Taste of the Town: Cabin Fever Reliever

As the new guy in a small town, it has proven more than just a tad difficult in where to find a good meal and a night of an entertainment.

As a lifelong resident of Metro Detroit and having spent four years in a college town, dining and entertainment options were readily available.

Large shopping centers, dozens of national chain restaurants, large movie theaters, casinos, all were within a quick drive.

Then I took this job and moved to Northern Michigan and soon discovered the true meaning of what Dorothy was saying to Toto when then the pair were swept away to the Land of Oz in “The Wizard of Oz.”

“We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

With Big Rapids a 20-minute drive away (no easy task with gas at four dollars a gallon), I have found my options limited and now am setting out all over Lake County to find a place for a good meal and a better time.

Luckily on Saturday, I was dispatched out to Irons and was one of seven judges for the Irons Area Tourist Association’s “Cabin Fever Reliever” chili cook-off.

My chili cook-off judging expertise was non-existent until last Saturday evening and had no idea what to expect, as did most of my fellow judges.

While the other six all were obvious connoisseurs of chili and had strong opinions on what makes a good chili (such as Irons Fire Chief Tom Ellenbaas declaring that chili in all forms, has to be colored some shade of red), only one of us had ever judged a chili cook-off before.

On that evening, I tasted more chili than I ever had before in my life ... from white-bean chili, dark red chili, spicy chili, tangy chili and just outright hot chili. In all 20 chili’s were entered into the contest and the big winner was Clark Channels of Luther.

All in all, the “Cabin Fever Reliever” was a great time and was a great way for myself to get to know Lake County outside of The Star offices in downtown Baldwin.

Paul Suits and everybody at the Irons Area Tourist Association did everything in their power not only to make sure attendees had an enjoyable time at the party but they made me feel more than welcome and right at home. For my first experience with greater Lake County, I had a lot of fun, sampled some great chili, ate a fabulous piece of chocolate cake and was thrilled to meet some great people.

If you would like your restaurant or event featured, please contact me at jmartinez@pioneergroup.com or (231) 745-4635 ext. 113.