Mitchell’s Fish Market in Winter Park has been on my “someday list”- you know those places you say you want to go to someday but never find the time go? – so when I was invited to cover their #ItalyUncorked Wine Dinner, on behalf of CitySurfing Orlando, I jumped at the chance. Four delicious courses paired with wines, taking me on a culinary journey along the Italian coast, sounded like Epicurista heaven to me! And it was…
Our tour guide for this journey, Mitchell’s Fish Market General Manager George Grigor, introduced each dish and told us about its preparation and ingredients, making sure that any food allergies were addressed. The question “anyone allergic to bacon?” was met with a collective gasp through the room! The wines were expertly presented by E&J Gallo Winery Field Marketing Manager, Daniel Rowland, who also provided a beautiful slide show of winery landscapes which transported us on our imaginary travels around Italy.
The First Course was a Trio of Crostini topped with Fresh Tomato Bruschetta, Olive Tapenade and Lobster, paired beautifully with La Marca Prosecco, DOC of Veneto, Italy. Bubbles are always a great way to start the evening and this Prosecco had the perfect balance of sweet and dry notes which is great not just for sipping but also versatile food pairings. The crowd favorite was the Lobster Crostini. As you can imagine the fresh lobster, lightly dressed, was exquisite. I found the saltiness of the olive tapenade to be a nice contrast to the fruity hints of baked apple in the wine. With each flavor on the plate, from the tomatoes, to the olives, to the lobster, to every sip of wine, our Italian road trip was indeed off to a great start.
The Second Course was Butternut Squash Tortellaci – a larger version of a tortellini – with succulent Maine lobster in a creamy brown butter, sage and smoked bacon sauce. The dish was savory, rich and creamy, with a surprising hint of sweetness that came from a secret ingredient – maple syrup. It offered layers of flavor in every bite paired with Da Vinci Pinot Grigio, delle Venezie Italy. A crisp and acidic wine, as you might expect, it had flavors of ripe tropical fruit and a creamy mouthfeel, giving it more complexity than your typical Pinot Grigio. It was a perfect balance. The dish did not overpower the wine or vice versa. If I had to choose a favorite course, this was it!
The Third Course was Pan-Roasted Sea Bass with cannellini beans, sautéed spinach and tomato, drizzled with basil aioli. Paired with Brancaia “Tre” Red Blend from Tuscany Italy, it was a pairing that proved you don’t always need to serve white wine with fish. This Super Tuscan blend of three grapes (80% Sangiovese along with 20% Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon), hence the name ‘Tre’, had the perfect medium body, elegant flavors of dry cherry and earthy notes that complemented the flavors in the dish. To say that there was a lot going on in this plate is an understatement, yet it all worked so well together.
Our final stop on this delicious Italian journey was a light and moist Almond Cake garnished with Almond Brittle served atop a creamy Mocha Anglaise sauce. The almond flavors were spectacular and the mocha sauce gave it a nice depth and contrast. The dessert was paired with an Italian Espresso Martini. I say, why end your meal with a boring coffee when you can have an espresso martini instead? I loved that it was not too syrupy sweet or too strong tasting. It was actually a dangerous and decadent combination of New Amsterdam Vodka, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Kahlua and Italian Espresso. I can imagine several of these being consumed! It was just so easy to drink. The key to its great flavor was using actual espresso in the drink, which not all places do.
The Mitchell’s Fish Market team did a wonderful job. “Italy Uncorked” wet my appetite and intensified my desire to go on an Italian Road Trip , also on my “someday list”. The service was attentive and friendly and the menu was expertly executed by Executive Chef Walter Barrezuela, Sous Chef David Seguin and Chris Tryesdele. At $49.99 per person, this dinner was an exceptional value, as well.
The restaurant hosts several wine dinners throughout the year. I highly recommend you add it to your “someday list” and GO #MakeSomedayHappen. For more information visit mitchellsfishmarket.com. Located in Winter Park Village, 460 N. Orlando Ave, Suite 122, Winter Park FL. 407-339-3474
[Photos courtesy of Christina Thomas of goEpicurista.com]