A few sprinkles and a little cloud cover can’t dampen the spirits of 1500+ Sarasota food enthusiasts. Quite they contrary. The lucky eaters (and drinkers) who gathered at the John & Mable Ringling Museum on Sunday were more than ready to go. Usually, this annual food and wine extravaganza is played out under a beautiful, blue, sun bathed Florida sky. This year mother nature kept the crowd under cover.
The lines started early. Not that anyone would expect less. Sarasota has a pretty passionate dining community!
Once inside, it was Forks and Corks business as usual. Tons of delicious food to sample from close to fifty of Sarasota’s best independent restaurants. In case you were counting, there were 350+ wines featured at this years event. That’s a lot of vino!
Sarasota’s very own Kettle of Fish (the most appropriately named band for a food fest I would say) provided a fantastic soundtrack for the afternoon.
This event gives everyone an opportunity to look behind the curtain and see just how things get done in the kitchen. The Siesta Key Oyster Bar (SKOB) showing how to perfectly grill up some oysters.
Putting the finishing touches on the Andouille Sausage and Beef Sliders served by Michael’s on East. Looks like art to me.
Lots of ingredients (and prep) go into making the perfect pan of paella. The chefs at Fins at Sharkey’s really showed off their skills this year!
And, when it’s all done it’s got to be served to the masses.
OK, let’s have a look at what we thought were the best dishes of the afternoon. Narrowing the choices down was no easy task. Every restaurant went out of their way to put their best dish forward.
This year we’re going to list our best 10 dishes in alphabetical order. So, this year you get 10 number 1’s! Enjoy…
BRIDGE STREET BISTRO | ORIENTAL TUNA TACO
Lots and lots of flavor packed into a little plate. Tacos were popular this year. We thought that these tacos were the best of the taco crowd.
BRIDGE STREET BISTRO| 111 GULF DR. S | 782-1122 | WEBSITE
CAFE VENICE | HOMEMADE CHICKEN SALAD CANAPE
Still a classic. It’s funny how a dish that has been around for such a long time, can still seem fresh and new. Serving something so simple can be a big risk. This version was a hit!
CAFE VENICE| 116 W. VENICE AVE. | 484-1855 | WEBSITE
DRUNKEN POET CAFE | CHICKEN LARB
Another chicken salad makes our list. This time it’s a spicy Thai interpretation that bends and twists the traditional version into something delicious. It’s the perfect example of what different culinary cultures can do with a similar set of ingredients.
DRUNKEN POET CAFE | 1572 MAIN ST. | 955-8404 | WEBSITE
EUPHEMIA HAYE | CLASSIC CAESAR SALAD
Euphemia’s Caesar is always a treat! They really do serve a super fantastic preperation. They were making batches right there and serving them up to a line of anxious eaters. Can you say “Now serving table-side for 1500!”.
EUPHEMIA HAYE | 5540 GULF OF MEXICO DR. | 383-3633 | WEBSITE
GOLD RUSH BBQ | HICKORY SMOKED PULLED PORK SHOULDER
BBQ was WELL represented this year. Gold Rush BBQ in Venice served up their tender, smokey and flavorful pulled pork. And, as luck would have they brought along some of their award winning BBQ sauce.
GOLD RUSH BBQ | 661 TAMIAMI TRL. S. – VENICE | 482-3137 | WEBSITE
MAR VISTA | LOBSTER AND SHRIMP ROLL
A delicious twist on the traditional lobster roll. This sandwich is packed with luxurious seafood flavor all the way to its caviar top. It’s hard to beat this for three bite sandwich! More please.
MAR VISTA | 760 BROADWAY ST. – LBK | 383-2391 | WEBSITE
MICHAEL JOHN’S | CHOCOLATE POT DU CREME
OASIS CAFE | WHITE CUPCAKES W/LEMON CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
Yes, these little nuggets were just as delicious as pictured. Light, airy and packed with flavor. The presentation matched the tasting experience which was nice. Those who know me know that I am NOT a dessert person (insert understatement here). I honestly could have stood there and snacked on these things all afternoon. But, I also know that would have been a terribly impolite thing to do.
OASIS CAFE | 3542 S. OSPREY AVE. | 957-1214 | WEBSITE
PRIMO! RISTORANTE | SAUSAGE SPIEDINI
Yes, those skewers of pure flavor tasted just as great as they look. Fantastic for a food event too. The perfect portable eating experience. I could have eaten a half dozen without any problem at all.
PRIMO RISTORANTE | 8076 N. TAMIAMI TRL. | 359-3690 | WEBSITE
SANDBAR | MACKEREL CRUDO
Anybody who has ever been to Forks & Corks knows that the Sandbar always shows off their culinary chops. This year was no different. These little crudo cones were as delicious to eat as they were beautiful to look at. Lots of pictures being taken at this booth. Oh, and as an option they served a gluten free version without the cone. Very thoughtful.
SANDBAR | 100 SPRING AVE. – AMI | 778-0444 | WEBSITE
STOTTLEMYER’S SMOKEHOUSE | SMOKED BEEF BRISKET & CORNED BEEF SLIDERS
Beef brisket two ways basically. One version smoked. The other cured. And BOTH were off the charts great. They know how to do it over there at Stottlemyer’s no doubt about that. Very simple, very delicious.
STOTTLEMYER’S SMOKEHOUSE | 19 EAST RD. | 312-5969 | WEBSITE
Wine, yes, of course there was wine. And, I’ll have to say that the judges this year made a fine selection for “best of show”.
Rombauer’s chardonnay is one of my absolute favorite wines of all time. Now, I’m not an expert on wine. But, I know when I drink one that is off the charts great. Glad the panel decided to validate my “refined” palate by naming the 2015 Rombauer Chardonnay the 2017 White Wine Best of Show!
That’s a wrap for this years food and wine spectacular. If you were there in person, I know you were more than satisfied. If you didn’t make it this year, I’m just going to suggest that you put the 2018 Forks & Corks on your next year to-do list.