FRANKENMUTH, MI Executive chef Phil Fahrenbruch, who won a national Silver Plate Award from his peers in 2012 for his work at the Bavarian Inn, remembers when he was about 9 years old, waiting in line on the ramp with his mom and dad for the chicken dinner that made Frankenmuth famous.
The tradition was built here, he said, but the upcoming Fall Harvest Wine Dinner will show that the kitchens buried in Little Bavarias eatery are capable of much more than buttered noodles and stollen bread.
I like to continue to grow, Fahrenbruch said, taking a break from his training for an upcoming marathon. Ill look in food magazines and other sources for references and at whats available in the marketplace, and then Ill tweak this and put a twist on that. Adding a little chili pepper to the ice cream in a baked Alaska is something that makes people go Hmmmm. They know something is different but theyre not sure just what it is.
Theyll find out Friday, Sept. 28, as Fahrenbruch and a wine representative tell the back-stories behind the courses, such as the Pear and Four Cheese Pasta with Asiago Sauce and its accompaniment, a 2009 Bowers Harbor Vineyards Pinot Grigio.
And by the time diners try the Peaches and Pretzels Napoleon with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, served with 2008 Weingut Eugen Wehrheim Niersteiner Rehbach Riesling Spatlese, Fahrenbruch will come to his favorite part of the evening getting feedback from his audience on the dishes hes crafted for them.
Thats the most rewarding, he said. I know not every dish is going to work for everyone, but when someone tells me they tried my roasted beet soup and it was good, I know Ive hit the mark.
And at the end of the long day, he admits he sometimes runs through the drive-through at McDonalds for a quick bite.
By then, Fahrenbruch has spent months creating a dining experience that perfectly pairs the dinner and the assorted wines. Looking at what will be in season the salmon are running right now he builds the groundwork of his menu.
Then comes the tough part, and even Fahrenbruch cant say it with a straight face. He must head to the wine cellars where he will pull a variety of bottles and narrow down the dinner selections.
With five courses, along with the Green Apple Sorbet, we need five different wines, he said. But its more than choosing a red for the Seared Veal Cutlet with Roasted Red Pepper and Pine Nut Romesco, he added.
People new to wines tend to favor the sweeter, moister varieties. Those whove enjoyed wines for a longer period come to appreciate the dry notes, starting with a sweet white and working their way to a dry red. We want something for each.
Working on the food menu so far in advance a necessity for marketing purposes brings its own challenges, he added, especially when a drought limits the available produce. Who could have guessed that pears, green apples and peaches would become a treasured commodity?
I try, first and foremost, to create different combinations that diners havent experienced before, he said. You cant go down the road and order the same thing. Its unique to the season.
And when Mother Nature steps in, you look for other sources, like bringing fresh peaches in from the South.
The Bavarian Inn started doing wine dinners about five years ago and the feedback was so positive, we offer four or five a year now, Fahrenbruch said. The restaurant is known for its family-style chicken dinners but this is a great opportunity to let our diners experience something new.
Executive chef since 1998, Fahrenbruch has expanded into Princess Days an elegant event for young girls dressed as their favorite princesses and a New Years Eve dinner two years ago that offered a 10-course sampler.
Im always trying to do new and different things, he said. We keep learning and getting better.
Fall Harvest Wine Dinner
HOW TO FIND IT: 713 S. Main in Frankenmuth
WHEN: The Fall Harvest Wine Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28.
PRICE: $55, including taxes and tip. Reservations required
FOR MORE INFORMATION: 800-Bavaria, 989-652-9941 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pear and Four Cheese Pasta with Asiago Sauce, served with 2009 Bowers Harbor Vineyards Pinot Grigio
Roasted Beet and Cumin Soup topped with Gorgonzola Croutons, served with 2009 Double Decker Red Blend
Smoked Salmon, Berry and Pumpkin Seed Salad tossed with a Bacon Dijon Vinaigrette, served with 2010 Kesselstatt RK Riesling
Green Apple Sorbet
Seared Veal Cutlet with Roasted Red Pepper and Pine Nut Romesco, served with Fenn Valley Capriccio
Peaches and Pretzels Napoleon with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, served with 2008 Weingut Eugen Wehrheim Niersteiner Rehbach Riesling Spatlese
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