Slow Food Chefs of Bloomington Dinner

Chefs_dinner_033
Well,
here’s a belated report on a magnificent event last Sunday – the third annual
Slow Food Chefs of Bloomington Dinner. I’ll try to keep this post shorter than
the meal itself, which was as long and leisurely as a Slow Food dinner should
be.

Just
quickly, for those who don’t know, Slow Food is an international movement (in
45 countries including the US) dedicated to reminding people to resist the siren song of fast food culture and
eat locally, seasonally, and convivially. Takes a little more work and time, but so worth it in terms of taste and
enjoyment, not to mention the support it provides to small farmers and artisan
producers. No down side, that I can
see. Our local convivium is thriving. I’ve written about it here, here,
and here.

Last
Sunday at the Bloomington Country Club (a terrific facility for this event –
brand spanking new, gorgeous kitchen and a lovely ambiance) seven local chefs
gathered to prepare a seven plus course meal based on local ingredients and
paired with wines, several of them local too, from Creekbend Vineyards.


There
were over 100 people there, and first let me say that we more than met our
fundraising goals. Thanks to everyone who attended, we’re going to be able to
send our delegation of four farmers and one chef to Terra Madre in October,
we’ve got Slow Fest covered (provided we can find a venue with room and
shelter), and we can continue to support the Winter Market and the Summer
Market Tastings, and the Slow Food in the Schools program.

So,
the evening began with pass around hors d’oeuvre, made by all the chefs. They went by quickly, but I remember some
pickled mushroom and blue cheese canapés that sound a little odd but were
wonderful, some barbeque puffs, something luscious on a home made potato
chip. Sorry I can’t remember details
because these were worth reporting — next year I’ll take notes.

The
meal I’ve got down, however. Started
with a mushroom soup from Tad DeLay of the Limestone Grille so beautiful I had
to take its picture. Chefs_dinner_018
Shitakes and oyster
mushrooms from Steve Spencer at Homestead Growers. It was followed by a home grown salad of baby
romaine, candied walnuts, and Traders Point Fleur de la Terre by Amanda Cash of
The Story Inn, with a fantastic maple vinaigrette – sweet and tangy. Then Greg Hardesty, from Elements in Indianapolis,  presented
us with a fabulous gnocchi dish, with mushrooms again from Steve Spencer and
cheese from Traders Point. Like all of
Greg’s food it was clean, simple, and delicious.

Then
there was a pause to refresh our palates with an unbelievably good pineapple
citrus sorbet full of every herb the Restaurant Tallent garden grows. Although my name is on the sorbet, my role
was pretty much limited to saying things like “Ummm, think it needs a little
more tarragon?” while Krissy Tallent did the real work. Like all her house-made
ice creams, this one was smooth, creamy and exquisite.

And
back to the meal. A confit of Swiss
Connection pork, by Dan Dunville of Ruth’s Chris in Indy (don’t let the
steakhouse venue fool you – Dan’s cooking talents are not confined to the
grill), was served on fantastic crispy grits with garlicky swiss chard. Then a duo of Fischer Farms beef. Dave
Tallent (of Restaurant Tallent) really outdid himself on a juicy grilled strip
and melt in your mouth braised short rib, with tiny baby vegetables from
Heartland Family Farm, with a Kentucky Bourbon bordelaise.

The
surprise of the evening was a spectacular cheese plate – the inspiration of the
Country Club’s Alan Simmerman (the chef we are sending to Terra Madre, by the
way.) He served a trio of Capriole Farms goat cheeses with green tomato
chutney, a rhubarb pickle, a strawberry gastrique, and a house-made dill
cracker. I had to take its picture, too.  Chefs_dinner_056_copy_1_1
I don’t know what exactly made it so good, but
if you are a cheese fiend like I am you know that sometimes the right
condiments can lift an already good cheese to new heights. This was terrific.

Finally,
a clafoutis made with fromage blanc by David Fletcher and Scott Jackman of BLU
Culinary Arts
. Swimming in sweet,
Heartland Family Farm strawberries, it was the perfect light ending to an
extraordinary meal.

The
Chefs Dinner is always lot of work – not so much for me (I just worry a lot and
write a little, both of which I can do without breaking a sweat) but for the
farmers and the chefs and the amazing servers (organized this year by Dawn
Concannon.) Bravo to all of them. This is Slow Food at its best.

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