New eatery bridges the distance in time, space between Newaygo and central Mexico
An offering from: The Clandestine Culinarian
On M-37, during a late November lunch hour, La Paloma was a beacon in the cold. Barely two weeks open, the restaurant attracted a steady stream of diners that picked up as noon approached. In the spare yet spacious dining room, Spanish mingled with English. The menu, still in its infancy, didn’t stray far from the standbys. Tacos. Burritos. Tortas.
La Paloma and its food, however, owes its soul and its inspiration to San Luis Potosí, 2,026 miles south of its current home in Newaygo, in the modest space that used to be River City Pizza.
That’s where the sign just inside La Paloma’s front door, under the counter, comes from. The weathered marquee once graced a taco stand there, an enterprise of the family two generations earlier, announcing its barbacoa and gorditas. Today, the matriarch behind the stove prepares her comida as they would in central Mexico.
La Paloma’s tacos reminded my dining companion of the ones he used to get in west Grand Rapids 40 years ago when Central American migrants first put down roots along the Grandville Avenue corridor and made their tacos the only way tacos should be made: meat nestled in two fluffy soft corn tortillas, studded with chopped onions and cilantro.
At La Paloma, the tacos come three to an order, at $9. The meat options, for now, are steak, pork and chicken. Somewhere down the road, more exotic cuts but wholly appropriate to tacos from central Mexico could be added to the starting lineup. Lengua, or beef tongue, most likely. Tripe is already making a cameo at La Paloma, in its Sunday menudo, the bright restorative soup of cow stomach cooked for hours until meltingly soft, adding an unctuous silky beefiness to the caldo and swimming together in red broth with other good things, like onions and corn.
When the stars align, that tripe might someday jump from caldo to tacos.
For today, we feasted on steak tacos and steak torta.
First, the tacos.
La Paloma piles generous heapings of chopped, tender steak, perfectly seasoned and seared. The trouble with many places that claim to put steak in their tacos is the sad mistreatment of the steak itself. Too many places throw a hunk of meat into a tepid pan. The pan eventually musters the energy to come to heat. The meat slowly turns grey. Water seeps out of the beef, which is effectively boiled. Adding insult to injured beef, these places also tend to skimp on the salt and pepper. The result is bland, wet and leathery beef, disintegrating the corn or flour vessel in which it rides.
Not so at La Paloma.
The steak is briskly cooked on a scorchingly hot surface. Salt, the unifying spice, is generously added. The matriarch in the back robustly seasons the steak. Fond and microscopically crispy bits of charred beef cling to the steak, even after it is chopped and ladled into the double blanket of corn taco.
In the torta, for $7, that same sliced and chopped steak reclines on a bed of creamy beans, diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce. Sliced avocado and cheese straddle the steak. Everything goes between a bolillo (BOW-lee-yo) bun, the slightly sweet, sturdy plate-sized bun that is toasted just before serving, glistening, and the only bread any self-respecting torta should ever be made from.
And because half the fun of eating most foods is the saucing, La Paloma conveniently leaves squeeze bottles of green and red salsa out for anyone to grab, whenever they want to, however often. Tomatillos undergird the salsa verde. Chile de arbol provide the foundation for the salsa roja. The green salsa packs a gentle heat that dances among the slight tanginess of the tomatillos. For the red salsa, heat lingered under the smokiness and sugar of the chile de arbol. Do you need either salsa? Should anyone watch a movie on mute?
The wind outside may have been howling, and old snow still crusted the side of M-37. But with that torta and those tacos in hand, a glass of horchata – sweet rice milk laced with cinnamon – to wash everything down, everyone in La Paloma’s dining room should be forgiven if they felt, through the magic of food and however fleetingly, as though they were in San Luis Potosi.
Join us this holiday season for the heart-warming and much-loved classic story about a very shy toy rabbit who longs for nothing more than to become real. Bright Star Touring Theater will present "Velveteen Rabbit" in the Dogwood Center Black Box on Sunday, December 8 at 3:00 p.m.
The Velveteen Rabbit is the story of a toy rabbit who is loved so much that he becomes real. In this live action play, you will get a taste of the wonder, the heartbreak, and the magic of Margery Williams' tale of love between a child and his favorite toy. It is a wonderful tale for young audiences, or for anyone who is young at heart.
Bright Star Touring Theater performs nationally with theatrical productions comprised of literary and education based classics that are as entertaining as they are educational. The company has grown into being one of the largest professional touring theater companies in the country. In their 16th year of touring, they travel and perform to bring the magic of theater to young people.
