Cherry pie, whitefish, blueberries, Sheboygan bratwurst, and raclette
Photo: Jeff Marini

Summer is coming, and to get you in the mood, we asked Amelia Levin, author of the just-published The Lake Michigan Cottage Cookbook, to share five quintessential tastes of a classic Midwestern lakeshore vacation.

1. Cherry pie from Sweetie Pies in Fish Creek, Wisconsin

“Pie is everywhere in Door County when cherries are in season. The best pies, like the ones from this place, are made with Montmorency cherries, which seem to like the cooler weather of northern Wisconsin and are a bit tart. The pies here have a beautiful top crust, and you’ve got to have your slice with whipped cream—ideally after a fish boil!”

2. Whitefish at the Jacksonport Historical Society fish boil in Jacksonport, Wisconsin

“Every Friday night in the summer, there are fish boils happening all around the upper Door County peninsula—it’s a Scandinavian thing—and my favorite is this one, which is held each summer [this year, it’s July 18]. Basically, you have chunks of fresh-caught whitefish in a huge kettle with potatoes and a ton of salt. They light this spectacular fire under the kettle, let the fish and potatoes cook for a while, and serve everything up on a plate with rye bread and coleslaw.”

3. Blueberries from Seedling Farm in South Haven, Michigan

“This area is really known for its fruit—a lot of the big vendors at farmers’ markets in Chicago are based in this part of the state, including Seedling. The way the wind comes off the lake keeps the climate from getting too hot or humid, and the soil is super rich, so the berries are very sweet and plump. The peak time to get them is July through September.”

4. Sheboygan bratwurst from the Horse & Plow in Kohler, Wisconsin

“The Sheboygan bratwurst is a Wisconsin classic. It’s a pork sausage—not a mix of pork and veal, like the traditional German version—that’s seasoned with nutmeg, ginger, white pepper, and sometimes a little sugar. Half the people in Wisconsin say you should only ever grill your bratwurst. The other half say to braise it first in beer. The grilled-only ones at this spot, just inland from Sheboygan, may put you in the former category.”

5. Raclette from Leelanau Cheese Company in Suttons Bay, Michigan

“This is a special cheese. Anne and John Hoyt are a couple that have experience making cave-aged cheese in Switzerland and then moved to Michigan, where they realized that the weather was pretty similar and built their own cheese cave in the side of a hill. They’re known for their Raclette, a delicious melting cheese. It’s borderline stinky but melts like a triple cream, with just a gentle hit of pungent earthiness. It’s perfect melted with crackers and served with a Michigan Riesling.”