I love a small world. Several months back, I received a note from someone who had been googling around for a good recipe for kibbeh nayeh. Clif came across my site (yay SEO), and as he read my essay about my father’s near-religious devotion to the proper kibbeh-making technique, he realized that he was reading the work of the daughter of one of his law school classmates.

Any time I meet someone who knew my father, I feel this compelling sense that he’s here again, and I want to reach out and touch the other person’s memory. Or rather, grab the memory and pull it close like a balloon that wants to fly away on the wind.

Clif reminded me of Dad, in the way he reached out and the way he shared so freely. He felt like an old friend within a few sentences on the page. Then he did something extraordinary, something also very much like my father: he invited me to visit him and his wife at their home. Come, he said, I want to meet the friend I never knew I had.

There is so much to tell about the visit, and most of that I’m going to do in photos this week. Turns out Clif and I have much more in common than my father. He lives up north, in a place that makes Harbor Springs seem like a metropolis, on Drummond Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (the “U.P.”). Clif loves food, and is an exceptional epicurean—a true renaissance man given his business acumen, the intensity with which he pursues his many interests, the leadership contributions he’s making in his non-retirement retirement years as the Chair of the board of trustees of the Michigan State University College of Law (formerly Detroit College of Law, where he and Dad went to school).

We talked food much of our time together, and I don’t mind saying I walked away with a fist full of Clif and his wife Carolyn’s favorite recipes (I’m always on the hunt) and a box full of jars of preserves from their farm. Among the things Clif and Carolyn care about, tops is land and water, the land and waters of northern Michigan.

Here’s the menu from the dinner we shared at their home, “Bohica Lodge,” a menu complete with Arabic spellings and spectacular wine pairings. In the kitchen was Chef Ross, who exchanged his city life for the quiet of Drummond Island years ago… just the kind of extreme leap that impresses me. I was in the kitchen with him too, watching like a hawk as he made his focaccia and pita bread and getting my hands into it, to mix the kibbeh made with their succulent 4-H lamb. A menu, and a night, to remember.

Bohica Lodge Menu
(of which there was an actual, lovely one, at each place setting)

Mihshi Waraq Inab, Stuffed Grape Leaves
Hummus
Homemade Pita Bread and Focaccia with za’atar and garlic

Kibbeh Nayeh with Toasted Pine Nuts

Intermezzo: Homemade Mixed Berry Sorbet

Wood Grilled Red Snapper with Lemon Tahini Sauce, red lentils, and Bohica Farm Swiss Chard

Baklawa, espresso, cappuccino