Thursday, January 6, 2011

Making Erie, Pennsylvania Memorable

My husband, John, and I try to make every trip one to remember. On the way to visit our daughter and her family in Ohio we stopped at the Sheraton Bayfront in Erie, Pennsylvania. We could have pushed on all the way to Ohio, but what’s the fun in that? When we stopped in Erie, Pennsylvania we could have had dinner in a fast food restaurant but we were looking for something memorable so we checked into the Sheraton Bayfront. The name gives it away. It is located on Lake Erie's Presque Isle Bay with easy access to several major highways making it a great place for us to stop when heading west.

After a long wintry drive the lobby with its fireplace ablaze made us feel welcome. We knew we had made the right choice for a midway stopping place. Our room looked out over the frozen lake where fishermen had set up huts hoping for the big catch. From our warm cozy room it was hard to imagine why anyone would want to ice fish.

Before dinner, John and I relaxed with a cocktail in front of the fireplace. Dinner in the Bayfront Grill was excellent and the wintry view made us appreciate our meal and the cozy warmth of the hotel. We started with an excellent Duck Ravoli with pan-roasted butternut squash, asparagus tips, and pomegranate syrup, natural jus infused cream sauce. And that was just the beginning. We followed that with the Sweet Potato Bisque with Pear. The salad of mixed greens was one of the best salad presentations we have ever seen.

The main course was Potato Crusted Salmon, with Rock Shrimp Risotto, Tomato Petals, Broccolini, with Shaved Fennel Smoked Tomato Coulis. We had to ask for our dessert to go – we just could not eat more but we didn’t want to miss the Strawberry Cake with White Sauce and accented with Bittersweet Chocolate. Everything was so wonderful we knew the dessert would make a great late night treat.

Our stop at the Sheraton Bayfront was such a wonderful break from the long drive and the repast was so delicious we sent our compliments to the chef who personally delivered the main course. No wonder the meal was so wonderful. Chef Michael Cerrie had worked in exclusive restaurants and private dinner clubs in Erie, Pittsburgh, New York, and Jamaica. He cooked with Emeril Lagasse for live TV on “Good Morning America.” He said, “My cooking style is American Bistro but I have been well-trained in French and Mediterranean cuisine.

I was especially intrigue by using duck in the ravoli. Chef Michael explained that any meat can be used – even leftovers, but he was especially fond of cooking with duck. John and I have learned that chefs and hotels are very proud of their presentation and are usually eager to share their knowledge. Chef Michael was so willing to share his duck recipe I asked for his Sweet Potato Bisque recipe – it was my personal favorite.

Chef Michael Cerrie’s Duck Ravioli
1/ 2 lbs fresh pasta dough store bought or homemade
Chef Michael uses 12 whole eggs to 1 lb. of semolina flour

Duck Filling
1/ 4 lb duck leg meat
1/ 4 cup whole butter
1 shallot- finely chopped
1 Tbs chopped fine herbs (personal choice)
1 clove garlic
1/ 4 cup demi glace

Chef Michael Cerrie’s Sweet Potato Bisque with Pear
5 sweet potato, roasted in oven peeled and allowed to cool
1qt. good chicken stock
1 rib celery -diced
1/ 4 stalk of leek- diced
1/8 Spanish onion - diced
2 cloves garlic- diced
1 shallot - diced
1 bay leaf
1 pinch whole white peppercorns
1/ 4 cup flour
2 pears peeled
1 cup butter
1pt heavy cream
1 pinch clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice
Salt and pepper to taste

In a sauce pot on medium heat add 1/ 2 cup butter and rough chopped leek, garlic, onion, celery, shallot, whole bay leaf, and pepper corns- sweat until aromas have been released, then mix in flour to make roux. Cook until flour doesn’t smell raw, then whisk in chicken stock. Add sweet potatoes, pears, and spices, allow to simmer for 1.5 hours. Use immersion blender, blend until no chunks are left, while blender is still on add remaining butter and heavy cream, season with salt and pepper, then strain and it is ready to serve.

Later in our room we enjoyed our dessert and while looking out over the frozen lake we congratulated ourselves for selecting the Erie Bayfront as a place to stop. We forgot all about the highway traffic, the tractor trailer trucks whizzing by spraying brown slush on the car, and the 20-degree temperature. In the morning we had an excellent breakfast watching in amazement and wonder at the ice fishermen out on the lake so early on such a cold morning. Feeling refreshed we were ready to continue our journey filled with great food and a wonderful memory of the Sheraton Bayfront. For more information check

1 comment:

  1. This is a very enjoyable post.

    Maralyn D. Hill, President, IFWTWA