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Gypsy Dining Begins in Cleveland


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Our own Improvchef44, aka Personal Chef Brian Doyle, has been the moving spirit behind a dining club inspired by Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" episode shot in Portland. As the "Gypsy Chef", he organized the first dinner April 16, 2007, which was held at the Falls Grill in Chagrin Falls and hosted by Chef/owner Tim Ogan. Our special guest was Chef Miguel Morales from Top Chef, who was in town to judge at the Second Annual Chili Cook Off to Benefit the Cleveland Austism Society, which was last night.

Miguel and Brian collaborated to bring us hors d'oeuvres to start the evening:

First - Brian's refreshing Spring Pea Shooter:


Also plattered were Brian's Duck Bites:


Miguel created the following morsel of creamy artichoke, breaded and fried and topped with bacon:


Two of Miguel's items were passed on Chinese Spoons. A bit of melt-in-your-mouth shortrib:



And, forgive me, I don't remember exactly what this one was, but it was delicious:


We proceeded to the dining room. Off to the left, the restaurant's "private dining room" had been converted into a staging area for the crew of Chefs and their assistants; it was merry mayhem as they worked together to bring us the following dishes:

Course one by Tim Ogan of Falls Grill: Inari, Salmon-Caymus Conundrum, served with his signature House Noodles:


A wonderful starter - the creamy quail egg yolk atop the Inari tamed the strong flavor of the Salmon Roe to make a perfect harmony that struck chord with the tasty rice below. Especially playful was the little item that looked like an octupus tentacle (upper left part of the plate at about 10 o'clock), but was actually a slightly sweet cracker that played well off of the slightly spicy noodles (which Chef Tim calls his "Fear Factor Cracker").

Rick Carson of Vue (in Hudson) brought us our next course - Ramps, lemon/tomato confit, miatake mushrooms:


This Napolean was topped with a tasty bit of citrus and a creamy explosion of fruit flavor. Though I passed the pieces of mushroom to Bob (I just can't take the texture of mushrooms) - the creamy mushroom-infused bottom layer was plate-licking good!

Twinsburg's Blue Canyon presented the next course - Brandt Evans was in the house, but the dish belonged to the two young chefs who accompanied him, who will be heading Blue Canyon kitchens in other states as the brand expands. Their presentation of "Tuna Two Ways" was exquisite:


On the right, a shooter of Cucumber Water with, I think, Vodka and other flavors (sadly, cucumbers, along with mushrooms, are the only two foods I have trouble putting into my mouth - I took a drink of it, then passed it to Bob). A gastric cleverly glued the glass to the plate until it was time to drink it.

On the left, a Spring Roll stuffed with cubes of fabulously fresh raw tuna and a plum sauce:


In the center - a wrapper of cucumber, dusted with a variety of sesame seeds, and rolled around more wonderful tuna. I really tried to take a bite of the cuke, but with the flavor of the beverage still on my palate, I wound up devouring the tuna, but passing the cucumber onto someone who could appreciate it (lucky husband).


Next up - Jeff Fisher of Lago (located in Tremont, in the old Theory space across from Lolita). Despite having a newborn in the house (as in two weeks old), he managed to stay awake enough to create a pillowy smoked potato gnocchi, which was surrounded by 'shrooms and artichoke, with a couple of fresh ramps to round it out.


Brad Gambrell of Barrington Golf Club served next. His moist pheasant, plated over sundried cherry confit and accompanied by plump orange gnocchi stuffed with cheese was so good - well, I told him that I might need to take up golf, so I would have an excuse to eat more of his food!


The Intermezzo was artfully preparedby Jakub Mejstrik, a personal chef who also took Best Vegetarian Honors at the Chili Cook Off last night (Chef 77). Describing this delightful bite as "chilled fruits" does not do it justice.


The watermelon cube was stuffed with a minute dice of other fruits, and served with a light sauce drizzled on the plate. We were told to take the morsel with our fingers, dredge it in the sauce, and pop in in the mouth - yummy!

The final savory course was from Brian - Hawthorn Braised Pork Belly redolent with creamy fat, served over a Rhubarb Marmalade that cut the fat just enough.


We did not think we could eat another bite. Then came dessert, from Nick Kustala of Lure Bistro.


Somehow, we all made room for his Twisted Pots de Creme - the final step in a food-induced stupor. The Debonne Cab Franc Ice Wine was perfect with it.

We hope that there will be more events, but only the Gypsy Chef knows for sure.

Edited by NancyH (log)

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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what wonderful photographs and descriptions - I feel like I was there! Thank you for posting.

I hope I can make the next dinner. It looks like an amazing dining experience.


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  • 3 months later...

