One beautiful Friday night in CLE, this city girl got country out at Meadowlane Farms. The occasion? Emerging Chefs ReHival dinner featuring Chef Kimberly McCune of Vine and Dine. Chef McCune is born and raised in Geauga County, the daughter of a bee-keeper. Not only was local honey a predominant theme for the evening, but everything we ate was sourced within 50 miles of Meadowlane Farms.
Our evening started with browsing a farmer’s market while nibbling on our welcome snack – a “Face Meat Sammy,” featuring Adam’s Reserve Cheddar, honey white bread, and jowl. The jowl tasted like bacon and this face meat sammy would make one tasty breakfast sandwich!
CLEguy, CLEguy’s dad, and I then headed into the main event. This was one of the prettiest and the most relaxed venues Emerging Chefs has used.
Everyone sat at picnic tables covered with gingham table cloths and set with rustic, yet still elegant, placesettings. This was country casual dining at it’s finest! We also had a view of the Longhorn roaming around Meadowlane Farms.
Aside from CLEguy and his dad, we were joined for dinner by Poise in Parma, Cleveland Food and Brews, CFBgal, and Eat Drink Cleveland. What a great group to share a meal with! We also got to say hi to Brewers Daughter and The Journeyman Cook.
Our first course consisted of drumette confit with honey BBQ and hot sauces and farm egg foam with chive infusion and a buttermilk biscuit.
The wings were delicious – a bit salty, but juicy and fall-off-the-bone tender. You didn’t even need the sauces to add flavor. The sauces were creatively served in little droppers, so you could add just what you wanted to your wings. Both sauces were great, although my preference was for the sweet tang of the honey BBQ.
The egg foam with chive infusion was smooth and creamy. But our table had some trouble figuring out the best way to eat it. I found dipping my dense, yet still moist, buttermilk biscuit in the foam allowed all the flavors to come together.
This course was paired with “The Queen’s Nectar,” which was a combination of blueberries, honey, lavendar, lemon, and citrus vodka. Delicious and refreshing!
Next up came a course of Meadowlane Farms steer tartar and a terrine of longhorn, chicken livers, and pork, served with a crostini. This course was paired with my favorite cocktail of the evening – a shot of Cleveland’s own Crav vodka paired with a shooter of pickles and juice. Think a Bloody Mary without the tomato juice…
The steer tartar had a wonderful seasoning and the microgreens on top were fresh and delicious. However, the texture of the tartar was a bit off. It was not chunked, nor was it completely ground. Despite the great flavors, this dish had an unusual texture and, for me, made it my least favorite of the night.
The terrine was good and the chicken livers were really the star of that dish. I could have used more crostini, which added a nice texture to the bites of terrine.
Next up was a course that all of us loved – none as much as Poise in Parma, though…
This was a caprese salad with backyard tomatoes, Micelli’s creamed mozarella, micro herbs, and balsamic. The course was paired with a simple peach sun tea. Many of our courses were served family-style, which led to Alicia from Poise in Parma stealing the entire bowl of salad. In fact, the servers were kind enough to bring us a second helping of this delicious course.
The salad was very rustic and fresh – the tomatoes were sliced large and the mozarella was in sizeable chunks. I don’t think I’ve ever had such delicious mozarella. And the way the cheese blended with the balsamic created almost a creamy dressing. This also won CLEguy’s dad’s favorite course of the night.
Our next course had our entire table buzzing just from the smells eminating from the kitchen. Rabbit confit was combined with ricotta gnocchi, bacon, and spinach for this delectable dish.
The smoky flavors of the rabbit and bacon paired perfectly, without the bacon overwhelming the dish. The texture of the gnocchi was very dense and slightly crisp on the outside. The spinach added a nice freshness to the dish and helped cut the natural saltiness of the meats. CLEguy and I agreed this was our favorite course of the night and I could have easily eaten the entire bowl.
Next up was a Lake Erie walleye cake with corn aioli.
The walleye cake was light and flavorful. The corn incorporated into the cake added a nice texture and sweetness. I could have easily eaten 10 of these bite-sized cakes. This course was paired with a perfectly summery watermelon slush – a simple beverage of watermelon, honey, and ice.
For our last course, Meadowlane Farms longhorn was thinly-sliced and served on top potatoes and creamed sweet corn.
The beef was cooked well and was very flavorful. Some of the pieces were a bit fatty and hard to chew, however. The corn, potatoes, and mushrooms added fantastic flavor to the dish. CLEguy said it was the best creamed corn he’s ever had and I concur. While there was a foie gras component to the dish, I don’t think I got enough of the sauce to really be able to taste it’s rich flavor.
This course also featured the debut of ReHive Ale, a beer created by Chef McCune at Buckeye Beer Engine.
The beer was hoppy, with a delicious honey sweetness. It is easy-drinking and a deceptive 8% alcohol content. It will soon be available for retail sale, so stay tuned!
We were fortunate to get to chat with Chef McCune, who is a gracious and humble hostess. Each place setting was gifted with a jar of Chef McCune’s father’s honey. Chef McCune also gave our table ReHive Ale t-shirts, which are absolutely adorable.
I also got to catch up with Chef Amy Ryan, our instructor from our Viking School cooking class, who is one of Chef McCune’s good friends. All in all, the setting, the commitment to fresh local food, the quality of the meal, and the great company made this my favorite Emerging Chefs event thus far! You can check out Cleveland Food and Brews’ review here and Poise in Parma’s review here for more takes on our delicious evening.
***Disclosure: I was invited to attend Emerging Chefs’ ReHival with a media pass. CLEguy’s and CLEguy’s dad’s tickets were not included. While at the event, Chef McCune gave us ReHive Ale t-shirts. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***