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Report: 2007 Heartland Gathering (Cleveland)


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It was so nice to be able to join everyone at Carrie Cerino's. What a feast!!!!! I just now (it is 8:45p) ate the pork cannelloni that I couldn't eat at lunch.

It was great meeting everyone and Bill, Nolan, Reagan and I look forward to next years gathering. Maybe next year the twins will be able to enjoy something other than Enfamil :-)

Here are pics of the CRS and the gelato:



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Saturday was Feast Day!  I had made arrangements with my friend Angie to rent the commercial kitchen and social hall at her church, near to my house.  The was to begin with the traditional shopping trip - this year, at Cleveland's storied West Side Market.  We arrived at 9:30am, with no breakfast in us, to plot for the evening's festivities.

Unfortunately, I got so caught with "being in charge", and, more important, being the person who lived closest to the Feast location, that I only took one photo the whole day!    After we separated to shop (and by this time, I was also forced to acknowledge that being "in charge" meant I wasn't really going to get to cook anything), so I stopped at The Creperie for a bite. 

Thank you, Nancy, for taking on the mantle of "in charge." You did an amazing job, and we all greatly appreciated your (months of) hard work. Having done this myself, I know exactly how many pieces you end up having to juggle, but you pulled together a most excellent gathering. I only wish I could have participated in more bits of it.

Tammy's Tastings

Creating unique food and drink experiences

eGullet Foodblogs #1 and #2
Dinner for 40

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A few more pictures to add to the collection:

Here's a snapshot from the balcony of the West Side Market to give you a sense of the grand space it occupies:


Looking down on City Roast and the crepe place:


We asked the guys at Bistricky Meats to cut the chine from our baby goat racks. Much easier to carve later...


Tino27's tower of take home boxes at the end of today's lunch:


Dominic pulled out all the stops with an incredible selection of his best dishes. Unfortunately we were at the end of a long weekend of eating... the most we could manage was to try a few bites of everything and stash the rest in boxes for leftovers. Dominic's food certainly deserves better, but we were all nearly immobilized by all the food we had these last few days. :blink:

Dominic managed to spend some time with us despite the restaurant being quite busy with lunch service and banquets.


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Our menu was a little light on vegetables

I think the issue there was that there wasn't much in the way of vegetable inspiration at the market. When I went around with Kris as she was looking for ingredients for her salad, the two things that looked good (and inexpensive) were watermelon and okra. So that evolved into a watermelon salad palate cleanser and the tempura okra that accompanied the braised Jamaican-spiced goat (at first the watermelon salad was going to be an appetizer and the okra was going to be part of the cocktail hour snacks along with the charcuterie, cheeses and salmon, but Tammy figured out to use the watermelon as a palate cleanser later on, and to pair the tempura okra with the goat). The nice thing was that the watermelon was $3 (all the way at the end of the market -- as you walked in that direction the watermelon prices fell from $6 to $5 to $4 to $3), and the entire okra project was accomplished with $3 worth of okra (1.5 pounds at $2 per pound was enough to get 50 nice pieces). One dollar worth of scallions (three bunches) was about three times the scallions needed for the watermelon salad. Also, the previous day after Sun Luck we (Edsel, Kris and I) went to Heather's spice shop (great place) and got a small bag of toasted flax seeds -- those were mixed in with the tempura batter that went on the okra.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If you look closely in the second picture from the market, you can see Fat Guy trailing behind Torakris.

And Alex (Palladion) is just behind him!

I am so full I can't even think about food right now! This last meal at Carrie Cerrino's just blew me over the edge. I took home 10 boxes of food and even with 5 adults and 3 kids eating dinner we still couldn't finish it all.

I did just have a small 10pm snack of the lentil and sausage dish and wow! that just gets better and better.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"


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Thanks to you all for stoping in for dinner at lola, it was pleasure to have you. I only regret that i didn't have the chance to enjoy the rest of the weekend with all of you.

thanks again,

cory... cbarre02

Cory Barrett

Pastry Chef

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Cory - thank you so much for your hospitality! I had hoped that we would stop by Lolita tonight in connection with Taste of Tremont - but Dominic fed us into such oblivion that it just didn't happen!

