Central Provisions + Sweet Heather Anne

You’ve met Abby.  (Remember, she’s wildly talented?)  She does it all – answers phones, bakes tasty cakes, makes magical pop-up dinners.  All of us here at Sweet Heather Anne are big fans.  We are also big fans of her food, which goes by the name Central Provisions.  The company was born in San Francisco a few years ago and is co-owned with her partner and cheese monger extraordinaire, Steve.  She’s relentlessly dedicated to seasonal, local ingredients and fresh flavors, and her attention to detail is extraordinary.  She and Steve are currently looking for investors for their brick-and-mortar larder, but in the mean time they continue to delight with special pop-up dinners, tasting classes, and now this — the summer picnic basket.

Abby says the picnic baskets have been her most special project to date.  They are full of beautiful food created almost entirely from Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market veggies, and include special Sweet Heather Anne macarons.  The most wonderful thing is that they become a magical pop-up dinner for two wherever they land.   Where will you be when you taste Central Provisions food next?  Don’t wait too long.  It’s so good.

Enjoy this picnic basket photo story by our beautiful friend, Cat.  Cat and her husband operate Sunset Cove Bed & Breakfast, a charming wedding venue in Livingston County.

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Follow Central Provisions on Facebook or Instagram for upcoming menus. To order your basket for September 13th, email centralprovisions@gmail.com.

 

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Abby’s Making Moves!

Photo by Abby Rose

You guys may have heard that the team at Sweet Heather Anne is growing!  We’ve added Kim as our business manager, we’re in the midst of hiring a new decorator, and Abby, our interim business manager, is moving into the newly created head baker position.

So, here’s the deal.  We’ve known for a long time that Abby is a wildly talent chef and baker.  She studied at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, and she was the pastry chef for three years at Delphina in San Francisco.  In Ann Arbor she owns her own company, Central Provisions, with her boyfriend and cheesemonger extraordinaire, Steve.  She’s a hard worker.  Every day after working her butt off here, she goes home to do more — to recipe test, write business plans, cook dinner for friends and family, serve until one in the morning at the Bar in Braun Court, send packages of preserves around the world (ok, just the US, but it sounded better, right?).  Plus, she’s adorable the whole time.  We should have been prepared to have our socks knocked off. 

Abby has come in and taken on our baking projects with gusto.  She attacks problems head on with intense enthusiasm, and she brings vibrant energy to the kitchen that is a breath of fresh air for Heather and me.  She’s taken on the dessert counter simple treats as a creative project, and it’s incredibly inspiring. 

We know Abby is destined for bigger things than this little cake shop.  She and Steve are looking for investors for Central Provisions, and I predict you’ll see them in a brick and mortar establishment within the year.  In the mean time, we’re so happy that she’s here with us.  

Enjoy Nicole Haley‘s beautiful photos of Abby recipe testing cakes. 
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For more Abby (and Steve), follow them on Facebook and Instagram.  Find out about special dinners and order their holiday gift boxes.  They promised they’ll make a pop-up return, so keep your eyes peeled.

Oh, she made adorable mini-pies for the holiday this week.  No, not that one with the beer and leprechauns. We’re talking PI DAY!  Ann Arbor is a college town, now let’s see our nerds represent at the dessert counter!

Say Hello to Kim!

No,  this is not goodbye. I am simply pursuing my own culinary ambitions as well as helping the Sweet Heather Anne ladies do some baking in the back ( so expect some new flavors and delicious cookies.) I have truly loved working with all our wedding couples and clients. I want to introduce Kim, the new business manager. She is amazing, comes with a wealth of knowledge, a great sense of humor and a true love of cake.  I sat down to ask her a few questions so you could get to know her better. Image(photo by Melanie Reyes Photography)

What is your perfect Sunday? My perfect Sunday, luckily enough, is what I usually get to do–I like to sleep in (even though sleeping in for me is really only until 9) until the thought of getting up and being able to have coffee and read gets me out of bed.  I like making a big brunch while I play some music, and then, while I eat, I flip through cookbooks to look for something new to cook.  Sundays are my Saturdays, so I usually end up making a Sunday dinner and having friends over for Girls and staying up as late as I want because I don’t have to get up early the next day.  There’s usually an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and a nap sometime in there, too.  As I write this, I realize that it sounds largely sleep-centric. Oh, well, I do love a good sleep.

What is your favorite thing to bake or cook? Despite having been a professional baker, I really prefer cooking.  I love to make soup-it’s warming, communal, and is fun to tweak as flavors develop, besides being a damn fine way to clean out the fridge without looking like you’re trying to pass off your fridge garbage.   I also like making things that I’ve never made before–my family’s joke is that if the recipe starts with “day one,” it’s a Kim recipe.  And anytime I can coax a lot of flavor out of a less expensive cut of meat through long slow cooking, I consider it a personal victory.

