Carrie Cerino's is Worth the Trip! - Cleveland
Posted 06 August 2005 - 08:24 AM
If there is such a thing as heaven on a plate, it resides at Carrie Cerrinos. I STILL can't believe it took me almost 10 years of living in NE Ohio before I made it there! It amazes me that when I walk in, the smell always triggers a memory trace of going to borscht belt hotels in the Catskill Mountains as a kid - it is a little old, and has a 70s look and feel. But oh my, the food that Carrie's grandson Dominic is creating! I hear so many people say "I ate there years ago and it was ok, nothing special" - if you haven't been there since Dominic started cooking, you haven't been there.
Bob and I dined there last night and started with Blue Egg Ravioli appetizers. Blue Egg Ravioli are offered the first Friday every month (and may be available by advance request at other times; call and ask). BER is homemade pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese and the yolk of a Blue Egg; simmered and finished with sage butter. When served, the soft cooked yolk combines with the ricotta cheese and the sage butter to create its own extraordinarily decadent sauce.
For our entrees, we indulged in two of their August specials and they were special.
Bob had the pasta with carbonara sauce. While the line between heaven on a plate and heart attack on a plate is extremely thin here - this is a dish truly worth sampling, using guanciale acquired from Mario Batali's father in NY, Chef/owner Dominic Cerrino describes it as follows:
Carbonara is such a cool dish because every chef, cook, homemaker or diner has a different and unique interpretation of this dish, which is made as follows: Guanciale sautéed in olive oil until the fat renders and once it starts to brown we add sliced garlic, we keep rendering until the garlic begins to brown and the Guanciale is browned, then we quickly deglaze the pan with a good Pinot Grigio and reduce by half. We then toss it with some of our home made pasta that is cooked adente. Then we toss in some fresh chopped parsley, a good grated Pecorino Romano and a good grated Parmesan cheese along with the yolks of 2 Blue Eggs. Add enough of the hot pasta water to cream it very nicely and then place in a pasta bowl and nest the egg of another Blue Egg Yolk right in the center. The guest can then toss the final yolk into the pasta themselves thereby creating an even creamier sauce. Kathy Breychak's Blue Eggs, Mr. Batali’s Guanciale and the home made pasta makes one hellava dish (and I heartily concur!).
The way the guanciale coats the tongue and lingers on the palate is just amazing, with a surrounding flavor of fresh black pepper. For a picture, look here (sorry - I can't figure out how to paste it into the post). Breychak's
I had the Tomato Panzarella made with three varieties of heirloom tomato - we are tomato starved this summer thanks to Bob ripping up his knees right before gardening season, so this was an extremely welcome treat (and the perfect "lighter" entree to follow a BER) - topped with a generous portion of strips of the the new organic chicken CCs is using. Bits of cheese, onion and black pepper infused the tomato - yum! No room for dessert. So delightful, I have to talk about it.
My blog: Fun Playing With Food
Posted 06 August 2005 - 09:30 AM
You have definatly aroused my curiosity (and my hunger).
Posted 07 August 2005 - 11:43 AM
There's still no mention of their connection to the slow food movement or their membership in Cleveland Originals.
Posted 17 August 2005 - 01:22 PM
My blog: Fun Playing With Food
Posted 17 August 2005 - 06:09 PM
Wow! That is a beautiful-looking dish. Thanks for sharing.
Here is a link to a photo from last night of what the carbonara looks like as the dish finally evolved.
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ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com
Posted 30 August 2005 - 03:22 PM
Scrambling up a couple is an ah-ha moment. The only way to explain it is that they taste like eggs, only more so, and better.
And you don’t have to take my word for it. You can buy your own or try the Blue Egg Ravioli at Carrie Cerino’s Ristorante.
Each ravioli is filled with cheese, arugula and a Breychak egg yolk, says Joel Hill, who has eaten them and gets almost poetic talking about the experience. “When you cut into each little warm square, the yolk is still slightly runny,” says Hill. “It mixes with the butter and fresh sage he puts on top to make an incredible sauce.”
Hill sighs with happiness at the memory.
I've been buying eggs from Kathy for some time now, but haven't tried using the yolks in ravioli. Got to get to CC some time to try theirs. (And the Carbonara!)
Posted 31 August 2005 - 06:32 AM
Please do not post responsively here, but use the PM/Email system.
Edited by NancyH, 31 August 2005 - 08:01 AM.
