Everything AND the Kitchen Sink: Tasting Menus at Webster’s Prime

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Oysters and Pearls. Sometimes in life, one extraordinary dining experience sits like a pearl in your memory, touching everything that comes after. For me, it will always be my first bite of Thomas Keller’s esteemed Oyster and Pearls dish. Served as my first course of the pre-fixe tasting menu at The French Laundry, I remember staring, transfixed, at the tall, volcano-shaped bowl with its beautifully fresh oyster, osetra caviar and a sabayon of pearl tapioca elegantly plated with simplicity and originality. That first taste forever changed the way I see, taste, and cook food.

Ever since that cherished experience at The French Laundry, I have been on the hunt for other restaurants that offer pre-fixe tasting menus. These meals are usually comprised of several small plates of food, allowing a chef and his team to showcase their array of abilities and techniques, or ingredients they are excited about at the moment. The menus tend to have themes, change more often than seasons, and can vary anywhere from five to twenty-five courses.

I have fantasized about running a restaurant like this, and this past year my executive chef and I made it a reality. Don’t worry: Webster’s will still continue to offer a regular menu with all of the beef cuts, fresh seafood, sides, and house-made desserts so many of you have come to love over the years. But now there is something even more special: the Webster’s Pre-Fixe Tasting Menu.

In most cases, restaurants that offer tasting menus offer only that menu. Perhaps there’s a vegetarian alternative and supplements for dietary restrictions or allergies, and some options so that the guest feels – they still have a choice in what they’re eating for a few courses. It’s a great concept, and a thrilling way to eat a meal. It’s almost like falling into the arms of the culinary team, and trusting them to choose what goes on your plate.

We will be different, and something more. Two words come to mind when wanting to be original and put our own stamp on tasting menus in a town like Kalamazoo: exclusive and personal. We don’t print on our menu that we offer these, we don’t create them on the fly (although we have successfully done so in the past!) and we don’t advertise them. Stefan and I prefer to write a killer menu over a few days, allowing us to plan, source, and execute a flawless meal.

We also like to have the opportunity to send a questionnaire, asking questions like, “What is an ingredient you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t had the chance to?” or “What was one of your favorite things to eat as a child?” This allows us to tap into guests’ expectations, as well as give us clues on how to exceed them. It also opens the door to serving “Shooting Star” dishes that will only be created once, a unique experience and taste that will have only been seen and tasted by you.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some amazing “cookie cutter” tasting menus at restaurants that were enjoyed by 60 other people around me at the same time, meals that still leave me in awe. But how great would it be to know that you have the chef’s undivided attention, and that the meal you are about to eat was conceptualized just for you. We even let you choose a price range, and then we make sure to pack as much punch as we can into those parameters. I believe this is the formula for being just as good as any two- or three-star Michelin restaurant from New York to Napa.

Another perk that we include is my wife’s amazing talent for beverage pairing. Alexa has received her Level I Sommelier Certification, and is currently pursuing the Level II Certified Sommelier. Alcoholic or non-alcoholic, Alexa has a magical way of turning people to their new favorites and showing them an experience that keeps us “back of the house” folk on our toes. They add just as much personalization to the “front of the house” experience, creating a complete package. If you like to enjoy adult beverages with your meal, her pairings are a memorable adventure all in themselves.

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Alexa opening a bottle of Dom Perignon for a very special Tasting Menu we prepared for a very special friend.

So if you’re looking for a truly unique and special dining experience, to eat dishes tasted by no other before, or to see a snapshot of the time and place of our best efforts and talents in the moment: Webster’s Prime tasting menus are the answer. Please reach out to myself or Alexa Shaw (Tipton) with your inquiry, and from that second forward we will be ecstatic to start dreaming up your meal.

 

Nate Shaw, Sous Chef

nshaw@webstersprime.com

Alexa Shaw (Tipton), Event Coordinator

atipton@webstersprime.com

 

Testimonials:

“I have had the wonderful privilege to attend two Tasting Menu dinners at Webster’s Prime and I have been thoroughly satisfied and impressed. Each dish was unique, creatively prepared and simply superb. My wife and I totally enjoyed the experience and look forward to returning.”

– Robert Page

“I had a blast working with Alexa and Chef Nate to design a tasting menu for my wife’s birthday. I told them about what she likes (and dislikes), helped set a budget, and let them run with it. The results were perfect: A phenomenal menu with expert wine pairings. I can’t wait until it’s my birthday.”

– Geoff Zmyslowski

 

We had the Webster’s team put together a tasting menu for our sons Birthday. We gave Nate a list of likes and dislikes and let him put together the menu. We have eaten at many restaurants across the country, and the tasting menu was one of the most amazing meals we have ever had. Not only was the food extraordinary, the staff made us feel like we were royalty. It was an amazing experience and we highly recommend it.

– Connie Fox

Thanksgiving Wine Picks – Webster’s Style

The turkey is stuffed, potatoes are boiling, the table is set and family is on the way … but what about the wine?!? Thanksgiving is a perfect time to break out some of your favorite bottles, but with so many flavors on the table, what are you supposed to choose? Take a deep breath, don’t worry about it and check out some of my favorite holiday wine selections for your Turkey Day festivities. Sure to please all palates from your crazy aunt, to your sophisticated ‘wino’ cousin home from grad school.

Grab a corkscrew, a few glasses and you’re well on your way to a wine filled feast!

Berlucchi Franciocorta – Lombardy, Italy

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful, and I am SO thankful that I was introduced to this gorgeous wine while living in Italy for a few months with my husband this year. There is no better time to break out the bubbly than the holiday season, and you won’t be disappointed with this gem. Franciocorta is a DOCG region located in the region of Lombardy, Italy. The sparkler is made in the same traditional method as the famous wines from Champagne, France, and I must say, it’s one of my favorite wines this year. The color alone is spectacular, a rich golden hue, made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir. These wines are held to the highest standards in Italy, and perfectly balanced flavors of apple and pear shine through. I’ll never forget the first time I sipped this beauty, and plan to have a glass (or two!) this season.

 

St. Julian Reserve Riesling – Michigan

If you’re looking for a crowd pleaser, that pairs well across the board, Riesling is always a great route. We don’t have to venture too far for this bottle, because St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw, Michigan makes a beautiful Riesling sure to compliment your Turkey Day spread. It’s crisp and light, with flavors of ripe peach, mango, lemon zest and a touch of minerals. This wine is aged only in stainless steel tanks, which preserves that fresh fruit flavor we’re looking for. If you’re browsing the Rieslings in your favorite wine spot, be sure you don’t get something too sweet. We want a little bit of sweetness for the table, but nothing overwhelming. Save the Late Harvest Rieslings and Ice Wines for pumpkin pie!

