Weather Can’t Dampen Forks and Corks Experience
The annual food and wine fest goes on!
No, this wasn’t the beautiful and scenic Ringling courtyard. That much was obvious from the moment you drove through the gates of the massive Feld Entertainment Studio complex. Weather may have forced a temporary change of venue. It did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of a passionate food and wine crowd. The surroundings for this year’s event may have felt different. But I can assure you all of the elements you would expect from Forks & Corks were there!
Forks and Corks is always special. Anyone who has attended knows that it’s different from all other Sarasota food events. The attention to detail, the variety of foods to taste, and the wide scope of domestic and international wines that you can sample help set it apart from the crowd. In short, it’s always a hit!
This year’s Fork & Corks was a challenge, to be sure. When you consider the enormous task of moving an event this size, with so many moving parts, it’s a miracle that there was an event at all this year. The Sarasota-Manatee Originals deserve a BIG pat on the back (or high five, whichever you prefer) for making it all happen. And it had a style and feel all its own. Well done!
Let’s get to some of what you could enjoy, shall we…
This year added a little more anxiety for the participating restaurants. Not only was it an unfamiliar venue. But, there was no actual onsite “cooking”. We were indoor,s after all. In years past, you could smell the enticing aroma of grilling meat or smoking oysters floating through the Ringling courtyard. I’m certain that more than a few restaurants had to modify their offerings to suit the new environment. Even so, like in past years, there was WAY too much delicious food to sample. To take it all in, you have to have a plan… And we were able to execute our food sampling plan to perfection!
Let’s take a look at some of our favorites from this year’s event. Just like last year, we’ll present them in alphabetical order…
BIRDROCK TACO SHACK | REUBEN TACO
There’s a mouthful of flavor in this mini taco. Duck bacon, manchego cheese, and kimchi give this all the pop you could possibly ask for in a small bite.
BIRDROCK TACO SHACK | 1004 10TH AVE. W, BRADENTON | 545-9966 | WEBSITE
CAFE GABBIANO | LASAGNA BOLOGNESE
CEDAR REEF FISH CAMP | CHILLED CEDAR PLANKED SALMON
No outdoor cooking! So, the folks at Cedar Reef adjust. Serving this super flavorful, chilled version of their cedar-planked salmon. It didn’t miss a beat. And, a great presentation.
CEDAR REEF FISH CAMP | 4167 S. TAMIAMI TRL., VENICE | 45-8564 | WEBSITE
DUVAL’S | BLACKENED AHI TUNA SLIDERS
HARRY’S CONTINENTAL KITCHENS | BROWNIES
After all of that wining and dining, you’re going to want some dessert. These brownie bites were just the things. Rich, chocolaty, and delicious!
HARRY’S CONTINENTAL KITCHENS | 525 ST. JUDES DR., LBK | 383-0777 | WEBSITE
MAR VISTA DOCKSIDE RESTAURANT | APPLE-FENNEL SALAD
MICHAEL’S ON EAST | ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE AND GROUND BEEF SLIDERS
Not only were these burgers packed with tasty goodness. They were good-sized. Topped with blue cheese, pickled okra, and alfalfa sprouts. I could have easily downed a trio and just called it a day!
MICHAEL’S ON EAST | 1212 S. EAST ST. | 366-0007 | WEBSITE
OASIS CAFE AND BAKERY | LEMON, CREAM CHEESE AND ESPRESSO BEAN MUFFIN
Another trip around the dessert table! These wee muffins were a smash. The espresso bean topper was perfect. Great way to finish your tasting day!
OASIS CAFE AND BAKERY | 3542 S. OSPREY AVE. | 957-1214 | WEBSITE
SIESTA KEY OYSTER BAR (SKOB) | DECONSTRUCTED PAELLA
Everything you would expect in a whole plate full of this traditional Spanish dish. But creatively condensed down into one (or two) perfect bites. Perfectly cooked shrimp and a rich, bright sauce complete this tasty treat.
SIESTA KEY OYSTER BAR (SKOB) | 5238 OCEAN BLVD. | 346-5443 | WEBSITE
There you have it! Oh, did we forget something? Yes, there was wine!
And a little wine education to go with your sample.
You could come into this event knowing very little about the particulars of wine or the wine business and leave with more info than you could digest. There was a lot of wine knowledge on display Sunday afternoon. And some great liquid examples to back up that information.
The Sarasota-Manatee Originals did it again! Even with mother nature doing her best to throw a wet blanket over the day, they managed to pull off yet another super successful day of dining and sipping. Bravo!