I just returned from the Florida Winefest and Auction. This is an annual event held at the Long Boat Key Club, a four star, four diamond resort near Sarasota.
The Resort has provided Winefest with a one million dollar sponsorship for this outstanding charity event. Each year more than five thousand guests take part in a four day celebration of food and wine. Each guest spends an average of $172 on event tickets.
I flew from LAX to Tampa. I stayed at the Halfmoon Bay Beach Club. It is all suites which face on the Gulf. Great swimming and you can see the bottom the water is so clear. The Halfmoon Club served wonderful breakfasts and lunches with lots of fresh fish and quite different from California dishes.
One day I had breakfast at the Long Boat Key Club sitting outside on a spectacular patio with a view so picturesque I felt it was all part of a painting.
Crowning event of the Winefest is a gala black tie dinner and dance. The patio of the Long Boat Key Club is tented with beautifully set tables. Here I met the star chef of the dinner, Greg Alauzen. He is from Pittsburgh and owns the Steelhead Grill there.
I started with Gosset Grande Reserve champagne. With this was served a cherry and apple smoked salmon on a ricotta-dill crouton, the biggest crouton I have ever seen, also a seared rare Tuna Wrap. And these were just the appetizers.
A 1995 Pierre Sparr Cart d'oro Pinot Gris was served with Jonah Crab and mixed beet salad with mango vinaigrette. With a seafood chowder loaded with fresh seafood, lobster and clams they poured Meridian Edna Valley 1997 Reserve Chardonnay.
Entree was Elysian Fields Farm lamb with goat cheese and mint-onion chutney. The wine served was from Australia, Hardy Coonawarra 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon.
A 20 year old tawny Port was served with my dessert which was warm Confit Apple and Almond cake with caramel sauce.
In nearby Sarasota sights to see include the Ringling Museum. also the Ringling Mansion and Circus Museum.
The Florida Winefest is an exciting adventure for a Californian.
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