Inside a Magical Pine-Themed Dinner
Pine Needle-Steamed Oysters
After champagne and passed hors d’oeuvres, guests moved through a series of 12 “dining rooms” Stadtländer and his stagieres created in the forest, filled with whimsical art installations, hand-painted signage and rustic serving stations. First course: pine needle-steamed oysters with kohlrabi puree and Acadian sturgeon caviar from New Brunswick. Anisman’s pairing: 2012 Araujo Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
Duck Breast Skewers
Other than harvests from lake and sea and a few German and Japanese ingredients, almost everything served at Pine Spiel is grown organically or foraged on the farm. Duck breast skewers grilled over pine wood adorned a nuanced Cinderella squash soup along with duck confit and duck liver-wild apple cream. Pairing: 2007 Chateau de Beaucastel Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc, Rhone.
Mushroom Cannelloni with Wild Leek Pesto
In the “Vine Room” of the pine forest, a crowd favorite, mushroom cannelloni, cranked out by hand in the forest then filled with wild leek pesto, was served with sauteed chanterelles. Pairing: 2005 Hospices de Beaune Corton-Cuvée Charlotte Dumay Charles Thomas, Burgundy.
The Vine Room
The Vine Room featured wreaths fashioned out of wild lambrusco grape vines that emerge from the Niagara Escarpment soil of Eigensinn and neighboring farms.
Green Beans with Wild Apples
Pine forest-grown green beans sauteed with diced wild apples. “What ties it all together,” says Stadtländer, is the paper-thin crispy shards of pine-smoked bacon, which were brined in salt, pepper, honey, maple syrup, coriander, juniper, garlic and “lots ground up pine needles.” A five-week long low-smoke over maple chips and chopped pine wood completed the process. Pairing: 2012 Hubert Lamy Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Les Macherelles, Burgundy.
A treehouse that rests on 100-year-old cedar logs, designed by the chef and built by Amish carpenters. Stadtländer stands, below, with chef de cuisine Min Young Lee, with stagieres above. The tongue-in-cheek inscription on the treehouse, “Schnell Imbis, Neu Schweinstein a div. Leckerschmerker,” is a sarcastic reference to fast food culture and a porcine pun on the Bavarian castle Neuschwanstein.
Black Currant & Rhubarb Sorbets
Palate cleanser: a marbling of two fruit sorbets, one made with Eigensinn black currants cooked down with apple cider, pine shoot honey and gin, the other made with rhubarb, wood sorrel, pine needles, pine shoot honey, Chartreuse and kefir.
The Japanese Room
The “Japanese room” featured antique kimono sashes, or obi, wrapped around the pine trees. The salad course was served here.
Salad of Eigensinn Tomatoes and Vegetables
Salad of Eigensinn tomatoes, radishes, peppers and tangles of delicate mozuku seaweed, a prized specialty harvested off the coast of Nobuyo Stadtländer’s native Okinawa. The salad and the next course—a 100 percent-farm raised dish of pine wood-grilled chicken ballotine stuffed with Cinderella squash on a pine-buttermilk potato puree—was paired with a 1982 Penfold Grange Hermitage Shiraz, South Australia.
Chef de Cuisine Min Young Lee, whose dedication has led him to have the word “Eigensinn” tatooed on his forearm, prepped a salad plate.
Canadian Black Forest Cake
The chef’s heritage was reflected in a “Canadian Black Forest Cake à la Lübeck,” topped with marzipan from Stadtländer’s hometown that was rolled into medallions, brushed with tempered dark chocolate, refrigerated and then rolled again. Pairing: 1981 Chateau Reynella Vintage Port, South Australia.
Stagieres in the treehouse used fishing poles to lower pretzel bun “bait,” the specialty of Hermann Stadtländer, Eigensinn’s maitre ’d (and son of the chef and Nobuyo). Nobuyo buttered the rolls to accompany pan-fried Lake Erie pickerel with tarragon mayonnaise, cucumber salad and pine-maple pickled wild leeks. The fish-shaped plates are the handiwork of Eigensinn stagieres. Pairing: 2008 Peter Michael Ma Belle-Fille Chardonnay, Sonoma.