At one time Traverse City, Michigan was a quiet little resort town in Northern Michigan. It is no longer quiet, as it has been discovered not only by Michiganders, but it has become a resort playground even for the city of Chicago and other states as well. Without sounding like a commercial for “Pure Michigan” Traverse City has blossomed, where once cherry arbors were the norm, it has become a booming wine center for Michigan and not just for “jug” wines as some people presume, because it is in Michigan. There are serious vintners that have discovered the area and one could easily spend a week there stopping at wineries and sampling the wares offered. Also the area has become famous for “foodies” as well, no longer are there little restaurants, even though the area was famous for a couple of restaurants for years, now there is an abundance of fine dining establishments, far too many to even cover in a month-long vacation.
I was allowed to tag along with my Bride, on one of her many trips to this area for a conference, which is also a big business up there as well. At some of the conferences, not every night is a dinner en masse, so groups of friends go out and discover new little gems, to discuss the next day and the months after. I have the good fortune to know people that have summer residences in this part of the state, and they always wish to talk about a “hot” restaurant that they have already dined at, and I have always listened and taken notes. On one of the trips a group of us went to Apache Trout Grill in Traverse City, which has the ambience of a rustic lodge that Hollywood would have created for a set. It is a beautiful restaurant on the water, and the charming atmosphere that any restaurant would aspire to, especially in Traverse City. I must insert a caveat that the match book that I am showing, when I asked for some matches they brought me this box, but the matchbox is actually from a tobacconist in Traverse City. Fish is a natural entrée when one is in Northern Michigan and a restaurant called Apache Trout Grill certainly takes advantage of the Great Lakes. There was a small group of us there one evening, and everyone was ordering plates of fish and even though one of the standards of this restaurant is Short Ribs, I refrained and followed the crowd as we had a feast of seafood. We all shared each other’s appetizers, as well as trying the different choices of fish, and each of us ordered a different plate, just for that reason. It was a wonderful choice for the evening, and we started the night early, as they do not take reservations, as I recall. To us that just means getting there early and starting good times and memories a little earlier, rather then later; because sometimes a head start just makes the evening last longer.
The restaurant also likes to feature some of the best wines from the local area, and since we have been to many of the wineries as well, it was all familiar. Some of the ladies in our group were a little apprehensive about having wine as they felt that it may be too overpowering or too dry for their tastes. As I was studying the wine list, I told them that I found a great wine for us to enjoy on this pleasant summer evening. I started by relaying how when we first went to the winery, how we were dazzled by the natural beauty and the picturesque setting that they were located on, and that one could see both bays, as they were at the end of a peninsula in the Traverse area. I then went on to explain about this one wine, that I thought everyone could enjoy, because it is not sweet, rather it has a great natural spice to it from the grape varietal. That evening we went through several bottles of Chateau Chantal “Select Harvest” Gewürztraminer 2002. Chateau Chantal is at the end of the Old Mission Peninsula and they have been making fine wines, from the first time that I tried them, and I am not afraid to suggest the wines to anyone that wants to try a Michigan wine. Since as I said we had several bottles of the wine that evening, the other diners, though they may have been apprehensive at first, found that they really enjoyed the wine.