My blog: Fun Playing With Food
Posted 31 August 2005 - 07:43 AM
A dinner sounds great but please, let's not use the forums for event planning. The best way to coordinate this would be through pm's or the ISO thread which is pinned at the top of the forum.
Do I hear an E-Gullet Dinner in the making? Bob and I will not be available this Friday, but the next BER day is Friday October 7. Since I'll have been feeding 150 people out of a hotel room the weekend before, I'll be more than up for letting Dominic do the cooking then!
For reference: eGS Calendar and Events Policy
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ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com
Posted 08 October 2005 - 05:22 PM
The first Friday of the month is when the "blue egg ravioli" are available. They're too labor-intensive to serve all the time. All of us got the appetizer-sized portion of the BER. One large raviolo: ricotta filling with a whole egg yolk sandwiched between sheets of fresh pasta, dressed simply in a fresh sage butter. The yolk, visible beneath the pasta, is still liquid and helps to form a luxurious sauce when combined with the sage butter and the bit of pasta cooking water clinging to the raviolo. This dish is absolutely sublime - so simple and so good.
We opted to eat "family style", ordering several dishes to share rather than each ordering one entrée. This gave us all a chance to taste a variety of dishes. I was eager to try the Spaghetti alla Carbonara, but it seemed like overkill to order two dishes with pasta and egg. Passing the dishes around, we got to try:
Spaghetti alla Carbonara House-made pasta, olive oil, garlic, Romano and Parmigiano cheeses, and guanciale sourced from Armandino Batali. This is served with a raw yolk on top to be broken and stirred in at the table.
Berkshire pork chops A "heritage breed" hog. The chops are moist and flavorful.
Cavatelli in Pesto Exactly like you'd want it. Tender little dumplings, fragrant sauce.
Calamari Benfrito Long strips of calamari seved with a marinara dipping sauce. This is an Antipasto, but we ordered it along with the other main dishes. The breading was thin and crisp and the squid was tender and not at all rubbery. The "style" of this dish is pretty typical of many Italian restaurants in the U.S, except that squid was tender, the breading wasn't too thick, and the marinara was fresh and subtly seasoned.
We also had salads and dessert.
After dinner Chef Dominic gave us a tour of the facilities. This place is huge. I think he said thirty thousand sq feet. There's a large ballroom and a number of banquet rooms, plus a large lounge. The kitchens are extensive and equipped with some exotic stuff, some of which isn't available anymore. They have a cool old Italian pasta-cutting machine, a massive cast-iron tilt skillet, and a huge oven with steam-injection and a sort of ferris-wheel rotating platform (like the oven that's used to bake the bagels at Zingerman's, as seen on the tour tammylc arranged for the Heartland Gathering).
They make the pasta in house, and bake the bread, and make the desserts. Very impressive.
Posted 08 October 2005 - 05:47 PM
Easy to get to - the amazing thing is that there's anything of interest there for "serious foodies". To look at it, you'd think that it was one of those "party center" places not-to-be-caught-dead-in. It's kind of weird and wonderful to see the overlay of serious dedication to artisanal and organic ingredients on top of an old-fashioned restaurant setting. Kind of gives one hope for the future of food in "the Heartland".
BTW, chef Dominic gave us a sneak-peek at the new menu and wine list. The organic, "slow foods" type stuff now occupies an entire page of the menu. The wine list has been revamped with many interesting Italian vintages. Chef Dominic says that the "Lambrusca and Blue Nun" crowd accounts for the bulk of his sales. He's not being condescending - simply realistic about where the majority of his customers are coming from. I'm seriously impressed with the way he's managed to create a sort of restaurant-within-a-restaurant, pleasing the upscale crowd without alienating the loyal customers of yore.
Not that you're particularly interested in the wine list.
Posted 08 October 2005 - 06:22 PM
George Bernard Shaw
Posted 03 April 2006 - 07:57 PM
Chef Dominic is a huge fan of artisanal salumi. He's been serving pasta dishes prepared with guanciale from Armandino Batali's shop in Seattle, and he serves a special salumi board with a selection of wonderful cured meats and cheeses.
The big news is that he's investing in the equipment and hard work required to start selling house-cured salumi. This is a serious undertaking - not only in buying the dedicated coolers, pH monitoring equipment, etc., but also in the time, materials, and effort required to "audition" before the county health inspectors. That's right - before he can sell a scrap of salumi, the health board has to "bless" his operation. Given Chef Dominic's penchant for using only hormone-free heritage pork, it's got to be costing him a fortune. Here's a list of the salumi he's starting out with: Guanciale, Hot Soppessata, Finocchiona, Coppa, Pancetta, Salami and Lomo. Sounds like an excellent start.
