One of our favorite developments on the local wine scene has been how some of our wineries are embracing food as a part of the tasting and touring experience.
One of the leaders of this has been Left Foot Charley at the Village at Grand Traverse Commons.
Kristin Karam of K2 Edibles has been doing weekly dinners on Thursday nights from 5-7 PM at Left Foot Charley for four years now. She says, “When we started out, there was such a lack of ethnic food in town. It started in the off-season, and we had so much fun with it that we’ve just kept it going. Bryan feels that we can pair most foods to his wine. I think that Pinot Blanc and Riesling stand out really well with the foods I cook.”
This week’s theme is Moroccan, which she says uses a lot of olives and eggs, so she’s leaning towards a Chicken Tangine with green olives, lemons and parsley. Upcoming are dinners in May are German, Greek, Creole Cajun and Indian and June dinners are Asian, Italian, Michigan and Paella!
Winemaker and owner Bryan Ulbrich shares, “We’re a winery, and we’re not trying to be a restaurant, but I don’t think most people understand how well white wines work with food. They tend to think of it as simply a cocktail, but it’s so much more than that and we knew that we wanted to create more opportunities for the wine to sing. It’s all well and good to talk about how our wines would pair with some rare Alaskan fish or a spice nobody can get, but I felt we had to start with ingredients and dishes that are accessible.”
The accessibility angle has been important to Amber Ressl as she starts to build an expanded dining menu. “As Bryan always says, our wines are really food-friendly. When people are tasting we try and let them know about that, and now rather than saying ‘Picture it with this cheese’ or ‘Imagine it with a Pad Thai or a curry,’ we’re bringing these options onto our menu so people can experience it for themselves.”
In addition to the tasting plates that are available at all times, they’ve started a Sunday “Lunch at Left Foot” menu that’s served from noon – 5 PM and features meat & cheese boards, fresh soup, salads and a selection of paninis. They’re also working directly with Zingerman’s who are tasting their wines and suggesting cheeses for their cheese plates and menu. As the spring unfolds, the winery will be adding an expanded food menu for Friday – Sunday, including developing a ‘Sweet is Hot’ menu that will showcase how sweeter wines like Riesling pair with spicier Asian and Indian dishes.
As parents, something that’s important to us is finding kid-friendly menus and establishments and Left Foot Charley wins on both counts. They have kid friendly food and drink options and the entire staff are kind and courteous to kids. In warm weather, there’s few better places than their patio to relax and enjoy a glass of wine or cider as the kids play in the sandbox or on the Piazza!