Tag Archive | "Lansing"

Turkey-tastic events to get into the Thanksgiving spirit

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Turkey-tastic events to get into the Thanksgiving spirit


thanksgiving

As the holiday centered on food, family and giving thanks quickly approaches, we are reminded of those less fortunate.

According to the Lansing State Journal’s local events calendar, several events will be happening in the Greater Lansing area this weekend to get you in the holiday spirit of giving.

The University Christian Church is hosting a Thanksgiving Basket Ministry to collect Thanksgiving dinner fixings for families from now until Nov. 22. The church is located on 310 N. Hagadorn Road. A list of items to donate can be found on the church’s website.

Volunteers of America is putting on its annual Coats For Kids event at Eastwood Towne Center on 3003 Preyde Blvd. on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donate your gently used outerwear.

The First Presbyterian Church of Dimondale will be hosting its Stuff a “Blue Goose” food drive on Saturday, Nov. 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 162 N. Bridge St. in Dimondale, Mich. The church is collecting non-perishable and canned goods to stock their food pantry for the upcoming holiday season.

The Green Door Blues Bar & Grill will hold its 12th annual fundraising event “Breaking Bread with the Blues” at 2005 E. Michigan Ave. on Sunday, Nov. 22, from 3 to 8 p.m. They are charging $10 plus a food item per adult. Children under 15 years of age can get in for free as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a food item. All proceeds will benefit the Greater Lansing Food Bank. Music performances begin at 3:30 p.m.

According to runsignup.com, The State News will be hosting a Turkey Trot 5k on Sunday, Nov. 22, at 12 p.m. between Farm Lane and Auditorium Road on MSU’s campus. Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub will provide live music and other East Lansing businesses will have booths to hand out free stuff. Each runner will receive a long sleeve T-shirt and a gift bag at the end of the race and will be entered into a raffle to win prizes from local sponsors. Registration and check in will begin at 11 a.m. They are collecting monetary donations in addition to canned goods to donate to the food bank.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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From Sepia to Selfies: Photography exhibit opens in State library


The Historical Society of Greater Lansing opened a photography exhibit on Sept. 18, at the State of Michigan Library. “From Sepia to Selfies: 150 Years of Lansing Photography,” showcases 150 years of Lansing and East Lansing history—including the history of Michigan State University.

Vice President of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing Bill Castanier said that the idea for the exhibit came from three different sources.

The first inspiration came from the amateur photographer Clara Heldemeyer.

“She was a very advanced amateur photographer, and (the Historical Society of Greater Lansing) was given three photo albums full of her works,” Castanier said.

Heldemeyer was born in 1891, and she lived in the Lansing area until her death in 1982.  She had photographs in the World Fair of 1939, and she won a national photography award.

According to Castanier, Heldemeyer specialized in salon portraits and you can see her work at the exhibit.

“(The Historical Society of Greater Lansing) was thinking the state capital has always been a gathering place for all types of groups: from the Klu Klux Klan to the Girl Scouts. Debates, protests, and meetings happen here, and we wanted to show that,” Castanier said.

This was another source of inspiration for the display.

According to Castanier, the final reason that the Historical Society of Greater Lansing decided to open the exhibit was because one of the members had over 100 cabinet cards. Cabinet cards are 3-inch by 5-inch photographs mounted on a board that is then attached to cabinets.

Photographs were submitted from Lansing area residents, as well as from private collectors. The Clarke Historical Library from Central Michigan University loaned an exhibit that shows the evolution of photography from the time it was created to modern day.

There are also photographs from Ginger Sharp, who worked in Lansing, and was the first full-time female photographer to work at a newspaper in the United States.

“(There are) over 300 photographs on exhibit, as well as 14 display cases that have artifacts and tools. The first digital camera is on display,” Castanier said.

According to Castanier, the photos portray moments in history that people tend to forget. There are pictures of a co-ed wedding from 1915. A co-ed wedding was a mock wedding when people of the same sex would dress up and form a whole wedding party.

The majority of the photos are vernacular, or taken by amateurs, but Castanier believes that adds a rare, unique and unusual aspect to the display.

“I think there’s some photos that will startle people, and some that will make them smile,” Castanier said.

