Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Upcoming Fun in CTown

I can't even believe that kids are back in school and fall is right around the corner!  Where did summer go?  Summer is always my favorite month but fall runs a close second.  I love the warm days and crisp nights that are perfect for campfires, soup and sweaters.


There are some really great things going on in Cleveland to ease us into the next season.  I am keeping it low key for Labor Day so I can be spontaneous and see what kind of fun I can find.  There are so many great choices, I can't make up my mind!  Beyond the holiday, here are two events that are MUST DO's and shouldn't be missed.


The weekend of September 10th and 11th brings the annual Garlic Festival at Shaker Square.  I'm really excited about this because I'm normally at the farmer's market there most weeks and this just extends the fun!  And did I mention, I LOVE garlic!   I think it's an Italian requirement but I really do love those little cloves.  


I'm most excited about the Garlic Cook-Off featuring chefs such as Jeremey Esterly from Paragon Wine Bar and Matthew Anderson of Umami.  I eat at these places over and over so I'm really excited to see what they can come up with and who will reign supreme.   


They also have all kinds of cooking demos and classes.  Someone will even demonstrate how to braid garlic!  I am hoping to catch the chef demos by The Good ForkSow Food, and The Chubby Cook.  


If you act fast, you can get DISCOUNTED TICKETS.  There is also an option to purchase discounted tickets for the Opening Day Preview Brunch at 50% off!


One of the coolest events in Cleveland is also coming up - the Ingenuity Fest takes place the following week September 15th through the 18th.  This year is going to be foodie nirvana thanks to the addition of Emerging Chefs and their newest event - C4.  They have their work cut out for them this time because C4 takes place all four days!  They even offer a discounted pass if you want to attend all the events.  Here is the line up of featured chefs from the Emerging Chefs website.  



Dates/Chefs/Times
September 15th - Chef Matthew Mathlage of Light Bistro (Website)/6pm to 9pm
September 16th - Chef Jeffrey Jarrett of AMP 150 (Website)/6pm to 9pm
September 17th - Chef Brian Rosander of Rosander (Website)/6pm to 9pm
September 18th - Chef Pete Joyce of Bistro on Lincoln Park (Website)/12pm to 3pm
Where: 2100 Superior Viaduct, Cleveland, OH 44113 (Meet us on the Trolley Level of the Detroit Superior Bridge)
Dress: Cool Casual. Fall Hip. Cleveland Haute Couture.

The Ingenuity Fest is always a blast and this takes it to a whole other level!  I encourage you to attend one of these dinners because I'm sure they are going to be filled with extraordinary food, unbeatable ambiance (C4 takes place on the Trolley Level of the Detroit Superior Bridge - how cool is that?!) and will be an experience like nothing else in Cleveland if any of the previous Emerging Chefs events are any indication.  They are a guaranteed good time.  For more info or tickets, click here.


                                         ***UPDATE ***
C4 has been reformulated.  It is now a one night extravaganza taking place on Sept.29th.  You can get more info and buy tickets here .






Tuesday, August 30, 2011

ReHival featuring Chef Kimberly McCune by Emerging Chefs

This August was a whirlwind of a month!  It started and ended with wineries and lakes - first to Niagara on the Lake and then Geneva on the Lake this past weekend.  Ate Thai, Vietnamese and Cambodian over a dozen times. Attended my first Tweetup.  Went to an NEO Food Tour of Shaker Square. Went on vacation to Put in Bay. Had family visit from out of town.  And was even in a family wedding with lots of showers, parties and company too.  Wow - no wonder I haven't had any time to blog!  

In spite of all the activities this month, I was very fortunate to attend an Emerging Chef's event called ReHival. It was the night before the wedding but I knew I didn't want to miss what sounded like a perfect summer event.  It was advertised as a farm to table gathering but ended up being so much more.  I'm so glad that things have finally settled down a bit so I can share my experience with you.

