If you are sick of my talking about our recent trip back to
our home waters in Michigan, here is a break!
Still about Michigan, but a different
tact. Sort of like the old Monty Python's Flying Circus -
"And now for something entirely different!"
Have you ever noticed the things
you remember about living or visiting somewhere can
be really big things, or really tiny things? For example,
the very first live, cooked-while-you-wait lobster for me
was in Portland Maine on the wharf. I will probably have
that memory for a long time. Lobster rolls are pretty
great too, but here on the left coast the only thing anyone
equates as a 'lobster roll' is an egg-roll kind of thing at
a national seafood chain eatery. So the next time I have
a real lobster roll will require being on the northeast coast.
We had similar oddities on the last trip.
Once we picked up the rental car and got on the road, JC
began muttering something about perch dinners. And
where did I know of where he could get one. Geese, I
hadn't been in Michigan for twenty years - how should
We headed north, and now besides
a hankering for a perch dinner, I begin to hear the words
Pinconning Cheese. I like cheese, and we know some Pinconning
Cheese is made somewhere is Wisconsin. Must be a well-guarded
secret, because as much cheese as we have eaten over the
years we have never found one that comes close to the
Pinconning Cheese. And trust me, we have tried. We are
on a hunt for the holy grail now! Cheese and a perch dinner.
The main cheese store in the town
of Pinconning was closed. Drive on. Up ahead another
cheese sign. And they're open. Taste test time. And
yes, JC finds THE one. And it is made right here - not in
Wisconsin. Cool. A slab of that, wrapped in butcher
paper and tied with string. Boy, how long has
it been since you got anything tied with string?
On the shelf, behind the counter,
another wonderment! Pickled bologna. Beautiful plump
pink rings of it! Packed in a five gallon jar. Too much,
could I please have just a ring of it? Done deal, also
wrapped in white butcher paper and neatly tied with
string. (And a bow too.)
Any chance you do mail-order? Well,
they do and you can call for their catalog (the pickled bologna
is on the list too) call 517-879-2281. They also have gift packs
for the holidays.
JC asks the gal waiting on us about
a good place for a perch dinner. You are absolutely right,
when he gets something on his mind it just keeps gnawing
away until it is satisfied. (He calls it being focused.)
Marvel of marvels, yes, just half a
block back the way we came in. JC got his perch dinner.
One of several on this trip. His problem being he used
to catch perch and remembered how they tasted.
(Or how he thought they tasted.) And he kept trying to
get the fish and the taste right. Even had deep fried smelt
one night after fishing. He said he couldn't tell the smelt
from the french fries.
All of the restaurant perch were fillets.
When he used to catch and clean them, they were
cooked in the round, with bones. Perch are a sweet white
fleshed fish, with a distinct flavor. Maybe cooking them
with the bones does add something. Poor JC got his fill of
fish, and never just quite right.
We took a trip over to Traverse City
Michigan, partially to put some closure on some family matters.
One of the stops was the Wilson Cherry Orchard. We bought
a box of sweet black cherries, and inhaled them all on the way
back to Grayling. You can buy them on the highway here in
Washington, (actually I think they are cheaper here,) but the
ones from Mission Point were as fresh as they could possibly
be. Sweeter from being there.
Dinner on the way back was a real treat
too. Those who live around the Great Lakes may be familiar with
Mountain Jack's Steakhouse. This apparently is a
chain of about a dozen restaurants. The one we stopped
at was in Acme, right on the shore of Grand Traverse Bay.
We went there on the recommendation
of Kelly Galloup who has the Troutsman Fly Shop in Traverse
City. A really nice fly shop - you may remember Kelly's
Zoo Cougar on our Fly
of the Week.
Our dinner companion was quite unusual
too. On the way in, JC carefully plucked a immature mayfly from
the wall. Once seated, the Hex was gently placed on the edge of
his salad plate. Over baked Brie with roasted garlic we watched
him molt. The waitress asked if we would like the mayfly removed,
and JC told her, "No thanks, we brought him with us, we haven't
seen one of these in a long time."
Thanks Kelly! The food and service
- and view of wind surfers skimming across the waves - were
super. I will pass your recommendation of Mountain Jacks on!
By the way, Michigan restaurant prices are about 1/3 less than here
on the west coast. Nice surprise. Actually came back under budget!
As much as I've poked fun at JC and
his food quirks on the trip, I had something I've not had in
years. Fresh Lake Superior Whitefish. Wonderfully
prepared, and not a scrap left on my plate. And that was at
a place known for it's fine beef!
So our memories from living in Michigan
years ago were not just about our 'home waters.' Some of
those memories were the people and places. And maybe not
surprisingly, the food.
By the way, our lovely male Hex did fly
off into the rafters once his wings dried. On our way leaving
Mountain Jack's, JC found a nice female Hex, took her back
inside and turned her loose. Hope they found each other.
Now there's this place on the way to
Montana that has the best barbeque . . .~Deanna Birkholm