The exhibit is on the  fourth floor of the library and runs until Dec. 31. The library is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the second Saturday of every month.

 

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NEXT shows off Lansing’s young artists

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NEXT shows off Lansing’s young artists


Throughout February, the MICA Gallery in Old Town will be filled with youthful art of all shapes and sizes.

MSU advertising professor Henry Brimmer is curating NEXT, an exhibition of projects from high school and college students that are shared in hopes of instilling youthful energy in Lansing. These projects include any type of art, with everything from photography and painting to live performances being featured.

In its opening week, NEXT featured paintings, live music, live fashion models, slam poetry, and stand up comedy. A new group of talented students are sharing their work at the gallery each week until the end of February.

NEXT Exhibit openings occur at 7 p.m. on Saturday nights at the MICA gallery located at 1210 Turner Street in Old Town.

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InterCIDADES brings Brazilian art to Lansing

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InterCIDADES brings Brazilian art to Lansing


It’s a well-known fact that art is often cross-cultural, but did you ever consider that an exhibit could be international?

“InterCIDADES,” originally a Brazilian exhibition, became an international exhibition in October when it was brought to Lansing. For curator Jefferson Kielwagen, this was a very exciting time.

Rolling shadows

From “Rolling Shadows,” via the InterCIDADES Facebook page.

“This is my first time doing anything on an international scale,” he said. “It’s an art exhibit, but in a way it’s a social experiment.”

The purpose of “InterCIDADES,” which translates to “inter” and “cities” in English, is to engage, captivate and “interchange” the community through relational art and public performance. Exhibitions included “Rolling Shadows,” a demonstration about solar energy and mobility, “Blood Fireworks,” an exhibition about food energy and “Inconvenience Station,” a study on the relationship between citizens and their city.

The curators of “InterCIDADES,” in conjunction with the Joinville Cultural Foundation and Schwanke Museum of Contemporary Art, sent out an open call for Brazilian and American artists to submit exhibition ideas. The aim was to gather projects that could be performed publicly in urban areas and re-performed internationally between Joinville, Brazil and Lansing, Mich.

“What made InterCIDADES appealing was the opportunity for artists’ work to be shown and executed on foreign grounds and the chance to engage with foreign artists,” he said.

In July of 2013, InterCIDADES took place in Brazil and throughout the month of October, it was re-created in Lansing. However, this was not the first time public performance was displayed in Michigan.

Kielwagen, who is also a third-year MFA student at MSU, proposed the idea to Michael Rush, Founding Director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. In 2012, “The Broad Without Walls,” the first curated show at the Broad, was created in an attempt to engage the surrounding community prior to its completion. The exhibition followed through, but publicity was scarce.

“No one seemed to care about it. Then I came back from Brazil with the images [of “InterCIDADES” from July 2013] and everyone cared about it,” Kielwagen said.

At the beginning of Fall Semester 2013, MSU’s Department of Art, Art History and Design sent out an open call similar to the first open call released in Brazil.
As word spread, “InterCIDADES” began to ease its way into Michigan culture. However, there were a few speed bumps due to cultural differences.

Kielwagen brought “InterCIDADES” to America with hopes that our country could match the amount of money provided in Brazil for this project. He wanted to make it bigger and better, but failed to find funding on American grounds. The exhibitions were funded almost entirely by Joinville Cultural Foundation.

“Brazil is more socialist than the United States. Money for the arts is [mostly] government funded. American art seems to be focused on big names and big budgets. Museums often feel like bank vaults to me. Every gallery has a guard watching over the treasure. Art is an object and the museum is the bank. I’m trying to make sense of this,” Kielwagen said.

Despite, the cultural differences, “InterCIDADES” was completed successfully with twice the amount of volunteers as before. It not only engaged the community and its participants, but it inspired.

Dylan Wahl, an electrical engineering major at MSU, thoroughly enjoyed his experience with the art world by getting involved with “InterCIDADES.” He wrote a script for “Trade Party,” an exhibition about the relationship between Brazil and the United States and also played a role in in “Rolling Shadows.”

Since InterCIDADES, Wahl began to create public performances of his own. “Parachute Run” and “Unboxing” are his two latest exhibitions about “an irrational dream of flight and the celebration of consumption as a public ritual,” he said.

