phobicfoodie

My Year of Adventurous Eating

The Phobicfoodie Returns! July 16, 2011

Two whole weeks of silence!

It’s inexcusable, really.

I betcha y’all thought I ate some bad shrimp and died a long, agonizing and seafoody death by shellfish!

Well, I didn’t and I really don’t have a very good excuse for not writing over the last two weeks.

But, the Phobicfoodie went on vacation!

We drove out in Handsome Hubby’s bouncy, noisy old truck (the one without any air conditioning and no back seat in which to keep vital road trip necessities such as entertainment, jackets, pillows and SNACKS!!!) across the hot, flat, grassy plains, past towns with names like Beaver Crossing and Humphry, through Chicago (where we shared two amazing meals with some good friends and their hilarious and incredibly lanky three-year-old son) and around the south end of Lake Michigan until we reached the town of Saugatuck (where we met up with Hubby’s mother and her friend…who has a sailboat!)

Upon reaching Saugatuck I promptly did three incredibly stupid things all at once, which is something of a record, even for me.

1) I did not wear sunscreen even though I was sitting in the back of a sailboat under a blazing sun

2) I did wear sunglasses that cover half my face, which resulted in a sunburn which looks like this:

Aaaauuughhh!!  Goggle eyes!!!

Stupidest.  Sunburn lines.  Ever.

Stop laughing at me!

Ok, laugh.

3) Last but not least, so great was my fear of sea sickness that I took the maximum dose of Dramamine immediately after setting foot on the boat, and slapped a Scopolamine patch behind my ear.

I had never taken Dramamine before.

An hour into our Great Sailboat Experience, I found that I could barely keep my eyes open.

“I jusss…don’ unnerstann…why ahm sssho shhleepy!

“Are you drunk?!?

I zonked out and slept the sleep of the dead for two hours.  I woke groggy and out of it, but didn’t experience even the slightest smidge of seasickness!

We watched an amazing fireworks show over the harbor.  Saugatuck puts on a heck of a fireworks show! 

The next day it was a wonderful breakfast, a ride on a chain ferry, a ride in a jet boat, and a hike up Mount Baldy!  Oh, and did you know I have a boutique in Michigan?

From Saugatuck we drove east to Ann Arbor where we had dinner with Grandma and Hubby’s aunt.  Then, being the complete and total nerd that I am, we had to go see the original Borders Bookstore!

We left Ann Arbor in the afternoon started back west, toward Concord, Parma and Jackson.  In Jackson we met up with Hubby’s dad and brother for dinner.  Along the way we saw Sandhill Cranes in a field, and a wild turkey with three little baby turkeylets in tow.

(Ok, somebody tell me what a baby turkey is really called!

Oh.  Apparently the word is poult.  Well that’s no fun!)

We stopped in Jackson to see Cascade Falls…it’s a giant fountain with lights that change color.  They play music in the evenings and light the whole thing up!

Next we headed out to Kalamazoo, where we had delicious beer at Bell’s Brewery and experienced with boozy delight a fantastic magic show put on just for us by Hubby’s friend the Magician.  We call him Master John, and he showed us what is to date the coolest card trick I have ever seen!  I can’t even begin to describe the trick here, but if Master John ever puts on a show in your area make sure you go and see him!

Prepare to be amazed!

I love magic.  A well-executed sleight of hand is just the bee’s knees!

From Kalamazoo we headed back out to the lake for more beaches, booze and babes!

Well, maybe not that last part.

We landed in the town of Ludington where we experienced more than our fair share of outrageously good ice cream, delicious food, amazing sunsets, canoeing, and a long hike on the beach at dusk (and a long hike back by moonlight).

Also, it being time for the next installment of the Phobicfoodie adventure, I tried some perch.

Perch is a small freshwater fish which is found on just about every menu in Michigan!  It’s a white fleshed fish with a slightly sweet flavor and mild fishiness.  It arrived battered and deep fried and so fresh it had curled while it cooked.   I had to make Hubby peel the skin off my bite while I looked the other way.

Ugh.  Fish skin.  Eeww.

There I am with my stupid sunburn lines and a forkful of fish.

But wait!  Is that a hamburger on my plate?!?

Umm.  Yes.  Yes it is.

You see, traveling wreaks havoc on my digestive system and even with all the delicious foods to devour on a nightly basis, I try to be careful not to eat anything that might upset the precarious balance.  The last thing I wanted to do was eat a plateful of fish and then feel cruddy and not be able to eat any more fish ever again!

Or maybe I was just on vacation, and I wanted to eat what I wanted to eat and not what this dumb Project dictates I should eat.

I’m such a wuss!

I am ashamed.

But in any case, I tried the perch.  It was fishier than the tilapia and I can’t say that I loved it but I certainly didn’t mind it and I think I could probably work my way through a serving of it and be ok.

Except for the skin.

But as long as I have Hubby around to take care of that for me, all will be well!

From Ludington it was on to Leland for some rock hounding on the beach!  We found fossils, fossils everywhere!  And a couple of Petosky stones (which you can find in just about any gift shop on the northern end of the Lower Peninsula, but which are sooo much cooler if you find them yourselves!).

Next we hit Traverse City just after the Cherry Festival (which is kinda a big deal around there…) and sampled cherry wine, cherry soda, cherry pie, dried cherries, cherry beer, cherries with chicken, and just plain ol’ fresh, ripe sweet cherries.

Yum.

By this time we were getting pretty vacationed out, and decided it was time to start working our way back down the coast.  We spent another night in Ludington, where we saw this:

Apparently this happens once every year, and we happened to show up just in time!

