Traveling to West Michigan

By Nancy Smorch

I’m heading back to Michigan in a couple of days and despite the strong possibility of crazy unpredictable weather, I’m still so excited.

Why? Well, many reasons - the great people, the water (we’re only a couple of miles from Lake Michigan), all of the options of fun activities if we want, and one of the biggest reasons is the amazing food. Michigan, I’ve been saying for years, is the Midwest’s “best kept secret.”  The soil is amazing and the climate - especially along the Lake Michigan coastline - sets the stage for growing some of the best-tasting produce in the country. Michigan wines have been gaining quite a lot of attention worldwide. Some of my favorite wines are from Michigan vineyards - Black Star Farms, Fenn Valley, and Chateau Grand Traverse, to name a few. West Michigan blueberries are some of the best ever. Each July and August we ship them to friends around the country. I pulled some of them out of the freezer the other day while making blueberry pancakes for some friends and they couldn’t believe the size of them and how great they tasted - even frozen.

Of course, there’s the cherries grown all over Michigan, but especially in Traverse City. Then there’s the apples in the fall - some of the best tasting Honeycrisp apples ever are from Cranes Orchard in Fennville. The list goes on and on. Even in March, despite the cold weather, so many of the local restaurants (in West Michigan especially) work with local farmers for artisanal products. A passion for and appreciation of good food has evolved over the past couple of years and now when I travel, I really find out how special West Michigan is because I can’t find much of the products I’ve grown accustomed to.

So, I’m looking forward to making pizza in our wood fire pizza oven, drinking my jasmine tea with local lemon infused honey from Sleeping Bear Farms by the fireplace, snacking on the famous Seedy Salt bread from Salt of the Earth, eating some Grade B Michigan maple syrup with blueberry pancakes, and visiting the local coffee shops, Lemonjellos and Uncommon Grounds where they use locally produced milk and fair trade, organic coffee. And finally, I’m looking forward to just collaborating with the energy of West Michigan - the nature, the Lake, the land, the people! I can’t wait!