The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

I attended the second Pop-Up Restaurant this past Friday at The Children’s Center, in Detroit.  What a wonderful time we had!

The chef was, again, Chef Brad Greenhill, and he really outdid himself this time!  He wasn’t the only one though!  The folks at the Children’s Center really stepped up!  The decorations were charming, the menu was eye catching, not to mention mouth watering and the message was compelling!

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Just look a this lovely centerpiece!

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And this creative use for marshmallows!

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It seemed, when I arrived on a very chilly evening in the D, that this was going to be a United Way reunion night.  There were many current, and several former co-workers, which kind of made the night feel like an unplanned holiday gathering!  I was truly impressed though, at how many of my fellow attendee’s were there because they worked and/or volunteered with the Center.  It does such wonderful work, I am so proud of the people I know helping out there! (More about the Center a little further down in the post!)

I don’t know if you can really see the menu so I will give it to you here.  So yummy!

Carrot Soup, with harissa, hazelnut dukka and yogurt

Charred cauliflower, with fennel, pomegranate, mint and walnut

Maltagliati, with mushrooms, melted leeks, truffle and yolk

Porchetta, with cannellini beans, arugula, lemon and horseradish

Olive oil cake, gelato, citrus and almond

Let me start from the beginning, with the carrot soup.

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Isn’t it pretty?  It was fairly surprising, the harissa, which for those of you that haven’t tried it is a Tunisian hot chilli paste, really gave it some perkiness, and the nuts were just wonderful and crunchy against the smooth sweet soup.  I think it was my favorite dish of the event.

Next up was a delicious charred cauliflower salad, with the very fresh combination of mint and pomegranate, it was sweet and savory and tart all at the same time, delicious, and pretty to boot!

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The next course puzzled some people, and my inner bossiness came out right away.  It was a pasta with what I would say was something like a carbonara sauce, except the egg yolk hadn’t been incorporated.  The hot noodles were enough to cook the yolk and make a creamy sauce, along with the cheese, but you had to stir the yolk in right away, rather than waiting for everyone to be served.  Several people were wondering, I think, why I was rushing them, but it was worth it in the end.  Very silky and tasty!

Before stirring

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And after stirring

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The main course was porchetta (stuffed and roasted pork, Italian style) which I love, although some people were a bit put off by the rind.  I gobbled it up.  There was a lovely fresh parsley and garlic stuffing, and it was topped by a tart arugula salad, which set off perfectly the fatty roasted pork.  Hidden under the pork was a little gem, a lovely stew of cannellini beans, which was exactly the earthy touch the dish needed.  All in all a success!

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Last, but sincerely not least was a lovely little surprise.  Any time I have had olive oil cake, it’s always been a yellow cake flavored with orange.  This was a delicious hot chocolate cake, topped with a melted vanilla bean gelato.  It was the perfect end to the dinner, a little chocolate, a little creamy gelato.  So delicious!

After our dinner, Chef Brad came out to take a bow. Can you see him behind the marshmallows?

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The other, truly wonderful thing about the evening was that there were art pieces by the children who come to the center.  Some of it would break your heart, for example, there was a painting by a boy who had no friends, and was bullied.  It had a big red X painted over it, but he wished that one day he would have a friend!  The artwork was both eye catching and beautiful, as well as making you realize that even today, in this society, children are abused and neglected, sometimes right under our noses.

I signed up at the end of the event for a tour, and I really encourage anyone in the Metro Detroit area to do the same.  The information for The Children’s Center is below.  I hope you have it in your heart to tour the facility and get involved.

The Children’s Center
79 Alexandrine West
Detroit, Michigan 48201
313.831.5535

M-TH: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.
F: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
S: 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Immediate Assistance
313.262.1212
access@childrensctr.net
M-F: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

A big thank you to The Center for the invitation, and for the wonderful company, as well as the chance to see the children’s artwork.  I truly was touched!

 

Pop Up Dinner with Chef Greenhill to Benefit The Children’s Center of Detroit

I can’t wait to tell you about the event we just attended!  The Hubby works at a company called Team Detroit and a few weeks ago, he got an internal email about an event they were sponsoring called Pop-Up Dinner with Chef Brad Greenhill to Benefit The Children’s Center.  I had heard of The Children’s Center before through the work we do at the United Way.  But the chance to go to an event that was sponsored by my hubby’s company, that also benefits the kids of Detroit, how can I say no?

