Traverse City Day 2 – Thursday, July 29, 2010
This is Part II of the second day of our vacation, which was a Self-Guided Foodie Tour, based on the establishments described on this Traverse City tourism website. We gave my iPhone GPS quite the workout! If you haven’t read Part I, then click here to do so now!
For the second half of our day of FOODIE DAY, we left Traverse City, and headed out across the Leelanau Peninsula for an epic journey. Our next tour stop was Leelanau Cheese Company in Suttons Bay. I didn’t realize this in advance, but the “cheese company” was located within the Black Star Farms winery tasting room, merely a window looking into the “creamery” where you could see cheese being made (a.k.a., a girl in an apron stirring up a bowl of ricotta-y cheese?), and a small refrigerated case filled with a modest selection of cheese. Having come all this way, we treated ourselves to a nice-looking wedge of Raclette cheese, eaten straight up, no crackers necessary. A lovely scene in which to enjoy cheese-eating, don’t you think?:
I was a bit skeptical of the “Mild Raclette,” as I’m one to enjoy a nice bold and/or sharp cheese, mild flavors need not apply. With that said, I never met a cheese I didn’t like. And I must say, I was happily surprised by this cheese! The word “mild” worried me, but I thought it had it’s own characteristic flavor (much more flavorful than, say provolone or mozzarella). In fact, Tom and I thought it tasted most similar to cheddar (of which I am a fan, the sharper the better).
The grounds at Black Star Farms in Suttons Bay were just lovely. Once you pull in their driveway, drive around the bend, you pass through rolling hills of vineyards, and are greeted by this charming Inn at the winery.
Facing away from the Inn are big classic red barns and a well-maintained farm area. There were several farm animals you could visit, and they were clearly well cared-for, and just precious:
After our exploration of Black Star Farms and Leelanau Cheese Company, we next drove to Tandem Ciders, also in Suttons Bay, hidden and off the beaten path, amidst apple orchards. Once inside, we were offered a complementary tasting of several hard ciders. The dry ciders had a bit too much of a bite for my palate, but the sweeter ones tasted as though you had taken a big chomp out of an apple.
Here is a view from the outside of the tasting room, overlooking adjacent apple orchards. We opted for a bottle of the Ida Gold hard cider to bring home with us.
Up next was a jaunt over to Leland, MI, to visit historic fishtown. We had a bit of trouble locating Carlson’s of Fishtown, but once we saw a Michigan Historical Marker down by the water, we thought we must be close. Beyond the historic marker were several shops that I want to call “shanties” for some reason, but in any case, one of them was indeed Carlson’s, our intended destination.
We opted for a generous piece of smoked salmon, and LET ME TELL YOU, it was FANNNNNTASTIC. Holy salmoncakes. Tom and I basically devoured this 0.6 lb piece, enjoyed on a bench down by the water, of course.
This was my favorite food of the Foodie Tour, I would say. I have been thinking about this stuff every day since we’ve been home! Salty, smoky and delicious. Craveable!
Behind Carlson’s, was this structure below, which I believe to be a dam?
After our time in fishtown in Leland, we next drove to Cedar, MI, to pay a visit to Pleva’s Meats. Nothing terribly exciting here (in Pleva’s or otherwise in the village), but a nice selection of sausages.
I opted for this pepperoni stick (a mere $1.50!), which was quite delicious indeed. Sorry the picture is kind of gross-looking. Just trust me on this, okay nommers?
After an afternoon of traveling all over Leelanau county, we headed back to Traverse City for the evening. Not having a huge appetite, but still a bit hungry for dinner, we went to North Peak Brewing Company for dinner, down on Front Street.
Wanting to try the beers they brew, I ordered the Beer Sampler and was able to try all 5 (descriptions from North Peak’s menu):
- “Northern Light - Light bodied and refreshing, with subtle maltiness and a golden straw color. Brewed with classic European Saaz and Hallertauer hops.
- North Peak Pale Ale - A full bodied American Pale Ale, with the aggressive flavor of fresh hops from the Pacific Northwest.
- Steelhead Red - Styled after an Irish red ale, with malty sweetness and a subtle roasted flavor. Deep red and luscious.
- Mission Point Porter - A full bodied porter with rich chocolate overtones and a pleasant hop aroma.
- Shirley’s Irish Stout - A dry stout, with lots of roasted barley and a long finish. Nitrogen dispensed for extra creaminess.”
The Irish Stout was my favorite (furthest to the right); it was, in fact, quite creamy (seems like an odd word for describing beer to me for some reason, but I’ll go with it), and almost tasted of coffee. I never though I was a big fan of very dark beers, but I think I am finding out that I actually am! – or at least maybe of stouts? Steelhead Red was my second favorite. The porter (second from the right) was accurately described as “chocolate”-y, of which I was less of a fan. It reminded me of “Dragon’s Milk” I had at Ashley’s in Ann Arbor before, which kind of freaked out my palate. But still all-in-all I didn’t mind this porter. My least favorite was the Pale Ale (second from the left), had an off-putting hops flavor. (I am a bit of an amateur in the beer world, so thanks for bearing with me, kids.)
We ordered a couple appetizers and shared (though it was a slightly agonizing decision, since I wanted to try every single one of them). My choice ended up being the Vegetarian Chili Cheese Nachos, which their menu describes as, “Blue corn tortilla chips smothered with meatless chili, cheddar, and pepper jack cheese. Served with avocado sour cream and pico de gallo.” Holy guacamole – that avocado sour cream was to die for. Everything about these nachos was delectable.
Tom’s choice was the Cherry Porter BBQ Wings. Normally I only eat boneless ‘wings,’ but I did eat one of these and it may have made me a convert. So delicious, and so much meatier than bdubs’ wings fo shiz. And as expected, the sauce was fantastic.
Fortunately, Murdick’s Fudge, just a couple blocks down, was still open later that evening, probably in order to get business from all the tipsy fudge-craving brewery-goers like us! Check this out:
I told Tom I didn’t care what kind we got, as long as it was chocolate-y. He picked out cherry chocolate nut (pecan? walnut?), and obviously it was beyond divine. In case you’re wondering, no, we did not eat this entire slice in one sitting… Though that would have fulfilled all my childhood dreams if we had, since, as a child, I used to invest a huge chunk of my saved-up allowance each summer to buy a slice of fudge and then hoard it away for days and days, eating only a tiny sliver each day.
And that, my friends, is the end of our Foodie Tour, and of Day 2 of our vacation! Hope you enjoyed.