Posted by: Kath Usitalo | February 2, 2010

Michigan Treats For Your Sweetie

Satisfy a Sweetie's sweet tooth with Underground Cheesecake

The countdown is on to Valentine’s Day.

It’s on a Sunday this year, so if you wait until the morning of the 14th to choose a token of your affection you may find yourself at a grocery store grappling with other procrastinators over technicolor bouquets of mums and the last Whitman’s chocolates sampler.

Show your Sweetheart that you care with a uniquely Michigan gift. It doesn’t have to be fudge, or a new car. Just forget the heart-shaped candy box and consider these Valentine’s treats for your Sweetie (or for yourself):

Cheesecake One…

Strawberries & Cream, White Chocolate Marble, Cherry Swirl—the  Underground Cheesecake Company in Traverse City tempts with delicious combinations of flavors (yes, they also bake it plain). The cheesecake business that two friends cooked up in a basement more than 20 years ago is now a destination in the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. The cafe serves up the beautiful namesake dessert as well as soups, lunch specials and other baked goods. Order a 6″ cheesecake online but plan ahead; V-Day delivery will be Friday the 12th (see the Web site FAQ for details).

…and too

And you thought West Branch was all about the strip mall off I-75 (photo provided by Dita Von Teese)

For cheesecake of a different kind browse the Sweetshop on the Dita Von Teese Web site. Dita, the modern day Burlesque performer and model known for her classic pinup style and fondness for corsets, is a Michigan girl (alas, she hangs her garter and stockings elsewhere now).

Go to her Web site (beware the racy photos) and choose retro style 8×10 glossy photos of Dita wearing fancy lingerie, or nothing at all. Dita, who was named Heather Sweet when she was born in West Branch in ???? Like the fan dance and strip tease she’s known for, Dita is timeless.


Okay, get your mind off of Dita and those sparkly items she occasionally wears in her dance routines.

We’re talking pasties (rhymes with nasties) as in the hearty meat and potato pies known across the UP as the meal choice of miners.

They’re perfect for a Valentine’s Day picnic on the cross-country ski trail. Order them from Pasty Central in Calumet, which recently topped the half-million mark of pasties shipped across the U.S. The handmade pies are usually delivered by FedEx only a couple of days a week, but they’ve added an extra shipping day for pasty lovers. Check it out at , eh?

Send a sweety, syrupy message with something from Tassier's Sugar Bush

Syrupy Gift One…

It’s natural, pure, and oh so sweet. Whip up a stack of pancakes for a Valentine’s breakfast and pour on the Michigan maple syrup from Tassier’s Sugar Bush in Cedarville. Or drizzle it over ice cream for a special dessert.

We came across Tassier syrup and other maple products at the annual Antique Boat Show in Hessel—Paige always looks forward to that sundae!

Check it out online and call the Tassiers to send a syrupy message to your sweetie.

…and too

Syrupy story alert: This year is the 30th anniversary of the movie Somewhere in Time, the romance that was filmed on Mackinac Island and stars Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. You can splurge and promise your one and only a trip to the annual Somewhere in Time weekend in October, or choose another date to relax at the historic Grand Hotel. Or, just pick up a copy of the movie and, if Hallmark commercials drive your sweetie to tears, a box of tissues.

Say it with Bubbly

Toast your love with a glass of sparkling wine from the L. Mawby winery in the Leelanau Peninsula.

Toast your love with Fizz, Wet, or Sex

Lawrence (Larry) Mawby, who first bottled his estate wines in 1978, now creates only sparkling wines: methode champenoise (under the L. Mawby label) and cuve close method (M. Lawrence label).

Find Sex, Fizz, and Wet—those are the names of the bubbly, silly— at fine wine stores.

Art Lovers

Pat Custer Denison and Chip Denison are a team in art and in life. High school sweethearts who married in 1970, the two create fantastic, 3-dimensional works incorporating Pat’s colorful images on ceramic tile, found objects, and wood carved assembled by Chip. Each year Pat also offers a series of handpainted tiles and limited edition prints on paper; I’ve mentioned in previous post how I love my Dancing Carrot from several years ago.

Treading Water, one of Pat's 6"x8" cool and kooky original ceramic tiles

The couple lives and makes art at their home/studio/gallery in Honor, near the Sleeping Bear Dunes. The Denison Art Studio Web site displays the available tiles and other works of art. Take a peek at the studio, and make plans to visit them on a Saturday (when they’re not at an art fair) between May-October.

When Only Jerky Will Do

For the jerky lover (or if you want to send another kind of Valentine’s Day message) there’s nothing like a chunk of smoked-in-da-UP meat. Last May I wrote about the Cut River Store in the UP town of Epoufette; check it out online and call to order tasty smoked beef, buffalo, and turkey jerky made by Bill’s Fish House of Blues (Bill also makes great smoked fish, but doesn’t ship it—too perishable).



  1. All kinds of yummy ideas! That pomegranate cheesecake looks fabulous! All of them do but that one seemed to speak my name… 🙂 Thanx for sharing all these ideas, Kathy!

    • I say go for it! Valentine’s Day comes just once a year. Then of course there’s your birthday, Flag Day, and Columbus Day, among other holidays worthy of cheesecake 😉

  2. OMG! My mouth is watering! Great stuff, great writing. Will raise a (Trelawny) toast to you on Valentine’s Day!

    • Cheers! I’m gonna stick with the Fizz. 🙂

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