Hooray for another food festival. Along with one of my dearest friends, another serious food festival lover and fellow fat girl inside, we decided to live dangerously on a school night and attend kickoff event for Coral Gables Restaurant Week 2012. The event was held at the lovely Westin Colonnade in the heart of The City Beautiful. Much like other events I attended, this event had a competition going - guests were to place a card given to us at the entrance to vote for their favorites. Needless to say, the competition was fierce (for the most part.).
The event was well organized and there was plenty of food to go around. The drinks - not so much. Our ticket only granted us one free drink, which was pretty lame, but then again it was a school night so we kept it responsible. My friend was lucky enough to have a generous pour of Cab into her plastic Bacardi cup (classy, huh?) while my server must have known I am prone to migraines and did me a favor.
|Quite the generous pouring|
The layout was beautiful - food stations of some of Coral Gables' yummiest restaurants circled the large venue and the fountain in the middle.
The big screen in the picture was scrolling live tweets from foodie bloggers and other Tweeps in attendance, here's a shot of my tweet.
I will guide you through our indulgence via pics, since my friend was an exceptionally good assistant and quite tolerant of my incessant photographic documentation.
Anacapri's Pumpkin Tortellini in Pink Sauce was a great way to start the indulgence. The pasta was fresh, the filling was fluffy and tasty. I had 2 servings. OK, 3. Whatever.
Pardo's Cilantro Rice & Rotisserie Chicken were also very good. We had this same dish at Coral Gables Food Fest in 2011 and remembered it fondly. The Cilantro Rice is super flavorful, the unmistakeable taste of cilantro is powerful and refreshing. The little side of ceviche was also very good - Peruvians know their ceviche! It was fresh & tangy.
Talavera's Shrimp Ceviche Tostada was amazing. The shrimp was plump and sweet, and the guac it sat on was fire. The tostada was perfectly crispy. I also had more than one serving of this dish because it was that good.
Holy. Moses. Fleming's Sliced Filet Mignon. I don't think words can do justice to this amazing dish. This meat was so tender, now I know why people say "it was like butter" when describing steak. Well, this was like butter! It melted in your mouth. The sauce was tangy and went perfectly with the perfectly cooked beef. The gentle charring on the outside added a nice texture to the softness of this dish.
John Martin's Sheppard's Pie was meaty, the mashed potatoes were yummy. But quite frankly I took one bite and called it quits. It was nice to try it, but it's not something I want to eat while prancing around a food festival. This is more like something I want to eat when in need of comfort food.
BGR's Wellington Sliders with Sweet Potatoes were yum. The cheese and onion topping on the slider were on point. The bun was really good. Soft but not mushy. And the beef was cooked perfectly and seasoned just as nicely. I am adding this place to list of bookmarks on Yelp.
The Local Craft Food & Drink's Kobe Beef Carpaccio with Ginger Scallion Vinagrette got my vote for best dish of the night. Everything about this dish rocked my senses. The beef was tender, the vinagrette was out of control, and the cilantro on top just enhanced everything on the dish.
Randazzo's Little Italy's Meat Lasagna was good. Not the best lasagna on the planet but it wasn't terrible either. I would've preferred their original plan, Meatballs & Mozzarella Bites. And white out. Or a new sign. That scribble scrabble is just. not. happening.
If there was an award for biggest dissapointment of the night, Ruth's Chris Beef Sliders would take the cake. If you're a product of the Miami-Dade County Public School system like I am, you will remember the cafeteria hamburgers we all enjoyed through our 12 years of fine schooling. Well, if you're ever in the mood to travel down memory lane, here's your chance. These things were awful. In fact, they were inedible. The "beef" was gray, tasteless (unless you like the taste of thawed out frost-bite on your food) and just gross. Ruth's Chris - I was expecting the juiciest, most decadent piece of burger meat ever. But no, you served us something that looked like an Old Navy chancleta on top of a bun. Shame. Shame, shame, shame on you!
Cibo's Chianti Braised Short Ribs on top of Gorgonzola Polenta with Crispy Onions were out of control. In fact, I went back to Cibo the following week for a full serving of this dish. The combo was awesome - tender beef, crispy onions, smooth & creamy polenta. A marriage of all things wonderful.
I took 2 bites of Angelique's Cochon du Lait and that's all I have to say. Dry. Very dry.
Gables Aragon Cuisine's Aztec Mangu was interesting but lacked something in the seasoning. My Puerto Rican companion compared it to her homeland's mofongo, and she was right, no comparison.
Caffe Vialetto's Pear Ravioli got my friend's vote and almost made me regret giving my vote to The Local. Almost. This was the perfect last savory bite of the evening. Homemade pasta housed a sweet and savory concoction of pears and cheese, drenched in more cheesy creamy sauce. This dish was the bomb. My friend gave them her vote.
Lastly, to end the night, we indulged in Mini Indulgences from the portion controlling geniuses at Seasons 52. As usual, their little desserts were amazing and hit the spot perfectly.
In true foodie diva, innner fatty status we jumped at the opportunity to look both goofy and fabulous at the photobooth. You can't tell from the pic but we were stuffed and definitely rocking some muffin tops under our clothes.