What’s cookin’?

Last night, I had THE perfect meal.  And, by “perfect”, I mean perfect for me.  And no wonder given that my dinner was planned and prepared by Chef Rob Belcham.  No one knows my culinary likes and dislikes, leanings and particulars better than Rob and the gang from Campagnolo/Campagnolo Roma/Fat Dragon.

Fellow owner Tom Doughty texted me earlier this week to let me know they had some very special pork in and would I be interested in having dinner at Campagnolo?  Would I!

Chef Rob Belcham, the master of ceremonies on this night.

So, last night, Akemi and I showed up at Campagnolo where we were greeted by Chef Belcham who had that glint in his eye, the look of someone who was about to spring a surprise.  As it turned out, several them over the course of our meal.  No menus for us on this night.  But I wasn’t worried.  We were in infinitely capable hands.

First up, the corn soup.  Not just any corn soup.  This is THE corn soup, the corn soup they used to serve at Refuel, available only during peak season.  The corn is pressed through a cheesecloth, several times to achieve its thick, rich consistency.  My favorite soup of all time.

It was served chilled with melon and a touch of chili.  I told Akemi that, back in the day, when it was on the menu at the old location, I used to have two bowls – one to start the meal and one to end it.  It’s that good.

The salad included sungolds from Stoney Paradise, the sweetest tomatoes you’ll ever eat (contrasted with the slightly tarter heirloom), along with some fresh basil, mozzarella, and a little something from the charcuterie. 
We were presented with the piece de resistance, the star of the evening: The Pork Belly Rack
Bar Director Giovanni Giardino heard I was a fan of the Moscow Mule and asked me if I wanted to try his take on the classic.
Instead of ginger beer, he uses a ginger syrup that packs quite the wicked throat punch.  
It is accompanied by the same concentrated syrup with overproof.  One single drop will blow away your tastebuds.
The rack was served with polenta, peas, radish…it was unbelievable.  The meat was tasty and melt-in-your-mouth tender, the skin crisp and delicious.  Unforgettable.  

Then, it was time for dessert and I was presented with…

Another serving of corn soup, this one topped with peaches and dill.  Just like old times!
For Akemi, a fabulous butterscotch trifle.

What a great dinner.  Thoroughly satisfied, we – WAIT!  THERE’S MORE!  Onto our second round of desserts –

Akemi loves cheesecake and this mascarpone cheesecake with fresh cherries didn’t disappoint.  Even I was a fan!
“Didn’t think we would let you go without some chocolate, did you?”asked Chef Belcham.  Corn soup, sungold tomatoes, crispy pork, more corn soup, AND a chocolate dessert!  Valhrona Chocolate Pudding with Nutella cream and crushed hazelnuts.  Best Dessert Ever!

I don’t eat out as much as I used to but the dinner made me wistful for the good old days at Fuel/Refuel – and, quite frankly, eager to come back to Campagnolo to sample the incredible-looking pastas and pizzas that passed our table over the course of the evening.

The meal was nothing short of perfection.  A huge thanks to Rob, Tom, and the rest of the gang!




Hey, Cos & Effect (Cos & Effect) kicked off on Friday and continues through the weekend.  Akemi and I dropped by this afternoon and I snapped a few pics – which I’ll be posting as part of tomorrow’s blog entry.  Here’s a sneak peek:

Captain Jack says: “A con? I love cons. Drinks all around!”
Carl’s faves: The ladies of Final Fantasy

20 thoughts on “August 25, 2012: The Perfect Meal! Cos & Effect Kicks Off!

  1. Your entire dinner looks amazing, but that buttery corn soup had my mouth watering. 🙂 It’s a good thing we’re off to Miami when Lauren gets over her cold/flu for some good food. But that corn soup? FedEx me some, Joe! No, really. 🙂

    Getting ready for whatever comes this way, be it tropical storm or hurricane. The development we’re in is basically a bunch of houses plunked down in the woods, so we’re surrounded by all kindsa trees, and that’s a concern with high winds and rain. I doubt it’ll get bad enough here to have to get out, but it’s worrisome with my kid and almost-grandkid here.

    Love the picture of Akemi, by the way! Have a good night!

  2. wow, that meal looks fantastic. Shame I don’t like even remotely close to Vancouver.

  3. I’m not much of a pork eater, but that Pork Belly Rack actually looked like something I might eat. Served with radish and peas. Again, things I eat. Wow! Something you ate I might be able to eat. A first. 🙂

    I’m very UNadventurous when it comes to food. My mother cooked plain foods and cooked them very well: chicken and dumplings, Swiss steak, fried chicken, meatloaf, etc. In fact, my mother’s dumplings were so good, when she made them for the big family reunion/Thanksgiving at my Uncle’s, several people skipped dessert to eat more dumplings! True story.

