Barrio Chino with Hemingway's
At the end of July, the head chef and owner of Hemingway’s, Felicia Lacalle, hosted a wine pairing dinner at the Show + Tell space inside Armature Works with Milbrandt Vineyard wines. I had the honor of getting to attend this intimate event with 24 other guests and we were treated to a five course meal, hand selected wines, and some fun conversation. Barrio Chino is Spanish and translates to “Chinatown” - the dishes we got to enjoy were inspired by both Asian and Cuban cuisine. Together this combination created an incredible lineup and packed a flavor profile unlike anything I had experienced before. As a Filipino who grew up in South Florida, surrounded by some of the most divine Cuban food, I was thrilled to be a part of this evening and I did not leave disappointed!
Scallop tiradito, candied Thai chili, key lime granita paired with Milbrandt Pinot Gris, 2016
The amuse bouche (literally meaning “mouth pleaser” in French) opened the night with a little kick. The scallop tiradito melted in my mouth and the candied Thai chili delivered the perfect amount of spice. The key lime granita was zesty and a slightly sweet which cut the heat of the Thai chili perfectly. The Pinot Gris was a simple, light white wine and paired nicely with this seafood opener.
Hemingway cigar-smoked tuna, shishito sofrito pistou, pickled heirloom breakfast radishes, Yuzu Mojo paired with Milbrandt Rosé, 2017
The first course is tied for my favorite meal of the night (I’ll discuss its competitor in a bit). I am a big tuna lover and was so excited to sink my teeth into this dish. I have had my fair share of smoked tuna, but the cigar smoke flavor brought this to the next level. The shishito sofrito pistou was very similar to a relish or pesto sauce - this sauce would be delicious on anything - I was scraping every last bit of it. The Rosé that was paired with this course wasn’t as sweet compared to a few others I’ve had and it proved to be a good match, rounding out the savory bite of the smoked tuna.
Five piece duck ropa vieja spring rolls, guava duck sauce, coriander sprouts paired with Milbrandt Malbec, 2014
The second course is the other dish that is tied for my favorite. As I sit here typing this, I am dreaming of getting to enjoy this spring roll again at some point in my life. It was AMAZING. I remember taking my first bite and telling myself to pace and slow down because I could’ve scarfed the whole thing in a couple bites. Ropa Vieja translates to “old clothes” and is traditionally made with shredded beef. It’s my go-to order at any Cuban restaurant I eat at. Duck ropa vieja wrapped in a crispy spring roll with guava duck sauce was the ultimate Asian/Cuban crossover for me. It had the sweetness from the guava and the classic robust flavors of a ropa vieja. The Malbec that was paired alongside was the first red wine of the night. It was bold, rich, and deep with subtle hints of blueberry - the perfect pairing for this course.
Tamarind plum wine-braised short ribs, roasted ginger malanga puree, Thai basil chimichurri, honey sesame glazed babu carrots paired with Milbrandt Cabernet Sauvignon, 2015
The third course another star of the night. It was essentially our main course, the big finish before the dessert. I didn’t think the food could get any better, yet Chef Felicia wowed us all again. As if braised short ribs aren’t amazing already, the unique flavors here married so well. The short ribs fell apart at the slightest touch of a fork - no knife needed. Chef Felicia told us about her childhood growing up eating malanga puree because of the many health benefits. As an adult, she fed it to her own kids and drives home the belief that malanga is a miracle food. She shared this food with us here in this dish, and it was fantastic. The puree had the consistency of mashed potatoes, but the flavor was a lot lighter. Chef Felicia came around and personally topped each plate with the Thai basil chimichurri. I am BIG fan of chimichurri and this was so good, I almost wanted her to leave the bowl of sauce at the table. The honey sesame glazed babu carrots were simply dressed and complemented the short ribs well. In my opinion, you can never enjoy a great piece of meat without a full glass of cabernet. The Cabernet Sauvignon was buttery, incredibly smooth, and completed this course beautifully.
Chocolate indulgence, mamey gelato, passion fruit coulis, cacao nibs paired with Pink Rosé Vermouth + Tonic
The fourth course closed the night and I couldn’t have imagined a better dessert to be served. I gravitate towards all things chocolate and when I saw this on the menu, I was over the moon. The name alone, Chocolate indulgence, has my mouth watering all over again. It was a decadent, flourless torte served with a fruity mamey gelato. This was my first time hearing of the mamey fruit and was pleasantly surprised with how great it tasted. The passion fruit coulis (drizzle/sauce) was plate-licking good. I would take a piece of the torte, glide it along the gelato and into the sauce to finish it off. The Pink Rosé Vermouth + Tonic has to be one of the most unique drinks I have ever tried. It was slightly bubbly from the tonic and then minty from the vermouth with a touch of sweetness from the rose. Needless to say, it ended the wine pairing on the perfect note.
Overall, the Barrio Chino wine pairing dinner was one of my favorite foodie experiences yet. It was a honor to be in that room sharing incredible food, drinks, and stories with Chef Felicia and the other guests. I got to try foods I never thought I’d get a chance to taste and it was a night I will never forget. I highly recommend a stop at Hemingway’s to try some of Chef Felicia’s dishes for yourself :)
This post was written by This Babe Eats contributor, Becca. This Babe Eats was invited to attend this event in exchange for an honest review and opinion.