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Tastemakers: Art‘s Tavern smelt basket/ Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Show

Rick Coates - November 15th, 2010
Art’s Tavern Smelt Basket
Art’s Tavern in Glen Arbor (corner of Lake Street and M22) has been a longtime fixture on the Leelanau Peninsula. Opening prior to Prohibition as the Blue Goose Saloon, it became known as Art’s in 1934. In 1986 Tim Barr took over the management reins and in 2000 became the owner. Most people assume he is Art. In many ways Tim’s presence and personality are as important to Art’s as the ambiance, food and drink.
Art’s was among the first to get behind the Michigan craftbrew movement by adding Bell’s Beer in 1986 and has continued a long tradition of offering assorted Michigan craftbrews on tap and by the bottle. Art’s menu is rooted in traditional pub-fare. While they have several specialties, the tater tots are always a favorite.
During a recent fall color tour of the Leelanau Peninsula I stopped into Art’s to enjoy my personal favorite from their menu, the Smelt Basket.
Smelt are native to North America’s Atlantic Coast. In 1912, smelt were planted in Crystal Lake and eventually they made their way to Lake Michigan. Smelt dipping is a popular spring activity and because smelt are sensitive to light, this typically takes place at night when they rise to the surface.
Mature smelt grow to 7 to 8 inches and are best enjoyed deep fried, with tarter sauce and a pint of Michigan beer. At Art’s they have mastered the smelt basket; often smelt has a very fishy taste to it when not prepared right.
Art’s Tavern is a Leelanau legend. it is a great place to visit year-round as most Glen Arbor shops remain open. To look over the Art’s menu go to --Rick Coates

Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival
Now in its third year, the Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival is expected to draw 10,000-plus participants this weekend. The three-day event kicks off Thursday (Nov. 18) and continues through Saturday. It’s the largest food and wine festival in the state and one of the premier gastronomic events in the Midwest.
The appeal of this event is wide-ranging, from the connoisseur to the novice to the industry professional, the Wine & Food Festival has something for everyone. Admission is only $15 per person and includes a sampling glass and show program, containing a detailed list of wines, beers, spirits and foods available for your tasting pleasure. Plus all food, wine, beer & spirits seminars throughout the weekend.
While this is truly an “international” experience, the event also highlights Michigan products. Of the 1,200-plus beers, wines, ciders and spirits to be featured, 200 are crafted in Michigan. Several Northern Michigan wineries and breweries will be attending. Plus several Michigan restaurants participate and top chefs from around the world will be in for seminars and demonstrations. Seminars of note include “Beer and Food pairings,” “Homegrown Thanksgiving... Cooking with Foods Grown Locally,” “The Art of Mixing and Tasting Spices,” and “Get the Best Wines for Your Money.”
Another highlight is the Riverfront Market with several vendors offering gourmet foods, specialty items and high-end accessories. They will even ship items for you if you want to send them as gifts.
The Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival is a must attend for those seeking to improve their culinary and beverage expertise. At $15 a person (you must be 21 to attend) it is a real bargain. It is in downtown G.R. at the Devos Place, so make a weekend out of it. Area hotels are offering special rates and there is plenty to do including visiting the The Grand Rapids Art Museum where they have “Diana - A Celebration,” a collection of items once belonging to Princess Diana, including her famous royal wedding dress.
The Grand Rapids International Wine & Food Festival takes place at the Steelcase Ballroom at DeVos Place, November 18-20, 2010. Hours are Thursday, November 18; 5pm - 9pm; Friday, November 19; 3pm - 9pm; and Saturday, November 20; 12pm - 9pm. Get info and tickets at, tickets may also be purchased at all Ticketmaster outlets. --Rick Coates
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