Edited by NancyH (log)

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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Now that I've had a day to digest everything (pun only slightly intended), I think I finally want to add a few comments.

First, I want to give kudos to NancyH for putting together a fabulous weekend. I know that she had many obstacles to overcome, and she did so with such grace.

Second, I want to say that I, too, am excited about the event being in Chicago next year! I'm going to have to work hard at my timing for next year as I won't have Saturday morning to bake off fresh bread. But I've got a year to plan, so I think I'll be covered.

Finally, the events themselves. I think the thing that strikes me the most about these weekends is the sense of community and comraderie that it engenders in the participants. Truly it is about enjoying the company as much as it is about enjoying the food. It was great to see a lot of old faces from last year, but also lovely to meet some new ones this time, too.

The food at Saturday night's event was stupendous, to say the least. Between the awesome charcuterie that Ronnie_Suburban brought and the wonderful cheese selection that BethG brought, I could've made an entire meal on that alone. Add in another 6 well-portioned courses on top of that and you've got a truly outstanding meal. To my palate, everything was really very good, but the truly surprising course for me was the watermelon salad. So, so simple, but so, so good! I'll definitely be adding that one to my repetoire.

I brought 24 loaves of bread to the gathering (there were 25 people at the gathering). I walked out with about 1/3 of a loaf of sweet potato bread -- that's it! Everybody either ate or took home the rest! Apparently the brioche was a big hit as that was the first thing requested after dinner was over. To those of you who took some brioche ... how did the French Toast turn out? I'm guessing that Brioche will be on the menu for next year's event, too? :biggrin:

Sunday's event at Carrie Cerino's was nothing short of amazing. Chef Domonic didn't just feed us, he FED us. By the end of the 4th main course (there were 6 main courses after 3 appetizers and 1 salad course), people were only eating one bite of food and immediately transferring the rest to take-home boxes. Out of respect for the amount of work put in by the chef and his crew, you had to have at least ONE bite. :smile: The little pagoda of take-home containers that edsel snapped a photo of was mine. I had meals #2 and #3 last night and this morning and I still have two more boxes left. It was just absolutely amazing!

It's sad to see the end of another gathering, but that just builds the anticipation for next year's event.

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What a great weekend we all had!

I don't know how we all ate as much as we did; it doesn't seem possible.

Dinner at Lola was amazing. Each course was spot on. There wasn't a single lacking dish the whole evening. The walleye was exceptional to me. I've eaten walleye my whole life and never seen fillets as thick as those that Lola served to us. Our server Paul took great care to make sure we all had the best time.

As others have said, lunch at Carrie Cerino's was also amazing though none of us could manage more than a bite or two of each dish. None the less, those few bites were enough to taste the passion that went into the creation of each dish. The lentils are as amazing. I crave them regularly.

As good as the food was when we dined out, the best part of the weekend for me was meeting those folks who I had not met before, hanging out with old friends and cooking together. I LOVE to cook with friends so I was in heaven Saturday! The kitchen was filled with fun, fellowship and generosity. In fact, I can sum up the wonderfulness of the weekend with the word "fellowship". Food and wine were the premise of what brought us together but it is the shared love and passion and knowledge that make it all so special.

I'm sorry for those of you who weren't able to make it to Cleveland for this great weekend.

I'm already dreaming about next year in Chicago!

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I want to thank everyone involved in helping to make this weekend a success.  There are too many to name individually - though I will single out Steve Sikorski (Mr. Luckygirl) for getting the dishwasher back on line Saturday night and sparing us two hours of washing dishes by hand, and Angie Vacca, who never heard of EGullet before, but may be joining us soon - for getting this wonderful space for us!


Steve says thanks for the thanks!

