Wake Up Weekend in Grand Rapids

Since moving from Eastown in Grand Rapids just over a year ago, there a some things I don’t miss a bit, like vandalism of my home or car, keeping the cops programmed into my cell phone and driving 30 minutes in order to hike with my dogs. But, this thriving city also holds many attractions, events and festivals that offer a good excuse for a road trip.

On January 22 and 23, Grand Rapids will host Wake Up Weekend 2010, an “annual two-day celebration of animal-friendly food, art, education and advocacy.” The two days of mostly free events will feature lectures, a film and vegan culinary treats.

Calvin College, my alma mater, will be the site of a workshop, “The Many Faces of Food Activism,” a vegan potluck dinner and a lecture on Friday the 22nd.

The full day of activities scheduled for Saturday the 23rd begins with a session with Bryant Terry and a $10 vegan buffet at 11 a.m., and ends with a screening of “Fowl Play – The Untold Story Behind Your Breakfast” at 9:30 p.m. A lecture, meeting, reception, an art exhibit and a vegan chili cook-off fill the hours in between.

This sounds like an incredible weekend that I wouldn’t want to miss.


Seva in Ann Arbor

I’ve been a vegetarian (to varying degrees) for over half my life, so when I go out to eat, I’m no stranger to the cheese sandwich or the basket of fried food. Although most restaurants do have a few non-meat offerings, there’s often not much variation from menu to menu between the vegetarian selections. So, going to an all-vegetarian restaurant is a like wandering through a lush garden of food delights; the whole menu is fair game! It’s very liberating. I got to experience this food nirvana last night when my husband Steve and I dined at Seva in Ann Arbor.

A downtown Ann Arbor institution since 1973, Seva’s varied vegetarian menu is influenced by culinary traditions from around the globe, including Italian, Mexican, Indian, Asian and Caribbean. They also have a full bar, a fresh juice bar, and a range of other thirst-quenchers. The menu is rounded out by dessert selections. Across the board, the emphasis is on house-made selections, and there are many choices for vegans, too.

Set in a former VFW hall, the space now has an eclectic, cozy feel that is characterized by wooden booths, hanging plants and twinkling strands of lights. The quirky, laid back wait staff completes Seva’s casual appeal.

Being pregnant, I sadly could not join my husband in a Short’s Pandemonium Pale Ale. But, I absolutely loved Seva’s homemade lemonade with homemade strawberry syrup.

Arriving quite hungry, we ordered a range of menu selections. For an appetizer, we chose warm goat cheese topped with pistachios and Michigan honey, served with multigrain crackers. This appetizer arrived beautifully presented with garnishes of rosemary and red grapes, but the goat cheese portion was surprisingly small. We enjoyed it, but speculated upon the size of our entrées.

The side salad I ordered with my entrée represented one of the best $2 salads I’ve ever had. The greens were actually green, and were topped with grated carrot, cucumber rounds, grape tomatoes and rye croutons.

My entrée of spinach enchiladas was delicious and was indeed filling. Steve also enjoyed his cilantro-peanut stir fry, and actually ended up not eating every bite because he was too full. We had sourdough garlic bread on the side, which I probably wouldn’t order again; it wasn’t bad, just unremarkable.

If we weren’t stuffed, we would’ve been tempted by the chocolate cheesecake.

I would certainly go to Seva again, considering that I had such a hard time actually deciding what to order. The atmosphere is great, the food is delicious and the menu is expansive.

We capped off the evening with a comedy show at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, located directly downstairs from Seva. In all, it was a perfect date night in Ann Arbor.