Chef Kimberly McCune was the featured chef.  She showcased her cooking talents with a family style feast with a gourmet flair.  Chef McCune describes her cooking as "comfort food with a European twist" and it was fantastic! This was fine dining but in a relaxed outdoor atmosphere that felt more like a grown up picnic.  She took ordinary elements from a farm and elevated them to a dining experience that was both unique and fun.  

As I drove across the cow pasture that included the expected bumps and cow pies (it shook my little car like riding over a washboard!),  I was excited to catch my first glimpse of a handsome longhorn steer in the adjacent field.  I immediately felt a sense of  home.  For those of you who don't know, I'm originally from a little town in Portage County called Mantua (sounds like man-away for you non-locals) that is best known for its being the hometown of Jack Lambert, the Ox Roast Fair and Potato Festival.  Yes, we even have a Potato Queen!  And lots of potato, dairy and other farms.  While my family was not farmers by any stretch, we did have a huge garden and tons of grass to mow.  After the parking attendant proceeded to park me directly on top of a cow pie, I hopped over it and hurried to see the steer.  He was really sweet and friendly and even let me scratch his head a little while I dodged his tongue.

 I headed up to the event so I could check out the mini farmer's market that was set up outside the venue.  I was disappointed that I forgot my cooler because I would have loved to take advantage of the fresh corn.  They even had ground cherries and after having tried them for the first time earlier this summer, they are a new favorite.  If you haven't had the chance to try them, you really should.  They look like a papery tomatillo but are actually sweet and delicious.

I met up with the other bloggers attending the event (Cleveland Food and BrewsWhy Cleveland?, and Poise in Parma) and we eagerly awaited the opening of the doors.   Chef Kimberly greeted everyone as she passed out the welcome snack "Face Meat Sammy."   



We also were able to sample some decadent chocolates from White House Chocolates in Burton.  They had logs of chocolate, caramel and nuts as well as gorgeous individual candies topped with surprises like fresh blackberries, grapes and nuts.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend a stop at their store.  They are located on Kinsman Rd and are open Monday - Saturday from 10-6.  find them here


When they opened the doors, I was shocked to see the entrance decorated like an old fashioned store.  The tables were empty but I knew that they would be covered in some kind of edibles before the night was through.  More on that later!  
 There were all sorts of county themed items displayed including this adorable mechanical horse that some certain blogger took for a ride later that night.  And no, it wasn't me and I'm not telling.  You'll have to check out the other blogs to get that insider info.  

After settling in at the blogger table, we anxiously awaited our first course.  We were buzzing with excitement over the country decor, rustic and charming table settings, and very special favor  - a little jar of the Chef's Dad's very own honey.  What an unexpected treat! It was truly the best honey I have ever had.  

Our first course was the most unique and the Chef gets major points for creativity.  On a play on the phrase, "Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?" we started off with an egg foam filled egg shell and chicken drumettes confit.  Both were served with ingenious little syringe type dispensers for the accompanying sauces. 

I loved how it allowed me to perfectly control the amount of sauce for each bite.  A buttermilk biscuit was the perfect dunker for the egg foam and I happily sopped up every drop.  Some people chose to use the little syringe as a turkey baster and squirted their biscuit with the egg mixture.  Either way, paired with our first cocktail of the evening (The Queen's Nectar), it was a fun start to the evening. 

We moved on to course two which I was apprehensive of as soon as I read the menu "Little Crusts & Meadowlane Farms Steer Tartar with a Country Girl Terrine."  The terrine isn't what had me shaking in my boots because I actually LIKE chicken liver but I have never been brave enough to try steak tartar.  In honor of the home style theme and the cute little cow that I befriended earlier, I decided to dive in and  try everything on my plate.  This still was my least favorite course but I have to say that in spite of the disagreeable texture of the raw beef, the flavor was amazing!  If the Chef can make me eat steak tartar, that is really saying something about how tasty this was.  But once I ran out of the crunchy bread, I couldn't get past the texture.

