Say it with fish

I've been coming up to northern Michigan since I was about eight years old. We would escape the humidity of Indiana summers and arrive on the lakefront with a cool breeze to greet us. This place holds many memories for me. My Grandparents originally bought it when I was a child and we've spent so much time with family here that it's the one constant place in my life that I love to retreat to. Most importantly, it was my Mother's favorite place on earth and her ashes are scattered on the rock we used to swim out to. Winters here are brutal, but there are a few small ski resorts around to keep us entertained with nights by a blazing fire to warm us through.

Easter weekend is a kind of in-between the seasons time to visit, but it's the first trip of the year and I'm sitting here with a steaming cup of coffee watching the water as it laps onto the shore. Every season here seems to have it's very own charm. It's a gorgeous day, with a crisp wind blowing and the sun shining through clear blue skies.

First on the agenda, once I can tear myself away from the comfy sofa and take my slippers off, is a trip into Charlevoix to John Cross Fisheries for tonight's fish supper.

This family owned fishery specializes in the local delicacy, whitefish, which they pull out of Lake Michigan on a daily basis.

As soon as you step out of the car near the docks, the tempting aroma of the smokehouse hits your nose.

Three generations of the Cross family are working behind the counter. Megan, Sue Cross' granddaughter, served us and I had to buy one of their t-shirts that says "Say It With Fish" on the back. Now that I think about it, you can say many things with fish, especially the fresh stuff.

I picked out three huge fillets, two pots of scrumptious whitefish pate and some of the smoked trout. I've learned it's always best to follow the owner's suggestion of baking the fish with a little butter, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Bake it at 425F until the fish becomes opaque and then finish it off under the broiler.

While we're waiting for the fish to cook, it's only appropriate to mix a cocktail, perhaps Grandpa's favorite- a Manhattan, and snack on the pate and smoked trout.

As it comes out of the oven, it's luscious lemon and butter sauce can be dripped over the flaky white flesh. I serve it with red skin potatoes or rice flavored with garlic, parsley and butter. Most importantly, any whitefish dinner should be accompanied with coleslaw. Ina Garten does a fabulous blue cheese coleslaw that's great with the unpretentious fish.

We finished the day with another stunning sunset and a glass of Frank Family Chardonnay donated by my Dad's collection.

Does life get any better than this?


  1. Well folks, I can certainly vouch for the superb meal on Good Friday, as always Lisa's cooking was 'awesome'.

    The fish was baked to perfection with butter and lemon, coleslaw with blue cheese and delicious rice. The meal was accompanied by a very special, chilled Chardonay.

    The sunset was amazing, a perfect end to my first day ever to Michigan. Thanks Lisa from your favourite Mum-in-law, Les xxx

  2. that place is right up my alley..nothing like good smoked fish.

    Have you ever been to "Calumet Fisheries" in Calumet, about an hour south of Chicago? It was featured on "No Reservations" and after reading some reviews of it I've decided that I have to get out there...

    Michigan is one of those states that we need to visit more often, and thanks to your description we're just a little bit closer to taking a weekend up there this summer. Thanks Lisa!

    Cheers, Brian

  3. The closest I've been to Calumet was an unfortunate detour around Christmas when the roads iced over and we stopped for directions. I must check Calumet Fisheries out! Next trip up north I'm going to make the smoked fish pate myself, although I don't know if I'll be able to stop myself from eating the fish just as it is.