I have joined a local group here in Columbus called Tastecasting. A group of locals spread the word about local restaurants and businesses. These places host the Tastcasting group and present some of their food fare and give a discussion about their business. The Tastercasters then Twitter and blog about the event. The idea being to help spread the word about some of the fabulous local places around town.
I find this to be fascinating and a great concept. Most everyone now has a blog and/or is on Twitter. Because of these small pathways into other people’s lives, we can see and learn so many things. Getting to know where you live and supporting local businesses is something everyone should be doing, and with Tastecasting that’s possible. And it’s part of the reason I joined, because I want to explore Columbus more. I want to know what’s out there. Scott and I try to support local businesses as much as we can. Tastecasting will help us experience more of what Columbus has to offer for the foodie.
And of course being a food blogger, this is like hitting up the candy store. People giving me food just for the soul purpose of taking pictures, blogging, and tweeting about it? I am so all over that!
So let’s get talking about the first event we attended!
We got all dressed up and headed downtown to The Culinary Table for a tasting.
The Culinary Table is your one stop shop for catering. They have got you covered. It’s a combination of a floral & interior design company and a catering company in one. Which means, if you need to have an event catered and also need the tablescapes, center pieces, and so on as well, The Culinary Table can handle it all.
There is no catering job this business can’t handle. All aspects of a wedding, engagement parties, showers, rehearsal dinners, and receptions are right up their alley. But they also cater to the business and professional world as well. For instance: Lunch and Learn, where corporate companies can hold a seminar or corporate meeting, and then have their lunch catered.
If you need space, you will be able to hold your parties on site at The Culinary Table. Or they will go to you, because it’s all about the customer. Their focus is you and only you.
And not just catering, The Culinary Table also holds cooking classes and events. They are doing it all to try to bring Columbus quality food and quality hospitality.
The building where The Culinary Table lives is a nice large and open space great for hosting events. Round tables for the Tasters were placed in the four “corners” of the area and in the middle was a table holding the appetizers. All the arrangements you see on the tables were done by the Natural Design Team, the decorating half that makes up The Culinary Table.
I took this picture from my table towards the front of the building. It sort of gives you an idea of how we were placed around the space and how large the space actually is. Plenty of room for hosting a gathering, meeting, or party.
If you know me, then you know the menu is the first thing I read upon arriving and taking my seat. And then you know I took a picture of it.
Sounds pretty yummy, right? That’s what I thought too! A nice touch was that the menu was listed in several places: in this frame on the tables, in the program we were given, and also in a holder on the appetizer table as well. Kudos to them for making the menu available at every turn.
Our table, and Scott Twittering away. I was going like gangbusters last night. Twittering, taking notes, taking pictures, and making sure to get to know my fellow Tasters at the table. It turns out that except for one, this was all our very first tasting! Fun! The ladies to the left of me had their laptops with them which is something I didn’t even think of bringing! But my phone and camera got me through the evening just fine and I don’t think I would be able to lug my beastie of a laptop around anyway.
I headed over to the appetizer table and picked up one of everything. I will always try whatever you put in front of me. Okay, well maybe not if it’s still moving or has tentacles, but aside from those, I’m pretty sure I would try whatever.
Then I made my way over to the kitchen where Chef Brooke was assembling and explaining the pulled pork appetizer. A lot of work went into that appetizer! The pork had been dry rubbed, then seared on all sides, and then braised for about 6 hours. Lots of roasted spices, such as cumin, were added to deepen the flavor of the pork and sort of give it a little bit of a complex taste.
Here’s my plate.
First I tried the Grilled Portabella Mushroom Stuffed with Mozzarella.
There was definitely a strong garlic flavor to this appetizer. Admittedly though, it was not my favorite. The stuffing mixture had a lot going on and it seemed to have either butter or oil in there as well that was a bit overpowering. Instead of getting all the flavors of the dish, I really only tasted the garlic. The rest I passed over to Scott who loved this dish and said it was his favorite of the bunch.
