Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sept. 2012 Dinner in the Dark - Luxe

Dinner in the Dark is a unique dining experience founded by Brian Okin of Luxe Kitchen and Lounge and Jeffrey Jarrett of Amp 150 at the Cleveland Airport Marriott. 
Jeff Jarrett and Brian Okin are a great team!
No, you don't dine without light thankfully. The food is too beautiful for that! Instead, being in the dark refers to the mystery involved. You know the date, time and location of the event but you don't learn the chefs involved or the menu until you arrive. I love a good surprise and I haven't been disappointed yet! And as a bonus, all proceeds benefit the charity chosen by the hosting chef for the night.

Last night the charity was The Covenant, an adolescent chemical dependency treatment and preventive center. They are located in Ohio City and have been helping youth for over 25 years.

I've gone to several of the Dinners and absolutely love the concept and the charitable element. All the charities are local and most have a special connection to the chef involved. They sell out super fast - this one in only 3 days! - so if you want to attend (I promise, you do!) don't procrastinate and get your ticket as soon as they go on sale. Follow them on Twitter @DinnerintheDark or on Facebook to get the scoop. They announced the next Dinner last night: October 15th at the Tri-C Hospitality Management Center on Public Square right next to Pura Vida. Tickets on sale now - click here.

Here's the menu - as you can see, they list the Chef's name and a picture representing what the main ingredient of the course will be. Don't worry, no horse was served!

Last night the food was sublime! Here's what we ate:

Mr. Wing's Bubble Tea with Watershed gin, aloe juice, green tea, ginger and juniper
Eric Ho, Melt (Independence)
Amuse bouche: raw tuna with jalapeno, ginger, scallion, and sea salt in a miso broth
Pat Thaxton, Luxe

Fried Pig Trotters (feet), red mustard greens, pickled fennel,
ginger beet gastrique and poaced egg
Brian Okin, Luxe
Green curry soup with shrimp, shitake, lemongrass, coconut milk, 
fresh basil, and grape tomatoes
Bac Nguyen, Bac in Tremont
Alder cured and compressed Strawberry Watermelon with prosciutto,
nasturtium leaf and bay leaf infused balsamic
Brian Doyle, Sow Food
Seared salmon with roasted pepper strips and citrus salad over
roasted tomato and corn puree with bacon
Miguel Neira, Key Center Marriott
Intermezzo - watermelon gelee
Ray Garman, Luxe
Smoked beef tongue pastrami, pickled cabbage, pickles, pickled mustard seed, gruyere and egg sponge, and beet horseradish over rye bread puree
Jim Blevins, Downtown 140 - Hudson 
Milk chocolate panna cotta, salted caramel, quail egg malted creme anglaise with rice pearls, cocoa nibs, red river sorrel, amaranth and chocolate mint
Jeff Jarrett - Amp 150

The stand out for me was the deconstructed pastrami sandwich from Jim Blevins. It was incredibly creative and unique and absolutely delicious! Who thought beef tongue could taste sooo good? 

Same thing could be said for the fried pig's feet patty from Brian Okin - this was a far cry from the pickled pig's feet I remember eating as a kid.

The dessert course was also a favorite - I loved the crispiness the rice pearls added to the creamy panna cotta. Also, the addition of the chocolate mint was so refreshing. I liked that I could choose to have a bite plain and then another bite with the mint added - it was like 2 desserts in one. YUM!

And Ray Garman gets bonus points for his watermelon gelee - I discovered Jello shots in orange rinds in Vegas and loved that he used that presentation for his intermezzo.

Last night Dinner in the Dark said farewell to longtime worker Christina. She's off to Chile for new adventures. Bon voyage Christina!!
Jeff Jarret, Brian Okin, Brian Doyle and Christina
Thanks to Luxe for hosting another fabulous Dinner in the Dark. If you can't make it to a Dinner in the Dark, you can always pay a visit to one of the participating restaurants and taste the delights from these super talented chefs.

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