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The Humble Beginnings of Northeast Ohio’s Most Romantic Dining Spot

Posted on November 4, 2019 in Food

By: Mark Spaner
Spaner Marketing Communications

In 2007, there was a crumbling, decrepit old barn on the grounds of the last farm within the Canton, Ohio city limits.  The roof sagged like a sway-backed horse, and the walls looked too tired to hold it up any longer.

Ten years later this old barn was named one of the Most Romantic Dining spots in America by Open Table, a leading restaurant app.  In USA Today it shared top billing with The Little Inn in Washington, a renowned D.C. area 5-Star restaurant.  Stories like this just don’t happen very often.

From humble roots grow great things.  It’s the story of Gervasi Vineyard and especially its showplace restaurant, The Bistro.  Jerry Risner has been there since the beginning.  He was a kid from the sticks outside Massillon who stumbled on a culinary career when he showed up at his trade school’s HVAC class without any tools.  He tried a culinary class instead, found he loved it and a career was born.  It has taken him from a 5-star resort in Charleston, South Carolina to the renowned French Laundry in Napa, California and back home to Brookside Country Club before he became Gervasi’s first chef.  When he hired on in 2009 the renovation of the old barn was underway and the menu vision was fairly modest.

Today, at ten years old, The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard is celebrated as one of the area’s finest dining experiences.  The old, sagging barn has been transformed into a welcoming presence after Gervasi visitors wind their way through the scenic north vineyard.  It stands stoically along the picturesque lake overlooking the environs as a proud Italian grandfather looks upon his offspring.  It all started with The Bistro.

Fall Bistro Menu

Fall Comes to The Bistro
As The Bistro grew, Jerry looked for new ways to improve the menu.  He had always worked hard to form good relationships with the best farms in the local area.  This led to the creation of seasonal menu items to bring special flavors to the traditional Bistro menu.

Before every new season he meets with these local farmers to find out what products they’ve nurtured, including vegetables, livestock, cheeses and fruits.  Then he gets together with his staff and plans some inventive new dishes they can create with these fresh seasonal ingredients.

For fall 2019, the Gervasi culinary team has added three new menu items based on locally sourced vegetables and fruits that grew flavorful in the late summer sun and meats with succulent flavors perfect for the crisp fall season. These items will be available through the end of November.

Maine Poached Lobster Tails and Mussels, sitting atop butternut squash risotto with roasted broccoli and drawn butter.

8 oz. Angus Reserve Filet Wrapped in Local Bacon and topped with garlic butter, served with potatoes and crispy cauliflower, roasted beets and carrots.

Apple Tart Patin Dessert served with caramel gelato and allspice whipped cream.

Fall Bistro Menu

Sundays Get The Bistro Touch
From the very beginning Jerry and his team wanted to do things a different way.  Back when the entire kitchen was a couple of grills and a walk-in cooler, family style platters and a limited menu were a good way to serve 300 people a night.  The family style dishes caught on, so when it was recently decided to start serving Sunday Breakfast, they figured why not do something just a bit different.

The result is a stunning menu built around Frittatas with side dishes of fingerling potatoes, house-made sausages and rosemary ham.  But, Sundays deserve something extra special, so Jerry and his crew came up with Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding with Warm Pour-Over Maple Icing.  On a crisp fall Sunday morning, there just isn’t any better way to greet the world.

Fall Bistro Menu

The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard is celebrated as one of the top restaurants in northeast Ohio, a place where people celebrate the most significant milestones in their lives.   Once upon a time, however, it was just another crumbling barn.  It is the magic of Gervasi that so much beauty, grace and excellence can grow from humble beginnings.  It’s true of the place, the chef, the farm-grown ingredients and the Gervasi-trained staff.  Capture some of the magic for yourself.

The Bistro at Gervasi Vineyard is open every day but Monday.  Tuesday through Thursday 5-9 pm,  Friday 5-10 pm.  Saturday 4-10 pm.  Sunday 11-8 pm.  For reservations call 330-497-1000.  To learn more and a menu, visit www.gervasivineyard.com.

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Cucina Spotlight: Vicki Todd Smith

Posted on August 31, 2019 in Cucina

Chef Vicki Todd Smith teaches her Polenta, Pasta and Potatoes class

By Julianna Wilmoth, Director of The Cucina

Chef Vicki Todd Smith has been a culinary educator, caterer, mentor, and chef for more than 35 years. During that time, Chef Vicki spent over a decade in Europe and Asia before returning to the United States in 2000. She has had the honor of cooking for such luminaries as the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Anderson Cooper, Ken Burns, and the former Foreign Minister of Japan. Additionally, during her years in Asia she was the caterer of choice for many ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps. Upon her return to the United States, she was the seminal chef to develop the food and beverage program at Kent State University’s Stark Conference Center. Subsequently, she became Market Kitchen and Catering Director for Mustard Seed Market in Solon and went on to run corporate dining for Jones Day law firm in Cleveland. At present Vicki works for a privately held conglomerate as the Executive Chef of their corporate lodging and catering operations.