“I have wanted for a while now to develop an artistic voice, and to learn more about how public art can be organized and structured,” Wahl said, “I hope that those who experienced the work in “InterCIDADES” feel inspired to seek out more public performance art.”

The future of “InterCIDADES” is a little uncertain, but hopeful. Kielwagen shared his hopes of making it a biannual, international event.

“I want to connect the farthest city in North America to the farthest city in South America. That would be Anchorage, Alaska and Ushuaia, Argentina. It would require the cooperation of two different governments so that might just be a crazy dream,” Kielwagen said.

If this followed through it would become the only biannual art exhibition not anchored in one city. Given its progress thus far, anything is possible for “InterCIDADES.”

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Silverbells in the City 2012

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Silverbells in the City 2012


Thousands of Lansing locals of all ages gathered near the capitol to celebrate the holiday season on Friday Nov. 16.  Among the various activities was a 2.5 mile fun run, an electric light parade and of course, the lighting of the Christmas tree. Before the parade, many spectators and participants also enjoyed holiday shopping in the downtown shops and refreshments at the local bars and restaurants. Once the parade started, the sidewalks were completely filled with barely any walking room as people desperately tried to get the best view of the show.  Once the infamous Santa Clause drove by on the last float, it was time for the lighting of the tree.  Everyone relocated to the front of the State Capitol building in anticipation.  Many contributors of the event gave thanks and acknowledgement to the people who made the event happen.  As the crowed counted down, the tree finally illuminated and was accompanied by a firework spectacular.  The people of Lansing and surrounding areas watched together in awe as the Holiday season officially started.

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The Best Blues: Old Town BluesFest

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The Best Blues: Old Town BluesFest


With umbrellas and ponchos in hand, blues fans braved the rainy weather to enjoy live music and walk around Old Town, Lansing. The Old Town BluesFest took place on Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22. Although the festival originated in 1994, the music fest was restyled into Old Town BluesFest in 2002. During early evening on Friday, two stages were active with bands as another tent housed guitarists answering fan musicians’ questions. Food vendors sold delicious elephant ears and shredded pork as retail vendors sold photographs and tribal drums. But laughing, dancing attendees and little dogs in rain jackets were my favorite photo opportunities at the music festival. Maybe the best part about this fest was its price: free for all to experience!

 

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat — April

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat — April


Hello. I don’t remember what round of Global View Goes Out to Eat this is, and I don’t care. Let me tell you why: Senioritis.

I can’t make myself go to class. I haven’t done a reading in I don’t remember how long. This is the longest sentence I’ve written in a month. My friend just texted me telling me we’re going to Rick’s tomorrow night. Today is Monday.

El Oasis, on Michigan Avenue in Lansing.

So, in the true spirit of my disease (I think senioritis has been certified as such by the CDC at this point), for this month’s column I declined to actually go to a restaurant where I have to sit down, wait for food, and in general behave like a normal, civilized human being, and instead went to a food truck. But it’s a food truck that doesn’t really move, so is it even really a food truck? That is too existential of a question for my level of brain function right now.

You have probably realized that I am speaking of El Oasis, the Mexican food truck (?) located on Michigan Avenue as you head west towards the Capitol, kind of across the street from Theio’s (the place that I don’t understand why everybody loves; its takes forever to get in at breakfast which is the only time you want to go, service is super slow, and the food kind of sucks). It is in a parking lot and there is nowhere to sit down and eat there. For where I’m at in my life right now, this is ideal. For you, it may not be. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

The menu is pretty standard Mexican fare – tacos, burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas and so on. However, don’t expect Taco

Part of the (very well-priced) menu; pretty standard Mexican fare except for the beef tongue and tripe tacos.

Bell. This stuff is legit (or at least it seems legit to me, but I am not exactly a connoisseur). The food is all homemade (truckmade?) and there was a woman wearing a pink polo shirt that said “La Jefa” (The Boss) on it giving orders in the background, so all in all, the scene is pretty awesome. There was also a token hipster in line, a given with any food truck experience.

So my friend and I grabbed our food and ran back to the safety of our apartment to take pictures of it without the hipster judging us for being so lame. I had “Gregorio’s Special” (who is Gregorio?), which consisted of a beef taco and rice and beans, and I got some pico de gallo on the side because I had chips at home and I am obsessed with pico.

