“True Blood” Dinner a toothsome treat!

Well, this Tenant has sure had her hands full (not to mention her stomach) attending all these amazing Bistro events this fall, but they’re all so good that doing so is inevitably a pleasure. This year’s new edition of Chef Ruth’s “True Blood” dinner was certainly no exception. Once again, she amazed us all with the concoctions cooked up for this repast. Let’s review!

Things got off to a pleasing start with our aperitif, Toffoli Pink Shadow Prosecco. This was a lovely Italian red sparkling wine with a light berry flavor that prepared us well for the first course, Rare Ahi Tuna on Organic Greens with Blood Orange and Pomegranate Vinaigrette. Not every dinner begins with a light dish, but this one did, and it was perfect. The tuna, of course, was fresh as could be and the vinaigrette added a spicy sweet-and-sour touch. The wine chosen for this course was Shingle Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz, yet another bubbly red. I’d never tasted such a light-bodied, sparkling Shiraz before, at least not that I can recall, so this fruity pleaser from Australia was a revelation.

Next came a dish that is usually served more casually in New Orleans, an Oyster Po’ Boy sandwich, breaded and fried oysters tucked into a long roll with a spicy remoulade sauce. This one was accompanied by a Red Cabbage Slaw with, I think, a touch of jicama added. Just delicious! I think I could have eaten about three of these sandwiches if I didn’t have three more courses to eat. Our drink for this course was Bacon Bloody Mary Shots, a tasty little vial of tomato juice combined with bacon-infused vodka and I’m not sure what else, but it was good.

The third course was the True Blood Tenderloin, a lovely red slab of rare beef sauced and stabbed through the middle with the only thing you can stab anything with on “True Blood” night: a tiny wooden stake. Alongside was a little lagniappe not mentioned on the original menu: a mound of Louisiana-style “Bloody Red Beans and Rice.” Perfect! The meat was soft as velvet and full of flavor, and the red beans and rice added a touch of spice to the plate. The Sly Dog Cabernet served alongside, from Lake County, California, was just right: a smooth complement without being too heavy.

The final savory dish really brought the bayou-style spice to this meal: Creole Shrimp and Grits. The perfectly cooked shrimp lay on the fluffy grits in a pool of rich tomato sauce flavored with onion, peppers, spices and andouille sausage chunks. My dinner partners could not stop raving about this one. They want to see it on the regular menu, and I can’t blame them. Again, the wine served with this course was not particularly heavy: Howling Moon Old Vine Zinfandel, a California red, was more spicy than weighty.

For dessert, we enjoyed three very different kinds of deliciousness. First was the unbelievable Pecan Pie, in which the taste of the huge, perfectly toasted nuts shone through in the ideal balance of sweet and nutty. Next was the scoop of Sweet Potato Ice Cream, full of that delicious fall flavor, not unlike pumpkin in many ways, just a delight. Then there was that yummy little lagniappe with the pink topping: a chocolate cup topped with whipped cream flavored with cinnamon red-hot candies. Ruth called these “Red Devils.” I adore cinnamon red hots, so I loved this. Delicious cranberry drizzle snaked all around the plate and made everything taste even better. To drink, we enjoyed tiny glasses of Blood Orange Chocolate Sabra, which has to be one of the most delicious liqueurs ever made.

One thing’s for sure: when Ruth and Marc invite you to the Bistro for a “bite,” you go home happy. “True Blood, Season 2” did good things to everyone, and even kept with that Louisiana tradition of including a little something extra and unexpected to delight us. Are they already thinking about new ways to go for our jugular next year? Guess we’ll have to wait and see!

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Join us for a bite at our True Blood Dinner Oct. 27

We wanna do…um, actually, good things with you!

What’s the story behind our theme for October’s special dinner at the Bistro?
Well, if you’ve ever had a chance to talk with Chef Ruth about the topic of TV, one thing you know is that her favorite show is HBO’s True Blood. She can’t get enough of the saga of the vampires, telepaths, and shapeshifters that inhabit Bon Temps, Louisiana, where the good times bleed as much as they roll. So what better theme for the month of Halloween than a dinner based on True Blood?

