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Most of The Cooks’ House showstoppers are made with five ingredients or fewer, but the chefs break tradition with this luxurious sandwich: after brining a pork shoulder overnight, they rub it with sugar, molasses, star anise, fennel seed, garam masala, coriander, black pepper and chili paste. Nine hours in a low oven later, the spicy meat is pulled and dressed with a caramely-vinegary sauce laced with lime zest. Eat it on a grilled ciabatta roll with Lamont white cheddar and crunchy Tokyo bekana cabbage.
The Cooks’ House, 439 E. Front St., Traverse City. 231-946-8700
If it feels like the rest of the North is somewhere south, make your own mini spring break by sipping on a sunshine-y papaya milkshake.
Cafe Habana, 423 S. Union St., Traverse City, 231-929-4150
Cyndi Ogan created a cream-cheese based dip with olives, fresh garlic, roasted red peppers and spices for the holidays, and it hasn’t had a break from the Oryana deli case since.
Oryana Natural Foods Market, 260 E. 10th St., Traverse City, 231-947-0191
Temps soaring at 500°F in Pleasanton Bakery’s wood-fired brick oven give the lattice crust lots of lofty, buttery crackle. The crust cradles thin-sliced organic apples from Brown’s Orchard in Bear Lake, fragrant with cloves and other cozy spices. Friday is pie day, or call to special order. Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery, 812 Cottage View Dr., Traverse city, 231-941-1964
Sonny Szejbach’s piquant Mexican sausage is great in breakfast casseroles or sizzled up and stirred into white queso dip.
Sonny’s Torch Lake Market, 2786 U.S. 31 N., Torch Lake Village, 231-599-2357
Lusty and elegant with lots of cream, a hint of foam and the subtlest Indian spice.
Patisserie Amie, 237 Lake Ave., Traverse City, 231-922-9645
Fifteen years after developing his highly addictive Zagolli’s Feta Dip, Elk Rapids’ Scott Zagers has unleashed the Asiago. The original is fab, as is the pesto and wasabi. Find it Up North at Tom’s and Oleson’s grocery stores and in many downstate food markets.