When reading Rust Belt Chic, what stood out to me the most were stories of immigrants moving to Cleveland and finding comfort once they connected with the people and things that reminded them of their heritage. There are all kinds of pockets of culture here in Cleveland, preserving things from foreign lands to comfort some and introduce to others. Recently I went to a tasting at Flour in Moreland Hills with my friend Rita, who was born and lived in Italy growing up. Flour is running a series of tasting dinners featuring 'new school' versions of dishes from different regions in Italy, starting with Calabria. You'd find this region in the toe of the boot and specializing in eggplant and fish. It was a little bit of comfort of the past for Rita and an introduction to something new for me.
Introducing - Menu Calabrese This was all foreign to me so I just sat back, took pictures and enjoyed the ride.
Course one: Minestra di Fava e Cipollo This Fava Bean and Red Onion Soup was possibly the most intricate soup I can ever remember having. Yea, it might not look very soup like in the picture below, but that is because there is a thin crackery crisp on top. The crisp melts into the soup as you dig in and also melts in your mouth in the most delightful way.
Course two: Tortiera d' Alic The Baked Anchovies and Breadcrumbs dish was by far the most foreign to me, but I love to try new things and feel comfortable doing so in when its come from a great chef such as Matthew Mytro. This was one anchovy coated in fluffy delicious breadcrumbs on top of a tomato floating over a bold creamy sauce. The tomato was meaty in texture and flavor and the whole thing worked very well together.
Course three: Melazane all'insalata I'm all about the Eggplant Caponata! This was my favorite dish. Wafer thin eggplant thins sandwiched in between light creamy eggplant with bits of chocolate sprinkled in. I would order this as a dessert! It was the perfect balance of sweet and savory that permanently embeds a flavor memory into my brain.
Course four: Baccala alla di Pate Squid Ink Gnocchi and Salt Cod was a work of art! It took me forever to take a bite because it was just so pretty to look at. The flavor on the gnocchi was really surprising. Very fresh from the sea taste with a silky texture. This is a dish I would order again and again.