Monday, October 17, 2011

Dinner in the Dark Celebrates One Year!

Last night, Dinner in the Dark celebrated their one-year anniversary. The event, once again, proved that their concept of bringing together chefs and diners to have a little fun "in the dark" while raising funds for a worthy charity of the month was pure genius. The celebratory meal was enjoyed by both the guests and chefs involved, which included a couple of new faces in the kitchen this month.

The lineup included:
Bac Nguyen from Bac Asian American Bistro & Bar
Greg McLaren and Patrick Fisher from Luxe Kitchen & Lounge
Matt Mathlage from Light Bistro
Brian Doyle from SOW Food
James Blevins from Downtown 140
and Britt Culey from Couquette Patisserie

This meal wasn't for the faint hearted, and even pushed my culinary boundaries a bit. But that's the fun of Dinner in the Dark!

We kicked off the night with a Ginger 3 cocktail from Joe DeLuca and Tobin Northrup, paired with an amuse-bouche of bacon wrapped dates from Light Bistro. Then came course #1...Braised and grilled chicken hearts with a green papaya slaw, ginger beignet, and a beet juice reduction (for the "blood" effect) from Bac. I consider myself a pretty adventuresome eater, but even I was a little hesitant once we figured out what was on the plate. But, I pushed myself to try one of the hearts and I'm glad that I did. I couldn't bring myself to eat any more of them (Joe G. happily took them off my hands), but I was proud of myself for trying them. It really was just a visual (slight textural) issue for me, since they were served whole and still looked like a tiny heart.

Next up, we enjoyed a fun take on a clambake from the guys at Luxe.It was funny, because the first course of chicken hearts had launched a conversation at our table about unusual foods and blood sausage came up. Well, wouldn't you know that the very next course included blood sausage on one of the clams! They were prepared three ways, with the table favorite being the creamed corn/blood sausage clam. The play on Thanksgiving dinner with duck confit, sweet potato, and cranberry compote was a close second.

Then came an endive, beet, and orange salad from Chef Matt at Light Bistro (the host restaurant for the evening).It was light, and the citrus was refreshing before heading into the "main" courses. Which brings us to tempura-fried halibut cheeks from Brian Doyle. It arrived in a miso broth with three types of basil and fried sweet potato straws. This was my least favorite course of the evening. The tempura batter had started to absorb the broth, and it became very gummy and hard to cut through. However, I did enjoy the flavor of the broth.Our last savory course of the evening came from James Blevins of Downtown 140. We enjoyed "country-fried" beef cheek with carrots and parsnips and a country gravy foam. The other two diners at my table had some tough and chewy bites of their beef cheek that threw them off a bit, but my piece was tender and had no textural issues so I enjoyed the dish.We finished off the meal with a sweet treat from Britt Culey. She had prepared a pear and rosemary tart with chocolate ganache. Dang, arch nemesis. I took two bites of the tart and was hit in the face with rosemary flavor, so "R" greedily took over and finished it off for me. Good thing I still had a full glass of Zinsane Zinfandel to wash it down!All of the courses had included a beverage pairing, and I truly enjoyed all of the red and white wines last night. Which I can rarely say. So, overall it was a great evening spent with friends and other adventuresome diners, all to support a good cause: Feed My Starving Children. If you haven't been to a Dinner in the Dark event yet...why not?! Put your trust in their hands and enjoy a truly unique experience. You may just surprise yourself. I did. They are taking the month of November off, but will reappear at Noodlecat in December.


Crystal @EatDrinkClev said...

I keep trying to go to Dinner in the Dark but it just hasn't worked out so far. Hopefully SOON! And I'll gladly sit next to you and eat your chicken hearts - yum!

Bite Buff said...

Ha! Well let me know when you plan on attending. I'm already looking forward to emjoying another one. They are great events.

Alicia at Poise in Parma said...

That "country-fried" beef cheek dish looks and sounds great - I'm glad you enjoyed your serving. And I give you a ton of credit for trying the chicken hearts. I think if they were presented as they were to you, I wouldn't been able to get past the fact they still looked like hearts!!

CLEgal @ Why CLE? said...

Sounds like a wonderful evening! Always good to try something new, even if you end up saying "no, thanks!"

Dine O Mite! said...

In my best Teresa Giudice imitation, "They sure used some interesting ingredientses."

That's what's neat about these things, like anyone in that dining room would've plucked the chicken hearts off a menu when they were out on their own. I know I wouldn't have.

Bite Buff said...

Dine- That's what I love about these events. We all commented about the fact that we wouldn't order some of the items if we saw it on a menu, but we were happy to try whatever it was at the event. With that talent in the kitchen, if you're going to do it- do it here!