Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Emerging Chefs - Melissa Khoury's Ode to the Pig Snout to Tail

Hopefully everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend! Mine actually started on Thursday when I attended the best damn pig roast ever - what a way to kick off the weekend!

Chef Melissa Khoury of Washington Place Bistro dazzled the crowd at this month's Emerging Chef's feast. It was truly one of the best meals I've ever eaten - and I've eaten a lot of great food.

The setting was perfect for a pig roast! The event was held in the historic Dunham Tavern Museum in Midtown. The grounds have beautiful gardens that surround the rustic structures. 

Chef Khoury fully utilized the pig in every possible way but thankfully, no snouts and tails were on the menu! The menu was unique and delicious:

pork lollipops
The appetizers showcased Chef Khoury's brilliance and set the tone for the meal. She really knows her way around charcuterie!  She complimented the meat with an abundance of pickled goodness. Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, onions, turnips and strawberries were served with pickles, mustard and chopped beets. Everything was so good. 

My only complaint was the same as at Garden Party - no plates. Everyone at the table was grumbling over this one because the lack of plates made it too difficult to eat. This seriously detracted from the pleasure of eating everything. 
mortadella, lonzino, saussicon sec and tasso

Chef Khoury with Rick Turner
The amuse bouche was playful and creative. She made beet brioche look like a slice of bacon and served it with crispy pig ears, micro greens and kumquat gastrique. Everyone was amazed that the base layer wasn't actually bacon. I was also amazed that I liked the pig ears!
Amuse: Crispy pig ears with beet brioche
See the fennel seeds on the micro greens? Yum!
Next up was our first cocktail of the evening and it ended up being my favorite of the night: strawberry and gin lemon juice and soda. It contained pureed fresh strawberries and a touch of pineapple and vanilla - so refreshing!
Strawberry and gin lemon soda
This was paired with a green salad with thin slices of watermelon radish, baby kale, red onion and the best pancetta I've ever eaten. It added the perfect salt and crunch to the salad. I could have eaten this crispy bacon all night and I'm still thinking about it now. I always love watermelon radishes - they are so pretty and mild.

With this course we were in for another surprise: the candles that lit our tables actually contained the salad dressing for this course! The wicks were cloves of garlic that were threaded with culinary string. They were floating in votives filled with the most luscious bacon fat vinaigrette. Such a fun surprise that really illustrated Chef Khoury's personality - fun, unique and creative!

the "wick" - garlic threaded onto culinary string
Our 2nd course of the evening was braised pork cheeks with a mixed bean cassoulet and cracklins. The pork cheeks were so tender and savory. I loved the play on the classic cassoulet and liked how pork two ways were showcased in this course. Parsnips, carrots, lentils and coriander were also featured.
2nd: Braised Pork Cheeks with Mixed Bean Cassoulet and Cracklins

Old Fashioned with Mottled Oranges

Next up was the intermezzo that was prepared by Chris from Washington Place. It was a refreshing pear and black walnut "jello" with a rhubarb and red raspberry puree. We were all amazed by the thin slice of black walnut that was candied and dusted with ancho chili.
Intermezzo: Pear & Black Walnut Jello with Rhubarb
The 3rd course was nothing less than a feast! A platter of pig head and hocks were served first much to the delight or horror of the guests, depending on how adventurous of a diner you were. Then came platter after platter of pulled pork, roasted loin, and sides. The glazed carrots and parsnips were gobbled up by everyone, included some who even declared that they never liked parsnips before this meal (way to go Chef!)
Misc Pork Parts

Shandy with Wheat Beer
Pulled Pork with Roasted Loin
Glazed Carrots and Parsnips
3rd: Family-Style Pig
Romano beans with shaved garlic and braised greens with ham hocks were also on the menu. Loved all the garlic on the thin crisp beans. Much to my disappointment, our table didn't have any greens. It was one of the things I was most looking forward to. I thought that maybe they ended up not making them for some reason after the menus were printed but I saw a bowl of them being removed from another table after this course. And they looked great!

My favorite side was the asparagus. White and green spears were tossed with tasso peperonata. The ham was lean and flavor packed. I loved how the acidity in the peperonata enhanced the savory ham and grilled asparagus. I was especially happy for the family style nature of this course with this dish because I made quite the pig out of myself. hee hee 
Asparagus with Tasso Peperonata
My overflowing plate...
At this point, everyone was getting stuffed so we forced ourselves to stop eating because we knew we were in for a real treat with dessert. 