I would like to add my thanks to Angie for her generosity in hosting us at her church and for her efforts the whole day. Angie put in a great deal of work throughout the day and especially knocked herself out with how much she did to lead the clean up effort. Also my thanks to my husband Steve for fixing the dishwasher and manning it during the clean up and to Connie and Julie for how much they did in clean up!

Also, EVERYTHING we had to eat Saturday was absolutely amazing. It almost doesn't seem right to single anyone out but at the same time it doesn't seem right not to specifically thank Tom for his HUGE gift of bread and Ronnie for his HUGE gift of meats and fish. Tom and Ronnie were both AMAZINGLY generous in what they brought to share with the group. My mind spins when I think about the amount of time and effort that each of them put into what they brought to share with us. So, not only were they extremely generous but what they shared was AMAZING. That pastrami? That sausage? That homemade bacon? That salmon? That brioche? That black bread? That rosemary bread? That sweet potato bread? YOU TWO ARE UNFRICKENBELIEVABLE!

And, Nancy, I want to again say thanks to you for putting this great event together. You pulled together a weekend that blew us all away!

Edited by LuckyGirl (log)
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I passed the Ceremonial Torch of the EGullet Heartland Gathering (well, actually, an empty gelato glass) to Ronnie Suburban - who has volunteered to lead Chicago in hosting our intrepid band of diners for next year's Gathering.

Now that might actually get me to one of these things :cool:


Now blogging at http://jesteinf.wordpress.com/

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Anyone still hungry??!!!! LOL

Thank you eGulleters for choosing CC's as one of your destinations, quite an honor indeed. It was a pleasure sending out the many waves of food and from your descriptions we should maybe just refer to it from this point forward as the Great CC eGullet Tsunami!

I am thrilled that the lentils were such a hit, they are from my family's home town in Norcia in Umbria and the recipe with the red chile Guanciale is from there also, so it is by far the most authentic Norcia dish in the place. Glad to hear it was well received.

Nancy you are the bomb, GREAT JOB putting all this together!

Again, many thanks for including CC's, we are all honored.

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I want to add my thanks to everyone for such a great weekend. I can't remember when I've had so much fun, or eaten so well. Nancy, you did an awesome job at planning the weekend, and everything went so smoothly. You rock!

Lola and VTR were amazing as always. I believe that was my first try at walleye, and it was very enjoyable. I think I need to stop back there this week for the tomato salad and the strawberry dessert.

I agree with Diane, the best part was Sunday at the church, hanging out with everyone, and watching all the energy in the kitchen. Also, Tammy's chocolate and wine tastings were very educational and enjoyable. All the breads, and dishes, and desserts were excellent. I can actually say I have now tasted goat meat - another first for me.

I can't believe how many dishes we had at CC's. They just kept coming and coming. The blue egg ravioli just keeps improving. I think I like it better with the arugula sprigs than the sage. The panzanella salad is my favorite, I only wish it could be in season a little longer. I have CRSalmon in my fridge for dinner tonight.

It was really great to meet everyone on the forum, and share this weekend with you all. I am also looking forward to Chicago.

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I'll start at the end of this phenomenal weekend by saying I am truly grateful that Dominic Cerino forgot to serve the risotto . . . or maybe he was joking. In any case, if he had served it, I'm not sure I could have fit behind the steering wheel of my car and made it back to Chicago.

As much as there was simply an obscene quantity of food served at Carrie Cerino's yesterday, the quality of that food surpassed the quantity in droves. I think FG hit the nail on the head when describing CC's. In many ways, it's a throwback to an era long gone. And yet, there is a major focus on current trends, ingredients, etc. Typical 'old skool' Italian places do not serve heirloom tomatoes, Copper River salmon or Berkshire pork. And because the execution of each dish was nearly flawless, it was the absolute best of all worlds. And I cannot say enough about these lentils and sausage, which were simply spectacular.

We too, came home with a bunch of leftovers -- enough for dinner last night and breakfast this morning. The only hard part was having to endure the aroma of that food for 6+ hours in the car, while we drove home, without being able to break into it.

