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Chris Hennes

REPORT: 2011 Heartland Gathering (Cleveland, OH)

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That pig head was no joke.

No fooling..

It was really, really good.

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Oh my. Keep the reports and photos coming so we can live vicariously. Looks like all kinds of fun and deliciousness so far...

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Just finished processing the photos from tonight's soiree at the Greenhouse Tavern ... besides a delicious dinner, it was great to finally meet up with everyone since I was unable to attend last night's restaurant crawl or today's lunch at the Dim and Den Sum truck.

I've put tonight's dinner photos up on my Flickr account in a set. Feel free to peruse at your leisure.

Here's one to whet your appetite:


Pommes Frites (fried in duck fat, no less), rosemary, raw Thaxton Farm garlic, aioli


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Boy, sounds like a great start. Was Chef Symon at his place?

Symon wasn't at Lolita when we were there, but you wouldn't have known the difference-the kitchen was putting out really good dishes and the restaurant was full.

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Some photos from yesterday.

The Dim and Dem Sum truck. Ellen and PJ got to go inside.



Dinner at Greenhouse Tavern was excellent. The stools were uncomfortable (I am not anti-stool but these were bad), the place was loud, there were some flaws with some of the food (the "world-famous vegan doughnuts" will go down as the weirdest dish of the trip), but overall this food was the highest-level stuff we've seen in Cleveland on either trip. The pig's head platter, which doesn't look nearly as impressive in photos as in person, was one of the most awesome dishes I've ever seen anywhere.

A couple of the photos below need extra explanation: one shows the braids of garlic hanging from the restaurant's ceiling. Another shows Dave ("the Cook") forking some meat out of the pig's head. The rest delineate the dishes from the menu.















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Uh, oh ... first partial disaster for the dinner tonight ... when I got home from dinner last night, I made three sets of starters (poolish) for my breads this morning. When I got up to start making batches of bread dough, I discovered that the yeast I bought was dead as a doornail. I tried a couple of things to try and revive it, but alas, no luck.

Looks like I'll be stopping at a commercial bakery this year to pick up our breads. :sad::shock:

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Tom, I know most of your breads utilize an overnight preferment, but are there recipes in your arsenal that don't? Maybe it's not too late to get some Red Star and have bread ready 8 hours from now? I'd rather eat your worst bread than anything from a bakery.

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Thanks for the kind words, Steven ... but by the time I get out to the store for new yeast and return, it'll be close to 10 am. Unfortunately, we need bread both for the afternoon and the evening and I just don't think I'll have time to do it from scratch. I am going to stop by the same bakery that supplied the bread to the Greenhouse Tavern last night and pick up my loaves. I know it won't be the same, but that's the best solution I can think of at the moment.

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What about a quicker focaccia than your normal? Or what about purchased afternoon bread and something by you for dinner? Pizzas? Lavash? I know you can do something amazing. I can help, not that that would help.

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Sadly, I left the memory card for my camera in the card reader slot in my computer. Which of course was sitting on the desk back in my hotel room.

To start off the night, we gathered at the Velvet Tango Room. This is really one of the finest places to have a drink anywhere. Not just in Cleveland, but ANYWHERE. We had use of the entire back room and outdoor patio. I had never been back there before. I had never been in the VTR during darling hours, either. But this was just the prefect space for us to all gather. Nice room, with it's own bar and staff. A patio/backyard area on a beautiful summer evening.

As always, the service was warm and friendly. Paulius was there, saying hello, making everyone feel welcome. And then there are the cocktails.. Ahh.... The cocktails. So well crafted. So delicious. We had allocated close to three hours for a our little gathering, it was hard to resist. I wound up having three. A Rangpur Gimlet, a Spicy Chica, and their house Negroni. All delicious. I'm seriously in love with this place.

