Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Best Whitefish. Ever.

Audrey Chamberlin, Gallery Manager, Vertin Gallery,
Calumet, Michigan
 Friday morning, July 20, 2012, dawned in Houghton, Michigan with little fanfare. I had not been able to get anything done on the blog for technical reasons for the past couple of days and only managed to get one post done between getting breakfast (that waffle set-up at the Travelodge isn't half bad!) and heading out of town. The indefatigable Theresa had scouted out Suomi Bakery and ascertained the pasties would be ready to pick up around 10:30 - she had put in our order in of four fresh and two frozen (for Theresa to take home).

Having finished the one blog post for which I had time, we stopped at the bakery and then headed over the bridge toward Calumet and Vertin Gallery. We needed gas and stopped at the BP in Hancock. Where they pump the gas for you. That's right. It was a full-service gas station. I literally cannot remember the last time I experienced such a thing. (And yes, I did give a tip to the very friendly and professional young man who assisted us.) The entire experience was very disorienting for Theresa and I, as we have a "system" when we drive together, in which she gets out and pumps the gas while I take care of recording the transaction and filing the documentation. This new innovation was very confusing!

Peterson's Fish Market - for excellent whitefish
Driving on to Calumet, we arrived in town and parked in our (now) familiar spot at the Vertin Gallery. Bin after bin of pottery made their way into the gallery, as well as work for Chris Hopp of Farmbrook Designs. We dropped off all kinds of tiles, including Sheep Tiles (for you "Woolies" out there), Farm Animal Tiles (Cow, Chicken, Rooster), Michigan Tiles, Sunflower Tiles and Hot Pepper Tiles; Birds; a bunch of Leaves (small and tiny); and an assortment of buttons. As Audrey and I were going over the inventory, I recounted to her how I had not been able, on our last to get a good whitefish dinner. She strongly recommended stopping at Peterson's Fish Market on our way back down the Keweenaw, mentioning that it was right across the road from the Quincy Mine, an old mine that had been converted to something of a tourist attraction. I remembered seeing the mine on our way out and even glimpsing the fish market. We were on our way. Audrey advised us that one order could be enough for both of us, as the servings were quite generous.

Well, we found it. Right across from the Quincy Mine. And it isn't really particularly prepossessing. There's this big warehouse-type building with what looks like a food truck with an outdoor cafeteria attached to it. The menu is simple - baked or fried whitefish with coleslaw and either French fries or baked potato ($10) or scalloped sweet potatoes ($12). Both Theresa and I went for the baked whitefish with the scalloped sweet potatoes, forgetting, until after we had both ordered and paid, that Audrey had said one order might be enough for both of us.

Well, it's a good thing we forgot. There are a few things in this life I don't share. The Maple Shortbread Bars from Greengos for one. Tiramisu, for another. When I could still eat them, my friend Debbie's Chocolate Chip Pecan Espresso Biscotti (too much caffeine now). And I think we can now add Peterson's Baked Whitefish. I was willing to say it was as good as Boone's in Glen Arbor but Theresa (and she has more experience with this stuff, I will admit) declared it the best whitefish she has had. Ever. Period. And until we have the opportunity to get out to Wilcox Fisheries on Whitefish Bay near Brimley, the other place Audrey told us about (after calling a friend to get the correct name - apparently she's owed some good whitefish, too), the title will have to go to Peterson's Fish Market in Hancock, Michigan.

After lunch, we headed back east, passing through Marquette (neato pottery gallery there with really nice, helpful folks), Michigamme, Munising and on to Grand Marais. It was a long day and a long drive, but getting to the bay was a treat, especially as the water was so warm. We dined on pasties and visited with a local gardener who was watering the plantings around the pavilion in which we were dining, and even invited us to visit his garden, an invitation we accepted with alacrity. Theresa and I were both interested in ice cream for some reason, and our kind host advised us we could get some at the North Shore Lodge. We were, strictly speaking, after hours but the young man obliged with some ice cream and, upon inquiry, a motel room. A walk along the beach outside the point (the water was a lot rougher and cooler, which was nice for Theresa's aching feet and ankles) to watch the sunset and collect some beautiful stones (and some fairly expert stone skipping by Theresa) ended our day.

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