Saturday, August 18, 2012

CHEESE Dinner at Local 127 Sunday Night

Chef Steven Geddes hasn’t changed his focus on local food, although he has changed up the schedule at Local 127 (now located in the former Jean-Ro’s Bistro space at 413 Vine St., across from the Westin). The restaurant is now open only one Sunday night a month, for a prix-fixe dinner shining a special spotlight on artisanal foods and nearby food producers. This Sunday’s dinner will feature Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheeses: Here's the four course menu for $45 (wine pairings available for an additional $20):

1st course: Potato Skins, Reserve White Cheddar Cheese Whiz, Crispy Pork Belly

2nd course: Havarti Soup, Heirloom Tomato, Pistachio Pesto

3rd course:
Chicken Saltimbocca, Smoked Gouda, Prosciutto and Sage Jus

Short Ribs, Kentucky Rose Fondue, Red Onion Jam

Potatoes Au Gratin, Tomme de Nena, Preserved Lemon Gremolata

Roasted Corn, Norwood, Lime Juice, Herbs

4th course: Barren County Blue Cheesecake, Apricot Mostarda, Whipped Cream

The seeds of the new Sunday schedule grew from a June event co-sponsored by Local 127 and Slow Food Cincinnati. In the afternoon, Chef Geddes and the ubiquitous Justin Dean did a pig-butchering demo in the restaurant’s dining room. (Yes, dining room.) It drew a substantial crowd of local foods enthusiasts, as well as Cincinnati chefs including Jose Salazar of The Palace, Julie Frances of Nectar, and Brendan Haren of Orchids. It took a couple of hours for Justin and Chef Steve to break down the heritage pig provided by Napoleon Ridge Farm. (Anyone who wanted to stick around could also watch them dispatch a pig’s head into its useful components.) At 6:00 the doors reopened for a sold-out pork-centric dinner, at which Slow Food Cincinnati presented Local 127 with its first “Snail of Approval” award.presented Local 127 with its first “Snail of Approval” award.

Chef Geddes was on the advisory board for this year’s “Made in America” American Treasures Awards. Although the website spells our city’s name with too many n’s and t’s, Geddes is getting the word out about some of our region’s best food producers – and, he says, taking his own stuffed local pig faces wherever he travels as a food ambassador. Two of his nominees, Carriage House Farm, in Northbend, Ohio, and Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese, in Austin, Kentucky, received awards this year. That's such a big honor that Richard Stewart of Carriage House Farm traveled to D.C. to accept his on the 4th of July.

Chef Geddes is committed to working with local and regional food producers in everything he puts on a plate at Local 127. But the format of these Sunday dinners gives him a unique opportunity to share his passion, acknowledge local food folks, and just plain have fun. On these Sunday nights, diners are seated at communal tables and food is served family style (in dishes to be shared by everyone, not individually composed “restaurant” plates). You never know who you’ll meet, or who you’ll want to meet again.

Before dinner Geddes speaks to the group about how and why he came to be in Cincinnati. In his booming voice, he is happy to share the story of his early days in the flatlands of Colorado, where his grandparents farmed. After spending much of his life in arid Las Vegas, he found what he’d been seeking when he discovered the bounty of the Ohio River Valley foodshed (which includes both sides of the Ohio River). He introduces the evening’s menu, then opens the floor for the featured guest to talk about what they do, like Richard Stewart of Carriage House Farm at the second dinner in this series.

And then you eat. Oh, my, do you eat! Many of the “courses” at the previous two dinners have included multiple, generous offerings, like these from the Carriage House Farm dinner last month.

Chef Steve always likes to start with a sampling of pickled and cured items. And I always dive right into them without taking notes about the culinary details.
Smoked trout

Pork terrine with potato salad

Chicken wings

This appetizer, featuring pickled nasturtium seed pods from Carriage House Farm
 that taste like capers, was one of my favorites of the night.

Those four dishes were just the first course. Here's the second.

Potato soup with salsa verde and nasturtiums. Velvety and delicious.

The fourth, or entree, course was another bounty of dishes featuring Carriage House Farm offerings and other local goodness.

Confit chicken with Sheltowee mushrooms and thyme jus

Roasted pork from the "Porkopolis" plate, 
a constant but always changing feature on Local 127's regular dinner menu 
featuring Chef Steve's love of heritage pork and pork preparations

Sides included a risotto made of Carriage House Farm wheatberries, a collaborative dish of wilted greens, and an amazing cheese-filled Johnny Cake that was another of my personal favorites. 

And then there's dessert.There's always dessert.
Buttermilk panna cotta over spiced bush berry brumble.
That’s Carriage House Farm’s bee pollen on top.

I'm a cheese lover who isn't going to pass up the opportunity to taste what Local 127 will do with Kenny's Farmhouse cheeses this Sunday night. I discovered Kenny's Farmhouse Cheeses a couple of years ago at Kentucky Crafted, and am delighted to find they are now available at many Greater Cincinnati farmers markets (including Bellevue Farmers Market in front of the Party Source) plus Picnic + Pantry in Northside and on restaurant menus at Bouquet and Virgil's.

Call Local 127 to make a reservation at (513) 721-1345. I'd love to share a table with you.


Aunty Belle said...

Sigh..youse jes' so lucky--so MANY local food artisans. That potato soup wif nasturtiums --inspired! Years ago in a wee French village I has THE BEST ever fresh pea soup wif creme fraich--

Jes' wanna say yore food writin' is spuerlative.

Sharon Rudd said...

Aww shucks, Aunty. Thanks for the compliment. We do have some amazing food artisans around here! Always happy to support them. Now time to head out for cheeeeeeeese :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.