Quite often, Oglebay Institute's Stifel Fine Arts Center offers a unique variety of special meals as well as beer and wine tastings that are open to the public.
The Buds absolutely love to frequent such events and have never been disappointed. In fact, if one were to attend such an affair, the Buds can pretty much guarantee three things:
1. You will have fabulous food.
2. You will have fabulous drinks.
3. And finally, if you happen to be even remotely as charming as the Taste Buds, you will enjoy fabulous company.
Last weekend, the Buds attended the first in a culinary series of four dates called Tapas Tastings: The Art of Elegant Small Plate Dining.
Tapas are light snacks, appetizers or finger foods which are usually served with drinks. Originating in Spain, they have become a popular culinary trend all around the world. The Jan. 21 event featured a variety of Spanish-inspired traditional and non-traditional tapas prepared by Chef Sarah Lydick of Sandscrest Conference and Retreat Center. Incidentally, Sandscrest will begin weekly Wednesday dinners that are open to the public from April until October.
The Buds found their table, which was already stocked with both Chardonnay and Rioja wines and a dish of fresh almonds to nibble on. They predicted a good night. When they met the other couple sharing the table, they were sure of it. The group was ready to dig in!
The first course was a crostini with smoked paprika, garlic aioli, sauteed mushrooms and manchego cheese. The base of the crostini was a seriously delicious homemade French baguette. Wow! The crostini was popping with flavor - very delicious indeed!
The second course was beef, pork and lamb meatballs with cilantro, garlic and tomato sauce. Very tender and flavorful, there was surely nothing to dislike. The tasty sauce really gave them a nice kick.
Third on the list were mussels with garlic and tomato broth. Lydick had baskets of the delicious sliced baguettes served with the mussels and suggested that they be used to sop up the broth. The Buds found the mussels to be a little intimidating, but Bud Shaunna stepped up to the plate and sampled one, which she found to have a nice flavor. The Buds did, however, soak up some of the broth with the bread and really enjoyed it.
Moving along, the next dish was a manchego cheese marinated in olive oil, garlic, black peppercorns and basil. These little cubes really packed a punch of flavor. The Buds never thought of marinating cheeses but just might have to start! In addition, dipping the baguettes into the olive oil base was an extra treat. What a great dish!
The fifth course turned out to be the Buds' absolute favorite: empanadas. The Spanish meat pies were to die for! A flaky pastry stuffed with beef, raisins, olives and various spices, the Buds were hooked!
The final item on the menu for this tapas tasting was a sauteed shrimp which Lydick demonstrated before us. Now Bud Em never met a shrimp she didn't like, and these were cooked and seasoned perfectly. Our compliments to the chef!
Oglebay Institute has three more dates in this Tapas Tasting series which are:
February 17 - Featuring Chef Gene Evans of West Virginia Northern Community College
March 16 - Featuring Chef Charlie Schlegel of Ye Olde Alpha
April 20 - Featuring Chef Craig Aubrey of Stratford Springs Steak & Seafood Restaurant
Guests must pre-register by calling 304-242-7700.
The Buds highly recommend attending one or all of these tapas tastings. You'll get wonderful food and great drinks, but best of all, you'll enjoy fabulous company and might even come away with some new friends. What's not to love about that?
The Buds may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.