Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Cherry Capital?

I'm a little late putting up my usual weekly blog because Wendy and I just got back from a long weekend up north, celebrating our upcoming 30th anniversary at the end of the month.

We hit a couple brew pubs around Traverse City (we have a list of Michigan micrbreweries and check off the ones we've been to and northwest Michigan is one area we hadn't tried yet). Also stopped by to see my nephew's home he just bought near Grand Traverse Bay. He and his wife live up there year-round. Lucky them.

Traverse City bills itself as the cherry capital of the world. And they're also popular around this time of year as a morel mushroom hunting destination. Wendy and I didn't have time to hunt morels in the wild. But I was hoping to sample some cherries and/or morels at the restaurants we visited while we were there.

So at the first restaurant we tried, we asked about dessert. Mmmmmm, cherry pie we were expecting but the waiter said they only had fruit cobbler. Mmmmmmm, cherry cobbler. Even better. But no. The waiter said it was mango berry cobbler. No cherries. Okayyyyyy. This is Traverse City, right? The cherry capital of the world, right?

The next day Wendy and I stopped for breakfast at the Greenhouse cafe downtown, a place we overheard is locally renowned for its fresh fruit. Wendy ordered that for breakfast. It was fresh and delicious. There were pineapple, melons, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries . . . but again no cherries. Again, this is in downtown Traverse City . . . the cherry capital of the world.

No morels either again. I was hoping for a mushroom and cheese omelet, but the special that morning here was an asparagus and cheese omelet. Asparagus! Who wants asparagus with their omelet? Or with anything else for that matter?

OK, we know where to get some cherry pie. The Grand Traverse Pie company headquartered here also has a an outlet in Ann Arbor where we've visited often. We find a local GT Pie company cafe later but it's CLOSED! It's not even nine o'clock in the evening. In Ann Arbor, they're open till at least nine. We do find a restaurant that serves fruit cobbler later but they only have raspberry fruit cobbler.

Again, this is in Traverse City . . . the cherry capital of the world.

My nephew earlier recommended the Stella Trattoria in Grand Traverse Commons, which formerly housed the state mental hospital but now is being converted to shops and housing. Very trendy and a place that prides itself on using products from local farms. They even list the local farms that supply their produce, meats, cheeses, etc. on their menu

So I check out their specials, hoping for maybe a cherry tart or a morel mushroom soup. But the soup of the day? It's cream of asparagus!! I think Traverse City is really the asparagus capital of the world. They just don't advertise it because it wouldn't draw the tourists as much.

OK, so I had the cream of asparagus soup. Not bad. And the ambience was interesting, being that this was the former Northern Michigan asylum. In fact, I commented to Wendy that the paintings on the wall reminded me of Van Gogh's work done during one of his more psychotic episodes.

As, we wandered around the cavernous building later I wondered whatever happened to all the residents who once resided there. You can't just close the doors of an asylum, can you? My guess is they're working for the local tourist industry.


Blogger Carine said...

ah Dave,
so sorry about the cherries and the morels. my husband loves cherries, as do I and I love mushrooms in any form. So I can sympathize w/ your disappointment.

a little like us going to Gilroy and finding out that they're out of garlic that week! (it's the garlic capitol) or going to Lindsey and finding out the olive factory is closed.

At least you and Wendy had a romantic and together getaway.

Happy Anniversary again!

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bdd here, You have to wait till fall for the cherry pie Dave, but you have to admit you met some cool relative's

3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

Happy Anniversary to you and Wendy.
Maybe there was no cherries because they did not have a good growing season last year. I know there is a huge bee shortage and that means lots less cherries. I suggest you go back in the middle of July. That is when they pick the cherries. Michelle one of the surgery coders goes up there every year to pick cherries in July. She can tell you exactly when the cherries will be ready to be picked. We went to the very same restaurant - Stella Trattoria on one of our family canoe trips a few years ago. And I LOVE Asparagus !!! Tell Wendy I said HI.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Lynilu said...

I happen to love asparagus, but I know when you have your heart set on something .... sighhh. Still sound as if you had a good trip, though!

5:41 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

CARINE--I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that Memorial Day is this coming weekend, and they weren't yet geared up for the tourist season.

DAD--Yeah, Gabe and Kristen are cool. So is Barley once he knows you're friendly. But I didn't know one of our relatives was once a resident at the state mental hospital there.

NANCY--Wendy ordered the "red" pizza at that Stella Trattoria. They have their own special draft beer brewed by Short's Brewery. We both had that too.