First we enjoyed another fun twist - the Adult Shirley Temple. I remember loving Shirley Temples as a kid - the cherry, the fizz and feeling oh so grown-up when sipping my very own cocktail at a restaurant. This version got its kick from vodka and a touch of ginger.
Adult Shirley Temple
Dessert really was a show stopper! It was entitled "Ode to Bacon" but should have been called "Swoon." A chocolate tart had bacon fat in the super flaky crust and was topped with whipped cream. Bacon pop rocks added a nice pop of flavor.

But this was only HALF of the finale! We also were treated to a milk chocolate "frosty" served with a bacon salted rim. By this point, I think we all thought we must be dreaming because this meal was too good to be true! As an extra touch of whimsy, we also had a pink piglet on the plate: it was a bacon marshmallow nestled in bacon dirt. Seriously cute!

Piggy Marshmallow! 
Beautiful and delicious!
The little burlap bag is a goodie bag filled with candy - sweetness to go. Thanks!
Chef Khoury not only knocked it outta the park with the meal, she was a friendly and gracious hostess and took the time to mingle with the guests after the meal.  

She also made a special point to thank all her helpers, including a very special guest: long time friend and former co-worker at Amp 150, Ellis Cooley. He traveled all the way from his new home in Florida to help out and support his friend.
Chefs Reunited! Ellis Cooley and Melissa Khoury
This was what every foodie event should be! The setting matched the food perfectly. The food was plentiful, delicious and creative. And the cocktails were fun and enhanced the meal. If you have not yet experienced Chef Khoury's food, you need to pay her a visit at Washington Place Bistro - you are in for a real treat!

Next up for Emerging Chefs is Last Tango in Tremont on Monday July 2nd. Chef Brian Rosander will be at one of my favorite places in Cleveland, the Velvet Tango Room. This one might just be and ode to the cocktail and is sure to be a real treat. You can get your tickets here.

*Disclaimer: I was provided a media pass for this event. My thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Cookie Monster Pig

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

This Week: Snout to Tail from Emerging Chefs

Last month, I attended the Emerging Chefs Garden Party. It was a fantastic meal from Chef Jeff Jarret at AMP 150. Some blogging friends of mine also attended. Check out Cleveland Food and BrewsPoise in Parma and Why CLE? for their thoughts and some great photos. The food was beyond amazing and I had a great time. Thank goodness I could taste! I think I was one of the only people who didn't miss the paired cocktails that night because I was sipping on hot tea. I didn't write about it until now because I was sick for a couple of weeks and then had surgery. 

I am finally back to normal just in time for their next event. At Garden Party we were teased with a pork plate from pig loving Chef Melissa Khoury and I've been thinking of pork ever since. 
Photo from Cleveland Food and Brews
From left: shaved lonzino, pork rillette and fennel mustard mortadella
She used to work at AMP 150 and now is at Washington Place Bistro in Little Italy. Special guest Ellis Cooley will be her sous chef visiting from his new home at the Bistro Ten Zero One in West Palm Beach to help out his former co-worker and friend. We are in for a real treat because when these two work together in the kitchen, there is sure to be magic!
The whole hog is the star of the featured menu at Snout to Tail. And a star it is: top quality pork coming fresh to us from Brunty Farms in Bath,Ohio. Chef Khoury will be cooking everything from the ears on down. Dessert also features pig - bacon grease will be used in a dark chocolate tart, and a frosty in a bacon salt rimmed glass will round out the finale. Just hearing this makes me want to squeal!

And this time, they will again be featuring cocktail pairings with each course. Look what they have on tap:

1st Course: Strawberry and Gin Lemon Juice and Soda

2nd Course: Old Fashioned with Mottled Oranges

3rd Course: Shandy with Wheat Beer

4th Course: Adult Shirley Temple.

Snout to Tail takes place this Thursday from 6-9pm. It's being held at the Dunham Tavern Museum located at 6709 Euclid Ave in Cleveland. The Tavern has a long history and is now a nonprofit museum. It has beautiful gardens and a lovely barn - perfect for an urban pig roast.

There are a few tickets available - you can get yours here.

If you want to learn more about Chef Khoury, click here to hear her Emerging Chefs interview.

And mark your calenders for July 2nd: next month, Emerging Chefs will be teaming up with Chef Brian Rosander at the fabulous Velvet Tango Room for "Last Tango in Tremont." My favorite place for a cocktail will certainly be a great showcase for Chef Roseander's talent - can't wait!

