An exclusive Pop-Up Dinner to celebrate Women Chefs, Restaurateurs, and Winemakers – Girl power at its finest to say the least! Recently, I had the privilege to attend the distinguished Scott Joseph’s special SJO Pop Dinner, a fundraiser for the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs’ scholarship fund. This magical event was held at the new East End Market, a neighborhood market and cultural food hub inspired by Central Florida’s local farmers and food artisans.
This dazzling evening featured the culinary talents of Chef Kathleen Blake – Rusty Spoon, Chef Julie Petrakis – Ravenous Pig & Cask & Larder, Chef Jephanie Foster – Blue Bistro, and Chef Anette Grecchi Gray – Red Lobster. The wines, from Dhane Chesson of Vibrant Rioja and provided through Gigi Chilvers of Wine on the Way, from women wine producers. In addition, Janice Talty of Old Hearth Bread Company provided bread pairings with each course. Can you see the pattern here – GIRL power!!
The fabulous evening began with a reception in the market’s courtyard where we sipped on blancos and rosados from Vibrant Rioja; while the women chefs tantalized us with tasty creations from their kitchens. Chef Foster offered Chicken Liver Mousse the black truffle on OHBC (Old Hearth Bread Company) ciabatta crouton. Chef Gray prepared Tuna Tartare with cilantro, chili, black barley, and zough yogurt with OHBC flax crackers. Chef Petrakis’s Crawfish Beignets with spiced honey, and Smoked Grit Fritters by Chef Blake.
Hundred people were seated along the length of East End Market to share our common love of food and wine. The ambiance and table setting created an elegant back drop…..A night to remember for a long, long time…
Our sit down dinner commenced with Chef Foster’s Caramelized Onion Gnocchi with blue cheese fondue and winter squash-sage-pancetta confit, OHBC warm pumpernickel. It was paired with a 2010 CVNE Crianza from winemaker Maria Larrea. Now I thought I knew the nuances of a well made gnoochi but Chef Foster’s gnoochi was simply put ethereal- ultra light, fresh, and brimming with savory flavor, in my humble opinion it is the BEST gnoochi I have had the pleasure of tasting in a long time….The 2010 Crianza has undergone a period of one year in oak giving beautiful hints of vanilla amongst fruity cherry notes.
Our second course was Chef Gray’s Seared Florida Cobia with Indian harvest jade rice-spinach cake, North African curry broth, OHBC naan. Look at the gorgeous plating and colors! Perfectly cooked cobia, delicious rice-spinach cake, flavorful broth – paired with the gorgeous 1998 Vina Tondonia – it was brilliant. The 1998 R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Gravonia Blanco Reserva from María José de Heredia is an absolute treasure in the wine world. Chalky minerality, golden fruits and distinctive notes from barrel aging – it was my favorite wine of the evening.
For our main course, if I may call it that – Chefs Blake & Kelly served us Whey Braised Jamison Farm Lamb Shank, jeweled fall grain, local greens, & OHBC miche. Two wines accompanied this course were 2007 Marqués de Murrieta Reserva from María Vargas and 2005 Montecillo Gran Reserva from María Martínez-Sierra. Melting in your mouth, fork tender ginormous lamb shank paired with sweet and citrusy grains, I was indeed in foodie haven!
The 2007 Marqués de Murrieta Reserva is a Rioja made in the classic style that is age worthy. This Reserva, a blend with Tempranillo largely, exhibits cedar, cigar box, and bright red fruit flavors, with lively, sweet tannins on the finish. The 2005 Montecillo Gran Reserva is drinking beautifully now with medium body palate and fine tannins.
Chef Petrakis ended our sit down multi-course dinner with Cinderella Pumpkin Roulade – all jacked up spiced chocolate ganache and pepita brittle . A 2009 Bodegas Bretón Loriñón Reserva from Pilar Bello accompanied. Light and fluffy, it was refreshing after the copious amounts of food we consumed. A special shout out to the bubbly Ms. Gabby Lothrop, Market Director of East End Market for sharing Balvenie 14 Year Caribbean Cask Single Malt. I very much enjoyed the balance and complexity of this fine whiskey.
Our foodie feast ended with Chef Annette’s favorite Emmi Roth Kase Cheeses, OHBC fig and anise baguette, and more wine out on the patio. Cristina Alvarez’s wine from Bodegas Conde de Valdemar accompanied the glorious array of cheeses. Crisp fall air, candle lighting, lively company was the perfect ending to our awe-inspiring and magical evening.
I have been an ardent admirer of Old Hearth Bread Company since I first discovered them at Whole Foods. Not only do they bake some of the widest array of delicious artisan breads in CFL, they use high quality flour from my to go shop – King Arthur Flour, an employee owned company. Having them showcase their store front at East End Market is the icing on the cake….
If you have been pondering over taking the plunge to enhance your wine palate, I highly recommend Riojas. They are delicious, light, with spicy fruit flavors, finesse, and in some cases complexity. The winemakers and producers of Rioja region are doing a brilliant job of bridging the gap between the traditions and the modern by giving you to the opportunity to drink aged wines without paying a fortune especially when most of us don’t have the storage space or patience to wait years for the bottle to ‘mature’. And if you get the opportunity to visit Spain, you will too, like me, fall in love with Spaniards for their warmth, generosity, loving spirit, and of course their beautiful wines.
Elegant ambiance, gorgeous presentation, impeccable service with a smile – all in all it was a delightful evening. I pranced home with my head held high and heart filled with pride to be standing next to these brilliant women of the food and wine industry.
Quoting Scott Joseph “we all need an Erin Allport in our lives”. Thank you dear Erin for coordinating this flawless and magical night for us….And mille grazie (thousand thanks) to our gracious host Scott, who ended up giving up his seat for me as the night was sold out.
To reserve your seat at the next dinner, please visit Scott Joseph’s website. Also if you haven’t visited East End Market is centrally located in Orlando – 3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803.