It was a spectacular and small event at Detroit Farm and Garden, the last place you would imagine a pop up restaurant, but it was the perfect locale!  DF&G is a barn like structure, near the I-75 service drive in the periphery between Corktown and Mexican Town.  It’s kind of a no-man’s land.  But the DF&G is there, and is a lovely local provider of everything you can imagine for the home farmer, as well as landscaper… in season.  Tonight it was transformed into a delightful foodie wonderland, with fairie lights and lovely mismatched settings all over!

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We were greeted by lovely hostesses and an even lovelier young lady bearing a plank of what looked like cedar with a delightful rum punch provided by the local cocktail emporium, Sugar House.  Any drink from there is worth it!  This was followed shortly after by the lights going out.  But the long farm-style, butcher paper covered tables were dressed with votive candles, which kept the ambiance, and the talk going.  Eventually the lights went back on, and we were drawn to the cheese plates.  Let me tell you they were practical and attractive!

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Once we had had a drink, and were seated, we listened to Tammy Zonker, who is a former colleague from the United Way.  She left the United Way to join The Children’s Center as Chief Philanthropy Officer.  She talked to us briefly about what the organization does, and introduced a video, which I am linking it below.  Talk about powerful!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0E9hXyBsCk

After that very serious film, we started talking at the table, and we all realized we were very excited about the food.  The wine was lovely, and poured liberally, so we were really happy.  The Chef, Brad Greenhill is a genius, we were delighted each step of the way.  Honestly, this is the perfect fundraiser, lovely people, a great mix of old, new and some odd people thrown in.  The food was masterful, and honestly, we are supporting a wonderful organization, that is truly making a difference in some children’s very difficult lives.  The Children’s Center serves up to 7,500 children each year, with a multitude of issues, mainly relating to neglect and abuse.  I got a fantastic meal in aide of the cause.  The kids got some recognition and some funding.  That’s worth the price of admission surely!

Next up was the starter, grilled bread, apple butter, strachiatelli and apple salad.  Refreshing, delicious and even the picker eater in front of me was wide eyed with how good the pairing was.  It was paired with a bubbly rosè sparking wine.  The perfect foil to the lovely buttery and rich crostini.  I have never seen apple butter paired with anything but bread, so this was an unexpected delight.

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Next up, after lots of lovely conversation and another glass of wine was the Golden Beet Soup.  On the menu that the Hubby had gotten from work, it said Golden Beef Soup.  We were both puzzled by that, but it turned out to be a lovely silky golden beet pureé, with some lemon scented greek yogurt, and pitachio’s, perfect crunch and lovely fatty mouth feel.  there was definitely a spicy finish, which trurned out to be a red chile roasted and pureed with the beets.  All around a success, although I unfortunatley didn’t get a photo before devouring it!

Then there was a kale salad with mint and pomegranate.  I got the opportunity to share my long term secret for seeding a pom!  Cut in half, hold over bowl, thwack with a wooden spoon.  The seeds rain down like bejeweled beads!  The combo of Lachinato kale, lemon, olive oil, pom seeds and mint was classic and refreshing, and so delicious!  Normally I am all preoccupied with the dressing, I don’t even remember thinking about that tonight.

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Isn’t that pretty!

Next up was the main course.  For me it was lamb shank with pine nut gremolata.  For the Hubby, it was mushroom ragu with polenta, and the same gremolata.  Generally the husband hated line nuts, but here he didn’t seem to mind it! the lambwas perfect, fall off the bone tender, and the polenta was light and fluffy, not at all the way I can ever get it.  I ate every morsel, and I heard a few at the table saying they would like to pick the plate up and lick it!

Mine:

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The Hubby’s ragu:

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Considering that the dinner was to aid children, we were so engrossed with talking about food and the food we were eating, I swear the night ran by us.  Dessert was a salted caramel ice cream by Treat Dreams in Ferndale.  Even the Hubby was smacking his lips and lamenting that we couldn’t take boxes home!

Did you notice that not one dish matched another?  That was totally the charm of the evening.  That and viewing an actual Banksy at 555 Gallery.  Also worth trekking down to Mexican Town!

Bravo Children’s Center on a wonderful event, and to Chef Greenhill.  You’re a genius, and I don’t care who I tell!

Yay, kewl night, great food.  Such a great place Detroit is!