I absolutely love going to Slow Food Columbus events. The dinners are usually nothing short of amazing. So when Trattoria La Tavola paired up with Wayward Seed Farm in order to offer a seven course harvest dinner on October 26th, many Slow Food members and friends decided to accept their gracious invitation to attend.
I love what they do over at Wayward Seed – I cannot tell you how many heirloom varieties of fruits and veggies I’ve enjoyed from the farmer’s markets this year due to their dedication to picking stellar produce to grow. And those fresh, local ingredients, in the hands of a skilled chef? Well, see for yourself.
The only unfortunate thing about the dinner is that it was held in the evening, after it was already dark. My pictures are less than stellar, since I was forced to use a flash to get any picture at all. Hopefully my descriptions of the dishes will do them the justice that my photographs will not.
The first course was a house-cured bresaola, which was served with olive oil dressed arugula, pickled Jimmy Nordello sweet pepper and shaved Pecorino Romano cheese. The bresaola was delicious, and the peppers were both sweet and piquant at the same time – pickling them was just the thing needed to preserve both qualities long enough for them to be available for the dinner. The cheese was a nice offset to the sweetness of the peppers.
The second course was playfully called “PB & J”, which was quite literally, a sandwich made from home-made brioche spread with foie gras and chicken liver pate and Ohio concord grape puree. It was definitely unusual – I absolutely loved the concord grape puree, but found the combination of the pate and the grape puree together a little cloying.
The third course was a House Cured Pancetta Crostino, with lacinato kale, poached quail eggs and California dry jack cheese. The pancetta and the kale (which was sweetened lightly with I don’t know what) were absolutely fantastic, and I felt like the cheese once again was a great offset to the other ingredients. I thought the bread and quail egg weren’t completely necessary to the success of the dish, and just took away from the quality of the other ingredients.
The fourth course was my personal favorite – the White Acorn Squash Raviolo, with winter savory Amish brown butter and aged Oakvale gouda. The particular squash variety they used, a Thelma Sanders heirloom variety, needed nothing more than salt and pepper to make it one of the best pasta fillings I’ve ever encountered. It was sweet, naturally buttery and creamy and just out of this world. I bought all they had available over the next market or two, and now have two of the squash sitting in my pantry waiting for me to try to recreate this fantastic dish. If this were on the menu regularly at Trattoria La Tavola, I’d definitely be eating there a lot more often than I do.
The fifth course, a Sauteed Muscovy Duck over California dry jack polenta topped with Aunt Molly ground cherry and white raisin mostarda, used one of my favorite ingredients (ground cherries) in a savory way that I never thought of using it. The duck was cooked perfectly, and the sweetness of the mostarda was just what the dish needed to shine.
The sixth course, a Fennel and Herb Crusted Ohio Pork Loin, was a honkin’ huge (I mean huge – had to be at least an 8 oz portion) thick slice of pork loin served with a chanterelle mushroom reduction and green mountain potatoes pommes anna. The serving was so substantial I had a hard time finishing it after all the other courses. The potatoes were prepared simply, with lots of butter.
The seventh course, a Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin Budino with Maple Gelato, was also a favorite. It paired a bread-pudding like sweet pumpkin pudding with homemade maple ginger gelato, pecan, hickory nut and marsala caramel. Just yum all around – the combination of flavors was nothing short of perfection.
My tablemates made the experience so much more fun, and included Anne, someone who I later found out was a regular reader (hi there!), and someone whose face I was familiar with as they’re an employee at my one of my favorite stores, Trader Joes. It was a lovely experience, and I’m so glad I decided to go even if Paul wasn’t able to attend.
If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not to attend one of the Slow Food Columbus dinners or a special dinner that encompasses Slow Food principles, I recommend you take the plunge and give it a try. I’ve yet to experience anything that didn’t knock my socks off. Honestly, it’s some of the best food I’ve eaten in this town. Give the next one a try (after I get my tickets, of course!).