Chef Vicki is a wealth of personal experiences and professional knowledge, which she happily shares during her classes. One class, Oodles of Asian Noodles, is the follow-up to her spring class, Polenta, Pasta and Potatoes. Chef Vicki’s class will introduce authentic ingredients while making the recipes home kitchen friendly. Try one of her recipes, Crispy Noodle Cake with Tomato Beurre Blanc, from the previous class, and then sign up for an upcoming class. Chef Vicki’s classes will transform your taste buds and kitchen skills!

 

Crispy Noodle Cake with Tomato Beurre Blanc

Serves 6

1 pound dried thin spaghetti
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
¼ pound provolone cheese, chopped
¼  pound whole milk mozzarella cheese, grated
¼  pound deli ham, chopped
¼  cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large kettle of boiling, salted water cook the spaghetti until al dente and drain well. In a heavy skillet sauté the onion in the butter over moderately high heat, stirring until golden.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs and cream. Add the provolone, mozzarella, ham, parsley, salt, pepper, sauteed onion and spaghetti, and toss the mixture until well combined. Transfer the mixture to a well greased 9-inch springform pan. Put the pan on a baking sheet, and bake the noodle cake in the middle of the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the top is just firm to the touch at the center. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then chill in freezer to cool quickly.

In a skillet heat the butter over moderately high heat until melted, and add the garlic, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring. Lower heat and simmer on low until thickened. Add four tablespoons of butter, one at a time, waiting until each one melts before adding the next. Set aside.

Run a thin sharp knife around the side of the noodle cake, remove the side of the pan, and run the knife along the bottom of the cake. Cut the cake into 6 wedges. In a skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter over moderately high heat, and sauté 3 wedges of the cake, turning them until they are golden brown and crisp. Cook the remaining wedges in the remaining butter in the same manner. Gently re-warm the tomato beurre blanc and serve with the noodle cake.

Check out more classes in The Cucina >

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Cucina Spotlight: Carla Snyder

Posted on August 3, 2019 in Cucina

Carla Snyder

By Julianna Wilmoth, Director of The Cucina

The instructor-chefs who lead classes in The Cucina are some of the region’s most sought after culinary experts. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be introducing our highly talented instructors who teach, guide and mentor here in The Cucina. Without further ado, meet nationally recognized chef-entrepreneur, Carla Snyder.

After a spending a college semester studying in Spain, Carla discovered just how delicious life could be. She has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, culinary team building company owner, freelance food writer and co-author of numerous cookbooks. Her work has appeared in Bon Appètit, Chili Pepper, Better Homes and Gardens, Family Fun and numerous local and regional magazines and newspapers.

Carla is co-author with Meredith Deeds of The Mixer BibleThe Mixer Bible 2nd Edition, 3rd Edition, and newly released 4th Edition (Robert Rose 2005, 2009, 2013, and 2018), the 2007 James Beard nominated The Big Book of Appetizers (Chronicle Books 2006), The Take-Out Menu Cookbook: How to Cook IN The Food That You Love to Order Out (Running Press, 2007), Good Morning America’s Top Ten Pick of 2008, 300 Sensational Soups (Robert Rose, 2008), Fish for Dinner (contributor, Williams Sonoma, 2009), the digital e-cook book with apps Serves Two (2010, available on iTunes) and Everyday to Entertaining (Robert Rose 2011). Carla’s series, One Pan Two Plates/Whole Family/Vegetarian books began in 2013 and she continues to use the recipes as inspiration for the classes she teaches at Gervasi. In Fall 2015, she released Sweet Tart: 70 Irresistible Recipes for Desserts and Savories Made with Citrus. She has appeared on Fox Morning News Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Lake Effect Radio’s Dinner Plans, Martha Stewart Living Radio, Good Morning Cleveland and Hallmark Channel’s Home and Family.

With her vast spectrum of knowledge and experiences, it is an exciting personal culinary moment to attend her classes. This fall, Chef Carla will be leading classes ranging from Chop (and Cook) Like a Chef: Knife Skills to One Pan-Whole Family to Homemade Artisan Pasta. View our Cucina class schedule for more information on Carla’s classes and the rest of our fall lineup.

