By Ann Hattes
Photo courtesy of Neil Hattes
In Riverstone Restaurant, modeled after a turn of the century riverside tavern and eatery, look out from the dining room to where the first white child was born in Vilas County when it was all Native Americans, or sit on the deck and toast the sun setting over the Eagle River. Riverstone, a Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast award winner for many years, offers over 100 wines by the glass and over 300 different wines by the bottle, many moderately priced.
Owners Ron and Cindy Meinholz have traveled around the state visiting artisan cheesemakers, winemakers, and local meat producers to source many menu items from Wisconsin, with the goal, ultimately, to have 80 to 90 percent sourced from the state.
Cindy, chair of the local Cranberry Festival for several years, now directs her attention to the annual Festival of Flavors celebrating the taste of Wisconsin in chef’s demos and food samplings. Area restaurants, using at least 50% Wisconsin products, create items such as cranberry-sauerkraut meatballs, root vegetable mash, and wonton sausage stars. Funds earned from the two day event aid local food pantries and help to revitalize a historic local park bordering the river. The third Eagle River Area Festival of Flavors, held the weekend before Labor Day weekend, is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28, 2011.
Cindy, who has taken courses at the Culinary Institute of America, developed this north woods version of crab cakes.
CINDY’S ORIGINAL EAGLE RIVER WALLEYE CAKES
(At Riverstone for commercial use, the walleyes are commercially fished, wild caught Canadian filets. However Cindy is sure what you would catch in Wisconsin would be better!)
2 Wisconsin caught Walleye filets (approx. 10 – 12 oz. size filet)
Juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons Wisconsin butter
½ cup minced onion
½ cup minced celery
½ cup diced tomato
¼ cup minced green pepper
1 14 oz. can great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
4 strips Nueske’s bacon cooked crisp and finely crumbled
1 & ½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 – 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
Season walleye filets with sea salt, lemon juice, basil and thyme. Place fish in large sauté pan, with 2 cups water and wine. Poach until fish is fully cooked and flakes easily, about 10 minutes.
Carefully remove meat from the skin, and pick out any bones. Place flaked walleye in large bowl.
Sauté onions, green peppers, and celery in sauté pan with butter until softened. Add tomato at the end once removed from heat. Let sautéed ingredients cool.
Puree egg, beans, lemon zest and other seasoning in food processor. Add pureed mixture to flaked walleye. Fold in sautéed ingredients and bacon bits. Mix in bread crumbs until a small patty can be formed by hand.
Cover with plastic wrap, and chill for several hours before using. Add more bread crumbs as needed if too soft.
To prepare for serving, form about 2 tablespoons walleye mixture into a 3 inch diameter patty about half inch thick. At Riverstone, they also serve a “Walleye Cake Sandwich” using a burger-size patty.
Pre-heat medium size skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons clarified butter or olive oil and pan fry desired number of patties until golden brown on each side.
Enjoy with tartar sauce or seafood sauce, or Riverstone’s Tzatziki or dill caper sauce.
TZATZIKI “TOT-ZEEKY” CUCUMBER YOGURT RELISH
6 Wisconsin garden-raised cucumbers
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 cups Wisconsin produced plain yogurt
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 & ½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried dill or Wisconsin garden-raised fresh dill
Peel, seed and dice cucumbers (approximately quarter inch dice)
Place cucumbers in strainer or colander and stir in salt.
Place colander over a bowl, allowing drainage space below colander.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
Combine remaining ingredients and stir in drained cucumbers.
Adjust salt to taste.
Yield: approximately 1 quart
Enjoy with walleye cakes, also great with spicy foods to cool the palate.
DILL CAPER SAUCE
(Great with walleye cakes or try it on a baked potato for a refreshing, low-calorie change.)
Prepare Tzatziki recipe minus cucumbers or Kosher salt.
Add 2 tablespoons drained Mediterranean capers (capers are pickled and in a glass jar in the store)
Add 1 & ½ teaspoon lemon juice
Adjust salt to taste.
Makes about 5 dozen depending on size of filets
(Note on the area)
Year-round outdoor adventures await in Eagle River, Wisconsin, situated on 28 interconnected lakes, the world’s largest chain of freshwater lakes. Fish year-round or enjoy silent sports like kayaking and canoeing, hiking, biking, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing. For winter family fun, Klondike Days features dog and horse pulls, a voyageur encampment, sleigh and dog sled rides plus a lumberjack competition. The USA pond hockey championship and the world’s snowmobiling race championship are held here where there are over 500 miles of groomed snowmobile trails connecting area communities.
Summer brings the Festival of Flavors showcasing Wisconsin products and culinary artisans, and Fall the Cranberry Festival with marsh and winery tours, a cranberry cook-off and cranberry food of every kind.
The serenity of the forests and the pristine area lakes refreshes the spirit of those who visit today as it did those vacationers who came from Chicago and Milwaukee in the early 1900s. A. H.