Here are some images I captured at our brunch . . .


Assortment of salume and cheese, including house-made coppa




Artichokes with garlic butter and cheese


Blue-egg ravioli with sage and baby arugula


A closer look at the blue-egg ravioli


Heirloom tomato salad


Spaghetti Carbonara with yolk from a blue egg


Lentils and sausage


Berkshire pork Marsala


Veal Tosca


Berkshire pork cannelloni


Copper River salmon


Hazelnut gelato


One of many stacks of leftovers

Thanks to Nancy and Bob for taking this on and doing such a fantastic job for all of us. The work they did made the Gathering so enjoyable for the rest of us -- and for that, I'm truly grateful. Not only did they plan a fantastic and delicious slate of events, but they secured a great location for the group meal, assisted with directions, rides and equipment -- and even let us pre-ship items to their house in advance of the event. Also, a big shout-out to Scott Weintraub and Deb for arranging the kick-off dinner at Light Bistro and to Fat Guy for arranging the lunch at Sun Luck, even though we were unable to attend that one.

As great as the food all was, the company was even better. It was great seeing old friends and meeting new ones. There's so much more to report about that detail and many others but I'm a bit pressed for time at the moment. I'll be back later to fill in some details about Light Bistro, Velvet Tango Room, Lola, Phenom Penh and our group meal, asap.


edit: coppa is not bresaola.

Edited by ronnie_suburban (log)

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Beautiful pictures, Ronnie! Since the finished dishes (both Feast and Restaurant) seem to be well covered, I'll just post a few "action shots".

Diane (LuckyGirl) and Deb Slicing beef for the Thai Beef Salad


Tom (Tino27 ) slicing bread. Yeah, it was as good as it looks...


Ronnie assembling the heavenly BLT app.


Fruit, basmati rice, and syrup ready for assembly.


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I was bearing up quite admirably until I saw the lentil dish. I am now sobbing loudly. And to think all of you lightweights couldn't finish the job. You're all on double-secret probation!

I still remember how I felt rolling out of Tammy's Co-Housing Community after last year, barely able to waddle to my car. But seriously, that Cerrino's meal, OMG.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I made it back to Chicago safe and sound. And still full. I couldn't believe the sheer amount of wonderful food that Dominic put out for the group -- I didn't manage to eat any, except for a bowl of blue egg-yolk gelato, but I was very envious of the people that managed to eat and take home leftovers.

Here are the highlights of the pictures I took during the festivities on Saturday:

Edsel prepping the goat:


The goat itself:


Dance cooking the eggplant:


Ronnie, the charcuterie master:


Ronnie's pastrami:


Tomato soup shooters:


Randi's incredible cherry pies:




Soup and sandwich:


The appetizer, glamour shot:


Shrimp and risotto:


Fat Guy dishing out the watermelon salad:


Men at work, getting the goat (ready):


Saucing the goat. Behold the power of the Gary Kunz Saucing Spoon:


A single perfect block of ganache:


Basmati Rice and Fruit Salad:


A few people collapsing at the end of a long, awesome, tiring, unforgettable day:


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The watermelon salad was fun, and it was really simple. Steven (Fat Guy) and I originally whipped up a vinaigrette of 1:1 olive oil and balsamic. We added it to the watermelon and stirred. The vast quantity of watermelon that we had swallowed all the vinaigrette without blinking. Steven noticed that there was a lot watermelon liquid at the bottom of the mixing bowl. We dumped the liquid out, as it was overpowering all of the balsamic we were adding.

This time, we added just balsamic, omitting the olive oil. We wanted to cut through the strong, sweet watermelon flavor. Mixed again. Added more sea salt, lots of black pepper and scallions. More seasoning (we had a lot of watermelon).

