The food buzz at this year's Taste of the Nation on May 15 was the foie gras.
Those attending were sampling the Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Morel Mushrooms, Fresh Chives, and Microcress prepared by Chef Seth Bixby Daugherty of Cosmos in Minneapolis, and the delicate Hudson Valley Foie Gras Flan with Fig Glaze served by Michael Ginor. Many were asking "What is this? I don't know what it is but it is good." Mr. Ginor is the co-owner and chef at the Hudson Valley Foie Gras and New York Foie Gras, both New York companies.
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Foie gras is the liver of a goose or duck. The French make it into a pate. Many trendy American restaurants sear it and serve it as an appetizer. Mr. Daugherty seared foie gras and combined it with morel mushroom ragu, then garnished it with microcress (baby watercress) from the Chef's Garden. Mr. Ginor's foie gras flan was baked in mini molds and then served warm, drizzled with the glaze and balsamic syrup. It had a very mild flavor.
Other celebrity chefs also brought new tastes to the annual event. Monique Barbeau of Seattle served shrimp and artichoke salad with confit of tomato and chive oil. Floridian chef Dick Cingolani was at the Poco Piatti table preparing spicy Thai shrimp on a wonton chip with soy syrup and coconut sauce, a most delicious combination. Cured salmon from Jeff Bubin of Washington received much attention.
A topic of conversation was the rice paper flowers filled with jasmine rice and pineapple chicken with plum sauce prepared by Navy Bistro executive chef Tony House. The rice paper flowers were rice paper deep-fried into a form that was just big enough to hold with a napkin in the palm of your hand. Once cooked, the rice paper flower had filling spooned into the center.
Memphis Egg Rolls - pulled pork with cole slaw - were an unexpected taste from Shorty's. Chef Mike Rosendaul of Real Seafood prepared sea bass and creme brulee. Chef Rob Campbell of Ciao! and Chef Dave House of Zia's had an impressive array of antipasto items. Manhattan's ahi tuna and Ansara's prime rib brought great reviews from the guests.
On hand were Mary and Lee Jones of the Chef's Garden. They were eager to talk to the guests about the farm products, classes, and projects at the Chef's Garden farm and the Culinary Vegetable Institute.
The Wisconsin cheese table that Chef Daugherty also represented brought a variety of artisan cheeses to this very successful event.
International foods and booths will be featured at Festival of Nations from 3 to 11 p.m. June 4 and noon to 5 p.m. June 5 at St. Elias Orthodox Christian Church, 4940 Harroun Rd. in Sylvania.
The event incorporates and expands the lamb and chicken roast that was held for many years. Feast on chicken kabob or roast lamb dinners, each priced at $10. A children's dinner (lamb or chicken) is $6. A la carte Middle Eastern fare includes tabbouleh, stuffed grape leaves, hummus, green beans and rice, baklava, rice pudding, rice pilaf, and roast lamb in pita bread. Hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries, and ice cream will also be sold. There is indoor and outdoor dining. A la carte and carry-out are available throughout the festival hours.
International booths will represent seven nations or groups of nations, including Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine; Egypt; Greece; Italy; Eritrea and Ethiopia; Russia and Bulgaria, and Guatemala. Parishioners representing these nations will make pastries and desserts for the bakery booth and coffee shop. St. Elias has members whose heritage is from many of these nations.
Festival highlights include international displays and marketplace, ethnic music, dancing, and artisans, and children's activities. The Russian dancers from Sts. Peter and Paul Orthodox Christian Church in Lorain will perform both days.
Learn about the roots of Apostolic Christianity and Orthodox Christian Sacred Art (iconography) at the tours of the church. The festival is planned around Pentecost, the birth of the Christian Church, which will be June 19 in the Orthodox Church.
Event facilities are wheelchair accessible and there is no admission fee. For information, call St. Elias Church at 419-882-4037.
Consumers can help support local family farmers and Ohio's multi-billion dollar agriculture industry when they buy Ohio products during OHIO PROUD month this June. In celebration of Ohio Proud month, local retailers around the state will offer samples of crisp green peppers, Ohio wine, ice cream, fresh bread, radishes, or other Ohio agricultural products from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 4 and 11.
In Northwest Ohio, The Andersons stores at 4701 Talmadge Rd. in Toledo and at 530 Illinois Ave. in Maumee will participate in this promotion from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 4.