

After the movie, we hop on 127 and I figured we were going home but then Chris stayed left and headed toward 96 Eastbound. Wouldn’t tell me where we were going either. I guessed somewhere in Okemos and that was true originally. But, too busy talking, he missed the exit for Okemos (he was planning to visit Dusty’s Cellar) and the next one isn’t until Williamston. As it happens, this week’s City Pulse had a write-up about a new restaurant in Williamston so I suggested we check it out while we were there.
The Riverhouse Inn was pretty busy and I felt a little underdressed so I just grabbed a menu and added it to our mental “to do” list. As we were driving around trying to find the place (its on Grand River, really very easy except the odd/even sides change depending on if its East or West Grand River), I remembered the D&W Fresh Market. We have shopped at one of these in Grand Rapids and while its not as nice as The Fresh Market (also in GR), they have excellent produce, carry Boarshead deli products and offer good prices on wine. Somewhere recently I had seen an ad for the new Williamston location which was filed away on that mental list. This location is smaller than the one in Grand Rapids, mostly in the deli department. We still found plenty to buy including a few new cheeses to try out (see future post). And there, on the 2nd to bottom shelf, was a label I’ve been looking for since our trip to Minneapolis in July. Idiziabal cheese, the smoky sheep-milk cheese from Spain that goes fantastic on a slice of bread with a pile of turkey. Unfortunately, it was only the label, they were out of stock of the actual cheese. Guess we’ll have to check back in a few weeks.

By the time we left the store, it was full dark and still raining. Again, I thought we were headed for home but just before turning back towards the highway, Chris said we needed to make one more stop. We pull in to a street-side parking spot and he starts walking towards what appears to be a bar or restaurant of some kind.

It wasn’t until we sat down, at the bar, that I found out the name of this place: CB’s Bucket Bar & Grill. Formerly known as the Williamston Bucket, its been re-opened under the new name for about a year after a fire destroyed the original in February 2006. The old version was a more typical bar with tvs and NASCAR memorablia, so I hear. The new version is nicely done up with a wood bar, light green coloring and a tranquil, smoke free environment.  It was very quiet but the bartender assured us that its normally busier, with Friday night being their biggest night.  I’m sure the constant rain kept many people away this weekend.

We were originally only going to have a drink but I was hungry so we decided to take a look at the menu.  Along with a few nightly dinner specials, you can order something so simple as a pub burger or get fancy with a full steak dinner.  I opted for CB’s Special Salad with grilled chicken while Chris had the Steak Bites appetizer- cubes of cooked-to-order sirloin served with bread and boursin cheese dipping sauce.  About half-way through eating this, he declared “New Rule: we are coming here at least twice a month.”  Since Williamston is not on our side of town, I don’t know if we’ll be able to stick to that but I can see coming to the D&W grocery store twice a month so we could become regulars soon enough.

We didn’t order anything complicated but sometimes simple food gets the worst of it when a place is trying too hard or trying to cover up their shortcomings. In this case, Chris’s steakbites were medium with a hint of pink as requested. My salad was made up of fresh apple slices, cucumbers, romaine and good cheese with just the right amount of dressing.  I’d much rather some places just do dressing on the side because they go overboard especially with creamy dressings.  Not a problem here.

My first glass of wine didn’t really excite me. I think my medicines are affecting my tastebuds but also it was too strong for my salad.  When I said I’d just like a glass of the house Pinot Noir, the bartender suggested I try the Mark West Pinot as its the same price ($5/glass) and much better.  She was right.  (side note: Mark West Pinot is on sale at World Market for under $10/bottle right now, we saw it Sunday).  The bartender was also our waitress/server. She was attentive and friendly but didn’t hover. As we sat there, we got involved in a conversation with another couple at the bar.  Pretty soon everyone was chatting about the economy of all things!

I had a hard time finding information about this place on the internet. This is partly because I couldn’t remember the exact name.  I finally got the word combination right and found some reviews from when they first re-opened last fall.  No website and no mention anywhere of the club they have opened on the 2nd floor. I’m not convinced that a club in Williamston is really “right” but there were about 30 people there Saturday night. It was smoky though- we didn’t actually go in.

