Travel Eats: A day trip to Michigan’s Harbor Country

Travel Eats documents my food adventures outside of Chicago.

Picking our own peaches at Crane Orchard in Fennville
Picking our own peaches at Crane Orchard in Fennville

Spending a gorgeous Saturday in southwest Michigan does present convincing evidence that the state is as magical as depicted in the “Pure Michigan” commercials, especially when it comes to food. From a picnic by the water in Saugatuck to picking peaches and apples in South Haven and tasting cider in Fennville, we fit in as many delicious summer activities as we could. I was impressed by the quality of everything we tried: excellent bottled cold brew coffee, mellow pear and blueberry fruit wines that would make excellent pairings, five nuanced styles of the Virtue Cider that’s already beloved in Chicago, and a lovely farm-to-table meal at Salt of the Earth, where I also drank the best lemonade I’ve had all summer (white whiskey, grilled lemon, and thyme add up to greatness).

Uncommon Grounds' bottled cold brew coffee in Saugatuck
Uncommon Coffee Roasters’ bottled cold brew coffee in Saugatuck
Nebraska wrap from Boardwalk Deli in Saugatuck
Nebraska wrap from Boardwalk Deli in Saugatuck
Tasting fruit wines at McIntosh Cellars in South Haven
Tasting fruit wines at McIntosh Wine Cellars in South Haven
Where cider is made at Virtue Farms
Where cider is made at Virtue Farms
The Virtue Cider sign
The Virtue Cider sign
Grilled lemonade with Journeyman white whiskey, lemon sour, thyme, and soda at Salt of the Earth in Fennville
Grilled lemonade with Journeyman white whiskey, lemon sour, thyme, and soda at Salt of the Earth in Fennville
Feta and herb pizza at Salt of the Earth in Fennvile
Feta and herb pizza at Salt of the Earth in Fennvile
Eating apple pie from Crane's Pie Pantry by moonlight
Eating apple pie from Crane’s Pie Pantry by moonlight

The details: Uncommon Coffee Roasters, 127 Hoffman St., Saugatuck; Boardwalk Deli, 311 Water St., Saugatuck; McIntosh Wine Cellars, 6431 107th Ave., South Haven; Virtue Farms, 2170 62nd St. (122nd Ave.), Fennville; Crane’s Pie Pantry, 6054 124th Ave. (M-89), Fennville; Salt of the Earth, 144 E Main St., Fennville.

Delicious event: Fête Night Market

Chicken sandwich from Pecking Order, butterscotch praline donut from Firecakes, and La Vida Rose cocktail from Longman & Eagle
Chicken sandwich from Pecking Order, butterscotch praline donut from Firecakes, and La Vida Rose cocktail from Longman & Eagle

Last night, I was thrilled to attend the kick-off event for Fête, the first food and design festival of its kind in Chicago. Fête is also distinctive in its curation: Fête’s founders, which represent past and present editors at Tasting Table, Daily Candy, and Time Out Chicago, are well-positioned to understand what’s really trending in the city’s dining and cultural realms, and it showed immediately when the creative four-day line-up of tastings, seminars, and tours was announced. A night market was a great way to open the festival, with an impressive list of chefs and artisans offering both edible and non-edible wares.

However, when you pack a market with that many outstanding vendors – including pop-ups from two not-yet-open-but-already-buzzed-about restaurants – you should expect a lot of people. With a line around the block to get into the building and attendees squeezing shoulder-to-shoulder between booths once inside, I don’t think the space was quite equipped for such a barrage, even with two floors. But, inconvenience aside, there was so much to savor. I loved my chicken sandwich from Pecking Order, with juicy, Filipino-style fried chicken and slaw, and was talked into buying their homemade banana ketchup as well (I have a soft spot for artisanal condiments). I was also able to support Lillie’s Q, who recently suffered a fire in their main Bucktown location, by picking up another bottle of their matchless barbecue sauce. And Firecakes, one of the newcomers to Chicago’s gourmet donut scene, definitely delivered with its butterscotch praline donut, creamy in the center with crunchy praline bits atop its sticky glaze. I’m a little sad I didn’t get to try anything from Mott Street or Parson’s Chicken and Fish, the two aforementioned pop-ups, but I’m planning to get the full experience of both restaurants once they open. My ticket also included two cocktails from Longman & Eagle and a glass of Virtue Cider, all of which were lovely to sip as I walked around.

I’m attending two more Fête events this weekend, and will share those on the blog soon as well. But for now, check out more photos of the night market below.

The chandelier-lit space at Room 1520, which was quickly packed on both floors
The chandelier-lit space at Room 1520, which was quickly packed on both floors
Roosters, banana ketchup, and more from Pecking Order
Roosters, banana ketchup, and more from Pecking Order
Array of barbecue sauces from Lillie's Q
Array of barbecue sauces from Lillie’s Q
Luxemi jewelry from India
India-sourced jewelry from Luxemi

The details: View the market’s full list of vendors. Shown here: Pecking Order, Lillie’s Q, Longman & Eagle, Firecakes, and Luxemi.