If you could travel to one place tomorrow? Hmm, because we’re saying “tomorrow” and it’s currently mid-January in Michigan, I’d say that right this minute I pick Hawaii–only because I imagine it’s the Hawaii of the 60’s where Don Draper went and it’s bright and kitchy and warm.  Otherwise, lame as it is, my favorite spot in the world is at my parent’s cabin in Northern Michigan, in a lawn chair with a drink, watching the ducks on the lake.  I sound roughly 89 years old saying that, but there it is.

Weird question, what is your favorite smell? My favorite smell is a mystery flower that comes out in the spring, right after everything is all thawed and you’re starting to have hope that it’s not going to be grey forever.  They bloomed somewhere near my first apartment and I would smell them on the way to my car, and it’s all mixed up with feeling independent and excited and just right, and every once in a while, I catch that smell again and I feel the same way.

What’s your favorite hang out? I don’t have a regular hang out, really–a friend and I have a culinary adventure club where we hit somewhere we’ve never been every other week–but if I had to pick a go-to grab a beer spot I’d have to pick the Old Town.  I like that it’s pretty low key, has big booths and weird old portraits on the wall  and a fine club sandwich.  That, plus the fact that I usually run into someone I know, makes it my default when I have to pick a place because no one can decide.

Three words to describe your work style/ethic? Do the words organized efficient perfectionist paint a bad picture?  It sounds kind of stuffy, but I just like everything to be in it’s place and working like a well-oiled machine.  Maybe everyone is like that, there can’t be too many people that like things to go wrong.  So there’s your three words, plus a bucket of extra ones.

Meet Abby

This is my last week at Sweet Heather Anne, I am moving on to new adventures at the University of Michigan. There are too many people I have enjoyed meeting and loved working with to name. I will miss you all dearly. Though I have to say, I am so excited about this new & exciting step for me, my family, and my career. More importantly, I am SO excited to be introducing you to Abby, Sweet Heather Anne‘s interim business manager.

Abby is a great woman. She (like me) graduated from New York University. And though the fighting violets pale to the Wolverines in school pride, I was very excited to meet a fellow alum in Ann Arbor. As if that isn’t reason enough to love her, she has a great eye detail and awesome sense of humor. Oh and did I mention that she speaks French fluently?

She’s going to do a great job taking cake of you. Please don’t forget to be patient as she settles in to her new position.

I decided to ask her a few questions about Abby, so you could better get to know her.

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What was your major in college?
I was a French literature major and had a minor in food studies and business. I will say the French and food part go together surprisingly well. It feels great that I get to read Jean Brillat Savarin untranslated.
How and why did you become interested in food?
My mother has always introduced me to good food. Her love of farmers markets, local agriculture and simple straightforward fare has molded and shaped me. I like to call her my very own Alice Waters. It also helps that I am just a glutton for good food and I believe it is such a positive way to explore new cultures.
What’s your favorite SHA cake flavor?
Loving the cake truffles (because moist delicious cake covered in chocolate is addictive) but my favorite flavor would have to the citrus almond cake. YUM!
What do you love about working at SHA?
Well I am the newest addition, but I love working with such talented passionate women. Heather and Claudia are a force to be reckoned with. But I also deeply enjoy working with clients, getting to hear their stories and feeling like we get to contribute something meaningful and real to their special occasion.

If you could go anywhere tomorrow where would you go?

Morocco, Vietnam and Lyon, France. Obviously, not all at once. All because I love the food and vibrant culture and I have the added benefit of understanding what they are telling me.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a Sunday morning?
Lets pretend its Saturday. I would wake up, go to the farmers market and get way to excited about fruit and vegetables. Grab handfuls, come home and start making jam. I would then go to a lake near by with my boyfriend, drink Lambrusco and eat cheese, swim, then come home and finish the jam. Sunday morning, I would get a great piece of bread and smear a lot of delicious jam all over it with a big cup of tea and the NY Times. I try to make it a reality a couple of times a year and I love being in a place surrounded by lakes.

 

What’s it like to grow up in San Francisco?

Amazing! San Francisco is a very special place and home to my family. I believe in some Jack Kerouac way we must all go west at some point in time. I feel like it is bountiful and unique and I like to defend it with as much gusto as rooting for UM during a football game. That being said, Ann Arbor has charmed me and the people I have met are some of the most warm, generous and wonderful people I have met.

