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Tastemakers: Hanna whitefish cake & bittersweet chocolate cake/ Acustic Draft Mead Cherry BZZZ

Rick Coates - January 25th, 2010
Hanna Whitefish Cake & Bittersweet Chocolate Cake
When Executive Chef Carrie Trogan took over the kitchen at Hanna from proprietor Jim Milliman (also of Hattie’s fame) she had some pretty big shoes to fill. But Chef Carrie took a different approach: She decided to bring her own shoes and create a name for herself. Along with new proprietor Rob Giffer (long-time manager for Milliman at Hattie’s and Hanna) Chef Carrie has taken the popular downtown eatery into a different culinary direction.
She has energized the menu with her creativity by blending local favorites with classic recipes. For example, her Whitefish Cake is a play on crab cakes.
“Everyone has a crab cake -- I wanted to give it a different look and to use whitefish,” she says. The Whitefish Cake has been a big hit, especially with visitors to the area. The presentation is impressive and the chunks of whitefish blended with smoked corn, smoked portabella, sautéed and roasted, make for a tasty gastronomic experience and a welcome change from the traditional planked, broiled or blackened whitefish.
Chef Carrie finishes off the Whitefish Cake with a topping of watercress and apple slaw and places the cake on a bed of rice and greens and serves it with a roasted red pepper sauce. This entrée or appetizer pairs nicely with several wines from the wine list that Rob Giffer has carefully crafted from a variety of unique boutique wineries from around the world.
Since taking over, Chef Carrie has put a focus on desserts and has created an impressive dessert menu and has even brought in Pastry Chef Daniela Weiner from Austria. Weiner’s Bittersweet Chocolate Cake creation is a flourless chocolate torte with sour cream and sorbet. Its secret weapon is the Balaton cherry sauce. Okay, do not order this dessert to share with anyone else, it is way too good to share so tell your dining companions to order their own dessert.
Chef Carrie Trogan is one of the bright new young chefs in Northern Michigan that is helping to reshape our culinary expectations. To see the full Hanna menu or a listing of great dining events (they have a fantastic and well priced lunch menu as well) check out --Rick Coates

Acoustic Draft Mead Cherry Bzzz
A mixture of folklore, scientific, and archeological discoveries have shed many a theory on when mankind made the first alcoholic beverage. More than likely the first alcoholic beverage was simply produced by accident.
For example, someone 10,000 years ago might of left a clay pot of honey outside, it filled with rain and eventually fermented naturally with wild yeast, creating an intoxicating beverage that mankind has been trying to perfect ever since. In his book the “Ancient Wine: The Search For The Origins Of Viticulture,” Dr. Patrick E. McGovern puts this theory forward. Ancient vessels from 9,000 B.C. have residues indicating that these vessels contained an alcoholic beverage made with honey, fruits and herbs suggesting that the first alcoholic beverage known to man was mead.
Mead is an alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey with water, wild yeast and often other fruits and spices. It was a popular drink in ancient times and in Central Europe (Poland) during the 1800s. As wine, beer and distilled spirits grew in popularity, mead lost its flavor in modern times, but now it is making a comeback. Locally, a few wineries have produced meads but now we have our first fulltime meadery (a facility that produces mead exclusively) based in Lake Ann. Acoustic Draft Mead is the brainchild of musician and zymurgyst Bruce Grossman, who converted his garage into a licensed facility to produce mead.
Acoustic Draft Mead has more ale characteristics than traditional mead that is similar to wine. Traditional mead is usually around 14% alcohol in content and is still, whereas Grossman’s versions have a hint of carbonation and 6% alcohol content.
I recently tasted the Cherry Bzzz and found it light and refreshing with the Michigan Tart Cherries balanced perfectly with the Michigan Star Thistle Honey. Mead is an acquired taste, but Grossman’s approach is going to make it approachable for many. Pair the Cherry Bzzz with spicy dishes, cheeses and breads or enjoy as a refreshing beverage.
Grossman has several mead offerings that have quickly made their way on tap at area taverns and now are available by the bottle. For additional information -- including how to have Grossman perform at your next event while enjoying his meads -- or to locate these tasty Michigan ingredient-laden beverages, check out --Rick Coates

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