    Alas, I’m stuck in this nursing home with most meals edible but not much else. My little sister brings me favorites once in a while, but :sigh:

    My little sister and her husband like to eat. For their anniversary, they drove almost three hours to go to a Cuban restaurant in Louisville and to visit an all spice store with spices from around the world. (I think they said there were 17 kinds of vanilla). They eat food from all around the world. Quite often what they call salad, I call garbage. I would never put those things together!

    I’ve always wondered: is ginger beer the same as ginger ale?

    Anne Teldy

  4. All the food pictures look great, especially that chocolate pudding. Nice to have a great chef with a resturant as a friend. Well, thanks for making me hungry. Now I’m off to go search the refrigerator for something to eat. Maybe a piece of cheese… 🙁

  5. First up, the corn soup. Not just any corn soup. This is THE corn soup…My favorite soup of all time.

    I’m confuzzled. I thought you’ve said in the past that corn isn’t one of your favorites. “Empty calories”, I recall you saying in the past. Perhaps you just meant corn-on-the-cob (though I think I could win you over with MY corn-on-the-cob, slathered in butter, with a generous sprinkling of chili power and a light drizzle of lime juice – ’tis DELISH! 🙂 ).

    Also, I want that soup recipe!!

    We’re having heavy rains and t-boomers with wicked lightning, so I have to go now and hide back under the table. 😛


  6. lol…chili POWDER…otherwise it sounds like a Mexican hippie movement, or something. 😛


  7. @Das: me. m has raved about the corn soup over the years. Though this latest offering looks a bit different from the earlier versions. The rest of the meal looked terrific, and it looks like the number of courses was something a normal person could handle.
    Looking forward to the con report, but as the pooch is snoring it’s time for me to head to bed. And RIP Neil Armstong; a hero and inspiration.

  8. @ Joey – First Comic Con, and now Cos & Effect. Hmmmm. I’m startin’ ta think there’s gotta be a little twisted kink in’a middle-aged dude runnin’ round snappin’ piccies of girlies in costume, you ol’ perve, yo…OH, LOOKIE! It’s Captain Jack Sparrow!!! Hubba-hubba!! *right-click, saves*

    H’hum. Now, where was I?



  9. @ das – 😆 😆 More power to Chili!! Long live El Salvador!! (or something like that…) 😉

  10. Hi Joe,

    It has been a few years since SG-1 and Atlantis came to an end. I thought another show may eventually replace them, but I now realize this is not going to happen. SG-1 and Atlantis were just too good. The setting, the characters, and most importantly – the adventures. I have all of the DVDs for both shows, and have been watching reruns ever since they went off air.
    You and Brad Wright created a masterpiece that was enjoyed by millions of viewers for a combined of 15 years. It was you who created one of the longest running scifi shows ever. It was you who created a new standard for the genre of science fiction.
    I want to ask you to consider doing another Stargate show, which would be a spiritual successor to SG-1 or Atlantis. Or possibly to continue the Atlantis storyline if you have any interest in doing that. There are so many stories that could have still been told in that setting.

    Please consider bringing back stargate. You have an enormous fanbase, terrific actors, and most importantly – vision. Vision to create sci-fi masterpieces unlike any other. Please do not let that go to waste.

    Stargate is your legacy and your finest work. It is how you will be remembered for years to come, long after this generation has expired. I ask you to continue that legacy.

  11. That sounds and looks absolutely amazing, and makes me wish I could fly to Vancouver immediately.

  12. Nice Jack Sparrow!

    Okay, gang, I need help: My daughter is going to college 4 hours from home, which means that in the next 4 months I’m going to be doing a lot of driving. Illinois is really flat, corn and soybean fields are really boring and highway hypnosis is a serious problem for me, so I’m looking for some good audio books to help keep me alert on those long drives.

    I would love some recommendations in the mystery, sci-fi and fantasy categories that have good stories and good narration.


  13. @Dom

    Sorry to say but you’re asking the wrong person there, Joe and Paul, like Brad, Robert, Carl etc have no control in the Stargate francise anymore and can’t bring it back, even if they wanted too.

    The decision is purely in the hands of MGM, should MGM want to revive Stargate, they have people there to do it, that want to do it, just waiting to be asked.

    I would love to hear about Stargate coming back too, heck I would love to hear about the news, and find that Joe is involved in it with a celebratory blog post haha.

    Sadly we just have to wait.

  14. @Randomness

    I will start emailing MGM then. I am sure they will bring back this franchise eventually.

    There are many fans just sitting at home watching reruns and DVDS. No one benefits from that. MGM is wasting an opportunity here.

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