 Course three is well documented in Why Cleveland's blog about the evening.  A certain Poise in Parma liked the creamed mozzarella, marinated backyard tomatoes, and micro herbs so much we had to request a second bowl from the kitchen.  Just like at home - if you snooze you lose!  Luckily we scored another bowl because it was the most deelish tomato mozzarella salad.  I loved how Kimberly chopped up the mozzarella and mixed it in with the juicy tomatoes and some balsamic - the cheese added a touch of creaminess to the dressing.  It was a very simple yet delicious twist on a classic - I will definitely try this at home.

 Course four was my very favorite. It was dubbed, "There's a Hare in My Food!"  This was rabbit confit and ricotta gnocchi (the pasta was sauteed and slightly browned and chewy - awesome touch!) tossed with spinach and bacon.  My ONLY complaint about this dish is there simply was not enough.  Even with Alicia of Poise in Parma getting her own special gluten -free version, we were all wishing we had more.  It was amazing.  We never got the glasses of sparkling cider with this course but hardly noticed because we were gobbling up the food.

Course five and six tied for second place for me.  They were both really delicious too.  We had a walleye cake (similar to a salmon patty but much fresher tasting) with the most interesting little corn shoots.  Those were another first for me.  They reminded me of eating blades of grass as a kid but were MUCH tastier - they had such a rich corn flavor and were super tender.   


 We were served more of the Meadowlane steer - this time in a rossini style with Killbuck mushrooms, duck liver, and  potato gallette.  All of this was served over top the most luscious creamed corn any of us have ever tasted!  Chef McCune warned us ahead of time that it was the best creamed corn ever and she was right.  

We were all very excited when the special ReHival ale was served.  
The Chef debuting her special brew

We had all been waiting eagerly for the debut of this honey infused brew - but none of us more than Brad from Cleveland Food and Brews.  Go here to check out his review.  Mine is short and simple - yum!
Happy Beer Guy!

After the group sipped and enjoyed this deceptively potent brew, we were able to peruse the country store for the desserts of our choosing. And what an assortment!  Everything from penny candy to ice wine.  
I ended up trying the whimsical chocolate cake and mousse served like mini push up pops, a date stuffed with sweetened cream cheese, rice pudding served in a tiny lidded jar with apples on top, and a glass of ice wine.  I wish I could have tried everything but after an evening of all that terrific food, I had finally reached my limit.


 The food was creative and delicious.  But the thing that struck me the most was how down to earth and genuine Chef Kimberly is.  From the moment the event started, it was relaxed and felt like we were all just invited to a family dinner at her house.  It was so much more intimate than any other food event that I've ever been to even though there were almost two hundred people there.  I'm sure it has to do with Kimberly's Geauga County roots because country folks just know how to make you feel at home.  But more than that, the love and admiration she showed for her Dad and other family and friends couldn't be missed.  Many friends and family, including her new husband, were there to support her as well.    Here is a family photo Kimberly shared with us at the event: 

looks like she was always quite the chef!
I was so happy to meet Kimberly in person and share this special evening with her.  I also met some new blogging friends (The Brewer's Daughter and her hubby) as well as Michael DeAloia of Emerging Chefs.  
Michael rocked his plaid shirt for the event

I couldn't write this blog without shouting out to all the wonderful servers we had!  They all worked like crazy and smiled the whole time.

Thanks ladies!

During the several weeks since the event I've had a lot of time to reflect.  Not only on the awesome food, fun times with my fellow bloggers and the pleasure of meeting new friends, but on the true meaning of the night. This dinner next to a cow pasture captured the essence of family better than any event I could imagine other than a wedding.  I commented later that I felt like I attended TWO weddings that weekend!  I couldn't help but think how the little jar of honey Kimberly shared with us was actually her sharing a little piece of herself - and I swear, I don't know if I could tell you which is sweeter!  I know that every time I have a cold ReHival ale, I'll be thinking of the hot summer night that a chef made us all feel like part of her special family.


