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View Full Version : Gourmet Cuisine in Iowa? You Bet'cha!!



wayneb
09-08-2010, 10:42 PM
Well, I don't usually extol the virtues of restaurants on the pages of the Gotmead forum, and I certainly don't have much to speak glowingly about from most of what I've found in restaurants in small towns throughout the Midwest, but I have to make an exception in one particular case. As many of you know, I've been working for the past several months on a field assignment at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. For most of you, I suspect that this is merely a place that you blow past on your way to somewhere else while trying to forget about how much time you're wasting as you traverse I-80. I'd like to give you a reason to stop in Iowa the next time that you are passing through.

If you have the time and the inclination to seek out fine cuisine in the middle of the heartland, I encourage you to have a meal at the Chef's Table in Iowa City. The proprietor and executive chef of the establishment, Eric McDowell, is one of the most gifted culinary artists that I have had the pleasure of meeting, and I say that not only because he was willing to prepare a multi-course meal specifically configured to accompany my meads (although, admittedly that did have something to do with it! ;) ), but also he is wonderfully adept at marrying the techniques of classic French cooking, with with the incorporation of native North American game, and with the ability to take advantage of seasonally available local ingredients, to execute a gastronomique tour de force the likes of which I have not encountered outside of the finest establishments in the largest cities here in North America. This guy is truly passionate about food, and great at what he does with it. Here's a link to his website: http://www.chefstableiowacity.com/index.html

But truly the words and pictures don't come close to doing justice to the place. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to check it out. If you are a fan of classic French cooking (with some creative new spins on traditional methods thrown in just to keep your interest piqued) you will not be disappointed. Their wine cellar isn't too shabby, either, although they are still notably lacking in mead selections - I'm currently working on that. ;)

And if anyone is interested in what foods he paired with the mead selections that I brought out here for the occasion, PM me and I'll tell you all about them! ;D

fatbloke
09-10-2010, 08:10 PM
Well, I don't usually extol the virtues of restaurants on the pages of the Gotmead forum, and I certainly don't have much to speak glowingly about from most of what I've found in restaurants in small towns throughout the Midwest, but I have to make an exception in one particular case. As many of you know, I've been working for the past several months on a field assignment at the University of Iowa, in Iowa City. For most of you, I suspect that this is merely a place that you blow past on your way to somewhere else while trying to forget about how much time you're wasting as you traverse I-80. I'd like to give you a reason to stop in Iowa the next time that you are passing through.

If you have the time and the inclination to seek out fine cuisine in the middle of the heartland, I encourage you to have a meal at the Chef's Table in Iowa City. The proprietor and executive chef of the establishment, Eric McDowell, is one of the most gifted culinary artists that I have had the pleasure of meeting, and I say that not only because he was willing to prepare a multi-course meal specifically configured to accompany my meads (although, admittedly that did have something to do with it! ;) ), but also he is wonderfully adept at marrying the techniques of classic French cooking, with with the incorporation of native North American game, and with the ability to take advantage of seasonally available local ingredients, to execute a gastronomique tour de force the likes of which I have not encountered outside of the finest establishments in the largest cities here in North America. This guy is truly passionate about food, and great at what he does with it. Here's a link to his website: http://www.chefstableiowacity.com/index.html

But truly the words and pictures don't come close to doing justice to the place. If you have the opportunity, I encourage you to check it out. If you are a fan of classic French cooking (with some creative new spins on traditional methods thrown in just to keep your interest piqued) you will not be disappointed. Their wine cellar isn't too shabby, either, although they are still notably lacking in mead selections - I'm currently working on that. ;)

And if anyone is interested in what foods he paired with the mead selections that I brought out here for the occasion, PM me and I'll tell you all about them! ;D
Don't wait for people to PM for what the bloke cooked up Wayne, post it, I suspect it'll get a good reading too.

The problem with decent food, is that it's invariably places that have a reasonable size population before places that offer a "fine dining experience" open up - after all there has to be a market for it doesn't there.

Plus there's the issue of just "how good" a place is, as I understand it a lot of the local "star ratings", especially for restaurants, isn't worth the paper it might be printed on - the only reliable guide does seem to be "Michelin", but that's not to say that there aren't some wonderful places that can't be bothered with all the messing around needed to gain Michelin recognition.........

It sounds like you've had an excellent experience - and if as you say, the chef managed to work wonders with matching dishes to meads that's even better.

Brilliant!

I'd be very interested to read what went with what, seeing as how there's no real standard as meads might be popular with us lot here at gotmead, but realistically, they're a niche product that doesn't get the credit it deserves......

regards

fatbloke

p.s. Oh and for most "Michelin starred" places, even the 1 star ones, you often have to remortgage the house to afford to eat in them...... and book a table 2 and a half years in advance........

wayneb
09-10-2010, 09:22 PM
Well, since you asked... ;D

Course 1: Mead - Meadow Vista (Kelowna, BC) "Joy," sparkling mead. Food - Steamed Langoustines paired with a seared Ahi fillet. Not all the meads were mine, since I was trying to show the folks at dinner that fine meads were available from commercial meaderies as well as from home meadmakers. The Meadow Vista folks up in British Columbia do some really great meads; if you can find them here in the US you should give them a try. Their "Joy" is a medium-dry methode champenoise sparkling clover mead that is really delicate, with grapefruit and other citrus overtones that complement a variety of seafood. Eric's choice of herb-steamed langoustines and a lovely seared, peppered ahi fillet along with a unique chive relish worked wonderfully with the citrus and bubbles from the Joy.

