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Tastemakers:Tour du Terroir

Rick Coates - September 5th, 2011
Tour du Terroir
In past Epicurean Classic events many visitors looked for an opportunity to explore the region, but classes, dinners and parties filled up the day. This year, however, a Sunday, Sept. 11 bike tour and BBQ will make that exploration possible.
When Mark Dressler started envisioning how the Epicurean Classic would look seven-plus years ago, part of that vision was to incorporate the terroir (tare-wah) of the Grand Traverse Region into the dining event.
In its simplest translation, terroir is French for “land,” but it has come to mean a region the encompasses a specific wine or cuisine.
For the first five years, time prevented an organized tour of the region during the three-day Epicurean Classic. When the Classic’s major sponsor asked that the event be moved to their headquarters in southern Michigan three years ago, the reality of showcasing Northern Michigan’s beauty and bounty went with it.
Now the Epicurean Classic is back in TC, September 8-11, with a fourth day added to include a Sunday bike tour.
The inaugural Tour du Terroir will offer a cycling tour of the Leelanau Peninsula woods, fields, farms, vineyards, orchards and waters. Participants will choose from roughly 32K, 65K or 100K routes to be followed by a BBQ with Chef Ted Reader.
The BBQ will take place between 2 pm - 6pm allowing flexible start times for the ride. Riders are encouraged to start to arrive at the MSU NW Michigan Horticultural Research Station for the 1pm presentation - Terroir Expressions of Leelanau County by Niki Rothwell, Phd & Dir. All routes will bring riders past the research station with the 32K route designed to be out and back.
Rothwell’s presentation will highlight the region’s agricultural, vineyard, and emerging hops growing industries. If you don’t have time to bike you can still go to Rothwell’s presentation (it is 30 minutes and is free) and BBQ (fees still apply).
Cyclists are encouraged to incorporate stops along their tour of the peninsula and experience the wineries and farm markets firsthand. All tour routes will go by several winerie,s farm markets, cider operations and other agricultural points of interest.
Regardless of how one structures their Tour du Terroir experience, allow adequate time for the BBQ. Local beverages will be included from area wineries, distilleries and breweries. The menu will also include locally-sourced foods featuring Chef Ted Reader behind the grill. Menu highlights include, Plank Grilled Bison Burgers, Beer Marinated Grilled Chicken, and BBQ Pulled Vegetable Sandwiches.
Registration along with the ride’s start and end and the BBQ will be located behind the InsideOut Gallery located in Traverse City’s Warehouse District. (All riders need to be at least 18 years of age). Advance registration is suggested at the Epicurean website. ---Rick Coates
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