Culinaria’s luck with the weather held another day during its annual Festival Week. The Grand Tasting at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Saturday evening was marked by a balmy evening in which to enjoy some of the city’s finest chefs offering their best food to have with fine wines and cocktails.
Michael Sohocki from Restaurant Gwendolyn served blood sausage over polenta, while the Culinaria Institute of America scooped up mashed plantains, which they topped with shredded pork. Kirby’s Prime Steakhouse offered a beefy salad. Paloma Blanca served chipotle chicken over rice.
Jordan Mackey from Las Ramblas offered a refreshing golden tomato gazpacho, while Jesse Perez of Arcade Midtown Kitchen added a little punch with his spicy shrimp salad. Jason Dady of Umai Mi presented a creamy-spicy spread over shrimp rice crackers with fresh basil and other herbs on top. Jeff White from Boiler House topped shredded pork shoulder with a cashew slaw and avocado for a treat reserved for the VIP area, though he managed to sneak a couple of samples out to us.
Several restaurants presented multiple tastings. Stella Public House dished up Brussels sprouts and a skewer of Caprese salad alongside their panna cotta with a salted caramel topping. Cocina Heritage caterers presented a spicy shredded pork as well as a lively salad.
A few wines of note in an evening filled with fine wines included the Michelle Brut Rosé from Washington state, the bone dry Hugel Riesling from the Alsace, the Megahertz Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, and the Bending Branch Petite Sirah from Comfort.
Perhaps the most welcome feature of the evening was the fact that Culinaria limited the number of guests, which meant no waiting for a sample of Saucy Sweets’ alcohol-laced sorbets in flavors such as mint julep and piña colada or for an extra bit of fried kale from Lüke’s booth. There were no elbows to avoid in case you wanted to turn around, and plenty of most everything in case you wanted to sample something a second time.
Culinaria’s Festival Week concludes Sunday with Burgers, BBQ and Beer at the Pearl Brewery. For more information, click here.