I heard that the cherry picking season is mid-July. But the Traverse City Cherry Festival is around the Fourth of July, so they can attract more tourists.

LYNILU--I was just surprised to see asparagus featured so. An asparagus and cheese omelet? That's a new one on me. It was a good trip though. I took some nice pictures of the sun setting over Lake Michigan.

3:54 AM  
Blogger TechnoBabe said...

I grew up in southern California and always thought the cherry capital of the world was there. It was either in Beaumont or Banning I think. But there are cherry everything there. My hubby's favorite pie is cherry, he would have been devastated if we traveled somewhere and he couldn't get cherry pie, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ha. I like asparagus but never had it in soup. It was probably cream of asparagus soup, right? Happy anniversary to you and Wendy. Thirty years and you are still in love and have fun together. Glad you enjoyed your anniversary trip even without cherries and mushrooms.

5:14 AM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ What a shame, no cherries or the mushrooms. May be just the wrong time
of year, so try again later.
Glad you got a lot of Facebook birthday greetings.
I did too, but also got some cards, flowers etc. Glad you liked the exercise funnies.
Take care, Regards, Merle.

6:33 AM  
Anonymous Betty said...

Well that's just unbelievably disappointing about the cherries and the morels. That would be like visiting Montana in the summertime and not finding any huckleberry pie- that would devastate me!!!

I wonder if it's possible that cherries are not yet in season- I wouldn't know. Seems to me they hit the local shelves here in mid summer. I wouldn't know about morels because I associate them with wild boars and have an aversion.

I'd be totally creeped out by that converted asylum. I hope the investors performed a major feng shui space clearing on the place....

I do hope your anniversary was well celebrated in spite of it all.


7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The Traverse City cherries are never ready till mid to late July.
So every year they ship in cherries from Washington for the festival. (This is per email from Michelle today).


7:21 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

TECHNOBABE--I think the cherries we have right now at our local store come from somewhere in California. Wikipedia says in its article on cherries that Traverse City claims to be the cherry capital of the world. Usually, I'll trust Wikipedia as the final word. My copy of the World Book encyclopedia is too old (from the 1950s).

MERLE--I did get a very nice card from my mom and dad the day after my birthday. They said they mailed it in plenty of time. The mail service is probably better where you're at.

BETTY--The place was a little creepy. I used the restroom and was unnverved by an old door in the brickwork inside the toilet stall. No doorknob, no sign, no latch--just an old heavy wooden door. Where did it lead?

NANCY--Doesn't seem right, does it? I think I'd wait until the local cherries ripened before I threw a festival like that. It's like having a SuperBowl festival in November.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous bonnie said...

Washington state grows more sweet cherries than Michigan. And, you haven't tasted a cherry until you've tried our Rainiers.

Oh, sound the call to dear old Interlochen! I have great memories of camp field trips to Gwen Frostic's home and studio in Benzonia and stopping for cherry pie afterwards.

Lucullus (c.118-57 B.C.) of the Roman Republic went mad and committed suicide when he realized he was running out of cherries, by the way. (SPARTANS know stuff!)

Happy Anniversary to you and your long-suffering Wendy!

10:16 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

BONNIE--Since Spartans know stuff, here's a trivia question for ya. What school recently won the 2010 NCAA men's gymnastics national title?

You're a fan of flexibility and fitness, so you should get this one. Extra credit if you can sing their Hail to the Victors fight song.

BTW, my nephew's wife works for the school at Interlochen.

5:01 PM  
Blogger amarkonmywall said...

Abby went to Interlochen! (Classical trumpet). Dan went to Interlochen! (Saxophone). We went to the cherry festival- and had cherries! Isn't it late for morels? Early for cherries? I think you're just a few weeks off in either direction, Dave. You and Bonnie- together, you make me laugh! We probably ought to get her send us some Ranier cherries so we can do a taste test...

6:55 PM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

VICKIE--You sure know your Michigan growing seasons. Of course, you're correct on both counts. I'm actually not the best subject for a taste test of some raw fruit--slightly allergic to cherries.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Pernicious Panda said...

100 years ago, more or less, I had a room mate from Travers City. I had worked in cherry processing for 10 years in Oregon as a summer job. She pooh-poohed my experience, claiming her home town as the Cherry Caipitol of the World. I didn't buy it then, and your post leads me to believe I was correct! Hmmm. No cherries? Were there ever???


12:29 AM  

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