Saturday, August 3, 2013

Door County Fish Boil

Tonight we partook of a culinary tradition peculiar to this part of the world. In fact, Wikipedia says it’s found in areas of Wisconsin and the Coastal Upper Great Lakes, with a “particularly strong presence in Door County, Wisconsin.” The process of cooking is the same as it has been done for centuries, and has been passed down through generations.


I chose Pelletier’s restaurant in Fish Creek, based on reviews I read on Yelp. It turned out to be a good choice, confirmed by some folks we met who come to Door County every year and always eat the fish boil at Pelletier’s. As you can see by the menu, they serve other food, and Don had the baked chicken.


When we arrived, although we had reservations, we still had to stand it line to check in, order and pre-pay for our meals.


But the wait wasn’t too long, and soon we were able to go out on the patio to watch the fish boil in progress.

One of the ladies we met took our picture, and I took theirs.


Actually, this was just the remaining smoke and steam from the boiling kettles, as there’s a fish boil every half hour. When making reservations, we were told to arrive a half-hour early to check in and watch the boil.


As one group of diners sit down to eat, another group is arriving to watch the cooking process.


First, the fire was fed some fresh wood.


Then the steaks of locally caught whitefish were brought out in a large basket.


Baby red potatoes and boiling onions were put in another basket and they started cooking first.


The fish was put in a smaller basket so it could be set on top of the potatoes and onions in the same kettle. Notice the flat pieces of wood leaned up against the sides of the kettle to shield the fire and increase the heat.


When the fish oil rose to float on top of the water, the Master Boiler threw fuel under the kettle, causing the fire to flame up and the water and fish oils to boil over the sides.


It was quite spectacular for a few seconds!


The Boilers then passed a long metal pole through the handles of the cooking baskets and pulled the cooked food out of the boiling water.


Notice the two baskets below, with the fish on top and potatoes/onions on the bottom.


As the food was plated inside, melted butter was poured over everything hot, cole slaw was added, and minutes later the dinner plates were served.


My fish (I got the “lite eater’s” portion) and accompaniments were delicious, and Don said his baked chicken (he’s not a fish eater normally) was very good and even the breast was moist.


We enjoyed the experience and met some nice people who shared their table and conversation while we dined. And we managed to miss the rain showers that arrived just as we were getting back in the car.

P.S. I failed to include a picture of my dinner plate from Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in my previous blog. I had Swedish Meatballs, homemade mashed potatoes and tender green beans. Don had Swedish Pancakes, with eggs and Swedish Meatballs, but I didn’t get a picture. (Carol Jennings, this is for you!)


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant

The highlight of our day was dinner at this special restaurant. What makes it so special? Well, it could be the goats on the roof, with a Goat Cam (new this year) so you can see the goats during daylight hours. Or it could be that the delicious, authentic Swedish food is served by beautiful waitresses in traditional Swedish costumes. Or it could be the location across from the gorgeous Sister Bay marina.

(Note: Click the links above to go to the restaurant’s web site for lots more info, and to see the Goat Cam live, but remember that the goats aren’t there at night.)

But the main reason it’s special to us is that Al (Albert) Johnson is the name of Don’s maternal grandfather, who was Swedish. In fact, Don’s middle name is Albert, from his grandfather. The only remaining member of the Johnson family is Don’s Aunt Della Johnson McKamey, who lives in Santa Rosa, CA. So, Della, this blog is for you!

We visited Sister Bay during the day, enjoying the perfect sunny weather, then returned for dinner later.












Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day Trip to Sturgeon Bay

This blog is mostly pictures taken during our drive from our campground in Bailey’s Harbor to Sturgeon Bay (and visiting the Maritime Museum), about 50 miles round trip because we went west to Egg Harbor before heading south. Otherwise, it would have been only about 35 miles. The day started out cloudy, with a 70% chance of precipitation, so I didn’t expect to get really great pictures.

I wanted to see the coastline along the shores of Green Bay, and it looked on the map like the road hugged it for several miles. However, this is what we saw.



The road was far enough from the water to allow for lots of trees to obscure the view, and private properties lined the coastline. So our view was of mailboxes, driveways and occasionally a gated entrance. I wondered what kind of house would be at the end of that? Large and grand, I’m sure. We got a glimpse of the water a few times, but the view still wasn’t what I expected. Is anyone interested in a fixer-upper?


Finally, we started to see the water, but without sunshine the views were still disappointing.


When we arrived in Sturgeon Bay, the largest town in Door County and the county seat, the first few block of downtown looked very touristy. With a population of about 9500, and with tourism one of its sources of income, it’s not surprising.


But I noticed some interesting architecture in the buildings.




I think I’ll have to return to spend some time in this shop. It’s called “Spin” and offers yarn art classes. Notice the rainbow fish on the left? Similar fish/whales were seen throughout the downtown area.


We happened to catch the drawbridge up to allow a sailboat to pass through.


The older, historic Sturgeon Bay Bridge, a couple of blocks over, didn’t have the same interruption, as the boat stopped before reaching it.


We enjoyed one of the best Mexican meals in a long time at Hot Tamales. Imagine, it was better than various states we’ve visited that are so much closer to Mexico! Everything was fresh and tasty.


The main attraction of the day was the Maritime Museum.


With Don’s maritime past, and continuing interest, this was a special treat for him. I enjoyed it, too. We opted to include a tour of the tug John Purves along with our museum admission. Here are just a few of the remaining 140+ pics I took in the museum and on the tugboat.



What a familiar device for this submariner! And the periscope actually worked, showing the bay and shipyard outside.


Another familiar scene: the type of diesel engine that played a part in his career.


A diving suit similar to what he wore.


Diver’s decompression chamber. My claustrophobia was starting to kick in just looking inside this ‘tube.’


The 150-ft. John Purves is permanently docked outside the museum. It was built in 1919.


Larry, a volunteer, gave an interesting and informative tour.


Fuel capacity 50,000 gallons. But I’m sure they didn’t have to pay $4/gal for their diesel.


A washing machine was on board, with a coin slot. The younger shipmates didn’t know the coin operation was disabled, so they fed it and the seasoned guys took the cash to fund their liberty. But there was no dryer.


Officers’ quarters were luxurious compared to what Don experienced on submarines.


The Chief Engineer even had his own private bathroom and an air conditioner in his bedroom. In fact, his ‘suite’ was larger than that of the Captain, who shared a bathroom with 1st and 2nd Mates.


But this phone was on the wall above the Chief Engineer’s bed. He was on call 24/7. I think he earned that nice suite!


Six meals were served daily, 2 of each: breakfast, lunch and dinner, which kept the cook busy from early morning till late at night. Coffee was always available. And they ate heartily!


Here’s the tug before restoration began. Although about 80 people showed interest in the project, only 8 volunteers stuck with it for four years to clean, restore and repaint the ship to prepare it for tours.


In it’s working days, the tug pulled an amazing payload, mostly of pulpwood logs.


When we returned to our campground, we met some of our neighbors, including a couple in a Dutch Star who were at the Newmar rally in Du Quoin in June. It’s a small world!


Our site is nice because we don’t have one of the back-to-back sites and have grassy space on both sides.


But we had to get inventive for leveling and stabilizing.


We’re hoping for sunnier weather tomorrow, and looking forward to more new adventures.