This year marked the 6th Annual Michigan Maple Weekend (March 24th-25th in NE Michigan), although the weather didn’t want to cooperate. There’s a pattern of freezing and thawing once spring hits, which builds up pressure within the trees and causes sap to flow. It was bitterly cold as I walked around 4D Acre Maple to check out their set up.
I’m not bragging, but there are a lot of cool things about my job as the NE Local Food Coordinator with Taste the Local Difference. I get to hang out with other local farmers, producers, and small business owners; I get to eat the food they’ve grown or created; drink the libations they’ve conceived; partake of their businesses’ inventions; help put on events celebrating their work; and tell everybody how great this region of Michigan is because of these people and their labors of love. It’s a pretty sweet deal.
Courtesy of Ben Darga at Austin Brothers Beer Company
INGREDIENTS (makes 1 pizza)
-(1) 10 oz pizza dough
-6 oz sweet onion/garlic sauce (3 oz caramelized onions & 3 oz roasted garlic cloves, pureed till smooth)
-1 C. shredded mozzarella
-2 C. starchy potatoes, sliced very thinly (we recommend Presque Isle Farm’s Huckleberry Golds)
-2 T. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
-1/4 C. shredded parmesan
-1 tsp. garlic salt
Bake at 525 degrees for 9-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the potatoes and crust are starting to get crispy.
There’s a new Certified Local Food Event coming your way in Alcona County this month. On September 30, Farm to Fork Alcona 2017 is hosting a natural fermentation workshop and dinner at Logger’s Trace-Springport Golf Course in Harrisville, beginning at 2pm. Farm to Fork Alcona 2017 is an initiative that is part of Inspiration Alcona, a nonprofit arts and culture organization promoting the friendly rural beauty of Alcona. This initiative is working to help Alcona County become home to the farm-to- fork movement.
“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them…. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motorcar only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
~ Ernest Hemingway
Some may argue there’s no greater combo than pairing a bucolic bike ride with a glass of wine (or two) when you reach your destination. I’ll do you one (or a few) better….how about biking to a vineyard in northeastern Michigan and being greeted with a cornucopia of wines, a pop-up food bar created by a local chef, and a tour of the almost 15 year old vines with Thunder Bay Winery and vineyard owners? Well, look no further: Tour De Vine with Harborside Cycle and Sport has become an annual event to celebrate just outside of Alpena, in pastoral Ossineke, a place that has become surprisingly fruitful for Michigan grown grapes.
The Court Yard Restaurant has become a time-honored tradition for many Alpena locals since the early 1980’s. Purchased in 2006 by natives Chris and Lora Carlson, the restaurant has worked to carry on the legacy of the original owner, Dave Patin. As Chris said, he just “wants a place where he can bring his own kids to eat and know they’re getting healthy food and a great environment to eat it in.”
When I woke up today, the last breakfast I thought I’d be eating was kimchi and a myriad of unique pickled items including, but not limited to: roasted brussel sprouts, rutabaga, beef heart, asparagus, carrots, pork loin, whole smelt, and eggs, just to name a few. But Scott McQuarrie, farmer and owner of the Alpena General Store (AGS), had other ideas. Scott seems to frequently be a man of business innovation, and all things food and farming.
Alpena Municipal Council just voted 5-0 to allow Eric Peterson to host a craft beer festival on September 30th this year at his restaurant, The Fresh Palate, and bar, The Nucleus. The festival will offer different craft beers from 30 breweries and brewpubs, including Austin Brothers Beer Company out of Alpena and Arcadia Ales from Kalamazoo from 3pm-9pm that day.
The city will block off 2nd Avenue in downtown Alpena for the event. There will be live performances from local artists, outdoor games, multiple food vendors including locally sourced options, and an opportunity to mark the occasion with specialty beer glasses and Beer Fest t-shirts. Each brewery will be educating people about the different styles of brews they bring to the fest and go in depth about tastes and aromas and truly inform participants about their craft. Alpena looks forward to this becoming an annual event and having an opportunity to offer more locally sourced items to Michiganders throughout the year.
This is still a developing story. So, mark your calendars for September 30th and keep tabs on www.freshpalategourmet.com/ and our social media for more info.