Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Fish Creek Fish Boil and a New Hat
Fish Creek is the hub of activity in Door County. It's where the people play, shop and eat. We took a little time to do it the way most of the tourists do. After all, I enjoy the yard art on display. There seems to be a thing going on with donkeys with large teeth this year for some reason.
I also like stopping at Sister's Sweets. In Door County no shop specializes in just one thing, and theirs is loaded to the gills with home decor and other impulse purchase items which I easily bypass to get to their candy counter. Their small selection of hand-made chocolate is deeply satisfying. The dark chocolate is that rare smooth-not-bitter delight, especially when wrapped around dried cherries and nuts. It was half gone before I even got out of the store.
We also spent some money on new hats at Hat Head, two for me, one for Wayne. I've been having trouble keeping my nose sunburn-free, even with the mineral based sunblock I've been putting on it. It was a bit windy, so I had to hang on to the brim now and then. I like it so much I might look online for other styles from the same company.
No trip to Door County is complete without a traditional fish boil. We met Katrina and her boyfriend Joe at Pelletier's for ours, but I've enjoyed the "original" at the Viking Inn too. The fish are caught locally with gill nets and pond nets in Gills Rock or in Baileys Harbor.
The fish boil starts with the red potatoes which take about 25 minutes to cook, then they add the onions which take about 10 minutes, and lastly the chunks of whitefish. They use 35 gallons of water and 10 pounds of salt. Sounds like a lot of salt, right? However, neither the fish nor the potatoes taste salty so it must not get into the food much. Our guy said the salt is to raise the boiling point of the water.
During the cooking process the fish oils rise to the surface of the water. Right before removing the fish and vegetables the "Master Boiler" throws diesel fuel into the fire which results in a burst of flames that will force the water and fish oils to boil over the rim of the pot.
Fish boils are a tradition in the Great Lakes region, once used to feed groups of hungry lumbermen and settlers. They also do small fish boils for private groups around here. Can't you just imagine one of these on the beach at sunset? They use old washing machine tubs for those occasions because they're lighter and smaller.
I didn't order the fish boil, because I knew both Katrina and Wayne wouldn't eat all their fish. I ordered the Portabella sandwich, where my only complaint was that it was oddly light on mushrooms and should really be called the spinach sandwich. Wayne took a ribbing when he commented that a fish bone "could ruin your day", and sure enough, there came a point where he got frustrated with the bones and I got to scavenge off his plate. I also got to take home his piece of cherry pie because he only wanted ice cream. No complaints about that from me, though I'm starting to wonder how much cherries one girl can eat in the span of a week. I also picked up some whitefish at the grocery store to take home with us, it's delicious broiled with just a dab of butter and some salt and pepper!