Monday, March 6, 2017

Steve's 44th Birthday Celebration(s)!

On March 4th, the man we all love and adore turned the ripe age of 44. Steve and I have always traveled for my birthday, so I usually do what I can to plan a local getaway to celebrate him. This year, I planned a weekend in Cleveland's University Circle just 12 miles from our house.
The area is home to Case Western Reserve University, University Hospital and a plethora of museums, including the Natural History Museum, Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Botanical Gardens.
With a limited number of hotels in the area, we opted to stay at the charming Glidden House. This historic mansion was home to the Glidden paint family from 1910-1950 and has since been expended and restored into this 60 room boutique hotel. We reserved one of the vintage suites which are part of the original mansion and enjoyed the extra space.

The main level of the hotel hosts several sitting areas as well as a four-seat bar that serves excellent cocktails.
The small breakfast buffet offered a selection of breads, fruits, cereal, eggs, bacon and potatoes. The dining room and sun room were both excellent choices for a relaxing start to the day.


Our weekend started early Friday afternoon. I work in the University Circle area and a mere 1.2 miles from the Glidden House, so Steve picked me up from work, we checked in and got ourselves acquainted.

That night, we enjoyed dinner at L'Albatros, one of Cleveland's finest French restaurants. This was only our second visit as we had previously dined on my birthday in July.

We started with a selection of five chesses and loved all of the recommendations. The cheese is my favorite part of L'Albatros. Do you blame me? Just look at this gorgeous display!!

For entrees, I enjoyed the hanger steak and frites with a bĂ©arnaise sauce while Steve enjoyed their popular Cassoulet with braised white beans with lamb, duck confit, pork belly, and sausages

Finally for dessert we ordered a Boulevardier to enjoy with our Luxardo cherry cheesecake.

On Saturday morning, we walked around the area and enjoyed the Orchid Mania exhibit at the Botanical Gardens.

For lunch we enjoyed tater tots at the Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern in addition to some delicious macaroons from Coquette Patisserie.

Saturday night was the main event. Next door to the Glidden House is the intimate and eclectic Trentina restaurant. Trentina is another spectacular restaurant from James Beard Award winning chef Jonathan Sawyer. We had visited Trentina once before and knew their 12-course Menu Bianco was bucket-list material.
We had been waiting for this night for months!

We had nervous excitement. Would we really be able to consume all 12 (really 13...) courses?!?
 Steve's sister Karen had secretly called ahead and ordered two glasses of champagne for us to enjoy upon arrival. Such a fun surprise!

The menu online and presented to us is generic as the real deal changes daily and is hand curated to be a symphony of seasonality. Chef's whim, local and seasonal ingredients are the true inspiration to every item served. It was fascinating, delicious and true artistry.
I'll start by saying we made the effort to write down as much as we could to give justice to this experience. As I try to convey each course, some language may be a bit amateur. We tried!

Our first course or the "Primo Assaggio" was served on a large piece of wood with three different small bites, or snacks.
On the bottom is a lemon pepper cracker with cultured butter and llama country ham. Top left is a fried rosemary and lemon dough ball with a white sardine.The top right is a chickpea encrusted quail leg with a purple buffalo sauce.
To add to our overall experience, we also enjoyed the beverage pairing. The first course was served with a spritzer a la Trentina, which consisted of Cappalletti (an Italian liquor similar to Campari), prosecco and soda water.

The second course or "Crudo" was comprised of raw yellowtail jack fish with blood orange segments, trout roe, beet yogurt and micro greens. This course was served with a Szigeti sparkling wine out of Austria.

The third course or "Egg Over Embers" had us enjoying broccoli greens braised with beer vinegar and speck, topped with a TNT Ohio farm egg and salt cured egg shavings.

Our fourth course or "Funghi" consisted of an oyster mushroom salad with puffed rice and pickled beach mushrooms. This course was served with a cider from the Normandy region of France.

The addition of a bread course was daunting, but damn delicious. The wild ferment pane pita was served with cold pressed virgin olive oil & an edible beef suet candle. The candle was presented to us just like any regular candle, but after it melted it because this delicate dipping sauce. Amazing.

The sixth course (after bread) was the pasta or "Estruso" course. This was incredibly unique and inventive. The house made lumachi pasta was rolled in ash to give it its black color. The pasta was perfectly cooked and tossed with shrimp and garlic shrimp butter. This course was served with an Abbazia di Noabbazia Kerner; an Italian white wine similar to a Riesling.

Next was the seventh course or "Fuoco Pesce Arrosto". A wild striped bass with warm grapes and breadcrumbs. This course was served with as Abbazia di Novacella Schiava; an Italian red wine similar to a Pinot Noir.

The eighth or "Aged Risotta" course was a parsnip and saffron risotto with crispy parsnips. This course was served with a 2014 J. Hofstatter Meczan Pinot Nero; a Pinot Noir from the Trentino region of Italy.

The "Farmhouse Vegetable" and ninth course consisted of wood-fired Brussels sprouts with parsnips topped with Iberico ham.

The 10th or "Beast" course was a hay and wood-fired chuck eye complete with broccoli charred over fire with a roasted eggplant puree and hollandaise. This course was paired with a warm and robust Tedeschi Capitel San Rocco Valpolicella Ripasso.

The 11th course was a surprise where we were asked to revisit our favorite course of the night. Although we were not required to choose the same dish, and after much contemplation, we decided to revisit the snacks. Not surprisingly, we were incredibly full at this point of the meal and we wanted to maximize the flavors we had already experienced. We each took one bite and were very satisfied.

The "Primi Dolci" and 12th course was so incredibly delicious we could have eaten it two...or three more times. The fruit sorbet with meringue and crumble is impossible to explain. The sorbet and meringue melted in our mouths and seemed to never enter our stomach. Yes, we have experienced palate cleansers as part of many meals, but this was extraordinary and delicately satisfying. This course was served with a Berlucchi Cuvee.

Our 13th course or "Dolci" was a lemon and olive oil cake with ricotta, caramel and dehydrated olives. This final course was served with our ninth cocktail; an il Porto Portuguese port wine.

Four hours, 13 courses and nine drinks pairings. A true culinary experience that we'll never forget.