Seasons 52 “Drink Them Before They’re Famous” Event

October 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

A little while ago my friend Rachel (of Runners Tales) asked me if I would like to be her “plus one” to Seasons 52’s autumn wine selections and new seasonal menu tasting event. It took me about one minute to reply with an enthusiastic, “Yes!”

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I had mentioned to her once that I had never been there and was jealous that Chad had been there twice with his boss. Her boyfriend had to work last night, so his loss was definitely my gain.

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Seasons 52’s menu is seasonally-inspired and thus changes every season. They strive to have the fresh appeal of the farmer’s market, and use natural cooking techniques such as wood-fire grilling, brick-oven cooking, and caramelizing vegetables to let the natural flavors shine through. They also pay close attention to seasoning and use oil judiciously (I heard that they don’t use any butter) so that their menu items are naturally lower in calories. They promise on their website that none of their menu items are over 475 calories. Knowing all this made me very eager to check them out.

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When I arrived a few minutes early I ran into my friend and fellow Tampa Bay Lady Blogger Katie (of Ruffles and Truffles) outside. She is a fashion blogger and was taking her “fashion” shots outside the restaurant. I don’t know why I didn’t ask to get a picture with her then! I headed into the restaurant with her and her husband and we waited just a minute while they finished getting the private room ready.

The interior of the restaurant is beautiful. Check out this gorgeous bar!

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The dining room:

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We were soon ushered back to the private room…

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where we got our first look at the night’s menu.

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While waiting for everyone to arrive we were served an Orange Pinot, which I learned is a white wine made like a red wine making it both palate cleansing and rich in flavor.

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I don’t drink wine very often, but I did like this one. I really should learn to love wine. I know that I can’t consider myself a real foodie otherwise.

My friend Rachel soon arrived, as did another another Tampa Bay Lady Blogger friend, Jennifer (of Mangiamo!). I was so happy to be included in this event with my friends. I wish I had remembered to get a photo of all of us, but I was too blissed out on wine and good food I guess.

Appetizers included two kinds of hummus (edamame with mint and fire roasted red pepper) with sea salt lavash…

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and a Portobello mushroom flatbread, with spinach, goat cheese, gorgonzola, garlic, and truffle sour cream. The flat bread was to die for. I took a photo of Rachel taking a photo of it.

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At 6:30 on the dot they began a live webcast with Cliff Pleau, the Senior Culinary Director for Seasons 52, and George Miliotes, Season 52’s Master Sommelier.

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They gave a detailed explanation of all the evening’s dishes and accompanying wines. In case you were wondering, Seasons 52 has cornered the market on the Vista Hills Orange Pinot Gris, Willamette ‘11. They only created 250 cases of it and Seasons 52 owns all of it. If you want some, you need to head to a Seasons 52 in your area!

After the webcast, the first course of cider-glazed grilled chicken skewers with a Fuji apple slaw (including cranberries, pumpkin seeds and an agave/vinegar dressing) was served. They served all of the dishes “family style”…

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but also placed a few entrees on the table as they would be served if ordered individually in the restaurant.

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The chicken was served with a white wine called “Farrier Andiron Semillon, Alexander ‘09”. The sommelier described this as a “hipster” wine.

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I only took a few sips of each wine, as it just really isn’t my thing. I want to like it! Maybe I just need to go to Seasons 52 more often.

The second course was a Maple Leaf Farms sesame duck salad with apples, mint, cranberry, butternut squash, and pecans.

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This dish was amazing. I don’t eat duck very often, but the flavors in this salad were a perfect combination. The culinary director said he was really inspired by the use of cider and apples in this menu, and they were delicious in the dishes. Although the weather here in Florida definitely still feels like summer, this dinner definitely gave me a taste of fall. The duck salad was served with a wine called “Avanthia Godello, Valdeorras ‘10/’11” which the sommelier said was made from a rare, previously almost extinct grape.

The third course was an all-natural Piedmontese steak served with a mushroom sauce, sweet potatoes, and broccolini.

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The breed of cattle used and the way that they are raised (only grass-fed), results in steak with 25% less calories than traditional grain-fed beef. Less calories definitely did not mean less flavor, as this steak was tender and delicious. I think the steak and the duck salad are tied for my favorite of the evening, not including the desserts of course.

The steak was served with an Argentinian wine called “Tilia Bonarda, Mendoza ‘11/’12”. This wine was highly tannic, and since my palate is so unsophisticated, I can’t say that I cared for this wine at all. Sorry to be such a cretin.

The fourth course was oak wood grilled, balsamic glazed, all-natural grilled quail from Manchester Farms. The culinary director said that this was his favorite dish on this tasting menu. It was served with a mushroom risotto (amazing) and spinach with cippolini onions.

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The quail was served with two red wines for us to compare and contrast.

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The smaller glass is a “Michael David Petite Petit, Petite Sirah, Lodi ‘09/’10” and is a new world wine. It was very fruity (you could taste blackberry) and was definitely my favorite of the two. The larger glass is a “Glenelly Cabernet Sauvignon, Stellenbosch ‘10” which is a South African wine in the old world style. I am just repeating what the sommelier told us, of course. I have no idea what “new world” versus “old world” style really means.

The final course was dessert. Seasons 52 is pretty famous for their mini indulgence desserts.

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Their new dessert for fall is a pumpkin pie mini, including two layers of ginger snap cookie and two layers of pumpkin cream.

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I didn’t get to try the pumpkin, however. I went straight for the peanut butter and chocolate (of course). It was so rich and decadent.

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I did, however, get to bring a pumpkin pie mini home as a favor for Chad. I stuck it in the refrigerator when I got home, but will definitely steal a bite of it tonight. Everyone who tried it was raving.

We got to dine with the executive chef of the WestShore, Tampa Seasons 52, as well as the private dining manager and restaurant manager. They were all so nice and fun to chat with. I also got to meet several other bloggers and media representatives. I sat next to Shannon from Tasting Tampa, and really enjoyed getting to talk to her.

The whole evening was lovely. Thank you for inviting me Rachel, and thank you for hosting us Seasons 52. I hope they will ask me back to try the winter menu in a few months!

Seasons 52 in Tampa is having a special tasting dinner on Friday, November 2nd, called, “You say wine, I say beer, we all say food.” It is a five course dinner with a beer AND wine pairing for each course. Here are the details:

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Sorry that got a little wrinkled in my purse. Looks amazing!

Seasons 52 on Urbanspoon