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Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, has been on the hunt for must-try food finds, local cookbooks and artisan, made-in-Northern-Michigan kitchen wares for decades. Now, in print each month, our editors feature these delicious small bites and home items in “The Culinary North” dining department. Watch as this tasty list grows online, and get ready to take a road trip to find these special Northern Michigan foods and products.

July’s Bite: American Spoon’s Red Raspberry Compote

American Spoon Northern Michigan Locations | American Spoon Website

American Spoon Red Raspberry Compote.

This brand new, limited-edition beaut from American Spoon celebrates ripe and juicy July berries. Prelude raspberries, grown downstate at K&K Farms in Coloma, are simmered in sugar with sliced Jewel strawberries from Grossnickle Farms in Kaleva creating a thick, saucy topping you can put on just about anything. Pour it over pancakes, stir it in smoothies or drizzle it on a sundae along with a generous dollop of American Spoon’s Chocolate Fudge Sauce. Find the compote in stores in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix or Traverse City, or online at the website link above.

June’s Bite: The Glenwood’s Triple Berry Pie

4604 Main St, Onekama | The Glenwood Website

The Glenwood, a 2021 Red Hot Best restaurant tucked along M-22 in Onekama, sells thousands of its most popular pie each season, each slice bursting with blueberries, cherries and raspberries and crowned with a crumb topping. All of the fruit is locally grown, primarily by Smeltzer Orchard Co. in Frankfort. Restaurant co-owner Donna Ervin bakes most of the pies, though it’s a team effort on busy summer days. “Our old-fashioned dessert tray has anywhere from 10 to 14 desserts daily,” she says. Donna’s favorites: cherry and key lime pie. The Glenwood’s retail store in Manistee, Glenwood Market, also sells the fresh fruit pies.
Tripple Berry Pie at The Glenwood

May’s Bite: Spanglish Tacos

1333 Yellow Dr., Traverse City | Spanglish Website

Tacos from Spanglish in Traverse City.
Nestled within the village at grand traverse commons is a quaint yellow building dating back to 1892 that’s home to a not-to-miss Mexican restaurant serving up made-from-scratch authentic eats. This is where you’ll find the perfect savory street taco—think melt-in-your-mouth pork, fresh cabbage, onion, cilantro, salsa verde and a sprinkle of feta cheese wrapped in warm corn tortillas.

Owned and operated by husband-and-wife team Vicente and Anna Serrano, Spanglish is a delicious marriage of traditional Mexican recipes and fresh Northern Michigan ingredients. Anna and Vicente pride themselves on serving generous portions at affordable prices, and their tacos are a prime example of that mission. Order à la carte, or try the three taco deal (warning: you will absolutely have leftovers!). You can add on guac, avocado, hot sauce or sour cream, but I recommend trying the unaltered version first. Stop by on Cinco de Mayo for homemade tamales, burritos and, of course, tacos.

April’s Bite: Stuffed Ricotta Ravioli Pasta

Different types of ravioli from Forrest, A Food Studio on a platter.
A black sign hangs above a tiny cream-colored building tucked on Union Street: “Forrest A Food Studio, Private Chef.” Inside, Chef Forrest Moline and his wife and business partner, Nicole, welcome customers and send them off with generously stuffed frozen pasta and bottles of wine. Forrest and Nicole began offering Thursday evening carryout dinners, such as ready-to-heat chicken saltimbocca and braised beef tostadas, along with frozen pasta when the pandemic prevented them from hosting in-person dinner events.

Now that restaurants in Michigan are once again open for dine-in, Forrest and Nicole are continuing to offer frozen pasta (pre-order online and pick up on Thursdays between 3–7 p.m.), but are swapping out the carryout dinners in exchange for a happy hour food menu with cocktails and wine by the glass each Thursday from 4–7 p.m. Just stop by, reservations aren’t necessary for happy hour. The food studio also has an onsite wine shop, which carries natural and organic wines (open Thursdays and when Forrest and Nicole are rolling out pasta dough; swing by if you’re in the area). Each bottle has a notecard with food pairing suggestions, making it easy for anyone to select a complementary combo.

What I ordered (and loved): stuffed ricotta ravioli pasta. For his house-made ravioli, Forrest makes ricotta using milk from Moomers Farm Creamery, adding basil, black pepper and chives. I paired my pasta, topped with rosemary goat cheese cream, with a bottle of Loveblock, a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. 408 S. Union St., Traverse City

Pssst! The oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are amazing. Do not leave without an order. (Each order contains two cookies; I don’t recommend sharing. Everyone, get your own!)

michigan maple fudge, mackinac island, murdick's fudge, fudge shop

Photo by Kelly Rewa

March’s Bite: Michigan Maple Walnut Fudge

In the heart of maple syrup season, order a thick half-pound slab of Michigan Maple Walnut Fudge. Opened in 1887, the Original Murdick’s Fudge is Mackinac Island’s first fudge shop, and more than 130 years later, the fudge is still made the same way—a recipe filled with history, art and science.

To achieve Murdick’s signature texture, fudge makers must cook and shape each of the 20-plus flavors at different, and exact, temperatures. “Our fudge is creamy inside with a slightly firmer exterior after it sets, and that’s very different than any other fudge you’ll find on Mackinac Island,” says Co-owner Bob Benser. “Other fudges are very creamy throughout, which lots of people like, but our recipe follows old-fashioned techniques that have been passed down through the generations.”

Lucky for all of us, for the first time Murdick’s is keeping its online store open year-round in 2021, delivering luscious treats to your doorstep in every season.

40 Delicious Food Finds to Add to Your Small Bite Exploration

Feast on this Northern Michigan food tour from Ludington to Marquette.

GINGER SCONE

Red Rooster Coffee & Community / Ludington
These little cuties get a double dose of ginger—ground and finely chopped candied—for a kiss of delightful heat in every buttery bite. Ludington’s favorite coffeehouse sources them from the nearby Laughing Tree Brick Oven in Hart.

DUCK FRENCH ONION SOUP

Cafe Santé / Boyne City
Long simmered roasted duck broth flush with shredded confit gets a lid of baguette crouton and Gruyère gratinée to drive away the residual winter chill.

CHITARRA CARBONARA

The Marq / Marquette
My advice for The Marq, Marquette’s on-trend temple of contemporary eats, is to order everything. If you’re making hard choices then order the chitarra carbonara: hand-cut ribbons of fresh pasta with crispy lamb belly, egg and Parmigiano.

SPICY HABANERO PICKLED ASPARAGUS

Natural Northern Foods / Traverse City
Launch your Bloody Mary game to new heights with these little javelins of pickled-crisp perfection.

Is your mouth watering yet? There are plenty more!

Find the inaugural “The Culinary North” plus more food and drink articles in the March 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.