So, while this was my very first Emerging Chefs event, it certainly won't be my last.  The attention to detail, creativity and exceptional culinary experience can't be beat.  Check out their video highlights of the event  - http://www.vimeo.com/28240423 .


If you want to experience Emerging Chefs yourself, you have four opportunities coming up in September as part of the Ingenuity Fest.  C4 is four times the foodie fun - learn more here:
C4 Info and Tickets




I encourage you to read the other blogs about the event - all really capture the fun of the evening.  You can also see more of my pictures on Facebook.






In full disclosure, I was provided a media pass to attend this event.  My opinions are genuine and I was not influenced by anyone.  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Glimpses of Asia Tweetup

I attended my very 1st tweet up last night at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Having newly joined Twitter, I wasn't sure what to expect but I knew that Asian art and slurpy noodles sounded like a fun Wednesday night!  I met some great new tweeps and even saw a few familiar faces.


The art tours were informative and fun.  My favorite was the Indian Kalighat Paintings exhibit. These pieces were created to sell to tourists during the 1800's in Calcutta when India was a British colony.  The colors were gorgeous and sensual.  Our guest curator Deepak Sarma's enthusiasm was contagious!   Here is one of my favorite pieces.




Deepak explained that Hindu gods and goddesses are regularly bathed.  In this picture, the elephants are using a water vessel to pour the water on her head. I love how the goddess is riding the flower out of the pool of water that collected at her feet.


Here is one that shows how powerful the gods and goddesses are.  The mighty lion is her vehicle and she rides him into battle.  The many arms show that she has much power as she is slaying her enemy.  This appears to symbolize India overthrowing British rule because of the buckled shoes the enemy is wearing.




The Lure of Painted Poetry: Japanese and Korean Art was also enjoyable. I found out that we need to be drinking chrysanthemum tea on 9/9 for prosperity so don't miss this upcoming opportunity for some good luck!  I loved the recurring theme of waterfalls and mountains in many of the paintings. Recluses were another theme.  My favorite piece was The Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup.  It depicted a huge party with lots of drinking and happiness. Photography was not permitted so no pics of the lovely calligraphy, celadon green pottery, and painted screens, but here is my favorite poem from the calligraphy exhibit:

Her home desolate, is there no more moon? 
These bitter nights... Who is it 
Beating cloth alone, 
In her wilderness of weeds 
As an extra special bonus, Noodlecat was in the house! I've been wanting to try them since they opened and was very happy to finally get the chance to slurp away!  We were given Chilled Mori Soba and ginger cookies - both were excellent! Chef Jonathan Sawyer and his staff were a delight and served up interesting info as well as tasty soup.I'm really looking forward to a full on restaurant visit to explore the menu in depth. The Super Salad and Ohio Beef Brisket Yudaya-Jin Ramen are both items that I must try!


My first tweetup was also the Museum's first time hosting one.  I look forward to meeting many new tweeps in the future - it's always nice to break out of our tech cocoons and meet people in person...especially when slurpalicious food is involved!  


http://www.clevelandart.org/
http://noodlecat.com/

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Yogurt with fresh peaches


I recently received my first Velvet-View Farmstead yogurt from my Fresh Fork CSA and I am super impressed! The flavor is perfect (not TOO tangy)  and I love the runny consistency because its perfect for drizzling over fresh fruit.


In last week's basket I also received some luscious peaches that are perfectly ripe today.


What a perfect combo!!



Friday, August 5, 2011

Thirsty Thursday 4 - White Sangria

Ever since I ordered my awesome pitcher, I've been thinking of making sangria in it. Last night was the night I finally fulfilled my fruity desires. Since the weather has been so sultry, I decided to try making white sangria for the first time. I had a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc that I thought would be a good fit.
For those of you who don't know me personally, I'll fill you in. I have a REAL problem actually following a recipe to a T! I always tinker with it even if it's a minor tweak. I just can't help myself!

So, with that being said, my white sangria ended up not really being white. Hell, it was more of a boozy fruit cocktail when I got done with it!