The taco consisted of a soft tortilla (the good kind, not the kind from the $1.50 pack you get from Meijer), ground beef, lettuce, tomato and cheese. It was definitely really great – flavorful and clearly fresh – but I had severely underestimated the size. I’m used to Americanized Mexican places where the servings are for, like, that kid in Matilda who ate the whole chocolate cake. This was for a normal person, even a not-super-hungry normal person. All of my illusions about Mexican portion size have been shattered. The rice and beans saved the meal, being kind of spicy and delicious, and most importantly, filling. I got the hot sauce on the side, but it wasn’t that great. It was a strangely electric orange color and weirdly bitter, although, it was indeed, very hot.

The pico de gallo, on the other hand, was really good – it was pretty standard tomato, white onion, cilantro (all uncooked) mixed together with some lime juice. The ingredients were definitely very fresh, probably the only really important thing about pico de gallo, but in my opinion the amount of lime juice was excessive. But what do I know? I’m just a white girl from the suburbs.

Beef taco, rice and beans. Tasted a million time better than it looks, I swear.

My friend got a small burrito (like me, she was expecting Chipotle-like sizes and so opted for a more human-like portion) and also ended up wishing she had ordered more. That being said, it was a good option for a vegetarian – it contained beans, rice, sour cream, avocado, lettuce, pico de gallo and cheese. She also got the mild sauce, which was definitely the better choice of the two sauces. It was kind of a green chili sauce with a bunch of cilantro, which is personally one of my favorite herbs.

What? You don’t have a list of favorite herbs?

Also in the plus column was price. The burrito was $3.50 and my taco plus rice and beans plus pico de gallo came out to $4.25. However, you might spend a little more if you are actually getting enough to create a whole meal – we had to supplement with the little food we have left in our cupboards (we have too much senioritis to go the grocery store).

All in all, it was a successful outing. We ate good Mexican food. We didn’t have to hide the fact that we ate it all in five minutes, since we were in the privacy of our own apartment. And most importantly, we avoided the dreaded scorn of the hipster.

Here are my conclusions:

–       Order more than you would at a more Americanized Mexican place; portions aren’t huge

–       If you own a fixie, you should ride it to El Oasis. You would fit in there.

–       Go for the mild, not the hot sauce

–       You should try either the beef tongue or tripe tacos, because they’re on the menu and I wanted to but was too scared/hungry

–       It is hard to accomplish things in April of your senior year

THANK YOU AND GOOD NIGHT!

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How Local Charities Are Working Toward a Happy Holiday for All

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How Local Charities Are Working Toward a Happy Holiday for All


By Alli Myers

What’s on your holiday wish list this year? A big reality check is usually a good thing for people around the holidays. Are you asking for too much?  There are a lot of families out there that aren’t as fortunate as others during this time. While you’re dreaming about those ever-famous sugarplums and expensive Apple products, designer clothes or a fancy new watch, there’s a little kid out there that only wants a toy truck or a Barbie doll for the holidays. Some want warm sheets for their beds, or a new jacket with all its buttons to keep warm during winter. The simplest thing could light up a child’s world this time of year through participation in the Adopt-A-Family (AAF) program run by The Salvation Army.

By adopting a family with AAF, both individual and group sponsors help to provide reasonable wish list items to a family that would otherwise have a slightly less merry holiday.

The Salvation Army website states, “Being adopted is designed to be a once or, on very rare occasions, twice in a lifetime event for recipient families.” The guidelines supplied by the Salvation Army state that only $45 is required to make a happy holiday possible for a family of two (one parent and a child). There’s no limit to the amount that the sponsor can give, but it’s surprising just how far that money can go. Of the $45 donation, just $25 can purchase several gifts for a hopeful child, leaving $20 to supply a good amount of food for the family during the holidays.

Students right here at MSU are getting involved this holiday season doing whatever they can to help bring a little joy to their neighbors.

Education freshman Kara Kavulich said that she and her family adopted a family last year, and said that it was one of the most rewarding feelings she has ever experienced.

“It felt amazing to know that I was giving Christmas to two little kids that otherwise would have seen nothing under their tree,” Kavulich said.

