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Again, great event and fundraiser for VeggieU to benefit the 10th Annual Food and Wine Celebration!

VeggieU – heaven on earth…in Milan, Ohio

So, in my humble opinion, my most favorite dish out of the 55 different food stations….California Grill!

Yep that’s right-I chose the Executive Chef from California Grill located at a Disney’s Contemporary Resort of the Walt Disney World Resort restaurants.

Chef Brian Piasecki

Hailing from the magic kingdom, Chef Brian Piasecki has been at the lead since January 2009 and is currently redesigning the California Grill to add new stuff for his guests.

Scheduled for a reopening in late summer/fall of 2013, Chef Piasecki has been hard at work enhancing his menu while you’re there to visit Mickey and Donald.

Heirloom Tomato Risotto with Basil foam and aged balsamic drizzle

Perfect use of tomato in what is otherwise a relatively heavy overpowering dish.

Now you would think the robust risotto would overwhelm the delicate heirloom tomato…nope.

Now you would also think the aged balsamic would completely lead. Not. At. All.

Again-the heirloom tomato lead the way.

Risotto perfectly prepared, for a large crowd for mini servings over a 4-5 hour duration period, much kudos.

Special thanks to International Veggie Champion Farmer Lee Jones and crew – these tomatoes were prefect and Chef Piasecki popped  a fresh one for us to compare/contrast. Farm to table indeed!

I don’t think I had any basil foam, but I am pretty sure we got some chopped basil.

Either way, just delicious.

Just a few thoughts on this rainy Saturday morning.

Reporting live from QuarryLaneFarms…

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@QuarryLaneFarms presents #OysterFest2012

So OysterFest started back in 2010 where we basically ordered hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of oysters with one simple rule: As long as everyone shucks oysters, you can eat as many oysters as you like. Raw, cooked, in your pants…didn’t matter. Just wanting to share the oyster love by shucking and sucking these great bivalves. You bet, OysterFest was an instantaneous hit.

Fast forward to 2012: Did someone order hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of oysters again?

Fo shizzle nizzle….cause this one’s a winner-winner-oyster-dinner.

Well, there was a whole lotta shucking going on – At this point, I am pretty sure I qualify for the MuthaShucker trophy.

Here’s the menu run down…

Soup: Cream of Asparagus Soup

Asparagus from the Chef’s Garden in Huron, Ohio. Easily the best asparagus I’ve ever had in my life.

@TheChefsGarden Asparagus – Fit for a king!

And it was pretty healthy since I added a whole bunch of creme fraiche too.

Super mahalos to @sobechic for the magical veggie box.

Salad: Watermelon feta basil

Watermelon, feta, basil, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper

Yeah, call me a chick…I got this one from Pinterest.

Apps: Various cheeses from Grandpa’s Cheese barn and QLF Veggie platter

Grandpa’s Cheese Barn in Ashland, Ohio sounds creepy but it’s a great tourist trap place.

Grandpa’s Cheese Barn

Thanks to @srouser for the awesome Whiskey Cheese pick! Grandpa’s Cheese Barn is also a great pit stop between Columbus-to-Cleveland.

Also – who doesn’t enjoy a good veggie platter?

Veggie platter w/ dip

Yeah, call me Nancy now cause I got the dip bowls idea from Pinterest too. Mamsey Pansey!

Main: Chincoteague Oysters (VA) and East Point Oysters (NJ)

Chincoteague

East Point

We order oysters by the hundreds

Don’t judge. If you order your oysters by the hundreds, probably a better guarantee on freshness cause your fish monger should order fresh case(s).

Us? We have a direct line to Mr. Verba at Euclid Fish (@EuclidFishCo). Solid guy – trust him w/ my bivalves.

We can’t stress this enough – YOU SHOULD BE ON A FIRST NAME BASIS WITH YOUR FISH MONGER. Nuff said.

Here are my favorite shucking tools.

Happy Mother shucking!!!

Use whatever you like…but I’ve been using this stuff forever.

Raw Oysters – Oysters should always be really fresh, clean and clear briny deliciousness. Not cloudy or dirty.

Briny oysters clean and delicious

And shucking should be clean and easy.

There are about a million toppings and stuff to put on, but I’d really suggest you try a few without anything. Yes that’s right – really taste the oysters-plain, see what the oysters ate, and really taste the water they were raised in.

Balls out time cause it really tells a lot about your product and your fishmonger.

Also clues on oyster freshness, from outside the shells, check out the seaweed that arrives on the shells/in the box too.

Seaweed so fresh, you can eat it

Pretty fresh huh?

Roasted oysters

Similar to an Oyster Roast in Charleston, this is a simple alternative to those who can’t get over their textural issues.

Step-1: Throw them on the grill.

Step-2: Wait 3 minutes

Step-3: Easily open oysters.

Step-4: Devour.

Step-5: Hit on your oyster roaster guy (OK, this one is optional…sorta).

Rinse/Repeat

The oysters should cook in their shell and suck up the briny jus inside.

Oysters also pop open when they are ready to be pulled too.

Oyster roasting – pops when ready

So easy, a caveman can do it.

Deep fried oysters

Fresh shucked larger oysters, secret breadcrumb mix, deep fry for 1 minute, serve hot.

Fry baby fry!

Doesn’t get any easier right?

Dessert: mini lemon tarts and cake pops

Super huge thanks to @hfish of MyGreatBigRecipeChallenge for the mini lemon tarts.

Awesome crust!

Cake pops…yes the coolest dessert yet!

Cake pops and props

Easy and fun stuff – cake pops seems to be the latest rage for desserts.

They were delicious!

In the end, OysterFest2012 was all about great friends and meeting new folks. And yes, the props helped too.

Mrs. Lips galore, Mr. Meatballs, and Ms. Talonclaw busting out the props!

The Brit and Ms. America (with a guest appearance from bowtie sausage fingers)

Ladies all at once now…

Stash McGee and Smiles McGee!

Cake pops and props are a hit!

Mrs Bowtie and the Aloha Shirt Bandit!

Mr. Bond and Mrs. Peggy Sue

In the famous words by Bourdain, “So what did we learn today?”

Oysters + Bourbon + Props + Friends = Another successful #OysterFest2012.

Sweeping up shells and dreaming of the next OysterFest.

Reporting live from QuarryLaneFarms….

We are back from our west coast exploration! We hit almost all the foodie places we planned…in fact, also found the @Nomnomtruck too!

But it feels good to be back in Cleveland…sorta.

I say “sorta” because we’ve had dessert daily from various yogurt shops in Cali and Vega$. And one of the many stores we don’t have…is Pinkberry.

Pinkberry is a yogurt shop (not a porn shop)

I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY WE DO NOT HAVE YOGURT SHOPS HERE IN CLEVELAND!!?!?!!!?

This damn bright neetoskeeto shops have infested the California coastline with “healthier” ice cream option…bastards.

Pinkberry’s signature yogurt option is their “original” flavor which is sweet and tangy. Their seasonal mango and pomegranate flavors are superb.

You can pick out numerous fresh fruits from their multiple countertop bins. The options are so visually appealing, it looked like the Chiquita Banana Lady got railed from behind on the countertop–and all of her fruits fell off her hat.

Fruit me...from behind

They also have “dry” toppings for your pleasure. Here’s where to find the good stuff – the true winner: the mini mochi balls.

Yep–I bet you are going to www.google.com now…typing in “mini mochi balls”. Ahem–Mochi balls are made from rice. They are sticky, slightly sweet, and chewy. These mini mochi balls are the PERFECT combination for your Pinkberry yogurt.

So stop thinking about “balls” and dispense with your “that’s what she said jokes” cause you will list this under “the best thing I ever ate”.

Orig/mango yogurt with strawberries and mini mochi balls

Add “mini mochi balls” to your yogurt order and eat a bit healthier.

Reporting live from QuarryLaneFarms…

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