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Chefs shine at special 'Friends of Food' dinner

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.

As it turns out, the rest of the women didn't really miss much. My bone was roasted to the point where there was none of the rich, moist goodness left inside it, and other men said they found little marrow inside theirs, either.

After the main course, guests were invited to a "candy shop" dessert table prepared by students at the Culinary Institute at Mountwest College in Huntington. On the menu were homemade s'more-flavored marshmallows, assorted gumdrops and sugar "cigars."

It was an enjoyable, delicious evening.

And even though I'm still not over the whole "we're going to serve women something less" situation, any event that draws attention to the availability of good-quality local food, farmers and chefs is a winner in my book.

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Latest news from The Food Boy . . .

You may remember last week I wrote about how my 7-year-old son, Isaac, has taken quite the interest in cooking. In addition to coming up with his own creations, he's also been scoping out Food Network shows for recipes.

One of those finds turned into Sunday morning breakfast for the family when he made us each a "Denver Omelet in a Mug." After Mom chopped up the peppers and onions, Isaac took complete control of the kitchen, placing a handful of the veggies in each cup and microwaving until softened.

Then he added bacon crumbles - "Bacon is kind like ham," he said, "so it's OK." - and poured whisked eggs over the mixture in each mug. After another minute in the microwave, these babies were served with a spoon and a smile.

And they were pretty darn tasty, I must say!

Contact writer Steven Keith at dailymailfoodguy@aol.com or 304-348-1721. You can also follow him on Facebook and Pinterest as "DailyMail FoodGuy," on Twitter as "DMFoodGuy" or read his blog at http://blogs.dailymail.com/FoodGuy/.


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