Here's MY version of it - feel free to tweak it all you want too!
  • One bottle white wine - reisling, sauvingnon blanc, or other fruity white will work - nothing too dry or too sweet
  • 3 fresh peaches, pureed
  • 2 fresh peaches, cubed
  • 1/2 fresh mango, cubed
  • a handful of cherries, pitted and cut in half
  • a few slices of lemon and lime cut into tiny triangles - follow the membrane as your guide
  • a handful of strawberries, diced
  • 2 shots of peach schnapps
  • club soda, ginger ale or selzer - added just before serving
  • ice cubes
This wine ended up being a little too tart so I threw in a splash of moscato that I had leftover in the fridge and used the ginger ale to add a touch of sweetness.  

Serve in wine glasses over ice. Be sure to hand out spoons to scoop up all the luscious "fruit cocktail!"  Enjoy!









Thirsty Thursday 3 - Peach Blackberry Muddle

Oh the joys of summer are plentiful! As we enter into August, I am embracing the abundance of luscious local peaches. I came across an interesting recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart for a peachy cocktail that I thought would be perfect to serve at a dinner party for my aunties. If Martha makes it, it has to be good right? In this case, it was a definite YES!


I didn't have any bourbon so I used the last of some Seagram's 7. It was a fair substitution and gave it a nice boozy flavor. I didn't use nearly the amount of alcohol stated in the recipe and would encourage you to taste it as you are adding it to get the right balance for you. I think too much alcohol would overwhelm the fresh peach flavor.


I also used my immersion blender to mix things up a bit. I liked the gorgeous color that was created with the peach blackberry mixture. I added more sliced peached and whole blackberries too.


The consensus was that this drink rocked!  You definitely need to make a pitcher for yourself while the peaches are perfect and the nights are steamy.  Here's the recipe with my notes added to get you started:

Ingredients

  • 4 thin slices fresh peach (I easily doubled this)
  • 6 blackberries
  • 2 large sprigs mint
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces bourbon (start w/ 1/2 ounce and add more to taste)
  • Ice
  • Seltzer

Directions

  1. In a double old-fashioned glass, combine 2 peach slices, 3 blackberries, mint, honey, and lemon juice. Mash gently with the back of a spoon until fruit releases juices. If you have an immersion blender, it will mix things up more and create a more colorful drink. Add bourbon, remaining peach slices, and remaining blackberries. Fill glass with ice and top with seltzer.

Here's the link to the recipe on the Martha Stewart site: Peach and Blackberry Muddle


Thirsty yet??







Cleveland Mango Taste-Off a guest blog for Cleveland Food and Brews

I found out about a very tasty sounding event from a Tweet from fellow blogger Cleveland Food and Brews.  It was described as a taste-off between two local prominent chefs: Chef Jonathan Bennett from Moxie and Red and Chef Steve Schimoler of Crop and Cropicana.  They would be doing battle to determine who could make the best dish featuring mangoes and seafood.  It was being sponsored by the National Mango Board and was free.  The only catch was that it was being held at 3:30 pm on a Friday.  I'm a HUGE mango fan so I knew I couldn't let a small hurdle like that stop me from attending!  


After talking to Cleveland Food and Brews about the event, he revealed that he was going to be a guest judge and asked me if I would be willing to do a guest blog for his site.  I was so excited because he is the person that convinced me to finally start writing the blog I had been thinking about for years!  


Fresh mango slices as appetizers




Gift bags contained info, recipes and a fresh mango!




















I was so excited to be attending this event!  I absolutely LOVE mangoes and Chef Bennett is one of my very favorites.  For those of you who don't already know, my email address is mangovino if that gives you any idea of the depth of my love for this tropical treat! 


As I pulled up to Moxie, I was looking forward to seeing my new friends again -Cleveland Food and Brews and his very sweet fiancee - as well as getting to meet another fellow blogger Poise in Parma and her husband.    




