Sometimes the line between courage and foolishness is not easily distinguished until the consequences of the action are evident. So it was on Sat as I drove to Milan, OH to the Culinary Vegetable Institute for a dinner event.
Counting on the forecasted clear weather and a fast drive, I was two hours into my trip when a multi-car pile-up caused all movement to come to a grinding halt. Blowing snow. Diminishing visibility. Nine tow trucks buzzed by miles and miles and miles of traffic. Two hours later, traffic began to move and I jumped off at my exit only to discover almost-zero road visibility and near white-out conditions for the next 1.75 hours of the drive. I didn’t even have a coat. I certainly didn’t have boots.
Perseverance and presence of mind can offset foolishness, so I plugged along sensibly (albeit, tensely) until I reached the dirt road where the Jones family farm and CVI are located. Interestingly, I wasn’t the last one in the door, although, I doubt anyone else drove from Cincinnati for dinner. A glass of champagne was welcome.
Chef Steven Halliday, the executive chef of The Greenbrier Main Dining Room, crafted a meal that was well worth a 6+ hour drive through wintery rural northern Ohio.
Golden & Candy Stripe Beet Salad
Heirloom Carrots Baked in Aromatic Soil with Goat Cheese Mousse
Oyster Celery Root Chowder with German Butterball Potato and Purple Turnips and Leeks
Lime Thyme Basted Trout with Hearts of Palm and Root Spinach
Korean-Style Grilled Short Ribs with Jasmine Rice and Lacinato Kale
Duck Confit with Belgian Endive and Fennel
Cauliflower and Sun Choke Au Gratin
Chef’s Garden Vegetables with Fine Herbs and Beurre Fondue
Duck Fat Fingerling Potatoes with Warm Fava Bean Sprouts
Covington Sweet Potato Ravioli (Heart-Shaped)
Berry Cobbler with English Lavender Whipped Double Cream
Chef and his Greenbrier staff carved dramatic chocolate sculptures, each nested in pink cotton candy, for the tables when dessert was served. Gorgeous petit cookies and delectable coffee rounded out the meal.
Dinner was the cornerstone of a silent auction to raise funds for CVI’s non-profit arm, Veggie U, which helps 4th grade children understand the connection to the food they eat through an “Earth to Table™ science curriculum [created for] elementary and special needs classrooms.”
“In addition to a hands-on, scientific approach to learning about plants and their components, the Veggie U curriculum incorporates extensive journal activities, mathematics, language arts and fine arts, providing an interactive and enjoyable way for students to study these core concepts. The classroom lessons include studies of soil, composting, planting, nutrition and plant anatomy. The students also care for a worm farm, raise a mini “crop”, and celebrate the end of the program with a vegetable Feast Day. Veggie U has delivered more than 2600 classroom garden kits across 32 states, including Washington D.C.”
This is an organization at both ends of the culinary spectrum (professional chefs and kids) that I intend to support. Here’s how you can support Veggie U.