Monday, August 25, 2014

Education Comes In All Sorts of Cool Forms

Here’s a hard-and-fast fact about doing a culinary internship on Mackinac Island: whatever you think you’re going to learn - you might not, but - you can also count on learning things you didn’t intend to.

June, July, and August are the busiest times here...sometimes 300+ orders for lunch and maybe more at night.  The chef is less concerned about my internship education, and more about the bottom line and getting quality food out to the paying customers.  And rightfully so.

So, I’ve had to make my own opportunities.  That’s why I’ve eaten at some different restaurants, learned about craft beers, read and made notes with the library’s subscription of Bon Appetit magazine, and brought and studied (though, not as much as I should have) my own food and wine books.  I suppose I should have tried to hobnob more with other chefs on the island, but if they’re anything like the one I work for, their kitchens are too incredibly busy for me to roam about with questions. Perhaps after Labor Day, which is when I’ve heard tourist traffic begins to lessen.

Imagine my excitement, then, when I catch an advertisement on Facebook for an event called “Getting Weird with Beer”...a small plates-style, four-course meal paired with a different style of beer!  AT the craft beer place (Facebook, Draught House, Mackinac Island...go Google now) that I like to frequent anyway.

Excitement...Not Contained. 

Finally, decent food, decent drink, conversation and conviviality!

(I think at some point I probably need to chronicle here my adventures in the area of craft beer...since it’s become an area of interest for me lately, but for now, pictures and succinct commentary will have to suffice.)

Anyway.  The event was attended by seven(?) of us.  A small turnout, considering the hundreds of people that were on the island today.  But, that’s the fickleness of living and working here - tourists come to the island already with an agenda in mind, and it requires a certain kind of go-with-the-flowness to chuck in-place plans for a two-hour food and beer tasting.

I ended up at a table with the bar manager’s grandma and her friend.  The grandma openly admitted to not being much of a beer drinker, but that she was here to support her grandson (Go, Grandma!).  However, as the food and beer came, it became fun to see the ladies talk about how the beer and food fit together.  At one point, the grandma commented that the Hefeweizen was like “licking a Band-Aid” - talk about a great, vivid description!  Then, she found it much more palatable when she was drinking it with the flash-fried, cocoa-powder-dusted Brussels sprouts.  

The conviviality certainly was there - just what I was looking for.  Thank gods for that!
Enjoy the pictures.

First course was a Seared Scallop with a Coconut Curry Sauce and Braised Bok Choy.  Paired with Arbor Tree Brewing Company's Strawberry Blonde

Second Course: Flash-fried Brussels Sprouts with Cocoa Powder and Sea Salt

Third Course: Bacon-Wrapped Blue Cheese-Stuffed Fig with Balsamic Reduction

Fourth Course: Pork and Veal Meatball with Red Mole Sauce
Paired with a Stout from Arbor Tree Brewing (I'd forgotten to ask which stout by this point in the deepest apologies)

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