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Friday, April 6, 2012

Noche Buena at KitchenBar, Tampa, Florida December 24, 2011



I just returned from my Christmas Eve dinner at KitchenBar, held at Knife & Co.

I am a control freak and usually order several dishes, I like to chose my own. I had heard about the Lobster Risotto, and the poutine, and the chicory and peanut butter milkshake...but i decided to trust Chef Jeannie and order the Noche Buena "Naughty/Nice" tasting menu without even looking at the menu.

The meal was just exquisite. I also had the wine pairing. I have a tendency to pick a little bite of each component so i can experience the taste and texture of each before assembling the one "perfect" bite to see how it all comes together. Not only was each blended bite perfection but the meal itself was a perfect progression.

My meal started with Chef Jeannie Pierola coming to my table herself with an offering of Lavendar Sugared Marcona Almonds. I'm not worthy! I'm not worthy!

The duck, apricot and caper empanada in the appetizer course ("Tapas Tasting") was so delicious I savored each bite as slowly as I could. The yellowfin tuna conserva was a bit bland for my taste. Wild mushrooms ceviche with pan con tomate completed this course. This was paired with a Gramona Imperial Cava, Penedes, Spain 2006.

Next, the "2012 Seventh Avenue Salad"...composed of heirloom tomato carpaccio, romaine ice, serrano crisp, gruyere snow, liquid olives, olive oil powder and amontillado worcester emulsion.  The gruyere snow and liquid olives of the salad course were ingenious. The snow was just a hint, it disappeared on my tongue like magic, just like you'd remember catching snowflakes on your tongue when you were little. A quick rush of ice cold snow that melted so quickly leaving a hint of a taste of gruyere. Left me wanting more more more. And the liquid olive, how to explain this? It looked like an olive. It tasted like an olive. But when you set it on your tongue, it jiggled for a moment and then burst into wonderful olive liquid, like a sexy kiss. This incredible Salad course was paired with Acustic Blac (Garnacha Blanca, Macabeu, Pansal) Montsant, Spain 2009.

The Zarzuela de Mariscos (lobster, diver scallop, hog fish, little neck clam, mussel, grilled croutons and 'allie's allioli') was heavenly, I finished all the sauce using my spoon. Wouldn't leave a drop in my bowl. No way. This was paired with Pena das Donas Verdes Matas (Mencia), Ribera Sacra, Spain 2009.

The Christmas Pork Three Ways...oy oy oy. Pork tenderloin, pork belly, pork cheek, served with moros y christianos, yucca gratinee, aguacate ensalad, plaintain pave and 'lena's mojo pork jus'.  Pork cheek. Pork cheek, I love you. Come kiss me. Can food be sexy? Hell yeah. (sigh). The entree was paired with a Villacreces Pruno (Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot) Ribera del Duero, Spain 2008.

Cheese Course was lovely. Lenora (goat), malvarosa (sheep) and calbrales (cow), with marcona almond, medjool dates and truffle honey. Paired with Almansenas La Huella de Adares (Garnacha Tintorera, Almansa, Spain 2006.

The dessert...("Brazo Gitano")...well the dessert was just not fair. Dark chocolate sponge with pistachio mousse was dense but not too heavy and just wonderful...until I added a little mouthful of that blood orange sorbet with chocolate soil. That pushed me over the edge. Foodgasm. I'll have what she's having. Uh huh. Oh, mama. Can it be possible that something is just TOO good? This incredible course was paired with a Capcanes Pansal del Calas, Monsant, Spain 2008.

Followed by a perfect little glass of cortadito, not too sweet, just right.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

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