You can count on culinary excellence when the Toledo Chaine des Rotisseurs hold their gourmet dinners. But the seven-course menu of the May 19 dinner left members and guests awestruck.
First the location of Snook's Dream Cars Automobile Museum in Bowling Green with it's polished display of historic cars was an interesting setting for the gourmet dinner.
Added to that were Gladieux Catering's Chef Rick Whitehead and staff, who made the food spectacular in flavor, presentation, and service. The chef adapted the menu to the venue that had no restaurant kitchen to lean on. Gladieux built a small kitchen using butane burners with a mini range, barbecue grill, and catering hotboxes for the event.
From the passed hors d'oeurves at the wine reception to the final course served with NV Terra d'Oro Zinfandel Port and coffee, every course had flavors to savor.
Thanks to the eclectic wine pairings selected by Roger Parker, Gladieux's vice president of catering and Vice Conseiller-Culnaire de Toledo of the Chaine, and the wine discussions by Kevin Baum of Heidelberg Distributing Co., the wines complemented each course. "The food should not interfere with the wine and the wine should not interfere with the food," Mr. Baum said.
That was certainly the case. The passed hors d'oeuvres of siracha and orange shrimp marmalade served from sesame scented wontons were crunchy and delicious. Smoked peppered duck breast napleons, fresh mozzarella with roasted tomato, and ahi tuna tartare had clear fresh flavors.
For the first course, a crisp forest mushroom tart with an herb glacage and aged port reduction provided layers of early mushroom flavor from the Chef's Garden. The phyllo tart shell was infused with truffle oil and parmesan cheese. The fruity 2005 Taz Fiddlestick Pinot Noir was served with both the first course and the second course of duck consomme with spring vegetables and herbs served in the French style. Mr. Baum reminded the 30 diners that this was the wine featured in the movie Sideways.
Chef Rick Whitehead made Crusted Wahlu Escalor with White Bean and Spinach Risotto drizzled with lobster beurre blanc.
The chef reprised his popular dish first unveiled at the Taste of the Nation, but made it a larger portion for this event: Crusted Wahlu Escalor with White Bean and Spinach Risotto was garnished with compote of tomato, anchovy, and poached elephant garlic and drizzled with lobster beurre blanc topped with osetra caviar. The gourmands raved about the dish which was matched with 2005 Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse.
In the midst of the meal, there was a breath-taking intermezzo that almost made everyone in the room swoon. Served in a martini glass was a very large white rose with petals reaching the sides of the glass. A small pinkish-red-colored scoop of rose petal and champagne sorbet was served in the rose blossom.
The fourth course of hardwood-charred kobe beef tenderloin was served with a pinot noir reduction, creamed arugula, and caramelized shallots. Chef Whitehead told the diners that he added a "little sweet corn from Indiana." A 2003 Sbragia Dry Creek Cabernet accompanied this entree.
Next came a salad of petite lettuces tossed with herbs served with a lovely warm goat cheese brie strudel, lightly salted pistachios, and the sweetness of black mission figs. The Rioja Reserva wine added cool, earthy flavor.
For dessert, the poached pear was served on an oblong plate with a scoop of honey vanilla bean ice cream, an artistic black peppered tuile, and chocolate curd painted across the plate in a swoosh accented with thyme scented syrup.
Bailliage de Toledo John Burson, a Toledo attorney, complimented the dinner's conception and execution. "I and our members felt it was one of the finest dinners in our 24-year history of the organization in Toledo."
The Toledo Chaine des Rotisseurs meets four to five times a year. Dinners are individually priced; this dinner was $125 per person. Annual dues are $200 plus local dues. "Sometimes we partner with the Detroit chapter," said Mr. Burson, noting the recent dinner at Detroit's Lark Restaurant. An event at Tribute restaurant is scheduled for 2008.
For information on the gourmet group, call Rene Hadley at 419-321-1328.
Smith Dairy Products has a new variety of Smith's milk that is free of artificial growth hormone most commonly known as r-BST. To increase milk-production herds, some dairy farms use the artificial growth hormone recombinant bovine somatropin (rBST). However, the Food and Drug Administration says there is no difference between milk from treated and untreated cows.
The rBST-free milk is being sold locally at Bassett's Market in Sylvnania and Perrysburg. The average cost per gallon is about 20 to 30 cents more than milk with rBST, according to a spokesman for Smith's Dairy. It is $3.99 per gallon for Vitamin D milk; $3.89 a gallon for 2 percent, and $3.59 a gallon for skim milk.
Flavor & The Menu magazine has named 10 major menu influences:
1. Modular menus from small plates to samplers, bento boxes, and mix-and-match meal components.
2. Iberian cheese from Spain, Portugal, and the Basque region.
3. Toasting foods such as toasted, griddled, and grill sandwiches plus toasting spices, nuts, and other ingredients.
4. Artisan handmade and house-made products that connote quality and a one-of-a-kind experience.
5. Chimichurri is the top sauce trend with a Latin-style herb combination.
6. Local farm-to-fork programs are prompting smaller-scaled and sustainable sources.
7. Regional Mexican cuisine.
8. Wood-fired grills and hearth pizza plus woodburning ovens.
9. Downsizing of desserts with cupcakes, cookies, two-bite brownies and cakes, individual tarts.
10. Seasonal beverage menus using seasonal ingredients, local products, and regional specialties.