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Chris Hennes

REPORT: 2011 Heartland Gathering (Cleveland, OH)

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NOTE: For planning-related questions, please see the PLANNING TOPIC.

The eG Heartland Gathering (2011 edition, eG HG v7, and celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Society!!) is almost upon us, thanks to NancyH's indefatigable efforts! The schedule is as follows:

Thursday Evening "Tremont Crawl"

5pm: Fahrenheit, 2417 Professor Avenue ($11)

7pm: Lolita, 900 Literary Road ($32)

9pm: Dante, 2247 Professor Avenue ($38.30)

Friday Lunch

11am: Meet with Chris Hodgson of the Hodge Podge food truck

11:45am: Eat at the food truck, Voinovich Park (pay per item, $3-$12 per)

After lunch: Tour of the soon-to-open Crop Restaurant by owner/chef Steve Schimoler

Friday Happy Hour

5pm: Velvet Tango Room, 2095 Columbus Rd (pay by drink, no t-shirts, shorts, or ripped jeans)

Friday Dinner

8pm: Greenhouse Tavern, 2038 East 4th Street ($73 + T&T + $8 valet)

Saturday Feast

[NO TIME SET]: The Chubby Cook, 3365 Richmond Road #225 ($30)

Sunday Lunch

10:30am: AMP 150, 4277 West 150th St ($30 + Tip)

For reports on previous Heartland Gatherings, see:

eG HG 0, Grand Rapids, MI 2003

eG HG I, Ann Arbor, MI, 2005

eG HG II, Ann Arbor, MI, 2006

eG HG III,Cleveland, OH, 2007

eG HG IV, Chicago, IL, 2008

eG HG V, Kansas City, MO, 2009

eG HG VI, Ann Arbor, MI, 2010

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Following eagerly and regretting I can't attend. I expect much detail both verbal and photographic, streaming live whenever possible! :biggrin:

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While my first report is not a part of the "formal" scheduled events, tonight I had dinner at Chinato on E. 4th downtown. Suffice it to say that I am very impressed with the local Ohio products that they employed in dishes like Grilled Sardines with Parsley and Olive Salad and Beef Tongue with Salsa Verde. Italian "Peasant" dishes if you will with a unique twist using locally sourced ingredients. I'll post a bit more tommorrow.

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Got the Thermomix and the SVM packed, first thing in the morning pick up Prasantrin and her +1 and we are on our way.

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We arrived in Massillon, OH, on Monday afternoon and have been hanging out down here (about an hour south of Cleveland) with some long-time friends we don't see enough of. We'll be driving up to Cleveland midday tomorrow, after we watch a guy come to shoe our friend's horse. We're having lunch at Pura Vida with our Cleveland CVB contact, and I'll be at Fahrenheit at 5.

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6:30 AM on Thursday.. I'll be heading off to the airport soon for my flight to CLE. I'm really excited about this trip. It will be good to be back in C-Town to get some of the great local food and drink.

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is a just-posted interview on Northeast Ohio's Cuisine Scene, with Chef Chris Hodgson, who will be meeting with us for a chat, then serving our lunch tomorrow off of his Hodge Podge Food truck. Note at the last minute of the interview, when asked who the great Cleveland chefs are - we are eating this weekend at establishments owned/operating by almost all of the folks he mentions (we just don't have time for Flying Fig and Lucky's, though I wish we did).

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And I am here.. Cleveland is 20 degrees cooler than it is in Dallas. Trip is off to a good start. I think I might try to "live report" my lunch from AMP 150.. I don't have my camera on me.. Left it in the room. Maybe I can snap photos with my camera.

Starting off with a Victory Prima Pils for a beverage. Really hits the spot. I've ordered a few small plates off the menu and a side dish of vegetables. More to come...

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Looking forward to your report, Jeff... It smelled good when I stopped by your table, anyway! Obviously my plus one and I made it to CLE, and are looking forward to the festivities. See you all soon.

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Ok... While I wait for my dessert course, I will present my lunch at AMP 150. I apologize for the quality of the photos. The phone in my camera is not the best.


The was the apricot gnocchi. Yes, it was with an apricot sauce. Pretty good.


Braised rabbit. This was great.. My favorite dish.


Peas, Peas, Peas.

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Yes.. Braised rabbit with Spaetzle, Spec Ham, Tarragon and Peas

Dessert was chocolate panna cotta. That was very tasty too.

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You were probably still in high school back in 2003, Chris, but in fact the first Heartland Gathering, the Mother of them all, was held in Grand Rapids, MI.

And a fine time it was.

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Doh! The trouble with searching for "gathering"... I guess I missed the ones that pre-date that name. Was there one in 04?

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Well that ride certainly seems longer on the motorcycle...... But we made it, now I just have to find Steven between 4 & 4:30

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We just finished lunch at AMP 150, it was very good. Goat-cheese stuffed squash blossoms, beet salad, and shrimp and corn risotto. Pics coming soon...

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While my first report is not a part of the "formal" scheduled events, tonight I had dinner at Chinato on E. 4th downtown. Suffice it to say that I am very impressed with the local Ohio products that they employed in dishes like Grilled Sardines with Parsley and Olive Salad and Beef Tongue with Salsa Verde. Italian "Peasant" dishes if you will with a unique twist using locally sourced ingredients. I'll post a bit more tommorrow.

Last night I had dinner at Zack Bruell's Chinato. What a wonderful experience-simple,Italian "peasant-style" dishes in a relaxed atmosphere with superior service and a comfortable, everyone-having-a-good time personality.