Elaine, Brad and Hollie
As soon as I arrived, I saw CF&B at the judges' table.  He was seated with Hollie Strano from WKYC and Elaine Cicora from Cleveland Scene.  I knew he had to be really excited and a little nervous too.  I was so happy for him to be able to take advantage of this tasty opportunity.  


Being a new blogger, it was great to see my seasoned counterparts in action and get to see everyone face to face.  Everyone was very welcoming and friendly and I was sure we were going to have a great time!








The National Mango Board representatives did a great job with the event!  They encouraged questions and audience participation while teaching us a thing or two about their product.  An interesting fact that I learned is that my favorite mango - the Champagne mango - is actually a brand name.  Also, most stores don't list the variety of mangoes being sold so your best way to find out what is being sold is to consult a growing chart and compare that to the time of year.   Hopefully that will change because most people don't have one of those when they are shopping!   Finally, green mangoes can be ripe!  I always thought that you should try to find one with a reddish hue.  They also demonstrated how to properly slice the fruit.  






Chef Steve Schimoler and Chef Jonathan Bennett




In addition to learning about the mango, we also got to sample the creations of the chefs.  The judges were treated to full size beautifully plated servings of the chefs' offerings.  We received hearty samples as well.  While the chefs were preparing their dishes, we were also treated to a complimentary mango margarita and mango lemonade.  Both were very refreshing and delicious!  Look for that mango lemonade in an upcoming Thirsty Thursday post for sure!




Chef Schimoler's Tuna, Scallop and Shrimp

Chef Bennett's Crab and Mango Fritter on Mango Slaw

Mango Margarita





Poise in Parma did a great write up about the event so check out her blog for lots of details of the food.  I thought all of the creations were delicious but a couple were real standouts for me.  I really enjoyed how the chefs utilized smoked mango in their dishes.  It really added a wonderful complexity and was something I had never tried before.  I absolutely loved Chef Schimoler's Grilled Shrimp with Mango and Coconut Green Curry.  I could have eaten a whole platter of this!  The angel hair pasta he created out of mango flesh was a whimsical touch and remarkably realistic looking. I thought he should get bonus points for a very creative use of the fruit.   




Everyone also really enjoyed his Seared Nantucket Scallop with Grilled Mango and Madras Mango Sauce.  We all agreed that it was one of the most perfectly cooked scallops we had ever eaten.  Chef Schimoler really hit a home run with these two dishes. 


In spite of Chef Schimoler's outstanding showing, Chef Bennett took home the honor of Top Chef in this contest.  His Blue Crab Mango Fritter with Mango Slaw and Mango Ketchup were truly outstanding.  There were huge chunks of crab both in the fritter and in the slaw.  


The mango slaw was so refreshing and I loved the addition of basil and cilantro.  The Mango Board provided recipe cards and a fresh mango in our gift bags so I have no excuse not to whip up some mango slaw of my own!  


Chef Bennett also provided a bonus shooter that contained mango puree, coconut soda and basil - another contender for Thirsty Thursday for sure!  


Mango Shooters
This was a fantastic event!  It was a perfect combination of food, facts and fun.  The National Mango Board  provided some really helpful information about an often underutilized fruit.  The food was spectacular and made me want to sample even more of the chefs' cuisine at their restaurants.  I can't wait for the new Crop to open in September!  And I really enjoyed interacting with my new blogging friends.  Their encouragement and support mean the world to me.  




Eat*Drink*Cleveland, Cleveland Food and Brews, Poise in Parma
Finally, a HUGE thank you to Cleveland Food and Brews! You turned me on to a perfect event and I'm thrilled you let me do a guest blog for you.  Your "just do it!" was just what I needed to get started with this new venture and I'm really looking forward to continuing our friendship.  Cheers!











Thursday, August 4, 2011

Glimpses of Asia Tweetup!

Flavor of Asia in C'town - love to be a part of the festivities!  Arigatou gozaimasu


http://clevelandart.wufoo.com/forms/glimpsesofasia-tweetup/