Chef David Beier’s Walloon Lake Inn, located near Petoskey in the Village of Walloon Lake, sits on the lake made famous by Ernest Hemingway. The inn’s Autumn Wine Dinner has become a tradition for many Northern Michigan residents—a way to kick off the holiday season with style. The Walloon Lake Inn has been featured in Frommer’s Best Kept Travel Secrets and will appear in an upcoming article in The New York Times on places to visit in Northern Michigan.
MyNorth: What is the theme of this weekend’s dinner?
Chef David Beier: We’ll be featuring the 2007 Rhone Vintage which noted wine critic Robert Parker says is one of the best of the last 100 years. The dinner features six wines and five food courses. And since everyone is concerned about their pocketbooks these days, we’re offering the dinner at a very reasonable price: just $55 a person.
MyNorth: Tell us more about the dinner.
Chef David Beier: We’ll be serving bistro-style food. We usually begin these dinners with a "walk around" wine and appetizers. This year, we’ll be serving Pan Bagna (which is a type of Bruschetta, tapenade and Omelette de Blettes paired with a Northern White Rhone wine, which most Americans are not familiar with. It’s a lovely white wine made with the Marsanne grape. Then for our first course, it’s a light vegetable dish, a squash and barley gratin paired with a nice dry rose.
The third course is another vegetable: stuffed eggplant with sausages and bacon. With this course, we’ve done something we’ve never done before: we’re serving two similar Rhone wines together. You’ll be able to contrast one Cotes du Rhone with the other.
The fourth course is lamb chops with a provencal vegetable medley, which includes artichokes, tomato, onions and asparagus tips. We’re doing another Cote du Rhone with that. It’s what’s known as a " village" wine. That indicates it’s a step up on the ratings scale. This is a wine I would compare to many Chateauneuf-du-Papes in its quality. For the last course, we’re doing an apple tart using some of the local harvest ingredients, like northern spy apples paired with a Cote de Layon Loire wine.
MyNorth: How long have you been the Chef at the Walloon Lake Inn?
Chef David Beier: I bought it in 1981. What I really did was to be one of the first chefs to introduce an awareness of culinary skills and techniques to this area. I was one of only a few chefs in the area at the time that had any fine cuisine training. What many people don’t realize is that the Walloon Lake Inn is also a 120-year-old country inn. My wife Linda helps me run the restaurant as well as take care of people who are staying at the Inn (we offer continental Breakfast with fresh croissants to our guests). The great news is that if you live too far away you can spend the night in one of our five bed and breakfast rooms. We also offer two and four day cooking schools.
MyNorth: And you offer a special service during hunting season?
Chef David Beier: Yes, during hunting season we offer European technique deer processing. We will process your deer for you, and if you want to help and let us show you how we do it, you are welcome to join us in our kitchen.
MyNorth: You’re also offering Tuesday Tapas nights all year long.
Chef David Beir: Yes. It’s something we started last year. It allows patrons to partake of our culinary skills and taste many of our dishes and taste from our unique and reasonably priced wine cellar.
The Walloon Lake Inn is located 9 miles south of Petoskey just off US 131. Call 231-535-2999 for reservations. For further details on the menu, the wines and other upcoming events walloonlakeinn.com.