Cold Water Creek Inn was beckoning us back after three wineries in the Leelanau Peninsula. We were going to be staying much closer this trip to the northwest corner of Michigan and staying at a resort. Beulah is a very quaint village right on the shores of the large inland Crystal Lake. This whole part of the world has not only become the playground for Michigan, but it has also been discovered by Illinois. What used to be considered a sleepy area has been rediscovered and there is a strong desire by the vacationers to be less genteel and rustic and now to be a playground for the foodies. While the area has been dominated for wine lovers, they have also brought their desire for food with them. Hence, how we come to Beulah. My Bride who knows this part of the world much better than I, has been there often, usually for supplies as she likes to have her hotel room stocked with a larder, in case the Fifth Army needs provisions. I have discovered it, because through Social Media, an alumnus of mine who is a Master Chef had moved up to this area for his wife and has been hired by Cold Water Creek Inn to direct the culinary part of the Inn from just basic foods that the locals have loved for years, but to attract the new breed of travelers that are looking beyond classic Michigan Perch and Planked Whitefish.
We were so enamored with the quality of the dinners that we had the last time that we were there, that we had to make a return trip, as we are part of that new breed that is interested in great food. I mean just because we are away from the city, doesn’t mean that we have to settle for a second -rate dinner. The regular menu that can be found in the very large restaurant and tavern part of the Inn is very classic in a Michigan manner. In fact, I can go out on a limb and state that the basic dishes have probably been elevated in quality and style and still will keep the regular clientele ecstatic, but the specials of the night, and some of the specials that I have seen posted are worth the four-hour drive. That evening the specials were both fish dishes, one was Wild Salmon and the other was Ecuadorian Swordfish. My Bride immediately opted for the Salmon, so I chose the Swordfish. I have to say that neither of us have had great experiences with Swordfish in all of our travels, I think that the meat was either too well done and hence very meaty or it tended to be very oily, so I was the test case. The two dishes were both served with a sauce or glaze of pineapple, butter, lemon zest, cilantro, lemon juice and parsley and it was delicious. The big surprise and a most pleasant surprise was that the Swordfish was superb and it was not dense. My Bride could not get over the fact that I had the better of the two dishes and that was way out of character for her, because she is extremely Salmon-friendly. We finished the dinner with a wonderful freshly baked cobbler, the Chef is a man for all seasons.
Of course, we both had white wine for the evening. I had the Chateau Fontaine Chardonnay 2015, a local wine of the area with a Leelanau Peninsula AVA and we had enjoyed this wine the last time we were at the restaurant and it is one of the few wineries that we have not had the pleasure of stopping by and do a tasting. Chateau Fontaine grows not only Chardonnay, but also Pinot Grigio, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Merlot and a few others as well. This wine was aged for eight months in Stainless Steel and I really enjoyed it, the both times that we have had it. If I think back to the early days when I first really started exploring wines, I would have passed this wine immediately because of where it came from, but that is not the case today. In hindsight, I think that this wine would have been better for my Bride, but it worked well for me as well. My Bride had the Maso Canali Pinot Grigio 2016 from the Trentino region of Italy. This winery is rather unique in that they only make and offer one wine, so they pay a lot of attention to this singular wine of theirs. Something special about this wine is that after harvest, they allow a small portion of their crop to continue and these late-harvested grapes are laid out on racks for eight to ten weeks to concentrate the natural sugar and then all of wine is aged on the lees for one month then blended together for a very nuanced and dare I say, a more full-bodied Pinot Grigio. It was an excellent wine and I think it would pair very easily with most fish and seafood, not to mention some other dishes as well. After dinner, we saw the Chef again and he also introduced us to the owners of the Inn and we had a nice conversation. We were in a bit of a quandary, after having had our second wonderful meal at the Cold Creek Inn, how do we show our appreciation for the Chef and his culinary artistry. Mere cash would seem gauche and tacky, so the Chef and I went out to our car and went through the wine that we had bought that day at the wineries that we had visited and I gave him a bottle of the best wine that we had found on the trip, a bottle of the Boathouse Vineyards Merlot 2012 with our blessings. He later informed me that the owners were so impressed that they were going to get some of this wine to put on their wine list as well. Wine is an integral part of some great memories that I always try to impart.