Friday, October 4, 2013

[NEWS BITES] Introducing Ferndale Restaurant Week + FestivALE

The Burger Brawl winner at One-Eyed Betty's.

Fall is a time for food. We can officially ditch the summer diets and stop worrying about having a "bikini body" (or, for some of us, just continue going on with business as usual but with the relief that comes from knowing we can hide all our rolls under bulky sweaters and snazzy leather jackets) and stuff our faces with the unparalleled bounty of fall foods. Pumpkins and apples and Bambis and Thumpers and doughnuts and pie and all the other rich, fattening, flavorful comfort foods we deny ourselves when it's 90 degrees outside if for no other reason than the fact that it's 90 degrees outside.

So it makes sense that there are a millionjillionfafillion fall-themed food events going on this year because it's fall and fall is awesome. Coming up next is the brand-new Ferndale Restaurant Week, an effort from the Ferndale Downtown Development Authority chaired by Beth Hussey, co-owner of One-Eyed-Betty's.

Beth, who previously spent a couple of years in Grand Rapids and dealing with all of the ArtPrize shenanigans and restaurant week events out there, had been wanting to do something similar in Ferndale for awhile. But she didn't want it to be a "normal" restaurant week – she wanted to really put in the effort to make it cool.

Since Ferndale is home to a wide variety of restaurants and food spots – casual, upscale, breakfast and lunch only, ice cream shops, beer and burger bars – Ferndale Restaurant Week offers a wide variety of options so you can experience everything Ferndale has to offer at prices that make sense for the individual businesses.

The Ferndale Restaurant Week website.

"It's as easy as one-two-three," Beth says, and the website was designed with that in mind. With food options set at $10, $20, and $30 price points; offerings for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner; and options for one or two people, Ferndale Restaurant Week offers the most variety and the most flexibility. Visit the website for the full breakdown of who's offering what with notations next to their names.

23 restaurants in downtown Ferndale are participating in this event, which will be held twice annually in the spring and fall (basically it's most of them). The website will live year-round as a resource for restaurants in downtown Ferndale and participating restaurants will benefit from year-round visibility and promotion.

This first edition of Ferndale Restaurant Week will be held October 7-13.

But that's not all Beth has in the works.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, November 23, and don't plan on doing anything else. One-Eyed Betty's is hosting a monster FestivALE – a fall festival for all! (Or a festivus for the rest of us, if you must.)

What started out as a beer tent to coincide with the Ferndale DDA's 5k obstacle course nighttime run (a fundraising effort for their holiday events) has turned into a full-scale holiday festival with lots of food and beer and entertainment – like fire dancers, aerialists, and stilt-walkers, plus music from Americana bluegrass bands like the Appleseed Collective.

The DDA approached Beth about hosting a beer tent for the 1,000 runners they expect at their event. She agreed, then figured, "If I'm going to do a beer tent I might as well turn it into a thing and make it a big deal."

And oh, IT'S A BIG DEAL. FestivALE will feature all seasonal and holiday beers, including some very special limited releases and rare imports. The whole concept is based around Christmas beers – those high-octane specialty releases like St. Bernardus Christmas Ale and Delerium Noel. There will be several local breweries pouring samples of seasonal and limited releases including (so far) Bell's, Dark Horse, Arbor Brewing, and (99% sure) Short's, all set up in an outdoor tent like at the Michigan Brewers Guild festivals. There will also be a special one-off Christmas beer booth with scheduled tappings of extremely limited kegs of rare and unusual beers (some of these kegs are the only ones allotted to the state of Michigan). Harpoon with also be there with kegs of their Winter Warmer and their ciders, available for the first time in kegs.

Since this is the Saturday before Thanksgiving and right as we all get into the full holiday swing, the food will also be equally as special as the beer. They'll have a "roast beast" dinner of pig, goat, and lamb, all served as finger food in rolls or tortillas with complementary sauces. Beth is also having a giant tartiflette pan custom-made by local metalworker Richard Gage to make the traditional cold weather comfort food of Franco-Swiss origin made with potatoes, Reblochon cheese, lardons and onions (they'll put their own spin on it, naturally). And there will probably be a six-foot-long apple strudel.

"We're really going for a different kind of feel than other festivals," Beth says. "We just want it to be a really awesome party with really great beer, really great food, and a really great atmosphere."

Another awesome food and drink festival in Ferndale that puts all others to shame? I'm in.

UPDATE: Tickets to FestivaALE are now on sale!