Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

August 24, 2009

Local Flavors: Wood-fired bread, Stella food

Editor's note: Today starts a new series featuring local products and local food.

TRAVERSE CITY -- Spotted at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market in Traverse City: crusty, organic sourdough loaves by 9 Bean Rows, a husband-and-wife baking/farming team from Omena.

Jen and Nic Welty use only wild yeast in their bread, something Jen says imparts a richer flavor to their wood-fired loaves.

"I ferment the rye grains myself, using the rye berry to create my starter," said Jen, who not only bakes but runs a CSA farm as well. "It's just such a better alternative to commercial yeast, which lacks flavor."

Although she often bakes on a whim using ingredients at hand, staples such as ciabatta, sourdough and baguettes are available at Hansen's Foods in Suttons Bay, the Saturday farmers market in Traverse City and Black Star Farms, where the Weltys lease their space.

Despite her French baking background, Jen confesses to a current favorite she's baking right now.

"The sea salt fennel sourdough is so good; I love it with pate or salami," she said.

To contact the Weltys, visit www.9beanrows.com.

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Locavores in northern Michigan look to Myles Anton, executive chef at Trattoria Stella, for seasonally inspired menus. Anton sources the majority of his ingredients locally when possible, crediting the farms he uses at the top of each menu, which changes weekly.

"During the summer months in our area, the freshness and beauty of the ingredients should be allowed to shine unclouded by garnishes or intricate sauces," said Anton, who buys from up to 50 different farms during the growing season. "That's why I like keeping the ingredients as simple and local as possible."

Although Anton has long-standing relationships with many area farms like Zenner, Werp and Halpin, he suggests combing the area farmers markets for goodies like green beans, tomatoes and basil.

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