Photography by Abby Rose Photo

Meet Claudia

A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to Heather, with promises to introduce you to the rest of the team.  (By the way the team consists of Heather, Claudia, and myself.)  Claudia is a cake designer extraordinaire with an eye for detail.  I asked Claudia some probing questions thinking that I would write about how awesome she is and fill in the blanks with some fun facts.  Turns out Claudia’s answers are just as awesome as she is, and I decided to do a direct cut and paste instead, and let Claudia tell you about herself in her own words…Boutique Cake Studio. Ann Arbor

I studied Cultural Anthropology in college {at the University of Michigan}.  Coming from a small town, it really opened up my understanding of how different people perceive the world.
I was raised with an appreciation for home cooked food.  A love of food is something that my mom and dad shared when they were falling in love, and it was always a part of their home. I can remember making pancakes with my dad sometime before I could read.  At some point when I was still really young, I memorized the recipe and could make them by myself.  I was very strong willed.
Claudia Kimble baking
The first recipes I made as an adult were baked goods that had sentimental value to me,  like my mom’s peppermint frosting and my grandma’s date pinwheel cookies.  Baked goods are especially wonderful this way, because we eat them on holidays and birthdays and at special times of the year.  They seem to conjure up years past and are more potent and delicious because of it.  It’s also a craft that women have carried on, for the most part, and that’s pretty badass.
My favorite S{weet}H{eather}A{nne} cake flavor is the Citrus Almond.  I think it’s one of the most creative, and it has the most meaning for Heather.  However, when chocolate with chocolate ganache and chocolate buttercream makes it on our menu, that will be my favorite.   I’m really excited for some of the more adventurous flavors we are working on for the summer.  I love floral and bitter flavors, so I’m pumped that we’ve been throwing around using ingredients like fresh garden lavender, basil, and candied fruit.  Maybe fennel will make it in one as an homage to you, Rachel.
Boutiqe Cake Studio. Ann Arbor
The first, more selfish reason I like cake decorating is that I love geeking out on an artistic task and being left alone to be as meticulous as I want about it.   When I find my flow zone, I can transcend space and time.  It’s wild.
The second reason that I love cake decorating is the WOW factor.  Cakes, the giant sculpted kind, are one of the most frivolous luxury items I can think of right now, and it’s so fun to see people’s reactions.   I love the moment I pipe the final rhinestone on the sculpted jean booty, and I’m like, “WOW, that looks like a booty in some jeans.  Suzy Q is going to freak out!”  Or when the little sugar dog I made really does look like Johnny’s favorite boyhood beagle.  I think that stuff is hilarious.
If I could go anywhere tomorrow, I might stay at home all day.  I love being home.  I love my housemates.  I have so many projects that I could never work again and be busy every day.  I would cook, sew, screenprint, work on my bike…  THEN I would get on my bike and ride all around Ypsi.  I would get Ugly Mug and Beezy’s and Bona Sera (It’s a very long day).  I would ride to my friend Jen’s house and make her come out to play with me.  At the end of my day at home, I would totally jam with my house band!  It’s comprised of anybody that happens to be in our house at the time (“If you’re in the house, you’re in the band.”)  We call ourselves Alpha Uterus.  We’re the best worst band you’ve never heard of.
Because we have Sundays and Mondays off, I consider Sunday my Saturday and Monday my Sunday.  On Monday (my Sunday), my favorite thing to do is sleep in.  I love sleeping.  There’s an lcd soundsystem song, “I’m Never as Tired as When I’m Waking Up.”  That’s how I feel every time I wake up.   Once I’ve committed myself to the new day, my favorite thing to do is make some Ugly Mug coffee, pour-over style, and do the Monday New York Times crossword.  See how I worked it so that on my Sunday I can finish the crossword?  It’s good in my world.
Many thanks to Abby Rose Photo for the beautiful images of Claudia.

Meet Heather

I thought it might be nice to take some time to introduce you to the Sweet Heather Anne team.  I’m going to a blog entry about all three of us, but we will start with Heather since she is the owner and namesake of the business.  She also is going to be doing a Culinary U workshop at What’s Cooking Detroit this coming Saturday (March 2nd), so if you like what you hear you can check her out there–be sure to ask her about her love of spoons.   Carla HallMichelle BommaritoJohn Somerville of Lark, and many others will also be there.

Heather’s love for cake design stems from an education in art, a passion for food, and a childlike refusal to believe that there isn’t anything she cannot create.  While attending the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, she packed up her paintbrushes to study abroad in Florence. Though she had hoped that immersing herself in the realm of the Italian masters would rub off on her artistic prowess, she found herself more interested in the perfect foam atop my cappuccino.

Upon returning to the States, her new-found passion for food seeped into her art making. For my art school thesis, I dedicated myself to forming the same connection to food in Michigan that I had experienced in Italy. After working with food producers and artisans in the Ann Arbor area, she created a series of edible monuments to honor each one.

Before opening Sweet Heather Anne, she took time to carefully refine my craft: developing and refining her palate with Eve Aronoff at eve the restaurant and braving the Food Network’s Last Cake Standing as an assistant to Courtney Clark of Cake Nouveau.  As owner and cake designer at Sweet Heather Anne,  she loves what she does, and looks at each new cake as a challenge to create something beautiful that will make your day extraordinary.

Glimpse into the Sweet Heather Anne kitchen, and check out Heather in action: hand-painting a cake topper, decorating cookies, and making royal icing.

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Heather at work

Heather at Work