Although I grew up in Wisconsin, surrounded by greenery and water in every direction, whenever I travel back to the Midwest I am amazed at the lushness of it all.
Trees that tower overhead providing shade and cool breezes. Lakes and rivers all sparkly and bright. Truly beautiful in the summer. Totally different come November through April.
I marveled all this at my niece’s wedding a couple of weekends back. The wedding was in Traverse City, which is surrounded by both Lake Michigan and what seems like hundreds of tiny inland bodies of water.
The surrounding farmland is rich with farms that grow vegetables of all sorts and acres and acres of fruit trees, most notably cherries. In fact, Traverse City is the largest producer of tart cherries in the United States. The queen of tart cherries is the United States with the prize cherries being Montmorency cherries that have been grown in the area since the mid-1800’s.
And with all that water, fresh fish, and plenty of it is bountiful. Whitefish was even part of the entrée at the wedding,
The wedding was gorgeous. So many beautiful, young, smart people. Family who I never get to see. Happiness everywhere. And my niece was one of the prettiest brides ever.
Our dining stops were few as the wedding took up a day but we did sneak in a few bites. I didn’t take any pictures because it didn’t seem the thing to do so any photos here from the restaurants web sites.
For the rehearsal dinner we enjoyed BBQ at Blue Tractor BBQ and Brewery in Traverse City. The buffet offered a choice of pulled pork, chicken, brisket and ribs as well as mac and cheese, slaw and fresh fruit. Tasty and satisfying especially with a tumbler of bourbon.
Dinner one night was on the rooftop of a place called The Franklin. With a menu that has the proverbial something for everyone we started with clams & calamari and smoked rainbow trout for apps. There was schnitzel ordered and I believe a prime rib sandwich but I had to have the lake perch dinner.
We stopped at Milk & Honey, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor that mixed fresh fruit and other flavorings on a marble slab.
If you’ve never had lake perch please before you leave the planet try some. The Franklin’s version was sweet and light and made me wish there was more of it.
Cherry Republic, a company dedicated to all things cherry, was a must visit. The rustic looking shop is in downtown Traverse City, but there are other stores in the area. So many choices – there are samples every which way – but I only brought home a small jar of the cherry preserves.
The next day we opted for more fish, specifically walleye, a fish that is truly only appreciated in the Mid-West. Walleye is full of flavor, meaty but still tender and can be made any number of ways. We found a casual spot called Scalawag’s Whitefish & Chips that featured not just walleye but whitefish, perch, cod (not local) and shrimp in baskets or in sandwiches.
We all had the same item, a walleye sandwich, that was delish. Again, I wished for more. The fish was crispy and piping hot. There was no need for any seasoning and to put tartar sauce on the sandwich would’ve been criminal.
We took a ride out to a brewery where the kids picked up a couple of bottles to take home and then headed back into town where we ate at Slabtown Burgers.
The place, a converted house, was packed with a long line out the door. Here burgers reign and my double cheeseburger was a huge stack of savory beef, melty cheese and other toppings. The shakes were almost too thick but they were the perfect ‘Pairing.’
Thank you to my sister Nancy and family, Riene, Sam and Charlie and to brother Stan and clan.
Hope to see you soon.
We only experienced a small portion of what Northern Michigan has to offer (wineries, cideries, breweries, outdoor activities, shopping) but to everybody else out there, if you ever get the chance visit Northern Michigan….GO!