About Me

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I am a multifaceted woman, living with intention and passion. I always see the glass as half full (ok, almost always). Currently into: jewelry design, glass beadmaking (aka lampworking), visual journaling, cooking and web design everything. Things that bring me great joy: my family, friends, Scrabble, British period pieces, Shabby Chic, Austin, TX, mini art tiles, autographed cookbooks, chocolate, Chianti, pedicures and beach glass. I don't "do" and/or dig: dishonesty, guilt, intolerance, unkindness, drama and goat cheese (it's a long story, but I love all the other cheeses!) So you now have a teeny tiny little picture of me, with a few warts thrown in. Welcome to my world!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Trattoria Stella, restaurant heaven!

Trattoria Stella
     Wednesday was my dear friend Julie's birthday, and to celebrate, we went to dinner last night at one of my very favorite restaurants on the planet, Trattoria Stella here in Traverse City. The restaurant is within the refurbished Building 50, originally the largest building on the Traverse City State Hospital (an asylum) grounds, way back when. The hospital was actually a self sustaining mental institution. There are several large barns and other smaller buildings on the property, some already converted to new uses and others still awaiting rebirth. There was a serious effort by the Traverse City community to save these buildings a while back. They were supposed to be demolished, but the architecture and bones of the buildings were still sound and some people with vision and resources committed to restoring and bringing these buildings back to life. Building 50, with it's 388,000 square ft of space is the largest structure on the commons, or more formally, "The Village at Grand Traverse Commons." I have walked around the exterior perimeter of this building, it takes about 20 minutes. I have also been up in one of those cool towers, what a view! But back to my culinary adventure at Stella...
Pig Brain Tortellini
     We ordered drinks first and then appetizers to share, an amazing start to the evening. I had a wonderful Pinot Noir, "A Capella," from Black Star Farms, a local winery, but only two glasses, so I would remember our dinner very well and still drive myself home. I am just going to list what we had with bullets for the sake of clarity and explain here and there and sprinkle the photos around too. Some are a bit blurry, but it is hard to take a good photo with my sorry cell phone in dim light, but I tried anyway. Let me start with our appetizers...
Cornmeal Battered Asparagus
  • Cornmeal battered and fried asparagus with lemon crema and basil pesto (OMG, orgasmic!)
  • Hard-seared foie gras with lemon-dressed arugula and five hour sauce (Swoon worthy!)
  • Pig brain tortellini with some incredible sauce I cannot name because it was a special (you just can't be squeamish about these kind of things, otherwise you miss out on the most amazing dishes, I loved it!)
Foie Gras!
      After those delightful appetizers, we continued to peruse the menu, trying to decide what to order next, between conversation, gift opening  and laughter. We picked two different salads. I ordered one of my favorites, the cold beet salad. Every time I have this, I tell myself that I am going to start cooking and keeping beets on hand to make this kind of thing whenever my heart desires, but do I? Um, no. I don't. Thankfully, this appears on the menu often. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos of the salads and desserts, sorry to be such a food porn tease!

  • Char-grilled, chilled beets with kalamata olives, house-made mozzarella cheese and extra virgin olive oil
  • Heirloom tomatoes with house-made mozzarella, torn basil leaves and extra virgin olive oil

     Next up we ordered our main course, we each chose something different, so it was fun to try all three, which we all agreed were fabulous! I had the Ahi Tuna, and it was an emotional experience, stars aligned, perfection, and that is putting it mildly. My second fav was the duck, it was outstanding and the giant raviolo filling was dreamy.
Wagyu Top Sirloin
Ahi Tuna with Candied Pinenut Risotto
     Did I mention that we spent 4 1/2 hours over this meal? We ate a course, chatted up a storm and then ordered the next one, taking our time and savoring every single bite. Even so, you'd think after all the food listed above we would not have room for dessert, Ha! We each ordered a different dessert and shared those too. The Rhubarb Crostata was my fav, but they were all a piece of heaven!
  • Panna Cotta with strawberry sauce and fresh strawberries (I love panna cotta and make it at home once in a while)
  • Flourless chocolate cake
  • Rhubarb Crostata with caramel and sea salt gelato
Long Island Duck with Raviolo of Leg and Mascarpone
Two of us also had the most excellent cappuccino with dessert and I have to say, I have not had such a lovely cappuccino in ages. We lingered over everything, we caught up, we shared worries and current hopes, we listened, we laughed (hysterically at times) and made plans to do this every year! It was the loveliest of evenings. I left completely content and satiated on every level, physical, mental and emotional. Thank you my friends and thank you Trattoria Stella!



  1. It's been so long since we've had a wonderful dining experience, sigh. In S. GA good food is considered anything fried LOL.
    Everything looks beautiful and sounds delicious.

  2. Oh Francie, I do hope you get a chance to have something fabulous and unfried before too long! We are so lucky, in Traverse City there are so many wonderful restaurants. I think we were voted one of the top 10 best foodies towns in the U.S., at least that is what someone else told me recently. Still, I love to cook at home too, I am just a foodie all the way around.


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