One of the restaurants that I have wanted to go to, I finally got there. Cellar Dusty’s in Okemos, Michigan, it is owned by the same people that have the English Inn in Eaton Rapids, Michigan that I have been to and talked about. In fact there is so much to discuss, my next article will also be about Cellar Dusty’s as well. My Bride was attending a board meeting in the Lansing area, and one of her friends had bid on and won tickets for an event and she tied it into the meeting timeline. We were fortunate to be part of her guests for the event.
It turned out the event was a dinner and wine pairing featuring wines from Chateau Ste. Michelle of Washington state. The Mid-west representative for the winery was in attendance, Mr. “Chip” Davis was there and he spoke very effortlessly about the winery and of his products. It was very informative in a much laid back way, but one could feel the pride he had of his products. We talked several times through the evening and he gave our table a brief history of how he started in the food and beverage industry, with his first job at the legendary Golden Mushroom restaurant, which I have also, wrote about. I was not aware that Chateau Ste. Michelle is the oldest winery in Washington state, and that they have grown into an umbrella association with other wineries around the world. He also gave some information that I was not aware of, in regards to the Columbia Valley where the winery is, and how they are on one side of a mountain chain and the land is very arid, almost desert like and irrigation if the key to their success in growing the vines.
The dinner started off with Roasted Cornish Game Hen with a Tarragon Jus. The hens were brined with lemon and then the tarragon was added later, because the Chef had come out after the evening to discuss the menu. This course was paired with Domaine Ste. Michelle Sparkling Brut NV, a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris and made in the classic “Methode Champenoise.” I thought this wine would be very good for more informal moments of celebration; it had a brut finish, but not a lot of effervescence, though this could have been because the wines had been opened and poured before the event began. The next course, we were warned was a fish entrée being served with a red wine, and I had to smile to myself as this would make my Bride happy. The entrée was Seared Portabella Mushroom Dusted Sea Bass with an Artisanal Soy Barley Risotto. Now I enjoy Sea Bass as it is a firm, meaty fish and the dusting even made it even meatier. This was paired with a Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Merlot 2011, which also had 15% Syrah blended. This wine had a wonderful nose, a deep color and the terroir could be appreciated in this wine. Next we had a course of Michigan Maple Braised Pulled Pork over Creamy Truffled Polenta with Chipotle Barbeque Sauce. The pork was prepared very well, as I am not a fan of pulled pork and the sauce were very subtle and not overpowering. This entrée was paired with a Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Red Wine 2011. This red wine was a blend of Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec, Cinsault and Mouvedre and it was most enjoyable and complimented the dish very well. Our final entrée of the evening was Sliced Roasted Tenderloin of Beef with a Black Garlic Demi Glace over Mashed Potatoes. The meat was very tender and I am glad that the Chef came out to discuss his dishes, as he explained Black Garlic, which was new to me, and I am a major fan of garlic. The Black Garlic is a special controlled thirty day aged garlic, that acquires a fuller richer taste, and he says that it is just becoming popular, so I may be out of the loop on this one, and he used the same wine for the Demi Glace. The wine we had was Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 and it was full bodied with some nice tannins. I think it could use some cellar time, but that is me, as I like my Cabs aged. I was also surprised to hear that this was their basic Cabernet Sauvignon, and if that is the case the other Cabs that are up the ladder must be wonderful. For dessert we had Poached Pear with an assortment of four cheeses, and my Bride and I swapped some of the cheeses, because of my problems with certain cheeses, but that is my problem, and everyone else said that the dish as it was prepared was great. The wine that was paired with the dessert was Eroica Riesling 2012, not a true dessert wine, but rather an off-dry Riesling and very enjoyable. It was not cloying sweet and it complimented the pear and the cheeses that I had. The Eroica Riesling is a joint venture between Chateau Ste. Michelle and Dr. Loosen and produced in Washington State.
The dinner was wonderful; the tasting was excellent with a speaker that was informative with out sounding like a television informational advertisement. I asked the restaurant if I could have an empty bottle of each wine bottle for this blog, and they said no problem and even packed them into a very nice six pack reusable “green” wine bag. I think that I should also mention that we bought and I took home the Merlot, the Indian Wells Red Wine and the Cabernet Sauvignon. I was informed that almost everyone at the tasting ended up buying wine that evening and they had more orders, then they had stock, so they graciously filled our order and the rest from our table as we all lived at least an hour away from the restaurant, and the some of the locals would have to return in a couple of days to pick up their wine order, but it is a great place to return to, and I look forward to dining there again.