MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The average Minnesota hunter spends $1,500 each year, and many of those who track deer will take a short break this weekend to enjoy a fine meal.
Edward Moody and Jamie Yuccas from the WCCO This Morning show got in on the adventure as they headed north for a week to learn about the hunting craze. On Tuesday, they showed us how they learned about pairing wild game with wine.
Iven’s on the Bay in Brainerd has been around since 1984, but it burnt to the ground in 2006. The restaurant came back, and its focus on fine food is rooted in North woods tradition.
“Brainerd is going to be the next suburb,” said Manager Eric Berreman.
They’re known for their view, food and wine.
“We’ve won the Wine Spectator the last eight or nine years,” said Berreman.
Iven’s on the Bay serves local flavors all year.
“Walleye is going to be our house specialty forever,” said Berreman.
Chefs Tim Eizenhofer and Tim Anderson go beyond the typical fish, wild rice and mixed vegetable option. They grab herbs from their own garden out the front door and partner with farmers from the Lakes area.
“It’s Wild Acres Duck, it’s local from Pequot Lakes,” said Anderson.
This restaurant likes to change things up seasonally by offering different types of local game.
“It gets them out of their comfort zone. Everybody can have salmon or walleye, but you can’t go many places where you can get duck or venison,” said Eizenhofer.
And not many places offer 22 pages of wines to pair with some of the unique dishes. Berreman helped us with suggestions.
For the duck?
“The Dreaming Tree Crush, it’s three reds blended together,” said Berreman.
The blackberries should balance any gamey flavor. A bottle is $30 in the restaurant, we found it for $15.50 at the liquor store.
If you’re more traditional and want walleye a dry and oaky, try a chardonnay. Berreman suggested the fog dog for $60. Want it at home? We found it for around $35.
And if you’re more likely to kill your meal, he had a venison pairing idea.
“You’re going to want more of a dry straight forward (Cabernet), even Merlot,” said Berreman.
The Duckhorn Cab is $60 at the restaurant, a good one will cost around $35.
A number of restaurants in the Lakes area, like Prairie on the Bay, Lost Lake Lodge or Grandview’s “Cru” have started offering everything from sushi nights to deep fried olive appetizers to veal and quail dishes.
They tell us it’s because more people are interested in “non-traditional lake food.”