King Estate Pinot Gris – Oregon

King Estate

This Pinot Gris is always invited to our Thanksgiving spread, and for good reason. It’s fruit forward aroma of citrus and tropical fruit is sure to get your family ‘winos’ excited. It’s an elegant wine, with a beautiful fresh acidity to cut through those rich dishes, but also has that needed touch of sweetness. On the palate you’ll enjoy flavors of pineapple, nectarine, green apple, orange blossom, lime zest and pear.

 

Check out King Estate Winery at www.kingestate.com

 

 

 

Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Votre Sante’ Chardonnay – Sonoma, California

There seems to be a split crowd when it comes to drinking Chardonnay on Thanksgiving. Some say it’s a must have, and others say it’s a definite no. I’m a fan of drinking what you love, and if you love Chardonnay, just make sure you pick the right one. I went with Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Votre Sante’ for many reasons. First being that this winery is rich in family tradition, and that’s what this holiday is all about. The wine is named after a traditional French phrase that Coppola’s grandmother used to toast her wine glass to, ‘Votre Sante’, meaning ‘to your health’. The wine is aged half and half. Half in stainless steel and half in oak. This preserves that fresh fruit and acidity, while also giving you a touch of toasty oak on the palate. The wine also undergoes malolactic fermentation, creating a creamy mouth feel and flavors of crème brulee, vanilla and honey. Pineapple, passion fruit, tangerine and honey fill the nose, with crisp acid and flavors of apple, peach, pear, and allspice on the palate. When your browsing the Chardonnay section, just be sure to stay away from something too oaky and buttery, like many of the big chards from Napa Valley. There are some really fantastic un-oaked Chardonnays out there too, which could also be a great compliment to your spread.

votre sante

Check out all Francis Ford Coppola Winery has to offer at www.francisfordcoppolawinery.com

Ponzi Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley, Oregon

Pinot Noir is a great option when looking to bring red wine to the table. It’s lighter bodied, and not too overwhelming like a Cabernet or Merlot could be. We have to remember that we’re pairing wine with multiple flavors and dishes, so we don’t want to kill our palate with something huge. The Ponzi Pinot Noir is fruit forward, and sure to go well with everything from turkey to stuffing to cranberries. Flavors of spiced cherry, cassis, raspberry, and spiced rhubarb come together to create this wine. It’s very well structured, and has just a touch of sweetness. If you’re shopping around for pinot noirs, don’t be intimidated, most pinots are going to be a safe bet and you can’t really go wrong. Some of my favorite Pinot Noirs are coming out of Oregon, but many other regions produce beautiful pinots as well. You could even reach for a nice Burgundy if you wanted too, the doors are open on this one!

Merry Edwards Pinot Noir – Russian River Valley, California

merry edwards

Are you looking to really impress this year? Look no further than the Merry Edwards Pinot Noir. I tried this for the first time when doing ‘research’ (a.k.a. tasting countless bottles of wine!) for our new wine list this year, and was instantly sold. Merry Edwards was one of the first woman winemakers, and she doesn’t disappoint with this bottle. She’s also only the 4th woman to be honored by James Beard for the Best Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional in the United States, impressive! The wine has a stunning ruby color, is extremely well balanced and has great acidity. Flavors of plum, red currant, raspberry coulis and warm brown spices entertain the palate. Overall, a juicy wine that is sure to impress your holiday guests. The bottle is gorgeous too, which is always an added bonus to your tablescape.

Check them out at www.merryedwards.com

Girard ‘Artistry’ Red Blend – Napa Valley, California

Ok, so remember when I said that we shouldn’t be drinking bold reds on Thanksgiving? Well, we shouldn’t be, but I love to enjoy a bold red after dinner. If I were my sister Vicki, I’d be whipping up a batch of Irish Coffee’s for the crew, or if I were my sister-in-law Summer, I might be pouring a couple fingers of bourbon to finish out my night. Since I’m me, and I adore bold reds, I’m reaching for a bottle of ‘Artistry’ from Girard Winery in Napa Valley. This blend is 55% cab, 18 % cab franc, 8% merlot, 10% malbec and 9% petit verdot. It’s medium to full-bodied on the palate, and aged in 100% French oak, giving it those toasty flavors that I love so much. Black cherry pie, anise, chocolate covered espresso beans, nutmeg, clove and cherry dominate the palate, and I couldn’t ask for more. This is the perfect blend for me to sip on while I fall into my annual Thanksgiving nap.

 

Still need help? Don’t know where to buy your wine? Shoot me an e-mail before the big day, and I’d love to help you pick those perfect bottles.

All of the mentioned bottles are a part of our new wine list.  Check out our full list at www.webstersrestaurant.com

atipton@ghgkz.com

 

From our Webster’s family to yours, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Cheers!

Alexa Shaw (Tipton)

Webster’s Prime

Hello … is it cheese you’re looking for? (My new found love for all things cheese.)

It was nearly seven years ago that I was elbow deep in a three bay sink of suds, washing pots and pans for the esteemed and successful banquet department of the Radisson, Kalamazoo. Since my ‘days of detergent’ with Lionel Richie on repeat, I’ve worked hard and have learned from experiences and other people to shape the cook I’ve become. In January of 2014, I was offered a chance to attend the Italian Culinary Institute in Calabria, Italy, and had the opportunity to shape the chef I wanted to be. With many long-winded arrangements, months of espresso driven planning, fun with obtaining visas and several successful months at Webster’s, my wife and I were ready to fly out a short week after our wedding.

This blog could go in any direction at this point. I could talk about my amazing mother, whom none of this would happen without. I should acknowledge the support of our chef and team, who all had to work harder to make this experience even possible. I want to shine light on our closest friend and the ‘goddess’ of our lives, whom put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into our happiness. I might transition into the incredible tutelage of Chef John Nocita, and how the hardest thing to leave was all of the friends we made in school from around the world. I could write for hours on charcuterie, conserves and pasta making. Instead I am going to focus on my favorite technique I learned in Italy: cheese making.

Chef John Nocita - A true master of Italian Regional Cuisine, with an art for sharing his knowledge.

Chef John Nocita – A true master of Italian Regional Cuisine, with an art for sharing his knowledge.*

Every Friday morning we went to the market, and stands like these were everywhere.

Every Friday morning we went to the market, and stands like these were everywhere.

I was never a cheese addict. I’m not the guy at the party who jumps in excitement when somebody pulls out the Colby Jack cubes. I’m not sure why I latched onto cheese so much, maybe it was foreign, different and something I had never pursued to learn how to make before. It could have been arriving at the sheep farm far before dawn, and tasting the warm ricotta made from the whey of the pecorino only a couple hours after the sheep were milked. It could have been eating loads of grilled camoscio, a soft cheese like brie, with fresh honey, black truffles and valeriana greens. Whatever it was that turned on my formaggio ‘switch’, I am forever a lover of all things cheese.

Lunch at ICI: cheese was a way of life and we loved living it.

Lunch at the Italian Culinary Institute (ICI): Cheese was a way of life and we loved living it.

The sun rising at a local sheep farm in Calabria.

