Ride Lake Superior Day 6: Munising to Copper Harbor

Today started out glorious, sunshine in abundance. So welcome after all the cold and gloom we had in Canada. We packed up the bike, filled the coffee mugs, next destination – Copper Harbor.

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Along the way to Copper Harbor, you have the opportunity to ride up and through Marquette. We chose to bypass the college town and just continue along our way. There is a Harley dealer just on the outskirts of Marquette, where we did stop and check out. Nice thing about the dealers, they always have coffee and clean potties!

Then we continued along Hwy 41 until we hit the city of Houghton, Michigan, a cute little town on a waterway. It was a perfect distance to get off and stretch our legs. They had a cool surplus store on the main street and we grabbed an unremarkable lunch at the Downtowner Lounge in Houghton. But, the view was pretty, and they had a huge outdoor bar/patio. From there, we continued north to Copper Bay. This is some GORGEOUS scenery as you travel lakeside and inland.

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You have a choice of which Harbor to stay in along this leg. (I neglected to mention in Day 5 [click on the highlighted link] you can choose to stay in either Munising and Marquette. Unless you have a passion for college towns, I recommend staying where we were. It was just too beautiful to pass by.) On this particular leg of the trip you can choose between Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor. Copper Harbor is the northern most point of Keweenaw Peninsula, with Eagle Bay lying to the west. We chose Copper Harbor and stayed at The Bella Vista Motel, on the water.

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This was a LOVELY little place to stay. If I did this ride again, I’d choose to stay here 2 nights. It was such a wonderfully friendly, intimate accommodations and town, where plenty to do was in walking distance. On the main drag, they had a cool little Brewery and tasting room, where we happened to meet the Harbor Master and local Mayor!

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When in town, even if you’re merely traveling through, its worth a stop at the Habor Haus Restaurant and B&B. The food is AMAZING and it is only open in the summertime. Here is a sampling our our delicious eats:

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Fois gras? Fresh Seafood? Amazing Cesare Salad and deliciously prepared fresh veggies? Oh yeah baby! Whatever you do, if the soufflé is on the menu, you MUST try it! It ROCKED. And bikers, no worries. While this is white tablecloth, I think you’d feel perfectly comfortable in jeans. I did pack some leggings (I’m a girl after all), but hubby was clad in jeans and riding boots. Food this good isn’t to be passed by easily. And I would honestly make a trip back, just to have some of this good grub in a breathtakingly beautiful setting.

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To wrap up a perfectly perfect day, Hubby built me a bonfire. He knows I love them, and the motel grounds had a lovely bonfire pit with all the makings, and a wooden swing close by.

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That wraps up Day 6.
Up next: Day 7 – Copper Bay, MI to Bayfield, WI.


Traveling in Florence? Try the Lampredotto!

Traveling in Florence? Try the Lampredotto!

Traveling with my daughters, we pretty much stuck to sitting down to eat, due to the difficulty of finding any gluten free street food. It just doesn’t exist. However, while in Italy, my daughter was telling me, an adventurous eater, that I would enjoy trying the Lampredotto, which is sold on the streets in the piazzas around town. So, we made a point in our exploration of the city to stop at a street side kiosk. I bought mine in the Piazza della Signoria.

If you question whether boiled cow gut can be delish, yes it can! If you like beef short ribs, with the unctuous and savory gelatinous cartilage, you will love this. It isn’t quite gelatinous like cooked cartilage can be, and it definitely has a soft, but chewy texture. The vendor asked me how I wanted it, I just told him to do it like the locals eat, that means with the green salsa and chili sauce. I’m always astounded at how simple food can be so incredibly complex. The pairing of the savory, soft and chewy Lampredotto was balanced out by the sharp, green and fresh taste of the salsa and the very slight bite of the chili. The bread was crunchy crispy on the outside, but soft and sturdy on the inside, sturdy enough not to fall apart while walking and eating.

I marvel at the talent and resourcefulness of other cultures who do not let any part of the animal go to waste, taking what we Americans see as discards or only fit for dog food, and turning it into a cultural treat. Centuries of testing out culinary methods to make tripe terrific is a testament to the people of this town! (well, not exactly tripe, tripe is the first stomach, Lampredotto is made from the last stomach in the digestive tract)

So if you get to Florence, which is known for this simple street sandwich, I recommend giving it a try. If you click on the photo, it will take you to a youtube video of a chef explaining how to make one.

Mangia!


