Drinks with Pat

A Q&A with Chef Erika Brigham of MDRD
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Pat Evans

There’s a couple of really fun dinners popping up around town this month, so I want to take a few minutes to highlight those.

The first is a dinner at MDRD, highlighting the amazing fungi from Pebble Creek Farms.

The dinner is 6 p.m. February 24. The six-course meal is $120, with a limited beverage menu available.

Pebble Creek’s Jim Case will be on hand to teach diners about the world of mycology and the health benefits of mushrooms.

I caught up with Executive Chef Erika Brigham to discuss mushrooms and special event dinners.
Pat: What makes a dinner like this special to you as a chef?

Erika Brigham, MDRD Executive Chef. Photo courtesy of AHC Hospitality.

Erika: For me, doing these event dinners are my favorite part of the gig. I get to take you on a journey through a theme and play with your five senses. It usually tells a story, or it shows off what we can accomplish with culinary on a theatrical scale.

Pat: What are the challenges and benefits of curating a meal around a singular ingredient, particularly one like mushrooms?

 Erika: Why I choose to do a mushroom dinner, well, here in West Michigan most people only consume low-quality mushrooms and don’t know the magic behind them. From being on pizza to mixed in salads which gives them a bad name.

Most people in this area do not like them because of one, having poor quality mushrooms, and two, not prepared well. Doing a dinner, a theatrical journey through the food, I can show the magic of each mushroom and how special, delicious, and memorable the fungi can be.

Pat: How great is it to have a producer like Pebble Creek in the area? Why should local diners care?  

Erika: Pebble Creek and I have been working together for about five years. Each delivery was an excellent example of the art of biology, perfection in produce. The fact that they only outsource to chefs is another amazing trait of the company I love. So diners, this isn’t something you can DIY or experience anywhere.

Sticker shock, but still probably tasty
I’ve been a fan of Silver Oak since a little kid, purely because my dad went there when he was young and had a case of the wine from before I was born — my perception was this was the quintessential wine!

We’re still cracking some of them to this day.

Well, Chop House is hosting a Silver Oak and Twomey, a sister brand, dinner March 14. The $225 dinner will include four courses, as well as an amuse bouche, four wines and a Grey Close Chocolate Orange Martini.

Cider needs to be bigger
Michigan makes a lot of really great hard cider, and one of them is right around the corner from my house, Vander Mill.

Vander Mill does do a lot of fun things out of its Ball Street Avenue facility, and this month, it’ll host a cider dinner February 21.

The six-course educational cider pairing dinner is $75.

 What’s Pat Drinking
A few years ago while down in Louisville, I ventured into Rabbit Hole Distillery, a gorgeous modern Kentucky distillery making a lot of fun products.

Recently, they sent me a cocktail and I served it up at my weekly Whiskey Friday to lots of praise. The suggested whiskey is Rabbit Hole’s Dareringer Bourbon finished in PX Sherry Casks, but any bourbon will do.

White Chocolate Bourbon Espresso

  • 5 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz nitro cold brew
  • 1 oz white chocolate liqueur (a chocolate liqueur will do as well)
  • .75 oz Kahlua
  • Dark chocolate

Method: Chill martini glass. Combine ingredients in shaker with ice. Shake vigorously, 10-20 seconds to create a forth. Strain into chilled glass, slowly. Garnish with shaved/grated dark chocolate.

We also opened up a bottle of The Balvenie DoubleWood, aged for 12 years and matured in whisky and sherry oak casks. The Scotch is very mellow, vanilla and fruit forward. A delightful sipper.

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