It wasn’t long before Ruth came up with the perfect tribute: a dinner composed entirely of red dishes and red libations, from appetizers to dessert. And quite a few of them are inspired by classic Louisiana cuisine. Here’s what’s on the menu:

First Course
Shrimp Fritters with Red Devil Aioli

Second Course
Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage
Red Beans and Rice

Third Course
Roasted Red Beet and Pomegranate Salad
Balsamic Drizzle

Fourth Course
Seared Ahi Tuna with Red Cherry Sauce

Fifth Course
Roasted Beef Tenderloin Medallion with Red Wine Sauce
Root Vegetable Mash

Sixth Course
Red Velvet Cake with Raspberry Coulis

The dinner starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. on October 27 and is $65 per person, tax and gratuity additional. But the dinner itself isn’t the whole story. Sign up for this one and you can earn yourself a nice treat while helping up to three other people — and possibly even saving their lives.

As you may have heard, right now our region is in desperate need of blood. This time of year is often a low time for donations, and the need is critical. Because when it comes to “true blood,” there is no substitute!

That’s why, when you register for the Bistro 185 True Blood Dinner and donate blood between now and October 27, you’ll earn a $25 gift certificate good for a future visit to the Bistro. Simply show us your Red Cross blood donor card indicating the date of your donation to receive your gift certificate.

To make a donation appointment or for more information, call 1.800.RED.CROSS or visit the Red Cross blood donation Web site. To make donating easier, we’ll be publicizing locations and times of blood donation opportunities over the next month here on the blog. You can also find donation locations and times near your area on that site by plugging in your ZIP code. (The locations and times we list here on the blog will be based on our ZIP code, 44119.)

Here are a few locations you can take advantage of tomorrow!

Donation Locations and Times

Sept. 29
Cleveland Clinic Surgical Center
9500 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

200 Public Square (former BP Building), Cleveland
10 a.m.-2 p.m.

John Carroll University
20700 North Park Blvd., University Heights
Noon-7 p.m.

Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
1:30-8 p.m.

We’ll continue to post blood donation locations and times here on the blog up until the time of the True Blood Dinner. Even if you can’t attend the dinner, we’re hoping you will consider the critical need for blood and make a donation.

Come “Join Us for a Bite” on October 27 and help your community! Call 216.481.9635 and make your reservation today — then call the Red Cross and schedule your blood donation appointment. “True Blood: There Is No Substitute. Donate Now!”

Chef Todd’s latest brings more Cajun flavor

Chef Todd is sticking with the flavors of delicious cuisine New Orleans-style this week with his new special, Blackened Medallions of Beef and Shrimp. It’s definitely not the same old surf-and-turf! The cooked-to-order beef medallions and shrimp are blackened just right and, like the vegetable medley of stewed okra, lima beans, and tomatoes accompanying them, sparked with plenty of Cajun spices. You also get a cone of “dirty rice” and a cup of sour cream that provides a tasty cool contrast to the heat, as well as a slice of lemon for your shrimp. Stop in for this one and spice up your week!

Chef Todd planning a Prudhomme pleaser

This week’s Chef Todd Special will change beginning Wednesday night (in the meantime, if you haven’t come by for the Bourbon Street Duck, you can still enjoy it Monday and Tuesday). Todd is busily researching the work of Paul Prudhomme to select a special dish to offer this week; he hasn’t yet made up his mind, but with Prudhomme as inspiration, you can be assured it’ll be some sort of Cajun-style treat. Watch this space for more details!

Shrimp Étouffée lets “les bons temps rouler”!

JuliaProject924For those craving some real Cajun fire in their meal, this dish, as Emeril loves to say, kicks it up a notch. The deep reddish-brown sauce brings the spice and the heat just the way you like it! It’s full of plump whole shrimp and shrimp pieces swimming in the sauce with the peppers, onions and other flavorings, with a bed of soft, fluffy white rice smack dab in the middle. And we kicked it up another notch by adding a couple of black-bean-and-corn fritters — kind of like souped-up hush puppies — to each bowlful. It’s a BAM! to your tastebuds New Orleans-style. Try it! Or, if you missed last night’s moussaka and are regretting it, you’re in luck, because it’s our reprise dish tonight. Cajun or Greek — you make the call!

Behind the Dish: Shrimp Étouffée

The master chef who provided Julia with the recipe for today’s Julia Project dish is one likely familiar to many: Emeril Lagasse, the Cajun/Creole chef whose presence on TV is ubiquitous. (You can see him preparing the dish at the video linked here.)

Shrimp Étouffé calls for, first, a butter-and-flour roux, to which are added chopped onions, bell peppers and celery, minced garlic, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cayenne pepper and, of course, “Essence” (a combination of paprika, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano and dried thyme). Then shrimp stock is added and the whole combination is boiled, then simmered. Raw shrimp is seasoned with more of the Essence and added them to the pot and cooked through. With a little parsley added, the finished dish is served on steamed white rice and garnished with green onion. BAM!