Smell, Taste, Feed...Repeat


I wrote this piece a few years back for the Grand Rapids Wine, Beer Food show that will celebrate its 10th anniversary and be taking place Nov 16-18. 

There was a moment in my life where I was going to abandon radio and enroll in the French Culinary Institute, the same school that produced super celeb chefs like Bobby Flay who currently instructs there.  However, I opted to stay in Grand Rapids and create a food life that included hours of watching the Food Network, creating dishes for my friends and family, and a travel life of searching for delicious.

So for two weeks in November foodies like myself get a chance to celebrate the amazing food right here in our community.  Restaurant week (Nov 3-13) just ended, a chance for people all across West Michigan to sample spotlight dishes from over 30 area restaurants and before you have a chance to miss all things food, the Wine, Beer, and Food Festival invades the Devos Place this week.  The Wine, Beer, and Food Festival take the finest restaurants, wineries, and breweries and puts them in one place where one can get a food education unlike no other.

Are you someone who is looking for more than just food and wine samples?  The Wine, Beer, and Food Festival offers a pairing menu where area chefs take some signature dishes and pair them with wine or beer that brings all the flavors to the forefront of the meal.  You can choose from Six|One|Six, San Chez, Bar Divani, Tre Cugni, and Reserve.  The show kicks off on Thursday and never one to pass up an opportunity, I will be sitting down for the Reserve pairing which includes three dishes and three wines.

The first dish is a swordfish salad with Nicoise olives, the purple olives with a distinct sour taste that make a fantastic tapenade.  Those two will join forces with Indian River Grapefruit, Upland Cress which is a member of the mustard family, undoubtedly to add a bite to off-set the sour notes of the grapefruit, olives, and pickled red onion.  The salad will be topped with a saffron vinaigrette and will be paired with Bower's Harbor Chardonnay an oak-aged dry chardonnay from Traverse City that goes great with seafood.

The second offering is one of my favorites, a slow roasted leg of lamb with chanterelle mushrooms, pearl barley risotto and a sample of one of Reserve's most underrated dishes their roasted beet salad.  This dish will be paired with a Cabernet Franc from Wyncroft out of Buchanan, MI.  They make one of the finest “late harvest” Rieslings called December Harvest that is served by the glass at Reserve which one if not the only place that serves it by the glass.

The final dish seems more fitting for an Iron Chef episode than a tasting menu at the Wine, Beer, and Food festival.  Behold, I give you a Semolina cake with water buffalo milk ricotta, Hasselman’s honey, hickory nuts, and spiced Mutzu apples.  Mutzu apples also known as the Crispin apple is a great eating apple but holds up in the oven and has hints of honey in its taste which will be accented by the honey in the dish.  This dish will be paired with a late harvest Riesling from Bonafide another Michigan wine to finish the meal.

$40 to get a seat at the table to taste the finest selections of food and wine from around the area.  If you get excited about the adventure of food, the Wine, Beer, and Food festival is the perfect way to get some ideas to bring back to your own table for the upcoming holiday season.

Eric HultgrenComment