Monday, April 18, 2011

When Life Gives You Limes, You Cleanse Your Palate With Them (Part 1 of 2)

Emerging Chefs has hosted several events in Cleveland that feature many of Cleveland's greatest culinary marvels who expand the minds of the attendees and push the boundaries of creativity and innovation to create spectacular edibles. This is my review of their most recent event, Dinner by Design. I will be posting this in two parts.

My upcoming wedding has taken a lot of free time (and my sanity), so Dinner by Design was my first EC event. As Jeff and I rode the elevator to the top floor of what used to be the Tyler Elevator Company, neither of us really knew what to expect. Walking down the hallway, it felt like I was walking towards a room full of presents and all I wanted to do was find out what they were!

The dining area was transformed from a raw space in the historic building to something truly wonderful to behold - and the sights got even better as the sun went down, thanks to Rock The House and Event Source. Before long, it was time for two of Cleveland's culinary innovators to reclaim the transformed space and elevate the palates of about 100 lucky Clevelanders to a whole new level.

Adam Bostwick's Amuse consisted of bocconcini, tomato "leather", chorizo oil, spring pea paper/paste and micro arugula and mozzarella cheese. Accompanying the Amuse was a champagne cocktail made with lavender elixir and fresh lavender.

Amuse by Chef Adam Bostwick

The Amuse seemed like a playful take on a caprese salad. The tomato leather had a bold flavor, lending a bit of acidity and saltiness to the bocconcini. The portion size was quite generous (more than one bite, easily). I could see this being a small plate at a Mediterranean tapas restaurant.

Chef Ellis Cooley of Amp 150 Cleveland

Course One
Chef Ellis Cooley came out to greet the crowd and explain his first offering, a yellowtail and hamachi "crudo" with an apple/dill puree and celery juice "roe". Sesame was listed as a component on the menu, but it was quite subtle and went unnoticed by me. The fish was rolled and sliced thinly, and had a wonderful flavor. The dill/apple puree had a grassy flavor that I was extremely fond of. The "roe" appears on the plate with a dewy, green color. Its flavor reminded me of a rainstorm, cool and earthy. Both accompaniments complimented the raw fish, heart and soul.

Course Two

Our second course was a torchon (a method of cooking by which the foie is placed in a towel and poached - "torchon" is also French for towel!) of foie gras with ice and snow. The ice was a jelly made with ice wine and the "snow" was a powder made with the fat from the foie gras. This was accompanied by micro greens and a brioche funnel cake. The components were all great, but the magic happened when you put them all on the fork at once. Doing this resulted in a flavor that I can best describe as a savory ice cream cone, and that was a wonderful thing.

Course Three

The third course was a visually striking square bowl of pea and coconut soup with marshmallow (yes, marshmallow!) and carrot. This course was served just at sunset, hence the darker picture. When the sun went down, the room totally transformed.

View from my table

Reflection from the skylight

The soup was velvety in texture, and the accent of carrot puree added a subtle bitterness, while the marshmallow contributed some sweetness. Unfortunately, this is the only course I didn't finish. Halfway through the bowl, a man at my table asked everyone, "Does this taste burnt to you?". Perhaps it was the power of suggestion, but I did notice a scorched aftertaste. Intended or not, it was off-putting to me and once the marshmallow was gone, I stopped eating. I really want to give this course a second chance, perhaps in my own kitchen. The concept and design of the soup were both phenomenal.

Intermezzo by Chef Adam Bostwick

The intermezzo was one of the most inventive and brilliant things I've ever eaten. As the servers brought this out, I could only spy from a distance what appeared to be a slice of lime. I thought it was plausible, to cleanse your palate with a lime, but I had secretly hoped I didn't have to! It turns out the lime was actually a lime flavored agar agar gel in an actual lime peel. It was accented with agave nectar and jalapeño. This was meant to mimic a tequila shot. With the wine pairings, we definitely didn't need any more booze!

The initial flavor was lime with the pure, green flavor of a jalapeño pepper. Seconds later, the heat kicked in and put a slow, gentle burn in the back of your throat. This was a fantastic palate cleanser. Jeff remarked that he'd buy this if it was sold in stores (in a cup) or in a restaurant. I would agree with that!

This concludes the first part of my review. I've been so involved with wedding related activities (my shower and bachelorette parties were this past weekend) that I've had little time to write. I will post the second half of this review on Wednesday!

I was invited as a guest of Emerging Chefs to this event. The views and opinions in this post are my own.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the complements to my Co Executive Chef Adam Bostwick. We will probably be doing several variations of the flavored "fruit shots" in the months to come as the restaurant has had a number of folks request that the lime shot be put on the menu.
Thank you again and good luck with your planning.

Andrew Zelenkofske, Owner of Melange.

Anonymous said...

Great Review!!!
I really enjoyed reading! Hope to see you at the August event!
Kimberly McCune
Vine & Dine

Bite Buff said...

That "lime" is just simply fantastic. And it showcases what these events are designed to do- give the chefs room for creativity and playfulness, and give diners a chance to push thier palates and enjoy a fatastic meal from some of our area's best chefs! Wish that I didn't have to miss this one.

Cara said...

@Andrew: I'm so glad to hear that. I haven't actually made it in to Melange yet, but after seeing what Chef Bostwick did at the EC event I really want to come and check it out.

@Kimberly: Thanks! I hope I can make it there!

@BiteBuff: I know, right? It was a great event. I don't know that I'd really ever get to experience a lot of that stuff if I hadn't gone, I know I hadn't before I went!