We already had high hopes for Michigan-based cidery, Vander Mill, since its beginnings in 2006, considering the innovative ciders infused with everything from blueberries and pecans to Columbus hops. Now, with news of their largest expansion yet into Grand Rapids, the cidery is determined to attract attention from the culinary scene on the west side of the Mitten State, one oven-mitt(en)-clad inspiration at a time.
“The Grand Rapids facility is another extension for us to engage our customers through great food and beverage,” says Paul Vander Heide, owner of Vander Mill. “I have always said that our food program should match the great quality and creativity of our ciders, and now it really will.”
Vander Heide speaks to the addition of chef Justin Large to the Vander Mill team. Large, who you may recognize from Food Network’s “Iron Chef” or “No Reservations” with Anthony Bourdain, is beyond excited to use his growing expertise to craft a versatile menu for the cidery, with special attention to local and regional ingredients. “Cider, more so than beer, and very much like wine, demands a place at the table,” Large says. “Cider accentuates the appetite.”
As far as the cidery’s current Spring Lake location is concerned, Large is looking forward to how it will be influenced by the Grand Rapids extension. “Spring Lake has a beautiful outdoor area that is perfect for events, think outdoor kitchen,” he hints.
In order to get more acquainted with the seasoned chef and sneak a taste of Vander Mill’s culinary future, we asked Large to share one of his favorite cuisine and cider pairings with us.
“I can think of no better pairing than a dry cider with a dozen oysters and an apple cider mignonette,” says Large. “The pairing works well because the cider’s slight sweetness and acidity is able to complement and provide a counterpoint to the richness and salinity of the oysters.”
Well, you heard the man. It’s oyster season, so grab yourself a plateful, and be sure not to keep the cider at bay either. Here is Large’s recipe for Apple Cider Mignonette:
Apple Cider Mignonette
2 tablespoons Vander Mill Hard Apple Cider
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon Granny Smith apple, minced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except Hard Apple Cider. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Add Hard Apple Cider just prior to serving. Serve as dipping sauce for oysters.