Meanwhile, the gin allowed the mixologists to play extensively with sweet and savory flavors, as in the gazapacho-like Red and Yellow Snapper that started the meal. Herbal flavors were abundant. And all of it was beautiful.
Tales is a flurry of tasting rooms, fabulous meals, seminars and other events, a party where you can actually learn something. If you want to.
It’s always nice to hear about winning something other than millions from a Nigerian prince. Though if that were true, it would be nice, too.During my storm-chasing trip I got the news that I’d won a first place, Division I, from the Society for Features Journalism in the Reader Engagement category. It was for an interactive project I worked on at Florida Today called Bon Appetit Brevard. A lot of people were involved, but I wrote the stories, took photos, and shot and edited videos of the 10 semifinalists in this contest, which featured fabulous amateur chefs making their favorite recipes. I also shot and edited a half-hour TV show featuring the finalists making their dishes and competing to win a scholarship at Keiser University in Melbourne. Fun stuff! You can still see the videos online. Taryn Ireland won, and Francisco Abalo and Renee Durette were the other finalists. All the dishes were great, but I could use a piece of bread topped with Francisco’s chicken liver pate about now.
Too often when on the road, I end up eating fast food or “convenience” food, like those Tornado things (probably because they are called Tornadoes) or string cheese and a banana from a gas station. So when I get a chance to eat a real meal, I relish the moment. Last night I enjoyed a fantastic Italian meal at Benvenuti’s in Norman, Oklahoma. Except for a bird bombing my outdoor table, it was a delightful experience.
I ordered off the seasonal menu. As much as I love traditional Italian food – after all, I was raised with it – I enjoy a fresh take, and Benvenuti’s offers new specials every few months.It also offers wine flights, three-glass samplers on a variety of themes. I went for the First Class Cabernet flight ($10), which included The Show from California; Penfolds Thomas Highland from Australia; and Cult from Napa Valley. I especially liked the California wines, and they went well with my starter, the Risotto Arancini ($9), essentially a fried risotto ball stuffed with mozzarella and pesto and served with a tangy plum tomato sauce. For an entree, I got the Moppina ($17), with sheets of pasta, asparagus, peas, fava beans and flavorful fresh herbs in a butter sauce with a dollop of black pepper mascarpone cheese. It was just light enough, and delicious, and I had leftovers, to boot.
I wrapped up with the decadent Chocolate Caramel Pot du Creme ($6), a rich, chocolaty custard with just a touch of sea salt.
There are several more things I’d like to try at Benvenuti’s, which has a hip, friendly atmosphere … maybe the next time I’m in town, if I’ve survived the convenience store food in the meantime.
I’m in the process of doing our taxes, which means reviewing a year’s worth of expenses, and they can be kind of disturbing when grouped into categories. Especially “Restaurants.” One of our credit cards had enough restaurant expenses that they could be traded for a small used car. Granted, many of these were accrued as I reviewed restaurants for Florida Today, but given I had a limit even on those expenses, it still means we dine out a lot. I think as I become self-employed we will still enjoy dining out, but I hope we’ll also have time for more gourmet prep at home. And I still love shooting pictures of food and drink. This photo was from a holiday/champagne cocktail shoot in FT’s television studio.