Monday, September 22, 2014

Inspired by Columbus - Taste of Dublin

Taste of Dublin (Sept. 17, 2014)
The Conference Center at OCLC
6600 Kilgour Pl.
Dublin, OH
Facebook Page
(next event Sept. 22, 2015)

If you've never been to a "Taste of" event (there is also Taste of the Future, and probably others) they are a lot of fun.  After purchasing a ticket, you can sample any or all of the provided by the vendors.  In the case of Taste of Dublin, the vendors are either local to Dublin, have one of their locations in Dublin, or just wanted to add to the festivities regardless of location (looking at you Tip Top). There are also drink stations scattered around the event where you can get up to two complimentary beverages (beer, wine, soda, or water). Lyndsay and I got a babysitter and spent a few hours on a date (probably the last one before the baby is born) just sampling food and enjoying each others company.

There were vendors and sponsors spread outside and inside, making the event feel like it had four distinct areas to peruse.  The event was sold out, so it was nice to be able to move from place to place as needed to get out of the crowds, though it did take us awhile to figure out where everything was. One thing I always like about these kinds of events is that there are so many vendors it is fun to find out where the real standouts are.  Because when you have Costco and Jeni's a stone throw from each other you know you are going to get a wide range of things to try.

One of the standouts was Fresh Thyme Market. They had a beautiful display and many things to sample, including bacon candy, stuffed grape leaves, watermelon gazpacho, hummus and fruit.  However, the real standouts were their cheeses.  I had a fantastic Iberico cheese and a nice brie with fig spread.  They also had a strawberries and marscapone in a candied sesame seed cone, which was very creative and had a nice blend of salt and sweet.

Tip Top had maybe the nicest display of the evening and to compliment they had their chicken salad in mini-phyllo cups and freshly made smoked gouda grilled cheese sandwiches. Right next to them was one of the most well-balanced dishes of the day, described in the picture above.  This was, I believe, prepared by Brookside Golf and Country Club.

Matt the Miller's Tavern played a pretty good (albeit unintentional) trick on people, such as myself, who didn't take the time to read before stuffing their face.  I thought I was getting homemade chips and salsa and was very pleasantly surprised when I found it was a delicious raw gingery Ahi tuna on a wonton triangle.  I should make this version of chips and salsa for a party sometime.

But my very favorite dish of the evening was made by The Morgan House Restaurant. This grilled cheese sandwich was perfection.  It was made fresh with two kinds of very complimentary cheeses and served with the best Tomato Bisque I've ever had.  I knew as soon as I ate it that I wanted to do my own adult grilled cheese at home this week.

How I was Inspired

After enjoying my fig brie from Fresh Thyme and my grilled cheese from The Morgan House Restaurant I got to thinking about how much I enjoy bacon-wrapped stuffed figs and knew this was the direction I wanted to take my sandwich in.

Like all great grilled cheese sandwiches you don't need much to make it great and there really isn't a set recipe to follow.  Get your favorite sandwich bread or make your own, crisp fry the best bacon you can find (I recommend the double smoked or pepper bacon from Thurns) get a small wheel of brie, some salted butter, a griddle, and you're good to go.

The trick to making a really great grilled cheese sandwich is all about how much butter you put on your bread and the temperature of the griddle.  For the butter, you shouldn't be scraping as thin as possible, nor should it be thick and gloppy.  The temperature, well, that depends on the type of griddle you are using and the type of heat source you are using.  On my stove-top griddle shown here, I used the largest gas burner on my stove set just slightly below medium heat.  I let it preheat for exactly five minutes and I cooked the sandwiches for 

exactly three minutes on each side.
But if you were using a thicker or thinner griddle, are smaller or larger burner, or an electric griddle, these things can change dramatically, making the sandwich burn quickly or soak the butter into the bread, making the sandwich soggy. For this reason it is good to experiment with grilled cheese sandwiches until you get the hang of them with your equipment and then don't deviate from that.  I hate cooking grilled cheese at someone else's house because I always ruin at least one sandwich.  I also find this to be true with pancakes.

For these sandwiches, after spreading the butter on the bread I quickly spread a thin layer of the fig spread on the bread after it was already put on the hot griddle.  It is important that you use as little fig spread as possible to cover the bread because it is very sweet and will overpower the other ingredients quickly.  Then I added slices of brie and slices of the crisp bacon and topped it with the other slice of buttered bread.

And there you have it, six minutes later and my family is eating a delicious salty sweet, crunchy gooey, perfect grilled cheese sandwich that I think would fit in well at The Morgan House.  Be sure to check out next year's Taste of Dublin or Taste of the Future.  Next week, I'll be bringing a recipe inspired by my trip to local orchard and fall festival.

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