This past Saturday we attended the monthly Earth to Table Dinner at The Chefs Garden (@TheChefsGarden).
For those Italy types, put your damn pinky down – we were in Milan, Ohio (Pronounced My-lan).
The Culinary Vegetable Institute is housed at The Chefs Garden which is basically a beautiful log cabin built around a massive kitchen.
Professional Chefs as well as aspiring home chefs, prepare yourself for a culinary boner when you see this kitchen. Premium veggies are at arms length in the garden – True garden fresh veggies – Hashtag that bitches.
No wonder chefs and restaurants across the world considers this place as veggie mecca.
Things were in full swing as we rolled in – kitchen orchestrated by several talented chefs – a cocophany of sounds and symphony of motion followed wonderful smells.
Good thing I wore my elastic pants….and spanks.
Chef Ellis was busy in the kitchen – but once he saw our VIP crew, he made time to walk over and say hi.
That’s what happens when you roll with hotness-1 and hotness-2.
On arrival, it’s easy to see that the bond between farmer and chef is really the foundation of best preparation/cooking. Farmer Lee Jones has been at the forefront in the fight for veggies particularly healthy eating.
Then in a touching add on, Farmer Lee Jones’ father stepped up to talk to everyone about the importance of supporting educational programs like VeggieU to our nation’s youth in eating healthy. True to form, his genuine speech moved many in the crowd with his passion for healthy diet. What a family!
The featured Chef of the evening, Chef Ellis Cooley from AMP150 at Cleveland’s Airport Marriott.
You can check out our previous reviews of AMP150: http://quarrylanefarms.com/2010/07/01/review-an-nyoung-amp150-has-the-best-kim-chee-wings-amp150cleveland/
And without further adieu….our dinner.
Staff started us with a red snapper cakes. Delicious.
Normally, I would smirk at the kitchy shovel used to serve the app, but it does fit the bill since, after all, we were in the middle of the garden.
Perfect morsel to start with – bite sized and delicious.
Assorted baby beet salad with Lake Erie Creamery Goat cheese fondue, candied spiced nuts, baby herbs
Normally, I’m not a beet kinda guy, but I did enjoy the fresh salad with super fresh baby herbs.
The goat cheese fondue was creamy goodness.
Velvet Mushroom Soup with chives, truffle oil, dehydrated mushrooms.
One of the standard dishes at AMP150, this creamy velvety soup is delicious. Drizzled with truffle oil, this smooth rich mushroom soup is shroom heaven.
And for those keeping score, yes this is so good, I would pour it in my pants.
Fresh bread / warm buns with butter.
I just wanted to say warm buns.
Charcuterie Platter with Port Relleitte, Liver pate, red cabbage kimchi.
Ruuuhhhhlllmmaaann….Sorry, I can’t help but say Ruhlman when talking about Charcuterie…He does know his stuff. BTW-for those wondering, charcuterie is the preparation of meat products like sausage, terrines, ham, bacon, pate, and confits. So in essence, Michael Ruhlman knows his…..er….meat. Heh heh heh.
Back to the platter – Two completely different tastes. One was rich and imctuous…the other tasted like peanut butter and jelly. You figure it out.
Braised lamb in stew of dried beans, mint, natural juices
Fresh from the oven, these ba-ba pieces were quite fatty – but nice crust Chefs!
But once you cut through to the bone, the meat was SO tender…Like buttah.
I do wish that more of the fat melted off…or had a small straw to suck out the lamb marrow. And you just got the visual-sucking on a bone.
Our staff really REALLY enjoyed the beans that lined the bottom of this dish. These heirloom beans had soaked up the flavors of lamb and were perfectly cooked. Can we order these heirloom beans from Farmer Lee Jones??
Slow roasted duck with braised caramelized endive, citrus.
Our duck came out relatively dry but flavorful – so it was just OK.
But the skin on the duck was like chicharone. Crispy, salty, savory and oh so cracklin goodness delicious.
Additionally, our mistake for trying to eat the citrus peels (Ahem @lzone). Apparently they were for flavoring and garnish. Doh!
Whole roasted carrots, parsnip puree, Picholine olives
This dish is truly the reason why you seek The Chefs Garden…veggie tastic. Carrots were perfectly roasted sweet and the parsnip puree was outstanding.
Puree was smooth and velvety – delicious! Different textures, perfectly seasoned and delicious veggies -now in this is veggie heaven.
