Sunday, August 5, 2012

[Up North]: Gone Fishin' (and Drinkin') in Ludington

Our Up North series highlights good eats to seek out on your weekend roadtrips as you head Up North – that ambiguous, nebulous region in Michigan where everyone has, or has a friend that has, a cottage on a lake somewhere.

After the success of the fish boil we did earlier this year, I decided that I needed to go fishing on the big lake and cross another thing off the bucket list. My cousin, a former camp counselor at Mystic Lake YMCA Camp, had chartered boats for groups of campers in years past and arranged a charter for six members of our family. Being the novice angler that I am, I did not realize I'd be facing a 3am wake-up call to make it to Ludington in time for our pre-sunrise departure. All was not lost as I managed to snap the pic above, not too often do you get to see the sun come up over Lake Michigan.

The day started out a little slow, but we were fighting with king salmon and steelhead in no time.

The final tally was six king and four steelhead, not bad for a morning's worth of work. The fish were filleted onsite and divvied up among the six of us that went on the trip. Mrs T. - not a fan of either early wake-up calls or 6 hours on a boat - met up with us after the trip. With the salmon safely on ice in the car, we strolled through quaint downtown Ludington en route to The Mitten Bar, which serves nothing but Michigan-made beer, wine and liquor. It was recently named one of America's Top 100 Best Beer Bars by Draft Magazine.

Ludington loves murals, there were at least two others like this
Below the big mural and inside The Mitten Bar is a fantastic space with creaky hardwood floors, wine barrels for tables, and a chalkboard full of great Michigan beer. We decided on a couple of beers from the relatively new Brewery Vivant, a brewery from Grand Rapids focusing on Belgian ales. We had their Solitude, a Belgian dark ale, and Zaison, their take on a Saison. Don't be fooled by the Zaison's light body, it checks in at a hefty 9% ABV.

From Ludington, we headed north to Arcadia, where our Chicago-turned-Champaign friends F&K had rented a house on Lake Michigan, which we both invited ourselves to and crashed on the couch for two nights.

The scenic lookout on M-22 just north of Arcadia might be the best lookout point I've come across in the state, make sure to go up the stairs for the million dollar free view.

Not wanting to be total moochers, I dipped into the salmon stash and grilled up a couple filets. I did raid the kitchen pantry for some Cajun spices, a drizzle of oil, and just a little brown sugar for a touch of sweetness. I set up the grill for indirect grilling, threw a hunk of wood on top of the coals to get some smoke going, and set the salmon on the cool side of the grill for about 20 minutes.

That is Great Lakes and even better food.

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