I got invited to another foodblogger event this time at Fino, it's a delightful Mediterranean tapas restauarant and favorite of ours so I was delighted at the invitation. Again it was great having a chance to mingle with other food bloggers and get a chance to see some of the highlights from the restaurant's wonderful menu.
Be warned long post and lots of pictures to follow, the folks at Fino were very generous and shared a lot of dishes and cocktails with us: (I'll keep the descriptions short)
We'll start with drinks (from left to right):
Strawberry and Mint Sangria: lovely light local strawberries and mint with a nice trio of white wine, brandy and prosecco. Very light yummy and a great way to start the tasting. This was my second favorite. And it packed a bit of a pow.
Bee Sting: It's a honey vodka with black pepper simple syrup, I eye'd this drink with a bit of suspicion, but I'll have to agree with one of my fellow bloggers, this is what a bee sting would taste like. Subtly, sweet with a bite of pepper. This was my favorite. This was where I wondered if I should actually be finishing each of these drinks :)
Poloma Flower: This drink had vodka and elderflower liqueur balanced out with a bit of grapefruit. I found this to be a little too flowery for my own tastes. Not for me but it still had an interesting symphony of tastes that comes thru.
Finally we have Irish Monks: whisk, chartreuse and and earl grey syrup. This was an interesting drink the bitterness of the earl grey tempered the sweetness of the sugar, I feared that the whiskey would overpower the drink when I read the description, but everything was well balanced.
Now to the food:
We start off with a fried Anchovy stuffed olive. I'm a big fan of the anchovy some of my fellow bloggers were not. It's a perfect pop of olive and anchovy with very light crunch from the crust. This quick appetizer lead us to the first bruschetta, Foie gras bruschetta topped with golden raisins and honey. I know there's all sorts of controversy on this delicacy, I'm setting all that aside (so no flames please). The honey was locally sourced was a really yummy combination with the foie gras, strangely it cut the richness of the foie gras from my taste of the appetizer.
Now we hit one of the highlights of the night. This is a Fried Goat cheese with onion jam and honey. Some of the bloggers lamented on showing up late and not getting a try. YUM this was incredible! the lite tempura batter on a ball of goat cheese and to highlight the slightly sour hit of the cheese came the onion jam and honey to bring it to a mellow end. I'm drooling right now thinking about this. I'm going to have to go back to get a whole plate of this.
From there we went to a nice tomato gazpacho and a crab and avocado bruschetta. The gazpacho was really good, had a hint of horseradish bright and refreshing. The bruschetta was good as well, I think I wished there was some more spices added to it? I think maybe I got lost in the richness of the crab salad and the equally rich avocado.
Spoons, I love the idea they did it at uchi party too. This perfect one bite (ok, I had two), a Scallop and Blood Orange Crudo. Exquisite! I'm guessing the crudo chemically cooks the scallops just the smallist bit either way it was very clean fresh and perfect scallop with the sweet blood orange and the faint savory whispers from the onions and chives. I could have easily knocked down the server and ran off with the plate.
Chef decided to surprise us again with another dish not on the tasting menu. Boquerones: Fried Anchovies with meyer lemon aioli. Again, this was a hit or miss for the crowd, I loved them. The aioli was light and tasty, not too lemony thanks to the use of the sweeter meyer lemon. With the Boquerones the staff brought out plates of coriander crusted Tuna. The crust seasoning was very good a nice hint of saltiness and a little bit of a blackened taste i'll wager from the coriander and pepper. This sat on top of a tzatzki sauce, a great complement.
More Spoons! this one is filled with a nice Pork Belly with Spring Onion and White bean puree. You can't go wrong with pork belly seriously, pork belly. I was curious to see how this particular bite would differ from the pork belly dish that Uchi presented. In this case he did not broil it into a crispy texture, it was cooked just at where the belly was cooked but it didn't incur much of the way of a crust. It was topped with a nice onion puree and sat on a bean puree both were flavorful and mello to leave pork to be the front and center of attention.
We finish out everything with Fried Littleneck Calm with a dab of paprika aioli and Za'atar Braised Lamb over a celeriac Puree. The Clams were good but I can't say I had anything remarkable to share about them. The Za'atar Braised lamb was very good. I played guess the ingrediant with one of the other bloggers. It turns out we were both off the mark. I did a little research, Za'atar is actually a middle eastern spice mix containing cumin, coriander, fennel, thyme, oregano, marjoram and sumac. An incredible mixture of flavors. The lamb tasted similar to an indian curry, but not *quite* so it was fun to try to figure it out.
Finally we finished everything off with dessert. Chef added a mini chocolate cake with dolce deleche. The big show was the Strawberry Semifreddo with Rose Water Coulis and Pistachio Tuile. Wonderful and amazing flavors and textures (big considering I don't do desserts). It was like eating something that tasted like strawberry icecream but not cold. When combined with a bit of the tuile you had a really great mix of texture from the pistachios and smooth creamy goodness from the semifreddo. I didn't get a good sense of the rose water on my taste but I tried to get a combination of all of the layers and the dessert was a resounding hit with everyone!
A great big thank you to our hosts at Fino, it was a wonderful and enjoyable event. Hopefully my photographs do the food justice.
Some of the other bloggers at this event
Tasty Touring (with our guessing at the lamb)
Coffee and Queso
Poco-Cocoa (hey post that water mark tutorial!)
I've missed others I know. I'll edit and add as I find them.
Look forward to my next bento on Monday. It's St. Patricks Day! We're going Irish!