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GO NORTH, GOURMAND
You may know up North for woods, lakes, snow and hunting, but apparently lots of metro Detroiters also prize northern Michigans gastronomic charms.
Drawing on their own fondness for the jerky theyd buy each summer near Standish, last year native Detroiters John and Barbara Cipriani opened a store devoted solely to up North cuisine. The Northern Michigan Beef Jerky Co. in St. Clair Shores has drawn a steady stream of customers.
"Standish was always our first stop," says John, a postal worker. "Wed load up with enough jerky for the entire time we were going to be up there, and then on the way back wed stop again and bring a ton of it home.
"Sitting home eating it one day, I thought, man, this stuff is so good, why should you have to go so far to get it?"
The Ciprianis jerky, delivered from Standish, is a far cry from those flat, dry, tooth-wrenching, vacuum-sealed strips (although they do carry Ted Nugents variety of same). Its maple-sugar-cured and quite tender as jerky goes; it must be refrigerated.
I sampled honey-glazed turkey, which is sweet; elk; and a Colorado beef. The beef is available peppered, hot and spicy, regular or barbecued. Farm-raised buffalo and venison jerky are also on offer.
It may not surprise you that jerky sales are oriented toward a particular gender. Barbara says shes prepared many a mitten-shaped jerky gift basket for hard-to-please husbands.
But the Ciprianis also tout the low-fat virtues of some jerky. Elk, for example, gets only 11 percent of its calories from fat.
Bear in mind that jerky is, as John Cipriani puts it, a "luxury snack." Prices range from $19 a pound for beef to $31 for game.
You can economize by bringing in your own game to be jerkied. For $5.99 a pound, the store will turn 20 pounds of venison into 10 pounds of jerky.
The Ciprianis also carry a slew of American Spoon Foods jams, fruit butters and preserves from Petoskey; cheese from Pinconning; maple syrup; and hefty beef and turkey pasties, with gravy, from the U.P. Smoked salmon and whitefish (never frozen) are delivered twice a week.
Traverse Bay Fruit Co. supplies a mix of dried blueberries, cherries and cranberries. For 15 bucks a half pound, they sell jam from wild thimbleberries, which grow only in the U.P.
And Amon Orchards of Traverse City has done things to cherries youve never imagined, including cherry pasta sauce and cherry mustard.
Finally, yes, theres Mackinac Island fudge, big slabs of it that cancel out whatever virtue youve gained from low-fat jerky.
The store is at 27815 Harper, St. Clair Shores. Hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sundays and holidays 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Call 810-773-3101. Jane Slaughter
Go mom! Some of the places offering special mom food (usually a prix fixe brunch) this Sunday (Mothers Day dont forget!) include the Hilton Novi (248-349-6389); all Hudsons Restaurants; Big Rock Chop & Brew House in Birmingham (248-647-7774); Paint Creek Cider Mill & Restaurant in Rochester (248-651-8361), and Mac & Rays Restaurant in Harrison Twp. (810-463-9660). Feed mom and everyone else with a "Pan to Go" from Fishbones. The large-size carry-out orders of favorite Cajun and Creole dishes feed four to six, and include paper plates. Call 313-965-4600 (Detroit), 248-351-2925 (Southfield) or 810-498-3000 (St. Clair Shores).