Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Unexpected Culinary Delight in Riverview FL - Winthrop Barn French Country Dinner

During my first trip to Riverview, FL, I was deeply disappointed. We were in the initial phase of our house hunting process and found what could have been our dream house in Riverview. Only to find out minutes from signing the contract that it was located in Section 8 housing which was not disclosed by our Realtor. We were let down and have looked at Riverview in a negative way ever since.

This was until a beautiful night in April, 2013. I was invited to attend a French Country Dinner by the amazing Amy Moran and her super talented husband, Chef Gary Moran of Wimauma. The Moran's recently purchased a piece of property that I would have never believed existed until I saw it with my very own eyes - The Winthrop Barn.
Photo from www.winthropeventcentre.com
To say I was shocked upon walking in is a slight understatement.  I fell in love twice that night, with impeccably perfect food, and a love story over shrimp and grits which I will get into later.

It's hard to believe that a Chef who started making pizza at the age of 14 years old and wearing the rat suit at Chuckie Cheese is making food, worthy of my southern Grandmother's approval if she was still with us. The Chef who once wore a rat suit has had a culinary career which would make most Chef's jealous. Moving to NYC at the age of 20, then to Massachusetts as a Sous Chef while obtaining his BA in Philosophy, onto London to attend Culinary school, ending up back in the States working for Wolfgang Puck in San Francisco. Tampa is fortunate to have a talented Chef like Gary Moran.
French Salade Lyonnaise
We were introduced to our first course, a traditional French Salade Lyonnaise. I knew this was a multi course meal and I couldn't put my fork down. Frisee greens, bacon lardon and bacon fat fried croutons dressed in a Tarragon mustard vinaigrette. topped with a poached egg. Yes - you heard me correctly, bacon fried croutons. I will never look at a simple crouton the same. I have a weakness for poached eggs and bacon so to me, this salad was perfection on a fork.

Ciallette De Nice
Chef Moran excitedly told us about our second dish, Ciallette De Nice, a dish which two of my dinner mates devoured faster than I could blink an eye. It was the perfect blend of pork and duck liver meatballs. This traditional French dish was beyond expectations and I had to administer self control not to finish the dish. Crazy enough to think that this dish was one of a peasant. The addition of rice was used to make this meal stretch for a large family. Yet there was nothing peasant about this meal. Then I found my slice of heaven - GRITS AND SPINACH! Chef Gary found a special place in my heart with this dish. Chef Moran put his own special touch on this dish by adding plenty of Feta which was a nice surprise.

Braised Duck Leg with Lentils and Brussels
Out next came the amazing main course - A Red Wine Braised Duck Leg with Lentils and Brussels sprouts. Topped with caramelized apples and a L’Orange sauce. This sauce took bottles and bottles of wine to create but I will not look at this experience as alcohol abuse. This dish was about as perfect as one can get.

Pickled Peach Clafoutis
How can this meal possibly get better? Pickled Peach Clafoutis topped with Basil Chantilly. I am officially obsessed with Chef Moran's Basil Chantilly. I got the answer I was looking for - they sell it at Wimauma. Next dinner party, you are all mine. Back to the Clafoutis! It's basically a flan with a airy texture. This particular Clafoutis was made with pickled peaches. AMAZING.


The Winthrop Barn is perfect for venues. I never imagined saying I would consider a place in Riverview as a Tampa wedding venue but it is in my lineup now once the question is asked. Don't judge - I am a marketer and  event planner in real life so I plan every aspect of my life, well in advance :)

I promised you a love story of Shrimp and Grits. Amy and Gary were childhood sweethearts who lost contact when Gary moved to NYC. Years later, Amy was was dining at Loves Artifacts and ordered Shrimp and Grits, to which she made a point to meet the Chef because it was the best she ever had. Out came her childhood sweetheart, Gary Moran. Six months later, they were married and Shrimp and Grits will always be part of their menu at Wimauma. This fun loving couple will be featured on The Steve Harvey Show this Wednesday Night so be sure to tune in! Visit their facebook event page fore more information!
Chef Gary and Amy Moran
Winthrop Barn Theatre on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

  1. Oh I can't wait to check this out next time I am near! I love French food!

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  2. I got my post up on the same day as you...I feel awfully prompt and accomplished ;) Your picture of the salade Lyonnaise is stunning! I'm also obsessed with the shot you took of the statue outside. Oh...and we both mentioned our own weddings in our posts...too funny. Awesome re-cap of a wonderful evening. So glad you retold their sweet love story :)

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  3. I have driven by so many times! I always think that it's in a little bit of an odd spot with the sort of run down open air flea market thing next to it. Hopefully more trees will set this place a part. GREAT pics :) Can't wait for Yelptucky Derby there! I also really want to try Wimauma!

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  4. Great review! :) I still have to write mine. Amy and Gary's love story is so sweet and it's nice to hear about a couple like that. Can't wait to try Wimauma- I've never been.

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  5. Wow...that salad looks incredible...what a wonderful evening of food. I am sad that I missed out on this one - the Winthrop Barn looks spectacular!

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  6. The food looks so awesome. I've actually been to this place when I participated as a vendor in the Run For the Fallen event. Totally different atmosphere and ambiance, but I can imagine how beautiful it must have been for your French Dinner. Great story

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