Friday, July 1, 2011

South Florida Foodies Feast at 3800 Ocean Restaurant, Singer Island

Chef Dean James Max knows how to cook a feast with local Florida ingredients. Recently he wowed about 40 members of the South Florida Foodies group at his 3800 Ocean Restaurant and Bar, in the Singer Island Marriott, Florida.

I was one of the lucky guests treated to an extravagant seven-course meal, including dessert and wine for just $60 a person.

Other guests included Darrin and Jodi Swank, hydroponic farmers from Loxahatchee who provide fresh ingredients for Chef Max's restaurants. Along with them was the leader of Slow Foods Glades to Coast, Diane Campion.

First course: Ahi Coconut Tuna Ceviche (seen below) served in a half coconut shell on a bed of ice.
The ceviche had a Thai twist to it with lovely flavors of Kaffir lime leaves, Cilantro (Swank Specialty Produce), Serrano peppers, green onions, and creamy coconut milk.

Second course: White Water clams (Stephen Garza, Sebastain Inlet, FL) B.L.T. .
Small half-dollar sized clams tossed in a light briny broth went well with wilted romaine (Swank), chewy bits of bacon (Benton's Country Ham, TN), and spicy tomato halves.

Most of the courses  were served family style meaning they came in large communal platters for everyone to share.

Third course: Salad.
Deliciously grilled nectarine halves decorated mixed greens (Swank), toasted pine nuts, crumbled blue cheese (Winter Park Dairy, FL), and raspberry vinaigrette. The Winter Park cheese was surprisingly smooth considering it was made with raw milk. It had been aged 60 days.

Fourth course: Seafood Pasta.
I inhaled this dish so fast I forgot to get a picture of it. It was made with Cinnamon stick shaped fresh pasta called Rustico al Ceppo. It was tossed in a yummy light basil broth with Keys pink shrimp (The Keys, FL) and mussels (Ingrid Bengis Seafood, Maine). There was supposed to be fresh catch of the day (Wild Ocean Seafood Market, FL) mixed in, but my plate did not have any.

Fifth course: Alaskan Day Boat Halibut.
A succulent halibut filet cooked in Lobster Nage (tasty boullion), came with meaty pieces of wild mushrooms (Milkuni Wild Harvest, Canada), tasty wilted swiss chard and truffle foam. Side plates of curried cauliflower (Swank) and organic polenta accompanied the fish. Servers finished the plates with small spoonfuls of black Siberian caviar (Caviar and Caviar, FL).

Sixth course: Intermezzo.
Cucumber (Fresh Point, FL) granita made with fresh cucumbers, crushed ice and a sweetener was served in Asian style soup spoons.

Seventh course: Key lime pie.
Dessert stole the show with both amazing presentation and flavor (as seen below). Tart Key lime custard was baked into a toasted coconut crumb crust, slathered with rich coconut flavored cream and topped with fresh berries, edible flowers, and ribbons of fresh coconut.
All the dishes came with donated wine from Chateau Saint Michelle Winery. I chose not to describe them because even though they were good drinking wines, I did not feel they were paired well enough with the courses to mention.

The meal was an extravagance I will remember for some time thanks to Chef Max, 3800 Ocean staff, and the South Florida Foodies group.

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