Grandma’s Comfort (GC) is a charity right here in Lansing that helps give to a lot of people in the community, especially around the holidays. President Diane Zimmerman is the “grandma” in the name, and is actually an MSU alumna. She founded GC on Christmas in 2005. GC started out supplying blankets but has expanded in the past several years. They now provide birthday gifts, necessities for pregnant women in shelters, comfort bags for women and children in shelters and school supplies. The organization has also helped two orphanages and one boys’ school in Haiti.

The blankets supplied are both hand made and purchased, and also donated from members of the community. GC is always accepting donations, and it is an easy way to get involved right here at school.

Zimmerman explained, “We have no employees; we have a few specialists that help us and about 60 volunteers who help wrap and make gifts.”

Whether you take the time to make a blanket or purchase something that could help a child or a family in need, anything you can do will go a long way with Grandma’s Comfort.

Another way to help out is through Toys for Tots, a well-known program that is run by the United States Marine Corps, Toys for Tots has donation stations where donors can drop off toys that will be donated to less fortunate kids for the holidays.

“I bought a couple toys to donate to Toys for Tots, and I think that is just such a great cause,” said biochemistry and molecular biology sophomore Hailey Caudill. She added that even by spending less than five dollars, she was able to get some coloring pages and crayons that she knows will bring a smile to a child’s face.

“I can’t imagine being a little kid and thinking, ‘Why didn’t Santa come visit me this year?’” Caudill said.

Even though the holidays are meant to be about family, friends and happiness, a gift here and there definitely never upset a child. Anything you can do to help out this holiday season can go a whole lot farther than you think, and the AAF, Marine Corps, Grandma’s Comfort and The Salvation Army have made it their mission to help spread holiday cheer. Stop and think about what you are fortunate enough to have this season, and think about what you can give to others to keep the holiday spirit alive!

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat – December

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat – December


New Aladdin's Restaurant, located in Frandor

Welcome back to Tengo Hambre. At least, I hope you’ve come back. I hope you didn’t read my first column and realize the truth (that I’m extremely underqualified to review restaurants) (that I should buy a thesaurus) (that I’m mostly motivated by hunger instead of journalistic integrity).

Either way, if you’re here, thanks. I appreciate it.

In Round 2 of this great experiment, I tried to make it a little easier for you guys, and I split the distance between East Lansing and Lansing to go hang out in that monstrosity of a strip mall called Frandor.

If you’ve ever been to Frandor, you know that it must have been designed by some civil engineer who either barely graduated community college or who was really smart but had an evil streak. It’s like a series of interconnected parking lots with no real way to get from one to another so you just kinda have to make it up. A successful trip to Frandor depends as much on your knowledge of sign language (to communicate with the other poor souls who find themselves there) as it does your driving ability.

But if you can get past the potential for a few minor traffic accidents, there’s some pretty good things in Frandor. Michaels – for supplies to decorate your beer pong table. A Coney Island – a good alternative for Saturday/Sunday hangover breakfast that not as many students go to. A slightly sketchy Kroger – for groceries when you just can’t take going to Meijer one more time. And of course, my destination: New Aladdin’s Restaurant, for Middle Eastern food.

When my friends and I set off for Aladdin’s, we had high hopes. It had earned 4.5 starts on Yelp! (with the all-important lone dollar sign under the price section) and great reviews about both the food and the service. And for me, it pretty much fulfilled those expectations. For my friends – some yes, some no.

We went on a Saturday night, and although it was far from full, there were enough people there to not make us nervous. We were the only students, which is pretty much standard, I’ve noticed, for places off Grand River.

The menu was pretty extensive, and pretty well priced. Pretty much anything you would want or expect from a Middle Eastern restaurant was available (with an optional side of fries – always a plus).

Three of us ordered entrees, (the ones we got were all around $8-$9, but the more expensive ones got up to about $15) and one ordered a sandwich (which was around $5). All of them came with a side (soup or salad) and the entrees included hummus and pita, which came out almost immediately after we ordered.

On the hummus front, we were divided. I thought it was pretty standard, good but nothing special, but others thought it was some of the best they’d had in a while and complimented it on being super fresh. There definitely was a lot of it, which was nice, because it lasted throughout my whole meal – which also arrived really quickly, by the way.

