The Tasting Panel magazine

May 2011

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Page 120 of 132

drınk dısh the and the Trattoria Stella in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, my imagi- nation got the best of me. We were on our way to have dinner in the basement of a former insane asylum now con- verted into one of the top restaurants in the Midwest. A I could hear echos of hospital doors slamming shut a century ago—the wind tearing through the rooms on an otherwise calm night. My friend Terry Brick, a local, assured me that this would be a unique and tasty dining and cocktail experience. As we entered the basement of Building 50, it was a relief to let go of these past visions and be greeted warmly by the staff. As Jamie and I happily ate our lamb brain ravioli, we sipped on Del Maguey Chicicapa mezcal and Tezón Silver tequila. The bar was stocked with boutique and local spir- its, while our plates featured local meats and produce. Through my conversations with staff, I learned that mezcal and tequila are spirits frequently enjoyed by the guests and staff of Stella’s. 120 / the tasting panel / may 201 1 Myles Anton, Executive Chef and Beverage Professional and proprietor Amanda Danielson of Trattoria Stella. Chef Myles Anton and mixologist/pro- prietor Amanda Danielson graciously shared their love for agave spirits and their passion for Stella’s. Briget Albert: I know that Traverse City is the cherry capital of the U.S., but talk to me about other local produce and meats that are available. Amanda: Michigan is the second most agricul- turally diverse state in the nation (next to California) and I hardly think cher- ries are our best feature. They’re good, but they have nothing on Michigan tomatoes, strawberries, celery, peaches or apples. I respect the seasonality of Michigan and the produce you can only get by foraging, not cultivating—like ramps, mushrooms and autumn berries. Berries, in fact, are probably the best of Michigan, from the wild and invasive autumn berry to the more typical blue-, straw-, and blackberries. And, don’t forget the grapes! We are producing some truly world class-wines from Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Gamay Noir and other cool climate varieties on both peninsulas, at the base of which lies Traverse City and Trattoria Stella. Myles: Over the past seven years, we have developed relationships with more than 40 local farmers. During the summer, 90 percent of our vegetables and fruits come from the surround- ing 40 miles. The magic of Traverse City is the accessibility of all these s my husband Jamie and I made a fi ve hour drive recently to the Traverse City restaurant BRIDGET ALBERT TREKS TO MICHIGAN TO TRATTORIA STELLA, A RESTAURANT LOCATED IN THE BASEMENT Of AN OLD STATE MENTAL INSTITUTION, fOR SOME True H o s

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