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