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Tastemakers: Paella in the Park

Rick Coates - August 2nd, 2010
Paella In The Park
When organizers of the Epicurean Classic decided to move the popular
food and drink celebration from Traverse City to southwest Michigan,
the food festival pantry in the region seemed pretty empty. That was
two years ago, and now a host of gourmand events have sprouted up
throughout the year fully stocking the Northern Michigan culinary
The newest addition is the Paella (pronounced “pie-AY-ya”) In The
Park, a joint effort by Porterhouse Productions and the Wineries of
Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP). The event will take place Friday, August
6 at the former Clinch Park Zoo grounds (next to the marina and Open
Space) in Traverse City. Musically, the event will be anchored by
Grammy winners Blues Traveler (see interview/article) along with
Rootstand, but the stars of the night will be the seven chefs, each
preparing three paella dishes (one will be vegetarian/vegan friendly)
and the seven wineries from the Old Mission Peninsula.
Paella is a peasant-style Spanish dish (the pan in the photo with Chef
Andrew of Epicure Catering will prepare enough for 100 people) that
typically consists of Calasparra Rice (white rice that holds its
texture) green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck) and sometimes
seafood and broth.  Chef’s from The Cooks’ House, Travino, Siren Hall,
Boathouse, Hanna, Mission Table and Patisserie Amie will put their own
interpretation on this classic Spanish cooking style.
The concept came from Porterhouse Productions founder Sam Porter. “My
father traveled the regions of Spain where paella is popular and so
when I was growing up we had paella every Sunday.”
It seems that others think Porter’s idea is a great one as well, with
more than half the tickets already sold. At $36 -- a ticket that
includes the concert -- this is one of the best festival values in
Northern Michigan.
After tasting the paella made by Chef Andrew of Epicure Catering at
the Paella Pan Seasoning Party for participating chefs last week (he
added shrimp, chicken, spicy sausage and octopus) I can guarantee this
is a must-attend event for anyone who appreciates the gourmet of
simplicity. The participation of the Old Mission Wineries completes an
ultimate tasting experience. During the Pan Seasoning Party, Old
Mission Wineries brought a sampling of new releases, and while many of
the wines paired perfectly, the Dry Rieslings seem to work best.
Although if you are partial to reds, the Pinot Noirs were equally
impressive as was the Gamay Noir from Chateau Grand Traverse.
Winemakers and winery representatives will be on hand to assist in
helping participants properly pair wines with the paella dishes.
In keeping with his mission to better his community, Porter will
contribute some of the event proceeds to improving the Bay Front Parks
in Traverse City. For tickets or additional event information go to
---Rick Coates

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