                                                 The sun rising at a local sheep farm in Calabria.

The farmer preparing fresh rennet to make pecorino and ricotta.

The farmer preparing fresh rennet to make pecorino and ricotta.

Breakfast of Champions - fresh, warm ricotta from that morning's milking.

Breakfast of Champions – fresh, warm ricotta from that morning’s milking.

Fresh sheep's milk pecorino

                                Fresh sheep’s milk pecorino

In school, we had the privilege of learning how to make several types of cheese. Our chef didn’t hold back when it came to beautiful ingredients, as we got to work with fresh milks, rennet, and cultures that were created by the chef himself from years of his own cheese making. Most of the cheese we made was not ready for consumption by the time the program was over, so we had the honor of tasting the cheese made from graduating classes before us. These weren’t your average blocks of cheese. We made curds that were pulled into mozzarella, pasteurized sheep milk that were cut into large curds to age pecorino with black truffles and saffron, and even extracted culture from gorgonzola to create our own. I ran to the closest internet connection we could find after class that day to email Stefan about finding sheep milk in Michigan. My wife and I started planning how we could turn our wine cooler at home into a cheese aging case. I was online ready to start filling up my cart on Amazon with cheese baskets and equipment we would need. This was an inspiring lesson and I was hungry for more.

Aged cheeses prepared by previous ICI classes.

Aged cheeses prepared by previous ICI classes. *

Freshly made pecorino al tartufo.

Freshly made pecorino al tartufo. *

Curds being removed from whey.

Curds being removed from whey. *

The class continued with several new types of artisanal cheese like caciotta, ricotta salata, taleggio, pecorino con peperoncino, provola, caciocavallo, camoscio, robiola: just to name a few. We even had a day of learning techniques and recipes that utilize leftover whey, milk and other ingredients from cheese making, our favorite being sheep milk gelato. I highly encourage looking up the Italian Culinary Institute and Chef Nocita’s work, a true master of his craft. They even hold small sessions throughout the year for a quick but full immersion into regional Italian cuisine.

Ricotta Salata

Ricotta Salata *

Toma marinated in black truffles and extra virgin olive oil.

Toma marinated in black truffles and extra virgin olive oil. *

I hope to not only be making cheese at home, but to feature some house made cheese on Webster’s menu one day. Until then, we are going to keep sourcing some of the best cheese we can find from not only Italy, but all around the world. The mozzarella di bufala from Campania we are featuring right now is delicious, and impossible to find at any store in Kalamazoo. Cheese making was just one small part of our amazing journey to Calabria, Italy. I look forward to sharing more of our experiences at the Italian Culinary Institute in future blogs. Check back soon for my newfound knowledge and appreciation of conserves, and what we are conserving at Webster’s right now.

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Want to see what we’re up to in the kitchen? Follow me on Instagram @nate_is_cooking and follow our restaurant @webstersprime

*Special thanks to ICI alumni and friend Michael Reale for sharing his ‘Cheese Week’ photos with us.

All other photos taken by my beautiful wife!

Nathan Shaw

Webster’s Prime – Sous Chef

Wedding Bells, Restaurant News and Italian Adventures … What’s up with Webster’s?

The past eight and a half months have been quite the ride here at Webster’s. The madness began last December when I married the love of my life, and coincidentally our Sous Chef, Nate. We had our dream winter wedding at the restaurant, and took off for Calabria, Italy a few short days later to attend the Italian Culinary Institute for the next four months. We made it back to K-Zoo, reunited with our Webster’s family in May and we couldn’t be happier to be home.

There is nothing like a beautiful sunset in Southern Italy, I miss these a lot.

There is nothing like a beautiful sunset in Southern Italy. We saw this nearly every night outside of the Italian Culinary Institute.

My favorite part of Italy?  THE WINE!

My favorite part of Italy? THE WINE!

Attending culinary school was a dream, and I was so lucky to experience this with my husband.

Attending culinary school was a dream, and I was so lucky to experience this with my husband.

Things have been busy, busy in the world of Webster’s Prime and everyone on the crew is excited and ready for the direction were heading. Nate has recently accepted the Sous Chef position and we all look forward to his continued leadership of our team … and his delicious snacks, WE WANT MORE RAMEN! Our bar team was thrilled to be given an Award of Excellence this year from Wine Spectator, recognizing outstanding wine lists from across the globe. Speaking of wine, I recently passed my Level 1 Sommelier Exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers, and have plans to pursue the Level 2 certification in the coming year. Our prep cook/steward Kenny was married to his beautiful bride earlier this month, and they had a gorgeous reception in the restaurant. Keep your eyes on Facebook or follow us on Instagram to check out some of the awesome shots from that day, it was unreal! So much more is happening in our world, from developing a brand new website, to our own cook Amy winning Salsa Cook-Off, to creating and executing fun and creative

Tasting Menus for you (seriously, follow us on Instagram!) and the list goes on.

Follow us on Instagram @websterprime to see what we're up to in the kitchen.

Follow us on Instagram @websterprime to see what we’re up to in the kitchen.

We love putting together Tasting Menus for our guests, and would love to put one together for you!

We love putting together Tasting Menus for our guests, and would love to put one together for you!

I was going to give you all of the details of our Italy trip this time around, but I think I will save that story for Nate to tell in his next post. Check back soon for Nate’s Culinary Adventure – Italian Style, but not until you check out the story and sneak peak of our fairytale winter wedding at Webster’s Prime.

The Wedding – Mr. and Mrs Shaw – 12.27.14

The Tasting Room was the perfect setting for our intimate ceremony.

The Tasting Room was the perfect setting for our intimate ceremony.

These days everyone is on the hunt for the most unique wedding venue and location. Rustic barns and farmhouses, shoreline ceremonies and receptions or a chic downtown loft are usually at the top of every bride’s wish-list. My mind wandered in those directions as we started the long, crazy, exhausting but still somewhat enjoyable process of planning a wedding, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that our location was right under our nose.

The festivities took place on December 27th, just two days after Christmas, which meant downtown Kalamazoo was still dripping with lights and the spirit of the season. We decided to go with a small, more intimate celebration and invited 36 of our closest family and friends to join us at Webster’s for our ceremony, dinner and reception.

I designed and printed all of our paper materials for the wedding, and our guests used a vintage typewriter to sign in!

I designed and printed all of our paper materials for the wedding, and our guests used a vintage typewriter to sign in!

Customized beverage menus and appetizers to keep the party going.

Customized beverage menus and appetizers to keep the party going.

The ceremony was beautiful and held in the Tasting Room, also known as are our bar area of the restaurant. We we’re married in front of the fireplace by a close friend and Webster’s alumni, and a favorite previous house piano player performed throughout the ceremony. Once we were hitched, everyone stepped over to the other side of the room, scarfed down some delicious apps and jammed with Webster’s favorite and Wine Down Wednesday regular, Steve Kamerling. He covered everything from Vanilla Ice’s, Ice Ice Baby to one of our favorite jams, This Must be the Place by the Talking Heads.