I gotta tell ya, this kind of put me off fish for a little bit.

There were millions of them!  Piles and drifts of them!  And where the Lake couldn’t quite spit them out far enough onto the sand, there were rafts of them 10 feet long just floating in the water.

Blech.

While we were in Ludington, we realized we had skipped Sleeping Bear Dunes, so we headed back up the coast a ways and hiked around in the sand.  From the top of the dunes you can’t see the dead fish on the beach anymore, but you can see the beautiful blue waters of Lake Michigan and some of the most beautiful views ever!

To further round out the drive back home, we stopped off in Holland where we didn’t see a single windmill or tulip or wooden clog, but did see some boys slack lining on the beach and joined them for a bit.

Last we stopped at Indiana Sand Dunes!  We poked around in the hot sand at the top of the dunes to see if there were any fulgurites (glass formed when lightning hits sand) but didn’t have any luck, and after a bit we headed down to the beach to dip our burning toes in the icy water.

From there it was the long (and muggy!  And windy…) drive back to Colorado.

The view below was by far the highlight of the trip back.

A tanker truck full of coffee?!?  Shangri La!

(I just want to note that Hubby took all the best photos in this post.  But not this one.  Which is why they are all so beautiful and this one is not.  Oh, and then there’s those pictures of me…people with glow-in-the-dark raccoon eyes do not make for beautiful pictures.  But that’s not Hubby’s fault.  Anyways, you can go to http://www.jamesbeissel.com/ to see more of the best of his work!)

In all it was such a fun trip…we saw family, spent a lot of time in the sun and on beaches, sailed for a bit, hiked a fair amount, went canoeing, and enjoyed plenty of local flavor! 

We hit up a lot of amazing restaurants during our trip but here are a few of the standouts:

Wishbone Chicago, IL (http://www.wishbonechicago.com/): Fresh, wonderful food using local ingredients, the menu is Cajun inspired and features entrée’s like blackened chicken or catfish, crawfish cakes, hoppin’ john or hoppin’ jack, and decadent sides like cheesey grits, sautéed spinach, and collard greens with smoked turkey.

Bakin’ and Eggs Chicago , IL  (http://www.bakinandeggschicago.com/): Hearty but not heavy breakfasts featuring plenty of bakin’, bacon, and eggs!  Try the Caprese Frittata (lots of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil!) or the Chilaquiles.  The Bacon Flight features seven different flavors of bacon.

Crane’s Pie Pantry Fennville, MI (http://www.cranespiepantry.com/):  The Most.  Amazing.  Pie.

The Elbo Room Saugatuck, MI (http://www.elboroombistro.com/):  More fresh, delicious breakfasts!  The Breakfast Club Sandwich is like a BLT with eggs.  Delish!

Cake Nouveau Ann Arbor, MI (http://www.cakenouveau.com/home.html):  Featured on the Food Network, this pastry artist makes whimsical cake sculptures that defy gravity!  If you don’t really need a whole cake, spring for some cake truffles:  cake bits and frosting mixed and formed into balls then dipped into coatings.  Moist, rich and delicious!  Or, for something that’s really out of this world, try a Danger Bar:  It’s brownie, caramel, sugar cookie and rice krispy treat, all in one dessert!

Bell’s Brewery Kalamazoo, MI (http://www.bellsbeer.com/):  It’s really more about the beer, but they serve food too!  It’s a good thing too.  Bell’s brews and bottles beers that pack a big wallop of alcohol under sneaky deliciousness.  Two beers and you’re tanked!

Jamesport Brewing Company Ludington, MI (http://www.jamesportbrewingcompany.com/):  Awesome pub fare with a local twist.  Deep fried perch is a Michigan standard!  Round out your meal with more delicious, local beer!

House Of Flavors Ludington, MI (http://www.houseofflavors.com/restaurant/):  Definitely try some of the best ice cream you’ve ever had, served in generous scoops (sometimes in a pig trough!).  The food is fantastic too!  If you leave Michigan without trying the Turkey Dinner Sandwich (fresh roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and homemade stuffing piled on thick-sliced fresh baked white bread and smothered in delicious gravy) you will have missed out on something truly amazing! 

Redolencia Ludington, MI (it doesn’t appear to have a website, but it’s easily the best cup of coffee you will find in Ludington!  ‘Nuff said.)

Stubbs Sweetwater Grill Northport, MI (http://stubbsrestaurant.com/):  More pub fare, but surprisingly fresh with lots of local flavor!  The Tempura Chicken with Michigan cherries was a tart but tasty dish, and the grilled chicken pita with hot, fresh, homemade potato chips really hit the spot!

North Peak Brewing Company Traverse City, MI (http://www.northpeak.net/np.html):  The Cherry Wheat beer is a light, tart seasonal brew that was worth making the trip to Michigan for!  To make things even better, the food was incredible.  The Herb Roasted Chicken had been brined into juicy, tender, savory submission, and was served alongside smoked gouda mashed potatoes and fresh sautéed veggies.  Hubby had the walleye sandwich: fluffy pieces of white-fleshed fish dipped in herb batter and deep fried to crispy brown perfection.  It even looked good to me!

Morsels Traverse City, MI (http://www.morselsbakery.com/):  The slogan says it all: “Two bites too good to share!”

There’s more, but that oughta be enough to getcha started.  If you haven’t been convinced that you need to take a week to eat your way across western Michigan, you should be!

Coming up soon:  The next food for the Phobicfoodie project!

Thanks for waiting for me.  It’s good to be home!

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