The performance is geared toward pre-K to 5th graders, but the classic tale is entertaining for all ages.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 18 and under. Purchase your tickets through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
It’s that time again! Time to visit NCCA-Artsplace to shop for great personal holiday gifts! The Holiday Artist Market opens on Saturday, November 16 from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.
Make your selections from handmade functional or decorative pottery, unique paintings, prints, textiles, candles, photography, wood turning, sculpture and jewelry. Decorate your tree this year with a variety of handmade ornaments or give them as the perfect holiday gift!
Whether you’re looking for fine hand made jewelry for the special someone, new ornaments for the tree or an original painting, you’ll find it all at NCCA-Artsplace Holiday Artist Market! And you can give the gift of creativity this holiday season with NCCA-Artsplace’s gift cards available in any denomination and can be used towards original art and classes.
The NCCA-Holiday Artist Market will be open through December 28. Regular hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
For more information stop by or call NCCA-Artsplace, 13 E. Main, Fremont, 231.924.4022. www.ncca-artsplace.org
By Megan Wirts
LionHeart Productions has done it again! Their take on the classic disco delight Mama Mia is a must see! Even if you aren't a disco fan, you will love this show filled with talented people from all around this great community. There are new faces, LionHeart stage staples and lots of sequins.
Under the direction of Dana McKnight, the cast comes to life at the Grant Fine Arts Center stage set on a quaint island in Greece to celebrate a wedding. Sophie, played by the magnificent Meghan McKnight who’s voice shines in this role, is about to be married and she longs to be walked down the aisle by her father. The only trouble is, she doesn’t know who her father is! Here mother Donna, played by LionHeart newcomer Mandy Casebolt, has kept the secret from her daughter for 20 years and thanks to Sophie’s meddling the three possible papas show up to attend the wedding festivities causing much chaos and shenanigans to ensue. All of this is set to the classic sounds of ABBA and there is plenty of disco dancing!
The stage, designed by Mike Gesler, is set to look like a beautiful Taverna on a small Greek island. Even with snow on the ground outside, it felt like a warm summer day by the ocean on stage. You are immediately are met with the beautiful voice of Meghan McKnight as Sophie singing I Have A Dream and the wild ride begins. This show left me laughing and wanting to get up and dance, which I did by the end! Mandy Casebolt is an excellent Donna, the tough single mother with a wild past, she really shows us her power in solo The Winner Takes it All. She is joined by her two best friends and former band members of Donna and the Dynamos played by Julia Scarlett Cole as Tanya and Cammie Hollinger as Rosie. Julia and Cammie play the feisty, fun and flirty besties. Julia will have you cracking up during her number Does Your Mother Know? and Cammie will make you want to get up and wiggle your disco booty in her take on Take a Chance on Me! Individually all three ladies have strong vocals and when all are together they knock it out of the park! Dancing Queen’s indeed!!
Then there are the three disco dads, Jamie Evans as Harry, Nick Koogler as Bill and David Hatter as Sam. All three are LionHeart veterans and are always a pleasure to watch! Jamie is great as Harry, the former headbanger that has only ever loved one woman. Nick shines as Bill, the traveling author and has great comedic timing. David is fantastic as Sam, the architect that is reluctant at first to be on the island again after 20 years. You will love their excellent dance moves in the number Gimme Gimme Gimme!
The cast also includes Jarod Howel as Sky, the love of Sophie’s life. He has an excellent voice and is perfectly cast as Sky. Raymond Gardner as one of Sky’s groomsmen Eddie, adds some great comedic relief. Then there is Graydon Gesler as Pepper. Pepper is definitely a scene stealer and will have you roaring with laughter.
Rounding out the cast are the vivacious and fabulous Anya VanderMeulen and Gabby Horrisberger as Lisa and Ali, Sophie’s bridesmaids and best friends. They both have lovely vocals and their bubbly personalities light up the stage during their scenes. The strong ensemble is filled with many members of the community, from highschool students, college students, stay at home moms and retirees. It was a joy to watch!
LionHeart Productions is comprised entirely of volunteers. From the board members to the set builders and costume designers, the musicians in the pit and the actors on the stage, all of it is done simply because of the love of theater and wanting to share it with our community. The people on stage and behind the scenes work at your local schools, churches and banks. You might see them in line at the local grocery store or supporting their own children at sporting events. In a small community like Grant and all over Newaygo County, we are so incredibly lucky to have such phenomenal entertainment provided by LionHeart Productions. Countless hours are put into shows like this behind the scenes and I want to personally thank you for putting in the time, effort and sacrifices to bring shows like Mama Mia to us!
Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing show!
Show dates and times: November 9 at 7:30pm, 10 at 2:00, 15 at 7:30pm, & 16 2:00pm & 7:30pm
Tickets: $15 for adults, $10 for Seniors (60+) and students. Groups of 10+ receive the 10th ticket free.
Get your tickets online at Grant Fine Arts Center
Tickets are also available in person or via phone at the Fine Arts Center Box Office. Hours are 3-6 pm Monday through Friday during the weeks of the performances, and one hour prior to performance. The Box Office can be contacted directly at (231) 834-5630.
The NCCA-Artsplace Winter Community Photography Contest is an event that anyone can enter and showcases the season as we turn toward the winter months. Entry deadline is Tuesday, December 10 by 5:30 p.m.
This free contest is for all ages and all levels of skill. All entries will have “Baby, It’s Cold Outside!” as the theme. Participants may submit up to two entries. Each entry must be an 8”x10” unframed photograph.
All entries will be on display December 13 through December 30 in the corridor gallery at NCCA-Artsplace. First, second and third place ribbons will be awarded on December 13 at 5:30 p.m. just prior to Fremont’s Holiday Parade.
Registration forms for the competition are available at NCCA-Artsplace, 13 East Main Street, downtown Fremont or call 231.924.4022. The guidelines and forms may also be printed from www.ncca-artsplace.org or click here!
Story and photos by Mike Gesler
The moment I stepped into the auditorium of St. Cecilia Music Center and saw the orchestra exposed, I thought, “This is going to be fun.” Last night I had the opportunity to attend the final dress performance of Opera Grand Rapids production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado.” This is Gilbert and Sullivan’s ninth operatic collaboration, and arguably one of their most popular and beloved operas.
The story is a two act comedy set in the town of Titipu where a handsome, yet poor, minstrel with a secret past named Nanki-Poo comes seeking Yum-Yum, a schoolgirl his heart pines for. Unfortunately, he learns from the haughty Poo-Bah, a nobleman who holds all the official town’s posts that Yum-Yum is to marry Ko-Ko, her ward, the next day. Ko-Ko however, who is a prisoner, in a twist of fate, is made the town’s Lord High Executioner. The town reasons that in order to thwart the decrees of the Mikado and stop the beheadings, since Ko-Ko was next to be executed, if Ko-Ko is the Lord High Executioner then he cannot cut off his own head. However, the Mikado has learned that the executions have stopped in Titipu, and orders that an execution take place within a month or the town will be reduced to a village. A distraught Nanki-Poo and an anxious Ko-Ko come up with a scheme that will allow both Nanki-Poo and Ko-Ko to marry Yum-Yum and save Titipu from being reduced to a village. It all seems like a perfect plan until Katisha arrives on the scene to claim Nanki-Poo as her husband. Now folks, that’s just the first act. If you want to know how the second act resolves this crazy mess, you’ll need to go and see for yourself.
It’s not too often that I watch a production and find myself so drawn into the cast that I completely forget about set design, lighting, choreography, costumes, and all those nuances that go into a production. But last night I was completely taken in by what appeared to be a cast that so genuinely enjoyed themselves and what they were doing that I almost completely overlooked everything else. Eve Summer, a rising star in stage direction, directed this amazing cast, and she does a brilliant job with the stage at St. Cecilia’s. From the moment Drake Dantzler (Nanki-Poo) stepped on stage, I was drawn into his infectious tenor voice and radiant smile. I found myself wishing that Nanki-Poo was my friend as there would never be a dull moment with Nanki-Poo around. Andrew Potter’s (Poo-Bah) towering presence and imposing bass voice is casting brilliance.
Now I’ll admit that Steven Condy (Ko-Ko) frustrated me at first, but it wasn’t for lack of talent. Condy is one very talented baritone. What frustrated me was that he reminded me of someone else and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then it hit me. He reminded me of George Rose, and that really says a lot about Condy’s performance. But it was Grand Rapids native Rachel Mills (Yum-Yum) who stole my heart. I now have a new favorite Yum-Yum. I honestly believe that Gilbert and Sullivan had someone like Mills in mind when they composed and wrote “The Mikado.” Her comedic timing and sense of theatrical flair is spot on. Watching Mills, Dantzler, Potter, and Condy interact with each other was so refreshing and enjoyable. They took the fun I first anticipated, and brought it to levels of pure delight. Diane Schoff (Katisha) and Donald Hartmann (The Mikado) round out the cast, and are equally talented in their own right.