Dinner was in the main dining room, and I may have went a little nuts with the amount of evergreen and candles in the room, but it was so worth it! Pat Kirklin from Kirklin Farms in Kalamazoo is an absolutely wonderful woman, and provides our restaurant with farm fresh flowers throughout the year. She spent hours cutting me evergreen for the big day, and I couldn’t wait to show her what I’d done with her hard work, it was beautiful. Since Nate and I are total restaurant junkies, we of course fed everyone way too much food. Dinner was 3 courses, with each course named after something fun or quirky about us … and Nate even hand stamped the menu headings for me! (I had A LOT of late nights on Pinterest, which resulted in A LOT of DIY projects.)

We didn't hold anything back when it came to decorating the space!

We didn’t hold anything back when it came to decorating the space!

Handmade coloring books for the little ones.

Handmade coloring books for the little ones.

We customized our menu to reflect who we are as a couple, and featured some quirky details about ourselves.

We customized our menu to reflect who we are as a couple, and featured some quirky details about ourselves.

I'm the resident Cat Lady around here, so it made sense to have Cupcake Zoo make Cat Cupcakes for the occasion.

I’m the resident Cat Lady around here, so it made sense to have Cupcake Zoo make Cat Cupcakes for the occasion.

After dinner we were back in the Tasting Room and welcomed more friends for cocktails and dancing … and yes, more food. Our small private room in the middle of the restaurant (Diamond Room) was used as a dessert buffet and late night snack service of pulled pork sandwiches. Our DJ spun our favorite vinyls all night, Nate surprised me with a live rendition of our wedding song performed by Steve Kamerling and everyone danced … and ate the night away.

The dancing portion of the reception was held in the Tasting Room, and having our first dance in front of the fireplace was perfect.

The dancing portion of the reception was held in the Tasting Room, and having our first dance in front of the fireplace was perfect.

Steve plays live at Webster's every Wednesday in the Tasting Room and he is fantastic!

Steve plays live at Webster’s every Wednesday in the Tasting Room and he is fantastic!

Everything was absolutely perfect that day, and we owe all of that to our amazing staff. I planned every detail of this day down to a tee, and not only did they execute everything perfectly, they made me feel at ease and made both Nate and I feel special and loved.

Couldn't have pulled this day off without our #webcrew

Couldn’t have pulled this day off without our #webcrew

Some might think that being the Event Planner for your own wedding could be exhausting, but you want to know what? THEY ARE TOTALLY RIGHT! Our wedding day was perfect, amazing, over the top and exactly what I wanted, but I was so tired! With that being said, have your wedding, rehearsal dinner, engagement party, bridal shower or any special event for that matter at Webster’s and let me be the exhausted one. It’s your special day, you deserve to feel relaxed and let someone else take care of the details, and we are more than happy to take that burden from you.

Feel free to call or e-mail me anytime with questions, or set up a time to stop in so I can give you a tour of the space. The restaurant is available in many different capacities for special events. You can rent our Tasting Room, choose a private room or our main dining room, or rent the restaurant in it’s entirety and utilize all of the space for your special day. We are a unique, upscale yet still cozy and rustic venue and conveniently located in the Radisson Plaza Hotel in Downtown Kalamazoo. Your guests can stay in the hotel, explore downtown at their leisure, enjoy our other hotel restaurants, visit local breweries and attend your event at Webster’s without every having to get back into their car.

Every event that is special to you, is special to us and we look forward to helping your create that perfect moment.

Now hurry up and call me!

Alexa Shaw-Tipton

Event Coordinator

269.226.3144

atipton@webstersprime.com

  • Wedding Photography by Stephanie Karen

Thanksgiving – Webster’s Style

The holiday season is a very busy time for our crew at Webster’s, and we’re getting geared up for a crazy December.  Before things kick off we’ll be closing the restaurant on Thanksgiving to give our ‘Webster’s family’ a chance to spend time with their family and friends.

Our staff works so hard every day, and we hope they all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Our staff works so hard every day, and we hope they all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Ever wonder what the #webcrew is up to on Thanksgiving?  Read on to find out …

 

Richard – Lead Line Cook

Thanksgiving is all about family and friends.  So one holiday season, I had the opportunity to make the dinner for three different groups of family and friends.  It all started with my Anthropology colleagues, professors, and friends from WMU’s Anthropology Student Union.  The graduate and undergraduate students got together at a students house and had a big Thanksgiving dinner in which I cooked the turkey and everyone brought diverse sides.  The next dinner that I was involved with was with my close friends, and that dinner I also made the turkey.  And finally, at Christmas time I had the chance to prepare a turkey for my family.  This one fabulous year I made three turkeys from the end of November to Christmas which means a lot of leftovers and great sandwiches.  Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays from Richard J. Steward.

 

Dana – Server

Thanksgiving is the reason my family gets together each year, I love it! Dads four brothers and their families gather at the house I grew up in to enjoy gratuitous amounts of delicious (sometimes well-intentioned, yet questionably executed) thanksgiving treats! Best memories are from the “tramp roast” days. Dad and his brothers would boil meat, potatoes, veggies and beer in a steel pot over an open, outdoor flame and serve the delicious mess on paper plates. What fun!

 

Here's a photo of my cousin and I getting down on some family treats. Just a couple years ago. Of course.

Here’s a photo of my cousin and I getting down on some family treats. Just a couple years ago. Of course.

 

Nate – Kitchen Supervisor

One Thanksgiving, long ago, in the town of Flint, my four and a half-foot tall grandmother had quite the holiday. She was so excited to be cooking the turkey that year, and especially the fact she was cooking it with booze. My grandmother (we called her Bacha) was an amazing cook and born in the town of Nara, Japan. I remember her even making the turkey dance, drumsticks in hand, calling it the “drunk turkey”, while she hummed in her quiet yet beautiful tone. Needless to say, the turkey was delicious and my grandmother was asking to take wine home by the end of the night, wrapped in a Dixie cup with plastic wrap. I miss the food that she used to cook so much, but I miss her spirit even more.

 

Alexa – Event Coordinator

The holiday season is my favorite time of year, and has been since I was a kid.  Thanksgiving was always an important day in our family, and was often spent at my Grandma and Grandpa Smith’s house.  The whole crew would pile into the house, giving out long-awaited hugs and sharing anything and everything that’s going on in life.  Grandma would fill the table with the traditional Thanksgiving favorites, but would always kick it up a notch with some of her southern roots … I’ll never, EVER be able to fry cabbage like her!  Once the food coma set in, the parents were safe to leave the kids to their naps and holiday movies, while the adults grabbed their “change bowls” and geared up for the annual poker game.  Now that all of the kids have grown, and new Thanksgiving traditions were born, these Thanksgivings are now memories that I will cherish forever.  Now to get that cabbage recipe …

My brother, sister and I during the good ole days! Happy Thanksgiving!

