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REPORT: 2011 Heartland Gathering (Cleveland, OH)

Chris Hennes

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I hope to post some photos shortly. For those of you who missed me at the Sunday Brunch, I've been pretty sick with a fierce stomach virus since early Sunday morning (my doctor assured me it was NOT food-related; this little nasty has apparently been "going around" the local area. Lucky me.).

I want to thank everyone who helped the group to have a great time - especially Edsel and Tom, who worked on the pre-event planning in addition to everything they did during the weekend, and Scott, Alicia and Michelle at The Chubby Cook who donated their time and space (and amuse and ice cream) so Saturday's feast could be extraordinary; hope they join the Society.

I also want to thank the wonderful chefs and restaurants who hosted us:

Rocco Whelan and Fahrenheit Tremont.

Michael Symon, Matt Harlan and the crew at


Dante & Monica Boccuzzi and Phil Hockey at Restaurant Dante.

Chris Hodgson of Dim and Den Sum and Hodge Podge Food Trucks - make sure you tune into The Great Food Truck Race to cheer him on beginning this Saturday, August 14 at 10pm/9c.

Paulius Nasvytis and the Velvet Tango Room.

Jonathon Sawyer, Jonathon Seeholzer and Jennifer Plank at The Greenhouse Tavern.

Jeff Jarrett and Manager Nathan White of AMP 150, who (I heard) kicked bacon-and-egg butt Sunday morning, and who also arranged for our awesomely priced hotel room block at the Cleveland Airport Marriott.

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

My blog: Fun Playing With Food

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If you enjoyed the Pork with Sweet Bean Paste and Crispy Rice Stick Noodles, here's the recipe:


1 package dried rice stick noodles

Canola Oil

Heat the oil to 350 in a deep pot or deep fryer. Break the rice stick noodles into pieces about 4" long. Drop a small bunch of the rice stick noodles in the hot oil and let them deep fry until they fully puff up, about 15-20 seconds. Drain on paper towels. I season the fried noodles with Togarishi seasoning.


6 green onions, cut into fine julienne

1 pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips

2 tbsp. Chinese rice wine

2 tbsp. soy sauce

1/3 cup water

1 tbsp. sesame oil

1 tbsp. cornstarch

1/4 cup canola oil

Fresh ginger, minced

Fresh garlic, minced

Dried red chilies

Place the julienned green onions in a bowl of ice water and cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the pork in a large bowl. In another bowl, add the rice wine, soy sauce, water, sesame oil and cornstarch and stir to combine. Add the marinade to the pork and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate, letting the pork marinate for at least two hours.


1/3 cup sweet red bean paste

1/2 cup Chinese rice wine

1 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. sugar

Chinese black vinegar

Toasted Sesame Seeds

Combine the bean paste, rice wine, cornstarch, sugar and Chinese Black Vinegar to taste in a bowl.

Heat the canola oil in a large wok over high heat, add the ginger, garlic and dried red chilies and quickly stir-fry. Add the marinated pork to the wok and stir-fry until the pork is just done. Stir in the sauce and let the pork continue to cook until the sauce thickens. Check the seasoning and add salt, pepper and more Chinese black vinegar to taste.

To serve, place a small mound of the fried rice stick noodles in the center of a plate. Spoon some of the pork on top of the rice stick noodles. Garnish the pork with toasted sesame seeds and some of the julienned green onions.

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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.

I don't think the source of the bread has been mentioned. Tom, did you get the brioche from Golden Goose (aka Blue Door)? I was fortunate to take home an extra loaf. It made some amazing French toast. :smile:

The tasty nut-dried fruit breads I picked up at the Shaker market came from Lucy's Sweet Surrender. We've got some great bakeries in the area, and I'd like to make sure they get credit where credit is due!

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nut-dried fruit breads? What nut-dried fruit breads? Did y'all hide some breads from me? I LOVE nut-dried fruit breads!

I’m trying to process my thoughts about the weekend. In general. .

Lilly’s Tremont (unscheduled stop). Recommended by Edsel on another board. I had purchased an assortment with the intention of having a tasting party at our B&B, but never got around to the tasting. I just started eating them (a few days past the best before date—oops), and they rock! I like her chocolates because they are, for my taste buds, very well-balanced. None are too sweet, and the tart flavours are not too tart. Some may find them too tame, but I love them.

We also went to Istanbul Grill (unscheduled stop) shortly after we arrived. Meh. Lamb was tender, but not particularly flavourful. And I’m pretty sure the fries were frozen.

Thursday evening—not quite sure how the evening qualifies as a progressive dinner as each place had an assortment that could easily qualify as a full meal.

