Saturday, January 23, 2010
You're in for a special treat today. Actually, Sarah and I were in for a special treat, and you get to read my account of it. We had a gift certificate to one of Cleveland's many (yes, haters, many) great restaurants, Crop Bistro & Bar. Crop features "local foodstuffs culled from the region's small farmers and artisanal producers." They're known for creative seasonal menus and amazing service. Despite the bounty of deliciousness presented to me on the menu, we stuck to our vegetarian vow to finish the week. Above, you see our appetizer of Warm Balsamic Popcorn, topped with grated parmesan.
Sarah and I each had a salad next. Hers, on the left, was spinach and arugula with a pomegranate dressing (see the pom seeds?), topped with a poached egg and cashew brittle (OK, vegetarian police, I confess: it was bacon cashew brittle, and it was awesome!). On the right is my salad, mixed greens with bleu cheese, candied pecans and poached pears, with a smoked bleu cheese vinaigrette. There are few food combos I like more than bleu cheese and pears.
Our shared entree, actually from Crop's appetizer menu, is a flatbread with Ohio apples, Amish smoked cheddar, spinach, and a mulled cider syrup. Incredible. You know those weird people who put a slice of cheese on their apple pie? I might become one.
For dessert, an item Sarah had picked out from their menu online at about 10 AM ("this is what we're getting for dessert tonight"), something Crop calls Pretzel Un-logic: chocolate cream on a caramel-pretzel crust topped with malted whipped cream and a pretzel tuile.
The plate, 6 seconds later...
What I loved most about this whole meal, aside from the emphasis on the local and fresh, was it's simplicity. There's nothing here that even an inexperienced cook couldn't make with relative ease. I hope you enjoyed our 5 Vegetarian Meals in 5 Nights week. It was a lot of fun, as cooking ought to be, and forced us to be creative in the winter months, when it so easy to fall back on old favorites night in and night out.
But spring is coming - it's close to 50 this weekend in Cleveland - and even though the worst month of the year is nigh, in 8 weeks I'll be preparing the garden plots for beans, leafy greens and onions, and all will be well.