Food is what brings us all together! When I have friends and family over for an event, the kitchen is always the gathering space where stories and experiences are shared with one another over a charcuterie board (tray of preserved meats, cheeses, and accompaniments), dips, spreads, and various hors d’oeuvres. Even with the best laid plan of having a set gathering space, we still end up in the kitchen typically eating things before their properly plated and “ready to serve” as we are all there to experience each other and the food holds us in a spot of comfort and happiness.
Judy Zehnder was known for her hospitality and excitement around food, wine, and spirits. There was always an event to have and a connection to build and her legacy is what built us up to where we are today. Every taste and experience has come from somewhere and each bite can stir emotion, inspiration, and nostalgia.
When writing menus for the Bavarian Inn Lodge, I try and keep the new, interesting, and exciting balanced with historical tradition of the Bavarian Inn and now a continuation of the legacy Judy Zehnder Keller. I like to think that our holiday buffets are a good reflection of that and would make Judy proud.
For the holidays we enjoy indulging a bit and like to offer that experience to our guests, for the month of December we kick up our special offerings with features like Filet Napoleon- a stacked dish of vegetables, Dauphinois potato (sliced potato, baked with garlic and cream, a French classic), and grilled filet mignon with a red wine reduction sauce.
Now as a sommelier I prefer the subtle nuances of a Pinot Noir with flavors of bright red berries, dark cherries, and light hints of oak, to tie together the flavors of a dish like this. Mild tannins intermingle with flavors of tender lean beef. Tenderloin itself is as tender and lean a cut as you can get, and the lower fat content lends itself well to a low tannin option red like a pinot noir, but with the reduction sauce an old world zinfandel or syrah would work as well.
For fish options, Blackened Fijord Trout with Bourbon Cranberry Chutney, and cheddar scallion whipped potato. Fijord trout is a high content fish very similar in color to salmon, but without the bold flavors of fish that some dislike with salmon, it’s a great option for those looking to transition from white fleshed lake fish to a more full flavored experience. With this option I lean more to an unoaked chardonnay.
Chardonnay has a good balance of acidity to help cut through the fat of the fish with subtle characteristics of honey suckle, pear, and just the slightest bit of lemon rind which dances playfully on the tongue and keeps the palate fresh, preparing you for the next bite.
Another great option for this dish is to blend with the bourbon used in this dish, our Matriarch bourbon made from Makers Mark, using staves selected by the Zehnder Family, gives a great hints of vanilla, spice, and subtle characteristics of tobacco, any time you can pair an ingredient to a drink that will be served you can expect a transcendent experience.
This holiday season, let our family help bring yours together, and let us do the cooking.
Jason Wellnitz, Executive Chef