It had been six years since Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of The Splendid Table, had visited Cincinnati. So, it was way past time to see her again.
Six years ago at Cincinnati Music Hall, Lynne gave us a glimpse into the wonder of Italy’s Emilia Romagna, a behemoth on Italy’s cultural and culinary landscape. Lynne’s return this past weekend was more like a visit from a long-lost friend, and the environment in which we caught up with each others’ lives lent itself beautifully to the task.
My best guess is that about 250 of us had dinner with Lynne at Cincinnati’s new 21c Museum Hotel, a boutique hotel, contemporary art museum and cultural civic center, at 609 Walnut. Svelte, eclectic, simplistically modern, a visual paradise of art and humor.
Adjacent, the Metropole restaurant: “Led by executive chef Michael Paley, the restaurant’s menu focuses on dishes cooked in a custom-built wood-burning fireplace. A showcase for the region’s sustainable farmers and producers, Metropole’s ever-changing menu features hearth roasted meats, fish and vegetables; grains; and housemade charcuterie.”
Chef Paley discussed the culinary staff’s skillful use of the wood-burning fireplace technique and how it impacts each dish on the menu… some, such as Fireplace Pear Salad, quite unexpectedly. My own taste is notably aligned with earthy, smoky cooking technique, so I found that evening’s menu to be particularly comforting.
The precursor to the Metropole’s wood-fired oven technique is The Garage Bar, down the street from the 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, a “casual neighborhood spot featur[ing] Chef Michael Paley’s pizzas[…] and Southern specialties, with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. Garage Bar is housed in a former auto service station and historic saloon in downtown Louisville’s vibrant NuLu neighborhood.”
The pleasure of Lynne’s company is only exceeded by the marvel of her range and depth of food knowledge. She skillfully navigates any food landscape with an artisan’s creativity and with self-effacing humor. This evening was spent chatting over cocktails and getting first-hand answers to life’s most pressing culinary questions while enjoying an amazing meal.
I had the courage to give Lynne a bag of Essential Caramels, while taking the opportunity to invite her back… soon.
This weekend I’m off to the Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan, OH, where guest chef Steven Halliday of the Greenbrier Hotel is creating a special Valentine’s Day dinner.
More delicious diatribe…