Mediterranean Earth To Table Dinner at the Culinary Vegetable Institute

The opportunity to check something off your bucket list is always an exciting one. My culinary bucket list has been taking some hits recently with getting to partake in a CSA last Summer, meeting my celebrity chef crush in the Fall, and enjoying the seafood tower at Pier W this Winter. This Spring, another check mark was made: I attended my first Earth To Table Dinner at the Culinary Vegetable Institute (CVI) at The Chef’s Garden.

About the Earth to Table Dinners (from the CVI website): Monthly Earth to Table dinners are exclusive fine dining gatherings that are hosted at The Culinary Vegetable Institute. The Earth-to-Table dinners feature seasonal vegetables grown on the nearby The Chef’s Garden farm interpreted in the unique culinary style of visiting chefs from all over the country.  Having a love of food in common, strangers who are seated together often leave as friends.

This Earth To Table Dinner, with Chef Jamie Simpson and Chef Ülfet Ozyabasligil Ralph, that took place earlier this month was to be a special one as it was Ülfet’s last dinner before headed off on other adventures. To leave her mark, Chef Ülfet planned a Mediterranean menu to honor the regions many cultures.

CVI Menu
Upon an easy hour drive out to Milan, our arrival at the Institute, and meeting our fellow dinners at our ten top, we got to eating…
Amuse Course - Turkish raki, sardine, crispy olive oil bread, Castelvetrano olive emulsion and artichoke:

CVI amuse

Mezze Course (its portions presented and passed throughout the entire evening): Chickpeas with Garlic, Olive Oil and Olive Paste, Olives, Pesto Pickles, Labne and Grape Leaves (which were filled with red quinoa — genius!)

CVI 3

Salad Course: Shaved cucumber, petite lettuces, coin onion, dill, confit lemon, honey and green almond. (You’ve never had cucumbers that tasted like this — incredibly fresh, as they should be as they were just picked right from The Chef’s Garden!)

CVI salad

Garden Course: Olive Oil Poached Vegetables with arugula, green garlic and fava beans. (Unpictured because Hans and I were too busy finishing off the family style platter brought for our table of ten. #sorrynotsorry)

“Water” Course: Grilled octopus, mussells, sea beans, sea samphire, pink tip parsley, sumac broth, ramps and parsley. (Our table loved this protein option.)

CVI water

“Land” Course: Grilled lamb, baby squash, morel mushrooms, bulgur wheat, mint, yogurt, pomegranate, pomegranate molasses and squash bloom. (So many oooh and ahhs over this dish — one well seasoned culinary professional at our table said he didn’t believe he had ever had lamb so perfectly prepared before. And those squash blossoms had even more lamb inside them! #jackpot)

CVI land

Pre Dessert Course: Tapioca pudding with mastic, strawberry, rhubarb and florets. (A fantastic segue into the final course, IMO.)

CVI pre dessert

Dessert Course: White Chocolate Spheres with flowering herbs, sour cherry mousse and pistachios. (The prefect end to this meal. I could have taken home a dozen of these spheres for the ride back to Parma!)

Photo Apr 18, 9 48 48 PM

LONG STORY SHORT: Three hours flew by, leaving us with content full stomachs and an overwhelming need to return back to Milan for another visit to CVI and The Chef’s Garden. I had only wished we arrived a bit earlier to enjoy the land surrounded the kitchens in the daylight! But with the moon overhead, it was time to head out, but not without proper thank yous to Farmer Lee Jones and Chef Ülfet.

CVI 2

Note the purple beehive frame with the fairy behind us — the staff made this in honor of Ülfet after all of her hard work at the organization. It’s been placed in their gardens for them to remember her. If you head out to the farm, keep an eye out for it!

Want to see more? Head over to the CVI Facebook album for more photos from the April 18th dinner. What to attend a dinner yourself? Visit the CVI website to learn more about their upcoming offerings and purchase your tickets today.

P.S. to you bloggers/power social media users: it seems as though we’ll have the chance to visit CVI and The Chef’s Garden this summer for some Ohio Blogging Association fun — stay tuned!

