“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
If it wasn’t obvious from my first post, let me say unambiguously: I LOVE FOOD. I’m certainly not unique in that respect, what with Food Network chefs having near rock star status and food blogs flooding the web. But when it comes to food, I’m fine with being “just another foodie,” so long as it means I get to eat my weight in duck confit. While this is not meant to be a “food blog,” it will certainly be a frequent topic of conversation due to my preoccupation with all things edible. And, having recently been the fortunate recipient of an invitation to the annual truffle dinner at Michelangelo’s in Little Italy, I simply had to share the experience with all my fellow foodies out there. In a nutshell, when God invites you to dinner, I imagine this is what he serves.
I have no official credentials for evaluating the quality of prepared food, but I have an eager palate and a deep appreciation for “yum.” Food is a cherished hobby, and when I’ve eaten something that makes my pupils dilate, I have to give props. And everything about this meal was unadulterated YUM! Six courses worth. And from antipasto to dolce, Michael Annandono and his staff have proven that Cleveland is a contender in the culinary arena.
The first course was tuna crudo, which is apparently Italy’s version of sashimi. It was topped with shaved truffles and a fried quail egg, which was almost too adorable to eat. Yet eat it, I did. With enthusiasm. Following that was a truffle and porcini mushroom crepe tied with a pretty little bow and placed over a delightful cream sauce with more shaved truffles. Sublime.
Now, I’m not sure anything could really be bad if it has shaved truffles on it, but the next course would have been pure Heaven even without them. Pumpkin gnocchi in truffle cream with toma piemonte cheese and shaved truffles. All served inside a mini pumpkin shell. I’m not typically a fan of gnocchi, but the gnocchis were smaller than the normal, doughy, half-golf ball-sized dumplings you generally get in a restaurant. Besides, I think I’d eat just about anything covered in truffle cream and toma piemonte cheese. I stopped just short of putting my whole face in the pumpkin shell to lick the remaining sauce, as something in the mortified look on my handsome companion’s face told me this would be our last date if I did. Talk about tough life decisions. I spooned it out, instead.
I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the gnocchi when the next course arrived, but the presentation did divert my attention for a moment. Seared duck breast over truffle polenta with a Nebbiolo-red currant reduction and more shaved truffles. Delightful…though admittedly I was still thinking about the gnocchi.
However, when our server brought a grilled beef tenderloin in a huckleberry demi glace served over spaghetti squash with shaved truffles, I was in love. The tenderloin was so tender it was like eating butter. But oh so much better. It made me quiver just a bit to run my finger through the glaze and bring it to my lips….
I’m sorry, where was I?
The end of the evening brought a few tears, as it’s always tough to say good bye to something you love. But it also brought a vanilla bean truffle gelato with wild flower honey. Not that I would admit this to my companion, but this is the stuff that women really daydream about. Guys, if you want to keep your ladies happy, keep a pint of vanilla bean truffle gelato in your freezer.
I’ve been to many nice restaurants in our city and have enjoyed some spectacular food. But the truffle dinner at Michelangelo’s was something special. While the food took center stage, everyone involved with the dinner is the embodiment of culinary professionalism. From the divine food, to the cheerful servers who never left guests wanting or needing anything at all, to the charming and charismatic manager, Jon Fronck, to the energetic Riccardo Sgarra who introduced us to the Paolo Scavino Winery and the outstanding wines it produces, the evening was truly as I imagine dining in Heaven would be. I will visit Michelangelo’s many times in the next year, but I am counting the days until the next truffle dinner! © Racheal Lee Bradford