Calling all Foodies: The Latin House

If your palate is nudging you to try something new, check out The Latin House in Grand Rapids, Michigan! Here diners can enjoy a quiet, intimate setting and sample traditional meals from Colombia, Peru, and Argentina!

My little brother, Jake, and family were visiting from Florida a few weeks ago. His wife, Ren, is a Spanish teacher who grew up enjoying many of these dishes and often visited Argentina through cultural exchange and graduate programs. She was our guide as we browsed the many delicious options on the menu.

MK ordered red beans and yuca. We all sampled fried yuca, which tasted similar to a thick French fry. I added some red beans to my rice. I was amazed at the amount of savory flavor packed into the small dish.

We also shared an order of tostones (fried plantain).

Ren ordered Pechuga Gaucho, an Argentinian dish, chicken coated with Panko and served with ham, provolone and fries

My nephew ordered Arroz Con Pollo, a Colombian dish, chicken, vegetables, and fried rice, served with fries (Luckily, he is not a big eater. The next day, my son, George, and I fought over the left overs! This is probably my favorite way to eat fried rice.)

Several of us enjoyed Lomo Saltado, a Peruvian dish, steak topped with a special sauce, served with rice and fries. The surprise hit for this dish was the tomatoes, marinated in a delicious sauce, a perfect compliment to the skirt steak. (I enjoyed a couple bites before remembering to take a picture.)

I look forward to trying the Churrasco next time!

The Latin House

3363 Remembrance Rd. NW

Grand Rapids, MI

Open Wednesday-Sunday

NOTE: At the time of our visit, they did not have a sign (look for street numbers). The Latin House offers seating for approximately 25.

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Nature for Every Season

I recently finished a fascinating book about Mozart, his pet starling (an influential muse for the musical genius), and the connection to nature. I was struck by what the author termed “wild summons.” Nature takes so many forms: The pull of the mountains, a wooded trail by the lake, the challenge of the rapids…perhaps even less obvious things, a cherished pet, personal journal, songs, or that place offering calm. A special place that often “summons” me is Frederick Meijer Gardens.

Frederick Meijer Gardens, located in Grand Rapids, MI, remains a crown jewel in West Michigan. Whether you want to explore outside among the peaceful Japanese Gardens, or intricate bonsai display, or take a walk back in time, viewing the 1930s farm, these grounds offer something for everyone.

In fact, FMG’s indoor garden area makes for a fun outing, too. March’s butterfly exhibit remains a traditional break from the cold weather (the tropical conservatory hovers in the 80s.) Also, the Christmas Around the World exhibit offers a festive way to get in the holiday spirit.

However, of all the activities found at this beautiful place, the Summer Concert Series remains a favorite venue! We usually pack a picnic, a few chairs, and sip a glass of wine or beer from the bar. The concerts are open seating on a grassy hillside. This year, we enjoyed Joan Baez with Mary Chapin Carpenter, and the Indigo Girls.

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Ever consider a membership? Members have the opportunity to order pre-sale discounted tickets for the Summer Concert Series. Check it out! meijergardens.org

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Calling All Foodies!

Attention fellow foodies and connoisseurs of fine dining! I have a new restaurant for your dining bucket list: The Heritage Restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI. Run by the culinary arts students at Grand Rapids Community College, diners can enjoy lunch or dinner on Tuesdays-Fridays.

Heritage miso

Chad and I visited for dinner this past weekend. The first dish was a small taste of vegan miso soup, complements of the chef. The broth included slices of shiitake mushrooms, tofu noodles, and edamame, enjoyed with homemade french champagne bread and herb butter.

Heritage Mock Eel

Next came a difficult decision: Appetizers. Chad selected the Mock Eel, a house specialty, a sweet and crispy plate of uniquely cut shiitake mushrooms (also voted Best Vegan Dish by Grand Rapids Magazine). I am not a big fan of mushrooms but was surprised to discover they didn’t taste or have the texture of a mushroom! Chad enjoyed the dish but found it too sweet for his palate.

Heritage Rock

My choice of appetizer was The Rock. If you enjoy entertainment with a meal, order this dish! Servers brought out a basalt stone on a bed of rock salt, heated in a 500 degree oven joined with another plate of thin sliced filet mignon in a ponzu sauce. The server coated the rock with sesame oil and instructed me to begin cooking the filet on the rock, right at the table! Delicious and fun!

Heritage Rock 2

For the main course, Chad chose the Osso Bucco, a marsala wine braised veal shank with baby arugula, butternut squash with walnuts, and homemade Pappardelle pasta in cream sauce. The dish included a sizable helping of marrow, considered a delicacy. The veal was tender, the marrow rich (delicious on French bread), and homemade pasta is always a treat. I ordered the house special, duck breast on a bed of Heritage rice served with carrots surrounded by a black garlic sauce. The duck was delicious, medium rare served skin on. The rice, carrots, and sauce complimented the main dish.

Heritage OB

Heritage Duck

On our way out, the server boxed up a molten lava cake, another complement of the chef. I can’t comment on that dish as our daughter ate the entire thing. She highly recommends the dessert!

I look forward to a future visit to try duck confit with waffles and the bacon wrapped sirloin. Beer and wine are also available. In fact, the school developed a beer brewing program and will soon offer a certificate through their newly hired brewmaster. The Heritage also offers many vegan dishes.

So fellow foodies, educators, and supporters of the culinary arts, enjoy an afternoon or evening out tasting delicious food and helping students develop their trade. Be patient and understanding if the service isn’t perfect. Get to know your servers, too. We enjoyed learning about our server’s upcoming graduation, future plans, and dreams, and feel proud to be a small part of his journey.

http://www.opentable.com/the-heritage-restaurant