Since its inception in 2004, I have wanted to attend the Epicurean Classic in Traverse City. -- one of the premier food/wine celebrations in the country. Some 60 chefs, winemakers, cookbook authors and food artisans were on hand for this culinary extraviganza! I took my 15 year old daughter with me this year, as she wants to be a chef. What an experience for her! She was introduced to the head of the Great Lakes Culinary Institute, situated along Grand Traverse Bay, and made quite an impression on the chefs and attendees. That's her in the picture with Geoffrey Bullard from Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet / Young Chefs Academy.
We both had a great time...enjoying the various foods (more me than her, because she was "working" -- grilling pizzas with Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet). Plan on attending next year -- the 5th annual event. While there, I also had the chance to try some of my favorite Michigan wines and also the newest product from Grand Traverse Distillery -- the Cherry Flavored True North Vodka. Smooth...a hint of sweet. Very nice. Can't wait until it is released later this month and I can make a cherry martini! I also caught up with my pals from New Holland Brewing Company, Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association and Michigan Beer Guide.
Our trip also included a 3 night stay at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons (another first). This historic site -- under the auspices of the Minervini Group -- was recently recognized for its historic preservation efforts by the Historical Society of Michigan (they were nominated by yours truly). This is an awesome place (a former state hospital being revitalized into its own community) and we had the grand opportunity to stay at the private apartment of Mr. Ray Minervini himself. There are 3 great books about this historic site...I suggest you search "Traverse City State Hospital" on Amazon.com...they're well worth reading.
While on this trip...I was also out delivering Michigan apples for a promotion for the Michigan Apple Committee. Check out my sweet ride provided by K&M Dodge in Grand Rapids. While there, I followed along the newly formed Northwest Route of the Michigan Apple Tours. This site includes three great driving routes where you can visit farms and pick apples, watch them being pressed into cider and enjoy other fall harvest activities.
September was a great month...signalling the end of summer. On to fall...my favorite season. In October, I'll be attending and presenting at the Great Lakes Lighthouse Festival in Alpena (Oct. 13). I'll share details soon!