Get Down to the Earth
Earth to Table at Taproot Cider House
The sun shines through frosty glasses of amber and tangerine beverages in front of each customer gathered around tables on the patio. Views of West Bay and the State Theatre beckon from the outdoor bar, and also from the huge windows inside this new but busy corner cidery. A small stage where local musicians perform several nights a week takes up one wall at the back. Decorative wood and copper taps line up behind the bar to serve local cider. Above the bar, a chalkboard wall features the handwritten names of the offerings below.
But it is the enormous taproot on the wall over that long bar that really gets attention. The taproot signifies the essence of what this place is about: putting down roots in a community.
Jen Mackey, owner of the Taproot Cider House, has opened a business where her beliefs about food can be featured front and center. Her rationale is more than farm to table. It is earth to table.
“Earth to table is the concept of supporting regional farmers and non-GMO, wild-caught and free-range food. We source from local businesses that are not necessarily farms, but who also value that which comes from the earth. We integrate that into our menu of small batch, small plate food. Earth to table.”
Mackey and her kitchen team pair the food with delicious local ciders and other local libations. The wealth of both in Northern Michigan means taking advantage of what is being grown and produced by food artists year round.
“Summer means more that just utilizing local produce while it is at its peak,” says Mackey. “We make big batches of pesto and freeze it. We preserve fruit and vegetables, and make our own barbecue sauce. We use local honey and infuse it with herbs. We are constantly crafting something.”
Fall and winter bring their own unique flavors.
“We use local apples on our housemade mac and cheese. The chef will marinate his braising pork in cider. Organic roots can be found at the winter market and from farmers all around. We use maple syrup in the spring.”
Jen credits many of the others who form the food web in this region.
“We have local microgreens from a local farmer all year long, and a mycologist helps keep us in mushrooms. We have such good local cheeses to use throughout the year as well. We can be constantly creative when it comes to using local products, and our menu will reflect that.”
Several Michigan beers are always on tap, along with the 17 draft ciders made by acclaimed cider-makers from all over the state. Tea from a local herbalist and house-infused spirits flavor the signature cocktails, some of them made with muddled fruits or herbs. The wines are all from Northern Michigan.
By bundling the bounty of the surrounding region into a vibrant seasonal menu, Jen Mackey and her cider house are living the promise of the earth-to-table philosophy.
IF YOU GO:
Taproot Cider House
300 E. Front St., Traverse City • 231-943-2500 • TaprootTC.com.