Fahrenheit—appetizer portions: housemade potato chips, spring rolls (very meh), pizza, and little desserts. Are desserts really appetizers/pre-dinner noshes?

Lolita—the one scheduled place to which I would return. They laid food on us like mad—no dessert unless you count the savoury-ish dates (which were fantastic, and I don’t even like dates that much), so it seems like this place might have been more in tune to what a progressive dinner might entail (except they served a lot of food—not necessarily a bad thing). I liked almost everything we had, although I did find the charcuterie to be much saltier than I prefer. The sausage pizza was even better the next morning, and the morning after that, too. I wish I had more room in my tummy to have eaten more, because I really enjoyed the food here.

Dante— It was a full small tasting-style meal, not so much the end to a progressive restaurant crawl. I was underwhelmed, but I did like the dessert very much. Ricotta cavatelli was seriously overcooked.


Dim and Den Sum—I enjoyed the experience, and thought the lobster roll was fine. Packed with lobster, and very messy to eat. But that’s half the fun of food truck food. Pulled pork was a bit mushy. Chris Hodgson is clearly very passionate about what he does, and it was a delight listening to him.

Sweet Moses—recommended by Edsel on another board. Not an official stop, but I talked my fellow travellers into going despite all of us being very full from lunch. I LOVED it! Delicious chocolate malted, but the sundaes were really excellent. To be honest, I don’t really care for ice cream, but I loved Sweet Moses’ ice cream. We also tried their housemade root beer. It was very good.

Velvet Tango Room—awesome root beer. Loved it. My favourite of all the root beers I’ve ever tried. I had an alcoholic beverage, too, but I can’t remember what it was. I think it had lime and gin in it, and it was very strong!

Greenhouse Tavern—some of us were late due to a GPS malfunction, so we missed the first few courses. Oops. Fortunately, my plus 1 was not too shy to ask the waitstaff for the items we missed, so those of us who were late still got to try them. I thought the food here was, in general, fine, but not terribly interesting. I know many raved about the pig’s head, but it wasn’t my first pig’s head, and I’ve had better (plus the skin was flaccid. I hate flaccid pork skin). The only dish that stood out for me was the Buttered Popcorn pot de crème (one per two persons). It was pretty spectacular. But the rest of the desserts offered, well, sucked. One of these days I might have a decent vegan and gluten-free baked item, but this day was not one of them. I checked the menu out, and it seems it would have been cheaper for a few of us to have ordered everything off the menu and shared. But I suppose I should count myself lucky, as the sole vegetarian who had a measly plate of grilled padron peppers ($6 on the menu, but perhaps he got a larger serving of them?) was initially charged $70+tt on his meal. That’s right, $70 when all he had to eat was grilled peppers. And some grilled bread leftover from another dish. When questioned, the staff graciously reduced his bill to $30+tt, so I suppose that was a good thing.

Saturday—we had falafel from a place at West Side Market. It was good, but I thought the falafel at Lulu’s in Hamilton, Ontario was better.

After all the farmer’s market stuff, some of us went back to Sweet Moses. Yes, again. I love that place. And the folks who work there (and the owner) are so nice and hospitable.

Saturday dinner was fun, as usual.

Sunday brunch—AMP150. I enjoyed the meal, in general, but would have preferred more variety. I love pork (as most non-Muslim SE Asians do), and I love eggs, but I could have done with just one version of bacon and eggs, and more other stuff. I loved the dessert. A lot. Here also, I thought the sole vegetarian got a bum deal. He was basically served the same thing we were, but with the meat removed. I think only the waffles had a non-meat addition rather than just having the meat subtracted. But I think he still enjoyed his meal.

Overall thoughts—I enjoyed the weekend as a whole, especially catching up with the peeps I only get to see once a year. And although I was not terribly thrilled by the meals (in general), I do appreciate the work that went into planning them (both the work by the organisers, and that of the chefs). And if you think my review is critical, don’t ask me what my +1 thought of the weekend. The apple does not fall far from the tree, but the tree is bigger, stronger, and much more out-spoken.

pics are up on flickr if anyone is interested.

(and BTW, Cleveland has some fantastic architecture. I'm hoping to go back so I can do a downtown architecture tour if one exists)

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  • 3 weeks later...


flick pics from Cleveland

There are some chocolate pics I'm slowly putting up (as I eat them), but otherwise the set is complete (I'm missing a couple of shots from the Greenhouse Tavern dinner, though).

And where were you, Chef Crash? I was hoping for some baklava!

awesome pics! I finally got a chance to see them. thanks for sharing.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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