Clockwise from left: Fattoush salad, lentil soup, hummus, tabouli

We all ended up getting different sides (ideal for you readers out there just dying to know more about New Aladdin’s). I got the fattoush salad, with romaine, tomato, green pepper and toasted pita bits. It was hands down the best part of my meal. I could tell it was super fresh, and it had this light, lemony vinaigrette dressing that I wished I could have bought a gallon of because I would eat it on every salad for the rest of my life. Seriously.

My three friends got the tabouli salad (also super fresh, though a bit too onion-y for some of us, but perfect for others), a lentil soup (a little too lemon-y, my friend thought, but otherwise good) and one daring (aka hungover) soul went for the French fries. The one I tried was a little mushy, but I guess that’s what you get for ordering fries at a Middle Eastern place.

On to the main course. I had the yes, conservative, but ultimately good choice of chicken shwarma over rice. It was literally that – just chicken and rice – but it was really, really good. The rice was perfectly cooked, the chicken was well-spiced and delicious, and there was a lot of it. The leftovers are sitting in my fridge right now, calling to me, but I told myself I have to finish writing this before I eat them.

Chicken shwarma

My friends had varying experiences with their meals. One got the eggplant and falafel sandwich which she described as “dense” (whatever that means – I told her you guys need more varied descriptors than that but she wasn’t having it) but good. She added some turnip from another plate that she said broke it up well. The second got a vegetarian combo, which included grape leaves, falafel and mujadara (a rice, lentil, onion combination). This was not as much of a success. The falafel was deemed “nothing special – a little dry”, the mujadara “kind of flavorless” and finally – and I quote – the grape leaves were so lemony that eating them was “like sucking on a lemon-chamomile tea bag.” So. You might not want to order the grape leaves.

My last friend had kind of a terrible experience. I’m hesitant to write about it too much because I don’t think it’s typical of the restaurant but I don’t want to gloss over it, either. She ordered vegetarian cabbage rolls, which she thought tasted a little weird, but ate anyways. As we were paying, our waitress came over and apologized because – psych – the kitchen had messed up and given her the meat version. The waitress and the owner were super distraught and apologetic and rightfully didn’t make her pay, but my friend is a strict vegetarian, so it was a traumatic experience for her. I don’t think this should make you never go to Aladdin’s, because it’s the kind of mistake that I could see happening (a scribbled-down order or a too-quick glance at what was written could easily cause it), but still. Pretty big mistake.

My conclusions about this place:

–       Food was good, but order carefully – some things aren’t as great

–       They really like lemons

–       I want more fattoush salad

–       Frandor needs to install a full infrastructure of lanes, traffic lights and preferably some of those people who wave down planes at airports to direct confused drivers

–       Thank god I’m done writing this because now I can go eat my leftovers

 

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat — November

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Tengo Hambre: Global View Goes Out to Eat — November


Welcome to Round 1 of what I like to call, “Using The Big Green as an Excuse to Try Out New Restaurants.” Working title.

But let me explain. I spent a little over six months living in Washington, D.C. during last spring and summer. D.C. is a great city, and one of the many things it’s known for is its ethnic food. With the help of Yelp!, I experienced some pretty great meals – everywhere from food trucks to kinda fancy (but still within my intern budget) sit-down places and every cuisine from the ubiquitous Thai to Vietnamese, Indian, Middle Eastern and Ethiopian. I miss it. I want to go back. But I can’t afford the plane ticket.

Solution? I’m going to seek out the best ethnic places in East Lansing and Lansing, take one for the team, and go try them out. Hopefully they’ll be places you haven’t ever been to or didn’t even know existed, and you might be inspired to try one out. If not you can just be jealous of me.

Round 1 led me to Thai Village in Lansing, located at 400 S. Washington Square right near the capitol building.

I think that Lansing is underrated. I don’t know if it’s the distance, the number of options for food, the entertainment here in East Lansing, or the fact that there are not many students wandering around downtown — which the rest of us take that as some sign that we’re not allowed — but most people I know never bother to take the five-minute drive downtown.

