So “T.C.” in this case could stand for either Traverse City or for Top Chef. Actually it stands for both.
My husband’s daughter, Alexa, graduated from high school last weekend from the really freaking awesome Interlochen Academy (seriously, if I could find that wayback machine, I’d crawl in and figure out how to go to this amazing school) outside of Traverse City, Michigan. I really wanted to contribute to this big day in the way I know best – through food.
To start formulating a menu, we asked Alexa what some of her favorite foods are and her response was:
• bacon (ok…I’ll give her this one. Really, what isn’t better with bacon?)
• Vernor’s ginger ale
• fresh fruit
My mind was spinning on how to pull this list into some sort of menu with a sense of cohesiveness. Throw in that we were staying in a rental condo – one clearly not stocked by or for anyone that does much beyond making microwave popcorn (to put it in perspective, I could have chopped veggies faster and with more precision with my sharp wit than the knives found here).
I was thrilled to find a superb grocery store, Burritt’s Market, that not only had everything I could have hoped for plus more, but also a really wonderful, friendly staff. I wanted to pack them on up and bring them home with me.
There’s also a great foodservice outlet, Gordon’s, that was just perfect for picking up service ware. These two stores easily saved my bacon when putting this party together.
And speaking of bacon it was time to finalize the menu taking Alexa’s favorites into consideration.
The party started at 1:00 so we figured most people would have had lunch between the morning commencement and arriving at the condo. I decided that a selection of cold small bites was the way to go – much of which could be prepped the day before and it would be easy to refresh platters while still being the hostess with the mostest.
Thus, the menu ended up being:
• cold potato leek soup shots garnished with bacon (I am from Idaho after all)
• feta pine nut spread piped onto cucumber rounds (using a ziplock as my piping bag)• frozen strawberries blended with Vernor’s ginger ale (adult’s drinks were topped with sparkling wine)
• capellini pasta topped with a homemade blueberry balsamic reduction, tossed with fresh strawberries, blueberries and mint
• tostadas topped with ahi tuna, tomato salsa and a touch of lemon cream, made primarily by my sous chef (ok…my husband) as inspired by a dish from our visit to Sable Kitchen & Bar earlier in the month)
• and for a sweet finish, lemon curd bites topped with whipped cream and a fresh raspberry.
As in most cases, the recipes noted I look at as a mere suggestion of a starting point and I often add my own touch (such as sautéing the leeks for the soup in the bacon grease from the garnish. Mmmmm. Bacon grease).
I’d say my Traverse City Top Chef challenge was a success. In fact, the only thing I was prouder of that day was Alexa.