It’s Pest to Pesto, the sequel.

And this time it’s local chef Joe Gallagher at D’Agnese’s Italian eatery on White Pond Drive in West Akron who is featuring garlic mustard, an invasive weed.

The second annual weeklong Pest to Pesto event runs through Saturday at D’Agnese’s, with five dishes available at lunch or dinner, along with the regular menu.

It's a fun way to increase awareness of garlic mustard, which chokes out native plants in Ohio and other states, said Brenda McShaffrey, founder and director of the Yellow Creek Foundation, which is pushing for the creation of the Yellow Creek Watershed. Gallagher is helping the foundation show off the weed's tasty side to raise money.

“Even the parking lot [at D’Agnese’s] smells delightful,” McShaffrey said, who taste-tested the dishes Monday.

The dishes include garlic mustard salad with arugula, blistered cherry tomatoes and crispy prosciutto; and pizza with garlic mustard pesto, goat cheese, roasted tomatoes and artichoke hearts. Gallagher created Rustic Spring Bisque with garlic mustard, local ramps, spring garlic and fresh herbs simmered with cream.

He’s featuring two entrees: gnocchi sautéed with sweet sausage, pine nuts, olive oil and garlic mustard; and pan-seared salmon with crispy Yukon potatoes, julienne summer squash and garlic mustard pesto.

McShaffrey got the idea for Pest to Pesto — held last year at Vaccaro’s Trattoria eatery in Bath — when she volunteered to help pick the invasive plant at the Bath Nature Preserve, and came home with a carload.

This year, she and other volunteers again harvested garlic mustard at the Bath Nature Preserve for the event.

Tables at D’Agnese’s feature informational pamphlets bearing a picture of garlic mustard and the word "Wanted." The plant grows about 2 to 3 feet tall and is topped with small white flowers in its second year; in its first year it's a low-to-the-ground rosette.

Settlers brought the plant from Europe. It releases a toxin that hinders the growth of fungi that help native plants get nutrients from the soil.

The best way to remove the weed is to pull it up by its roots, McShaffrey and others say.

Then you can bag it and dispose of it — or eat it, as long as you're sure the area hasn't been chemically treated.

For reservations, call D’Agnese’s at 234-678-3612. It's at 566 White Pond Drive, near Interstate 77. The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

 

Recipe found

Judy James has found the sauerkraut ball recipe.

The former local history librarian for the Akron-Summit County Public Library was searching for the original Brown Derby recipe as she continues her work on "The Akron Recipe Project," a cookbook to be published by the University of Akron Press.

Akron Dish featured her quest in last week’s column and voila — two readers came to her rescue. (We’ll provide it in a future column.)

James was after the version referenced in the Beacon Journal’s Dec. 27, 1970, Action Line column, which answered various reader questions. “Miss I.S.” of Kent had written to request the sauerkraut ball recipe from the Brown Derby.

While Action Line got the recipe, it was not printed in the Beacon Journal. Rather, readers were invited to send in a stamped, self-addressed envelope to receive a copy.

James sought Akron Dish’s help in getting the recipe after she reached out to the Brown Derby and the daughter of the chef who was in charge of their commissary kitchen years ago, and neither had it.

James is still collecting recipes for the book from ethnic and cultural groups that have made Akron home, as well as family favorites. She is especially interested in more recipes and stories from the Italian, Appalachian/Southern, and African American communities.

She can accept handwritten, typed or photocopied recipes. Mail to Judy James, 337 Hickory St., Akron, Ohio 44303; send photographs or emails to akronrecipeproject@gmail.com or via www.facebook.com/akronrecipeproject.

 

Goats race at winery

This Saturday brings one of the most fun events at a local winery, as Wolf Creek Winery in Copley Township hosts its annual Goat Derby from noon to 5 p.m.

This derby — in which goats race up the grassy slope behind the winery — will be over before that other derby begins, at 6:50 p.m. at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

At Wolf Creek, each goat will race for an area charity, and representatives from those charities will be on hand to talk about their work.

Events include a new Pygmy Run and a Best Derby Attire contest. I’ve seen guests in prior years get mighty spiffed up — big hats and all — so the competition is likely to be fierce.

