Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The French Tarte is back teaching French pastry techniques

This past Saturday Susie (AKA the French Tarte) returned to the teaching kitchen.

She kicked off the first in a three-class series on French pastry techniques in the teaching kitchen on the second floor of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. Fourteen people  attended her Basic Techniques class (focusing on pate sablé and crostata doughs) and they walked away with both finished product as well as doughs for their freezer.

The teaching space is impressive: large, airy and with the latest in appliances and work stations. And with the recent launch of Artprize 2015 in Grand Rapids, the market was packed with folks sampling not just the art but also the wonderful food available.

We took advantage of the opportunity to eat right in the Market, mingling with the locals and tourists alike. After class Susie and I opted not to wait in the line at Slow's BBQ and instead sat outside at Aperitivo. I had the Monger Plate (3-cheeses and 2-meats) while the Tarte went for the buffalo blu cheese crostini, all washed down with a well-chilled glass of lightly pink Cremant d'Alsace. It was sunny and warm, perfect to sit outside and celebrate her first class in Grand Rapids.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Life at the Fallassburg Art Festival

On Sunday Susie took a break from baking (she had an order for two crostata) and unpacking and I took a break from work to head east to Fallassburg and their annual fall art festival. We parked at a nearby overflow lot and walked across a small valley to the park proper.

As festivals go, this one was pretty typical: lots of artists and craft folk selling photos, woodwork, pottery, that sort of thing, all amidst a beautiful park just north of Lowell, Michigan. There was a stage set up and the music was playful, with the musicians overlooking a vast array of picnic tables pretty much filled with folks eating BBQ, pulled pork, corn on the cob and the like.

Susie and I strolled the grounds before meeting up with Margaret and her friend Bob -- they arrived about a half hour or so after we did and the four of us picked up our exploration of the various tents looking for that something special. Well, Margaret was at any rate; she's still decorating her new house. Susie and I, however, were still in the throes of unpacking all the stuff we hauled out to the midwest from Rhode Island so the last thing we needed was another wooden tray or glass bowl for the house.

 But what a gorgeous day to be outside watching the wonders of nature and the incredible diversity of humanity.

blacksmithing demonstration

Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park - Sept. 19 2015

This past weekend was the Herb & Gourd Festival at Meijer Gardens -- and although the event itself was a bit lame (two small rooms with a half dozen or so exhibitors), it was nice to see a half dozen people who wanted to share their passion about one particular aspect of gardening.

It was a gorgeous Saturday to be outside soaking up the sun and beautiful greenery just across the street from our condo; and the mums were spectacular. It also gave us the opportunity to visit a part of the Gardens we had not yet seen: the Michigan Farm Garden. Based on the homestead of Lena Meijer, the farm is filled with maintenance barnyard animals and at least two sculptures of Lena as a young child, one milking a cow and the other riding a pig.

Just a few yards away from the farmstead is a small burial ground. Right now Fred is the only one interred there; he passed away in 2011. One can only guess that Lena will eventually join him. An incredible place to be buried to be sure -- simple, yet profound, this space, surrounded by the wonders of young life outmatched only by what must have been two people very much in love. I never knew this family and I'm the poorer for it.
Earth, Wind and Fire

entrance to one of the indoor gardens

one of the several trails through the gardens

Meijer family burial place