The idea of medieval cuisine may not have guests’ mouths watering, but the team at Provenance at the Cleveland Museum of Art has inspired awe with their “Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders” exhibit-themed menu.
With a major exhibition exploring the complex social role of monsters in the Middle Ages, the culinary team knew they would have to capture the imagination of their guests, incorporating medieval preparations and culinary techniques while staying true to the restaurant’s focus on locally sourced ingredients. “The biggest challenge developing this menu was incorporating the summer season into medieval recipes, while plating in such a way to evoke the art in the exhibit,” said Executive Sous Chef Justin Paponetti.
The “Taste the Art” first course of grilled octopus with cucumber, melon, mint, chile, and lime may sound modern, but the octopus is charred (a common cooking technique in the Middle Ages) and playfully plated to reflect the art that inspired it. A cucumber “canoe” of seasonal ingredients is overrun by an octopus tentacle, as if a sea monster were attacking the boat from beneath. Other courses offer contemporary takes on traditional medieval dishes, such as the fig-and-date hand pie with brandy ice cream and honey — an homage to the era’s traditional meat pies, in which brandy and honey were typical ingredients.
The Bon Appétit team also came up with a complementary cocktail inspired by a book in the museum’s permanent collection, “Leaf From a Book of Hours: Angel Chasing a Devil and Two Devils.” The Angels Chasing Demons cocktail is topped with spherified Campari, a visual meant to evoke an end-of-days swarm of locusts as a demonic element for an otherwise angelic mixture of bourbon, lavender tea simple syrup, lemon and lime juice, and egg white.
“One of our most exciting opportunities is uniting our culinary and cocktail program with the museum’s extensive art collection. Using that artwork to inspire cocktails — through subject matter, palettes, or artist influence — is incredibly rewarding and allows our guests to engage with the menus in a more physical and visual way,” Shift Supervisor Andrew Deike explained.
Submitted by Valencia O’Carroll, District Social Media and PR Manager, and Waverley Aufmuth, Public Restaurant PR & Marketing Manager