For many who grew up in Northern Michigan, late March and early April meant the annual smelt runs – a late night fishing experience that brought out many in the community for a carnival-like atmosphere that often ended with much-needed full freezers of the tasty fish.
March is maple syrup season in Traverse City, and we’ve brought together information from different sources about the year’s first agricultural crop. A special thanks to Jim Sorbie, a number of Creative Commons photographers and TJ & Odin Brown and eatdrinkTC’s Landen Finkel for the photos!
Michigan ranks 6th nationally in the production of maple syrup with an average yearly production of about 148,000 gallons of syrup and an economic contribution of about $2.5 million annually. The Michigan Maple Syrup Association notes that maple syrup production is the state’s oldest agricultural enterprise. It’s fat-free, about 50 calories per tablespoon and packed with calcium, iron and over 50 anti-oxidants. Even better, with a little bit of work and a small investment, you can make it yourself!
The Conservation Resource Alliance (CRA) is a private, not-for-profit corporation dedicated to sensible stewardship of the land that serves a 13-county area in northwest lower Michigan. The wildlife & fisheries biologists, engineers and field technicians of the CRA work with landowners, agencies and businesses to plan and implement collaborative programs that enhance the habitat value and beauty of our region. On Saturday, February 8th The Boathouse Restaurant on Old Mission will host the Michigan Gourmet for Wildlife Wine Dinner to benefit the CRA.
CRA Development Coordinator Matt Thomas says “For years we’ve held our own wild game dinner at someone’s home with staff & supporters. This year Jim Morse, the chef at The Boathouse and husband of one of our staff members Casey Ressl, asked ‘How about we do this for you?’ It’s perfect for us, getting together to eat good wholesome things and talk about sustainable natural resources with old friends and new ones who we’ll meet through the Boathouse.” Read more
This Sunday (January 12) from noon – 3 PM at The Box in Traverse City, you have a rare opportunity to learn from Chef Myles Anton of Trattoria Stella. Myles will butcher half a pig into the raw parts needed for classic Italian preparations and present several dishes that feature the individual cuts.
“I haven’t done a cooking class in a long time, but I like the intimacy and the chance to teach what I’ve learned over the years to people who are excited about food,” Myles says. “I’ll bring in half a pig, break it down to primal cuts – some that people are familiar with like chops and pork bellies and lesser known cuts like cheeks, skin and organs. I’ll show you how to work with it, how to prepare a dish or two, and I’ll also bring some dishes and cuts to try and recipes to help you work with this great product.”
As to why he shares with so many great chefs the love of the pig, Myles explains “Pig is like no other protein. You can use every part of it – the skin, the fat, the organs. At Stella we’re probably doing 30-40 pigs a year, and the pig has led to lambs and steer. It’s fresh and local and great meat.”
Matt Sutherland of The Box says, “Myles is our only James Beard recognized chef, and I just love how he combines old school Italian farm and kitchen techniques with some of the prettiest, most creative Italian cooking being done anywhere. He doesn’t do many events or classes, so it’s a rare opportunity to hang out with him for a few hours and learn from a master.”
The cost for the 3 hour workshop is $100, and space is limited to just 10 people so you should definitely register today!
Stay tuned to cooking classes all over Traverse City from some of our finest chefs through the eatdrinkTC Cooking Class Calendar.
The prize in this month’s #eatdrinkTC Photo Contest is a gift basket from Traverse Gourmet, and we thought we’d share their story with you.
“Our company grew out of our love for the products and producers here in this unique corner of the world,” says Cile Plumstead who created Traverse Gourmet with her husband Norm. “Northern Michigan is an exciting place to be with socially conscious producers creating gourmet products in small batches with fairly traded ingredients. While we don’t farm or produce, we can bring the best products together and simplify shopping for artisan food in Northern Michigan.”
They were inspired by the collaborative effort of the region’s artisan producers who support each other and utilize each other’s products as ingredients for their own creation. While not everything in their online store is organic or fair trade, most are.
Cile explains, “We work with companies that are in it for the right reasons, who believe that the impact their business has on the world matters more than their profit margins. They produce their products in small, handmade batches and are connected to the communities where their ingredients come from. For example, both Grocer’s Daughter & Higher Grounds Trading Company work directly with the communities that grow their cocoa & coffee.” Read more
eatdrinkTC is excited to be able to share this article by Bill Palladino of Taste the Local Difference with you. Taste the Local Difference and partner organizations are working towards 20% of our region’s food being supplied by local growers and food entrepreneurs by the year 2020. If we achieve this goal, northwest Michigan will be the first region in the country to do so and the economic results will fundamentally change the conversation about the power of buying local.
By Bill Palladino
“Since oils have the most aroma and nutrients when they are fresh, cold-pressed and unrefined, it helps to grow and press them locally. But it turns out, some of the crops we don’t even grow anymore close by—even though we could. We’ve lost the knowledge and infrastructure.”
– Christoph Milz
The first evidence of humans pressing nuts and seeds for their oil dates back thousands of years to about 3000 B.C. Seed and nut oils were important sources of dietary fat for many cultures around the world. This was especially significant for cultures that forbid the consumption of animal-derived fats or otherwise didn’t have readily available sources for them.
Since then we’ve been addicted to using vegetable oils in our foods in both raw and cooked forms. We dare you to venture out into the foodie Mecca that is northern Michigan and find dishes prepared without such oils. It’s a rarity.
I first met Christoph Milz after he called me last winter. He asked me, in his lilting Germanic accent, if I knew any farmers growing nuts and seeds. He wanted to make culinary oils from locally grown crops. Milz says, “Culinary oils can be much more flavorful and interesting than we are used to, and they support a healthy diet.” Read more
BLTs are one of my favorite easy meals. We eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I get almost all of the ingredients for a good BLT from my CSA and farm market in the winter, but we never get tomatoes so I am consistently one tomato short of a BLT. I’m not a fan of winter tomatoes: they’ve spent too much time traveling here and not enough time ripening with flavor.
Here’s my winter version, substituting an apple in for the tomato!
BOMLA – Bacon, Onion, Mayo, Lettuce & Apple Sandwich
- 2017 Shorts Brewing Anniversary Party
- 2016 Traverse City Beer Week – November 11-17
- Farmers Market Brunches during Cherry Festival
- Selden Standard chef Andy Hollyday and The Cooks’ House Guest Chef Series
- 2016 Short’s Anniversary Party
- Short’s Space Rock now gluten free
- Morel Dinner (and Hunt!) at Black Star Farms
- Morel Love
- Wild Food Wednesday: Morels
- Wild Food Wednesday: Ramps or Wild Leeks