Forgive me if I don’t make sense. I’m still in a food coma from Cork & Cuisine “A Taste of Italy” last Thursday night at the Owensboro Convention Center.
The Convention Center staff took the Italian theme to extreme, offering a three-hour, four course Italian meal complete with appetizers, wine pairings for each course, bread on the table, and a coffee bar on the side of the room.
I enjoyed every bite and sip. If you love good food, Cork & Cuisine is perfect for you. If you want to learn more about fine wines, it’s also perfect for that. Convention Center General Manager Dean Dennis emceed the evening, keeping the crowd engaged and allowing corporate sponsors to explain each wine pairing. Chef Kyle Kellog introduced each course of the meal as it was being served.
My wife and I didn’t know the people at our table when we sat down, but that’s part of the fun. By the end of the night, we were all best friends and requested to have the same table next time, which we learned will be in June. Part of the strategy in planning Cork & Cuisine is to only offer it a few times a year to keep people wanting more. Although right now I’m absolutely stuffed and can’t even think about more food, I’m sure the summer event will be fabulous too. My brand new best friend Steve had been to the previous two Cork & Cuisine dinners and said the Italian meal was the best one yet.
This is where Chef Kyle’s experience (previously Famous Bistro, Lure, Evansville Country Club, and Louis XVI Restaurant in New Orleans) really shines. “They give me the theme, then I pull from all the things I’ve ever prepared and offer suggestions.” The team picks the menu from there.
They knocked it out of the park this time.
Appetizer selections included a spread of cheeses, roasted grilled vegetables and olives, caprese salad skewers, and an antipasto platter with capicola ham, salami, and prosciutto.
The first course was a deconstructed Caesar salad with a parmesan crisp and deep fried egg.
Next came heart-shaped Maine lobster ravioli (which was dyed red for Valentine’s Day) topped with fennel and mascarpone cream. It was absolutely the best ravioli I’ve ever eaten. I could have gone home a happy man right there, but we were only half way through.
The entrée was braised Osso Bucco (veal) with red wine jus, roasted striped bass with oregano and tomato butter, spaghetti squash Bolognese, and grilled asparagus. The spaghetti squash recipe was included in the program as an added bonus.
The final course was a dessert plate with a raspberry and milk chocolate cannoli, dark chocolate and expresso panna cotta, chocolate enrobed strawberry, and a mini tiramisu.
My new best friend Rick says his favorite thing about Cork & Cuisine is the wine pairings and explanations before each course. “That way you learn what you like and you get a sense of which wines complement certain foods.” Or something like that. I was really concentrating on the tiramisu, which was out of this world! Especially with a hot cup of decaf (Hey, it was 9pm) with chocolate swirls, a shot of toffee syrup, and fresh whipped cream.
In addition to hosting the usual events like conventions and trade shows, the Convention Center staff collaborates on creating and promoting in-house events throughout the year to offer a variety of fun and entertainment. For example, they’re in the middle of their “Spotlight Series” featuring FREE live music by local artists. Billy Dawson will be performing Thursday, February 19th and Makenna & Brock will be performing Friday, March 6th.
The next event is a Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras dinner and dance on Tuesday, February 17th. (Remember, Chef Kyle used to cook on the French Quarter). Tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door. Food starts at 6pm and a Zydeco band plays from 7-11pm.
For more information about events at the Convention Center, call (270) 687-8800 or visit www.owensborocenter.org. Keep checking back with OwensboroLiving.com for details about the next Cork & Cuisine in June. If we’re out of our comas by then, my wife and I will surely be back.