He's also got a new angle on some interesting stuff from Alaska - I'll let NancyH (who started this thread) pick up that particular bit of good news.
Posted 04 April 2006 - 06:28 AM
My blog: Fun Playing With Food
Posted 17 May 2006 - 03:58 PM
First of all, the Copper River King Salmon has started arriving (in limited quantities). They are supplied by Bill Webber, who catches them near the mouth of the river (before they're all pooped out struggling upstream. ). Chef Dominic Cerino will be flying to Alaska next week to go out on the fishing boat with Webber. Talk about being close to your source...
Webber was a 2004 delegate to the Terra Madre conference, which brings me to the next bit of news. Carrie Cerino is hosting a benefit dinner for the Ohio delegation to this year's Terra Madre conference. eGullet Calendar entry here (thanks Ronnie!)
In addition to Copper River Kings and other good stuff, the benefit will feature salumi prepared by Armandino Batali, Michael Symon, and Chef Cerino. I'm especially looking forward to tasting Batali's culatello. Here' a description by R.W. Apple in today's NY Times (link):
They are princes among pork products, known in northern Italy as the superstars of the antipasto platter, and coveted by generations of big-time eaters in Emilia-Romagna, which harbors more of that species than any other Italian region. Sweeter, mellower and more delicate in flavor than prosciutto, with an astoundingly smooth and creamy texture, these über-hams, called culatelli, have achieved something approaching mythic status among the few Americans lucky enough to have tasted them on their native ground in the foggy Po River lowlands near Parma.
Posted 17 May 2006 - 05:43 PM
Posted 18 May 2006 - 12:14 PM
Posted 27 May 2006 - 02:21 PM
From the first post on May 24, relayed via email to the forum host:
The town, Cordova, is very very small and it exists for fishing. The Exxon spill 16 years ago still affects them, even though it was north of here it messed the migration of fish and pretty much destroyed the herring fishing, still to this day. They live hand to mouth off what this river delta provides.
Miles Lake up north is where they place the sonar fish counters. This lake and many of the streams are still frozen over. Not many fish have made it up the river. That is bad because the State may cancel the fishing for the end of this week, Thursday or Friday! Don't panic! Bill is a native and if they cancel the commercial side for the end of this week then he will take me out to drop nets under his native right of catching fish for sustainable uses. So, I will get the whole experience. VERY VERY cold winter and spring has led to these lakes and streams to still be frozen over. It has warmed up considerably, now in the 60's.
Bill has taken me through many of the processing plants, some of canners and I have met many fishermen. There is a huge political battle going on over these fish. These locals trying to eek out a living they and their ancestors have for years vs. the sport aspect that brings in millions of dollars a year to the State. Bill and these locals equate what these fly in sport fishing guys are doing is going right into the nursery and stealing. What a perspective I am getting.
I'm relieved that that CRS will arrive in time for the Terra Madre Feast, but that's a bit selfish of me, considering the hardships the fishermen are facing.
This is a fascinating diary of a great adventure, written by someone who cares passionately about food and sustainability. I'd love to see it preserved in a less ephemeral format.
Posted 11 July 2006 - 03:54 PM
For those of you who haven't tried the Blue Egg Ravioli or the Copper River King salmon, see Kristin's post in the ISO thread. This is the end of the line for Copper River salmon for this year. The (incredibly labor-intensive) ravioli are available on the first Friday of every month, but NancyH has persuaded chef Dominic to make an exception to the first-Friday-only rule since kristin is just rolling into town.
Drive up from Columbus, zoom over from Toledo - hell, fly in from Yokohama! Friday's the night to check out CC!
~ postscript to my (various) posts above. I see I never reported back about the Terra Madre benefit dinner. It was every bit as sensational as I had hoped. I just want to note a couple of CC-relavent items:
First of all, the CC house-made salumi made it's debut at the benefit. Chef Dominic's Coppa was one of the standouts among a very elite company (from Armandino Batali and Michael Symon).
Also, this year's Terra Madre conference will include chefs who take an active role in promoting artisinal and sustainable products. The Ohio delegates are Michael Symon and Dominic Cerino.
