After dealing with the strain of Hurricane Irma, it was definitively time for all of us to have a night filled with fine food, delicious drinks and fabulous friends. What emerged from this secret location was a menu that was truly magical. Chef Tara Abrams and her team went off the books and prepared an array of delicacies carefully matched with palate pleasing wines to create a memorable night for all of us FoodieFreaks.
The welcome cocktail, aptly named “We Got The Beet,” was served in the Apothecary Lounge along with a refreshing appetizer of Amuse Bouche – Beet Gazpacho. From there, we were escorted through the large red-velvet lined dividing wall which opened up to a flurry of handcrafted dishes within the PizzaCraft restaurant. This was a spectacular event – no question about it.
The dinner opened with a Foie Gras mousse garnished with a candied kumquats – within a cornet crust. It was delicately wrapped and displayed upright on a bed of uncooked rice. There was a sweet and savory mix with a crunchy bite to offset the soft mousse filling.
Paired with a Cakebread Chardonnay – fresh aromas of pink grapefruit, melon and white peach introduce zesty flavors of Meyer lemon, lime, guava, gooseberry and juicy melon. Lively acidity accentuates the wine’s flavor intensity and animates its long, harmonious finish, which features succulent citrus and mineral tones.
Next up was a sizable portion of Beef tartare, spiced with bread crumbs, soft cured egg yolk and topped with malanga chips. There was a slight peppery flair to this dish with tastes of lemon zest, shallots and parsley. A touch of spice helped to heat the flavoring that was rounded by the salt of incorporated anchovies. Capers topped the mountain of beef to add a briny finish.
The dish was paired with Cuvaison Pinot Noir (2014) that cooled and settled the palate. This Carneros Pinot Noir has aromas of raspberry, black cherry, smoky leather an all spice. Integrated flavors of damson plum, spice and orange peel.
Our third course was presented as a kaleidoscope of Octopus Carpaccio. Paper thin slices of perfectly cooked octopus were interlaced. A cilantro lime gelatin supported the slices and the dish was finished with a Romesco sauce. A touch of smoke flavoring permeated each piece of octopus and the garnish of roasted oranges and green peppers were enhanced with sea salt, black pepper and micro cilantro.
Paired with this was a Vermentino. Dry and somewhat oily with flavors of grapefruit and citrus, with a crushed rocky minerality and saltiness. On the finish, it can be a bit snappy with bitterness similar to the taste of grapefruit pith or, if it’s on the riper side, fresh almond.
What appeared next was curious yet spectacular. A small ramekin filled with Bone Marrow Crème Brûlée with garnish of tomato jam. There was a juxtaposition of sweet and savory. Carving out a portion found a top layer of sweet crunchy goodness and soft creamy elegance. Digging in a little more found a depth of slow-cooked ultra rich beef flavor. Salty, sugary flavors were swirling and alternating with each spoonful.
The pairing for this dish was just as delightful. Veuve Clicquot was introduced and we were all treated to a lesson on how to properly saber champagne. Several of us got the chance to crack open the bottles with the beautiful saber. The bubbly was fresh with its cool nose of apple, citrus and exuberant yeast elements that continue onto the crisp, intense and energetic flavors.
The main dish could only be described as extravagant. Langoustines were wrapped in guanicaile (pork cheek) and sauced with a chinotto reduction and garnished with braised lentils. The charred Langoustine sat atop a bed of pesto and had a crisp burn on the outside with soft creamy flesh on the inside.
Chateau D’Aqueria Tavel Rose (2016) was the accompaniment for the Langoustines, which is wonderfully structured with red fruit aromas and notes of spice. Great fullness, fleshy and round with a lingering fresh finish.
After the course, in true European style, Chef Tara prepared honey ravioli with truffle tremor. The artisan styling was dramatic as the firm gelatin held a soft nutty cheese with a crunchy core. The outer walls helped to surround this deep flavored cheese and the truffle flavoring was all throughout every bite.
Paired with a 20-Year Tawny Port – A complex, wood aged wine, with a perfumed, dry style. Walnut and spice flavors blend together with the spirit and mature acidity.
To finish out this amazing evening, we were treated to fire roasted peaches set atop a lemon thyme pound cake accompanied with a brie mousse. The smoky flavoring within the peaches were subtle but apparent. With a light pound cake support and a dollop of finely whipped cheese mouse and topped with powdered sugar.
Biagio Moscato D’Asti was matched with this final course. A yellow straw color dessert wine that was delicate and has a sweet flavor with a clear, pleasant acidulous trace.
This was a divine ending to a perfect FoodieFreaks event.