Look for Carla on Facebook (Carla Snyder), Twitter (carlacooks), Pinterest (Carla Snyder) Instagram (carlacooks) and at ravenouskitchen.com where she blogs about everything from cooking for two to easy weekend entertaining for a crowd.

The recipe below is from her Chop (and Cook) Like a Chef: Knife Skills class, just one of the many recipes she will be teaching this fall. Knife skills are immensely important to cooking times and even presentation, and Carla will guide you through correct ways of bruniose, chiffonade, and more!

 

Minestrone for two recipe by Carla Snyder

Minestrone for Two

Start to finish: 45 minutes
Hands on time: 15 minutes

Minestrone is the epitome of an “everything but the kitchen sink” soup. Even though we’re giving you a recipe, and it’s a good one, remember that at its essence, it’s a vegetable soup that needs to take advantage of what is in season and at its peak to be great. If zucchini doesn’t look good at the market, don’t use it, use yellow squash instead. If green beans don’t look good, leave them out. The bones of this soup are good canned tomatoes, good extra virgin olive oil, and real Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, and the rest is up to you.

2 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped fine
2 zucchini, sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 new potatoes, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced green cabbage (preferably Savoy)
One 15-ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped coarse, with juices
1/2 cup canned white beans
2 cups chicken broth
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Good quality extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

In a heavy kettle cook the bacon in the oil over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and pale golden. Add the onion, and cook the mixture, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, garlic and zucchini along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and cook the mixture, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the potatoes and cabbage and cook the mixture, stirring, until the cabbage is wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, white beans and the broth and simmer the soup, covered, for 15 minutes or until all the vegetables are tender.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle into a serving bowl. Garnish with Parmesan cheese and drizzle the top with extra virgin olive oil.

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Rise & Shine: New Breakfast Fare at Gervasi

Posted on July 18, 2019 in Food

New Sunday breakfast options at The Bistro

We’ve all heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s often the one we grab on our way out the door or skip altogether. What if we slowed down and really savored a morning meal? Gervasi Vineyard now has several enticing reasons to do just that, with delectable breakfast/brunch options offered every Sunday.

The Bistro – Gervasi’s rustic, upscale restaurant – opens at 11 am with a family style breakfast for two or more guests. Choose a frittata (rosemary ham or vegetarian), served with parmesan fingerling potatoes, house-made sausage and rosemary ham. Satisfy your sweet tooth with decadent cinnamon roll bread pudding smothered in warm maple icing.

At The Still House – Gervasi’s coffeehouse and cocktail lounge – you’ll find the same delicious bread pudding served a la carte, as well as cheddar biscuits and gravy and other special features available Sunday only. Enjoy the Bloody Mary and mimosa bar from 10 am to 2 pm, and customize your drink with a variety of juices, spices/sauces, fruits and garnishes.

Hungry yet? We’ll see you here next Sunday!

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How to Plan an Outdoor Wedding

Posted on June 24, 2019 in Events

Gervasi Wedding Photographer in Canton Ohio

With the right wedding venue and weather, getting married outside adds an element of natural beauty to the ceremony that wouldn’t be possible indoors. Nature can be unpredictable, however, so there’s a little extra planning to be done before the big day. Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning an outdoor wedding.

Prioritize the Guests’ Comfort

One of the best ways to ensure a comfortable, pleasant wedding day for everyone attending is to plan ahead for the time of year. Is the wedding taking place in a hot, sunny month? Be sure to have lots of available shade and cold drinks, and maybe set the time for a cooler part of the day. If the wedding is to take place in a colder month, consider adding wind protection and even outdoor heaters. The wedding venue staff will be able to help ensure that everyone is comfortable, no matter the time of year.

Have a Plan B, Just in Case

The weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to have a backup plan in case things take a turn for the worse. Find out if the wedding venue has an indoor alternative ready to go in the event of rain. It’s also wise to make sure that the catering staff, decorators, sound personnel, and photographers are all prepared to change locations at the last minute if necessary.

Plan Hair, Makeup, and Wardrobes Accordingly

If the wedding day is expected to be hot, windy, or humid, the bridal party and guests should have a look that can stand up to the elements. Discuss the weather forecast with hair and makeup professionals before it’s time to get ready so that they can give the bride, groom, and wedding party looks that will keep looking great for the entire ceremony and reception. This also applies to dresses and tuxedos that may be affected by humidity and wind.

Consider celebrating your wedding at Gervasi Vineyard. Our award-winning winery resort is home to some of Ohio’s best dining, shopping, and entertainment for wine lovers and families. Explore our signature outdoor wedding venue, The Pavilion, with seating for up to 300 guests and stunning views of our vineyard. Call us today at 330-497-1000 to learn more about our wedding venues and packages.

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