Camilla, of Culinary Adventures with Camilla, asked us to honor the season with this theme: The Feast Nearby – Grateful for Local Vintners and Seasonal Foods.
Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving. ~W. T. Purkis
I’ve been working on an ongoing project here on L’occasion, my Winemaker Rendezvous series. To discover what readers wanted to know from winemakers, I asked twitter friends to share with me: what would you ask your favorite winemaker? The majority of questions went something like, how did you get into wine? and what do you like to drink?. Because my blog is about the occasion of wine these questions reflect the mission of discovering why do they make it and why do we drink it.
If someone were to ask me how did I get into wine, perhaps a little place in southwest Michigan called Tabor Hill would be part of the answer.The story begins like so many do, at home, with the feast nearby.
Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant
My husband and I take a trip to southwest Michigan at least once a year, as we have done for over a decade. We love the atmosphere there: stunning Lake Michigan coastline, cozy hotels, excellent restaurants, vibrant small towns… We make a point at stopping at the necklace of about 20 wineries that weave through the local villages which comprise the Lake Michigan Shore Wine Trail.
Last winter I visited Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant, one of the oldest and deeply established wineries in the area. During my time there I collected notes for a review for American Winery Guide. An excerpt from my review:
“The setting in the tasting room and restaurant is cozy, well-suited and rustic. The original tasting area features a reasonably-sized bar; they’ve recently added an additional tasting room with a large island-style tasting bar and views of the vineyards. We found a spot in the main room and accepted glasses and tasting menus from Ralph, the consultant who welcomed us into the room. For $9 (refunded with case purchase), visitors can sample six wines from the 21 that are listed on the menu: seven dry whites, four dry reds, one off-dry, six semi-dry and three sparklers. New releases for the estate include a Michael Merchant Signature Red and White, both dry blends priced at the top of the scale for Tabor Hill, which ranges from about $9-$34.
Tabor Hill is a lovely setting with lots of natural foliage as well as vineyards on view. Traditional tours are available; weather permitting, and the tours include the vineyards. If visiting during the summer, May-June, Ralph indicates that tours run 7 days a week. A formal schedule isn’t included on the website, so call ahead to determine if a tour will be on offer during your visit. A “video tour” is always an option, viewable by request, if a vineyard tour isn’t scheduled. The facility has a comfortable outdoor terrace, available for dining as well as entertainment during the summer months. Aside from the full-service restaurant, there is small gift area and a simply gorgeous case of sweets from Norman Love, chocolatier. We didn’t have dinner, but we were told that wine flights paired with appetizers were available. “
I had the good luck of finding their Cabernet Franc in one of my local shops and it seemed that this bottle would be the perfect pour for a Midwest vintner.
The feast doesn’t get any more nearby than delivered fresh to one’s door. My family and I received a box from Melissa’s Produce containing a scrumptious and imaginative collection of fall harvest fruit and veg. Everything arrived fresh and ready-to-use, in the colors and scents of autumn. I gave my husband the challenge of drawing a meal from the contents. No rules, but pairing with the Cabernet Franc was essential. Here’s what he discovered in the box:
1.5lbs Dutch Yellow Potatoes
1 clamshell – Christmas Crunch Grapes
2lbs – Fuyu Persimmons
1lbs – Lady / Crab Apples
1 lbs – Parsnips
1 piece – Acorn Squash
2 – Steamed Chestnuts
From these contents he prepared fresh greens, crab & lady apples and Christmas cruch grapes with vinaigrette; a creamy and herbal Dutch potato and parnsip soup; persimmons dressed in olive oil and topped with a rich chestnut butter; and a roasted chicken with Christmas crunch grape decor.
The flavors of the dish were hearty, distinct, earthy and -in some cases- contrasting. A persimmon has something out-spoken about it, a bit unwilling to play well with other items on the table. There was a sweet astringency that, when paired with the richness of the chestnut butter, was overwhelming. Not unpleasant in small nibbles, but nearly over-indulgent in mouthfulls. If we had a chance to play with the persimmons again, we’d try another route. The soup, however, was comforting, balanced, tasty and the crowd favorite. My husband commented on how the Dutch potatoes were an “of course” — meaning of course they were tasty. The apples and grapes were crisp and refreshing in the salad, and we enjoyed snacking on them throughout the week. My son made a caramel sauce to dip with the apples and brought them to a Halloween party; the kids loved this combination and had fun with the palm-sized apples, not that much larger than the candies they collected to celebrate the holiday.
We had so much fun with the meal. In the end, it wasn’t about being being all-filled-up, but more focused on innovation, imagination and the conversation we enjoyed. The feast nearby, was the feast of connection and family time. An frankly, we are still talking about the persimmons. If we don’t know what to do with with something, we call it a persimmon…the new symbol of creativity in our home.
#WinePW: Wine Pairing Weekend
Camilla asked our writing group to select and serve wine from their favorite local vintner along with some dishes featuring seasonal foods. We could define ‘local’ in our own terms, and for me that meant a Midwestern wine from Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant.
Live #winePW Twitter Chat November 12, 10:00am central: Participating bloggers and others interested in the subject can connect via a live Twitter chat on November 12th at 10:00 am central.
The Line-Up…listed alphabetically by post title:
- Crock Pot Chili Verde and Spangler Vineyards Cab Franc by Tasting Pour
- Exploring the Idea of Local on #WinePW by Rockin Red Blog
- Grateful for Ian Brand Wines + Donkey & Goat + Autumn’s Bounty by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Keeping it Local: Heritage Oak Old Vine Carignane and Greek Lamb by Pull That Cork
- Persimmons, Cabernet Franc & Other Harvest Delights by L’occasion (thanks for reading)
- Roasted Turkey with Morel Mushroom Sauce by Cooking Chat
- Thankful for Local and Seasonal Harvests by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Tradition with a Twist: Cooking Far from Home by The Swirling Dervish
- Wine and Dine: Virginia Viognier and Apricot Spread with Chevre by Grape Experience
- #SoGrateful for a Taste of Local: Food, Wine, Vineyards by Wine Predator
Enjoy this selection and find inspiration to make a feast at home this weekend with your family and friends! Cheers!