“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!

Here’s a little taste of “True Blood” in advance!

We’re almost ready for our “True Blood” Wine Dinner tonight…are you?

The tenderloins are ready to cook…

The sweet potato ice cream is churned, swirled and set to go…and we can tell you now, it tastes marvelous…

…and what have we here? This wasn’t on the original menu…

…Hmm. Could this be what they call in Louisiana a “lagniappe”–something unexpected, a little extra treat? And if so, what is it?…Oh no, we’re not telling you that. You’ll just have to find out tonight!

Take another “bite” of Bon Temps with “True Blood: Season 2”!

[Disclaimer: The video above contains adult situations. Not intended for viewing by children.]

It was a sellout last October, and it’s back again–the dinner that brought a bite of Sookie Stackhouse’s world into the Bistro to raise everyone’s Halloween spirits. And this year’s “True Blood Dinner” (aka “True Blood Season 2”), although it’s shape-shifted a bit, once again features a full menu of all-red toothsome delights. Chef Ruth has taken care to incorporate New Orleans-style dishes into this year’s offerings to ensure the proper Cajun/Creole atmosphere as depicted in the HBO series. And, like the show itself, the dinner includes plenty of “spirits”–in this case, libations from aperitif to dessert liqueur–in keeping with the red/”blood” theme:

Aperitif
Toffoli Pink Shadow Prosecco

First Course
Rare Ahi Tuna
Organic Greens
Blood Orange and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Wine: Shingleback Black Bubbles Sparkling Shiraz

Second Course
Oyster Po’Boy
Spicy Remoulade Sauce
Red Cabbage Slaw
Cocktail: Bacon Bloody Mary Shots

Third Course
True Blood Tenderloin–Rare
Wine: Sly Dog Cabernet

Fourth Course
Creole Shrimp and Grits
Wine: Howling Moon Old Vine Zinfandel

Fifth Course
Pecan Pie
Sweet Potato Ice Cream
Cranberry Drizzle
Liqueur: Blood Orange Chocolate Sabra

Cost of the dinner is $60 per person plus tax and gratuity. If you were here for last year’s, you’ll want to return (and feel free to wear your True Blood shirt, if you have one, to get into the spirit of things!); if you missed it, you’ll want to make sure you don’t this time. Call 216.481.9635 now and make your reservation for our “witching hour,” 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 27–and get ready for a dinner sure to be “bloody marvelous”!

October’s bringing a wealth of fall feasts!

While you’re waiting for a review and video of our Israeli Fusion Dinner this past Wednesday, why not catch up on what we’ve got planned for next month and make sure your reservations are in for everything you plan to attend? We’ve got something for everyone in October: vegans, beer lovers, wine lovers, seafood enthusiasts and, yes, those who’d like to spend another Halloween season enjoying dinner Sookie Stackhouse-style.

First up is our “Taste of Fall” 3-for-$30 Vegan Dinner Thursday, October 13. Available from 5 to 9 p.m., this three-course meal highlights rich and homey autumn flavors for cooler weather:

Appetizer
Fried Green Tomato and Arugula Salad
Green Goddess Dressing

Entree
Crispy “Chicken” (Gardein) Marsala with Shiitake Mushrooms
Vegan Gnocchi with Roasted Root Fall Vegetables

Dessert
Pumpkin Creme Brulee

For those who get a hankering in the crisp, cool weather to head out to the beach, build a bonfire, dig a pit and enjoy a good old-fashioned clambake–but who would be happy to spare themselves the work of cooking–we have good news. The Bistro Clam Bake is back! On Friday, October 14 between 5 and 9 p.m., we’ll be serving up individual clambakes at a cost of $48.50 per person. With each clambake package, you get Manhattan clam chowder, 1 1/2 Ib. whole lobster, 1/4 barbecued chicken, a dozen middleneck clams, corn on the cob, a roasted sweet potato, slaw, cornbread and butter. It’s one of Cleveland’s favorite types of fall celebration, and you don’t even have to cook it yourself to enjoy it! We’ll have extra clams by the dozen available at $10.50 per order; just let us know ahead of time so we can get you as many as you like.

