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Tastemakers: Michigan Shrimp/ Blue Peligan Bubbly

Rick Coates - December 27th, 2010
Michigan Shrimp
When PBS Chef (Fork In The Road) Eric Villegas told me about Michigan Shrimp at the Father Fred Foundation Cigar Dinner six years ago, I was waiting for the punch line. There wasn’t one, Villegas was serious as he told me about Okemos-based Russ Allen and his shrimp farm.
Allen launched his Shrimp Farm Market (Seafood Systems, Inc.) in 1994. After a 30-plus year career consulting for shrimp farms around the world, he had the vision of creating an industry here in Michigan.
Aquaculture, or aquafarming, is on the rise around the world and those who subscribe to this believe that ultimately aquaculture will be the way the world is fed in the future. According to Corinna Borden, an Ann Arbor based author and writer who also manages the Westside Farmers Market (where Allen sells his shrimp and works at the famed Zingerman’s Deli), “Michigan consumes 10 million pounds a year of shrimp – wouldn’t it be great if we could not only feed that demand, but feed America’s demand for 1.5 billion pounds a year?”
While both Villegas and Borden like the sustainability aspects of Allen’s shrimp farm, the freshness and quality of the product are equally impressive.
Okay, at first thought Michigan shrimp might sound ridiculous, just like the thought of Michigan wine 20 years ago might have; but before you snub your palette give them a try. What impressed me is that these shrimp are so fresh, delicate and flavorful that little needs to be added to them; simply sauté with white wine, olive oil and hint of garlic to enjoy their full flavor. If you are looking for a little more bite, a great recipe is Shrimp Vignoles. Combine olive oil, with Boskeydel Vignoles (Leelanau Peninsula), fresh garlic, a couple of dashes of hot sauce and chopped green onion; do not overcook and no cocktail sauce!
Currently Shrimp Farm Market products are not available at any Northern Michigan retailers but may be ordered online. In addition to shrimp, Allen is offering farm raised whitefish, shrimp spreads and shrimp burgers at www.shrimpfarmmarket.com or by calling (517) 347-4999. To learn more about the writings of Corinna Borden, check out her book, “I Dreamt of Sausage,” a memoir of her experience with alternative and conventional treatments for cancer. Read more about her at www.corinnaborden.com ---Rick Coates

Blue Pelican
Bubbly

As 2011 rings itself in, there is much anticipation for the coming year. So a toast is in order to honor where we have been and where we are going. May I suggest a bottle of Blue Pelican Bubbly, a private label sparkling wine made for the Central Lake restaurant by L Mawby in Suttons Bay.
This is a light and refreshing bubbly that pairs nicely with any celebration and certainly for New Year’s Eve. Enjoy with seafood, especially grilled Michigan Shrimp (see Tastemakers) or during the cocktail hour.
Blue Pelican Bubbly is available only at the The Blue Pelican Inn located in Central Lake. Another Northern Michigan success story, The Blue Pelican Inn is the vision of Chris and Merrie Corbett who opened their first location just outside of Central Lake in 2003. In 2008 when the place burned down, they rebuilt and opened the Blue Pelican Room. Last year they bought the old Murphy’s Lamplight Inn (downtown Central Lake) and between the two locations invested $2 million.
“The community needed this,” said Chris Corbett. In the spirit of giving back to the community the Corbetts offered “Two for Tuesdays” beers, brats, margaritas for two bucks each.
The Central Lake and Bellaire area have become quite the destination, with Short’s Brewery and Lulu’s in Bellaire and now the Blue Pelican Inn along with several quaint inns and B&B in the region.
The Blue Pelican will be having a New Year’s Eve Dinner with a special menu in their dining room and a party in their Sidedoor Lounge in the basement. For more details on this, their Blue Pelican Bubbly and to see their to-go wine list and menus check out www.thebluepelican.com ---Rick Coates.
 
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