Wolf Creek will serve mint juleps a la the Kentucky Derby, along with other cocktails, wines and craft beer. Food will be available for purchase from Fire Truck Pizza Company and Southern Thang food trucks, along with Metropolis Popcorn. Guests can pack their own picnics, but leave your adult beverages at home; they violate the winery’s permit.

Tickets are free, but the winery urges attendees to register so it can share updates. Go to https://wineryatwolfcreek.eventbrite.com or the winery’s Facebook page. You can also buy tickets there for the new VIP Goat Derby Experience in the Great Room. Cost is $100.

Parking will be limited, and the bridge on Cleveland-Massillon Road just north of the winery is closed, so guests are encouraged to use a ride service.

 

Tasting fest

It may seem a little too chilly to think about grilling out and other warm-weather culinary adventures.

Nevertheless, Kirbie’s Meats & Catering in Stow is gearing up for its annual pre-summer tasting fest, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Saturday in May.

The celebration starts Saturday with new butcher shop meat rubs (they will be served with chicken, but are suitable for any kind of meat, Kirbie’s owner Kris Burns said) and four potato salads.

Future Saturdays will feature grilling sauces, grilled smoked sausages and picnic side salads. Wine tastings will be held each Saturday.

Kirbie's is at 4062 Fishcreek Road in Stow in the Oregon Trails Plaza at Graham Road, 330-688-4333 or www.kirbies.com.

 

Food, wine events

• Vaccaro's Trattoria hosts a five-course dinner featuring wines from the Piedmont region of Italy at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Courses include antipasti; ricotta tortellini with smoked oxtail bolognese; artichoke risotto; vitello tonnato; and torte di Nocciola, each paired with wines. Cost is $100 and reservations are required at 330-666-6158. Vaccaro's is at 1000 Ghent Road, Bath.

• For the tequila lover who has everything and feels comfortable plopping down a C-note for a margarita, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is celebrating Cinco de Mayo all month, offering a $100 Prime Margarita with premium liquors including Tequila Herradura’s Seleccion Suprema and Grand Marnier Cuvee du Centenaire. You get to keep the Diamant Tumbler, made by Baccarat, in which the drink is served. Fleming’s says the tumbler, more like a rocks glass, is valued at “well over” $100.

• D’Agnese’s White Pond and local wine importer John Bee present a multi-course Spring Wine Dinner at 6 p.m. May 8. Cost is $60.

“We try to make these dinners a celebration of the Piedmont,” he told the Beacon Journal’s Phil Masturzo for an article last year.

Wine will be paired with Italian dishes from chef Joe Gallagher. For reservations, call 234-678-3612.

• Bee also hosts a wine dinner at 6 p.m. May 22 at Wise Guys Lounge and Grill, 1008 N. Main St. in Akron’s North Hill neighborhood.

Cost is $65 and reservations are recommended. Call 330-922-3006 after 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

• Fishers Foods will have a tasting of wines from store owner Jeff Fisher's latest Top 16 list from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 10 at the store at 5215 Fulton Drive in Jackson Township. Cost is $10, including foods by Fishers Catering Co. Another Top 16 tasting will be from 4:30 to 7:30 pm. June 21 at the store at 8100 Cleveland Ave. NW in Plain Township, which is also $10.

 

Gervasi Spirits

Gervasi Vineyard in Canton has launched Gervasi Spirits, made at the new Still House on its grounds off 55th Street in Canton.

The four spirits are Wheated Bourbon, Wine Barrel Bourbon, Small Batch Gin and Small Batch Vodka.

Coming soon are two blended spirits: Saint’s Desire, a blood orange gin distilled with Italian blood orange peel, and a rose vodka called Sinner’s Blush, made with Gervasi’s Lascito Frontenac Gris wine.

The Still House, The Bistro and The Crush House — all on the Gervasi property in Canton — and sister property The Twisted Olive in Green are offering six new craft cocktails boasting Gervasi Spirits.

Gervasi Vineyard opened in 2010. The Casa, an 18,000-square-foot boutique hotel with 24 guest suites, opens this week at the Tuscan-inspired Canton complex.

The Swaldo family owns the Gervasi collection of properties.

 

 

Send local food news to Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com. You can follow her @KatieByardABJ on Twitter or on Facebook.