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Monday, March 12, 2012

The Art of Food - a free exhibit!

Last Friday night was one of the big foodie events of the year - the opening night of The Art of Food at the Carnegie in Covington, KY. They have this event every year and while you missed the opening night event - the art is all still on display through April 13. The best part of that is - entry to the museum outside of the opening night - is free!

Photo courtesy of Becca Birckhead
I actually got to help a TINY bit in the planning - I wanted to help more - but just started my new job when the planning began and got a little too swamped. That said, I knew about some of the events that were going to be a part of the show. 

It's a sensory overload for the eyes and the belly - the candy girls were engaging. I could have just stared at them all night - just to see all the candy and food items that were on their dresses. It was a really fun living piece of art. 

Becca's picture above is much better - I realize - she is a coworker and sent me a few of her pics - which I appreciate. The fun factor was there - even if the pics aren't as good! :-)

In addition to the candy girls, there was an art piece hanging and spinning in the center of the room by Jim Merz. It was really fun and bright - like Tupperware made into art.

After admiring the initial artwork - it was time to get some grub on. Otto's was first up - this was a nice start - it wasn't too crazy with the smoked salmon flavor but was nice and flavorful. Otto's is a nice place that I've been to a couple of times - and this was a good representation of their dishes.

Next up was La Poste with the Django Beef Tongue Tacos. I've had tongue before at La Mexicana and decided not to tell Larry what it was before he took a bite. He didn't even ask - just thought it was steak! The meat was tender and the flavor light. Not too bad...

Next in the line was Virgil's - now they have a special place in my heart since they catered my wedding. Matt was serving up bread and it was warm and delicious. With the tornadoes that evening, he opted for a spot INSIDE.

He also had jambalya and I have to say - early on it was one of my favorites of the night. The sausage and shrimp were tasty and it wasn't too spicy. I would definitely order that some cold evening!

FireSide Pizza opted for something uber-simple - caprese salad on a stick. It wasn't really anything special but with all the heavy options around the room - this was a nice and refreshing break!

And they got their social media on as well - which I always have to respsect! 

Next we stopped over at Taste of Belgium's table and while the waffles tempted Larry - he knew he couldn't have them. But they had an option for something he could eat! Stoemp de Lent which was a potato mash with milk, fresh cod and chive. It was fine - not something I'd really order - but interesting to try.

They also had their take on Chicken & Waffles served with maple syrup & hot sauce. I wasn't a fan of this - I love their waffles when they're warm - but two big chunks of cold waffle with cold chicken just was too dry when you put it all together.

I'm showing this photo in the X-Large size just so you all can see the look on Jean Robert's face. I should have a caption contest for this one. PRICELESS.

From Jean Robert's Table I had Duck & Chicken Leg Confit Salad on top of Quinoa w/Lentils, Dried Cherries, Cranberries & Honey Mustard Banyuls Dressing. I have to say - the "chicken salad" was good but I'm not much of a fan of the bottom half of the dish. It's a texture thing - I don't like things popping and crunching. Lots of unique flavors though - and it was refreshing. 

Next in the circle was SmoQ where Larry tried rabbit for the first time! They were serving up chicken, rabbit and...
...suckling pig! I picture all the vegetarians running + screaming right about now! Sorry - I did feel bad for the little guy! 

You could also try their house-made sauces and relishes as well. While this wasn't my favorite food of the night - it was my favorite staff of the night. Jackson and his crew were hilarious and so chatty - that alone made me want to go.

From Bouquet I got something I've never had before - a 55 minute egg! FIFTY FIVE MINUTES! It was served with taragon creme fraiche, yucca chip, pickled fennel bulb and brown butter solids. I hate hate hate fennel - but other than that - it was wonderful and the egg - wow - 55 minutes of perfection!

More art work adorning the floor - a treasure chest full of sugar topped with the word CAVITY.

Next - my favorite dessert of the night: Honey! This was delicious and really light! The shortbread's blueberry flavor was mild, the lemon curd was tart but not overwhelming and the whipped hive was light and creamy - just amazing!

One artist was making candy dots and a girl even wore a candy dot dress!

From Fresh Table, there was a grilled shrimp with chipotle aioli on top of a fresh corn cake. While I don't really remember even eating this beautiful dish - I do remember I liked it! They also gave Larry a couple of shrimp ala carte since he couldn't eat the sandwich.

Eric Brass' art was really fun and had celebs with their faces made from labels. And of course Paula Deen was made out of butter! Also - this artwork is all for sale as well - so for $300 - this could be yours!

Another artist created an inedible fish market. They sort of felt like gummy bears. 

Upstairs I think there was actually more art - so when you head to the gallery don't forget the upstairs. Vicky Kimble has art made entirely of balloons! This "Sizzlin' Skillet" could be yours for just $295!

Washington Platform had a twist on a southern favorite with Crab & Grits. I'm not a big grits fan (although I do like the ones at Hugo). These were along the lines of the ones I'm not a fan of - but the crab was sweet & buttery!

The glass toast was a big hit and they custom made a few pieces for the Art of Food. It all did make me a bit hungry for breakfast.

Photo courtesy of Becca Birckhead
I was a little shocked at my favorite for the night. View Cucina (same chef as Bella Luna) served up Prime Rib Cannelloni. The sauce was mild and full of rich tomato flavor, the pasta and cheese was creamy and soothing and the meat was tender and delicious. I've been to Bella Luna a couple of times and never really liked it much (except for the bread pudding) - but this was really great!

Europa served up slow cooked roast boar (Larry's first time trying this as well) served over polenta - which he really liked. They also had blueberry bread pudding which was okay but would have been better if it was warm.

Marc Bodenstein (formerly of Nuvo and a bunch of other places) is now with Nicholson's and he was serving up something I've never had before! I was a bit worried but decided I had to at least try it. Foie gras parfait with wild greens & nasturtium (it's a flower).

I'm sorry Mark - but this was gross. Maybe it's just the lack of a fancy enough palate but wowza - the pungent flavor was something I did not like.

Something I did like - was this lady's boots - those are awesome!

With very full bellies - we staggered downstairs - heads spinning from all the art - all the food - all the fun. On the way, we found one last item to sample. A dessert - it was a delight! It was light and fluffy - with a cilantro sorbet on top. I didn't love the sorbet - but the rest was amazing!

On the way out - I took a peek back in and saw all the fun and hub-ub still going on. I like going to the opening early because it gets so packed and hot - so for me - I like to get in early and get out early!

And on the way out - I almost grabbed a cookie! It would have been a very rubbery cookie.

I hope you'll all go and see the Art of Food at the Carnegie. This is such a wonderful exhibit and while I deluged you with a million photos - it's not even 1/10th of the art on exhibit. Plus it's free! The Carnegie is most definitely a gem and this exhibit is one not to be missed.
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