Monday, August 28, 2006


Veraison, in vinuous terms, is the point in the ripening process in which the grapes begin to soften and change color. The grapes above are in veraison. These are from the vineyards of Chateau Fontaine in the Leelanau Peninsula.

Hey kids! I got back from "Up North" last night and ran some errands today. Tomorrow, regretfully, I go back to work. I really, really don't want to. Really. I haven't thought about work once on my vacation. It's a shame that I'm not independently wealthy. Working for a living is so overrated. Vacation was pretty good. Over half of it was spent at home running errands and being generally lazy. I went up with friends on Thursday to a wonderful house on Grand Traverse Bay between Elk Rapids and Charlevoix. Unfortunately the weather sucked most of the trip. There was a downpour shortly after I left my house. The sun ended up coming out on Sunday...the day we drove back. It was a pretty relaxing trip and that's most important.

On Thursday we stopped at a New Orleans style restaurant called Pearls. It was pretty good. It had a nice, lively atmosphere and they made a pretty good margarita and chicory coffee. After dinner we made it to the house and simply chilled and drank some wine. On Friday we drove to the Leelanau Peninsula to Chateau Fontaine winery. I've known the owner for years and he's a really great guy. We tasted through his wines in the tasting room and then he gave us a bottle of wine and some glasses to enjoy in the vineyards. Since we had a 4-wheel drive vehicle he gave us a map and let us drive around his vineyard property. It was very pretty, it's just too bad that it was overcast. There were some pretty great views. We drove up to the top of a hill by the deer stand and drank some of his chardonnay walking around in the vineyards. It was pretty neat to be there at veraison. We really enjoyed ourselves at the winery but we had to depart to catch a dinner reservation at Stella in Traverse City.

I had met the owner of Stella about a year ago judging at a wine competition. I've been wanting to go there since she told me about her menu and philosophy. I've also heard very good things from others about the place and they were also recently written up in a recent Wine Spectator. The meal was sensational! I started with a soup of rabbit, potato, and saffron. It was made with a rich rabbit stock and it was accented with perfectly ripe, pierced grape tomatoes. The grape tomatoes gently accented and enriched the broth with a subtle, sweet flavor. Absolutely delicious! I also enjoyed a course of seared scallops with light tomato sauce and potato gnocchi accented with a lemon zabaglione. The zabaglione added a magical touch and the gnocchi were as fluffy as clouds. Truly stunning! For my entree I enjoyed roast pork loin wrapped in applewood smoked bacon, garlic and chanterelle risotto, and carrot jus. The pork was perfectly cooked. It was just slightly pink in the center and the risotto was spot-on with generous portions of chanterelle mushroom. Divine! For dessert I enjoyed a gianduja tart with whipped cream. I love gianduja (praline) and it was wonderfully rich. The whipped cream was made with a local dairy's cream and I must say that it was almost as good as the tart. Damn good! A double espresso was the perfect accompaniment. Through the meal I was able to taste from my dining companions' plates. I tasted a wonderful stuffed squash blossom appetizer, a great filet with gorgonzola, and a stunning duck plate which consisted of seared duck breast, confit of duck leg, gnocchi, and pesto. Fan-flippin'-tastic! But then again duck confit is one of my favorite things on the planet. I must say that Stella is one of the best meals I've had in years. I very highly recommend it! If you're ever in the Traverse City you won't regret it.

We returned to the house and enjoyed some more great wine, movies, and company. Most of Saturday was spent vegetating. We watched some DVDs and I read a bit. Eventually we did leave to grab a drink and some appetizers at Latitude in Bayport, only to come back to the house to make dinner. The home owners' friend had caught a beautiful Chinook salmon. I made a glaze of apricot and ginger and he grilled it as I made my famous mashed potatoes. We also had some wonderful sweet corn. And more wine of course...

The sun was finally out on Sunday and we could actually see across the bay pretty well. I read some more and just relaxed on the upper deck and eventually we all walked down to the lower deck on the beach and enjoyed the sun. Due to the weather we weren't able to see a sunrise (on Torch Lake) or a sunset on Grand Traverse Bay. Too bad, but we still had a very relaxing time. I'm very thankful to our hosts and their hospitality. The house was sensational!

Vacation is over... :(

I just saw a commercial for John Tesh playing at Freedom Hill on Thursday. Rock on! I am so there...not.

I tried posting some more pics but I was having some issues...

Hope you had a good week!




Blogger Kathleen said...

I thought it was interesting that Stella's lunch menu was more vegetarian friendly than the dinner menu (at least the menus they had posted).

Sounds like you had a lovely vacation. I hope work won't be too sucky for you.

10:07 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home