How do you fill a live performance theater like the Broward Center for the Performing Arts when there are no live acts to fill it on a Thursday night? Just bring together over 30 of South Florida’s finest restaurants, enough chefs and food service personnel to man their stations, cook up some tasty small plate food and pair it of course, with plenty of wine, beer and liquor. Such was the recent second annual Pairings event at the BCPA.
We were here for food, drink and fun. We were determined to eat and drink our way to sated oblivion in the two-plus hours we had (looking back we did some serious damage in such a short time.) Pairings is a food lover’s paradise, a virtual Foodie-Con (without costumed geeks), with each restaurant offering a little taste of their signature dish (or at least something easily prepared in a non-kitchen environment.) The aromas and the sizzle of freshly prepared food was overwhelming, and definitely in a good way. Though the event was well attended (i.e. crowded), people for the most part enjoyed themselves without being obnoxious and pretentious. There were a few exceptions to this overall atmosphere of food-and-drink loving spirit, but not enough to spoil the event.
Some of the highlights of our the gastronomic gauntlet included:
- Blackened tenderloin from Shula’s On The Beach, paired with a Oyikil Malbec (Mendoza 2007)
- Slow roasted Waygu short ribs from Bistro Mezzaluna (no wine pairing with this delicious morsel…they had conveniently run out of the wine, an expensive Zinfandel, even though the night was young, come on man)
- Saffron seafood risotto from Trina paired with a 2008 Yalumba Y Series Viognier (served by a young woman I swore looked like Cameron Diaz, though that may have been the generous pours of wine she offered up)
- Pasta in a meatball from da Campo Osteria by Todd English paired with a 2006 Bertani Secco Ripasso (which is as close to a great Super Tuscan as we’ve tasted in this price range)
- Potato gnocchi sorrentina with buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil from Bova Prime paired with a delightful 2006 La Spinetta Barbera Ca Del Pian
- Petite filet mignon sandwiches from Morton’s The Steakhouse paired with a 2004 Chateau Joanin Becot Cotes de Castillon (an excellent accompaniment to these tasty palm-sized appetizers)
- Crab cakes from Capital Grille paired with a 2007 La Crema Chardonnay Monterey
- Shredded Coca Cola barbecue beef ribs from Lola’s served on a homemade potato chip paired with Stone Arrogant Bastard Ale (one of our favorite stations to frequent that night, as confirmed by our two stops there)
- Dry aged New York strip, truffle Yukon Gold potatoes and HP Signature steak sauce from Hollywood Prime paired with a 2008 Montes Classic Cabernet Sauvignon.
All in all we truly enjoyed Pairings 2009. It was definitely worth the $35 price per ticket, offering up a kaleidoscope of culinary delights to please even the most discerning palate. The portions were hearty and flavorful; the wine, beer and other spirits available, were all poured generously. In fact, the pours got larger and larger as the night wore on, which is not a complaint; mind you, just a happy observation.
My one problem with Pairings—one I’m sure many of you reading this page may identify with if you’ve ever attended such an event—was the trash people left on tables around the food sampling stations and bistro tables. That was the kick in the groin on an otherwise fun night. We hate slobs, especially ones with money who should know better. We couldn’t figure out why people couldn’t throw away their trash in the conveniently placed bins that the event organizers provided for the huge amounts of disposable dishware and utensils an event of this size generates. Yet many attendees left their uneaten food, plates and assorted plastic ware for others to toss away. One yuppie stockbroker/professional/Ed Hardy, Armani cologne-wearing idiot tossed his plate right next to mine as we ate, which earned the unthinking twit a contemptuous stare from me. We didn’t let that sour our evening, however, and hope at future Pairings events people are a little more conscious about this and throw away their trash properly. We look forward to attending next year’s Pairings event and recommend it to any Wanderlush who enjoys eating, drinking…and most of all, people watching.