~ pps: There's a nice review of CC in Cleveland Scene Magazine. It pretty much echos what we've been saying in this thread:
Of course, there is a certain irony in Cerino's adoption of "slow-food" principles. "It's actually sort of funny," says Dominic. "When my grandmother was growing up, food was what you grew in your garden or raised in your backyard. People have gotten away from that, but in some ways, I think we're taking the restaurant full circle, back to its roots and to where our passion for food first began."
We think so too. And we're guessing that when it comes to the course correction, Grandma Cerino would be the first on board.
Posted 15 July 2006 - 04:22 PM
That Blue Egg Ravioli was really to die for, absolutely incredible.
Even though almost all of us ordered the Copper River Salmon (superb!) Dominic treated us to a dish of his carbonara, which he said he considers his favorite dish. It was by far the best carbonara I have ever eaten and I used to think I made a really good one....
The portions were huge and we all left with doggie bags (do people even call them that any more?)
A big thanks to Dominic and his staff who went out of their way to serve us an incredible meal, even concluding with a tour of the kitchen.
Posted 17 July 2006 - 07:15 AM
And Nancy was right, my leftovers (aglio-olio pasta) made an excellent breakfast the next day. Thanks go to Nancy to organizing and for going above and beyond in picking up my stranded a*s from the very rainy bus stop, and to Dominic and his crew for taking such excellent care of us, and providing an incredible dining experience for all.
Posted 17 July 2006 - 08:30 PM
Chef Dominic and his staff really put together a treat of a meal for us. We started off with the salumi board:
The board had coppa, which Dominic created in-house, as well as a variety of salumi sourced from Armandino Batali in Seattle. The mole salumi, with its complex, slightly-sweet, mexican-inspired flavors, was particularly delicious, but all of the choices here were top-notch, obviously coming from craftsmen who are devoted to their craft. The salumi board also included two cheeses, parmagian and a balpaiso [sp?], which, for me, stole the show. The salumi was served with bowls of olives and peppers in olive oil and bread.
After a bit of a break, most of us had the Blue Egg Ravioli as an appetizer. This came to the table as a single ravioli in sage butter:
Cutting into the ravioli broke through the raw yolk in the center, letting the juices flow out and mingle with the ricotta inside the ravioli and the sage butter on the outside:
This was simply luscious. This would be a disaster with anything less than exceptional ingredients, but, the combination used at Carrie Cerino's was superb. A great way to showcase the Blue Eggs.
After a light salad (I ate less than a fifth of mine, as I was saving room), the entrees arrived. Most of us had ordered the Copper River Salmon, which we caught at the very end of their run this year. I ordered mine rare, and that's how it came, with a center still wild with essence of salmon. This Copper River Salmon, though, could probably stand being cooked to medium-rare (or even medium), because of its high oil content.
Chef Dominic surprised us with a plate of spaghetti carbonara to share, which he said is the dish that he's most proud of. Like with Kristin, it was, for me too, the best carbonara I've ever had. Each plate is made with three (!) of the blue egg ravioli yolks, two stirred into the sauce in the kitchen, and one left whole for the customer to stir in him or herself. Along with the blue egg, the other star in the dish was the house-cured guanciale, which was full of flavor.
Chef Dominic was an incredible host; he spent a lot of time talking with us at our table throughout the evening and led us on a tour through the kitchen. I never realized just how large the restaurant and banquet halls there are. I had a great time and I'm sure I'll be back before leaving for Chicago this fall.
Carrie Cerino's is definitely worth the trip.
Posted 18 July 2006 - 10:06 AM
As has been stated several times before, the Blue Egg Ravioli was wonderful. As was the tutorial on the differences between a blue egg and a regular egg. Chef Dominic Cerino took so much time to talk to our table.
The mole salumi was awesome. And since I'm reading my way through Ruhlman's Charcuterie, I'm understanding all the elements that go into a restaurant curing their own sausages - and that makes it all the more amazing. The chef's coppa was wonderful as well. If it were lunch, I could create a meal out of the mole salumi, the coppa and the bread.
I was one of the few who did not get the Copper River Salmon. I got the pork crepe canelloni which Nancy said was served at the Terre Madre dinner. Thanks for the recommendation Nancy, it was great. I had to share the experience with others, so I got what I didn't eat boxed up and let my parents taste it.
I also had two glasses of a Riserva Chianti (not sure about the full name) and it went well with the entire meal.
