Greetings! If you missed part one, let me bring you up to speed. I was lucky enough to join Promote MI and a group of eleven other social media/foodie nerds to explore the rich farm-to-table offerings of Kalamazoo! For two days, Food Dance efficiently and thoughtfully revealed to us the farms and local businesses that work so closely with Food Dance to bring customers an amazing menu. On Day one of the tour, we discovered Carlson Farm and Bed and Breakfast, Mattawan Creamery, Kirklin Farm, the newly opened Blush Salon of the Radisson Kalamazoo and had a gluttonous indulgence at Food Dance for dinner. My stomach was officially stretched out and I woke up hungry…
First stop for our tour was Water Street Coffee Joint’s actual roasting facility, with the wholesale crew waiting for us. They prepared a gorgeous breakfast of muesli, muffins, quiche and of course, coffee.
Water Street Roasters celebrated their 20th anniversary this fall and we were able to delight in a freshly brewed pot of their anniversary blend coffee, roasted just the day before as they prepared a shipment to go out. While the cafe located on Water St. serves everything from breakfast to dinner and desserts, the media tour was able to watch a batch of beans as they were roasted and hear about how beer isn’t the only kind of home brewing that has recently spiked in popularity. As West Michigan pours out support for local businesses like Water Street Roasters,
they have upped production to match the demand! Full and caffeinated, the twelve loaded back onto the bus to head to our next stop: Bell’s Production Brewery.
Now I work at a brewery that makes three-barrel batches of beer. That translates to about 750 pints of beer per batch. What we got to take in was batches of some of Michigan’s most beloved beer, 200 barrels at a time. THAT’S 50,000 PINTS!!! After sniffing the very hops that make beers like Oberon happen, we headed to Bell’s Eccentric Cafe for flights and lunch. I tried Larry’s Latest Lager and Uberon (barrel-aged Oberon) among others and thoroughly enjoyed the taproom variety.
The venue space was impressive, and I would have loved to be there on a summer’s night listening to some local live music. We purchased some swag at the Cafe’s General Store and continued onward!
Our next stop was within walking distance and was actually a three-for-one bonus. Not only did we tour The People’s Food Co-op of Kalamazoo, we saw local chefs using the enormous Can-Do Kitchen next door and attended the Kalamazoo Farmer’s Market, right in the parking lot of the co-op grocery store. The kitchen is part of the nonprofit Fair Food Matters and was designed for small local foods businesses to be able to use a licensed kitchen without having to purchase everything themselves! The rental agreement includes access to an array of industrial appliances and, as we proved, tons of people to taste and approve of your product. They are also known for their cooking and canning classes which are usually filled to capacity with interested community members. The People’s Food Co-Op was the best selection of local foods I had ever seen under one roof from the peanut butters to the produce; I’m not surprised that there are almost 2000 part owners and shoppers there. We shopped around at the farmers market and began the walk back to The Radisson. It was dinner time.
Zazio’s is a beautiful restaurant. We were lucky enough to be led directly to the Chef’s Table, where we tucked in for five courses from Chef John Korycki. Chef John has cooked his way through Italy and his seasonal menu reflects his passion for the food he met there. Like many people we’d met in Kalamazoo, Chef was crazy for heirloom tomatoes, so we started there. Over the next two hours, we indulged in broiled whitefish, baked apple torte, eggplant tortellini, fresh cheeses, Michigan wines and Italian bread-soup. It was the perfect ending to a truly farm-tastic time in Kalamazoo. I look forward to visiting again and again now that I’ve seen how rich the local community and dedication to farm-to-table food are. Check these places out next time you’re there!
Lyndsay Israel-Feature Writer
A huge thank you to Food Dance, Promote MI and Radisson Kalamazoo for taking the twelve of us on two delicious days of tours!