Weekend Getaway, Part III: Fine Wine, Dine Fine

Formal dinner table setting at The Grand Hotel – tangledpasta.net

Venetian glass chandelier, the Cupola Bar atop The Grand Hotel – tangledpasta.net

The stellar breakfasts and five-course dinners at The Grand Hotel satisfy the most finicky of tastes.  The wine lists and cocktail offerings make for leisurely dining and even quietly rocking on the 660-foot porch satisfying.    A restaurant that serves up divine grits is my kind of place, and The Grand Hotel’s Salon Manger fulfilled my Southern breakfast longing.  We heartily partook of a fresh vegetable omelets, grits, mango juice, tea, and croissants to hold us throughout the day until the magical stroke of six o’clock in the evening.

Veal osso bucco, The Grand Hotel – tangledpasta.net

Each evening at six, The Grand Hotel staff circulate on the mammoth porch and throughout the hotel to remind guests it is time to dress for dinner.  Part of the charm of this hotel is that formal dress is required:  suits for the gents and dresses or skirts, or pantsuits for the ladies.  Even the children dress to the nines for the evening at The Grand Hotel.  It seems to me that everyone stands a bit taller and walks with a more confident air because of the formal attire each evening.  The five-star dining experience is very much worth the effort of “getting done up”.

White chocolate bread pudding, The Grand Hotel – tangledpasta.net

The Grand Hotel’s signature dessert: The Grand Pecan Ball in fudge sauce- tangledpasta.net

Each dinner table holds formal place settings for each patron.  For dinner one evening I chose the Chilled Jumbo Shrimp with Farro Verde and Sweet Chili Sauce as an appetizer; the Wild Mushroom and Onion South with Artichoke Tapenade for the soup selection; the Tuscan Bread Salad with Frisee, Sweet Peppers, Red Onion, Mozzarella and Basil Dressing.  For an entrée I selected the Braised Veal Osso Bucco Milanese with Crispy Grits Cakes and Lemon Parsley Gremolata.  Usually I am a vegan/vegetarian, but I cast it aside when dining at The Grand Hotel.  My carnivorous nature ran free and wild over the tender veal osso bucco.  Just because dessert is the crème of the dinner crème in the Salon Manger, I relished every bite of the Warm White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Crystallized Ginger Sauce.  Naturally, we repaired to the main Salon for a nightcap sherry and to listen to the dulcet tones of the harpist as we contemplated how to go forth into that good night.

The harp musician, The Grand Hotel – tangledpasta.net

Ciao for now.

Weekend Getaway, Part II

 

Upon docking at Mackinac Island, we caught a four-legged taxi to The Grand Hotel.  No cars are permitted on the island, which means work horses abound on the island.  The Grand Hotel driver wears a black top hat, tall leather black leather boots, white breeches, and a burgundy-colored waistcoat with tails.  The carriage itself has large wooden spoke wheels, windows, and is pulled by a pair of black horses decked out in black leather gear.

The Grand Hotel’s taxi in front of The Grand Hotel- tangledpasta.net

The horses’ clip-clop-clip-clop up and down the hills of the winding streets finally depositing us in front of The Grand Hotel’s steep red-carpeted steps.  Schepler’s Ferry transported our baggage via horse-drawn carriage to the hotel prior to our arrival on the island.  Shortly after checking in, our bags appeared outside our room door.

This was our third stay at The Grand Hotel; as a result, our room had been upgraded to a Category III Lake-View room.  Two four-poster canopy beds coördinated with the brightly flowered wallpaper supplied a cheery greeting upon our arrival.  Dorothy Draper’s protégé, Carleton Varney, the hotel historian informed us, decorated each of the 385 rooms differently in 19th century fashion.  Each paint color is unique to The Grand Hotel.

Dressing for formal dinner in our Lake View room, The Grand Hotel – tangledpasta.net

The large geranium-motif carpet runs throughout the hotel [the geranium is the signature flower of The Grand Hotel].  In each bathroom, small bars of pink geranium-scented soap greet the guest, as does rosy geranium-fragranced body lotion.  The lake vista, the brightly splashed wallpaper, comfy beds, and scent of geraniums wafting through the air calmed the senses.

Part of The Salon, The Grand Hotel – tangledpasta.net

We decided to partake of formal tea time in The Salon.  My daughter chose a glass of pink champagne, and I the dry sherry.  Our server, who was dressed in a crisp black and white uniform replete with a white headpiece à la 19th century servants, displayed before us a tasty repast of salmon, crab, ham, and turkey each served on crustless bread cut in the shape of hearts, circles, and rectangles.   Another plate was laden with sweets and fresh cream.  The tea itself was full-bodied.

Formal tea at The Grand Hotel, – tangledpasta.net

We strolled around the grounds overlooking the Tea Garden where enormous greenery has been trimmed to resemble animals.  A large fountain bubbled away as workers scurried to set up for a wedding to take place overlooking the fountain.

The promise of a fine weekend loomed large.

Ciao for now.

 

Weekend Getaway, Part I

Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan, Unit...

Grand Hotel in Mackinac Island, Michigan, United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An island of paradise exists in The Heartland in the guise of Mackinac Island.  Located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, sitting in Lake Michigan, this miniscule island is home to one of the treasures of our country:  The Grand Hotel.

Opened in 1887, The Grand Hotel celebrates its 125th Anniversary this year.  In a testament to war, economic decline, and prosperity, The Grand Hotel has never closed its doors since it first opened.  An impromptu getaway at The Grand Hotel proved once again that she remains the embodiment of the Grande Dame of Hotels.

Having spent summers at our family cottage on Eagle Lake in southwestern Michigan, my affinity for Michigan and the Great Lakes in general has not waned. The Grand Hotel is a throwback to an age of refinement, culture, and fine dining.  Like my summers of yore on Eagle Lake, The Grand Hotel is an experience unto itself.  Each summer I long for at least a weekend on The Lake.  We snatched up last-minute availability at The Grand Hotel; within days we commenced our seven and a half hour drive north to St. Ignace.

Not only is northern Michigan lush in its plethora of trees, but also in its mountainous terrain.  The further north we traveled, the fewer and farther the towns in between.  In order to reach St. Ignace, we had to cross the cathedral-like suspension bridge across the point where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet, thereby linking Mackinaw City with St. Ignace in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  The five-mile Mackinac Bridge offers panoramic views of the two Great Lakes.  For us, the mighty bridge acts as a prelude to one of our most beloved travel destinations:  The Grand Hotel.

English: Mackinac Bridge between Mackinaw City...

English: Mackinac Bridge between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan, photographed on July 31, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We parked the car, and caught Schepler’s ferry to Mackinac Island.  As we ferried across to Mackinac Island, we gazed at the majestic bridge in all its beauty.  Our long weekend getaway was off to a rousing start.

A Mackinac Island ferry passing in front of th...

A Mackinac Island ferry passing in front of the Mackinac Bridge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ciao for now.