To get yourself in the mood for our next event, watch this:

Prohibition, Ken Burns’ documentary on the effects of the Eighteenth Amendment, debuts in October on PBS. And, as it so happens, October 14-22 is Cleveland Beer Week. What better way to celebrate a festival of beer and a documentary on Prohibition than to salute the end of that 14-year booze ban? Our Twenty-First Amendment Beer Dinner (named for the amendment that repealed Prohibition) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 18, will pair five courses with five beer selections at a cost of $45 per person. Take a look at this lineup:

First Course
House Smoked Chicken Mac and Cheese
Beer: Back in Black IPA

Second Course
Slow Roasted Beef Short Rib in a Red Zinfandel Reduction Sauce
Fall Root Vegetable Mash
Beer: Brew Free or Die IPA

Third Course
Fried Green Tomato-Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad
Beer: Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer

Fourth Course
Mojo Shrimp with Corn Pudding
Beer: Hop Crisis

Fifth Course
Bread Pudding
Orange-Vanilla-Fig Balsamic Sauce
Beer: Seasonal to be Determined

This dinner is bound to please all fans of the brew. But if beer isn’t your favorite beverage, perhaps you prefer something else. Something a little redder. Wine or…another drink entirely? As Halloween draws closer, we’re preparing just the dinner for you. Yes, Chef Ruth is once again indulging her adoration for her favorite TV series with a “True Blood: Season 2″ Wine and Spirits Dinner Thursday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m. The menu’s not ready yet, so watch this space to see which way she goes with her theme this time. Just don’t wait–make your reservations now, because this one was a sellout last year!

To reserve your prepaid reservation for any of these dinners, call 216.481.9635. Then get ready to enjoy fabulous food and decadent drink at the Bistro!

“True Blood” Dinner was frighteningly good!

The Tenant has another dinner review ready at last…and this one was fun and tasty indeed! It was great to see how much people got into the theme of this dinner, whether it was dressing up for a real “evening out” or outfitting themselves Sookie Stackhouse-style with Bon Temps T-shirts and the like. It was all to enjoy a truly special combination of dishes–all red, and all perfectly prepared.

The festivities began with two dishes very suited to the Louisiana setting of the True Blood TV series: Shrimp Fritters with Red Devil Aioli and Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage, Red Beans and Rice. The shrimp fritters, tender and deliciously spiked with corn, tasted wonderful with the fiery aioli. The jambalaya also brought the Southern heat, full of spice, peppers, savory sausage, onions, and red beans in a rich red-orange sauce. To relieve the flames a bit, the first beverage on the menu was a very refreshing “Vampire Cocktail” consisting of Chambord, vodka, and cranberry juice with a slice of lime. It packed a cool and tasty punch indeed. To accompany the jambalaya, we were served glasses of Michael David Sixth Sense Syrah, an earthy, fruity wine whose pepperiness went well with the sauce.

For the third course, we got the chance to really cool down a bit. The Roasted Red Beet and Pomegranate Salad with Balsamic Drizzle brought crisp sweetness to the table, with scarlet chunks of beet and fruit accented and contrasted by the crunchy yellow pomegranate seeds. I never really ate beets as a child, so I never had any idea how delicious they could be until I tried Chef Ruth’s treatments of them–a wonderful contrast of the sweet and the savory. The wine that joined it, Dracula Zinfandel, had a nice touch of fruity sweetness, but was rich and robust as well.

Course number four was Seared Ahi Tuna with Red Cherry Sauce. Searing meant the outside of each slender slice of tuna was just lightened, while the center retained the rich red color of fresh tuna. The slices sat in a pool of sauce enhanced with a touch of Asian flavoring: five-spice powder and star anise. This was tuna like I’ve never had it before, and very tasty. Its wine pairing was the single exception to the rule of the evening, Vampire Chardonnay from Vampire Vineyards. This light, breezy wine fit in nicely at this point of the menu and went well with the fish.

For the fifth course, beef took the spotlight, with roasted medallions of tenderloin in red wine sauce, accompanied by root vegetable mash. The medallions were perfectly cooked and the wine sauce was just right. The vegetable mash was complex and interesting, a change from mashed potatoes with a fresh, almost minty kind of touch. The wine for this course was Vampire Pinot Noir, full-bodied and beefy enough to sit beside it very nicely.

Finally, along came dessert, the promised Red Velvet Cake with Raspberry Coulis. Here, I think many of us expected a traditional devil’s-food cake colored red, but we got a tasty twist: more like a pale sponge cake colored bright red by coulis, topped with fondant and garnished with raspberries (both real fresh berries and a German candy raspberry on top!) and layered with and surrounded by more coulis. Yummy! Our dessert wine was Villa M. Rosso Brachetto, a rosy-colored sweet wine with an airy, sparkling feeling and taste.

Any questions as to whether an all-red six-course menu could embody enough variety and richness of contrast in flavors and experiences were certainly put to rest by this meal. Chef Ruth came up with a “toothsome” Halloween-season fest for all! The “bon temps” definitely “rolled” at the True Blood Dinner!

More blood donation opportunities!