The set design is simple and minimal, but very effective. Images of London and English gardens are projected to help set the scene. The Edwardian period costuming is simply beautiful. The lighting design while not complex, is subtle lending to the mood of each scene. And the music is so wonderfully played by the orchestra. Conductor Ace Edeward’s passion for the music comes through with each note. All-in-all, this truly was a special production by Opera Grand Rapids that I for one am glad I didn’t miss, and sad that I can’t see one more time.
“The Mikado” is being presented this weekend at 7:30pm on both Friday, November 1, and Saturday, November 2, at St. Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids. As near as I can tell, tickets are sold out for Friday’s performance, and only a few single seats are available for Saturday’s performance. Any questions regarding tickets can be made by calling the Opera Grand Rapids Box Office at 616.451.2741.
A few Halloween doings.
“Halloween is the only time people can become what they want to be without getting fired.-Sylvester Stallone
There is some serious Halloween celebrating going down in the county seat Thursday.
The Boomerang folks have helped organize a variety of events, and the library is to become haunted once again.
Get your face painted at the library starting at 3pm...maybe as part of your entry into the costume contest... the one beginning at 4:30 in the Rosenberg’s parking lot. Then there’s a sidewalk parade of the costumed kids from there to the library. From 5-7pm it’s Trunk of Treat time at the Rudert’s parking lot.
The talented troupe of the White Cloud Library are hosting their 2nd annual literary themed haunted house from 6:30-8pm.. They plan to incorporate stories from a childhood favorite, “Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark” into the experience so while this may be a bit scary for smaller children, but the library assures that “ there is an option to hold a ‘glowing talisman’ that when used, scary characters will not jump out at you.
I gotta admit I’ve not had great experiences at these things. A particular one visited years ago still brings tears to the eyes of my Lifetime Spousal Companion Lil who describes my yell as “Pretty much like the scream of a pre teen girl at an early Justin Bieber concert”, a story she loves to tell when able to stop laughing long enough to tell it.
Yup. Yours truly will be looking to get one of those talismen.
Then of course there is the Haunted Museum in downtown Newaygo (5-8pm) Here we have a couple dozen creative peeps channelling their macabre side to bring a healthy dose of terror to the citizenry who enter their doors.
And thankfully there are two tracks. One for those who enjoy engaging in scary endeavors and even relish the experience (LSC Lil) and another for those of us who have a reputation for being a little, uh, skittish at such things.
It’s free but donations are encouraged and listen, this type of thing goes for around $15 and up at other places so pony up a couple bucks and you’ll feel good, they’ll feel good, and the museum is haunted on this night so we want it to feel good as well.
Not enough Halloweening? Already gone through the kids’ candy for the reeses cups and twix? Ready to celebrate your own holiday without manning the door for trick or treaters, traipsing about in the rain and cold that always seems to accompany the day, or being trapped in a haunted museum or library?
Well Friday is the day for you.
River Stop Saloon in Newaygo is having a bit of a shindig with a costume contest that nets a cool Franklin to the winner, half a C for 2nd and $25 in goods for 3rd. Food and drink specials are on the agenda as well as some live music. The costume winners will be announced at midnight so don’t peak too early.
Reminder You can arrive anytime but don’t arrive the day before in costume because that will likely be a little weird despite it being Halloween.
Although I once knew a guy who used to on random occasions wear one of his many costumes to a bar.. He always claimed his Gumby outfit was best for meeting women though the Lone Ranger also fared well.
Got other Halloween doings? Add them to our comments.
Do you find yourself diving into a duet performance when one of your favorite Seger songs comes on the car radio? When you mention Alicia Keyes to Alexa and the song selected channels your inner R&B artistry do you bust out the pipes for some soulful synchronicity?
Or perhaps you solo in the shower with a litany of favored hits that echo resoundingly off the walls of the room.
You, my friend, need to join the Newaygo Community Choir.
Every year a group of citizens whose vocal abilities span a wide range, gather together to rehearse a set of songs to be performed at their annual Christmas concert.
The cast has some enduring characters who have long been involved but each year they welcome in new folks to the mix and from all reports thus far it appears to be time well spent and a boatload of fun.
