BY CYMBRE FOSTER Special to the Record-Eagle
Traverse City Record-Eagle
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Last January seven local gourmet chefs and 22 winemakers put their heads together.
What resulted is Traverse City Wine & Art Festival’s first-ever Winemakers Party on Friday, June 21.
Wine and food aficionados will have an opportunity to see just how well Michigan wines pair with gourmet fare from 6-9 p.m. on the grounds at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons in Traverse City.
“We decided to create an event that was more about the wine and food, with the wine and chefs as the actual celebrities,” said Andy McFarlane of organizer Leelanau Peninsula Vintners Association. “We wanted to put our winemakers and our wine region on the stage.”
Each chef received a bottle from all of the 22 vintners from Leelanau and Old Mission Peninsulas and then were left to dig in and see how the wine and food might work together.
They came up with a varied menu that includes escargot and ramp risotto from Bistro Fou Fou/La Becasse; coffee and red wine braised beef short ribs with polenta, chevre, sage and pea shoots from Black Star farms; Northern Indian vegetarian curry with basmati rice from Cook’s House; wine poached Lake Michigan trout with asparagus and smoked butter pesto on herbed barley from Epicure Catering; house made grilled merguez sausage on baguette with rouille, Werp Farms rocket arugula, pickled onions and cucumber from Mission Table; and braised Michigan veal breast on local brioche with house pickled ramps from the Riverside Inn. Trattoria Stella also joins the list with grilled focaccia, melted stracchino cheese, heirloom tomatoes, basil, extra virgin olive oil, and salt.
“What I really like about it is that the foods pair so well with the Michigan wines,” said Master Sommelier Claudia Tyagi, one of only 20 women in the world to hold the highest Sommelier credential. She will also be attending the event to chat with guests. “It’s designed so people can ask the winemakers questions and move around the room,” she added.
Tyagi said it’s a rare opportunity for people to taste fine food and wine pairings “all in one swoop.”
“I like to think of wine more as a food, not as alcohol,” she said. “It enhances the food and the food enhances the wine.” She describes the region’s cool-climate wines as “sophisticated, nuanced and versatile” wines that work very well at the table.
She describes the region’s cool-climate wines as “sophisticated, nuanced and versatile” that work very well at the table.
McFarland sees the event as a great opportunity for getting to know local wines a little better.
“This is a perfect event to play at,” he said.
Tickets are $50 per person and include eight wine tasting tickets and three small plate tickets with additional pours available. Tickets can be purchased at www.traversecitywinefestival.com.
Tickets to the Art & Wine Festival are sold out for Saturday, but weekend passes still are available.
Andrew Schudlich, chef and co-proprieter of Epicure Catering, a small, fine-food catering-only company with a farm venue in Omena, said this winemakers party dish will go well with almost any local white wine that’s crisp and clean. Besides fish, it features food from local farms and waters.
“We picked it because no one else is doing fish and Michigan is basically a peninsula surrounded by water,” Schudlich said.
Poached Lake Michigan Fish
Broth (for 4-6 oz. filets trout, walleye or salmon)
4 stalks celery
6 sprigs parsley
1 sprig thyme
2 bay leaves
10 whole black peppercorn
1 c. white balsamic vinegar
1 qt. local white wine
1 qt. water
2 T. salt
Rough chop onion, carrots, celery, parsley and thyme and add to a stockpot with remaining ingredients.
Bring to a low boil and continue to simmer 30 minutes.
Strain the broth, discard solids and reserve liquid.
4-6 oz. filets fish, thawed and at room temperature
2 qt. poaching broth
Place filets skin side down in a lightly oiled pan (a roasting pan similar to one you would use for Thanksgiving turkey works well). In a separate pot, heat poaching broth to a simmer, turn heat off. Gently pour steaming broth over the fish and on low heat bring broth back to simmer for 2 minutes (do not boil). After 2 minutes, turn off heat, cover the pan and let sit 5 minutes for every inch of thickness in filets. Check for preferred doneness and remove with a slotted spatula. Pat flesh side dry, sauce with simple garden pesto, chimi churri, or simply lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve room temperature or slightly chilled.