For those of you out there who happen to be Facebook friends with me, you might have seen a status update or two regarding a food photography shoot I had over the weekend. Chef Ellis Cooley from the restaurant AMP 150 approached me a little over a week ago and indicated that the restaurant was in need of photographs of their new menu items for a redesign of the corporate website. He asked if I and fellow foodie Edsel would be interested in doing a photo shoot. Feeling quite proud of how far I've come in my food photography in the last seven months of study, I quickly agreed.
I decided to drop off the finished photographs last night and since the weather was crappy (really, when will this rain end?) and the traffic going south on I-71 backed up, I decided to stay and try a few of the dishes I had photographed over the weekend. You might be tempted to think that with all of the food Edsel and I photographed over the weekend that we would have also tasted it, too. One of the dirty little secrets of professional food photography is that the food doesn't have to taste good, it just has to look good. Thus, if an ingredient doesn't contribute directly to the appearance of the food (like, say, salt), it wasn't added.
So, what did I order? First up was a Shrimp and Pea Risotto with Fresh Local Ramps:
Creamy, buttery, sweet, and garlicy. If I could sum up a dish in four words, those would be it. This was an amazing small plate that did much to feed not only my stomach, but also my soul. The rice was creamy without being mushy, the peas added little pops of sweetness, the shrimp were cooked without being rubbery, and the ramps (kind of like wild garlic) added a much needed sharpness to balance the entire dish. If you are interested in trying this dish, get to AMP 150 soon as ramp season will be over in a matter of weeks, not months.
My second small plate tonight was Poached Sea Scallops over Squid Ink Farro, Fines Herbs, and Fumet:
Again, this was all about texture and flavor balance. The scallops were tender and buttery, the farro had a slightly chewy texture that felt like a cross between barley and rice, and the squid ink, although dark in appearance, had a certain brightness in flavor. I can't tell you which one I enjoyed more as they were both outstanding.
Finally, to finish up my meal tonight, I decided to go with one of AMP 150's new desserts, Lemongrass Rice Pudding, Herbed Tapioca, Coconut Foam, and Passion Fruit Caviar:
As with all of the dishes at AMP 150, this was a clever combination of tart and sweet, creamy and chewy. The rice pudding had a soft, but still chewy texture to it. The herbed tapioca (readers familiar with Bubble/Pearl Tea will understand the texture) had a vegetal quality to it that worked well with the lemongrass and coconut. The passionfruit caviar was practically unsweetened, and as such, contrasted brightly with the sweetness of the foam and rice pudding. This dish was light and airy, yet not overly sweet and ultimately satisfying.
Now that I've whetted your whistle with some of the new menu items available at AMP 150, I think it is high time to announce the gift card giveaway! As part of the compensation that AMP 150 offered me for my photography services, they graciously agreed to include a $25 gift card to give away to one lucky reader of my blog. Considering that $25 is enough for one person to eat a complete meal at AMP 150 (which was pretty much what my bill came to last night with water), it's a great way to experience one of Cleveland's premiere dining destinations.
The contest will work as follows: starting now, simply leave a comment stating that you'd like to win the gift card. You will have until 11:59:59 PM on Friday, April 29th, 2011 (that's 1 second before midnight Saturday) to leave your comment. At 12:00 AM on Saturday morning, I will use random.org to randomly select the winner from all the posted comments. IF YOU LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN YOUR COMMENT, I will contact you to tell you that you've won. If you only leave a name in your comment (which is entirely your option), I will post the winner's name and that person will have until Monday morning, May 2nd, 9:00 AM, to contact me and claim your prize. If no contact has been made by Monday morning at 9:00 AM, I will select another winner.
Bottom line is ... if you want to be entered into the contest and don't wish to leave your email address, make sure you check back to see if you've won!
Once the winner has confirmed their interest in claiming the prize, I will get them the gift card in the manner which is easiest for them (most people prefer the US Postal Service).
Good luck! Even if you don't win the gift card, take the time to check out the fantastic menu at AMP 150. Chef Cooley and crew are really doing some marvelous new dishes on the spring menu.