Considering our eventful evening was all based on missing that exit for Okemos, I think it turned out all right!

Details

CB’s Bucket Bar & Grill

Hours: Mon-Fri,  11 AM -2PM (kitchen closes at 11PM)
Address: 132 Grand River Ave., Williamston (just east of the Williamston Sun Theatre)
Phone: 517655-1000

Accepts all major credit cards, smoke free!

Farm Market update

As promised, I walked over to the Select Michigan Farm Market at the Capitol today. As luck would have it, my order from Amazon arrived via UPS this morning and I was able to use one of my new Baggu Totes to haul my goodies back to the office.

And goodies I got:

  • 1 bunch baby bok choy
  • 1 bunch biggest chives I’ve ever seen
  • 1 bunch water spinach
  • 1 bunch pea pod leaves (from snow peas)
  • pint of sweet cherries
  • 4 ears sweet corn
  • pint of grean beans
  • a jar of Sicilian meat-topping sauce (tomat-y doesn’t have meat in it) from Nicky’s Family Recipes
  • A bar of lemon verbena hand-made soap by Kapow Soaps of from Frankenmuth.

All for about $20!

I think tonight’s dinner is going to involve some fresh picked sweet corn and then later this weekend, we’ll have a little Asian-themed dinner. I haven’t done stir-fry in ages!


The Market was apparently a big hit, from the volume of people there. I did go at lunch time and it was pretty crowded. Two places ran out of food before lunch was over: the Fresh Lake Whitefish Company (who are also at the Lansing CIty Market on Saturdays) and Sweetie-Licious Pie Pantry of DeWitt. I’ve driven by Sweetie-Licious before but did not realize they also have soups and sandwichs until I looked at that website. Now I want to go right now to have a Chicken Salad Sandwich followed by a Ginger Lemon Clover cookie.

I wish I’d had more cash on me because Farming for our Future had the cutest kids t-shirts. Of course, I probably need a kid to put said clothes on, too.

It will be exciting to see what more they can do for the September 18th event.

Mexico Newaygo

Chris and I went camping this weekend, at Newaygo State Park along the Muskegon River.  The park is small, about 100 sites and rustic.  We made our reservation on-line which is a cool feature as you can see the site map and pick a specific location.  What is not so cool is that the map isn’t completely accurate and they charge $8 for a reservation fee.  We picked a site far from the playground and the bathroom, we thought.  As it turns out the pit (oh,  vault is the fancy name for that now) toilet was directly across from our site.  They must pump then on Thursday or Friday because it wasn’t too bad when we arrived but was pretty stinky by Saturday night.  Before we left on Sunday, we drove around the camping area to note the better sites, for next time.

This being a camping trip, of course we had foods cooked over the campfire.  On Friday morning, Chris picked up some turkey tenderloin and put it in a caribbean jerk marinade so we made kabobs for Friday night.  They were good but this turkey was really hard to cook.  Our fire got hot enough to turn the grate red hot but these things were still raw in the middle after 20 minutes!  Saturday night we had sausages plus potato salad picked up at a local grocery store.

S’mores were dessert both Friday and Saturday night.  I found the perfect stick for marshmallow toasting and I’m quite upset that I forgot to bring it with us!  Hopefully the next person to stay at site #6 will find a good use for it.

During the day on Saturday, we explored the area including the towns of Newaygo and Fremont. Or rather we tried to go to Fremont. They are supposed to have a nice Farmer’s Market there and I thought we could get provisions for Saturday night dinner.  Between road construction and the National Baby Food Festival we couldn’t get anywhere near downtown.  Fremont is the home of Gerber Baby Food and they sponser an incredibly large parade during the festival. A parade which happened to be starting at exactly the time we arrived in town.  That was kind of a frustrating trip.

We found a few things to covet at an Sports Outfitter store in Newaygo- kayaks, a cool Tilley hat for me some more camping equipment- but left without spending any money.  Later, we did pick up one of these:

Photobucket

I can’t wait to use it next time- just like Girl Scout days!

Sunday morning, out of firewood and not much to eat for breakfast anyway, we went in to the “town” of Croton and dined at Rio Cafe. We drove past this place earlier in the weekend and couldn’t help but notice the large “BREAKFAST 8 AM- 11 AM” sign. On the way there on Sunday, we learned that the American Legion also has a breakfast buffet on the weekends but I pushed Chris to at least check this place out first.

