Outdoor Writers Association of America
Northwest Outdoor Writers Association
This Week's View

by Deanna Lee Birkholm

The Ladyfisher

July 20th, 1998

Out and About

If you are sick of my talking about our recent trip back to our home waters in Michigan, here is a break!

Still about Michigan, but a different tact. Sort of like the old Monty Python's Flying Circus - "And now for something entirely different!"

Have you ever noticed the things you remember about living or visiting somewhere can be really big things, or really tiny things? For example, the very first live, cooked-while-you-wait lobster for me was in Portland Maine on the wharf. I will probably have that memory for a long time. Lobster rolls are pretty great too, but here on the left coast the only thing anyone equates as a 'lobster roll' is an egg-roll kind of thing at a national seafood chain eatery. So the next time I have a real lobster roll will require being on the northeast coast.

We had similar oddities on the last trip. Once we picked up the rental car and got on the road, JC began muttering something about perch dinners. And where did I know of where he could get one. Geese, I hadn't been in Michigan for twenty years - how should I know?

We headed north, and now besides a hankering for a perch dinner, I begin to hear the words Pinconning Cheese. I like cheese, and we know some Pinconning Cheese is made somewhere is Wisconsin. Must be a well-guarded secret, because as much cheese as we have eaten over the years we have never found one that comes close to the Pinconning Cheese. And trust me, we have tried. We are on a hunt for the holy grail now! Cheese and a perch dinner.

The main cheese store in the town of Pinconning was closed. Drive on. Up ahead another cheese sign. And they're open. Taste test time. And yes, JC finds THE one. And it is made right here - not in Wisconsin. Cool. A slab of that, wrapped in butcher paper and tied with string. Boy, how long has it been since you got anything tied with string?

On the shelf, behind the counter, another wonderment! Pickled bologna. Beautiful plump pink rings of it! Packed in a five gallon jar. Too much, could I please have just a ring of it? Done deal, also wrapped in white butcher paper and neatly tied with string. (And a bow too.)

Pinconning Cheese Catalog

Any chance you do mail-order? Well, they do and you can call for their catalog (the pickled bologna is on the list too) call 517-879-2281. They also have gift packs for the holidays.

JC asks the gal waiting on us about a good place for a perch dinner. You are absolutely right, when he gets something on his mind it just keeps gnawing away until it is satisfied. (He calls it being focused.)

Marvel of marvels, yes, just half a block back the way we came in. JC got his perch dinner. One of several on this trip. His problem being he used to catch perch and remembered how they tasted. (Or how he thought they tasted.) And he kept trying to get the fish and the taste right. Even had deep fried smelt one night after fishing. He said he couldn't tell the smelt from the french fries.

All of the restaurant perch were fillets. When he used to catch and clean them, they were cooked in the round, with bones. Perch are a sweet white fleshed fish, with a distinct flavor. Maybe cooking them with the bones does add something. Poor JC got his fill of fish, and never just quite right.

We took a trip over to Traverse City Michigan, partially to put some closure on some family matters. One of the stops was the Wilson Cherry Orchard. We bought a box of sweet black cherries, and inhaled them all on the way back to Grayling. You can buy them on the highway here in Washington, (actually I think they are cheaper here,) but the ones from Mission Point were as fresh as they could possibly be. Sweeter from being there.

Dinner on the way back was a real treat too. Those who live around the Great Lakes may be familiar with Mountain Jack's Steakhouse. This apparently is a chain of about a dozen restaurants. The one we stopped at was in Acme, right on the shore of Grand Traverse Bay.

We went there on the recommendation of Kelly Galloup who has the Troutsman Fly Shop in Traverse City. A really nice fly shop - you may remember Kelly's Zoo Cougar on our Fly of the Week.

Our dinner companion was quite unusual too. On the way in, JC carefully plucked a immature mayfly from the wall. Once seated, the Hex was gently placed on the edge of his salad plate. Over baked Brie with roasted garlic we watched him molt. The waitress asked if we would like the mayfly removed, and JC told her, "No thanks, we brought him with us, we haven't seen one of these in a long time."

Thanks Kelly! The food and service - and view of wind surfers skimming across the waves - were super. I will pass your recommendation of Mountain Jacks on! By the way, Michigan restaurant prices are about 1/3 less than here on the west coast. Nice surprise. Actually came back under budget!

As much as I've poked fun at JC and his food quirks on the trip, I had something I've not had in years. Fresh Lake Superior Whitefish. Wonderfully prepared, and not a scrap left on my plate. And that was at a place known for it's fine beef!

So our memories from living in Michigan years ago were not just about our 'home waters.' Some of those memories were the people and places. And maybe not surprisingly, the food.

By the way, our lovely male Hex did fly off into the rafters once his wings dried. On our way leaving Mountain Jack's, JC found a nice female Hex, took her back inside and turned her loose. Hope they found each other.

Now there's this place on the way to Montana that has the best barbeque . . .~Deanna Birkholm

Archive of Ladyfisher Articles

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice