Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year, New Blog

I had every intention of starting this blog in Summer 2012...alas, time got away from me and now it's 2013. Thus, I will begin with adventurous memories from July 2012!
Jeremy and I traveled to Traverse City this past July. Along with staying right on Lake Michigan and swimming in the warm water, we made a grand tour of the Old Mission Peninsula vineyards. Our first stop was 2 Lads Winery. Beautiful location perched high on a hill, you could see for miles from this vantage point. We were not disappointed by their selection, and purchased a few bottles ourselves: Cabernet Franc (can't tell you the vintage, we consumed the bottle shortly after returning home); Rose 2011 and my personal favorite the 2010 Reserve Chardonnay (chock full of velvet buttery caramel goodness)! Don't let the screw cap fool you, this stuff is no joke!
Next on our stop was Peninsula Cellars. Situated in an old one room schoolhouse, they offered a wide selection of various reds and whites. We walked away with a bottle of cherry wine (just like cherry pie) and a couple of bottles of Manigold Gewurztraminer (a dry spicy variety).

I do have to give a shout out to Red Mesa Grill in Traverse City. We were silly and didn't take pictures of the delicious food, and absolutely wonderful Margaritas. Everywhere was packed due to the annual cherry festival, so we opted for the restaurant across the street from our hotel. Despite being a small chain, we had a deliciously wonderful time.

Black Star Farms was the largest winery on our tour. We stopped at the tasting room on Old Mission Peninsula. Walked away with a 2011 Pinot Noir Chardonnay, which was quite tasty. And they let you keep your tasting glasses for a souvenir. The following day we stopped at their main location in Suttons Bay. We didn't go to the tasting room, but ate lunch at the Hearth and Vine Cafe, featuring all local grown/acquired eats. We had caprese salad and a wild mushroom/asparagus/goat cheese brick oven pizza. Both were fantastic. The cafe is situated downhill from the inn, surrounded by green hills, gardens and an abundance of farm animals. They also have a cheese making room, which of course we bought a sampler for a buck.

Continuing on our journey of Leelenau Peninsula, we made a pit stop at Tandem Ciders. We tried all of their hard ciders--and they are all delicious. A very low key little joint, we had a wonderful time chatting with the barkeep, and shortly after we arrived it became amazingly crowded. We took home a growler and a bottle of two different varieties. If ever in the area, please visit them, you won't regret it!

We settled for the night in Glen Arbor, MI, just outside Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. We had made prior reservations (a must for summer) at the Sylvan Inn. A bit bigger than a B&B, we were warmly greeted, our room was lovely and just a short walk away from the lake front. And of course it's situated right at the end of the main drag of Glen Arbor--restaurants and shops within 5 minutes. How can you beat that?!

 And of course, with any trip you have to visit an award winning restaurant. We chose Blu in Glen Arbor. Chef Randy Chamberlain has definitely created a wonderful oasis. This small, elegant restaurant sits on the shore of Lake Michigan. The sunset lights up the dining room. A very romantic spot indeed, if you're into that. One of the reasons we (or Jeremy) decided to go here is due to the fact sweetbreads were featured on the menu. He had to have it (and I have to admit I had to try it).

We ordered two different appetizers: Escargot in butter, Pernod and parsley, and of course sweetbreads in puff pastry with some kind of demi-glace (forgive me, but since this was in July, and we devoured this in about 5 minutes, I don't remember what kind of sauce, but it was finger-lickin good)!

I have never eaten offal, never had any intention of trying it, but...OMG, sweetbreads are amazing! And probably horribly bad for you, but nevertheless heaven in your mouth. The escargot were great too, but the sweetbreads...if you eat meat, you must try them sometime. That is all.

 We had salad too. And it was delicious. Now on to the mains: I had Tasmanian salmon en croute with scallops, basil and tomatoes (pictured right); Jeremy had duck confit, the house specialty. As evidence by the card he received indicating he was the 2,985th customer to eat the duck confit. Although my dinner was delicious, with not a speck left, Jeremy was the winner in terms of ordering the best food. Duck confit is incredible, and done oh-so-properly by Chef Randy (who did come around to every table and say hello).
And to top off the scrumptiously pretentious dinner, we had to have a highfalutin dessert; but of course they had creme brulee--an all-time favorite of mine. And it was as perfect as creme brulee can be. Needless to say, we were very happy that we were not using sparkpeople or lose it or weight watchers at the time...I don't think you would have any calories/points left in your bank for the rest of the year. Maybe two.

Phew! All this reminiscing of delicious food makes me want to relive it all over again!

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