Monday, April 7, 2014

April Earth to Table at CVI

12 courses, 5 was a marathon, not a sprint...but one memorable meal at the Culinary Vegetable Institute this past Saturday evening. "R" and I were invited to attend the April Earth to Table Dinner, featuring Chef Ryan McCaskey from Acadia in Chicago. The monthly dinner series features prominent chefs from across the country, and from our own backyard. It's the best of both worlds---highlighting some of our local talent, and bringing in talent for Ohioians to discover. This dinner, did just that. "R" and I already excitedly planning an excursion to Acadia after this epic meal from the Executive Chef.

It was a gorgeous sunny evening in Milan (Ohio), and the tables each had a touch of spring.
Spring has certainly sprung around the farm.
The rustic and airy lodge was a perfect setting for this farm-to-table dinner.
The massive chef kitchen is open, and guests wandered in and out to admire the chefs at work, and to watch the meticulous plating taking place.
The evening started out with a complimentary glass of bubbly, and an amuse-bouche with a nod to a classic lobster roll.
The first official course was a Turnip Soup with Chocolate "Soil", Purple Royal Turnip, Smoked Trout Roe, Grapes, and Citrus Begonia.
Right out of the gate, this dish was plated beautifully and full of interesting texture and flavor. It ended up remaining one of my favorites of the meal.

We were seated with three other couples, all strangers at the beginning of the meal, but we enjoyed each others' company and the atmosphere. Sitting beside the impressive stone fireplace certainly helped set the mood!
The second course was Stonington Lobster with French Onion Soup, Alliums, and Soubise.
It had bright notes, and delicate flavor, throughout.

Next, we had Swan Creek Farms Duck with Ramp Puree, Yuzu Gel, Dashi, Mustard Greens, and Pea Tendrils.
My first taste of ramps for the season! Northeast Ohio does get a little "ramp fever" around here. The duck was crispy and tender, and we all spooned up the broth until our bowls were clean.

Fourth course was Halibut with Avocado Green Goddess, Black Olive, Preserved Meyer Lemon, Licorice, Hon Shimeji, Anise Hyssop, and Red Ribbon Sorrel.
This dish I could easily imagine as a full-sized serving, and one that I would want to order! Another meal favorite.

We were then served a buttery Tagliatelle with Miso Butter, Truffle, Bottarga, and Fine Herbs.
Sixth course was Swan Creek Farms Pork Belly with Horseradish Pudding, Uni Emulsion, Farm Radishes, and Arugula.
This was the only course that I didn't care for. The flavors were fine, but the texture of the pork belly was not that buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, meat that really good pork belly feels like.

Our "bread" course was a Herb Ramp Waffle with Epoisses Butter.
The table was served two different butters to try, one with sea salt and one garlic. The garlic butter also tasted like it was infused with the rind of a great, stinky cheese. "R" and I both dug in to that one! I've decided that every dinner party should include a waffle course. Make it happen.

The last savory course of the evening was Beef Short Rib with Heirloom Carrots, Fried Spoon Bread, Carrot Puree, Chinese Toon, Demi, and Pansies.
This plate was visually a work of art. The short rib had nice flavor, and pulled right apart.

Now, it was time for two three dessert courses. Since I'm not a "sweets" gal, I figured that the best part of the meal was over for me. Oh, how I was wrong.

We enjoyed a light Honey Parfait with Rhubarb and Cheesecake that was equally pretty to look, tasty, and utilized interesting technique.
Then, the official last course of the meal was served. The Profiterole with Black Walnut and Hot Chocolate was simply one of the best endings to a multi-course dinner that I've ever had.
If all desserts tasted this good, then I would be a convert. It was served with a Black Walnut Liqueur that CVI's Executive Chef made from harvesting the nuts locally. It paired very well, and it was a treat that he shared it with us.

The servers brought out two different kinds of chocolates from the kitchen as we were wrapping up, and another bite of a sweet treat ended the evening.

Overall, this was one of the most memorable dining experiences that we've ever had. The gorgeous plates of food coming out of the kitchen displayed such culinary technique and attention to detail. Maybe too much attention to detail since the meal took five hours to serve? We did hear that they don't usually last as long. Oh well, it was worth it. Chef McCaskey is clearly talented, and Ohio was lucky to have him here to share that with us for an evening. I just had to snap a picture with him, and the famous Farmer Lee Jones from Chef's Garden/CVI.
The meal left me wanting more, from Acadia and from CVI. CVI has a great lineup of spring and summer Earth to Table Dinners, including one of my favorite lady chefs in Cleveland---Anna Harouvis on Saturday, May 31st. She'll show you that vegan and raw food is sexy and delicious! I can't attend, but I've got my eye on the July event. Road trip, anyone???

Culinary Vegetable Institute
12304 State Route 13
Milan, OH 44846

Disclosure: I was provided with two tickets to the April Earth to Table Dinner. I was not asked to post or share photographs from the event, but we had such a wonderful experience that I chose to share this with my readers. Thank you to CVI for the memorable evening!


Holly said...

Wow I cannot imagine a 5-hour meal! I would love to do something like this as long as they were open to dietary restrictions. I really hate how many restaurants today rush service. It's our own fault - everyone in a hurry all the time - for what? I enjoy a leisurely meal. I love Milan too. Used to live in Sandusky.

Bite Buff said...

Holly- other diners had allergies, and notified the kitchen. Seemed to be able to accommodate. I highly recommend this unique experience!