Wednesday, April 10, 2019 7:00PM – 10:00PM
Event held at: Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille
620 E. Las Olas Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
With a bit of disappointment from the cancellation of FoodieFreaks #9, us foodies were amped to get out to the next epicurean experience. When we first meet chef’s that are interested, we simply tell them that this group is adventurous and go “off-menu” to create the meal that you would love to eat yourself.
Well, that was exactly what we got. The menu speaks for itself on this culinary adventure.
Inside the historic Riverside Hotel there are several great restaurants. This event was located in the stunning setting just inside the main entrance of the hotel – facing Las Olas Boulevard. Wild Oyster has won many awards throughout the years for “best” restaurant, happy hour, food and too many other accolades to mention.
While the name of the restaurant may make you think that it is a “fish” restaurant with a raw bar, it is much more than that. The overall ambiance and beautiful accoutrements make this a place that you want to sit and enjoy a meal with great friends or business associates. The menu is deep and creative with plenty of choices that will appeal to pretty much any taste.
The FoodieFreaks met in the bar area and when we were all ready, we were gently escorted to the private dining room that had been prepped for a veritable feast. Fine china and silverware along with many wine glasses were placed at each chair. A dimly lit room, accented with blue neon set the stage for a food encounter that could be described as the most adventurous FoodieFreaks event yet.
Chef Justin Anthony, Maître D’ Thiago and their staff were ready to pour the first glass of Prosecco to begin the evening.
Chef Justin began the evening explaining his connection to the Philippines. His wife is Philippino and many of the dishes on the menu were inspired by his visits to the country and the food they they cook at home.
As the Prosecco was poured, we were asked to look at the table and take notice the second set of candles. The staff lit each and explained that these were not ordinary candles. At the same time, huge loaves of plump and fluffy rosemary-infused bread were placed on the table. Now that the candles were lit, we were told that the candle was actually made from Wagyu Beef fat and as it melted we should dip a piece of bread in the hearty rendering.
OMG – Deeply rich beef flavor with a hint of salt pampered the bread. If we stopped at this point the event would have been declared a success. But there was more, much more to come.
What was presented next was traditional and a treat in some parts of the world, but definitely not something that you see often on this side of the Pacific Ocean.
A traditional street food in the Philippines, BALUT – an 18 day old duck egg, was served with a side of tamarind mignonette. Said to be sold by old ladies in dark alleys of the Philippines, this is to to be eaten in this sequence:
Peel the shell, drink the yolk, dip in the mignonette and top with rock salt. Chewy, but tender at the same time and salty and rich. A bold entry to the menu.
The sweet Primaterra Prosecco was a nice offset to the hearty flavors that emerged from this dish.
Now that we knew that the Chef meant business, we were ready for the next dish. Steamed Monkfish Liver (Ankimo).
Served with crispy shisho and truffled ponzu and garnished with Daikon radish, this hit every region of the palate. First the crunch of the lightly tempura fried shisho leaf was sweet and salty. The liver was bold – yes BOLD. Incredibly rich flavor that was earthy and pungent. The sauce was delicate and helped to reduce the fish flavor emanating from the liver.
The wine pairing was smart – Thomas Schmitt Riesling – a sweet and fruity sensation that provided a nice cleanse.
If that wasn’t enough to wake us up – the next couple of dishes would definitely test the bounds of our FoodieFreaks.
An artistic plate was presented with a heart shaped mound of beef heart tartare. The plate was garnished with a deep fried beef tendon that was dehydrated and fried similar to chicharrón and a splatter of picante sauce made from pickled cherry peppers to boot. The tartare was made traditionally with garlic, shallots, mint, lime and harissa for spice. Topped with pinoli nuts the overall texture was velvety with ample crunch and the taste was rich of beef with a slight minty finish. Garnished with bull’s blood microgreens.
The pairing of Etude “Lyric” Pinot Noir was balanced well with slight acidity and fruitiness.
The blood theme was coming through loud and clear. Next up was a Teriyaki Tuna Blood taco.
The bloodline from a tuna loin was cut out, cured and thrown with a ginger scallion relish. Then, nestled in a butter lettuce taco we were told that we should add a squeeze of fresh lime and enjoy. Interestingly, there was a beef flavor that emerged. The sesame flavor of the topping came through and the garnish of a shiitake mushroom surrounded by a soy mirin reduction provided a great dipping sauce.
Properly paired with Beringer “Knights Valley” Cabernet Sauvignon – as a bold and rich red would be the only wine that could stand up to this dish.
A traditional and beloved dish in the Philippines was next up. Sisig, which is kind of a pig cheek casserole. The chef explained that our meal was pretty much made up of what is often thrown away. We weren’t sure what to make of that. However, this dish is something that was absolutely incredible with a touch of eccentricity.
Chopped pig cheek was mixed with pork intestine and stewed to bring out the flavors. The chef then stir fried the meat with onions and chili and calamansi limes. The dish was then topped with the yolk of a quail egg and a thai chili to add some heat. A side of white rice was on the plate as well. A smokey and hearty flavor emerged that was heavenly. This is considered a traditional street food but was perfect for the centerpiece of this fine meal.
What goes best with street food? Beer! The pairing for this was Budweiser Copper Light. Aged on Jim Beam bourbon barrel staves. The aromas and flavors of toasted oak with rye and vanilla.
How do you follow that? Good question.
The pastry chef put together an aggressive dessert made especially for our event – Lobster Cheesecake.
A lobster tail filled with lobster cheesecake was put on each plate. A small cup of white peach sauce was set to the side. In addition, a scoop of squid ink gelato was prepared and gently placed on top of a lemon cookie that was shaped and painted to look like an oyster shell. NOW THAT IS CREATIVE!
Savory chunks of lobster mixed with sweet cream-cheese cake made us all very happy. We raved and agreed when the chef told us that they are thinking about adding this the their menu permanently. A more than fitting end to a dinner that was extraordinary
The final wine pairing was appropriately Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc.