There was Iberico and Serrano ham at the Iberian table, Italian-style gremolata served with the steaks and – thanks to the green-thumbs of students at Baltimore’s Greene Street Academy – some unusual Ravens-hued, purple-skinned carrots in the roasted vegetable dish.
This was just a bit of the stylish fare served up at the recent “Taste of Classic” event, held at the Johns Hopkins’ Evergreen House. Organized by sometime Brew sponsor, the Classic Catering People, the evening of food and drink was meant to showcase new dishes they will be featuring this year.
Think of it as the culinary version of “a fashion show that reflects a particular season,” said Harriet Dopkin, president and partner, speaking at the 200-guest event. (It was held as a fundraiser for Our Daily Bread, the venerable soup kitchen and multi-service community organization located downtown on the Fallsway.)
“We love to travel and we love to eat,” Dopkin said. “We experience food in many places and and then come back and share the impressions and food we’ve had. If we can be a little whimsical, we are.””
Eclectic and International
I enjoyed some outstanding dishes including Chef Donald Martin’s sliced-to-order t-bone steak, cooked on the grill Italian-style, with only salt and pepper, olive oil and lemon and accented with gremolata, an Italian mixture of minced parsley, garlic and lemon zest. It was served with sauteed fennel, mushrooms, pignoli and grated cheese.
There was a seafood station laden with oysters from Quonset Point, Mass., Unami from Rhode Island, and Blue Points from Connecticut.
At the sushi table, chefs steamed mussels and rolled seaweed cones filled with crabmeat, scallions and rice.
The aforementioned Iberian table (staffed by chefs Jon Lindenauer and Brian Davis, our Brew Decants food guru) had all that earthy Spanish ham, plus fried cheese and mushroom croquettes served with olives,peppers and piquillo espalate, a mild pepper spread.
There were great cheeses and membrillo (firm guava jelly) and assorted pickles, including baby carrots, onions, and best of all radishes – a veritable tapas heaven.
Wild and Wonderful Drinks
The chocolate mousse was the crowd-pleaser, but what stood out to me was the chocolate beet cake topped with cherry chorizo marmalade and the lavender panna cotta.
As for drinks, there was a rosé sangria, a cocktail composed of Chartreuse and lime and – the winner – Sgroppino al Limone, a spring refresher of lemon sorbet, vodka and prosecco.
The most unusual? That would be the icy cold beer flavored with orange bitters and coriander.
There were also three non-alcoholic refreshers that I made at home with ingredients from local farmers markets. (The first includes a basil lemon syrup which, in full disclosure, I used to make a white wine spritzer that was quite tasty.)
STRAWBERRY BASIL LEMONADE
Heat 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, rind of 1 lemon, ½ cup fresh basil until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and cool. (May be refrigerated until needed.) In a large pitcher, place 2 cups of hulled and diced strawberries, 1t½ cups of fresh lemon juice, the lemon basil syrup, 2 cups of ice and 2 cups cold water. Sweeten if needed.
ROSEMARY LEMON RHUBARB SPRITZER
Combine 1 pound rhubarb (about 4 long stalks), cleaned, cut crosswise into ½ inch slices, 2 cups water, 1½ cups sugar and 3 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves in saucepan. Boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Rhubarb will disintegrate. Strain out the solids and add ½ cup lemon juice, or more to taste. Chill. Pour over ice and top with soda water.
LAVENDER ICED TEA
Boil ½ cup sugar, 1 cup water and 1/4 cup tender green lavender leaves in a small saucepan to make syrup. Make your favorite ice tea and sweeten with the lavender syrup.