Things that would have made it better: smaller batches. The mass quantity of watermelon was probably squeezing the watermelon at the bottom of the bowl, extracting more watermelon juice, which was diluting the balsamic. Fat Guy though about reducing the watermelon juice and balsamic and adding both to the watermelon. Sounds good to me, though I'd be careful of using too much watermelon juice -- we needed a lot of additional flavor and acidity from the vinegar to cut through all of the watermelon's sugar. It's definitely something I want to play around with.

Edit: Also, stir the watermelon with your hands to avoid denting the crisp edges and to avoid (again) squeezing out more watermelon juice.

Edited by Palladion (log)
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Alex, those are fantastic photo's.  I love the last one!!


I must have washed my hands 50 times on Saturday. I'd touch food, so I'd have to wash my hands before touching my camera, then because I touched my camera, I'd have to wash my hands before touching any food.

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My latest thinking on the watermelon dish is also along small-batch lines, however I was thinking to take that to its logical extreme: dress it on the individual plates. In other words, take a few cubes of watermelon and put them on a small plate, scatter a few scallions on top, then drizzle those cubes and scallions with the balsamic vinaigrette, then top with fresh-ground pepper and coarse salt.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Going back to the beginning of the weekend, Thursday evening's dinner at Light Bistro was terrific. The food was delicious, inventive and fun. In a sense, the place reminded me of Schwa in Chicago, in part because of the food but also because of the vibe. Matt and Jeff were extraordinarily hospitable and there was such a tangible sense of pride and love in what they did. Their enthusiam came through loud and clear -- not only on the plate -- but also in listening to them talk about their craft. Unlike Schwa, Light Bistro is a larger and more polished space with dedicated FOH, but it was not a stretch to imagine these talented chefs happily delivering plates out to the dining room. What a great way to start off the weekend.


Gazspacho Granita

Cool and refreshing with a spicy hit.



I loved this service mode for the bread.


Eggplant Flan with paddlefish caviar, and olive oil-cracker

A delicious appetizer. One of my favorite tastes of the entire meal.


Kobe beef carpaccio with figs, beets and chiles

Tender and flavorful beef accented nicely by the other elements.


Pan-roasted quail (not part of our menu but ordered by a quail fan at the table. I'm told it was delicious.)


Sturgeon with licorice port purée, Santa Claus melon and pickled cous cous

Cooked en sous vide then seared, this sable was tremendous.


Ohio Lamb (loin and ribs) with swiss chard, sweet pepper gastrique and candied banana peppers

I loved this combination and the ribs were so addictive. We raved about the delicious banana peppers so much, chef sent us out a bunch of jars of them to take with us.


Manchego with raspberries

Manchego's one of my favorites. It paired very well with the fresh berries which, iirc, were marinated in champagne.


Strawberry sorbet with sweet balsamic tomatoes, sliced strawberries and blue cheese

I enjoyed the balance here very much. Sweet and tart played together so nicely.


Gateau au chocolate with candied fennel and orange

I didn't get to try this dessert, primarily because this one disappeared very fast!


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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Friday afternoon a bunch of us (eGS members and locals) met for cocktails and chat at one of the coolest places I've been in a long time. The Velvet Tango Room provided a truly unique experience for me. It was a beautiful and elegant space -- inside a converted house -- that made me feel like I'd stepped into a time portal to the film noir era. It's a rare pleasure to partake in a cocktail lounge where just about every ingredient is made by hand . . . ginger beer, root beer, bitters, tonic water, etc. I know the cocktail scene is said to be emerging in Chicago but it has arrived in Cleveland. Really, this is exactly what a lounge should be -- a perfect blend of astonishing ingredients, immaculate service and richly-detailed atmosphere. For anyone who cares about the details of mixology and cocktail culture, I believe the Velvet Tango Room should be a destination. It provides complete satisfaction. It is, in many ways, the quintessential cocktail bar.


The main bar at the Velvet Tango Room.


One of several amazingly-decorated lounges at the Velvet Tango Room.


Fat Guy takes a call while strolling in the patio/yard area of the VTR, which even offers a putting green.


"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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