Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I am a Fudgie

And you probably are too. If you don't know what a fudgie is, ask someone who has been to Northern Michigan. The first two days of traveling in way Northern Michigan were productive for both working and eating. Some helpful locals and lucky stops led to the following:

Day 1 - Drive up from Cleveland: Stopped for gas and ran into The Jerky Outlet at a gas station (Pure coincidence, I swear.). The Outlet purported to have the second largest jerky selection in the United States. Not sure of the exact location, but I imagine all seven are similar. Surprisingly, I left empty handed, but the selection for a small gas station market was ridiculous. Also present were various smoked and hacked up fish. See for more information.

Day 1 - Dinner: The Village Inn at the Pellston Regional Airport. I've never gone to an airport just to eat. Some airports have surprisingly good food, but to actually go to an airport to dine was a whole new experience for me. It was worth it, although the place bordered on too swanky. There are about twelve thousand Village Inns in the area, and I imagine the quality varies. I think the one I went to is part of this Village Inn conglomerate: It was not at a typical airport, and there was no need to go through security. I got Planked Whitefish, which appears to be one of the official dishes of the area. It was great. A large fillet of fresh Whitefish (Actually a fish called "Whitefish," not the generic term--,1607,7-153-10364_18958-45680--,00.html, purportedly delivered daily.) on a maple plank/platter surrounded by duchesse potatoes (mashed, mixed with stuff, and piped), a neat broiled tomato thing, and some more carefully cut vegetables. Also nice was that they accommodated my vegetarian companion graciously. Finally, they served a great draft of Stout from Michigan. Overall a great, if not a little different, experience. May not be the local hole in the wall, but really enjoyable nonetheless.

Day 2 - Lunch: Pellston Market ( Amazing. Pellston is a small strip of a town with a 40 mph limit on the main street, but if you don't blow by it, Pellston Market is a great gourmet market/sandwich shop. The first thing I noticed walking in was a table full of heirloom tomatoes and a cooler with things like racks of lamb and gourmet cheeses. Then there was the lovely proprietor, who recommended a steak sandwich (I asked her to choose between the steak, pork tenderloin, and turkey for me.). While the sandwich choices may sound somewhat ordinary, this place was also serving a delicious sounding duck soup, and everything came with organic greens-- all in a town with a population of less than 800, and it's not a pretentious town. The sandwich was great, as was the service. I can't say enough.

Day 2 - Snack: Suzy's Pasties, St. Ignace (over the Mackinac Bridge). Admittedly not my first choice, but the time of day limited the choices. It did, however, fit my criteria--it had cheese curds and smoked fish. The cheese curds were from Wisconsin, and while they weren't bad, it was no Tillamook factory ( As for the smoked fish, the jury is still out. Is it okay to smoke fish with maple? Who knows. Only trout was available when I was there. Also, back on the Lower Peninsula, I had some free sample fudge in Mackinaw City--it was good, but I don't think I could handle a pound of it.

Day 2 - Dinner: Keyhole Bar. Right in downtown Mackinaw City, a town that exemplifies the unique Great Lake lakeside town atmosphere, it may look like the least family friendly place short of the tattoo parlor, but it was great. Flawless--no, but definitely great. Again very accommodating to the veggie companion, and also another purveyor of fine Whitefish. This time, the Whitefish was blackened Jamaican style (For more on the Jamaican-Northern Michigan connection, apparently the place to check out is the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island. I was informed that it may not be so "grand" for everyone.). The Whitefish couldn't have been better, but I could have done without the canned veggie mixture on the side. The seemingly premade coleslaw was fine, and the fries were good. The atmosphere could be slightly off-putting, or welcome, depending on what you're looking for. Either way, the service is friendly, and they seem like they really want you to enjoy the meal, which isn't hard to do. I'd go back, and hope I have the chance.

Day 3 - . . .

Not incidentally, the picture is from Wikipedia (, and Wisconsin is not as close as it looks (to the Lower Peninsula).

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