Saturday, September 20, 2014

Wilbo Learns the Location of Twisted Wire's Vineyard and Takes Home Fresh Produce.

Strolling the farmer's market in Muskegon, I found a few artists, old acquaintances and new, and felt I could let go of summer tomorrow. Happy to see the Michigan Irish Music Festival team keeping the festival of last weekend in our minds, selling tee shirts and hats leftover from the market. The festival is lean, and all inventory must go so we can save up money to keep our food pantries at full strength all winter long.

The Muskegon Farmer's Market will push on through autumn and then huddle indoors when cold weather settles upon the landscape. The Fish Monger's Wife wraps, so to speak, the whitefish and king salmon season today. Get on her email list because she might tie into a huge deal in Alaskan Salmon during off season. The fishermen call her from the docks, so keep in touch. Laughing Tree Bakery has a schedule for fall available; they'll bring their exquisite wood fire baked bread to the indoor market this winter. If you miss them, Health Hutt in Norton Shores will always be selling their weekly allotment of loaves. Place a special order at the counter.

I love to look at the full tables laden with apples to kale, and consider buying. The fate of a batch of free vegetables fromHahana Bear and the Love Community Garden gives me pause. I ate through most of the tomatoes, still have the peppers, and expect the shriveled cucumbers will be okay once I peel them. Blueberries tossed in the freezer make a toothsome bedtime snack. So I can deal with blueberries. Sad though that these season has dwindled. Blueberry Haven in Grand Haven hasn't stocked fresh blueberries in their brick and mortar store next to Jumping Java for weeks. Plenty of farmers will sell them frozen already until the bushes bear fruit again.

For the most part, fresh off the farm produce frightens me. It's a responsibility and a race against rot to eat all that freshness before it moulds or rots or grows fuzz. So I took a chance on a pint of clingstone peaches fromSeth Leutzinger farms of Shelby, the family giving little promise of pints and pecks and baskets next Saturday. I'll munch through those over the weekend as eagerly as a black bear. Throw the stones in my backyard perennial garden and hope for sprouts come Spring.

Today was far from my first rodeo with a peck of peaches from a vendor purveying at the Muskegon Farmer's market. I bought a peck in July and sampled one from the batch walking to my car. The flesh delighted me with tartness and yet the texture struck me as crunchy. One of my 

friends, Krystal Gardiner, was playing guitar on the market stage, and I saw her daughter and mother in the audience seated at the nice picnic tables. So I made a great show of leaving the peck by her tip jar. Mother laughed. Chanteuse rolled her eyes. Later, chanteuse let me know she made cobbler with the peaches and mom and daughter enjoyed it. She was glad I hadn't thrown tomatoes.

I've bought a toaster and good butter and had good luck eating through loaves of Zingerman's Raisin Pecan bread, so maybe a jar of Star Thistle honey from Shadowlands apiary in White Cloud will be safe going home in my market basket today. Waste not, want not, raise no refrigerator fungus. Malybe I'll slowly work my way up the culinary ladder to blueberry pie making?

A man nibbling on a Whistle Punk pizza next to me, sitting on a green picnic table in the market shelter, has plans to score three bushels of clingstone pizzas. Not only has the fellow achieved Harley touring, he's achieved canning of peach halves in syrup and jellies. I am unworthy to sit so close.

Whistle Punk will continue to champion the nine dollar, wood-fired gourmet as in chef-inspired gourmet pizza outside Pigeon Hill Brewing Company on Wednesday until "the snow flies". As if mere precipitation could stop the Mia & Grace team. I have yet to try the Rebel Pie slice from the Unruly Brewing Company space in the Russell Block, but I survived the winter of 2013-2014 inside that beautiful rathskellerish space. So that taste experience has an inevitable place in my future. Top Shelf has equipment delivered to the space next to Pigeon Hill. We hear a management team has been appointed.Fricano Place will ensure we can get a classic pie sliced into sections with scissors into the late evening, view of the frozen surface of Lake Muskegon an extra bonus. I'm already envisioning a competition to pick the first place pizza pie on Western Avenue.

I bought a scone from Laughing Tree bakery, asked Aldea Coffee to make me a pour over and dropped out to listen to Acoustic Oasis, two guys and several instruments, playing coffeehouse rock. I'll take my caffeine needs to Todd at Drip Drop Drink when this cute coffee couple isn't in town.

I chatted up my friendly neighborhood wine venders, Twisted Wire and Oceana Winery and Vineyard. Happily, I enjoyed a stem, okay two, of the Twisted Wire Pinot Gris at the art museum Thursday night, the symphony showing off their new sculptures and paintings.

Oceana Winery is a rebranding of Tartan Hill, and I met Rachel, who has opened tasting rooms in New Era and Pentwater. She has also organized the West Michigan Wine and Beer Trail, with stops including micro-breweries and boutique hotels, publishing a brochure every one in Muskegon County can share with visiting friends with pride. Does anybody want to set out on a color tour with frequent stops for sips of grape or grains? Call me your designated driver and tour guide.

Had a quiet conversation with the Twisted Wire wine guy, and he revealed the location of his five acre Leelanau Peninsula county plot where three seasons have bore three remarkable harvests, 2013 and 2012 and 2011. His miracle plot between Maple City and Cedar raises enough Chardonnay and Pinot Gris for three thousand five hundred bottles. The Muskegon Museum of Art bought three cases for their new cash bar, a feature of the well catered openings that seem to come every Thursday lately. The wine guy confided his excitement for the 2014 vintage, with the harvest delayed from last year's picking date of September 20th. He'll pick, according to his guru who tested his grapes for brix, the third weekend in October, hoping it's not ice wine. Although he lost fifteen percent of his vines to cold damage, the crush will yield more juice than previous vintages.

Bundle up and put down roots until Spring comes. We can keep the cupboards full, the cellar stocked, the stein topped off and the soul sustained.

Will Juntunen

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