Thursday, November 21, 2013

Spinnaker Lounge + Schmohz Beer Pairing Dinner

The Michigan Beer Blog had the privilege of attending a beer and food pairing dinner graciously hosted by the Spinnaker Lounge. It was a tour of the best Spinnaker’s head chef Bill Read and Schmohz Brewing’s Chas Thompson made available! Both Spinnaker and Schmohz have featured events and products at this week's Grand Rapids Wine, Beer, and Food Festival; If you’re on the fence about either of these places, read on.


Forget dessert for dessert.  We’re eating that now.  A chocolate and cheddar waffle made with Schmohz’ excellent Zingiberene ale sat underneath a mound of sweet, BBQ pulled turkey.  The dish is not your typical appetizer: it eats more like a meal.  The lightness of the waffle played well with the smooth sweetness of the BBQ turkey, all of which can only be balanced by the sharp and playful ginger beer for which Schmohz is famous. 

all images courtesy Katy Batdorff 


Continuing the idea of meat on a carbohydrate base, the chef presented walleye ravioli sitting on top of an absurdly complex cauliflower cream sauce.  Seriously I’m making you stop skimming to focus on how great this smooth/salty cauliflower cream sauce was, and how well it played with the al dente ravioli filled with locally caught fish.  All this was topped with sweet sweet potato chutney (that double word was not a typo, this chutney was made with sweet potatoes and was also sweet), decorated with a pleasing display of thinly julienned fall vegetables. All this paired with Schmohz' seasonal Octoberfest, a truly local take on the style which brings the essence of Michigan's fall leaves to the fore.

all images courtesy Katy Batdorff 


This is where we get real, folks.  Beans, beef, and Brussels sprouts?  Please.  

This was a piece of delicate -- almost shy -- Michigan farm raised beef tenderloin cooked medium rare sitting next to a jumbled celebration of cattle beans and pork belly mingling in a cherry soda reduction. Their sidekick stole the show: buttered Brussels sprouts with more personality than your drunk uncle at Thanksgiving.  I’m not lying: a bite of these Brussels sprouts and a swig of the intoxicating Hopnocker Double IPA will make you strong enough to fight your dad.

all images courtesy Katy Batdorff 


At first look, it’s a house made waffle bowl.  Impressive enough, but wait: there’s some controversy in that bowl.  The waffle bowl itself is made of white chocolate and pride, and it holds a flourless chocolate torte cooked with hazelnuts.  The torte is embraced by Bonecrusher Stout sorbet, melting together under a protective umbrella of Honeycrisp apple compote.  Wash that bite down with some paired Bonecrusher stout, and everyone wins -- the dry coffee and chocolate notes in the stout pull some of the sweetness out of the compote, creating an exciting mix.

all images courtesy Katy Batdorff .  Yes, this one too.

Overall, the dishes trended a little sweet but that merged well with the Schmohz beer with which they were paired.  Each of the beers brought a specific spice or dryness that helped to balance the dish.  Incidentally, the Spinnaker sources as many things locally as they can – everything they CAN get locally, they DO get locally,  so the next time you’re wading through traffic on 28th street, don’t ignore this place just because it’s tucked inside a hotel; you might be surprised!

Beer Engineer Chas, Executive Chef Bill Read, Sous Chef Joe Frizzell.  Image courtesy Katy Batdorff. 

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