My brother, sister and I during the good ole days!
Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Anne – Bartender

For this Thanksgiving, I am stepping out of the mixology duty and headed to the kitchen. Because of my experience bartending in the Webster’s Prime Tasting Room, my family has always looked to me for their beverage ideas and insight. Although I more than happy to help, I have decided my contribution this year will be served from the kitchen.  I am excited to put my baking skills to test. This year I will be bringing a beautiful and decadent, Bailey’s Chocolate Cheesecake. Now, you can take the bartender out of the bar, but why not put a bar twist in the kitchen! Bailey’s is a great after dinner drink, so combining this with our favorite cheesecake should be a Thanksgiving hit. I hope everyone has safe travels and enjoys the time spent with loved ones these holidays. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Anne Turkey Blog

Tricia – Host

Thanksgiving has always been about good food and great company in my family. With 23 grand kids on my mom’s side and 10 on my dad’s, there’s no denying that we have a lot to be thankful for. Now every family has its quirks, but somehow on Thanksgiving we have a tendency to forget and forgive all. It’s time where everyone looks at what really matters,  which is the fact that we have each other. We all have things to be thankful for, and the concept of family is one of the most important to me.

 

Nadyia – Server

Last Thanksgiving was a very comical one and in the moment it didn’t feel that way.Me and Dan were going to have dinner at my mom’s house and had everything prepped that we were bringing over, it just needed to go in the oven. We arrive at my mom’s only to discover that her oven had stopped working and the part she needed was not available because the store was closed. Out of the kindness of her neighbor that was half a block away they let us use their oven. So in the freezing cold we walked all of our food to their house while their family was eating their meal. Needless to say that was a Thanksgiving that we will definitely be laughing about every year!

Nadyia Turkey Blog

 

 

Anna – Server/Bartender/Supervisor AKA “Goddess”

My Grandparents on my Mother’s side are from the Republic of San Marino, located in Northern Italy.  During Thanksgiving, and to kick off the holiday season, my Nonna would always make something called Cappelletti en brodo (my family calls it “Capplits” for short). Cappelletti (meaning “tiny hats”) are pasta dumplings filled with pork and parmesan goodness. My Nonna would hand-roll each “tiny hat” from scratch and would then serve them in a warm parmesan chicken broth. Capplits are the one dish my Cousins and I wait for all year  – and though it’s hard to live up to Nonna’s,  our Aunt Sandy does a great job continuing this tradition!

Though I could never give out Nonna’s exact recipe (some things are meant to be kept in the family!), here is a link to a Cappelletti recipe that DOES come pretty darn close! Salute and Happy Thanksgiving!

CLICK HERE FOR THE RECIPE!

 

Megan – Host

My favorite traditions from thanksgiving has to be just being with my family and enjoying great company, good food, football and making memories. If I had to pick ONE (or two) favorite things I would have to say I’m a sucker for some good stuffing (can’t be burnt though) and I love homemade pies. Doesn’t matter what kind. I just like to eat. But for the most part I enjoy seeing my family together. Nothing is better than a full day of laughs and good people! Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Nicole – Server

My favorite thanksgiving memory has always been my grandmothers applesauce. The name itself does not sound very grandiose in nature but the recipe calls for chunked apples with cinnamon candy, not cinnamon as a flavor, the actual little red candies that people put on Christmas cookies!

There was also the year i braved black friday with my best friend of 10 years and all I bought was a sheet set for my bed…yes, it is as depressing as it sounds! Here we are sitting in a sold out shelf, this was in the back of the store, we were in line:/

Nicole Turkey Pic

David – Server

Thanksgiving is about that time where my family stops everything we have going on and get together.  We are all stressed over one meal because we just want things to be perfect. No matter how the meal turns out it’s perfect because we have each other.

Stefan – Executive Chef & General Manager

My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are of my Mom being in the kitchen for what was an eternity for a young child, doing many things that I didn’t understand at the time.  What I fondly remember about Thanksgiving time was that my Mom was so busy with food preparation that I basically got away with a ton of stuff and virtually got everything I asked about while she was busy.  That was cool, cookies for breakfast, soda pop with lunch, neat stuff from my viewpoint.

Now that my lovely wife Amy and I are the responsible ones who prepare the feast, I completely understand why Mom was so focused.  Being a professional chef, everyone thinks we have these awesome kitchens and every gadget under the sun.  True, I do have some gadgets, but the reality is the kitchen is just the same as most residential homes, one oven, four burners, microwave…normal.  Our challenge every year is producing the feast and have it all be ready at the same time.

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The sides!

 

Recently, Amy and I have each done a dessert for Thanksgiving and had the kids and grandkids vote on which one is best.  Let’s see, I’ve done a ricotta torte, butternut squash ‘flan’ for lack of a better description, and roasted winter squash cheesecake.  Currently I’m zero for three in the dessert bake off according to the family.  No worries, don’t tell my wife but this year I’m thinking of chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate.  When you see what’s won the dessert bake off lately, you’ll understand my strategy.

CAM00437

The grand kids celebrating Movember!

 

As for our blessings, having the kids and their loved ones around the table is the best, all are happy and healthy (another blessing!) and most eat a little of everything.  Erin really enjoys what she calls turkey ‘slime’ (the beautiful fat that hides under the crispy skin of a large Otto’s turkey), Tyler is the Stove Top guy, Bailey saves room for whipped cream, Destiny is most interested in what the sides are for the meal, then she gets the biggest plate of food and tries everything.  You know you’re a winner when you get her to try a bite and she says ‘not bad’.  High praise from an 11 year old!

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Youngest granddaughter Bailey making scrambled eggs.

 

We send Lindsey and Paul home with a bag of food, leftovers for days.  Amy and I usually make too much on purpose, need to know the kids are eating well (helps us sleep better).  They pack up and head home, everyone usually winds down a bit and it gets a little quiet.  We clean up a little, package and put away leftovers, and enjoy the time with loved ones.  It’s usually during this sentimental time on the couch with my wife that I enjoy the first of many leftover turkey sandwiches (good whole wheat bread, ton of mayo and heavily salted).  It’s OK, Amy’s not offended, she won the bake off with that most difficult of baked goods….apple pie a la mode!  She’s also won with pumpkin pie and cool whip!  About now you understand my chocolate chip cookie theory to dessert bake off this year….

CAM00454

My lovely wife Amy’s ‘award winning’ apple pie.

 

Many Blessings.  Happy Thanksgiving.

 

Webster’s Prime will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, but would love to help your family, friends, and colleagues celebrate this holiday season.  Contact Alex to reserve a table or private room this December!

Alex Tipton

269.226.3144

atipton@ghgkz.com

 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM OUR WEBSTER’S PRIME FAMILY TO YOURS!

Have Your Cake and Decorate it too!

