Last week I pulled from every corner of my arsenal of clothing to combat the weather; ski jacket, shorts, rain gear, flip-flops and the requisite fleece, so I know that spring is here. Spring is an exciting time for us here at the Bend Pub. Cinder Cone Red is released, we begin our planning of the Sagebrush Classic, our annual golf tournament and feast benefiting the Deschutes Children’s Foundation, and we start gearing up for the summer tourist season. We also put out our spring and summer menu.
Menu changes are an exciting part of the job of being a Chef, especially a spring menu. We get to think about summer crops with beautiful, fresh produce and vegetables. Trips to the farmer’s market offer weekly inspiration and the summer fishing season will soon begin. Menu Changes are often challenging too. It is a delicate balance of offering something new without removing a favorite. Someone’s feelings are always hurt.
We start the process with an “anything is possible” brainstorming session. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like one of Paul’s (our brewer at the Pub) specialty brews.
I found the Pilsner to be especially inspiring this year. The blend of Czech and German Malts add a complexity to this pilsners’ crisp and refreshing flavor. The flavors sing summer to me. Halfway through my pint and my mind is on the lawn at Les Schwab enjoying a Sunday concert. A salad would be great with this beer.
How about a spinach salad? That sounds good. What kind of dressing? Something light I think. Let’s make a Green Lakes Vinaigrette, nice and aromatic, and light on the palate. Green Lakes Organic Ale is perfect for this, the blend of organic malts, barley and seven types of hops add a sense of the high Cascades. What else? Pondhopper cheese, the semi-soft goat cheese from Tumalo Farms. This cheese’s rich flavor will help balance the sharpness of the vinaigrette. And for a final touch, candied Munich Malts. One of the staples of our beers coated with sugar and spice and roasted in our bakery. Now that’s a salad for summer.
We go through this process several times creating dishes inspired by summer and the bounty of ingredients available in Oregon. Some of the other dishes we have created include a Trout Po’ boy with Idaho trout and house pickled vegetables, fresh fish tacos on Wednesday, and marbled cheesecake with vanilla beans and hibiscus. Pair these with Paul’s amazing brews including his newest creation; La Fleur, a beer made without the use of hops, the bitterness comes from an amazing assortment of herbs including mugwort and milkthistle, and you have a selection that should satisfy for summer.
Matt Neltner, Executive Chef