A food extravaganza

BY BEN VERHILLE | APRIL 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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Mission Creek is back in town to bring a sense of unity to the culinary community in Iowa City. With a large portion of the festival emphasizing a culture of fine dining, it makes sense that cooperation in this initiative is so strong.

This year’s food adventure had its start at the Motley Cow Café,  160 N. Linn St., with the Pavelka’s Point Pork Dinner held by chef David Wieseneck. The dinner boasted pork in every course, starting with an herbed fish chowder with La Quercia prosciutto and ending with a walnut cake featuring apple, honey, and bacon. The main course was a pork loin from Pavelka’s Point.

But the Pork Dinner is more than just a theme for the Motley Cow.

“It’s a tradition,” Wieseneck said. “Based on the success of last year, it fit well.”

Serving pork every course might be a challenge for some chefs, but not for Wieseneck’s team.

“It’s a stellar cooking staff,” Wieseneck said.

Melissa Sinclair was the mixologist for the specialty drinks this week. With the aperitif, or drink course, designed by her, the Mission Creek Maple Manhattan was born.

The cocktail is based on the original Perfect Manhattan, which is equal parts dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, and bourbon.

“The maple whiskey is extremely sweet; I wanted to pair it with orange juice,” Sinclair said. “But that was a breakfast drink. We used vermouth to lessen the sweetness of the maple.”

The next stop on the festival was the Small Plates Dinner at Leaf Kitchen, 301½ Kirkwood. With specialties galore on this menu, a large amount of credit was given to head chef Masae Judge.

The staff at Leaf Kitchen were ecstatic about the opportunity to participate in the festival, who can also be found at Motley Cow on occasion for business or pleasure.

The highlighted plate was the Kimchee Hot Dog, a Korean take on an old American favorite. Also featured at the event was a plate of seared tofu with Ponzu and scallion oil and Kochuchang fried chicken — a savory chili spice unique to Korea.

Keri Veldheer of Leaf Kitchen spent the entire day of the event in the restaurant, making preparations and planning for the début in Mission Creek.

“The four chefs together really make [the food] stand out,” she said.

The remaining food events include a dinner at Devotay, 117 N. Linn, with Molly O’Neill, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated food writer and editor at 6 p.m. today. Trumpet Blossom, 310 E. Prentiss St., will hold a Vegan Brunch at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, and the Last Call Brunch Buffet will take place at 11 a.m. April 6 at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St.

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