Florida came up to New York City Wednesday night, as the crew from the restaurants at Sarasota’s swanky Ritz-Carlton hotel took over Chelsea’s James Beard House to serve a six-course meal, complete with hors d’oeuvres and wine pairings.
"One thing people might not realize about Sarasota is that it’s a spectacular dining town," James Cole, the hotel’s food and beverage manager, told The Daily Meal. "We have one of the highest amounts of restaurants per capita in the entire country, and an incredible waterfront."
The hotel, which is located right on the water, also has a spa, salon, beach club, and 18-hole golf course. Executive chef Dwayne Edwards, who has run the hotel’s entire dining program (which includes waterfront seafood restaurant and lounge Jack Dusty, The Beach Club Grill, The Golf Club Grille, Bayview Burger Bar, and even room service) for about three years, was able to showcase his expertise alongside pastry chef Thomas McGovern, banquet chef Zouhair Bellout, and culinary supervisor Gerard Jesse, for a gathering of about 60 guests.
The meal showcased the finest local (from Florida) ingredients, which were shipped up to New York especially for the meal. When some vegetables got too cold in transport, they even had a second shipment delivered the day of the meal.
It started out with hors d’oeuvres that included fried green tomatoes topped with foie gras and crawfish étouffée, and fried Southern oysters with Cajun remoulade. The first course was a crudo of hiramasa, which was followed by a salad featuring smoked lamb tongue. The third course was a hearty fagioli-style soup, dense with potatoes, controne beans, and chunks of chorizo, topped with a fillet of Gulf flounder. The following course was a duo of pork, smoked belly and confit shoulder. The most authentically "Southern" of the offerings, the pork was served atop creamy grits and braised greens, as well as natural jus and pot liquor. A beef course followed for those who still had stomach space left: a square of well-marbled Wagyu beef topped with a chimichurri sauce and served alongside crushed plantains in the style of mofongo. Finally, the dessert course, which included a white chocolate mousse cake, pineapple sorbet, and citrus-infused tapioca, allowed McGovern’s talent to shine.
We know where we’ll be eating (and staying) the next time we’re in Sarasota!
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.