Course 2: Meads - my "Wild Thing" (search the Patron's brewlogs if you want to know more) and Meadow Vista's Cloud Horse. Both these meads are dry clover traditionals, but mine was aged on a significant amount of oak, and theirs was aged "sur lie" for several months before bottling. This is the mead version of an oaked vs. unoaked Chardonnay comparison, and the meads were perfect with:
Food - Roast quail and pâté de foie gras. The quail was perfectly seasoned with a variation of herbes de provence, broiled and touched with a butter/chardonnay reduction, and what can I say about a proper foie gras? Très Magnifique!

Course 3: Mead - my "Red Planet" melomel/metheglin (again search the Patron's brewlogs); cranberry, ginger and juniper berries. Food - four different cuts of Lamb, each perfectly grilled/roasted/braised with new potatoes and champignons morels. Holy, moley! The pairing of the spicy/tart cranberry and ginger mead with rich lamb and earthy morel mushrooms was my personal favorite course!

Course 4: Mead - my "Filleule de la Nuit" (elderberry and black currant melomel). Food - grilled venison chops with champignons chanterelles. WOW! This was a very close second to Course 3, in my opinion, with the subtle earthiness of the chanterelle mushrooms and the gaminess of the local Iowa venison perfectly complemented by the rich, red dry melomel.

Dessert course: Mead - Slovak Apimed "Trnavska Medovina" (sweet metheglin). Food - spice cake, covered with a buttered rum sweet glaze. Nice combo highlighted the spiciness of the cake with the herbal qualities of the metheglin. A perfect close to the evening!

I'm getting hungry all over again, just thinking about it! ;)

triarchy
09-11-2010, 04:02 AM
So Wayne, I have searched high and low for the Red Planet and Wild Thing and I cant seem to find it on the site. Maybe Im search challenged, but I think its more likely it got removed somehow.

If its not too much trouble, is there any chance of getting a look at those?

And since Im asking a bunch of stuff, how did you make this happen? Did you just contact Eric McDowell and ask him if hed like to taste some mead and pair some foods with it? How did you decide on him? The whole idea seems awesome but really hard to make happen. Good job. How many lucky people got to participate?

fatbloke
09-11-2010, 06:24 AM
So Wayne, I have searched high and low for the Red Planet and Wild Thing and I cant seem to find it on the site. Maybe Im search challenged, but I think its more likely it got removed somehow.

If its not too much trouble, is there any chance of getting a look at those?

And since Im asking a bunch of stuff, how did you make this happen? Did you just contact Eric McDowell and ask him if hed like to taste some mead and pair some foods with it? How did you decide on him? The whole idea seems awesome but really hard to make happen. Good job. How many lucky people got to participate?
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13151

is the only one that I could find......

regards

fatbloke

fatbloke
09-11-2010, 06:26 AM
Well, since you asked...

Course 1: Mead - Meadow Vista (Kelowna, BC) "Joy," sparkling mead. Food - Steamed Langoustines paired with a seared Ahi fillet. Not all the meads were mine, since I was trying to show the folks at dinner that fine meads were available from commercial meaderies as well as from home meadmakers. The Meadow Vista folks up in British Columbia do some really great meads; if you can find them here in the US you should give them a try. Their "Joy" is a medium-dry methode champenoise sparkling clover mead that is really delicate, with grapefruit and other citrus overtones that complement a variety of seafood. Eric's choice of herb-steamed langoustines and a lovely seared, peppered ahi fillet along with a unique chive relish worked wonderfully with the citrus and bubbles from the Joy.

Course 2: Meads - my "Wild Thing" (search the Patron's brewlogs if you want to know more) and Meadow Vista's Cloud Horse. Both these meads are dry clover traditionals, but mine was aged on a significant amount of oak, and theirs was aged "sur lie" for several months before bottling. This is the mead version of an oaked vs. unoaked Chardonnay comparison, and the meads were perfect with:
Food - Roast quail and pâté de foie gras. The quail was perfectly seasoned with a variation of herbes de provence, broiled and touched with a butter/chardonnay reduction, and what can I say about a proper foie gras? Très Magnifique!

Course 3: Mead - my "Red Planet" melomel/metheglin (again search the Patron's brewlogs); cranberry, ginger and juniper berries. Food - four different cuts of Lamb, each perfectly grilled/roasted/braised with new potatoes and champignons morels. Holy, moley! The pairing of the spicy/tart cranberry and ginger mead with rich lamb and earthy morel mushrooms was my personal favorite course!

Course 4: Mead - my "Filleule de la Nuit" (elderberry and black currant melomel). Food - grilled venison chops with champignons chanterelles. WOW! This was a very close second to Course 3, in my opinion, with the subtle earthiness of the chanterelle mushrooms and the gaminess of the local Iowa venison perfectly complemented by the rich, red dry melomel.

Dessert course: Mead - Slovak Apimed "Trnavska Medovina" (sweet metheglin). Food - spice cake, covered with a buttered rum sweet glaze. Nice combo highlighted the spiciness of the cake with the herbal qualities of the metheglin. A perfect close to the evening!

I'm getting hungry all over again, just thinking about it! ;)
Cheers Wayne, they sound absolutely wonderful. Definitely "up my street" when it comes to food, nothing on that list that I would refuse (actually I could probably manage to "lick the pattern of the plates" ;):p;D )

regards

fatbloke

crowquill
09-11-2010, 10:01 AM
Is this the one that became Red Planet? It sounds great.
http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12072

wayneb
09-11-2010, 10:13 AM
OK - It appears that I've led you a bit astray. The "Wild Thing" experience is chronicled here: http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11604 and the Red Planet recipe and progress were detailed here: http://www.gotmead.com/forum/showthread.php?t=12072

It is evident that I never referred to either of these by their "catchy names" in the original postings. Sorry about that.

And crowquill, yup - you found it!