*Disclaimer: I am attending this event thanks to a media pass provided by Emerging Chefs. As always, my thoughts and ideas are my own. *

** Update: For the post all about this wonderful event, click here.**

Monday, May 21, 2012

OBA Blog Swap - Get to Know Big Shot (Dot the i)

This month I'm participating in the Ohio Blogging Association's Blog Swap. My partner is Reanna from Big Shot (Dot the i) - I hope you love her as much as I do! She recently moved to Lakewood and my post for her blog is all about my favorite place for pizza in her new town. Head on over to her blog to find out where. You can also follow her on Twitter @arkayokay.

Hello, readers! As part of the Ohio Blogging Association’s All State blog swap, I have had the good fortune to be paired with one of my favorite Cleveland Bloggers, Eat*Drink*Cleveland. We have a lot in common: we both love eating, we both love drinking, and we both love Cleveland.

But I’m not here to talk about what we love. I’m here to talk about what I hate.

Because nothing is more satisfying than a lengthy list of things that gross me out. And what better way to get to know someone than to find mutual sources of disdain? While I share some of the items on Crystal’s Yuck List, (no-thank-you attitude toward Cool Whip, cruises and Crocs shoes) I've come up with an unduplicated list of things that make ME say yuck!

Enjoy! (Or, if you're like me, don't enjoy. At all.)

1. Velvet

Even hearing the word forces me to run my hands over
any texture that isn’t velvet. 

2. Hefeweizen

Something in the spices makes this taste
like drinking perfume-y soap to me. 

3. Roller coasters

Though this might fall into the “legitimate phobia” category,
rather than just yuck.

4. Meat
I won’t get into the conscience-related reasons I don’t usually eat it,
and I don't judge meat-eaters, but I’ve always had a texture-related aversion to pork and beef.

5. Vera Bradley

It looks like something a well-meaning relative with a Jo Ann Fabrics obsession would make me,
and I’d carry to family gatherings to humor her, not something I’d voluntarily buy myself.

 6. Baseball

I don’t have the attention span for watching sports in general,
but even the players often look bored in this game.

7. Cake

Want to ruin my birthday? Cut me a slice of this.
I find thick frosting specifically revolting,  but cake itself is pretty boring.
Give me pie (or ice cream! Or cookies!) any day.

8. Mayonnaise

You know that Flaming Lips song where the woman puts Vaseline on her toast?
Every time I get mayo on a sandwich, that’s what I think of.

9. Whiskey
I have tried (and tried, and tried) to like it, but I just can’t do it.
I’ll stick to literally any other liquor, please.

10. American Cheese
I liked no cheese growing up. Now I love almost all cheese.
The exception is American “cheese” – why does it melt like that?! 

There you have it. My top 10 things that I could do without. Big thanks to E*D*C, and to Alicia at Poise in Parma for coordinating the blog swap. My level of adoration for them is equal to my level of disgust for American cheese. Before I leave you - a shameless plug: Why don't you come up and see me sometime at Big Shot Dot the I?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Best Buddies

Monday, May 14, 2012

Yuck List

Do you ever feel like you are the ONLY ONE who doesn't like something? I hear people gushing over these things and just don't get it. Some, like Bloody Mary's and tomato soup, I've tried repeatedly to like. Others are just too fake. 

What would be on your list?

1. Cool Whip
Please just give me real whipped cream - the ingredients in this stuff scare me!

2. Bloody Marys
Love the veggies and vodka - hate the tomato juice!

3. Tomato soup with grilled cheese
I can eat grilled cheese all day. Won't touch tomato soup - must be the texture because I love fresh tomatoes and spaghetti sauce.

4. Eggplant Parmesan
I'm an Italian girl but I just don't understand why everyone loves this dish. It just tastes like breading with sauce and cheese to me. I'd rather have eggplant any other way. If I want cheesy and sloppy, I'll take lasagna any day!

5. Crocs
This photo speaks for itself.

6. Cruises
I love the IDEA of a cruise but the thought of being on a boat for that long freaks me out. 

7. Fake Sweeteners

and Diet Soda
I don't want to put all these chemicals in my body. Plus, I hate the yucky aftertaste. Truvia is made from sugar so I guess it's a little better, but I still think it tasty weird. I'll take sugar please.

8. Flats
Love the look. But even though they look like they should be comfortable, they make my feet SCREAM! 

9. Basketball
Guys are too tall. And sweaty. And I REALLY hate how you can see all those armpits! But somehow I can go see a game in person and actually have fun.

10. Smoked Salmon
Worst. Food. Ever.
I would have to be starving on a desert island and already have eaten all the sand and bugs, then I would eat this. It's too smokey and fishy and raw. I know it's healthy and all but I just gag.

What's on YOUR Yuck List?