Last night, an adult-version of the North Pole came to Cleveland with Emerging Chefs‘ Naughty Claus event at Speakeasy. Matthew, Amanda, and I were excited to check out all the festive course and libations prepared by Chef Adam Lambert and his staff.
Our first course was a “snow globe ornament:” an oyster encased in gel and topped with a bit of Douglas fir, juniper, and tonic. This course was paired with a Bijou cocktail, which was heavy on the gin and sweet vermouth.
The snow globe was an amazing visual treat, but the texture of the dish was off-putting for us. I could barely find the oyster for all the gel. Also, I’m not a huge fan of gin, but my fellow table mates really enjoyed the cocktail. This was my least favorite course of the evening, although huge credit to Chef Lambert for such an interesting presentation.
Next up were “XXX-mas cookies,” topped with foie gras and whipped chantilly icing. While I’ll let your imagination figure out what “XXX-mas cookies” look like, I will show you pics of us enjoying this course:
The cookies were served with a milk punch, which consisted of a lot of rum and a bit of scalded milk. Luckily the cups were tiny, as this tasty punch packed a punch!
Course three was “Snowball” and my favorite of the evening: truffled arancini (fried rice balls) topped with white truffle snow. This course was rich and earthy. The arancini were breaded with brown rice, so were very crunchy and not greasy at all.
This course was paired with a cocktail made with – I kid you not – truffle-infused Everclear. The cocktail on its own was interesting, but when paired with the arancini took on a sweetness that I really enjoyed.
Next up we had “Who Ham for One.” Chef Lambert told us he took great care to make sure this dish mimicked the look of the ham in Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The ham was packed with traditional flavors of cherry, pineapple, and clove. It was delicious and Matthew’s favorite course of the evening!
It was paired with my favorite drink of the evening: mulled wine. Sangiovese was warmed and spiced with cloves and cinnamon. This drink would be a perfect fireside sipper!
Our final savory course was “Kosher Khristmas,” which featured Asian-style duck with crispy vegetables, sugarplum, and rice. This dish was salty, but appropriately so, and the vegetables added just the right texture contrast to the shredded duck. As with all the courses, the presentation won us over as well, as the dish was served in personal-sized Chinese food take-out containers.
This was paired with chilled sake. Normally, I don’t enjoy sake, but this pairing won me over and made me think I need to give sake another shot.
For our final course, there was a double-dose of dessert: “coal” for our naughty side, which was hard candy made with fernet (a “bitter, aromatic spirit” according to Wiki)…
…and cookies and scotch-spiked eggnog for our nice side.
From scantily-clad elves to suggestive food courses to an appearance by Naughty Claus himself bearing gifts from Ambiance, the evening was a fun and decadent way to put you in a (holiday) mood.
***Disclosure: I was asked by Emerging Chefs to help promote Naughty Claus. In exchange, I received one complimentary media pass. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***