Monday, August 29, 2011

That's Pass-Tee, Not Pay-Stee

In Michigan, the pasty has become synonymous with the UP (that's the Upper Peninsula for those out-of-state folk, and pronounced like it looks, "yoo-pee"). I've been told they are difficult to make, and I have yet to try. But eating one was one of our major objectives when Kimmy and I crossed the Bridge into Yooper country this past Friday. This was not our first time eating pasties, but since they are, to my knowledge, nonexistent below the 45th parallel, we had to eat a pasty while we were there. 

On Saturday, we made the beautiful drive from our hotel in Houghton up to Copper Harbor, essentially the northern-most tip of the Wolverine State. If one wanted to travel even further north, there is a ferry from Copper Harbor to Isle Royale, practically on Canada's doorstep, but we had neither the time nor the money. The sky was beautiful and serene, and Lake Superior was gorgeous. Copper Harbor is small (some would say teeny tiny), yet not without its charm. 

We stopped for lunch at a cute little restaurant and were served by a cheerful waitress with an unidentifiable northern European accent. (I'm bad with that region when it comes to accents.) Both Kimmy and I had been craving pizza, but were determined to eat a pasty, so we ended up ordering one of each, then splitting them with each other. The pasty was delightfully flaky and the gravy was superb. The little cheese pizza as also a treat! There were at least two kinds of cheese and a small assortment of herbs (basil was among them) sprinkled on top, giving off a mouthwatering odor. A hodge-podge lunch, and delicious!

Afterward, we stepped into a little gift shop attached to one of the little old motels that line the area by the dock. There I stumbled upon something a coworker had ordered me to buy during my trip: thimbleberry jam. Wikipedia says, "Thimbleberry fruits are larger, flatter, and softer than raspberries, and have many small seeds. Because the fruit is so soft, it does not pack or ship well, so thimbleberries are rarely cultivated commercially." It goes on to relate that thimbleberry jam is a specialty of the Keweenaw (kee-weh-naw) Peninsula, where Copper Harbor is located. I bought two little jars of jam (because thimbleberry products are expensive and I could barely afford the trip, let alone souvenirs) - one for me and one for my coworker who had gone on about it at some length. 

Another place we accidentally stumbled upon (despite being told about it by friends from the area) was the Jam Pot, a little bakery and preserves store run by monks. I bought a jar of black currant jam WHICH I AM SO EXCITED TO PUT ON TOAST and a mystery baked good that turned out to taste much like a peanut butter and jelly brownie which chocolate chips. In other words, wonderful. Kimmy bought what I believe is a gingerbread cupcake with lemon frosting. (None of the baked offerings were labeled, and it was more fun not to ask.) She ended up not liking it very much due to to its unfamiliar flavor. I don't blame her. When I came across my coworkers months ago dipping ginger snaps in lemon curd, I thought they were insane. (They were men, so I didn't think they could be pregnant.) The new ice cream we sell at work is lemon ice cream with bits of ginger snaps mixed in, so I surmise that this flavor combination is perhaps unique to this region, and possibly German-related.

Thus ends part one of my whirlwind tour of the UP. Expect another, and be sure to check out my Life from Ann Arbor blog this Friday for details of our other exploits. I promise you a ghost story.


  1. I'm not a fan of Freakonomics, but I can't resist linking to this:

    Sadly, despite having been to the UP, I don't think I've ever had a pasty. And though Wikipedia claims that vegetarian pasties exist, there's a good chance I'll never have the opportunity to try one. :-(

  2. Kimmy and I ate at a small place in Marquette that offered vegetarian pasties, so yes, they do exist. :) Nice article. I love that they actually sent him a pasty, hee hee.