The dinner took was scheduled for Sunday September 14th, the day of the huge wind storm and the organizers did a fantastic job of pulling off such a wonderful event given the power outage, forced postponement and the subsequent change of venue. I went with a fun group of interesting people from Columbus Green Drinks.
The theme of the dinner was ‘Taste the difference: food rooted in Ohio fields’ (subtitle: locally grown, masterfully prepared) and it showcased a large number of local producers with some that I regularly buy from at the North Market. They included:
- Black Creek Heritage Farms (duck eggs)
- Blue Jacket Dairy (chevre)
- Blues Creek Farm Meats (pork sausage)
- Canal Junction Natural Meats and Dairy (smoked gouda)
- Elizabeth Telling Farm (melons)
- Flying J Farm (beef short ribs, cornmeal)
- Garde Patch Produce (flowers)
- Gerber Poultry (chicken)
- Mott Family Farm (apples)
- Northridge Organic Farm (beef short ribs, tomatoes)
- Rain Fresh Harvests (basil)
- Sippel Family Farm (sweet corn)
- Toad Hill Organic Farm (cucumbers)
- Twin Park Farms (spelt)
- Up The Lane Farm (beef short ribs)
Jon O’Carroll prepared the appetizer which was a trio of local corn: Blackened Chicken & Corn Chowder, Ohio Smoked Gouda & Corn Pot Sticker and charred Corn & Heirloom Tomato Tartar. The corn chowder was one of my favorite dishes of the evening and I wished I could have a bowlful rather than a soupçon.
Kevin Malhame made his heirloom tomato salad, with blue cheese and croutons, which is a signature special at Northstar. Mine was a little heavy on the blue cheese for the number of tomatoes, so they were somewhat overpowered (about the only thing in the city that was that day), but delicious nonetheless.
Thomas Smith’s entree was red wine and rosemary braised beef short Ribs, creamy polenta and a stuffed heirloom tomato. The short ribs were outstanding and while this dish did not photograph well (especially in the low light), it was rich and melt in the mouth and would make wonderful winter comfort food.
Kevin Guffey’s cheesecake and apple compote was a work of art. I loved the shortbread spoon and it was beautifully presented. I am not a big cheesecake fan and I thought the goat’s cheese tanginess came through a little strongly, but I loved the tiny diced apples and the crystallized apple peel garnish.
At the end of the dinner the chefs and their assistants were given a standing ovation by the sated and appreciative audience. Kevin Malhame gave a heartfelt speech about OEFFA and the wonderful work they do as it relates to food, farming, our environment and wider policy issues, encouraging us to join and support their efforts.
I should also mention the wines which were donated by Natural-State wines in Worthington, a family owned and operated business that tries to find wines from smaller producers and organic vineyards and which were carefully chosen to pair with each course.
“For 30 years, OEFFA has provided education, advocacy, and promotion of local and organic food systems, helping farmers and consumers reconnect and together build a sustainable food system, one meal at a time.” If this dinner was anything to judge by, it is doing a fantastic job.