Besides singing in a choir reduces stress, increases sociability, and according to research can help with things like blood pressure, heart rate and even snoring.
How you ask? How do I join this eclectic collective choir?
Show up. Tuesdays at 6:30pm
Rehearsals begin next week so there’s time to mark it off your schedule.
Here’s the skinny on the whole deal courtesy of our good friend Barbara Boss.
The River Country Community Choir will soon begin rehearsals for our Community Christmas concert! This choir and concert has been a tradition for Newaygo Country for over thirty years! Anyone who enjoys singing—especially with a choir of nearly fifty voices—is welcome to be part of the 2019 choir! Rehearsals begin on Tuesday November 5 at 6:30 pm. We will rehearse every Tuesday through December 3 from 6:30-8:30 at Family of God Community Church, 90 Quarterline, Newaygo. The Annual Christmas Concert, held at the Grant Fine Arts Center, will be on SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8 at 6:00 pm.
If you have questions, please email Barb Boss at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come sing with us!
Che Apalache will perform at the Dogwood Center on Thursday, November 14 at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box. Combining instrumental prowess with tight vocal harmonies, they curate an authentic blend of genres to reflect the nature of their lives, evoking images from Appalachia to the Andes. Their most recent album, "Rearrange My Heart", is produced by banjo legend Béla Fleck.
The four-man string band is based in Buenos Aires with members from Argentina, Mexico and the United States. The group’s founder is Joe Troop (fiddle), a North Carolinian multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and composer who moved to Argentina in 2010. While patiently carving out a niche in the local music scene, Joe taught bluegrass and old-time for a living. That’s how he met Pau Barjau (banjo), Franco Martino (guitar) and Martin Bobrik (mandolin), his most dedicated students. They quickly became picking buddies and in 2013 decided to hit the stage.
They began as a bluegrass band, but eventually incorporated Latin American styles into their repertoire. They affectionately titled their debut album “Latingrass”, a testament to a powerful cultural and musical exchange. The band has been featured on NPR's "Weekend Edition" and have performed at the Kennedy Center.
Tickets are $15.00 for this Black Box performance and are available through the Dogwood Center Box Office, NCCA-Artsplace in downtown Fremont, or on-line at www.dogwoodcenter.com. For information, phone 231.924.8885. The Dogwood Center is located one mile east of downtown Fremont.
Local tunes, karaoke, TV and a smidge of theater
Friday night is the Halloween Shindig at NC Sportsmans Club with a costume contest starting at 730pm. We include this because we now there are costume enthusiasts among you who are always looking for an opportunity to alter your identity and channel some serious imagination.
Besides there’s Karaoke as well.
Doors open 530pm and if you come as a clown you are not our friend.
The RStop Saloon in downtown Newaygo promises “You’ve never experienced a show like this” whan Emma Loo & Sam take to the stage starting at 8pm. We know nothing about this but who can resist a come on like that?
Adam Labeaux is taking to the stage at Newaygo Brewing Co. for their Acoustic Lunch Noon to 4pm Saturday.
Yay Community Theater!
Stage Door Players in White Cloud presents ‘Anne Frank and Me’ Friday and Saturday starting at 7pm. Downtown in the Cloud.
The cool thing about community theater is the whole community thing. The chance to see folks you know giving it their all on stage.
And Mama Mia is about to descend on the Grant Fine Arts Center. The LionHeart musicals have yet to disappoint so grab your tickets while you can.
TV Notes: If you haven’t been a fan of “This is Us” the compelling and well written series that has delivered shows ranging from really good to incredible you either haven’t taken the time to watch it or feel confused because you didn’t see it from the start or prefer your TV time to be occupied by the standard crime, hospital, law firm etc. dramas that churn out formula driven scripts that always seem to substitute long meaningful looks for dialogue.
It’s in season 4 but I’m speaking to the folks who have already entered the world of binge watching and are well acquainted with the advantages of On Demand.
Pay attention if you will to the writing because it is some of the most well crafted work I have witnessed on the tube since the days of West Wing.
And Netflix releases season two of The Kaminsky Method Friday featuring Michael Douglas and the incomparable Alan Arkin. You’re either going to like this or not. If you’re around say, 50-55 years old you will likely find it entertaining.
It will be hilarious.
Got some inside knowlege about things happening in the area like live music, fun events, and such? Send us a little info about it and we'll pass it on to our readers at the next Around The Town-N3.
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