MA Road Trip: Hello, Michigan

LUDINGTON, Aug. 7 -- At 66 degrees, it feels like fall in Ludington, Mich.., a small town along the Lake Michigan shore line, on the west coast of the state. But the sun is already high in the sky, beckoning us to check out the beach and sand dunes that make Ludington a popular tourist destination. (The plan is to check them out after breakfast.)

A late glorious sunset at the Ludington Municipal Marina. (Kim O'Donnel)

Ludington is also home to the SS Badger, an enormous car ferry that cruises across the lake twice daily to Manitowoc, Wis. After an early evening thunderstorm and dinner at the
Jamesport Brewing Company (where I had my first-ever blueberry wheat beer -- pretty tasty, by the way), the weather cleared up and we were treated to a glorious sunset that lit the skies over the municipal marina 'til just about 9:30 p.m.

From a culinary point of view, yesterday's journey was far more interesting. For lunch, we pulled into Ann Arbor, a town I've always wanted to visit, with Zingerman's Deli first on the to-do list. Open since 1982, Zingerman's is both a local institution (the line snaked out the door with an hour-long wait when we left) as well as a foodie destination for anyone road tripping across America. In addition to the counter-style deli offerings, Zingerman's sells a huge variety of gourmet products (think oils, outrageous cheese, obscure condiments from around the world) and just across the courtyard houses a coffee/gelato/baked goods bar. Since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to eat in the courtyard (I had a dreamy roasted turkey sandwich with some kind of double camembert and caramelized onions and Jules had some groovy summer squash with Parmigiano) and absorb some of Mother Nature's Vitamin D.

A full belly after a delightful lunch at Zingerman's Deli in Ann Arbor, Mich. (J. Shepard)

In search of wine to take with us to Ludington, the nice guy behind the counter suggested that we walk over to Kerrytown, a collection of locally-owned shops just a block down the street. Inside, we discovered a jewel of a wine shop called Everyday Wines where we found a bottle of Michigan red table wine (Old School Red, Peninsula Cellars, Traverse City) and a rose of Malbec (Crios 2007) that was delicious even in Best Western-style plastic cups.

As luck would have it, the Wednesday edition of the Ann Arbor Farmers Market was taking place right next door, and we had a good ole time strolling under the covered marketplace, chatting it up with vendors, including a nearby blueberry farmer and one coffee roaster named John Roos, owner and operator of Roos Roast, which sells Fair Trade beans from Nicaragua and Ethiopia. Then we spotted the most magnificent onions from a local organic farm --- shape and size similar to globe eggplants. Unbelievable!

Time to sign off and check out those sand dunes before we head south along the Lake Michigan coast, through Saugatuck and Holland (where, from what I understand, smells like vinegar due to the production of Heinz vinegar and pickles. We'll keep our noses peeled.) This evening's destination: South Haven, home to the National Blueberry Festival -- and we're hoping to make it in time for the crowning of the Blueberry Festival Queen.

By Kim ODonnel |  August 7, 2008; 10:25 AM ET MA on the Road , Travel
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Good luck in Washington, Kim! Hate to be the bearer of any bad news, but we just found out that the Bangkok 54 market closed! When we find an equally awesome replacement, will send to you for your visits back.

Posted by: AlexandriaReader | August 7, 2008 10:50 AM

Enjoy Holland. Its so great there. My family vacations there and my aunt makes the best blueberry/peach pie from all the great local produce!

Happy driving.

Posted by: DC | August 7, 2008 12:29 PM

ps forgot to mention you should for sure try sherman dairy ice cream. That place is a hot spot and some of the best ice cream ever!

Posted by: DC | August 7, 2008 12:29 PM

It's fig time for me, and if I don't get some inspiration now, the birds will find the ripe figs in the next day or two. Help! I like figs dried, but not fresh. I think the sugar content develops higher when I slow dry them. But in any case, I would love some inspiration. A homemade 'newton' is all I can think of, and I was hoping for something else.

Posted by: Jumper | August 7, 2008 4:45 PM


Cut the figs in half and roast till almost soft. Add blue cheese (or your favorite cheese) on top and roast until done. You can serve with ham or chicken.

Posted by: lmthib | August 8, 2008 11:20 AM

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