The Michigan Brewers Guild wanted something very specific when it turned 15: it asked the state’s breweries to concoct a 15th-anniversary ale for its summer beer fest. Chef and home brewer Amy Sherman, host of Great American Brew Trail, went behind the scenes at the celebration, where she interviewed local breweries’ staff members about their celebratory brews. Reports like these are typical of her show, Great American Brew Trail, for which she travels to microbreweries across the country and unveils the creative and culinary processes behind beer.
Heilman's Nuts & Confections uses 90-year-old recipes to create a varied assortment of house-roasted nuts, tempting confections, and delicious treats. From gift baskets to individual assortments of candies and nuts, customers are sure to find a thoughtful birthday present, celebrate special events, or start grassroots movements to turn March 4th into Rain Check Valentine’s Day. Pay sweet-tooth ransoms with a half-pound box of cherry cordials ($12.25), a one-pound box of home-made caramel corn cooled on marble slabs ($7.75), or a box of hand-stretched peanut brittle ($8.75). For a sippable supplement to classic Heilman's bites, pair a one-pound box of presidential mixed nuts ($17.25) with a pound of fresh, flavored or blend coffee ($13.50 and $12.50 respectively).
Couched in newly expanded quarters, People’s Food Co-op's cooks draw on a community-minded business model and sate customers’ hunger with a toothsome array of nutritionally sound fare. Locally grown and organic foods shine in a cornucopia of house-made deli concoctions, including a fresh bulk-food bar heavily laden with hot stews, cold salads, and just-right porridges ($7.99/lb). Slabs of corn-polenta torta ($2.16 each) swaddle herb-kissed bundles of kale, red pepper, and feta cheese. A gallery of pre-wrapped options showcases stratified edibles such as breakfast burritos, vegan tempeh Reubens, and reams of roasted veggies sandwiched in Zingerman’s bread ($4.68–$12.99). Tubs of roasted-red-pepper and garlicky raw hummus lend creamy aplomb to al fresco outings on the shop's patio (up to $9.99 each), and nut-studded muffins ($3–$5) and diminutive rounds of raw cashew cheesecake ($3.99) fuel mobile-eating competitions.
Every Friday and Saturday night at 7 p.m., the twists and turns of Gull Meadow Farms' night maze enables challenging family fun. Wanderers wind throughout the dark labyrinth, illuminating their journey with the use of moonlight and flashlights. Families, friends, or brave individuals search for an exit among the rows formed by stalks up to 8 feet tall. The dimly lit voyage aims to provide a fun challenge for all ages, as proven by the marked presence of such friendly ghosts as the ghost of economic past.
Boasting a robust menu of quick, classic, and fresh fare, Railroad Cafe’s historic home in the renovated Pere Marquette Depot welcomes visitors into a warm, wood-accented eatery. Combining heaps of fresh ingredients, the taste technicians at Railroad Cafe start early, whipping up english-muffin sandwiches stuffed with bacon, ham, or sausage, along with egg and cheddar ($2.75) to help guests break steel-plated fasts. Meanwhile, an array of coffee and espresso drinks, such as the iced mocha ($3.59), awaits orders to wash down errant crumbs or steam open a neighbor's mail. Noontime noshers partake of expertly stacked creations, including the roast beef and pepper-jack panini ($6.79), or creatively topped hot dogs, such as the Railroad Café all-beef dog, loaded up with a pile of chili, mustard, and banana peppers ($2.89).
The culinary gurus at Charlie's Butcher Block satisfy protein-seeking palates with full meals of fresh-cut meats. The barbecue chicken or beef meal topples scales with five pounds of certified Miller Amish chicken or Hereford beef, complete with 12 buns to feed the hearty hungers of tailgaters, families, or the Wu-Tang Clan. Buckets of fried chicken delight poultry lovers with four oven-fried chicken breasts and four crispy chicken legs or thighs.
Situated in a quaint building in downtown Niles, 3rd Street Pizzeria bears a name that makes it an easy find for dine-in and carry-out orders and a menu that features hot subs, specialty pizzas, and stuffed calzones. On days when it is too chilly to people-watch from the restaurant’s benches or sidewalk tables, opt for free delivery or head inside, where heat from the kitchen’s ovens pervades the air, and pizzas stay warm under blankets of cheese.