I talked to a friend to the other day who said he had literally never been to Lansing, and he’s been here for four years. It’s kind of a shame because there’s a ton of cool stuff down there. The capitol is awesome, and you can take tours for free. There’s cool events like Oktoberfest, which just went on last month. There are coffee shops and places to study where you don’t know anybody who’s going to distract you. Most importantly: there’s good food.

The Starters

Yelp! recommendation in hand, I headed downtown with three friends on a Friday evening. If you’re worried about parking in Lansing, don’t be. There were plenty of metered spots near the restaurant, and meters in Lansing are free after 6 p.m. Thai Village looked slightly sketch from the outside, but I find that most good Thai places do. Also, have you ever noticed how all Thai restaurants have to have “Thai” in the name? I know of a Thai Inn, Thai Fortune, Thai 102, Thai Kitchen, there’s that new No Thai! Place in EL. C’mon, guys. Creativity.

We were one of only a few tables of people in there that night – not as good of a sign. Maybe they do a big takeout business? Anyways, the menu was pretty big, and we all decided on something different after a short dispute about who got to order the pad pak as I had forbidden anyone to order the same thing for the benefit of this story. By the way, I won.

I also ordered a Thai iced tea, which if you’ve never had one before, you should stop reading right now and go find some because they’re really, really good. It’s kind of like milk tea you would get at a bubble tea place but sweeter and with a stronger flavor. Basically, it’s a cold drink that consists of strong, dark tea, condensed milk and sugar, sometimes with some spices like anise mixed it. Thai Village’s Thai iced tea was definitely worthy of anything I ever had in D.C., which is to say it was great. Also, at $2, it was just about the same price as ordering a Coke and way, way better, and its creaminess is a great match for spicy Thai food.

Next up, miso soup, which came free with all of our entrees, a really nice plus. Normally, I don’t order miso soup because I’m not a fan. It’s kinda gross and watery and has that weird…miso-y flavor. I know, but still. But I had free soup in front of me, and I’m poor. There’s no way I was turning that away. And surprisingly, I really liked this variation. It was a thicker broth than I’ve seen before, and the flavor was more spicy than miso-y, and it was actually pretty hearty with tofu and mushrooms.

The Entrees

I had the pad pak for my entree, which consisted of broccoli, pea pods, mushrooms, carrots, baby corn, napa and bamboo shoots in a brown sauce. I added chicken, but if you can’t tell, I ordered it basically because it had the widest variety of vegetables and I’m usually too lazy to make anything but the occasional salad or side of broccoli for myself at home.

Sidebar: We had a serious debate about baby corn while deciding what to order. I mean, baby corn is weird, right? It looks like a tiny corncob, but you can eat the whole thing which is unnatural. It tastes good, but still, how the hell did they engineer that?

Anyway. It was really good. I ordered it hot, and it was definitely spicy but not over the top. The mix of vegetables was great and the sauce had great flavor. I’m trying to come up with another adjective to describe it other than great, but I can’t. Sorry. I’m obviously no Ruth Reichl. Basically, I’m telling you it was good so you should just go try it.

Everybody else was pretty happy with their meals as well. One of my friends had the drunken noodles (“I get it everywhere and I wasn’t disappointed,” she said. “The veggies were cooked perfectly but it could have used some more basil”), another had bell peppers and Thai holy basil with shrimp (“Could have used a lot more basil and some more shrimp, but otherwise good”) and the last had the sinn pak delight with tofu (“Delightful,” she said. Just kidding. “The tofu was cooked perfectly and the mushrooms were really good” was what she actually said).

So I guess maybe they’re really good chefs but have a basil shortage? On the plus side, the portions were huge, definitely big enough to take half home for another meal, which is basically the best part of any restaurant meal as any college student knows.

Prices weren’t bad either. Most of the entrees are between $8 and $9 for dinner and between $6 and $7 for lunch, and come with a choice of chicken, pork, tofu, beef, shrimp, scallop or squid.

Conclusions

My conclusions about this place:

–       Food was great (I don’t own a thesaurus)

–       They have a mysterious lack of basil

–       I am now craving Thai iced tea

–       I wish I still had the other half of my entrée left but I ate it at 3 a.m. the same night

–       I should probably have more vegetables in my diet

So there you have it! You should eat probably eat here if you like Thai food.

Lemme know if you have any suggestions for more places I should check out.

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