Travel: A Culinary Honeymoon to Traverse City and Chicago (Photos)
By Alexis Simpson
We left for Traverse City the day after our honeymoon. Our dog didn’t want us to go.
We stayed at the Grand Traverse Resort. We got a newly remodeled King Tower room after Paul finagled with the front desk. Yay! The shower was big enough to fit 6 ppl, and the view was amazing. www.grandtraverseresort.com/
Soon after we checked in, we left to check out the Black Star Farms winery’s restaurant, “Heath and Vine.” The road leading into the winery had lots of photo opportunities. www.blackstarfarms.com/
The meal at Heath and Vine was so fresh and good. By the time we got to Black Star Farms, we didn’t have time to check out the wine tasting room. Luckily Paul’s family has a cottage in Houghton Lake which means that we will be back to Traverse City before too long to go back to Heath and Wine and to the winery. rillette | spreadable duck leg confit, house crackers, pickled vegetables
pickled| farm fresh egg, beets, onions
blt salad | house bacon, pea shoots, roasted tomatoes, torn focaccio, fromage blanc buttermilk dressing
Driving all around the Traverse City area is a blast for photographers and sightsee’ers. Leeland’s ‘Fishtown’ was one of my favorite spots for photography.
We found this creepy graveyard on our way back to the resort. Paul got scared so we left. We almost ran out of gas on the way back…
The next day we stopped for lunch at the Apache Trout Grill. Nice View. www.apachetroutgrill.com/
One of the things I wanted to do the most on our honeymoon was check out Madonna’s dad’s winery, “Ciccone Winery.” I think we even got to see Madonna’s dad himself:) I couldn’t resist showing them some of the photos I took of Madonna a few back, and they charmingly refer to Madonna as “M.” I made Paul pose in the vineyard, and made sure to take a photo of the cute little house on the property where I assume the Ciccone family lives. www.cicconevineyard.com/
The Ciccone Winery suggested we stop at the Willow Vineyards winery which was across the street. www.willowvineyardwine.com/
A new cider place is coming to the street that Ciccone Winery is on, which is nice because it should help the local businesses on the street stay busy.
That day we later drove through town to stop at American Spoon, and noticed that the town was getting prepared for next weekend’s film festival put on by Michael Moore. Our next stop was the old insane asylum that has been converted to a nice shopping and eating area. We had reservations at Trattoria Stella, which we highly recommend! There was a lot of interesting artwork on the walls of the old crazy house:) The shops were closed already by the time we got there:( www.stellatc.com/
BURRATA PUGLIESE, house-made, served chilled, Toscano salami,
charred tomato vinaigrette, crostini
Our new fave thing to eat is octopus: SPANISH OCTOPUS, char-grilled, house Calabrese sausage, rice beans, tomato, smoked shallots. We had scallops too, but I’m not sure where that photo went.
The next day, just like all the other days, we went swimming and laid out at the pool. In the evening, we had managed to snag a reservation at The Cook’s House, which is where I had the best meal I’ve had in awhile. Tip: If you are trying to get a reservation there, ask them to sit at the outside tables. On the way to The Cook’s House, I found this cute purple house with a funny birdcage er ‘cages.’ www.thecookshouse.net/
One of the most charming things about The Cook’s House is that is on the end of the street in a neighborhood. The setting gives the restaurant an upscale “down-home” vibe. We were by far the youngest people at the restaurant. Most of the patrons were retirees adorned in their best Lily Pulitzer and Ralph Lauren resort wear.
We ordered the 7-course meal. They provided us with an extra pork rillete entree and two glasses of champagne because we were on our honeymoon. We suspect it might be because I had my huge camera so they might have thought we were journalists or food bloggers:)
(This roll comes from an amazing bakery that you will hear more about later on in the post.)
This carrot soup was amazing. Carrots seem to be a “thing” now.
This is obviously steak, but the cool thing is check out the little bee on the steak knife!
After Dinner Sunset
The next day we went back to the old crazy house because we wanted to go to the bakery where the rolls from The Cook’s House came from. Go there!!! They have wonderful sandwiches, torts, breads, spreads, and all sorts of goodies. www.pleasantonbakery.com/
Another fave stop on our trip was Left Foot Charley. At The Cook’s House I had the best cinnamon flavored alcoholic cider, so we wanted to buy some to take home. We ended up buying three bottles of cider, four bottles of wine and a t-shirt! www.leftfootcharley.com/
After the bakery at cider-run, we drove towards Empire and the dunes. We saw a lot of ‘hops’ and cherry trees.
Here is a lil beach tucked off the side of a road.
Keep your swimsuit on!
We now headed to Chicago, but made a stop at this asian food truck, and to take a photo of the ferry that goes to Milwaukee in case we ever want to travel to see Melissa Shew from Traverse City:)
We decided to go to Chicago for a few days because, Saugatuck was booked and up north hotels were costing around 250-400/night yikes. Who would guess that Chicago was actually cheaper? We found a group on for the Freehand hotel which is a boutique hostel. It has a James Beard nominated tiki-type bar with craft cocktails. Tiki bars are our new obsession, so this fun little hotel and the chance to hang out with Paul’s bud, Jam, convinced us. thefreehand.com/chicago/
The Freehand had a designer made the budget rooms look bohemian and cool.
Again we got another huge shower.
haha they even gave their chairs an urban bohemian vibe.
Hostel rates for the weekend were $300 and up. The Freehand’s bar is called The Broken Shaker, and it definitely had a nice vibe. The bartenders were extra hospitable:)
The next day we went to eat lunch at Rick Bayless’ restaurant “Frontera Grill,” which is highly regarded, but we must have hit it on an off day. TIP: Make sure to get reservations 3-4 weeks in advance. www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/frontera–grill/
Unknown Fact: Ceviche is one of my fave foods
After one night at The Freehand, we drove outside of Chicago to a lil hotel with a pool so that we could get one last day of sun before we made the trip home. On the way to our hotel I spotted a large seafood restaurant that looked interesting so we stopped there the next day on our way home. I wish we had this chain in Detroit, but it was so good! We aren’t usually too into chain restaurants, but there is such thing as a good chain such as Ruby Tuesday’s, Morton’s, etc. This place is called Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen which is a Southern themed upscale restaurant with Louisiana-style seafood. The alligator was insanely good!! http://www.pappadeaux.com/
The drink menu was cleverly written.
I had tuna with crab meat and Paul had Halibut with lemon sauce.
They let us choose a free dessert for our honeymoon, and we chose the key lime pie. It’s the best key lime pie I’ve had so far!
Our waiter was super young, but he was really good. Another nice feature of the restaurant is their fancy floral patio area.
Please Pappadeaux come to Detroit!
I was sad for our honeymoon to end. One of the best things about choosing to honeymoon in the state that we live in, is that it won’t be difficult to relive our honeymoon whenever we can get away for the weekend. The Traverse City area is a romantic destination for food lovers and lovers of the outdoors.