A Cravings kind of night

Recently, hubby and I enjoyed a wonderful Wine Dinner at our local favorite privately owned and run restaurant Cravings Wine Bar & Grille. I found this wonderful little gem quite by happenstance. A few years back we won a wine tasting for 8 at a charity auction. When after arriving at the wine shop to schedule the tasting, I noticed this restaurant located two doors down. Both were located in a newer development in the city, you know, one of those awkward strip sort of malls that faces inward, with it’s back to the road? It was hard to see easy and to forget. I recalled had driven by it many times, thinking, ‘we should try this place’, but forgetting once I had driven past! The auctioned ‘wine tasting’ was just that, tasting, no food involved. It was just so conveniently convenient for me to be able to make reservations for my little group at this establishment following the tasting. And that is how we found this little treasure of artisan food in the midst of the sea of ‘chain’ restaurants dominating our town.

It was on one of our spontaneous ‘grab a bite’ evenings that we found ourselves sitting at the bar, chatting with the owner and his daughter who were both working the counter that night. They were discussing with another patron the Wine Dinners they host. They invite in a featured vineyard, for which their Executive Chef then pairs food courses with the featured wines. This particular evening featured the wines of Rombauer Vineyard. Does that ring a bell with any foodies? If you have a Joy of Cooking, take a peek at the spine and you’ll find the name “Rombauer”! It was a delightful evening, starting with the ‘menu’ card teasing us and whetting our appetites with the courses to come.

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I apologize I don’t have a photograph of the first course, we were distracted meeting our table-mates, a lovely couple from the area.  It consisted of 3 samples of artisan cheese, a small puddle of extremely delicious fruity olive oil and matching one of truffle oil, along with three perfectly baked, crunchy, crispy crackers. The second course was delicious. The Burratta was incredibly fresh and creamy, the heirlooms sweet and perfectly ripe. The peppery bite of arugula tamed the richness of the cheese. I loved the addition of Kalamata to the vinaigrette, that saltiness was needed to bloom the cheese on the tongue, and counter balance the arugula.

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This second course was followed by a Squash Bisque. Honestly, words cannot begin to do justice to the perfectly balanced, not sweet, but not too savory perfection in that tiny little bowl. The ravioli was delicious, but the bisque was TO DIE FOR! If I didn’t have manners, I would have licked the bowl clean. I. KID. NOT.  Oh, the temptation was there, and I was not the only one. The patron across from me agreed it was bowl licking good, as we both nodded in unison!

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Thankfully the cleaned bowl was quickly whisked away, so I was saved from THAT embarrassment. Next course they placed in front of us was a luscious lamb ragout over perfectly cooked polenta. The Cabernet pairing was spot-on perfect. The lamb was slightly tangy, with a hint of sweetness and richness that was counter-balanced by the tannin-y earthiness of the wine.

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After four ‘out of the ballpark’ hits, I looked forward to how the Chef would present a ‘Mess’. Another home-run! Whipped cream, sweetened by honey; intensely flavor packed blackberry and raspberry coulis; fresh berries and an almond mess that was crunchy, slightly sticky, providing a needed textural crunch to offset the velvety richness of the whipped cream. Genius!

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I would like to point out that the slight weeping of the cream is not the fault of the chef. No, it is entirely my fault, as I was so distracted by the enjoyable conversation with my lovely table companions, the tipping of a glass of wine (not by me, thank goodness), and the raffling off of a signed copy of the Joy of Cooking, I forgot to grab a picture! Realizing my lapse, I went to the kitchen and the staff graciously made another for me to photograph. I am always impressed with excellent service and consistent, above average food, which in combination can be difficult to find nowadays. But, to have a kitchen staff be so friendly and accommodating, raises my appreciation and admiration to a whole new level.

As the evening wrapped up, Clyde Gilbert from the Rombauer Vineyards sat down with us to answer any questions we had, and the staff brought around flyers for the next tasting in November. The next event will be the Terlato Family Vineyard, and will feature dishes such as Foir gras mousse, scallop and pain pardu; Game hen confit salad; Game hen breast with butternut panna cotta, Red wine braised short ribs and salted caramel tart. We made our reservations that very night!

As a foodie, I feel incredibly blessed to have such high caliber cooking talent so close to home. This is a family owned establishment that provides 5 star quality food, 5+star service, a nice quiet location with easy highway access and parking, fun little events like this, all for a reasonable price. If you are in the eastern suburbs of the Twin Cities, and you’re looking for some good eats, check out Cravings.