What I like the most about having a restaurant in Leelanau County is the access I have to the abundant supply of fresh local food, wine, beer, and specialty foods that we have here in Northern Michigan.
One of my very favorite local specialties in Leelanau County is Leelanau Raclette. I serve it at Martha’s Leelanau Table with roasted potatoes, toasted bread, and Cornichon pickles. I also use Raclette, along with local white wine, to make Fondue, and I serve it with local ginger gold apples and chunks of bread. My customers love it!
Another local food that I use is Carlson’s whitefish. I have whitefish on the menu every night when possible, and I serve it 3 ways: lightly dusted with flour and sesame seeds, blackened with spices, and dusted with cornmeal. I serve it with home-made tartar sauce. I also use whitefish for tacos at lunchtime and with a combo plate called Lake and Steak, which is a small sirloin steak and a fillet of whitefish. People love whitefish; it is part of being up north and, to many people, it is a tradition.
Salad greens are another local specialty that I get from an organic farm called Meadowlark, located just outside Lake Leelanau. I use their salad greens and fresh arugula all season and then whatever else they may have that appeals to me. It could be beautiful broccoli, fennel, onions, squash, basil, or heirloom tomatoes. A lot of what I need is right here in the north country at Meadowlark.
Desserts are special at Martha’s, as we make everything on the premises with fresh local products like Shetler’s Cream and Buttermilk. From season to season, we have apples, cherries, rhubarb, blueberries, peaches, pears, nectarines, and plums. We make small hand-shaped pies called galettes, and we make a special dessert that we call pudding, in the British sense that you can make with any fruit. My favorite way is with rhubarb; it is a dessert that I used to make for my dad, and it was his favorite dessert.
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup whole milk
1 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups Rhubarb, Cherries, Blueberries, Peaches or any combination of fruits
2 tsp butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sugar
2 shakes of cinnamon
Cook fruit, butter, sugar and water in sauce pan for 10 minutes. Cream butter and sugar together. Add milk. Mix flour baking powder and salt together. Add to milk mixture, just mixing lightly. Pour fruit mixture into oval baking pan. Dot mixture on top leaving gaps. Sprinkle batter with brown sugar. Sprinkle batter with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Top with whipped cream or ice cream.
Martha Ryan is the owner of Martha’s Leelanau Table in Suttons Bay, MI. She hosts European tours each year and loves using the local harvest in her dishes. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and find out more about her restaurant here.