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Tastemakers: Traverse City America‘s number one food city/Short‘s Bananas & Blow

Rick Coates - April 19th, 2010
Traverse City: America’s #1 Food City
Finally, some outside the area validation to what this column has been boasting about for the past several years; Traverse City (Northern Michigan) is one of the best food locales in the country.
Just last week the editors of, an online resource that points to the most livable cities in America, selected Traverse City number one in the best food towns category. That recognition comes on the heels of The Huffington Post naming Traverse City “the best new foodie haven” in the country and Midwest Living Magazine recently named Traverse City the second best food town in the Midwest next to Madison, WI.
At the heart of’s decision was the “farm-to-table” philosophy that so many restaurants in the area have adopted. They singled out Trattoria Stella as being at the forefront of the movement. Another factor is all of the farm markets in the region. Toss in all the farms, dairies, wineries, microbreweries and all the locally-owned restaurants and the editors of have taken notice of what we have known for years.
Equally important is the growing number of food and drink festivals and events in the region. These events attract visitors who make their way to area restaurants, wineries and farms and go home and tell their families and friends of the experience.
But despite all of our accolades we can do better as service is inconsistent at times. The reason we finished second to Madison from Midwest Living’s perspective: the lack of affordability and the limited ethnic food offerings.
So we have a little work to do, but Northern Michigan is on the map as one of the great food and drink destinations in America. --Rick Coates

Bananas & Blow

Last weekend Short’s Brewing Company made an appearance at the Repeal of Prohibition Beer Festival in St. Louis. Next week (April 26) they are partnering with Pearl’s in Elk Rapids for a beer dinner and in just a couple of weeks they will be celebrating their 6th Anniversary (May 1). To help celebrate they are having their 2nd Annual Short’s to Short’s Paddle on April 30th from Lake Bellaire and ending 27 miles later in Elk Rapids (where their production facility is located).
There is a lot to celebrate in “Shortsville” these days, Joe and his crew are brewing innovative beers and certainly putting their interpretation on the classic styles, resulting in many accolades and a growing reputation across the country in the microbrew community. His pub in Bellaire has become a tourist attraction, where guests are not only enjoying the tasty brews but a great menu and plenty of live music.
Short’s has even developed somewhat of a cult following on Flickr (the online photo album) where fans have posted hundreds of photos of Short’s brews.
Joe Short is enjoying well-deserved success; he had a vision seven years ago to come to the small town of Bellaire and start a brewery that wouldn’t just brew everyday beers, but would brew beers with personalities. Demand for his beers required him to expand, and over a year ago he opened a large production facility in Elk Rapids where he is bottling his mainstay brews for the retail and on premise market.
While Short’s is now available for the masses, the heart of it all still remains in Bellaire, where many beers are available that will not find their way to the bottle or mass distribution. Recently I tried Bananas & Blow, made with 2,000 pounds of bananas. This is a tasty brew and a definite for the lover of banana bread. Certainly not a brew you would have more than one of in one sitting but it was fun and flavorful and points to the imagination of Joe Short and his brew team. --Rick Coates

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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