Friday, August 15, 2008

2008 Food & Wine Celebration.

A Benefit for Veggie U
On Saturday, July 19th, The Culinary Vegetable Institute hosted the 2008 Food & Wine Celebration. This event took place the day after the Chef Summit (see posts below). More than 700 people attended to sample food and wine, watch demonstrations and participate in the auction. The event raised funds for Veggie U, a non-profit program developed by the Chef's Garden, designed to fight diabetes and obesity among children. Veggie U teaches fourth grade students in classrooms across the country how to live a healthy lifestyle. For more information on Veggie U, you can write to them at Veggie U, 12304 State Route 13, Milan, OH 44846.
The day was intensely hot and humid under a threatening sky. Fortunately, storms did not materialize and little rain fell. D and I arrived to find the main food tent crowded and hot. We waited until the emcee, local star Michael Symon, kicked off the show under the demonstration tent. When most people cleared out to watch him and a host of other celebrity chefs (including Jon Ashton, Lee Anne Wong, Bob Waggoner, Marcel Vigneron, Celina Tio and Don Yamauchi), we ventured in to sample the food and wine. I have to admit, I totally skipped out on the demonstrations and cook-off. What follows are select pictures from the food tent with a little commentary. I hope you enjoy.
I tasted almost everything (a real feat!) and thought I should begin with my top choice. This bean salad was hands-down my favorite item of the evening, among what was a decidedly protein-heavy showing for an event at a vegetable farm. It had everything going for it: multiple textures, bright and bold flavors, good color...just terrific all around. It gets my gold star.

Summer Bean Salad, Currant Tomatoes and Black Olive Oil
by Chef Craig Deihl of Cypress, Charleston, South Carolina.

Chef Deihl and crew.

One of the foods vying for second place was this combination of Tea Smoked Currant and Teardrop Tomatoes, Sour Cream and Long Onion Pound Cake with Candied Fennel presented by Chef Kirk Gilbert of Ballantyne Resort, Charlotte, North Carolina.
Another runner-up was this Slow Roasted Molasses Lacquered Pork Belly with Tomato Marmalade by Chef Anne Hart of Provence Market, Bridgeport, West Virginia.
This Quail Breast served with Bacon, Carrot and Mustard Cress also really good. Thank you, Chef Aaron Deal of Tristan, Charleston, South Carolina.
These southern chefs were really stealing the show in my humble opinion.

A Baltimore son, Beej Flamholz, had a lovely tuna tartar.
This beet and horseradish cured beef was pretty interesting. Presented by Chef Patrick McElroy of the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at Union Station.

And here is the friendly Christopher Lee of Gilt (NYC) serving up a delightfully chilled English Pea Soup with Pea Falafel and Cucumber Yogurt.

The soup. He made a mousse out of the cucumber yogurt using gelatin and a nitrous canister.

Chef Jeff Slough of North Hills Country Club, Menomonee Falls, WI served this intriguing Veal Cheek Lasagna.

This Utah Lamb with Huckleberry Sauce, Corn Cake and Weed Salad was great! Presented by Chef Zane Holmquist of The Glitretind at Stein Eriken Lodge, Park City, Utah.

Some local boys made a good show, too. Dante Boccuzzi made this Pork Belly with Santana Eggplant and Basil Salsa Verde.

Dante's a great guy. And a fellow chef that I can talk with about guitars!

Another local boy who really likes to play with food, Johnathan Bennett of Exec. of both Red and Moxie, offered up Kettle Corn and Pork Cracklin's. Yum.

You can always count on Anne Blackwood for chocolate. She's terrific. These chocolate martinis were the bomb.

Finally, if I had to offer another gold star, I would award it to Jeni's Ice Creams. The line for this stand stretched more than twenty people deep. I had the Sweet Corn and Blackberry Ice Cream. All I can say is WOW!...just fantastic, maybe not for everyone, but right up my alley. Where have you been? And why haven't you entered my life earlier? Please get a store in Cleveland.