Paul and I headed "up north" (it's a Michigan thing...) for our very own Babymoon. That's right, our perceived last chance to getaway before the arrival of our first child. Yes, yes, I realize I am not due until August. But, we aren't supposed to travel after we reach 32 weeks (mid June). April and May are pretty darn booked up with baby showers and work-related events. And, June, well, my sister is getting married in June. So, March it is.
Fortunately, we SUPER lucked out with the weather. We booked this trip over a month ago. With NO IDEA that the weather would be more like June than March. So, for that, we feel that is was meant to be. We also managed to have a pretty darn amazing weekend. So, again, meant to be.
Also, we stayed at this amazing Bed and Breakfast thanks to an amazing wedding present (a BedandBreakfast.com gift certificate!) and had a phenomenal stay. If you are looking for a cozy place with the best B&B hosts ever, definitely check this place out. And, the breakfast was pretty darn great too.
But, anyway, we had to eat on our trip, right? So, here is what we discovered.
Stone House Bakery and Cafe, Leland, Michigan
Our first food stop, other than the Taco Bell that we ate on the way out of town on Friday night (don't judge) was for lunch in Leland, MI at the Stone House Bakery and Cafe. We were looking for a light and somewhat healthy lunch. And, since it was early March, not everything was open, but Stone House sure was. So, after a little exploration of Leland, particularly Fishtown, we stepped into Stone House Bakery and Cafe.
Now, I am still trying to pack on the nutrition, even in things that are less healthy for me by way of super food-type ingredients. In this case, the Garden Panini seemed like it was a home run. With tomatoes, fresh spinach, red onion, and artichokes, as well as hummus and dill harvarti, it seemed like most of those ingredients are pretty good for me. Served on focaccia and grilled to perfection, this sandwich really was a hit.
I took my first bite, and though, 'man! This is GOOD!' I know, very descriptive, right? But seriously, the ingredients all played together very well on the playground. For me, it was the artichoke that made it. The acidity added such a nice, distinct flavor that it took it from being an ordinary sandwich to pretty darn extraordinary.
The bread was a star too. Baked in house. The right density. Crispy/crusty from the grill. And hearty enough to hold the ingredients inside. Right on!
Paul also thoroughly enjoyed his Chicken, Bacon, and Smoked Gouda panini. In fact, he told the lady who made it that it was one of the top 5 sandwiches he ever had. And, Paul doesn't make stuff like that up.
This little gem was definitely worth the long drive up the coast from Frankfort. And, I suspect we will want to visit again when in the area. And, you should too!
five golden forks out of five
Grocer's Daughter Chocolate, Empire, Michigan
So, this is not a place you would go and dine, but for any foodie-type, it is definitely worth the stop. This charming place (and BRIGHT GREEN building) came to us via a suggestion from our friend, Hillary. And, we trust Hillary when it comes to food suggestions, among other things, so we thought, 'we better stop'. So, after our very satisfying lunch in Leland, and the 30ish minute drive back down the coast, we found ourselves at Grocer's Daughter... not quite sure what to expect.
We wandered in, and I will admit, at first, I was like, 'eh... what's the big deal.' Then, moments later after seeing the selection of local and organic products on the shelf, Mimi, the grocer's daughter herself, came to talk to us. And, we were mesmerized. She is so knowledgeable, and stocks such great products, we just couldn't stop chatting it up with her.
As others wandered in as well, regulars by the way they engaged with Mimi, we struck up conversations with them as well. My growing belly was a good starter, but from there, there were all kinds of cool things we learned and heard about. We even met someone who's brother-in-law in Kalamazoo is someone we know!
There were samples a plenty, and believe me, we sampled. We left with a modest stash, but the highlight of the visit was when we told Mimi about the amazing hot chocolate we had on our honeymoon in the Dominican Republic. Well, she wanted to know if her's was better. So, she made us each a little cup... and SHE WON! Wow! What amazing stuff! And, we told her that too!
So, for real, if you are in north western Michigan... and near the town of Empire, go to Grocer's Daughter's Chocolate. You will not be disappointed. I promise.
five golden forks out of five
Well, our Saturday night dinner plans kind of fell through. So, instead of indulging on bar food (on St. Patrick's Day, no less) we decided to go for some local pizza. Now, honestly, I love trying local pizza. I have had some pretty amazing pies in some pretty unlikely places, and this is no exception.
When we opened up those boxes, and took the first whiff, I knew we were in for a treat. The ingredients were high quality and in generous amounts. And, oh, I forgot to mention, we opted for the sesame seasoned crust, which was a PERFECT choice.
I started devouring the Venetian Veggie. It was the perfect combination of flavors, and the pesto, rather than a red sauce, was the right choice. The Chicken Parm was also delicious, though I did like the Veggie a bit more. My only complaint on these pies were that they were a bit greasy. I know some folks like that. It is not my favorite thing. The grease ring in the box was pretty outstanding. But, the flavor was great. The toppings were in the right proportions, and for $25 (rather than the $100 we probably would have spent on dinner at a nice restaurant) we were happy campers.
There are several locations of this pizza eatery, and I will go out on a limb and say that if there is one nearby a future trip, we will likely grab a pie!
P.S. We stopped at Hop Cat (see our previous review HERE) in Grand Rapids on the way home. I actually DID NOT order my usual, the Hippie Wrap. Not because I don't love it, but because I wanted to try something else. You know what else is amazing on their menu... The Stoner Tacos! Woah! Totally yummy!