Disclosure: Chef Ülfet invited Hans and me to attend this Earth to Table Dinner at the Culinary Vegetable Institute. Dinner was provided by CVI, and we happily paid for our adult beverages and gratuity. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I said that. (An Ohio Blogging Association / ToldCLE Meetup)

“I said that.” It’s a phrase that we all say from time to time. As as Dave, the creator of ToldCLE, noted at the beginning of the Ohio Blogging Association / ToldCLE Meetup at Deagan’s Kitchen and Bar last Wednesday night, the emphasis can change… I said that. I said that. I said that.

toldOBA

The emphasis happens on the last word of that phrase for me more than I’d like to admit as I teach yoga. Attempts at being “inspirational” come out kinda clunky. I repeat myself — a lot. I even make up verbs based on pose names — dolphin-ing, down dog-ing (which I realized quickly upon first saying is probably highly inappropriate). So that evening — with the help of BuzzFeed’s 20 Ludicrous Things Said By Yoga Teachers – I had some enjoyment poking fun at myself that night, even admitting I’ve said at least one of those things. Since giving instruction verbally is such a large part of teaching, it was a fun way to tackle the theme of the evening.

However, I much more enjoyed hearing my fellow bloggers’ tales of what they said: Jen admitting to an accidental moment at a mom-and-baby function. Jill giving us the behind-the-scenes glimpse as life as a movie extra. Kristian sharing that words don’t always translate from English to Italian as you expect them too. Stuart & David telling their stories. Even my mom getting in on the fun and sharing the tale of what our family dog “said” after eating a whole nut roll. And all of us enjoying one another opening up even more than what we’ve read on each others blogs over the years.

This OBA meetup was one of my favorites. As bloggers, we tend to be oversharers, so it’s easy to feel you already know someone from their online persona. But that’s one of the reason why I started planning these meet ups back in 2011: I wanted to know more about all you lovely Northeastern Ohioans that wrote all those fantastic blogs. Even in the  many gatherings we’ve had over the years, I still heard stories and learned things last Wednesday I never knew. Better yet, hearing the inflection and  emotion verbally from the bloggers’ storytellings took the experience to a brand new level. Crazy idea of the day: Maybe we should start a OBA vlogging series next!

LONG STORY SHORT: Great company, stories and food combined to prove for another wonderful Ohio Blogging Association meetup. A special shout out goes out to Jen at WhyCLE for taking the lead on planning this gathering. I’m finally learning how to delegate as I grow older and somewhat wiser, ha!

On behalf of all the OBA members, many thanks again to Dave & ToldCLE. The next public Told event takes place on Thursday, June 18 at Market Garden Brewery. Keep up-to-date by following @toldCLE on Twitter and visiting toldstories.com.

Our next Ohio Blogging Association meetup will take place this Sunday, April 26 at XHIBITION. Come see this Ohio City establishment, see some fashions and enjoy a Jack Flaps brunch. Click here to RSVP, please.

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An Interview with Sarah Wolfe from Kinky Boots (a guest post at PlayhouseSquare’s Behind the Curtain blog)

As I serve as Playhouse Square‘s Community Engagement and Education’s blogger department this year, I take you behind the scenes of each KeyBank Broadway Series show and interview a member of the show’s cast, crew or creative team. The fifth show in the 2014-2015 series is Kinky Boots

Visit the Playhouse Square’s Behind the Curtain blog to read my interview with Sarah Wolfe, the tour’s Makeup Supervisor/Hair Stylist.

Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots is in Cleveland April 7 – 19 at the Connor Palace at Playhouse Square. For more information, please visit the show’s page on the Playhouse Square website.

Also, check out Sarah’s own website at makeupandmayhem.com where she shares her life, travels and designs.

All my gratitude again to the Playhouse Square team for this fantastic opportunity to serve as a Playhouse Square blog contributor for the Broadway Buzz program KeyBank Broadway Series. Next up: Cinderella…

Want to read my previous interviews? Check out:

Learn more about Playhouse Square: follow Playhouse Square on Facebook, on Twitter at @playhousesquare, or on Instagram at @playhousesquare.

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