My beautiful wife on the grounds of the beautiful Culinary Vegetable Institute
My wife was the lucky winner of a pair of tickets to the 2010 Veggie U Food & Wine Festival on the grounds of the Culinary Vegetable Institute. (Thanks again Cleveland Foodie!!!)
It was HOT under the main tasting tent. Fortunately they had fans misting water and Jeni's Ice Cream to cool us down.
The Food & Wine benefit is an annual benefit featuring gourmet cuisine prepared by chefs from all over the country, wines from top vineyards, cooking demos, and an exclusive auction, all benefiting Veggie U. Veggie U's mission is to promote the well-being of children through a healthy lifestyle. Veggie U is dedicated to the creation and distribution of curricula nationally, with a focus on making wise food choices, combating adolescent and juvenile disease, and attaining an understanding of sustainable agriculture.
Some of the beautiful produce on display courtesy of the Culinary Vegetable Institute (sorry, the photo doesn't even begin to give it justice)
Tickets weren't cheap at $175, but considering the great cause and number of renowned chefs, serving great food with pristine ingredients from the Culinary Vegetable Institute, this event was worth the cost of admission.
We took a lot of pictures as we made our way through the stations and I thought I'd share some of our favorite dishes with you.There was obviously lots of great food but one dish was our runaway favorite - Chef Michael Deligatta's squash blossom stuffed with fire roasted heirloom sweet corn and Silver Lake chevre with spicy peach chutney.
Easily the best dish of the festival - Chef Michael Deligatta's Squash Blossom Stuffed with Fire Roasted Heirloom Sweet Corn and Silver Lake Chevre with Spicy Peach Chutney
The blossoms were lightly fried and stuffed with a delicious, creamy filling. This is the only station we went back to for
seconds thirds. The chef said these are on his summer menu so if you want to try them head down to the Inn at Versailles.
My second favorite came at the hands of Chef Jamie McFadden of Cuisiniers in Winter Park, FL and was the most unlikely candidate - A Study of Peas.
Peas three different ways
Anyone care for a champagne cocktail featuring peas? Bring it on! Skeptical at first, I could have drank this light, refreshing drink all day. It was the perfect compliment to the heat. They also served a cold spring pea soup and a sweet pea and fava bean bruschetta. All three dishes were executed perfectly, letting the quality of the Chef's Garden peas shine through. If Chef Jamie ever goes on Iron Chef, he should hope for peas as the secret ingredient!
There were lots of other great dishes, but these two really stood out from the crowd, in my opinion. Here are some shots of our other favorite dishes:
Dumpling of Braised Grass-Fed Beef, Maytag Bleu Cheese, Heirloom Tomoato Confit by Chef Leo Bushey of Perfect Production Fine Catering
Short Ribs with Radish and Turnip Salad by Chef Tony Dee of Barton G in Miami Beach
Roasted Summer Corn Salad with Smokey Rubbed Hanger Steak by Chef Dave Martin from Top Chef Season 1
Beautiful artwork carved out of fruits and veggies
It was amazing how quickly he was able to create these!
Chilled Watermelon & Cucumber Salad by Chef Rachel Spieth from Three Birds in Lakewood
Porcini Mushroom Dusted Lambchops over Heirloom Tomato & Shaved Fennel Salad with 12 yr aged Balsamic by Chef Ray Comisky of Capital Grille
Beet-i-ful Terrine, Mascarpone Cream Beet Cherry Puree, Mache by Chef Tim Maxim
Gunpowder Bison Flank Steak "Bahn Mi" with Fois Gras Butter and Chef's Garden Produce Fixin's Bar by Chefs Beej Flamholz and Erica Wides
Unfortunately my camera battery died half way through the evening so I didn't capture the rest of the food we sampled. Needless to say, we didn't go home hungry. The event also featured wine tasting demos with master sommeliers - we missed these, wish they started a little later as we were too busy eating to make it to these sessions, live music, food demos with Martha Foose, Jonathon Sawyer from The Greenhouse Tavern, and Dave Martin & Lee Ann Wong from Top Chef.
If you are interested in supporting the mission of Veggie U, please consider making a tax-deductible donation.
Did you attend the 2010 Veggie U Food & Wine Celebration? What was your favorite dish???