After dinner, we headed into downtown Ceveland to the vibrant East 4th street area. Lots of restaurants and bars here, including our dining destination the Greenhouse Tavern. The restaurant is spread across multiple levels, with an outdoor patio and a roof top bar. The kitchen is in the basement. And that is where we were. In the middle of the action. A little loud. A bit chaotic. But we were treated to some great food. Three savory courses and a dessert course. Each course having three distinct sub-courses.

First Course comprised of Foie Gras Steamed Clams, Grilled Octopus and Salami, and Pomme Frites. All were good. The frites were killed. I liked the steamed clams, though not exactly sure where the foie gras was. I think it was worked into the liquid used to steam the clams. The second course consisted of a grilled romaine caesar salad, a tomato sandwich, and a pig tongue arpea. The tomato sandwich was the favorite amongst the group I was sitting with. I even enjoyed it, and I really don't like raw tomato.

The third course consisted of a dish that was described as "Tomato and Fregola Summer Cioppino". This was a little odd as we were wondered where the seafood was. There was also a potato gnocchi dish.. And then there was the centerpiece of the meal. the Roasted Pig's Head. This dish was outstanding. Very impressive. Flavorful, juicy, tender pork. Crispy pig skin. Really, really good.

A dessert course was up next. And it started off weird with a series of "alternative diet" baked goods. Vegan stuff. Gluten free stuff. I don't ever eat this sort of thing. The only thing I thought that was tasty was the gluten free brownie. It had an intense chocolate flavor. Somehow, I managed to avoid the donut. Subsequent desserts were far more successful, with the best being a salted caramel buttered pop-corn pot de creme. That really was very, very good.

Overall, a very successful meal. The best showcase for Cleveland's food scene we have scene.

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Well, I've managed to track down some fabulous Brioche and ciabatta. I'm going to hit another bakery and see if I can't get some additional varieties, too.

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We are en route to the Chubby Cook.

Kris and Tom and I will be making watermelon, beet and roasted chickpea salad.

If anybody can bring a couple of aprons so Kris can keep her white pants clean that would be great.

Posted from my handheld using the Tapatalk app. Want to use eG Forums on your iPhone, Android or Blackberry? Get started at http://egullet.org/tapatalk

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Awesome dinner last night at GHT. Thanks for having Karen and myself interlope for the evening. Great to meet some of the out of towners and catch up with some of the locals as well. Nancy...great job of organizing everything.

Enjoy the rest of the Cleveland weekend!


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Back at hotel after long day at Chubby Chef. Lots of great stuff made there by everyone. A really great event. Need sleep. Will try to post more tomorrow.

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Okay, just finished editing the pictures for today's (well, given that it's after midnight, technically YESTERDAY'S) day-long prep and heartland dinner. There was a ton of food prepared for early afternoon noshing all the way through a multi-course plated dinner and several rounds of desserts.

In order to get the pictures up sooner rather than later, I've posted the photos to a set on my Flickr account without formal titles or descriptions yet. I'll get to that tomorrow (okay, okay, later today). I think things are pretty self-explanatory for the most part. I'll make sure to have course descriptions for the dinner posted soon.

Not to repeat myself from last night, but to whet your appetite, here's a sample photo:


Check back tomorrow for full photo descriptions.

I'm still digesting and the meal ended 3 hours ago. :rolleyes:

Edited by tino27 (log)

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I basically wasn't able to snap a single photo between the time the amuse was served and the time desserts went out. So what I have mostly are some shots from the West Side Market and prep. But here they are.

The West Side Market.


Afternoon prep.







Jeff Meeker's bologna sliders.



Bacon crostini, I think these came from Ronnie and his crew but I didn't witness their genesis.


Kerry Beal's profiteroles with modernist lemon curd chocolate cups.



