Danahey on the Loose in Michigan, Episode 1

Best Fest Buddy Tom, his brother Mark, their dad and I loaded up the SUV last weekend to take a trip to Michigan.

The ostensible reason was to attend a family wedding. But, as with many of our journeys, the trip also involved our appetites, served this time with a pinch of nostalgia and a hint of the holidays.  Since we don’t hunt or ski or hunt on skis or ski on hunts, why else would we go to Michigan this time of year?

Our first stop worth mentioning happened by me not fully reading Google correctly. See, for lunch we were going to try a Cajun place in Matteson. We determined it was a tad out of the Waze.

Then Tom wanted to hit an Olga’s Kitchen for gyros. But we were too hungry to wait the 45 minutes it was from the rest stop just across the Indiana – Michigan border where we were.

I suggested Redamak’s, the touristy burger joint in New Buffalo. Only thing is, I didn’t notice on the internet that Redamak’s – just five minutes away –  had closed for the season.

We get there. I feel like an idiot. Tom notices a barbecue place right across the street. He tells me, pick there or the microbrewery we passed on the way to Redamak’s. I choose barbecue, in part because it was closer. Plus, I had to pee again.

But my mistake led to barbecue Brigadoon. It was that magical.

Above are the delicious bison sausage and Chicago softball-sized brisket sandwich to be had at New Buffalo Bill’s Wood Fired BBQ. The brisket melted in your mouth. The sausage was oh-so-sweet, like a meat Valentine.

The brisket sandwich and a side cost just $9.50, the link around $3. Early in the week and near where we live, we paid $14 for what was supposed to be a prime rib grilled cheese sandwich. We think they put meat on it. We’re still not quite sure.

Anyway, making the stop even more marvelous, owner Bill Reynolds showed us his  smoke room (pictured above). Reynolds told us his family has a ranch in Texas. He worked for the Culinary Institute of America and the City Colleges of Chicago culinary program before opening the barbecue spot five years ago.

While pulled pork is his best-seller, Reynolds said he can go through more than 30 briskets on a summer day. Past tourist season, that drops to five per day.

New Buffalo Bill’s in New Buffalo, Michigan will be closing from mid-December through mid-February. MAKE THE TRIP.

You might even see Tom there. He found a new love interest (pictured below).