It’s hard to beat a day of sun filled food and fun.
The Sarasota-Manatee Originals know how to throw a party. That much is for sure. They’ve been at this Forks & Corks thing for a while now. It’s pretty safe to say that they’ve got it down pat.
When the doors swing open on a sun drench Ringling courtyard it’s a sight to see (and smell). Food of every imaginable type and wines from around the world are at your whim. A Truffle Lamb Meatball? How about a nice Seafood Paella? More interested in sweets? An out of this world Chocolate Pate awaits. All of these delicacies can be chased with award winning wine and some local brews.
Let’s get things started…
Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you. That is noted Sarasota Restaurateur Michael Klauber wielding a Champagne Saber. And, he knows how to use it! Whacking the tops of champagne bottles with a sword is certainly a dramatic way to kickoff a food and wine festival.
In case your interested in how that works, here’s a video.
Let’s check out what’s going on inside.
Sushi Chef Daniel Dokko handing out a freshly made sushi roll from JPan. There was lots of sushi this year. Pacific Rim pulls out all the stops with their beautiful display.
Not only does Chef Darwin Santa Maria know something about Peruvian cuisine. But, he knows a thing or two about brewing beer.
From craft beer to BIG batch beer it’s all here.
Of course there’s wine. After all this is part wine festival.
This is one of the most popular events on the Sarasota food calendar. To say that a ticket is hard to get would be a massive understatement. It’s not Powerball lottery hard. But, tickets for this thing sell out in something like 12.5 seconds. You have to have a quick mouse finger. And, that might not even be good enough.
So, for those who weren’t that lucky or for those of you that made it inside and just want to re-live the afternoon, here are some highlights.
First, I know it’s not a competition. I know it. That being said, I can still have my favorites. Here’s my personal Top 10 from the days culinary showcase.
10 – THE BIJOU CAFÉ (Short Rib Sliders)
The cole slaw gave this mini sandwich the added pop that put it over the top.
Just the right amount of spice. These Crab Cakes were REALLY good. All crab. Not a cake of filler.
8- POLO GRILL (Dry-Rubbed and Roasted Lamb Spareribs)
Savory, flavorful and delicious. Topped with a Apricot-Mint Chimichurri. I love lamb! So, I was a sucker for these right out of the box. Not a hard sell for me.
7 – ROESSLER’S – (Chocolate Pate)
I’m not a dessert person, but, this was fantastic. The eat dessert first crowd should have been all over this.
6 – CAFÉ GABBIANO (Lasagne Bolognese)
I’m usually lukewarm on these types of dishes at food festivals. It just seems to easy. But, this particular version breaks the mold. The perfect amount of every ingredient. You can see the layers of flavor.
5 – CAFÉ L’EUROPE (Maine Lobster & Shrimp Salad)
The presentation alone is stunning. But, wait until you taste this. Oh, that’s right, I had to taste it for you. Light, delicate and well balanced. The trouble with these types of dishes is sometimes the binders (mayo, sour cream, etc.) overwhelm the ingredients. Not the case here. The flavors of lobster and shrimp are the stars of this dish.
4 – CARAGUILO’S (Savory Ricotta Cheesecake)
My kind of dessert, Savory! The roasted cherry glaze gave it just the perfect amount of sweetness. I may just be a dessert person after all.
3 – HARRY’S CONTINENTAL KITCHENS (Cheese Torta)
You’ll have to admit, that looks pretty spectacular. Food art is what they should call it. Chevre, pesto and sundried tomatoes layered beautifully and tastefully. Home run.
2 – FINS AT SHARKEY’S (Lobster Nachos)
Over the top! I don’t even know if this qualifies as nachos. And, I really don’t care. I could have eaten a GIANT pile of this. And, I may have if no one would have noticed. Every ingredient, perfect. Check out the Ruffles! They have ridges.
1 – THE SANDBAR (Mt. Cook Cured Salmon)
I’m not even sure what to say. The picture says a lot. This dish would be equally at home at the most elegant restaurant or dinner party. But, still owned the day in the casual environment of The Ringling courtyard. Mote Marine Sturgeon Caviar makes this dish locally personal. A BIG thumbs up for this well thought out and executed dish.
I know, that’s a lot to digest.
To review, I know this wasn’t a competition. All of the restaurants put their best foot (and food) forward. But, if this were a contest, I can tell you that the BIG winners this particular day were the guests. The Originals made everyone who filled that space feel special. Just another Sunday stroll around the grounds…