Thursday, April 18, 2013
Traverse City has topped many national lists over the past few years as a place to live and visit. This fall the city will celebrate the many reasons why residents and visitors alike love Traverse City so much with a weekend festival so delicious, it will tempt any foodie and wine or beer lover. The 1st Annual Taste of Traverse City Festival will take place September 13-15, highlighting the city's epicurean specialties and shops.
Along with its breathtaking beauty, the Northern Michigan town has emerged as a dynamic epicurean and event destination over the years for those seeking a more unique culinary experience. It comes as no surprise that Traverse City has been named among "The Top 5 Foodie Towns in America" by Bon Appetit Magazine, "The Top 5 Food Towns in the Midwest" by Midwest Living Magazine, "Top 10 Place To Enjoy Local Wine" by USA Magazine and "Top 3 Emerging Beer Towns in the USA."
With so many accolades, dedicating an entire weekend to showcase Traverse City's culinary specialties, extraordinary wine, beer and spirits, and merchandise all in one single weekend seemed only natural.
The 1st Annual Taste of Traverse City Festival will provide visitors an opportunity to sip, sample and shop as it features tasting, culinary and shopping events throughout the weekend, including a downtown Grub Crawl on Friday, September 13, and the festival's showcase event, Taste of Traverse City, on Saturday, September 14. Festival guests will enjoy seeing premier chefs and culinary personalities; tasting the cuisine and libations from area restaurants and eateries, caterers, wineries, and breweries; attending demonstrations and workshops; and much more.
"We are anticipating the Taste of Traverse Festival will be an annual destination event that draws the local food enthusiast as well as gourmet food and wine/beer travelers from across the country," says event organizer, Carol Lewis of Lakeshore Event Group.
A full schedule of events and ticket information will be announced at a later date. Visit the event website, where details will continue to be added. Vendor and sponsorship opportunities are available for the festival; for more information, contact the Lakeshore Event Group at email@example.com or (231) 714-4646 or (248) 619-9696.
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Monday, April 1, 2013
Next up in our series of Favorite Foods Around Town, Chocolate, is a bit of croissant nirvana from 9 Beans Row.
When we started Up North Foodies in 2007, I wrote in my bio that I was on the lookout for a good chocolate croissant. I had been spoiled by the pain au chocolat from Zingerman's Bakehouse, just a short drive from our previous home in Ann Arbor. Tender and light, with just the right amount of chocolate, these croissants are a dream. The ones I found around Traverse City were usually heavy, dense, and cloyingly sweet.
And then Jen Welty came to the rescue.
She and her husband Nic got their start running a CSA farm at Black Star Farms in 2008. That fall they decided to start their own farm, 9 Beans Row, based in Northport. Jen also decided to add baked goods to their business, so with Nic focusing on the farm, she set about working magic to produce delicious pastries and breads.
"I was trained to make bread at La Chatelaine Bakery/Cafe in Columbus," Jen says. "This was a family-owned business, the family being from Belgium."
While working at the bakery, Jen ate a lot of croissants but never made them. Clearly though, one can learn by the eating. One bite of Jen's croissants shows that's just what she did.
Searching online, Jen found a promising recipe from Julia Child and tried it out. It proved to be a great recipe. With just a few tweaks, Jen came up with a keeper that has found a receptive market in Northern Michigan. In the summer, the bakery makes anywhere from 250 to 1,000 croissants per day. In the winter, they make about 250 on busier days, like for the farmers market on saturdays.
Jen uses Ghiradelli 60% dark chocolate chips, about 10 big ones per croissant. "And the not-so-secret ingredient is....BUTTER, mais oui!," she says. "One pound of butter makes 16 croissants."
Until recently, you could find Jen's baked goods at their shop on Front Street in Traverse City. But the bakery outgrew that space, and Jen and Nic are looking for bigger quarters closer to their home.
In the meantime, you can find Jen's croissants at the indoor Village Farmers Market each Saturday at the Grand Traverse Commons, as well as Brew in downtown Traverse City and the Pedaling Beans Coffee House in Lake Leelanau.
Also in this series:
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Friday, March 22, 2013
The calendar might say spring is here, but Mother Nature didn't get the memo. And with a couple feet of fresh powder out there, ski conditions are great on the trails and slopes alike. Those good conditions on the TART Trails are also thanks to a group of hard-working guys who groom the trails each year. They normally wrap up the season somewhere between March 6-20, but this year they'll be grooming through the end of the month. Little did we know they are fueled by a special cookie made just for them by Cilla Payne of Traverse City. She makes the cookies every ten days or so for them all winter long.