The second gypsy dinner:


Corn milk and lobster soup with essence of vanilla


15 heirloom tomato salad, greek olive oil, Lake erie creamery goat cheese, arugula, balsamic drizzle


Scampi with grilled beans, ises candy tomato, feta, micro cumin and cilantro


Cox comb with chicken summer vegetable moussaline


Summer melon sorbet with lavender syrup


Lavender lemon hanger steak, grilled shallots and potatoes


Olive oil cake with summer berry compote orange blossom goat cheese ice cream

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The second Gypsy Dinner was a huge success. Jeff Fisher, formerly of Tremont's Lago (and with upcoming plans for a new venture) was our guest Chef. I was fortunate to host this dinner.

This is a photo of the 15 heirloom tomatoes that went into our salad:


And here is the raw Coxcomb:


It seemed appropriate to start this first Gypsy Dinner at a private home with the following wine:


As Stuart posted above, we began our meal with an incredible cold corn soup, with fresh lobster meat and a sprinkle of edible flowers. The soup came from a special heirloom corn, Mariah, that produces only one very sweet ear per stalk:


The soup was made by cutting the kernels off of the cobs, then pureeing them in a blender, then squeezing them through two strainers until they had given their all. Chris was thoughtful enough to save the remains, and they came in handy the next day, as you will see.

The next course was the Heirloom Tomato Salad - Chef asked us if we wanted "plain" or "garlic" goat cheese - guess which we chose!


Next came a plump scallop which had been coated with freshly made lime salt and then grilled over lump charcoal, resplendent atop a mound of Fennel Slaw, drizzled with Tangerine Gastrique and topped with a Garlic Chive blossom from our garden:



The last seafood course was the Scampi, grilled beans, ises candy tomato, feta, micro greens:


The grilled green beans added a fabulous smokey flavor to the dish.

Our poultry course consisted of a chicken mousealine. Rolled together and steamed were freshly ground chicken breast, and juilienned heirloom carrots, peppers and green beans. The mousealine was then sliced up and placed in a pool of Asian-inspired sauce (soy and oyster sauces, chili paste, rice wine vinegar, salt and pepper), then topped with the Coxcomb, which had been braised in the sauce:


The Coxcomb was gelatinous and not very flavorful one way or the other, but when taken together with the Mousealine and the Sauce, the combination was most delicious.

To clear our palates for the steak course, Chef Fisher made a Honeydew Melon Sorbet using Midori liquor. It was delightful.

The meat course was simply fabulous - the steak knives weren't even necessary as the meat was exquisitely tender:


Our final course - Made in My Kitchen Olive Oil Cake with Summer Berry Compote, topped with made-from-scratch Orange Blossom Goat Cheese Ice Cream. Yum!


It was a magnificent feast, prepared to perfection.

And, as host, I had the perk of getting some of the leftovers. So, for Sunday's dinner, I made pancakes from the leftover corn kernels (mixed with egg, seasoning and corn meal), which I fried up, then I coated the remaining scallops in corn meal and lime salt, and sauteed them in Olive Oil. I heated the remaining Corn Soup and seasoned it with saffron and cardamom - it had enough starch to turn into a thick sauce without my adding the slurry I'd prepared - a tasty reminder of our recent culinary adventure:


Where and when will the next Gypsy Dinner be? Only the Gypsy Chef knows for sure.

Edited by NancyH (log)

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Stuart and Nancy, Thanks for the pictures!

I am so mad I had to miss this as I was out of town this weekend. That tomato salad looks incredible!!

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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Continuing on the leftovers theme - Chef Jeff's food was great when served, and it just kept giving!

Last night, I cooked up some fettucine. I made meatballs out of the leftover ground chicken breast (mixed with egg, red onion, hot cherry pepper from the garden, local garlic, Parmesan-Reggiano Cheese and Bread Crumbs) and sauteed them in Olive Oil. I then put them in the oven, and sauteed the remaining onion-pepper-garlic mixture and added the leftover 15 Tomato Salad. After a brief saute, I added the pasta and tossed. Once everything was hot, I added the meatballs back. Last, I added the leftover Roasted Green Bean salad with Cherve. This all came together to make a splendid dinner:



I still haven't figured out what to do with the leftover Coxcomb. Suggestions, anyone?

"Life is Too Short to Not Play With Your Food" 

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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My lord...what glorious food.

Leftover coxcomb. What to do with it?

Comb your...oh...

Grill it just enough that it's not hard to nip...but if it is, then grill it more so it crumbles to the tooth touch.

Consume it with sweet wine, a drop at a time -- Sauternes or nearby French communes are probably best -- with or without bread.

Jamie M. Forbes

"Everything I know about life I learned in the kitchen."

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