This article was written for a national publication three years ago, but was never published for space reasons. Life got in the way and I never got around to publishing it. The New York Times and Food and Wine have recently show some interest in the region, so I figured it was time to ressurect the piece. Sadly, Tapawingo, the great restaurant referenced in the article has since closed. The winemakers are are still putting out incredible product, including Left Foot Charley wines which wasn’t open yet during my initial visit. The cheesemakers at Black Star Farms are also still first in class. As far as I could remember, Michigan had always been dubbed a rust belt state by embattled politicians, but growing up in metro-Detroit, I never believed it. Sure, shopworn laborers left their jobs drenched in sweat, with the boom, thud, plodding of pistons and a gnash of gears ringing in their ears, but they did so in shiny Cadillacs or trailed by the guttural purr of Corvette exhaust pipes. Local prosperity lingered far past damning rhetorical pronouncements, and nowhere was our good fortune more evident than “up north”, what native Michiganders call all land above the city…
Jesus doesn’t take names.
Writers love a clubhouse. William Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh left their burdens behind in pewter steins under flickering candelabras at London’s Mermaid Tavern. In New York, Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley helmed their famed vicious circle during lunches at the Algonquin. And in Chicago, not so long ago, if you stooped low and threw open the red door at 430 N. Michigan Ave., you might find Mike Royko, Roger Ebert or Rick Kogan, maybe all of them, testing their wit, and certainly their livers, in the Wise Guys’ Corner at The Billy Goat.
I’m just sitting here watching the wheels going round and round. I really love to watch them roll. —John Lennon