The tour of the kitchen was fantastic. The chef even had a map of the Copper River and told us all about it. You can tell how much he loves what he does when he speaks about it. I can't wait to go back there.
Thanks to Chef Dominic and everyone who was at the dinner!
"...but I'm good at being uncomfortable, so I can't stop changing all the time...be kind to me, or treat me mean...I'll make the most of it I'm an extraordinary machine."
-Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
Posted 18 July 2006 - 11:15 AM
Second, quit calling me Chef Dominic, just call me Dominic. I'm not very formal about that stuff, we specialize in peasant food so just saying "hey you" works for me.
Third, but not least, many thanks to all of you for your kind words. It is good to know that the food of our family is so appreciated.
Again thanks to all and we look forward to seeing more of you in the future.
Posted 18 July 2006 - 11:58 AM
The Blue Egg Ravioli were created for our very first Convivium dinner event at Carrie Cerino's and they were inspired by Kathy Breychak's Blue Eggs and ravioli I had enjoyed at La Buca in Zibello, Italy (a village on the Po River, outside of Parma.) But they are now Dominic's signature dish.
As the founding leader of the convivium, and as a long-time food writer in Cleveland, I knew this was a perfect place for Slow Food. Dominic Cerino is the 3rd generation to be owner/chef here. While it is nearly impossible for him to change the decor, because the old, loyal customers won't let him, he has been dedicated to preserving his grandmother's fantastic recipes and traditions of a totally scratch kitchen. But, at the same time, he has been taking the restaurant back to her chickens and meats that were from a time that these products were not factory farmed, but rather, came from farmers who raised them carefully and fed them carefully so that they had real fat and real flavor.
Dominic now buys all organic chicken, even organic chicken bones for his stocks and soups. His pork is all Heritage Pork, either coming from a wonderful Ohio farmer who raises Large Black swine and Tamworth, or from Heritage Foods USA.
His farmed salmon is organic and his wild salmon is flown directly to him from Alaska by the fisherman who caught it.
Dominic buys salumi from Aramandino Batali in Seattle. And he is also curing his own and making fabulous Salami.
And in October, he will be part of the 8 member Ohio delegation that our Convivium is sending to Slow Food's Terra Madre gathering in Torino, Italy. This will be a gathering of 6,000 farmers, fishermen, chefs, educators....representing Food Communities of more than 100 countries from around the world. Dominic, and our other Chef delegate, Michael Symon, embody Slow Food. They have enormous respect for their family's traditions and artisinal foods. And they respect local producers and work with them as much as possible. There are other chefs in Cleveland I wish we could be sending as well. Hopefully in 2008!
We had a sensational food event with 6 of Cleveland's top chefs and Armandino Batali as the guest of honor at Carrie Cerino's in early June that raised the money we needed for our Convivum to send everyone to Terra Madre. The food was fabulous...it included lots of salumi and two Heritage Suckling Pigs!
Posted 18 July 2006 - 05:46 PM
We had a wonderful dinner at CC on Friday. Dominic is so enthusiastic about the fresh ingredients, the fresh pasta, and the heritage breed meats. The Carbonara really is a point of pride. House-made pasta, fresh egg yolks, and house-cured guanciale. He calls it "peasant food", but it's sophisticated in its simplicity. I love Carbonara, and have been making it at home for years. I appreciate how tricky it is to get everything just right - the slightest slip-up and you've got scrambled eggs. The Carbonara at Carrie Cerino's is silky perfection.
If you're wondering how the "Blue Egg Ravioli" got its name, here's a picture of some of the eggs from Kathy Breychak's Blue Egg Farm:
As you can see, only some of the eggs have blue shells. It isn't the color of the shell that matters - it's the freshness of eggs and the true free-range conditions the laying hens enjoy. Dominic compared an egg from Kathy's farm to a standard commercial egg. Cracked onto a plate, the white of the "Blue Egg" holds together and stands high on the plate. The commercial egg spreads out flat, limp and watery.
I'm glad Kristin finally got to check out Carrie Cerino's. And it was great meeting Shannon. It is worth the trip!
Posted 22 July 2006 - 06:05 AM
The salumi board is amazing. That paper thin, buttery meat just melts in your mouth.
I can't wait to see what interesting things Dominic brings back from his trip to Italy.
I'm so glad everyone is discovering & enjoying this gem.
Posted 01 August 2006 - 03:54 PM