New Times Pairings Sep 2010
There are three to four major food and wine events that we mark on our calendar every year. We circle it in red, program it into our phones and make a mental note not to forget. The New Times Pairings event at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in September is one of these can’t miss events.
Now, despite what you may have read, or heard—or both—many of you devoted readers of this blog have some serious questions about the New Times Pairings event that need answering. We aim to inform, educate and entertain in this blog, when possible, and sometimes all three, if we’re lucky. The most common questions people have about an event like Pairings are: 1) Is there a lot of food and wine to sample? 2) Is it that good? 3) Will they run out of any food and/or beverage before I’ve had a chance to sample it? The answers to these questions are, 1) “Yup,” 2) “Hell yeah,” and 3) “Are you serious?” Pairings is all about over-the-top, too-much-is-never-enough eating and drinking, though most people pace themselves in order to squeeze in as much as possible during the night. Good luck with that. With over 30 local restaurants offering food and scads of wine, beer and spirits available, you’d do well to pick and choose what strikes your fancy and not try to taste everything on the sampling menu—though it would be tempting to try.
For the first time ever, Kim and I decided to splurge and buy VIP tickets to this year’s event. Though the $75 per person cost was a bit steep, and it may seem so, especially to the casual gourmand—it was well worth it. VIP attendees
Mushroom Ravioli from Sublime
were offered access to the event one hour prior to the general admission ticket holders. Nice. Next, VIP members enjoyed mezzanine level access to some of the higher end wines and beverages, as well as several private cooking demonstrations. Very nice, indeed. Kim and I had a chance to talk to Andrew Lampasone, owner and proprietor of Wine Watch in Fort Lauderdale, and he told us that the better wines we’d be taste this evening were VIP only, so drink up before heading downstairs to the general population. Damn, that sounded pretentious as hell, but when you pay VIP prices you expect VIP wine and VIP food, and that’s no L-I-E.
Among the whites in the VIP area worth noting: the Pierre Sparr Gewurztraminer Alsace 2008, which was sweet, but not cloyingly sweet; the Chimney Rock Elevage Blanc Napa 2007; the Cuvaison Chardonnay Carneros 2008, which was the least memorable of the whites, though is still a far superior Chard that you will find for just $18 a bottle.
Among the reds, the Trinchero Cabernet Sauvignon Chicken Ranch Napa 2007 was quite remarkable, with hints of oaky vanilla and light tannins; and the 2008 Luca Malbec stood out as well, though its $32.50 bottle price may scare away even the most adventurous red drinkers. Perhaps the highlight of the VIP reds that night was the Domaine Serene ‘Evenstad Reserve’ Pinot Noir, a light-bodied Pinot with a complex flavor profile and strong hints of ripe cherry.
Once the trough went dry upstairs, which is no surprise given people’s propensity for getting their money’s worth, Kim
Solita Meatball & Ravioli
and I decided to make our way downstairs to join the crowds, who by now were well into the event and getting happy. We have to mention that more often than not these events can get a little chippy. Some folks who literally try to eat and drink their money’s worth forget all about manners and common courtesy and turn into loud, drunken morons. Oh, and some of them forget the proper way to approach a booth or table and plow their way into the front like a fullback on fourth down and one. But there was none of that rude behavior at this year’s event…everyone seemed relaxed and fully enjoying partaking in all of the food and spirits (literally). The former can spoil any event; the latter makes it fun and enjoyable.
There were some outstanding food samples worth noting: the chilled cucumber mint soup with spicy shrimp from 3030 Ocean; Chef Allens mango roasted pork loin with macadamia rice; the beef short rib Shu Mai with Taleggio and balsamic mini cheese tarts with fig from Georgi’s Alibi was nothing short of amazing; the Hong Kong City sweet pork with plum sauce was anything but “take out”; the roasted corn soup and jumbo lump crab
Georgis Alibi Short Rib Shu Mai
from Sea Level; the meatball and ravioli served up by Solita; and for the vegetarians, the arugula salad, mushroom ravioli and coconut cake from Sublime. And did I mention it was all you can eat, stuff or otherwise cram into your stomach? Again, it’s all about pacing and knowing your limit, though that all goes right out the window when you have this much good food staring you in the face and bombarding your senses.
By 9:30 or so Kim and I just couldn’t eat or drink any more. As much as we hated to stop, we were stuffed. And, as tempting as it was to sample more, we just couldn’t do it. So we made our way (slowly) back to the car, well sated, and both agreed that this year’s Pairings event was a great success. It’s already penciled in for next year.