Nestled along the shady sidewalks in Petoskey’s historic gaslight district are gourmet shops and restaurants full of sweet items to eat and to use in your kitchen. Start out at Grain Train Natural Food Co-op (220 East Mitchell St., 231-347-2381) and get a load of the good stuff: dewy organic produce, all-natural milk in glass bottles, crunchy granola-type cereals and other health-smart, earth-happy options. Before you go, fill a bag in the bulk aisle for a purse-sized snack — try the cherry supreme trail mix, with coconut, pecans, dried bananas and plump dried cherries.
Make your way down Lake Street to Cutler’s (216 Howard St., 231-347-0341) and survey the glorious sea of kitchen gadgets and doodads. Heavy duty clambake crocks, Upper and Lower Peninsula-shaped cookie cutters, dainty lemonade pitchers, festive table linens and serving ware, hot pink blenders — everything you need (and want) to make you feel like the next Martha. Across the street, stock up on gourmet chow at the century-old Symon’s General Store (231-347-2438). The shelves here are packed with Michigan wines and delicacies like blue-cheese stuffed olives. Step up to the deli counter for a fantastic on-the-go lunch like the California turkey sandwich, with goat cheese, tomato, lettuce, turkey and basil-pesto mayonnaise on super-fresh bread.
Top off the day with a taste test fest at American Spoon Foods (411 East Lake St., spoon.com). Don’t be shy — go ahead and sample it all, making sure not to miss winners like tangy lime curd and the summer-in-a-jar sour cherry spoon fruit. And don’t pass up a cup of gelato next door at the flagship American Spoon Gelato Café (413 East Lake St., spoon.com). Flavors like early glow strawberry and hazelnut stracciatella? This is the stuff of foodie dreams.
No Petoskey foodie tour is complete without pulling up a stool at the City Park Grill on Lake Street. Take the second seat from the street end of the bar and you’re sitting where Ernest Hemingway sat when he hung out here as a young writer to watch bare-knuckle boxing matches in Pennsylvania Park across the road and work on his short story, “Killers.” Back then the restaurant was a billiards hall called the Annex. The name has changed, but bartenders at the City Park Grill still serve up a mean rum and Coke with lime — Hemingway’s preferred drink. 432 East Lake St., Petoskey, 231-347-0101.
Note: This article was first published in April 2006 and was updated for the web February 2008.