When I received an invitation for The Art of Food opening night, I quickly responded with “Yes!” With questions about the event I called the husband. After a brief pause he replied “sculptures creatively made with food.” I sensed the uncertainty in his voice and an attempt to back paddle because we both knew it was a half assed answer. And instead of prying anymore for details, I said, “I’ll put it on our calendar.” I googled the event and found some information about Nick Tolbert but nothing on the art or the food.
After entering the Carnegie in Covington on Friday night, we were greeted by kind volunteers and ticketers and told to eat until our hearts content. We grabbed couple drinks and walked into the main room where food prepared by local chefs was featured. There were various restaurants and their creations; JeanRo, Nu Vo, Nicola’s, The Palace, Quarter Bistro and Lavomatic to name a few. Bigg’s, the grocery store, also had a table set up.
The food was excellent with some highlights; Nu Vo’s mini duck tacos with pickled onions and radishes, cilantro, and lime were my favorite. The husband devoured JeanRo’s crab salad with a side of avocado mouse in a flaky shell, it resembled peas in a pod. Nicola’s had a magnificent scallop with lime vinaigrette served with a Scroppino, Italian smoothie made with grapefruit and Italian vodka. Bonus! (thank you Matt for sharing the drink details with us, since the Grapefruit sorbet came from Madison’s!) Lavomatic featured crackling rabbit wrapped in pork belly, one of the two most original dishes that night. I didn’t care for it as much because it was too salty; the only other time I’ve had pork belly was at Chalk in a main dish and I really enjoyed that but I think this time it didn’t work with the already salted rabbit. Bigg’s served corn bake and chicken enchilada casserole; both were high quality in taste but presentation was lacklustered. The Palace had an ensemble at their table: Roasted beet puree, chocolate and citrus scented biscuit with dark chocolate sorbet and hazelnut anglaise, topped with hazelnut meringue and chocolate tweel. phew. Thanks to Stephanie, sales person at The Palace, that regurgitated all this back to me, slowly. The entire plate of food was remarkable in taste and textures. Beets are naturally sweet and laced with a dessert course made it a perfect combination with the chocolate. The dark chocolate sorbet was heavenly, of course. Even with all this delectable food in the main room I think the waffles from the Taste of Belgian won everyone’s hearts. There were long lines for the fresh and warm waffles. The husband had not ever tried the waffle guy’s waffles and he was impressed; and that says a lot. There were two collages in the main room, one made only of cheerios, yes cheerios the cereal.
The 2nd floor housed exhibitions and foods in multiple rooms. One room had pottery and clay work created by local artists and foods from two local restaurants and I can’t remember the names. The food was alligator with a green salad, the other original creation of the night and Prosciutto or Serrano Ham bruschetta with apple sauce. I tried the alligator and didn’t care for it. It was cold and I now know I prefer my alligator warm or hot off the stove. Another room had blown glass art pieces; one of our favorite rooms. Another had framed pictures and interviews of the chefs involved in the event. And the last room had coffee from the Bean Haus and a chocolate fountain with fruits and vegetables. Artistically, it had pictures, facts and benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables and displayed them in their true form.
One of the first people I recognized that night was Marilyn Harris. She is a radio talk show host for “Cooking with Marilynn” which airs on Saturdays on WKRC. Not only that, she also moonlights for cooking class gigs at Cooks Wares. Until my class at Cooks Wares, I did not know anything about her and after the class I was so fondly in love with her the husband bought me one of her cookbooks. She is Cincinnati’s own celebrity chef, renowned for her knowledge and experience with food. On Friday night when the Bigg’s station was busier than it had been all night, Marilyn stepped in, like a pro, and served food. As we were leaving, I stopped by the table to say hello and she recognized me from her class! Highlight #2!
Overall the exhibit was a great walk through and a wonderful learning experience in conjuction with a gastronomical treasure. The husband was hoping to find a big sculpture made out of food that we could eat from. Don’t ask; I am married to an engineer.