I really dig a nice wine-tasting dinner, but sometimes the appeal is more about the ambiance than the food itself.
Not so at Monday night's second annual "Friends of Food" dinner hosted by West Virginia's FARM2U Collaborative at Berry Hills Country Club. At a soiree created to celebrate the state's culinary heritage, five chefs teamed up to offer a five-course, wine-paired meal for 100-plus lucky souls.
And the food was as nice as the fellowship.
After Fish Hawk Acres chef Dale Hawkins treated all to a fantastic antipasto spread featuring local vegetables, cheeses and breads, guests were seated so chefs could present the next three courses.
Cafe Cimino's Tim Urbanic offered a delicious Mediterranean shrimp appetizer that was beautiful in its simplicity. Delicately seasoned shrimp were served with kalamata olives and a small wedge of focaccia.
Next came a crowd-pleasing chicken tortilla soup by Chef Oscar Aguilar from the Latin-inspired DiOGi's in Fayetteville. It was full of distinct flavors that were so perfectly balanced, I wanted way more than the small cup placed in front of me.
And then Berry Hills chef Nick McCormick prepared tender, mouthwatering slices of beef ribeye that tasted like medallions of prime rib. Provided by Buzz Foods, the meat was served over a small portion of au gratin potatoes that elicited "oohs" and "aahs" all around.
The most interesting aspect of this entree, though, was how it was served. Men were given a plate that also included a roasted marrow bone to enjoy, but the women in the room were not. I am not kidding.
After getting over the initial shock - and checking my phone to make sure it was, indeed, still 2012 - I looked around the room to see how the women were handling their slight. Some laughed it off while others were visibly and vocally bothered.
Not about to miss out, my wife ordered "a man's plate" in short order.