IT's that time again!
And by "that time" we mean tapas time - one of the Buds' favorite foodie activities.
Oglebay Institute opened their fall culinary series - Tapas: The Art of Elegant Small Plate Dining - this past Friday at the Stifel Fine Arts Center, so naturally the Buds were on the scene and ready to report.
Greg Strahm and an audience member prepare grilled flank steak at Friday’s tapas tasting. It was the first of four dates in Oglebay Institute’s current tapas series.
The evening featured four courses of Spanish-inspired tapas prepared by professional chef and culinary educator Greg Strahm. Some of you might recognize Strahm as part of the popular "The Appraisal Guys" duo who visit the area yearly doing their appraisals - and that's probably also where Strahm gets his nickname "The Cooking Appraiser."
Strahm, a self taught Julia Childs and Jacques Pepin inspired chef, took an interactive approach to his presentation, not only discussing each dish but also demonstrating his techniques in step-by-step tutorials using helpers recruited from the audience. He was even kind enough to share copies of each recipe with attendees.
Stocked with high expectations and a table full of characters, the Buds could tell it was going to be a good night!
The first course Strahm prepared was a cool Watermelon Gazpacho. Before tasting it, Bud Em was a liiiiiittle unsure of how she felt about the combination of sweet watermelon with tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions. But, by the time it was served, she was so hungry she threw caution to the wind and dug right in. And what a pleasant surprise! The cool concoction was refreshing and delicious, with the watermelon and cucumbers adding a fresh crunch. Garnished with a dollop of sour cream and some chives, the Buds decided it was a tasty way to start the meal.
The second course featured a unique Jicama, Tomato, and Black Bean Salad. The salad combined diced jicama, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and black beans tossed with a zesty lime dressing. The crunchy jicama and fresh flavors of the dressing made this light salad a winner.
Next, Strahm tossed two juicy flank steaks on the grill, and it really didn't take long for the delicious aroma to start wafting through the air. The dish was a Brazilian Flank Steak with Pepita Cilantro Pesto. The steak was cooked medium rare and thinly sliced, topped with the cilantro sauce and then served atop toasted, garlicy croustini. The cilantro pesto was seasoned with cumin and red pepper flakes, which gave it a nice bite. The steak was flavorful as well, although someone who likes their meat cooked a little more might have shied away.
The final dish of the night was - of course - a dessert! Strahm created a Gluten-Free Chocolate Brownie with Pistachio Gelato. This dense chocolate brownie tasted sinfully good, and the pistachio gelato was fantastic! The dessert was topped with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and crunchy pistachio nuts, and everyone at the Buds' table agreed this was hands down the best course of the night.
If you've never attended a tapas event at the Stifel, the Buds urge you to make an effort to attend one of the next (or all!) events. All the tapas tastings the Buds have attended have been unique and featured a wide range of foods that we might not have otherwise tried. Upcoming dates for "Tapas: The Art of Elegant Small Plate Dining" are:
- Nov. 8 - Chef Charlie Schlegel, Ye Olde Alpha
- Feb. 21 - Chef Sarah Lydick, Sandscrest Conference & Retreat Center
- March 28 - Chef Craig Aubrey, Undo's Catering
Pre-register at www.oionline.com or by calling 304-242-7700.
The Buds can be reached at tastebuds@timesleader online.com.