Winefest and More

By staff April 28, 2008

Wine dinners, tastings and treats—there goes my diet!


By Judi Gallagher


Well, it was a food and event week to be reckoned with! It started out at an even pace. A little grilled pork Number 79 at Pho Cali, hold the noodles,of course, because I am (was) watching my weight. That led to a lovely piece of grilled salmon at the Bonefish Grill on Cooper Creek Boulevard, which led to a Selmon’s chopped salad- hold the dressing. Ha, I thought, losing these next five pounds shouldn’t be too bad. Then came the wine festival.


The winemaker’s dinner at Fleming’s this past Thursday night was their best yet, and Chef Charlie Flint even had my dinner date, Mr. Chatterbox, raving about the tender duck breast with blackberries.

Matt Orr, Sarasota Magazine's Mr. Chatterbox and friends at the Florida Winefest & Auction's Winemakers' Dinner.

“This is the BEST duck I have ever had!” claimed Mr. C; since he was stealing the blackberries off my plate, I would say it was a home run. Matt Orr – Mr.—said  he couldn’t get enough of the sliced tenderloin with spring pea succotash.


While I did try a power walk on Friday, that only led to a mountain of fresh pasta as I tested recipes before heading up to Beach Bistro for those decadent sliders and tender maple grilled salmon. Since I had the spring salad loaded with organic greens, I found no shame in dipping twice (well maybe thrice) into the fresh fruit crepes for desserts.


At the Winefest auction on Saturday, I enjoyed the yellow gazpacho from Crow’s Nest along with a glass of Flowers 2005 Camp Meeting Ridge and the Row Eleven Santa Maria 2005 pinot noir- my clear favorite wines of the weekend.


The weekend ended on a high note with breakfast at the new Word of Mouth (more on that next week) and the Iron Chef competition in Venice on Sunday afternoon. I had the good fortune to be a judge- the secret ingredient was tomatoes, and Chef Antonio Pariano  from  Restaurant Cassariano nailed his simple and elegant dish of chicken caprese.

Above top, competitors in Venice's Iron Chef competition; directly above, the winning dish--chicken caprese.

Well worth a trip to Venice soon to try some of their great new restaurants. Maybe next time I will power walk to Venice to shed the extra calories—nah, I’ll just stop at Momma Leones on the way home for a pizza instead!
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