Restaurant Week: a Chance to Try Chef Dan Marsh's Great Food at Red Ginger

By MIKE NORTON

Whew! What a weekend!

First there was rain, then wind, then sunshine, and finally some long-awaited snow. But hey, it was a wonderful Cherry Capital Winter Wow!fest! I was stunned at how many people turned out night after night and day after day to defy the elements and enjoy themselves. You folks amaze me!

Now we can start planning for the 2012 Wow!fest, right?

Ah, but that would mean we've got nothing else to do - and even though there's only one more week left in February, there's still a lot going on in Traverse City. (Does anybody remember when this used to be our quiet season?)

Just for one example, as many as 150 snowmobile racers are expected to turn out on Saturday to Blaze a Trail -- a major snowcross event at the  Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel. The event will be part of the 2011 Michigan Snow X Series. Gates will open at 8 am; the races begin at 9:30 and go until around 5 pm. Admission is $10 at the gate, and entitles you to a $10 E-credit at the casino (you have to be at least 18) and a $5 Coupon towards the Season's Buffet or Bourbons 72 Restaurant.   Children 6 years & under are admitted free.

A Food & Beverage Tent and a Beer Tent will be open on the grounds from 9am until racing ends, and the Turtle Creek Casino & Hotel is offering an  $89 per room, per night special. If you're interested in more information, call 800-922-2WIN or visit www.turtlecreekcasino.com.

Speaking of specials, next week (Feb. 27 through March 5) is Traverse City's first-ever Restaurant Week. Most of you know that TC has been getting all kinds of national accolades lately as a "foodie" town. Well, here's a chance to try some of that amazing cuisine at a very reasonable price. During Restaurant Week,  15 of our  finest restaurants will offer special three-course dinners especially prepared for this gourmet week for only $25 per person.

Participating restaurants include Amical, the Blue Tractor Cook Shop, The Boathouse, The Cook's House, Hanna Bistro, Jolly Pumpkin, Lil Bo Pub & Grille, Minervas, Mission Table (Friday & Saturday Only), Mode's Bum Steer, North Peak Brewing Co., Patisserie Amie/Chez Peres, Phil's on Front, Red Ginger and Trattoria Stella.

Restaurant Weeks like this one are becoming increasingly popular in communities all over the country, and the Downtown Traverse City Association decided that the Traverse City region would be a natural fit.

"We're excited see Traverse City Restaurant Week grow and become not only a community favorite, but also a tourist attraction in an otherwise slow time of year," said DDA marketing director Colleen Paveglio. And if that $25-a-plate menu isn't enough incentive, diners who participate in Restaurant Week and also enter to win a prize package that includes $50 gift cards to each participating restaurant.

Visit the downtowntc.com website for further information on participating restaurants and menus.