Okay, they serve Pepsi products so that was a strike against them. The cafe is small, maybe 6-7 booths plus two pub tables. From the sounds of it, they do a pretty good take-out service though. And during lunch/dinner, they also operate an ice cream store serving Hudsonville Ice Cream, like pretty much every ice cream stand in the area.  Since it was breakfast time, we skipped the ice cream.  The restaurant has a selection of traditional breakfast items including eggs, toast, pancakes and so forth.  They also have a few breakfast burritos and specials.  Sunday’s specials including pecan pancakes and a skillet dish that Chris chose. It was potatoes, eggs, peppers and mushrooms topped with cheese and served on a fajita platter.  He tells me (today) that it wasn’t particularly exciting.  I had a breakfast burrito with bacon, eggs and cheese.  It was huge and cheap- our total bill was $13 and that included a glass of fresh oj.  I would have liked the bacon a little crispier but I still managed to eat half the burrito. It cam with homefries and those I had to push away because I would have eaten every last one of them and then been overly stuffed later.  Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, these were ideal homefries.

Deets:

Web: None
Address: 7641 S. Croton Hardy Drive, Newaygo, MI (actually in Croton); 231-652-5977

Hours: Sun-Thu: 8AM-8PM; Fri-Sat: 8AM-10PM

No credit cards; non-smoking


No food photos but here is a shot of the Muskegon River from atop the Hardy Dam:

Munching thru Minneapolis

Chris and I went on a little vacay over the Fourth of July week, first a few days in the Minneapolis then heading up to his family’s lake place in Wisconsin.

We arrived late on Tuesday night after a lovely delay in Chicago- can’t leave without the pilots!  During out layover in Chicago, we ate airport food which can sometimes be good food but was not, in this case.  Wolfgang Puck may be a world-renowned chef to the stars but his Pizza Express shop in O’Hare is nothing to get excited about.

We stayed with Chris’s friends, Adam and Kat, who live near Lake Calhoun, one of the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis.  You can canoe on the lakes as well as enjoy bike/walking trails, marvel at the gorgeous houses surrounding the lakes (we did that) and visit a rose garden and bird sanctuary among other activities.

Due to our late arrival on Tuesday/Wednesday, we just crashed the first night.  On the drive to Adam and Kat’s house though, I did come to realize that this trip was more than just a little vacation- it was Chris’s sales pitch for moving to Minneapolis after law school.

Wednesday, we got up, showered and scrounged up some breakfast then watched a Soaring video until Adam got home from his half-day at work.  We decided to go out for lunch then pick up groceries for a grilled dinner on the deck. 

First, we drove along the Minnehaha Parkway looking at many beautiful homes while the abundance of trails and eco-friendly people were pointed out to me.  Also, Adam took us through Uptown which is apparently where Chris used to hang out a lot as he pointed out his favorite bar, sushi joint, live music source, etc.

We arrived at Minnehaha Park home of a beautiful waterfall and Sea Salt, a seasonal cafe with fresh fish and seafood plus a beer & wine license.  They were quite busy; we were joined in line by customers who had ridden up on their bikes.  I haven’t quite figured this place out yet- it appears to be an independent restaurant inside a city or state owned park.  Strange.

 

The original plan was to get fish tacos which is kind of what happened.  I ordered scallop tacos, Chris went for shrimp tacos and Adam chose the crawfish po’boy.  We also shared an appetizer of shrimp cocktail.  Adam and I each went for a pint of local brew Summit Beer.  Being that the weather was just gorgeous, we looked for seats outside.  Tables were found but no chairs.  A few feet away, a man and woman were sitting at a picnic table with attached benches. The man, whose name I don’t recall but might be Tom, offered us the extra seats if we didn’t mind listening to a foreign language. As it turns out, his sister-in-law is Danish and Adam spent several years in that part of the world for work! Although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t part of the sales pitch for Minneapolis, the whole experience was pretty cool. 