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I don't have the iPad anymore so I don't have all the details of each dish handy, but a summary is:

- Amuse bouche of pork belly and cornichon, by our host Chef Scott

- Kerry Beal's larb

- Dave and Janet's roasted-red-pepper-soup shooter with aged-gouda crouton

- Kris and Tom and my yellow-watermelon and beet salad with spice-roasted chickpeas

- Ronnie's mega salad

- Chris Hennes's bratwurst with cabbage and apple, Edsel's modernist mac and cheese, and Sam and Joyce's carrot stew ala Thomas Keller

- David Ross's stir-fried pork with red bean paste and black vinegar over crispy rice noodles

- Assorted desserts including Chef Scott's lemon cups and Kerry Beal's modernist lemon curd

I'm sure the individual cooks can flesh out details.

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I've also got to say, the Chubby Cook was an amazing venue for this -- you can see from the photos how capacious and well-appointed the kitchen is -- and Scott and his crew were incredibly gracious and generous hosts. Many thanks to them and to Nancy H for making it all happen.


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Fantastic Gathering this year. It was great seeing everyone.

So who's up for hosting next year's events? I nominate Philadelphia! (Actually, I think it was mentioned by several people at brunch this morning.)

It would be great to go to a city that hasn't hosted the Gathering in the past.

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Yesterday's even at Chubby Cook was great. Can't say enough good things about the staff and the facilities.

Starting off with shopping at the West Side Market, I was able to buying everything I needed to make my item. That place is very meat heavy. It's paradise for the meat eater. Stuff you don't normally see in a run of the mill supermarket back in Dallas (or really, not many if any places in Dallas)

Got to Chubby Cook at around 2:00 PM. I don't think I left until 10:30 PM or so. A LONG day.. But a fun one.

Here are some random photos of the action..


Steven and Chris at West Side Market.. The Fish Pants appear.


David Ross preps his dish


Chris Hennes roasts some red peppers


Dave the Cook actually COOKING!


Kris preps for her dish

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What are folks interested in?

Based on a singular Heartland Gathering experience, people seem to be interested in stuffing themselves silly with food. The more local the food and local the chefs and restaurants, the better.


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Our final meal was brunch this morning with Chef Jeff Jarrett at AMP 150 at the Cleveland Marriott. This is not your typical branded hotel restaurant. There is a focus on local, seasonal ingredients and many of the dishes incorporate vegetables and herbs from the large,on-site garden. And what hotel do you know of that has it's own beehive on the roof so that the bee's can pollinate the vegetables in the garden?

This last meal of our Heartland Gathering was for me, the most cohesive menu and the best meal I had in Cleveland. Each dish sang the praises of the bounty of Ohio in 7 delicious courses.

Local Watermelon Shooter, with Local Honey and Citron Vinegar-


"Bacon & Eggs," Deviled Egg, Benton's Bacon, Creme Fraiche, Chives-


Chef told us that the kitchen has about 100lbs. of Benton Bacon, (Tennessee), on hand at all times.

"Bacon & Eggs," Sous Vide (2hour) Egg, Lardoons, Frisee, Broken Red Wine Vinaigrette-


Squash Blossoms, Housemade Ricotta, Green Tomato Jam with Mint-


"Chicken & Waffles," Buttermilk Fried Livers, Chive Waffle, Kimchee Kraut, Ohio Maple Gastrique-


The Gastrique was made from a mixture of Ohio Maple Syrup, Apple Cider Vinegar, Vanilla and Star Anise.

"Bacon & Eggs," Braised Pork Belly, Cremini, Fingerlings, Smoked Gouda and Fried Egg-


This was Chef's take on Eggs Benedict, with the Pork Belly serving as the "Bacon" and the Smoked Gouda worked into a sauce as the "Hollandaise."

Peach, Local Goat Cheese & Jalapeno Bavarian, Peach Caramel, Pine Nut Shortbread, Honey-Baked Peaches-


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As others have rightly pointed out, brunch this morning at AMP 150 was pretty darn tasty. I've put up my brunch pictures in another set on Flickr if you want to check them out.

All the dishes were good, but the "dessert" simply blew me away, a local goat cheese and jalapeno-infused bavarian with peaches, shortbread cookie, and peach caramel "tuille":


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