This is part of the “Food Pairing Series” that will convey the culinary genius that is Winston-Salem’s (and surrounding areas’) wonderful restaurateurs, chefs and food visionaries. This series isn’t designed to display any certain holidays, seasons or time frames. It is simply a demonstration of what the area has to offer and why you should follow the restaurants and chefs to be informed about the events that they will be holding in the future. You won’t be disappointed… guaranteed. Enjoy!
This event brought a pre-Valentine’s treat for Stephanie and me. We were guests at the chef’s table for Tim Grandinetti’s American Whiskey Celebration, AKA the “‘Illest Bourbon Dinner.” A limited-seating event (there were only 16 people, max), we were treated to some fantastic bourbon and delicious food at Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar.
Pan Roasted Diver Scallops & Smoked Giant Shrimp
First off, who doesn’t like seafood saddled beside (or on top or under) a bourbon gravy laced with bacon? Especially when that bacon is the delicious Italian pancetta? Well, here you have large, meaty shrimp and tender diver scallops that are perfectly enveloped in this pancetta bourbon glaze and all of this on top of creamy grits. And, please, don’t forget the microgreens. I have gotten on a microgreens kick lately and these, while quaint, set it all off. It was a small dish but bursting with large flavor; lots of smokiness, wonderful savory and seafood tastes.
Pair this with a craft cocktail called “Maple Ginger Smash” and that was made with Buffalo Trace Whiskey. It’s spiciness matched with that of the ginger and against the sweet of the maple creates a flavor party for your mouth. This along with the salty pancetta, the earthy microgreens and our delicious friends from the sea? A wonderful first course.
Slow Cooked Duck Confit with Grand Marnier Aioli
I’ve just discovered the joys of duck in the last few years and duck confit (cooked in its own fat) is even better. I’ve really never been a fan of dark fowl meat: duck, turkey, chicken, etc., but lately these things have started to really appeal to me. First, though, there’s a smeared smattering of the Grand Marnier aioli. Grand Marnier is absolutely my favorite liquor or liqueur, ever. So, an aioli – not unlike (but not exactly) mayonnaise but with garlic – made with this lovely orange treat is just perfect. Take the fat-cooked duck leg and place it on top of said aioli and it’s a match made at least near heaven. Garnished with large-cut sweet potato steak fries, both they and the duck are great candidates for “dipping” in the aioli. I believe this was my favorite dish of the night.
The duck was paired with the craft cocktail called “Toasted Apples” made with Basil Hayden, a lighter bourbon in the Jim Beam family. The lighter bourbon with the fresh apple essence went well with the dark fowl and created a delightful contrast and flavor balance.
Orchard Apple, Estate Honey & Bourbon Sorbet
The palate cleanser was a delicious sorbet that was infused with Maker’s Mark, a very flavor-rich bourbon. The wood notes of the bourbon and the sweetness of the honey makes a great match for the apple flavors. I could have eaten about 12 more of those.
Bourbon Chicken & Crispy Chicken Livers
Take some potatoes, whip them up with creamy brie and scallions and you have a delicious bed on which to lay your breaded bourbon chicken. Then take chicken livers and hearts and bread them up and place them on the potato bed right next to the wonderful chicken. They are from the same bird so, naturally they make great bedfellows. I’ll be honest, chicken innards aren’t usually my thing, but Tim Grandinetti has a way of making me eat things I normally wouldn’t. The hearts were a little more chewy than I’d want, but they were definitely edible. The livers were quite earthy but when you mixed all that with the roasted tomato chutney, the tomatoes gave just the right amount of acidity to the hearty bird and potatoes.
This was paired with the craft cocktail called “Smoke Signals,” made with Elijah Craig bourbon. Its smokey tones made the pungent brie cheese pop in the potatoes, brought out the brightness of the tomatoes and tamed the earthiness of the livers and hearts. This dish, overall, I’d describe as simply: “bold.”
House Signature Bread Pudding
This bread pudding was sticky (which I think is the point) and moist. It was made with a Krispy Kreme streusel and that WSNC staple brought new life to the pudding. Add a side of egg foam and you get a creamy sauce to pour over the pudding/streusel to lighten it up a bit. It was good, but the anticipation of the bourbon distracted me from getting a full flavor experience. The bourbon in question was the Pappy Van Winkle 15 year-old. Pappy is made in very small batches: perhaps 7000 bottles a year (compared to 7 million cases of Jim Beam a year). Its flavor was the absolute smoothest I’ve ever tasted in a bourbon. You get the full bourbon hit but, it’s very low on the bite, which is what some people complain about with bourbon. I am honored to have tried this, especially with the company I was with when doing so.
Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar is a collaboration between husband-and-wife team, Lynn Murphy & Lynette Matthews-Murphy and Chef Extraordinaire, Tim Grandinetti. They offer Southern, New American cuisine that is rotated seasonally using farm-to-table ingredients whenever possible. This, with craft cocktail artistry and a wonderful, out of the ordinary beer and wine list, makes this restaurant unique and you’ll love eating, imbibing and enjoying at its beautifully historic grounds, bar and dining rooms. You can find more about Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen and Bar on their website. You can call them: (336) 293-4797. Follow Chef Tim on Twitter: @DocBrownstone