View from inside the Coveyou Scenic Farm Market
Darlings! In early August my husband DJ Nevah L8 (4 dinnah) and I, along with close family, all headed up to Northwestern Michigan for a week's worth of relaxing, boating, boozing, fishing and campfires under the stars while staying in a cottage on the lake.
My Aussie husband has been to Michigan in the summer only twice and witnessed fireflies for the first time during his visit in June 2012. To see the fairy-like insects disappearing and reappearing above the lawn in the early evening was nothing short of magical. He also really enjoyed the tall trees, the green fields and the flora that's so different from the palm trees and tropical flowers he's used to at our home here in Southern Florida. I told him, "If you like this, you ain't seen nothin' yet! We've gotta get you "Up nort'!"
"Up nort" is a colloquialism for "going up North" as in Upper Michigan (the U.P. or Upper Peninsula) or Northern Michigan and even Northern Wisconsin. When you say to someone in Michigan that you are going "up nort" it could be anywhere as long as it's north of the Detroit suburbs!
So, we scratched our plans to go to New Orleans this summer to offer him a PURE MICHIGAN experience. My cousins were flattered and I was thrilled and after frantically searching for a cottage SIX MONTHS BEFORE AUGUST, my cousin finally found a place to rent on Lake Walloon. Up nort is SO POPULAR, that even Mario Batali vacations there every year at his home in Grand Traverse Bay, Michigan. Apparently, Mario also finds this part of Michigan to be spectacular for food, recreation and relaxation!
I flew in from Miami the day before our trip and my husband was flying in that night. So, Cousin Frank and I went to Costco to get some supplies for our first dinner and breakfast at the cottage. I think it's always wise to get a few groceries from home so you don't have to scramble to find a store upon arrival and can just chill and enjoy the first day!
These Sheboygan brats were DELICIOUS and made with Wisconsin-brewed Leinenkugel Red Lager. We grilled them on charcoal and then popped them on thick, grilled rolls. They were awesome, juicy and very "more-ish," an appropriate first meal for our little cottage on the lake. I wish I could get them at the local Costco!
Here are the VERY IMPORTANT supplies we brought to the cottage for the week. Because one never knows when there might be an emergency, like running out!
When I was out shopping the next day at Meijer grocery store (of all places!) I found that the produce wasn't so bad and they actually offered some local farm produce in the behemoth store. But naturally to La Diva, shopping at Meijer is NOT nearly as pleasant as shopping at a the neighborhood farmer's market, so I asked a local man where to shop for farm produce.
His wife heard me from a few feet away, walked over and suggested I try the Wednesday Farmer's Market in Harbor Springs, just north of Petoskey. I made plans to spend the morning there with my cousin Heather and Uncle Dennis on Wednesday morning.
A beautiful home in Harbor Springs, Michigan. I imagine with the harsh Michigan winters and Lake Michigan winds, this home takes a beating and it must cost a pretty penny to keep it this pristine.
We drove up to Harbor Springs through Petoskey and just marveled at the homes! Who knew there was so much money "up nort'?" It was certainly not the "up north" of cheaply made cottages and trailers that I grew up with, that's for sure. (and to be honest, that made me kind of sad...)
I'm so glad I went to this market! It was only about a small block long and was very charming, with well presented tables of home made and locally produced goods, poultry and meats. Unfortunately, we arrived at the market about 30 minutes before closing, so I didn't have time to take photos of all the wonderful vendors I met that day.
These crazy large red "lobster" mushrooms are from the Michigan Mushroom Market and all are harvested WILD! Morels grow all over the place up here too! I picked up some chanterelles for dinner.
Honestly, everything looked so good, I wanted to buy it all....but alas, we had only one more dinner at the cottage so I couldn't go too crazy.
Wild leek fruits are supposed to taste like mild onions. I restrained myself and walked away without purchasing.
Also for sale were wild blueberries! Compared to commercial blueberries, they are tiny and super sweet and $10 was a bargain for a whole quart! I just imagined all the painstaking work for the person that picked all of them.
I found a local chicken farm that had freshly slaughtered, er, "processed" as they told me, chickens. I bought a whole one and some legs for the barbecue later.
I walked further through the market and found a farmer that made his own sausages! I got the local bratwurst and some Polish sausage. The vendor, looking grizzled and tan with a fully lined face and sporting a tractor cap, looked like a typical Midwestern farmer and I enjoyed talking to him. He suggested that I boil the sausages in beer before grilling them, which I did!
When I got back to our lakeside cottage with my farm treasure, Frank looked at all the meat and said, "Are we cooking ALL of this?!"
"YES!" I said.
He just beamed with happiness. My cousin Frank is a big, hockey playing lad of Polish descent. Along with my Big Bear Husband, they were two big guys enjoying big grilled dinners = HEAVEN!
But I had a problem. How does one cut up a chicken for the bbq when you are renting a cottage and all the knives are dull? It would take forever and a few bags of charcoal to grill it whole. So, I came up with the idea to make brick chicken. Husband managed to cut the breast bone and flatten the chook and I had him get a few flat rocks from the lake. He covered them with foil and we used them to weigh the chicken down. It cooked in no time and was absolutely delicious, so moist and flavorful! Fresher chicken and sausage I've never tasted! Everyone really enjoyed the meat-fest and there were hardly any leftovers!
On our last day at Walloon Lake, Frank drove us to Petoskey to return the bikes we had rented and I asked him to stop at this lovely farmer's market on the crest of the road as I knew we would not be driving this way again.
The Coveyou Scenic Farm Market has been owned by the same family for more than 136 years! Very cool! You can go to their website by clicking HERE. It certainly lived up to its name!
The market and barn looked so inviting from the road! Now THIS is a true farmers market, right at the farm itself!
This is the stunning view from inside the barn market. Absolutely charming!
This is the view of the door of the barn from the back of the store. The open slats gave the barn more light and airiness, which added to my farm shopping experience. (Beats shopping at Meijer Thrifty Acres any day!)
It was great to see summertime produce again as our Southern Florida season was well and truly over since May. And $1.50 for a gorgeous plum-colored eggplant? Unheard of!
But alas, we were leaving the next day and I already had produce to cook from the farmers market from the other day. So, instead, I bought honey and preserves to take back home!
The honey was pure wildflower honey from Bud's Bees on Bear Road in Petoskey. Apparently it was harvested the day before. I also purchased a few cutie pie jars of Wee Bee Jammin' Cherry Bomb jam and Toe Jam for my cousin! They are an artisanal premium fruit jam company produced locally! (Click on the link to order online!)
Bunches of garlic are hung to dry at the rear of the barn.
La Diva gets VERY HAPPY when I'm able to find wild local honey and quality preserves! Now, to just figure out how to pack them all without pushing my luggage over 50 pounds! (It wasn't easy, believe me!)
My family and I had such a wonderful time together "up nort'" that we've decided to do the trip biennially! Breathing clean air, enjoying fresh lake water, sitting around the campfire, drinking Honey Bear cocktails and laughing with family while watching shooting stars.....well, it doesn't get much better than that!
Ciao for now, darlings, and DO TELL me where YOU holidayed this summer!