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Published: Sunday, 8/12/2012

Fund-raiser is pricey, but it has a big pay-off

BY DANIEL NEMAN
BLADE FOOD EDITOR

This column has been watching so much of the Olympics that we decided to start referring to ourselves as Team Morsels.

Now you can join Team Autism by eating great food and looking at -- and possibly buying -- some great art.

This year's Art & Autism event will be Aug. 30 from 6 to 10 p.m. Four celebrity chefs representing restaurants from Boston to Kansas City will be on hand to serve up special treats, as will chefs from at least 18 of the area's favorite restaurants.

There is only one little, tiny problem: This annual event is a fund-raiser benefitting both the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo and the Toledo Children's Hospital Autism Program. It is a big deal (hence all the great food) and they are hoping to raise a big amount of money: $1 million.

What we are trying to say is that getting into the event is going to cost you. There are no individual tickets; it is open only to sponsors. Anyone can be a sponsor, but sponsorship, which comes with two tickets, costs a minimum of $1,000.

Oh.

But look at what you get: food cooked by out-of-town chefs including Celina Tio of Julian Restaurant in Kansas City (she has cooked at several similar benefits in town, and each dish she makes is better than the last), Sameh Wadi of Saffron Restaurant in Minneapolis (it serves innovative Middle Eastern food), Chris Pandel of the Bristol and Balena restaurants in Chicago (if you were at this year's Taste of the Nation event, you will certainly remember those restaurants' pastry chef Amanda Rockman's amazing doughnut and gelato dessert), and Andrew Husbands of Tremont 647 in Boston (offering a bit-of-everything cuisine).

And neither are the local restaurants slouches when it comes to dishing up great dishes. At press time, the confirmed local establishments included Artisanal Pastries, Burger Bar 419 (and The Hungry I), Chef Marcel Fine Catering, Cynthia's Catering, Fifi's Reprise, Georgio's Cafe International, Handel's Homemade Ice Cream, Kota Buki, Nick & Jimmy's (and T-Town Boys), Mancy's Steakhouse, Mancy's Italian, Mancy's Bluewater Grille, Poco Piatti, Rachel Michael's Gourmet Popcorn, Rosie's Italian Grille, Susan Allan Pastries, The Beirut (and Byblos), and Veggie U.

The party will be at a private residence along the Maumee River in Perrysburg. For more information or to purchase a sponsorship (which will also, helpfully, get you the address), call the Toledo Children's Hospital Foundation at 419-291-2809.

Ag news

The area generally around Toledo is known for having freakishly good agriculture, a result of the rich farmland that remained after the Great Black Swamp was drained.

The Great Black Swamp once covered an area larger than the state of Rhode Island (that is, more than 1,033.81 square miles -- small for a state, big for a swamp). It took more than 10,000 years to develop, and about 50 years for mankind to drain the swamp through a series of ditches. This action resulted both in the freakishly good agriculture referenced above and also ended the region's former problem with malaria.

However, more of this fertile farmland is being lost to subdivisions and strip malls every year, according to Rob Krain, the conservation director for the Black Swamp Conservancy. Nearly one-quarter of all Ohio farmland was converted to developed land between 1950 and 2000, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

Mr. Krain will discuss smart-growth methods to slow down this urban sprawl and preserve the land for agriculture, a significant component of the state's economy, at the next Northwest Ohio Ag-Business Breakfast Forum. It will be from 7:30 to 9 a.m. Thursday at the Agricultural Incubator Foundation, 13737 Middleton Pike (State Rt. 582) near Bowling Green, about 2.2 miles west of I-75 off the Route 582 exit in Middleton Township.

The cost, which includes breakfast, is $10. Reservations are not needed but would be appreciated; send an email to rsvp@ciftinnovation.org.

Chocolatrends

If you're like us here on Team Morsels, you can't get enough information about chocolate (you're also 6 feet, 2 inches tall and you have a beard). For us, the Food Channel, which is not to be confused with the Food Network, has just released its top 10 trends in chocolate for the year. Unlike most stories of this kind, these trends are not unreasonable:

No. 1: Craft chocolates, made in small batches by professionals or at home.

No. 2: Spreadable chocolate such as Nutella. That's what they say, even though Nutella is made from hazelnuts (which explains the name), with just a tiny bit of cocoa in it.

No. 3: Chocolates with an ethnic accent. Think spicy chiles in chocolate, or even green tea.

No. 4: Chocolate in unexpected places, such as a breakfast of biscuits and chocolate gravy over bacon.

No. 5: Chocolate for the health of it. Chocolate has a few minor healthful benefits, if you don't eat too much of it.

No. 6: The cinnamonizing of chocolate. Two great tastes that taste great together.

No. 7: He said/She said: Chocolate. Apparently, women tend to prefer dark chocolate, men prefer milk. Please direct all letters of strong disagreement to the Food Channel, not The Blade.

No. 8: Chocolate for every dietary need, gluten-free and lactose-free.

No. 9: Crowdsourced chocolate. This seems to have something to do with social media and the way chocolate has changed in the last few years and also the changing way we learn about new chocolate developments. Or something. Frankly, we have no idea what it means, even after reading their description of it, so we'll just chalk it up to "crowdsourced" being the latest buzzword.

No. 10: Chocolate pairings, such as chocolate-and-cheese, chocolate-and-wine, chocolate-and-alcoholic-drinks.

Items for Morsels should be submitted up to two weeks before an event to food@theblade.com.



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