Thanks to all of you whose enthusiasm helped us sell out our True Blood Dinner! Now, if you haven’t donated blood yet to get your $25 Bistro certificate, here are some more places you can still do it:

October 24
American Red Cross Donor Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Lyndhurst Community Presbyterian Church
5312 Mayfield Rd., Lyndhurst
Noon-4 p.m.

And there’s more! On Tuesday, October 26, the Red Cross’s Northern Ohio Blood Services Region will hold its annual Halloween blood drive from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, 5783 Heisley Rd., Mentor. All who come to donate will receive an exclusive American Red Cross Halloween T-shirt. Donors will also be given a free meal and have the chance to win an Apple iPad courtesy of Euclid Hospital, as well as enjoying entertainment throughout the drive provided by 1330 AM WELW. Donors who come dressed in costume will receive a $5 gift card and be entered in a special raffle. Appointments are recommended for this blood drive and can be scheduled by calling 1.800.GIVE.LIFE or visiting givelife.org and entering the sponsor code “lamalfa.”

Can you think of a better way to celebrate Halloween than by helping three other people and having some fun at the same time? We can’t. So get out there and donate your “True Blood” before enjoying the True Blood Dinner! Even if you can’t make the dinner, get out there and donate! You’ll be glad you did!

More blood donation locations

You can donate blood today until 2:30 p.m. at the American Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center at 3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. You can also donate here today:

St. Noel Church
35200 Chardon Rd., Willoughby Hills
Until 1 p.m.

Disciples Christian Church
3663 Mayfield Rd., Cleveland Heights
12:15-4:15 p.m.

Here are some other places you can go in the next week to donate blood:

October 18
Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Lake Health Willowick Campus
29804 Lake Shore Blvd.
2-6 p.m.

October 19
Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
1:30-8 p.m.

St. Francis of Assisi Church
6850 Mayfield Rd., Gates Mills
2-7 p.m.

October 20
Cleveland Clinic Surgical Center
9500 Euclid Ave.
10 a.m.-3 p.m.

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

Richmond Town Square Mall
691 Richmond Rd., Richmond Heights
2-6 p.m.

Case Western Reserve Housing
Wade Commons, 11451 Juniper Dr., Cleveland
9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

October 21
Cleveland Clinic Family Health Center Willoughby Hills
2550 SOM Center Rd., Willoughby Hills
9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Lakefront Community Center
1 Bliss Lane, Euclid
1:30-7 p.m.

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

Kirtland Community Center
7900 Chardon Rd., Kirtland
1:30-6 p.m.

October 22
Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Beachwood Community Center
25451 Fairmount Blvd., Beachwood
1-7 p.m.

October 23
Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Remember: Blood is perishable. Supplies are low, and the need is great. Make your appointment at 1.800.RED.CROSS and donate your “true blood” soon!

True Blood Dinner: our libation list is ready!

Has the thought of joining us for our “True Blood” Dinner gotten you a little thirsty for something…red? Well, our libation list for this special dinner is ready. If this menu makes your mouth water like we think it will, and you haven’t made your reservation yet, pick up the phone and call us at 216.481.9635. Then call 1.800.RED.CROSS to make your blood donation appointment!

First Course
Shrimp Fritters with Red Devil Aioli
Vampire Cocktail
Vodka Chambord Cranberry

Second Course
Jambalaya with Andouille Sausage
Red Beans and Rice
Wine
Dracula Zinfandel Paso Robles

Third Course
Roasted Red Beet and Pomegranate Salad
Balsamic Dressing
Wine
Sixth Sense Syrah

Fourth Course
Seared Ahi Tuna with Red Cherry Sauce
Wine
Vampire Chardonnay

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

Sixth Course
Red Velvet Cake with Raspberry Coulis
Wine
Sparkling Brachetto

Here are some places you can donate blood within the next week:

October 12
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-8 p.m.

Wickliffe Community Center
900 Worden Rd., Wickliffe
12:30-5:30 p.m.

October 13
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
1:30-8 p.m.

October 14
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
1:30-8 p.m.

October 15
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Ohio Savings Bank
1801 E. 9th St., Cleveland
8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Radisson Eastlake
35000 Curtis Blvd., Eastlake
11 a.m.-3 p.m.

October 16
Red Cross Warzel Blood Donation Center
3636 Euclid Ave., Cleveland
7:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Holy Grove Missionary Baptist Church
2844 E. 130th St., Cleveland
10 a.m.-2 p.m.

We’ll have more listings for you next week. Remember, while many of the creatures in True Blood may be only products of the imagination, real people need real blood every day–and in our world, there is no substitute! So make your reservations, make your appointment, give blood, and join us for the “True Blood” Dinner Wednesday, October 27 at 6:30 p.m.! We promise a meal you can really sink your teeth into!

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!”