Sunday, May 20, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Dan Neman


Menu will make your heart sing

Whose heart is not touched when Mimi, already stricken with the disease that will kill her, turns to Rodolfo and sings, “Mi chiamano Meatballs”?

That tender (and spicy!) moment from Giacomo Puccini’s beloved opera La Boheme is drawing sighs this weekend at the Toledo Opera, but it is farfrom the only inappropriate reference to food in the world of opera. Who can forget the mournful “Vesti la salmon” from the famous one-act opera Pagliacci? Or the seductive “L’beef Wellington est un vache rebelle,” also known as the Habanero, from Bizet’s eternal Carmen? 

It is with such culinarily operatic thoughts that the Toledo Opera Guild will present its annual Sapphire Blues event on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. to raise money in support of Toledo Opera. The event, which will be at the Toledo Club, 235 14th St., will have music, fashions, an auction — all the usual yada yada yada. But it will also have food, and that is where this column comes in. 

It’s just hors d’oeuvres, true, just finger food. But it is food you’ll want to have your fingers around. 

The anticipated menu begins with shooters of mushroom soup and moves on to deviled eggs (and who doesn’t like deviled eggs?), potato cakes with smoked salmon, and meatballs in two different kinds of sauce, honey-barbecue and Szechuan. From there it progresses to sides of cold salmon and perhaps the most popular dish at last year’s event, mini-beef Wellingtons. 

Naturally, there will also be platters of crudités and antipasti, and wheels of baked brie. The cost for all of this is just $50, and that also includes the music, the fashions, the auction, and the yada yada yada.

Tickets are only available by invitation, but here’s the thing: If you want an invitation, just let them know and they will send you one. To request an invitation or for more information, send an email to

Organic ag

Hey there, farmers, wannabe farmers, would-be farmers, agriculture scientists, and anyone interested in organic farming in general.

Ohio State University’s Organic Food and Farming Education and Research program wants to encourage and educate you with a symposium Nov. 1 in Wooster. 

The symposium title is Future Directions for Organic Agricultural Research, which should tell you pretty much everything you need to know about it, except who is speaking.

The speakers, since you asked, will be representatives of the Organic Trade Association, the Organic Farming Research Foundation, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative.

Registration is free, and lunch will be provided. Space is limited, so you will have to register in advance at For more information, call 330-202-3528.

The symposium will be from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center’s Shisler Conference Center, 1680 Madison Ave., in Wooster.

Mm-Mm Good

From Napoleon comes news of two new varieties of Campbell’s Soup that will be produced at the plant there, and these are more than your garden-variety tomato or cream of mushroom soups.

They are Slow Kettle Style soups, which means they have lots of enticing ingredients in their names. Such as Kickin’ Crab and Sweet Corn Chowder with Flame Roasted Onions and Cayenne Pepper. And Roasted Chicken and Chardonnay with Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, Aged Parmesan and Pasta.

Both sound great, don’t they? And they can take advantage of our local produce, which is so good. But one wonders where these kickin’ crabs are supposed to come from.

Wine time

This is the part of the column where we usually start to get thirsty. Where we crave a nice glass of wine or two.

And sometimes where we mention live goats.

So it is fortuitous indeed that the Walt Churchill’s Market at 3320 Briarfield Blvd. in Springfield Township has released its schedule of wine tastings for the month of October.

On Saturday, wine guy Austin Beeman will be pouring what he calls “awesome old Italian wines,” from 1995-2003. Included will be glasses of Brunello di Montalcino, Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera D’Alba, and more that, given their age, will be completely mature.

The store’s fall festival will be Oct. 20, which in the wine department means tastings of discounted wines from their wide selection of close-outs. In other parts of the store, it means various other activities including, possibly, something involving live goats.

On Oct. 27, the tastings will feature wines that are representative of an important change in the way California vineyards make their wines. For the last several years, many of the vineyards have been making high-priced, high-quality wines in the hopes of grabbing a piece of the affluent market. But with the downturn in the economy, some of these wine-makers are looking instead to make wines that are specific to the area where their grapes are grown, and it is these wines that will be featured at the tasting.

The tastings are from noon-5 p.m. and generally cost less than $15. Saturday’s Italian wines will be an exception, however, with a higher cost to be determined by the price of the wines that are chosen.

The Usual Suspects

Should you happen to accost Roberta Accosta at the Fresh Market, 3315 W. Central Ave., on Saturday from 1-4 p.m., she will be making Malaysian Chicken Stir Fry. You can watch the ongoing demonstrations, or just feel free to sample the results.

Meanwhile, Williams-Sonoma in the relatively nearby Westfield Franklin Park mall is holding a full compliment of cooking demonstrations, classes, and similar events.

On Wednesday, the non-exclusive Cookbook Club will get to watch — and eat — a three-course meal cooked out of Lidia Bastianich’s cookbook Lidia’s Favorite Recipes, including rice and chicken, smothered escarole, and cannoli Napoleons. The fee of $75 includes a copy of the cookbook and the meal. Reservations are required at 419-475-6368.

Similarly, the cooking class at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 17 will focus on recipes from Giada De Laurentiis’ cookbook Everyday Italian. That night’s menu will include chicken piccata, herb-roasted root vegetables, and chocolate zabaglione, all for $50 (but you don’t get to keep a copy of the cookbook). Reservations are required for this class, as well.

The cooking technique classes, meanwhile, are free, beginning with a course on making homemade soups; it will be given at 10 a.m. today and repeated Monday at 7 p.m. Hearty and healthy vegetarian dishes will be featured Oct. 14 at 10 a.m. and Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., while a class in fall baking (think apples, cinnamon, nutmeg …) will be given Oct. 21 at 10 a.m. and Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. These technique classes also require advance registration.

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