Here's Cilla's recipe for TART VASA Groomer Cookies along with a story she shared about the cookies, the guys, and the trails. Thanks Cilla!
A tale of a cookie and the TART VASA groomers
By Cilla Payne
Groomer fuel, a cookie made with love especially for our local groomers.
Chocolate Chunk and Cherry Oatmeal Cookies
otherwise known as the TART VASA Groomer Cookies
Put the following ingredients in a small bowl and mix together well with a whisk:
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Put the following ingredients in a small bowl and mix together well:
2 1/4 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 generous cup of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chunks
1 generous cup of Traverse City dried cherries
Put the following ingredients in a large bowl:
12 1/2 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1-2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Cream the butter and brown sugar well, add egg and beat for a minute or more until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix well. Add flour mixture a little at a time until well blended. Add a handful of the oats, chocolate chucks and dried cherries mixture and mix into batter. Continue to add the oats, chocolate chunks and cherries mixture until all of it is completely mixed well into the batter. Put small amounts of the dough mixture on cookie sheets that either have a Teflon coating or are covered with wax paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until just beginning to brown. Let cool on cookie sheet before transferring to a rack to cool. This recipe makes 24-28 cookies.
These cookies are addictive! The TART & VASA groomers love these cookies and have an ongoing bi-weekly request for them to be delivered to the VASA Barn (also known as the TART Groomers Club House) throughout the year and especially during the cross-country ski season. In fact, they have threatened to go on strike if they run out of these cookies for more than a day or two. We want to keep our awesome groomers happy, so when you bake these cookies consider dropping off a dozen or so at the VASA Barn located at the VASA Trail head just off of Bunker Hill and Bartlett roads in Acme. We promise, you can't eat just one. Enjoy!
The TART groomers work diligently throughout the year on the over 60 miles of TART Trails in the Grand Traverse region.
The groomers: Glen Rauth, Paul Tata, Jim Dombrowski, Doug Scofield, Roger Rahel and Gary Joslin with his dog Lilly the pizza snatcher. Photo by Glen Rauth.
From December through March they groom the Leelanau Trail weekly and the VASA Trail almost daily to provide some of the best cross-country ski trails in the Midwest. They groom the VASA and Leelanau Trails with snowmobiles and heavy equipment during the wee hours of the night in well below freezing temperatures, just so skiers can safely enjoy the trails all through the day.
Enjoying a groomed trail. Photo by Yvonne Hunter.
The groomers can also be found cleaning up dead trees and other debris throughout the spring, summer and fall months.
We encourage you to get up, get out and get-going all year long. Bike, walk and ski our beautiful TART Trails. They are one of the greatest treasures in northern Michigan. To learn more about the TART Trails, please go to traversetrails.org.
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Monday, March 18, 2013
Picture this. A friend calls and invites you over for an impromptu gathering in 45 minutes. He asks you to bring a warm appetizer. You check the fridge and locate 5 slices of bacon and a bag of sea scallops. What do you do?
That's the story my brother Mike shared on a recent visit home from Vail. What Mike did was to call his son, also named Mike (but whom we all call Michael Paul to reduce confusion when telling family stories).
Michael Paul is the assistant manager for a private club on Chicago's North Shore. He's used to making last-minute decisions to satisfy a demanding crowd. His recommendation? Wrap the scallops in bacon, broil, and drizzle with an orange-vinegar-brown sugar reduction sauce.
So Mike did what any smart guy from Traverse City would do. Well, at least one lucky enough to be stranded in Vail and in possession of Northern Michigan maple syrup.
He substituted. And that's why he was telling me the story in the first place.
"Just about any time I need brown sugar, I use Denny's maple syrup," he says, referring to our brother-in-law, who taps the maples on his farm south of Traverse City each year. "It's great!"
And then he waxes on about this wonderful chili he makes, using the maple syrup to sweeten it. But back to the appetizer. Mike says it was a hit.
Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Orange Maple Vinegar Reduction Sauce
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons white vinegar
10 sea scallops
5 slices bacon, halved
Put liquid ingredients in a small pan on the stove. Bring to a boil and slowly cook down the liquid until reduced to one third its original volume.
Wrap each scallop with a slice of bacon and place 3 or 4 on skewer. Broil until the bacon is done. Salt and pepper to taste. Place on serving dish and drizzle sauce over the scallops and bacon. Garnish with fresh orange slices. Enjoy.
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