For my birthday the beautiful and talented Kimberly planned a trip to the Old Mission Peninsula of Michigan. I think she is trying to get me to like Michigan by taking me to a very familiar looking place, only it’s in another state. By this I mean that the OMP reminds me so much of the Finger Lakes region of New York that if she dropped me in blindfolded, I may not know the difference (how devious of her). Much to her chagrin I figured it all out. It only took the observation of one in ten cars using their turn signals to make me aware I was in Michigan.
Actually she planned a great trip revolving completely around driving my Alfa Romeo Spider; unfortunately the Alfa had other ideas. It seems as though it is angry at me, I know, I know, it’s inanimate, but more importantly, it’s Italian. This means it doesn’t have to adhere to the rules of living and non. When it has been left in the barn for legions of barn swallows to conduct bombing raids on it, it refuses to start. If it were a Ford it would gleefully fire on the first crank and go straight to the car wash, but alas its somewhat crankier than that (think Stephen King’s Christine). Ford Freestyle to the rescue, always there, always non-threatening; the mom-mobile. It all worked out for the best as the Alfa is not as watertight as it should be and we had torrential downpours on friday night. Wet jeans are the standard when driving in the Alfa in the rain, and the wipers are virtually useless. It’s hard to look cool getting out of your sporty little italian convertible appearing to have peed your pants.
We arrived in dry pants at the Tesoro Inn. After we parked in their circular drive, I spent a few minutes checking out the outside of the b&b.
It was beautiful, with cedar shakes, pergola, fancy pants front door, landscaping and a cupola. The foot square cedar beams that formed the uprights of the pergola have copper tops on them to keep the beams from rotting and a climbing vine running up to the latticework.
We went in and were instantly hit with the aromas of what we found out later to be Saturday’s breakfast. Along with the heavenly smells there was jazz playing on the stereo, and a friendly old dog, thus giving an ambiance that made me feel completely relaxed and “home”.
There aren’t many places I go that can shut my brain off like here. Les, one half of the Tesoro inn team, (and one hell of a cook) greeted us and gave us a tour of the place. He showed us the back yard and the rooms, also told us of the recent renovations (which sounded substantial, including cedar pillars, repairing damage left by an indoor hottub, and reconfiguringsuites/bathrooms).
After the tour he showed us our room, the Pear Tree Room. It took us a while to figure out why it’s called the pear room, but then Kim saw it; a lone pear out on the tree just outside the window.
The room was large, clean, tastefully decorated and had a very comfortable king size sleigh bed. In other words, way too nice for me. Luckily Kim deserves the best so I can’t say that the quality of the room was wasted. We also noticed after the 7pm turn down service that there were two chocolate coated strawberries with candied ginger on them, a combination I wouldn’t have thought of but will never forget. Yum!
I’ll skip dinner as Kim has that covered and move on to breakfast. We went up to the cupola for breakfast, as it had rained out and eating outside would have been no fun.
First out came the coffee and of course, Diet Coke for Kim. A pleasant young man (never caught his name so I will make one up for him: “Roland”) delivered these and took our order. Kim ordered the sweet potato and maplewood smoked bacon hash and eggs, I ordered the duck breast, eggplant and goat cheese frittata. Our starter was a parfait glass with fresh blueberries and a homemade lemon whipped cream on top, it was delicious. In fact “Roland” probably didn’t make it downstairs before we were done eating it. There was also a mango upside down cake or maybe a crisp that was the perfect accompaniment to my coffee. “Roland” came back a little while later and refilled my coffee (not gas station coffee either, but really good coffee) brought us fresh mango and pomegranate juice and took our dirty dishes. He then came back with breakfast. Let me start by saying that I grew up on a farm and probably take for granted what a farm fresh egg looks and tastes like. Now that I regularly buy store eggs, I’ve forgotten the difference but organic and fresh is the way to go; the yolks stand up like a hemisphere and the color is more orange than yellow. When you pop the yolk it’s thicker; less like a thin sauce and more like gravy. There truly is no comparison, but back to breakfast. Kim’s breakfast of sweet potato with maplewood smoked bacon hash and eggs looked great and smelled even better. The hash had sweet potatoes, onions, garlic and bacon in it and was unlike any breakfast hash I’ve ever had (Kim’s aside: it was awesome and I only shared because I’m a super nice person, not because I really wanted to!). I love corned beef hash and have to admit that I feel like I cheated on it with a younger, hotter hash. The eggs were, as I said before, awesome and procured from a local free range farmer (Shangri-la Too Farms). When you dipped your fresh homemade wheat toast in the yolk it coated and stuck to it like velcro. I had the fritatta and it was comprised of eggs, pan seared duck breast, swiss chard, eggplant, onions, garlic and goat cheese. This was another winner, Les was batting a thousand.
We also met Les’s wife Jane, and talked with her about pottery and food and art for quite awhiel; she has a very engaging personality and we both couldn’t help but like her. I should also point out that both our breakfasts came with more fruit; mangoes, black berries, strawberries, and raspberries. This was truly one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.
The next morning the starter was a mango smoothie, and oatmeal scones with honey. Both of these dishes were so good I could have had them only, for breakfast. “Roland” came back for our orders, I ordered grits and eggs with bacon, Kim ordered eggs benedict. Perfectly reasonable diner food right? Wrong, fool! Here are the twists to some classics. I had hominy grits with leeks, onions, garlic and smoked gouda. More like risotto than your mom’s grits. This isn’t Shoney’s, sucker! I also had more delicious eggs and homemade toast with some savory bacon. Awesome! Kim’s eggs benedict was served over homemade white toast, canadian bacon, swiss chard sauteed with garlic and homemade hollandaise over the farm fresh egg. The hollandaise sauce was so very good; I remembered what real hollandaise tastes like (the kind I make comes from a box…mostly because I lack the skill and patience to do it the right way). Again there was more fruit, kiwis, strawberries, mango, and blackberries.
I would say if you were going to the Old Mission Peninsula for the weekend and wanted to hit the wineries and breweries then this is the place you want to stay. The outstanding breakfasts, the large room with turn down service, and the peaceful atmosphere (not to mention heavenly smells!) are worth every penny!!