Before going to culinary school, I had very little experience baking and decorating cakes. I was far from calling myself anything but a true novice. Even at school, we only focused about one week for the entire year on cakes. Although I tried to absorb as much as I could, it still is a very delicate, and challenging process. I still have many things to learn, but however, I believe some of these tips could help anyone out who’s interested in baking a layered cake for an event like a birthday or a party.

 

Research:

Although this can be a tiresome process, make sure to do your homework! Look up Youtube videos on how to decorate a cake. Look up different recipes that can fit your specific needs. Don’t be afraid of the endless amount of chocolate and white cake recipes that are out there in the world. Sadly it can be a trial and error process, but once you finally find that one consistent recipe for a cake batter, frosting, and fondant (for the more advanced), you’ll be rejoicing in that wonderful end product! I will list some of my personal favorites at the end of this blog!

 

Basic Utensils:

It’s always smart to be prepared ahead of time. I can’t remember how many times when I was a kid to ask my mom to drive me to the store because I forgot the baking soda. Make sure you have all of the ingredients you need, and the utensils to do so. Here is a list of the basic utensils you need to be successful:

-Round cake pans – The industrial half sheet trays are nice too for square, layered cakes

-Cooling rack – This helps properly cool the cake

-Hand or stand mixer – A ‘good’ hand mixer costs around $40. If you can afford the lovely KitchenAid Stand mixers though (those run about $350) I always suggest those. You won’t regret it.

-Off-set Spatula’s – Although not necessary, it is definitely beneficial to have to give your cake that professional frosted look.

-Piping bag/Piping tips – Again not necessary. A neat trick to avoid spending the extra cash is to put your frosting of choice in a ziplock bag. Close it, and then cut one of the bottom corners however thick you want. It’s a perfect tool for writing on your cake, however not the greatest for design.

amypic1

 

Take your time!!

This is probably the most important advice out of all. Especially decorating a cake for your first time, the slower, the better. It is a learning experience, and even to this day, I take as much time as I need. If you’re layering a cake, the easiest way to frost the middle is to freeze the cakes overnight. The next day pull them out, and frost. This way, the cake is much easier to handle, and a lot more forgiving when you’re moving it around. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break for a few hours and then come back to it. I like to give myself between three to four days as a whole. Bake the cake, let it cool and then freeze it. Next day make the frosting and build the cake. Either that day or the day after, then decorate it.

amypic2

 

amypic3

 

Imperfect Perfection

Your first cake will not be perfect, but it will be perfected overtime. I have no shame in the cakes I have baked that came out sloppy, because I learned from them. It isn’t a talent someone can pick up overnight. Although I am creative, I am not very artistic, and that is something I try to get better at with each cake I make. The best way to work towards a good cake is practice! It may sound expensive at first, but if you buy all of the ingredients you need, you can bake at least two or three cakes out of those initial ingredients you buy. Some of the best ways of using up those practice cakes is by taking them to your coworkers, family, or friends. They’ll love you for it!

Although I still have a lot to learn, I am very lucky I have learned many of these things through working at Webster’s. Our Pastry Chef, Sherrie, is extremely knowledgeable and makes very beautiful cakes for any event! So if you’re wanting to go that extra mile for a special occasion, give us a call and we can help.

269.226.3144

In the meantime, happy baking!

 

-Amy Spalsbury

-Webster’s Prime

amypic4

White Cake Recipe

6oz. Butter

½ C. Sugar

2 C. All-Purpose Flour

2 tsp. Baking Powder

¼ tsp. Salt

6 egg whites

¾ C. Milk

2 tsp. Vanilla

Butter 2 round cake pans, the bottom lined with parchment. Preheat oven 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar until light. Combine egg whites, milk, and vanilla. combine dry ingredients. Alternate flour and milk mixture. Do not over mix. Bake for 10-15 minutes. Check with toothpick or until golden brown.

 

Buttercream (Great for frosting cakes!)

2 C. unsalted butter, slightly colder than room temperature

4 C. confectioners (powdered) sugar, add more if needed

2 tsp. clear vanilla extract* (If it’s dark, your cream will be a little off white)

¼ C. condensed milk

Whip butter until fluffy. Slowly add confectioners sugar. Finally add vanilla and condensed milk. Add more confectioners sugar if the frosting is too loose. If you want to turn this into a chocolate frosting, add cocoa powder and melted chocolate (make sure the chocolate is not extremely hot or else the butter will break).

Marshmallow Fondant (Great tasty substitute for regular fondant for molding!)

4 Cups Marshmallow

2 Tbl. Water

4 C. Confectioner’s Sugar

Food coloring optional

Put the marshmallow’s and water in a microwavable bowl, and heat until the marshmallow’s are soft. Add sugar and stir with rubber spatula until it can’t be stirred anymore. Dust a table top with sugar, and pour the marshmallow mixture onto the table. Knead until the fondant loses its stickiness.

Celebrating 10 Years: Stefan Johnson

INVITATION OF A ‘DECADE’, Act 1

Flashback to September 10th, 2004 at approximately 8:30 pm. How many of you remember what you were doing? Sounds like one of the questions we hear on the courtroom dramas on TV where the witness answers in a stoic tone ‘I do not recall’. I can tell you exactly where I was, along with about 50 other people. I was in the main dining room of Zazios in the Radisson in downtown Kalamazoo.

Zazion Main Dining Room: 2004

Zazion Main Dining Room: 2004

I’ll set the stage. I just arrived at the Radisson after 10 hours of driving from Kansas City, I hadn’t set eyes on the restaurant in about a month and was very curious as to the finish construction that was being done and literally ran into the dining room. Unfortunately, I interrupted a Front of the House meeting where new servers were being trained on points of service. That was my introduction to many of them; windblown from a long car ride, t-shirt shorts and sandals, having had way too much coffee, and needing a shower.

Many of that initial crew of new hires didn’t stick around very long. When we opened the restaurant on October 1st, 2004, the volume was more than many could handle. Those that did make the grade enjoyed an extremely successful server career before many moved on to find placements in their fields of study. I’m grateful for the relationships established in those first months of being open and stay connected with many of those initial openers via Linked In.

Happy Birthday Zazios!

 

When I was asked to write this ‘blog’ about the 10 years that I’ve been with the Radisson in both Zazios and now Webster’s, I wondered what was the purpose. In Food and Beverage we are graded or scored by our performance every day, by satisfied guests, by being exceptional at understanding what a guest wants, and by being proactive to the needs of others. Then I was reminded that we are participating in a series of Chef’s Tables at Zazios to help celebrate the 10 year Anniversary.

 

THE CHEF’S TABLE, Act 2

Besides being friends with Executive Chef John Korycki at Zazios, having worked with John in Kansas City, one of the reasons I came to the Radisson was the Chef’s Table. What a concept! More importantly, what a gas as a chef to be able to perform for people every night! It was both the most enjoyable and the most frightening experience. I recall walking around the Radisson on the sidewalks downtown before I cooked at the Chef’s Table the first time, asking for help and intervention to not screw it up and have the presence of mind to talk while I was cooking.