Shhhhh, were going to start experimenting with parsnip puree. To quell any rumors, don’t worry, we didn’t take any parsnip from their kitchen (Just trying to avoid another TopChef Pea Puree debacle).
Brown butter kale homemade smoked kielbasa
Normally we like our kale pan fried so it’s a bit crispy…and this kale was a bit softer.
Great bite sized pieces of kale with the crumbled homemade sausage was great.
Honestly, as a meat-a-terian, I should say “I wanted more sausage” (that’s what she said). But honestly, since this was listed under “gardens” category, I would have really enjoyed highlighting the kale.
Unless, this is called SausageU (That’s what she said).
Roasted Cauliflowers pine nuts, Lake Erie Creamer Goat Cheese, beet vinaigrette
A colorful dish with Cauliflowers.
Prior to this dish, we usually prepare cauliflower raw….ie we’ve never had roasted cauliflowers before…but they were delicious! The beet vinaigrette was bright and with the creamy goat cheese, this dish was delicious.
Wish we had more pine nuts.
Baby fennel and figs fine herbs and fronds
We’ve had fennel – a raw bulbous root that has a distinct flavor. But baby fennel is soft and tender. Delicious!
Figs and fronds were a nice add to the dish too. We would have never thought to add figs to our fennel with fronds.
All these F-words…..just fantastic.
Anson Mills organix farro piccolo celery root & leaves, pickles
Is this risotto? Creamy soft but yet al dente – Why must you mess with us?!!??!? Regardless, this is a great dish.
I can honestly tell you now…I love farro.
Hold the phone – Rice don’t be mad. You’re still #1 in my book, but I do love farro. Besides, it’s too tough to say, “two scoops farro!” right?
Reminiscent of his dishes at AMP150, Chef Ellis used celery leaves to accentuate this dish.
Delicious. Celery toppings delicious. Using everything – nice job.
Floating Island citrus salad, anglaise, shiso / Petit Fours and Pavlova
OK–so here’s where we thought Chef Ellis was treating his glaucoma in the kitchen. Floating island as explained is fresh from his shag carpeted lava lamped decor living room. From the 70s/80s, this “classic dish” inspired Chef Ellis. Inspired? Well, it did inspire me to wear my high top converse shoes and listen to a few mixed tapes.
Pavlova was a dainty cookie….I’m not much of a dainty kinda guy.
To me, the Petit fours was the best part of this. Perfectly baked, warm chewy moist insides – this was outstanding. Ahem….
I’m still uneasy on Chefs explaining or demystifying the process to eat their dishes. A customer should be able to eat it and figure it out. You don’t see me explaining Spam do you?
If you attended, apparently we were told our table was loudest table at the event – Damn straight we were!
Our typical QLF topics: Party animal Lou F, Match.com, special cell phone pictures, threesomes, dating life, college, the twitter and of course blogging.
Farmer Lee Jones made a few announcements and drawing contest of a box of veggies at the end of the meal.
Also freshly announced Executive Chef Michael Lyons who will be taking the reins from previous Executive Chef Alfano.
And starring in The Chefs Garden’s Chef-for-a-Day Program, Dave Whittaker from Live to Cook…At Home.
Much props to the young lad despite his reported head injury from kitchen wrestling with the crews. BTW-Did they show you The Goat? The Abe Lincoln?
For more info on the Chef-for-a-Day Program – click here.
Exploring the compound, we found there was a library onsite so you can reference any recipe in the world.
Definitely handy for sure. BTW-That’s not the “librarian”.
Celebrities alike have really embraced this family of farmers.
As our crews snuck to the top level….
….we found the Official Chefs Garden Luge Training Center.
Apparently there were a few other food bloggers at the event too. Columbus blogger Jim Ellison (@cmhgourmand), Lori Crabtree (@Twixlen), and Nancy Heller of Fun Playing With Food .
Thanks to The Chefs Garden for providing a ticket so that we could experience this wonderful event first hand. And thanks and congrats to J-J for attending as our winner of our caption contest for a free ticket to this dinner.
In April 2011, The Culinary Vegetable Institute will host Chef Jeremy Martindale will be the featured Chef from the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale. These proceeds from these monthly events ultimately benefit VeggieU and their adventure for better healthy eating.
So if you haven’t gone, you
should MUST attend one of these great dinners! Well worth the trip and experience.
Huge mahalos to the Chefs and staff at The Chefs Garden. Do enjoy your trip today to Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago (take me please).
Reporting live from QuarryLaneFarms…