Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Port- Iowa's Best Kept Secret

In Guthrie County, on quiet and beautiful Lake Panorama, sits one of Iowa's true gems. Away from the long waits and unbearable crowds is The Port on Lake Panorama. Whether you're looking for a quiet spot for a romantic evening overlooking the beautiful sunset, or a casual get together with friends at the Tiki Bar, you can experience it all at The Port. Celebrating 40 years in 2013, and open seven days a week they offer a varied menu from appetizers to steaks and seafood, as well as a prime rib buffet on weekend nights, and Sunday brunch each week. Holidays are also special at The Port with Thanksgiving Day Buffet, Mother's Day Brunch and more !

Besides being a wonderful local spot for dining, The Port also offers new special themed events, such as the Olde Main Brewing Co. Beer and Food Pairing Dinner, held on May 31st. Olde Main Brewing Co. opened in October, 2004 led by brewmaster Puff Irvin. The event was a sell out, which tells you- when it comes to food and drink, The Port offers top notch service !

We began our culinary adventure with a brief story shared by the brewmaster, Puff Irvin. He shared how he got his start, how the business came to be, and offered a lot of interesting and informative facts that a lot of beer drinkers probably don't know! He also explained how to get the best tasting experience from your beer and why a glass is so important.

As the first beer, Longface Amber Ale, was being served he explained the brewing process, the flavor notes of that particular beer and the difference in alcohol content. This particular beer had a mild sweetness and a finish with a hint of caramel.  

The chef paired this beer selection with an antipasti platter, a colorful plate of Genoa salami and coppicola, marinated olives, artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers and a selection of cheeses. Just like during wine and food pairings, drinking and smelling the beer before and after eating food gives you two totally different flavor profiles.

The second beer was Olde Main Off Kilter Scottish Ale, which was also an amber colored beer. Brewed in the Scottish style without hops and a lot of malt this beer boasted coffee flavors and a subtle sweetness. With this beer the chef paired two light dishes, the first being a cold Cucumber Avocado and Lime soup, which was a smooth, refreshing and sophisticated blend of flavors and textures, with the smooth soup garnished with diced avocado and tomato. 

Served alongside with soup was a Greek salad with fresh green pepper, tomato, kalamata olives and feta cheese tossed in a light Greek vinaigrette.

For the third course Puff introduced us to Olde Main's Dinky Wheat, a Belgian style wheat ale. 

Dinky Wheat has notes of coriander, orange peel and chamomile along with a secret ingredient. A lot of us who like wheat ales like to add a wedge of orange to bring out the citrus notes, but this fabulous brew already had citrus notes brewed in. It was my favorite of the night.

The chef's selection for this delicious beer was a light and flavorful pasta dish. Linguine tossed with sun dried tomatoes, fresh baby spinach, slices of marinated chicken breast, cannellini beans, garlic, olive oil, garlic, a splash of white wine and slices of grilled chorizo tossed in to kick up the flavor. This dish was so delicious and was the perfect match for the Dinky Wheat.

Our fourth and final beer of the evening was the Sodbuster Stout Ale- a dark, thick and rich brew made with malt that had been roasted in a coffee roaster to bring out the deep dark coffee and chocolate flavors. The aroma of the stout in the glass reminded me of a wonderful espresso.

Our dinner was brought to a delicious finale by the chef's amazing Creme Brulee. There was no better dessert to pair with the warm espresso and chocolate notes of the stout. The smooth vanilla custard and crunchy caramelized sugar topping were flawless.

As much as everyone enjoyed Puff's presentation and expertise at his craft, the meal would not have been possible without the amazing kitchen craftwork of Chef Joe Riccio. He spent a lot of evenings brainstorming and planning and researching to come up with a perfect four course dinner. Even though this was a one-time event, Joe is hard at work every week at The Port where they offer nightly specials, homemade soups and a weekend prime rib buffet with an ever-changing menu. Stop in for dinner sometime and enjoy the beautiful scenery, delicious menu and friendly staff.   ~mmc, June 2, 2013