Last night Hubband and I were treated to a Florida Foodies dinner at a restaurant we love, bluezoo, by Foodbuzz as part of their Dine On Us program. The goal of Dine On Us is to bring together food bloggers beyond the internet, to eat together and share our common love of food and story-telling. We were lucky enough to meet Chris of Pickles and Cake, Judy of No Fear Entertaining, Ingar of Taste Memory, Susan of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy, Jenn The Leftover Queen, Erin & Chris of the olive notes, Lys of Cooking in Stilettos, Christey and Peter of FotoCuisine, and Bryan The Tattooed Gourmet. Also in attendance was Ryan, the director and managing editor of the Foodbuzz Publisher Community. She flew all the way from San Francisco to join us, and I'm very grateful to her and Foodbuzz for sponsoring this gathering. Many thanks are also due to Jenn and Judy who have spent many hours over the last few months organizing this dinner, which was the first to be suggested and organized by bloggers themselves, and not initiated by Foodbuzz.
We were treated to a six-course meal, including amuse-bouche and dessert, with wine and cocktails, in a private dining room. This was the amuse:a littleneck clam with bacon ragout and white wine reduction. It was followed by the first course: shrimp cocktail steamrollers, which I do not have a great picture of, but I'm sure many will be posted in the next few days on some of the blogs listed above. Both the amuse and the first course were delicious, with the shrimp cocktail having a very modern presentation and amusing way of eating it that served as a great ice-breaker.
The salad was our second course: mixed greens with roasted red beets and yellow beet ribbon, candied walnuts, walnut powder, brioche crouton, and goat cheese fondue. Delicious. The earthiness and subtle sweetness of beets, with the tang of goat cheese and the buttery walnuts, a great and classic combination with a new twist. Third course was Arctic char, curried beluga lentils, zhataar-spiced carrots, and a yogurt-harissa spill. This was my least favorite course, as my arch-nemesis, cilantro, was found in every component. The fish was perfectly cooked, however, and I wish I could have eaten it.
The fourth course was chicken, cooked sous-vide style (vacuum-sealed and put in a temperature-controlled water bath, 66 degrees C for quite a while). The chicken was then warmed in the oven and seared quickly to crisp the skin, served with tomato sauce and parmesan polenta, and picholine olive gel. This course was good, but not amazing. The flavors were too familiar, and all the novelty lay in the cooking technique. It was, however, the best polenta I've had.
Dessert was a warm chocolate cake, surrounded by maracaibo chocolate pudding and caramel sauce, topped with peanut ice cream. A decadent and lovely ending to a very fun meal.
Some of the lovely ladies in attendance:It was a fantastic night, with good food and great company. All of these bloggers (and their supportive spouses!) were warm, funny, friendly people with whom I would be happy to spend many more such evenings.
Thank you again to Jenn, Judy, Ryan, and Foodbuzz for organizing and sponsoring this event!