Next up was the Smoked Trout on Cucumber slice.
Based on the menu description, I was sort of expecting something that would resemble a smoked salmon slice. This was more of a smoked trout mousse on a cucumber. You definitely get hit with the smoked flavor with this appetizer. The fish flavor is not overwhelming at all and I could see someone who perhaps is new to tasting fish, or not a huge fish fan, really enjoying this dish. There also seemed to be a bit of a lemon kick in the mousse which seemed a tad strong. The lemon was probably added to help cut the fish and smoke flavor. This would make a great bridal shower appetizer.
Next was the Stilton Tart with Cranberry Chutney.
I was pretty sure that Stilton was a blue cheese and had to Google to be positive. Yes it is a blue cheese! I realize a food blogger should know better, but remember blue cheeses are still new to me. I’ve just started eating them and learning about them. This appetizer was by far my favorite. It was amazing. So amazing, I went back for a second one. The tart was very savory with the tang of the Stilton, and also there seemed to be some caramelized onion flavor coming out which knocked me off my seat it was so good. The cranberry chutney was perfectly sweet. It was not overpowering or mouthpuckeringly too sweet. It added just the right amount of sweetness to balance out the tart creating a wonderful flavor combination that could not go wrong. I would have gladly taken the tray off their hands.
I saved the pulled pork for last.
I first tasted everything together. The base was a homemade tortilla topped with a roasted garlic aioli, the pulled pork, a red cabbage chow-chow (slaw), and then smoked Gouda finisher. The roasted garlic aoli I found sort of overwhelmed the rest of the components, not allowing me to taste how they all combined. I deconstructed the appetizer a bit so I could taste each individual ingredient. First was the tortilla which was very puffy! Sort of reminded me more of like a fry bread or fried piece of dough. It was fluffy and a bit sweet. The garlic ailoi was garlicky with a hint of smokiness to it. I’m going to guess that’s from the spices which probably mirrored some of what went on the pork. The pulled pork itself was very tender and melted in your mouth. The flavors were subtle, making it perfect either as a standalone or allowing it to be paired with other things. The chow-chow was perfect. It had the right amount of tartness and crunch to it. I could easily eat that as a side dish. And smoked gouda, can’t go wrong with that!
Last up was dessert!
It was homemade toasted sesame ice cream and it was excellent. The serving size was perfect for me. I think all places should get on the shot glass sized dessert train. It’s the perfect portion! The ice cream was a vanilla base, I could see the flecks of vanilla as I was eating it. It was sweet and creamy and smooth, exactly how ice cream should be. The toasted sesame provided a nice background and crunch to the ice cream. The taste was clear that something had been toasted and then when you crunched down on one, you knew it was a seed and not a nut that you were eating. They were almost like little bursts of crunchy candy. Perfect! The pirouette I didn’t eat and passed that over to Scott. Since I’m not a big sweets person (would gladly have Stilton tarts for dessert!) the ice cream was enough for me.
Scott finished off his evening with a mug of coffee and creamer.
You can see him Twittering away on his Nokia N810 that I bought him for Christmas a couple years back. He loved this coffee and said it was very silky smooth with a nice finish. I had a sip and I must admit that it was a very nice coffee indeed.
The food was fabbo and I was so glad to have a chance to experience this event. Everyone was nice and the atmosphere was very welcoming. From a food blogger perspective, I would have liked to have been able to learn more about the dishes we were testing. What exactly were the ingredients in each dish, why did Chef Brooke chose the combinations she did, what inspires her in the kitchen and with her recipes, for example. I like learning about the food I’m eating and where it comes from. I would have found it very interesting if the Chef would have presented her dishes and then opened up the floor to questions about the food and the business itself. I probably should have just gotten up and asked! My next tasting I will.
Thanks to The Culinary Table for hosting us last night! We had a great time and loved having the opportunity to learn more about their business and what they offer the community.
If you are on Twitter, they are offering a 10% off cooking classes, catering (including graduation), and floral now through May 31st. Just use your Twitter name!