I started with the Grilled Sardines with Parsley and Olive Salad-


Then followed with the Tongue with Salsa Verde. So simple and plain sounding, but it was the most expressive, flavorful tongue dish you will ever sample. The tongue had been slowly braised until fork tender, but then, something I would have never imagined-the tongue was sliced in medallions and pan-seared. A blend of both soft meat with a crispy exterior. And the "verde" was made from pea shoots and chard, along with a good dose of lemon, olive oil and red pepper flakes.

Dessert was Almond Panna Cotta.

For the first two courses I asked the Waiter to select a glass of wine to go with these challenging dishes-oily, grilled sardines, then rich beef. He didn't disappoint-the mark of a great Waiter. I chose the dessert wine and it was sadly not up to the mark. Leave it to me to try to select a wine for Panna Cotta.

The prices are incredibly reasonable for food of this quality and such fabulous service. (The bread probably outshines everything). The Tongue entree was a mere $17. That's a bargain from the prices I am used to in Seattle and Las Vegas.

Cleveland you have a gem in Chinato.

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Wow, what a display of delicious foods last night at Farenheit, Lolita and Dante. I lost track of all the dishes after about 3 bites of the first appetizers. My favorites from last night were the Fried Chicken Livers and Mushrooms on Polenta at Lolita and the Pepper-Crusted Duck with Ginger-Mango Vinaigrette at Dante.

Anyone else out there have a favorite dish from Thursday night?

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We do indeed have a gem in Chinato, glad others are finding that one as it's one of my faves.

I have to agree that the chicken livers/polenta/killbuck mushrooms/house-made bacon dish at Lolita was the star of the night for me. And just from a personal preference standpoint, I actually thought Rocco's pizzas from Farenheit were better than the Lolita pizzas, but I like a crust that's not too dark and more even toppings than a traditional pizza, and Rocco's hit that mark. Good thing I don't live in Tremont as those would be a regular late-night snack. The house made potato chips with, apparently, crack sprinkled on them from Farenheit were also really good (I think it was bacon/scallion/parm/truffles but I could be wrong).

Looking forward to seeing everyone at GHT tonight.

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I don't think it will be possible to keep up with the pace of events, posting-wise, but here are some bad photos of what has happened.

Shoeing the horse yesterday, and the truck the guys showed up in.



Lunch at Pura Vida was great, especially my chicken-salad-sandwich with grapes and almonds, in a cool lunch box presentation.





Snacks at Fahrenheit. I agree, I preferred these pizzas.






Pizzas and other good stuff at Lolita, I think the chicken livers were the dish of the night.











A tasting menu at Dante.






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Day one was a major success. Starting with my lunch at AMP 150 (previously reported on) plus our progressive dinner through Tremont, it's evident Cleveland has a vibrant local food scene going on. If you have a great place like AMP 150 in your airport Marriott, then it's pretty evident something special is going on your town.

What I experienced yesterday is something truly local. Oh, sure, there is THIS


Michael Symon is a local success story. His first restaurant, Lola, was originally located on Tremont. After moving into a larger space downtown, the old Lola space was converted into Lolita. And he has goof neighbors in Dante across the street and Fahrenheit down the street a few blocks.

Fahrenheit was the first stop. A happy hour. Drinks. Some snacks. Really great house made potato chips. Some good pizzas, too. Steven did a nice job of capturing the photos above. Then off to Lolita. And they really killed us here. Huge platters of charcuterie, with a lot of it done in house. Tuna crudo. Pizzas. Steamed mussels. Chicken livers.. The food kept coming. We finally waved the white flag as we had another stop. So, they brought out some bacon stuffed dates. I liked everything here. The charcuterie was great. The house made sausage served with the mussels and on some of the pizzas was great. And the chicken livers? Really fantastic. My favorite dish there

Lolita was not the end of it, though. After a short break standing around outside and roaming the block, we crossed over to go to Dante. Housed in a former bank building, this place is has a very nice design too it. They even have the vault, with huge round vault door, intact. They even have a table in there. Very cool. We were seated in a nice private room in the back. A printed four course menu was at every seat. Steven has the photo above. Here, I really liked the duck course. And then the dessert, which may have been the most perfect way to end the first day.

All in all, a very successful start.

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Saturday lunch was a visit with Chris Hodgson and his food truck. Chris is actually running TWO food trucks now. Dim and Den Sum and Hodge Podge. Today, he came in the Dim and Dem Sum truck and hosted a "private party" for our group at a park on the lakefront, parked in the shadow of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.



Instead of the standard menu for that truck, we got a mix of things to choose from, A lobster roll, a pulled pork sandwich, a sweet potato dumpling dish, and some soba noodles. I decided to go with the lobster roll.


This was pretty tasty. But it was the only thing I tried. A lot of people bought everything.

The food truck scene is just trying to get going in Cleveland. And as in many cities, it's not always easy. It's common for there to be a lot of rules working against you. So much so, that you may be operating "illegally". But Chris helped the city see the light. If you want to see more of Chris and his truck, be sure to catch the next installment of the Great Food Truck Race on Food Network starting later this month.

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Yeah, we ordered one of everything: a lobster roll with chunks of a sort of bacon-cured jowl, a pulled pork sandwich with bacon, squash and apple filled dumplings on kimchi, and soba noodles. In my opinion the dumplings we conspicuously superior to everything else: they were really excellent. Which is not to say the other stuff wasn't good, but the sweetness of the filling paired with the sour kimchi was outstanding.

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