 

After stuffing ourselves, we headed to the grocery store Kowalski’s, one of Chris’s two favorites.  It was a nice grocery store, for a smaller gourmet upscale type of place.   It was definitely expensive but I found a few unusual items including marcona almonds, an almond variety from Spain that is particularly tasty.  I bought some of those, along with dried Montmorency cherries and we mixed them in with our Minnesota Wild Rice.  Kowalski’s Market should not be confused, by Michiganders, with Kowalski Meats.  You know, Kowalski Kowality. If you’ve ever eaten a polish dog or a hot dog at a sporting event in this state, you’ve probably eaten a Kowalski dog, unless it was Koegel’s, of course.

After finishing up at Kowalski’s Market, we headed over to France 44, a cheese and wine shop.  A huge liquor store with a cheese shop attached, I was a bit overwhelmed at first.  I was given charge of picking out the wines for later that night.  There were a lot to choose from but not many comments or reviews posted.  After much browsing, I settled in the domestic wines section as they were all 10% off for the Fourth of July Holiday.  We bought a bottle of Cline 2005 Big Break Zinfandel, one of many in the Cline repertoire. The first time I’d had this variety but Chris and I really like their Ancient Vines Zinfandel.  We bought something else but I can’t remember the name and since we didn’t get to drink it, I can’t comment on it anyhow.  The Zin was tasty and strong- definitely a bolder taste than the Ancient Vines.  Although I didn’t have my aerator-pourer, we found a cheap substitute at the shop so we can demonstrate the magic of air to Adam.

The boys left me in the wine racks and headed over to the cheese side where Chris found the sheep’s milk cheese that he now wants more of.  The stuff I can’t find as I don’t know the name.  I’ve sent an email off to the blog writer for the shoppe and will hopefully know more soon. 

Later that evening, we enjoyed some grilled meats, corn on the cob (best of the season so far) and Minnesota wild rice along with our bottle of Cline.  The following day, we headed up to the family lake place for 3 days of typical mid-western food: is that a marshmallow dessert I see?  To be fair we also had more great corn on the cob, a delicious wild rice-cream of mushroom side dish and “mom’s” homemade chocolate chip cookies.

While in the area, we did a driving tour of Crex Meadows and spotted a few deer and acres of wild rice: 

Just a quick dash

While in Minneapolis last week, we had some really tasty sheep’s milk cheese purchased from a local cheese shoppe (more in a later post).  Attempting to do something nice for my boyfriend, I thought I’d use my lunch to zip over to the Cheese guy at the Lansing City Market to see if they had this stuff (they didn’t but if I knew the actual name, could probably get it).

I would have walked, both to save gas and for the exercise but its 80 degrees with humidity near 90%; I really didn’t want to get that sweaty and the distance is such that I would have needed a pretty brisk pace to make it roundtrip in my hour break.

Ha.

After swinging by the postal boxes by the Capitol building, I planned to continue on to Grand Avenue. Turns out you can’t turn left there, at all, due to the CSO project.  The CSO project will be tearing up city traffic until 2020. Long-term benefits are probably great but in the meantime, it sucks. Especially when the lane closures change from day to day.  I turned around to go down Washington, not an easy drive at lunchtime and even worse when some spacy girl doesn’t know how to drive her stick-shift.

I finally get down to Grand and Shiawassee where I intend to slide over the bridge to the market.  Except its closed! This time, due to Common Ground activities, which started last night.  I thought this was an evening event so I was suprised to see the parking people already looking to collect fees.  After yet another completely out of the way detour, I finally made it to the market.

No cheese but I stopped at the East Lansing Food Co-op mini-store and bought some whipping cream from Calder Dairy (in Lincoln Park) and a packet of sunflower seeds from Country Life Natural Foods of Pullman (near South Haven in Wester Michigan).  As I’m paying, the manager asks if I had an trouble getting there due to the construction and rerouting.  Ha Ha.  She then tells me that a lot of vendors aren’t coming in this week since its too much hassle.  And she was right.  The fish people were gone, the local meat company was off until Friday and there were only a few fresh produce vendors in the East Wing. 

 

Since Shiawassee was still closed, I had to find an alternate route back to the Hall of Justice.  By the time it was all said and done, I should have just walked. 

 

I’m really looking forward to using my cream in tonight’s dinner that will include morel mushroom risotto.