Northern Michigan Restaurants: Autumn, Apples and Fine Dining

Northern Michigan Restaurants: From salad to strudel, we discover the elegant ways restaurants from Traverse City to Petoskey are serving apples:

La Bécasse   9001 South Dunns Farm Road, Maple City (approximately 20 miles from Traverse City) 231.334.3944

Bordered by late-blooming perennials and a little iron gate, La Bécasse pipes the aroma of savory boeuf bourguignon into the autumn air already heavy with the sweetness of woodsmoke and ripe apples. Opened in 2005 by Parisian-born Chef Guillaume Hazaël-Massieux, this cozy gastronome’s hideout is nested near the south shore of Glen Lake. A paradox of crisp linen and burnished wood, La Bécasse’s décor melds rusticity and refinement, and its kitchen serves up the same: quintessential French country fare like duck and pistachio pâté, legit cassoulet with duck leg confit and Toulouse sausage. We like the seasonally sublime Tarte Tatin, a classic French dish of apple caramelized in butter and sugar and topped with flaky pastry dough and garnished with crème fraîche. Guillaume is a meticulous steward of his wine cellar which holds 1,500 bottles ranging from simple vins des pays to grand cru Burgundies and rare bottlings from the Rhône Valley and Calvados, an oak-barrel-aged apple brandy. Join us as we follow the apple cart into some of the North’s best kitchens where fall’s finest fruit is rendered in four delicious phases.  

Q & A with La Bécasse  Chef Guillaume Hazaël-Massieux:

T.T.: French technique is the basis for most Western cooking, what’s the core philosophy?

GHM: At its base French cuisine is simple food that‘s well organized. Escoffier laid out the techniques, which require you to work meticulously with good ingredients. From there you can make the food as rustic or as fancy as you want.

T.T.: There are rumors that you’re working on a new project in Traverse City at the Grand Traverse Commons …

GHM: It’s true. The concept will be a classic French bistro with 70 seats, a big lounge for small plates and drinks and a 50- to 70-seat terrace. We’re calling it Fou Fou; it means ‘crazy’ and is also a West Indies nickname for the hummingbird. We’re hoping to open in early spring of 2012.

T.T: Apart from tarts, what do you like to do with fall apples?

GHM: I love to make a breakfast hash with fresh apple, potato and cabbage. Blanche shredded potatoes, mix them with shredded apples, cabbage and onion, season with salt and pepper and crisp in butter and olive oil.

More Traverse City Restaurants and other Northern Michigan Restaurants Dishing Up Apples:

Warm Brie Salad Lulu’s Bistro 213 North Bridge Street, Bellaire 231.533.5252 The tasty trifecta of brie, honeycrisp apples and bacon commingle in this distinctly northern incarnation of a classic bistro plate. Baguette crostinis are topped with slightly melted brie and paired with a salad of peppery arugula, hazelnuts and honeycrisp apples in warm bacon vinaigrette.

Grilled Quail The New York 101 State Street, Harbor Springs 231.526.1904 The succulence and natural sweetness of quail is complemented by a creamy risotto of caramelized onions and red apples accented with the salty sharpness of Parmigiano.

Pork Tenderloin with Honeycrisp, Saffron and Pine Nut Risotto
Trattoria Stella 1200 West 11th Street, Traverse City 231.922.8989 Chef Myles celebrates harvest season with a pork tenderloin roasted in a crispy cloak of housemade pancetta and drizzled with an orange maple sauce and honeycrisp apple risotto with saffron and pine nuts. Viva Italia!

Austrian Apple Strudel Hanna Bistro 118 Cass Street, Traverse City 231.946.8207 TC’s pastry princess, Daniela Weiner, draws on her alpine roots to deliver this traditional Austrian strudel. Local Bardenhagen apples tossed in brown sugar, walnuts and baking spices are baked in flakey phyllo and served with bourbon vanilla sauce and whipped cream.

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