25 December 2013

Oct 2013 MICHIGAN Up North 4 - n Search of Mario

Casual get up as usually when we are on vacation. Then a wonderful breakfast at the hotel's restaurant Minerva's. This is one of my favorite breakfasts in the world. I always get the Harvest Hash. It is the best for a pesca-vegga-tarian. It includes bunches of artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and garlic tossed with hash browns, and two eggs your way. Sour dough toast makes it perfect for me.

After that we did not have anything special in mind, so we decided to drive to the tip of the Leelanau Peninsula (up the left side of West Grand Traverse Bay). It is said that Mario Batali, one of our fave celebrity chefs, has a home on Cat Head Bay. As a "goal" for the day we would search out his place or at least find the mailbox post with Batali on it. We knew it was a long shot, but a real bonus if we found it.

Our first stop up the peninsula was Sutton's Bay. This is a quaint and lively little town with some really good restaurants for its size. If we got back here later in the day at the right time we would definitely stop at North Country Grill for their delicious double lobster tail dinner. Right now it was too early and we were too full from breakie to even think about another meal. We wondered if Mario had ever eaten here. We browsed main street and found a shop carrying yard art. Some really nice and colorful stuff.

We cruised along the bay to Northport, the biggest little town near the tip of the peninsula. If Mario needed groceries, this would be the closest spot. Again, we did a walk-about of the town and saw a little creek (maybe 3 foot wide and quite shallow). We paused for a while, gazing down into the water and were amazed to find large fish headed up stream. A nearby gift shop owner advised that they were, in fact, salmon migrating up stream to spawn their eggs for next season's babies. That was really cool. 

In Northport, we also saw an old wooden water wheel and a little winery named Motovino. There are lots of wineries and tasting rooms on this peninsula, but this one was very hip. It even had an old green Fiat parked outside (not the golf cart below) with the license plate "F 8." See more at: www.Motovinocellars.com . 

And then we LOL when we saw an antique shop name Dead People's Stuff!!

The next stop was the tip of the peninsula at Leelanau State Park and Grand Traverse Lighthouse. We visited here in May with my brother, but we wanted to see how the rock art sculptures had progressed. There were many more rock castles than earlier in the year. With winter storms arriving soon, the waves would again crash them down to a pile of random rubble. Next year visitors would start the rock kingdom again.

The grounds were also decorated with Halloweenie stuff so the kids were having a blast running around. We enjoyed the lighthouse museum which had not been open on our previous visits. There was a lot of info and photos on various Michigan lighthouses.

No sign of Mario so far, but we were getting close. Heading south, now on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula. We found signs that said Cat Head Bay Road, but, of course, there was a Private Road sign at the entrance. We could have ventured down, I guess, but we decided to honor the privacy of the residents living there and we were just sure Mario was one.

Next stop was the Woolsey Memorial Airport. We had passed by this unusual airport a number of times but never stopped. It is open to the public but not manned. It dates back to 1940 and has the FAA identifier of 5D5. It is built of field stone and very unique. Signs say "Beware of deer and birds on runway." It was fun to wander around and peek in the windows. Does Mario fly his private plane into here?? Does he even have a private plane? For more information see:  www.airnav.com/airport/5D5 .

We wound our way back to Traverse City via Empire, Michigan, where we made pit stops at Joe's Friendly Tavern for a toddy and the Grocer's Daughter for a chocolate snack. This is another place we discovered on the great Michigan TV travel show Under the RadarWe really recommend it for fabulous and unusual combinations of truffles and chocolate bark. Today I had a dark chocolate basil and sea salt  truffle. Umm good! See or order their products at: www.grocersdaughter.com .

We had not accomplished our goal to find Mario, but we felt we got pretty close. We were satisfied with that. We know one of his favorite restaurant's in T.C. is The Cook's House and it is also one of our favorites. We thought we would have dinner there this evening and make a last ditch effort to see him, but it was closed. Darn, blocked again.

We ended up at a place we had eyeballed on many T.C. trips--Sorellina. It advertises authentic Italian food and did not disappoint. I had the Caprese salad and Fusilli Fiorentina (spinach, gorgonzola, porcini cream sauce). Mike had little neck clams (with white wine and tomato) and chicken piccata. Dessert was spumoni ice cream.

We waddled back to our hotel after this wonderful late evening meal and relaxed into another good night's sleep.

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If you have visited any of these places, we would love to hear your comments. Or send us recommendations of places we should not miss.