When a business concern wanted to organize an (almost) all-Ohio-sourced dinner that would in part benefit groups like Local Matters recently, naturally they turned to Alana. In fact, the guy putting this party together said if Alana couldn't pull it off, he wouldn't even bother calling anyone else.
Well guess what: she pulled it off — and then some — just a couple of nights ago. I'm still daydreaming about that meal!
This stunning, heavily Ohio-stamped, tripartite menu was (most of) what we feasted on
Some off-menu apps were these salty and crispy Bluescreek Farms smoked ham sauerkraut balls...
...and these awesome tempura-ed chanterelle mushrooms (from the wonderfully named, Athens-area "farmer" called Fruit-of-the-Moon) served with a spicy teriyaki sauce.
Plump, salty and addictive fried Blue Jacket Gretna cheese with a bright and lively minted tomato sauce (Sub-Urban Farms)
Omelet-like tortas of truffled Fruit-Of-The-Moon shiitakes
Behold the best eggplant dish in town: Fruity, herby, tomato-free yet intensely delicious caponata (made with Rhoads Farms eggplant)
Sweet, sweet roasted beets (from the, uh, "Dangling Carrot" Farmer) with fennel pollen from Alana's garden
A real knockout: Toad Hill 8-Ball zucchinis (loved these things immensely!) stuffed with a tangily cheesy Moroccan-spiced ground lamb mixture
Alana's famous, insanely rich and opulent (Rhoads) tomato stack; kinda like a reconfigured and reimagined breadless lobster roll made with Amish eggs, shaved onions (from an ex-Wayward Seed person) Toad Hill greens, Minerva Cheddar plus a ton o' lovely "Scioto" Lobster (obviously Alana was joking here, they're from Maine) plus killer King crabmeat.
Then it was time to sink into spectacular meats from Ohio Proud, a prison reform farming organization. Behind the wildly tender beef fillet is incredible pulled goat shank served with an unctuous blueberry risotto (Dangling Carrot and Mark Levine's "Gang of Foragers")
A most unusual and most inspired and most delicious Amish Bean Salad. This brightly acidic and almost gingery lavender-kissed dish (with lavender from "Medary Farms" i.e. Alana's sous-chef John's garden) of firm, chilled beans helped mediate the richness of the meat course. It was made with Dragon's Lingerie beans (surely must cause those Amish farmers to blush), lima beans, and I would eat it this bold and healthy thing every night if possible.
Other terrific sides were: (Toad Hill) arugula with rosemary roasted potatoes...
...and sweet (Rhoads) corn-flecked hushpuppies.
North Market's Omega Bakery's cherry focaccia topped with (Hirsch Farms) sour cherry relish and goat cheese (Integration Acres from Athens)-- fun, salty and tangy; plus black walnut shortbread (Integration Acres) paired with Osage Lane's super-fun, super-salty and super-tangy goat's milk feta.
This lemon curd and citrus poundcake (left) was made with citrus grown in an Ohio greenhouse--but of course you must always expect the unexpected at Alana's.... including a "Jerked" Peach Tart Tatin (right).
Not only did I eat all of this, but I also knocked back a few other courses that went unphotographed. It was a great night and a brilliant illustration of how proudly "Ohioan" you can actually eat when the right chef is at the helm!