Prayers were answered and that first Chef’s Table went great. It is so much fun from a Chef’s perspective, it has to be a blast as a guest. I’ve only experienced the full Chef’s Table once as a guest and it was great. I couldn’t tell you how many times John or I performed at the Chef’s Table those first few years, some nights we did 2 seating’s, it seemed like a bunch. Each time it was stressful and enjoyable. Sure we had mishaps, cut fingers on truffle shavers, I remember burning all the crostini’s once and asking if the guests wanted to help scrape the burnt parts off. Two people raised their hands and said that’s what their grandmothers would have done! It was great.

Alec Durocher and Matt Lewis getting back to their roots at their recent Guest Chefs' Table at Zazios.

Alec Durocher and Matt Lewis getting back to their roots at their recent Guest Chefs’ Table at Zazios.

For the month of October Zazios will be offering guest chef’s the chance to perform at the Chef’s Table. Nate Shaw and I will do a couple of tables offering our Webster’s versions of some Zazios favorites (expect great beef!) and another table with our idea of what Zazios will be in ten more years. That will be fun, I see the entire Webster’s culinary team having a course at that table with their ideas of where food will be in ten years. Can’t wait to see their visions.

Of course, we need to sell out the seats for these events. If you have questions or are just so sold on the idea that you want to book your seats now, call Alexa (Alex) Tipton at 269-226-3144.   By the way, it was her idea to have me write this blog so if you are bored to death, you have permission to call her to tell her that as well!

 

Nate is looking forward to cooking at the Chef's Table with Stefan, and can give mom a break this time around!

Nate is looking forward to cooking at the Chef’s Table with Stefan, and can give mom a break this time around!

A DECADE OF GIFTS, Act 3

Chefs really don’t stay at jobs for decades. Our profession is usually one of moving from spot to spot to make our name until we can save enough or convince some people to invest in a restaurant with our name on it. I’ve been blessed to stay with Greenleaf Hospitality for ten plus years. I can pinpoint the reason in two words, the people.

The gifts of a decade have been the young men and women that I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years. I hope their perspective is a positive one regarding our relationships, but I often don’t get to see the impact that I might have had, so I take it on faith that they learned some life lessons and got better at their craft and better at being human beings who care about others and our planet.

I work for some of the most unusual and talented bosses on the planet. They are extremely transparent and goal focused, at the time very helpful and hands off. They trust us to run our business effectively with fiscal responsibility. More importantly, they realize that without our trusted staffs to assist running our operations, we’d fail. They let us take care of our employees and try to find a balance with life and work. I’m lucky in that regard.

Signature Chef's

Besides, in the ten years since coming to Kalamazoo from Kansas City, my lovely wife Amy and I have three amazing granddaughters who all enjoy making messes in both Zazios and Webster’s. What can be better than that, no cooking or cleaning up! I need to eat out more often!

 

– Stefan Johnson

– Webster’s Prime

 

The kids and grandkids celebrating the fourth.

The kids and grandkids celebrating the fourth.

What’s in a Chef’s Garden?

Do you wonder what chef has in his or her garden?  If a chef has the time away from the professional kitchen, gardening can be a relaxing experience.  I love getting my fingers and hands dirty by digging in the dirt and taking care of my garden.  Spending time planting, weeding, and tending to my garden is a perfect way to take the stress of the day away by concentrating on the seeds, plants, and weeds.  By taking something from seed to fruit has a sense of accomplishment not to mention the health benefits of consuming fresh produce grown in your backyard.

Late spring plantings - carrots, lettuce, spinach, oregano, sage -

Late spring plantings – carrots, lettuce, spinach, oregano, sage –

My garden is an ever-changing space located in my backyard.  When we moved into our house, having a garden was something that I wanted to tend.  The garden started by receiving a planter of herbs from my mother-in-law when she won it a give-away.  She did not think she would use it or have success in growing the herbs.  So the garden started as a simple herb garden with thyme, oregano, chives, sage, and lavender.  I have expanded the selection to having grape vines, carrots, romaine lettuce, spinach, and tomatoes.  I have harvested the tomatoes, the carrots, and a surprising amount of grapes off the vine which will be made into wine grape jelly.  I have tried to grow pumpkins but they got some mold on them which killed any chance of the plants fruiting.  I would love to expand the garden, but it is very hard to find good, consistent sunshine since my neighbors and I have large shade-bearing trees.  In addition, the soil is slowly getting better over the years because I keep adding my compost to it.

View of the hosta world with our garden assistant!

View of the hosta world with our garden assistant!

Aside from the herbs, flowers have done very well in my yard.  The funny thing is that most of those plants are not purchase except for a few ones that I bought on clearance at local greenhouses.  A good amount of the hostas in my yard are passed down from my mom’s garden back in Wisconsin before my parents moved out of my childhood home.  I have a large selection of irises that I ‘saved’ from my neighbor’s yard.  A little story about that.  When my wife and I moved into our house, the house to the north was vacant and had a large hole in the front yard.  So, when the caretakers of that house started mowing the area around the garage, they were going to mow over the irises.  I dug up all of them and moved them to my yard, and they have been doing well ever since.

Purple Iris

Purple Iris

This fall I will be working on my front yard to improve the curb appeal.  I will also keep improving the soil around the yard so next year I can have more vegetables to enjoy through the year.  Having a small, family garden is fun and relaxing but not the size of some of our local farmers that provide our restaurant with locally grown produce.  We here at Webster’s Prime support many local farms and farmers to provide the freshest selection of seasonal produce.  We would like to thank some of those providers such as Crisp Country Acres, Kirklin Farms, Dan Fitzs’ Greens, and Butternut Sustainable Farms.  So go out and plant a garden to reap the benefits!

 

– Richard Steward

Webster’s Prime Line Cook

Webster’s NEW Wine List: “Anna’s Picks”

Wine is a priority here at Webster’s Prime, and mostly because our staff loves drinking it so much.  We take a lot of pride in our list, and have spent the last month giving the Webster’s wine list a make over. Our bar team spent 3 grueling weeks tasting, and tasting and tasting … OK, you’re right, not grueling at all! New prices, new wines and a whole new layout to better serve the most important person of all, which is you!  Who better to talk about some of their new Webster’s favorites, than our very own Webster’s veteran, Anna.

Anna is a Webster's veteran, and our on site wino!

Anna is a Webster’s veteran, and our on site wino!

 

To kick off the revamping of our bottle list, here are 2 of the many new and exciting wines you will see on our menu! These 2 wines in particular, are great to add to your summer wine collection, and great to order while beating the heat with us:

 

Votre Sante Chardonnay, Sonoma, CA

The 2012 Votre Sante delivers the ideal balance of sweet and zesty, and is available on our glass pours list.

The 2012 Votre Sante delivers the ideal balance of sweet and zesty, and is available on our glass pours list.

 

Meaning “to your health”, Votre Sante is a line of wines from Francis Ford Coppola. The line was created to commemorate Francis’s grandmother and the way she would toast at each meal.

The 2009 was a 90-Point Best Buy in Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and with each sip we understand why.

Why the W(h)ine: In the last decade “un-oaked” Chardonnay has had quite the rise and fall in popularity. This has been attributed to many wine drinkers not enjoying the right balance or better productions of the grape. After all, if you had several bad glasses of Chardonnay (or any varietal), wouldn’t you think “they all must be like this”?

Un-oaked Chardonnays were the answer for a small percentage of these people, and that made it easier for the majority of us to jump on board.

Votre Sante is a great Chardonnay to bring you back from the un-oaked metallic boat. The blend of flavors excites an array of palates and is not fully dominated by the “o” word. If anything, the hint of butter and oak in this wine help bring out a more round fruit forwardness.

Vinotes: Light gold color. Bright and floral with hints of juicy pear, oak, citrus, light butter.

Food: Pair at Home: Great with marinated chicken on the summer grill, or any lighter spicy fare including Pad Thai and Fish Tacos.

Food: Pair with Us: Enjoy with our Ocean Tasting, Curry entrée, or red pepper cheese “Dip” in the Tasting Room!

 

Ponzi Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR

The Ponzi is a new addition to our bottles list, and a staff favorite!

The Ponzi is a new addition to our bottles list, and a staff favorite!

Offered by the bottle on our new wine list, this 2011 vintage was given 92 points by Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar and The Tasting Panel.

Why the W(h)ine:

Heavily rated among the best Pinot Noir’s of Oregon, Ponzi uses a blend of certified sustainable fruit throughout Willamette Valley, including LIVE certified sustainable fruit from Aurora and Albetina Vineyards.

Vinotes: Light texture yet juicy acidity. Notes of spiced vanilla and dates are prominent. It makes for a velvety pinot with a complex depth of tannins on the tongue.

Food: Pair at Home: Roast pork or grill salmon while reducing a Michigan summer black cherry glaze to pour over either entrée. If you’re vegetarian, risotto with stewed tomatoes and taleggio cheese will hold up well to this intriguing pinot.

Food: Pair with Us: If you need a night away from your kitchen, try our Otto’s chicken with Parisienne gnocchi and maple crème or our Maple Leaf Farm’s duck served over a potato cake with citrus slaw. Both dishes pair perfectly with the Ponzi!

 

Follow our blog to keep up on Anna’s Picks, and don’t forget to share some favorites of your own!  Join us EVERY Wednesday in the Tasting Room for Wine Down Wednesday. 1/2 off select pours and bottles, and live music with Steve Kamerling. Music kicks off at 7:30 and the wine is here all night! See you next #winedownwednesday

 

CHECK OUT OUR NEW AND IMPROVED WINE LIST HERE

 

 

No Recipe Challenge

Recipes. We all use them, right? Each family dinner we spend it crouched over looking diligently at the recipe to make the best casserole dish on the block. And suddenly, half way through the step by step process, you realize you’re missing an ingredient. Do you leave it out, and risk your casseroles end product? Or do you run to the store and quickly grab that final ingredient?

Amy

            I remember before I began my culinary career, I depended off of recipes for almost everything. I looked up the best tomato sauces for lasagna. I looked up the best recipe for potato salads for summer. I was afraid to ever veer away from that Martha Stewart recipe. The thought of adding another ingredient scared me half to death, thinking that it would compromise all of my hard work. Even throughout culinary school they had us work off of recipes, which seemed a bit discouraging. However, as time passed, I realized that I didn’t need to depend off of recipes, I just needed to research and learn what ingredients would go well together.

            Excluding baking recipes (cakes, cookies), I recommend everyone to slowly wean away from those pesky recipes. Start off by adding extra ingredients to that recipe you love. Add green onions to your favorite potato salad recipe. Think of substituting an ingredient you don’t have on hand for something you want to get rid of.

Collaboration is key at Webster's, and we're always working together, especially on the line.

Collaboration is key at Webster’s, and we’re always working together, especially on the line.

            Personally, I feel the best way to start this process is investing in The Flavor Bible. It is truly a wonderful book for any level of home or professional cook. Rather than recipes, it has a wide list of ingredients that are paired with other items that go well with that flavor profile. Even to this day, I look at it at least once or twice a week, if not more. I use it for when I cook at home and when I’m at Webster’s. Every time I read The Flavor Bible, I learn something new.

The Flavor Bible is highly recommended from our culinary team here at Webster's Prime.

The Flavor Bible is highly recommended from our culinary team here at Webster’s Prime.

Buy The Flavor Bible on Amazon!

Once you’ve done a little research, the next step is to pick a dish you’re familiar with, and tweak it! Slowly move away from recipes you’ve become familiar with, and add new and exciting spices or other ingredients. The more frequently you practice this, the more comfortable you’ll get, and soon you’ll be able to brave a dish without that recipe card.

            Not using a recipe towards well thought out dishes is exciting, but it also helps towards using up items around the house. I remember after cooking a meal for friends, I had way too much cooked asparagus (who knew that possible?). The next day, I decided to throw the asparagus, some thyme and rosemary in with milk and water. Once I added a roux (equal parts flour – butter mixture), I had made an easy, but tasty creamy asparagus soup!

            Remember to take everything slowly. I highly recommend The Flavor Bible, and start from there. Don’t be discouraged if everything you create isn’t as wonderful as you imagined in your head. With mistakes comes lessons learned. I’ve had ideas in my head both at work and at home that don’t turn out as delicious as I would have hoped. So then I would run back to the drawing board and think of how I could fix my mistakes.

My Patty Pan Squash dish that was served at the 2013 Tasters' Guild Wine Dinner.  Served with Fall Vegetable Cous Cous and a Squash Puree

My Patty Pan Squash dish that was served at the 2013 Tasters’ Guild Wine Dinner. Served with Fall Vegetable Cous Cous and a Squash Puree

            Even before I began working at Webster’s I was afraid to steer away from a recipe given to me. I had been so dependent off of measurements, combination of ingredients, that I was out of my comfort zone when given the reins to create what I wanted. Working at Webster’s has been a true blessing for me. Every day I’m given those reins that I feel much more comfortable holding now. If you’ve ever eaten at our restaurant, you’ll notice that our seafood dishes change almost daily. We have fresh produce at our fingertips, and I’m able to help brainstorm new and exciting dishes every day. My creativity with food has expanded leaps and bounds than what it was ten months ago. It’s all thanks to Webster’s and our team for believing in the freedom to be creative!

Amy Spalsbury

Webster’s Line Cook

I had the chance to participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Bake-Off this year.  There is nothing like cooking for a good cause!

I had the chance to participate in the Girl Scout Cookie Bake-Off this year. There is nothing like cooking for a good cause!

Working hard on the Webster's Prime Holiday Gingerbread House.

Working hard on the Webster’s Prime Holiday Gingerbread House.

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