Spring St Petersburg Farmers Market Dinner at Maritana Grille, Loews Don CeSar

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Loews Don CeSar Executive Chef Kenny Hunsberger and Maritana Grille's Chef de Cuisine Gavin Pera have a passion for locally sourced products and this is clearly shown in the new St. Pete Farmers Market Tasting Menu. “Some of the best ingredients come from local growers! . We want to help heighten the awareness of these farms and provide our guests with the most flavorful local cuisine available in all of Tampa Bay.” boasted Chef Hunsberger.

I spoke to a few employees at Loews Don CeSar about the new menu and each of them were enthusiastic both Chef Hunsberger and Chef Pera are with the weekly Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Pete. Some of the employees at Don CeSar have attended this weekly tradition with the Chef's, where they meet with local vendors and select what will be highlighted on the specialty menu. At times, they will visit the farms personally to select the freshest produce, meet the farmers and get a first-hand look at how their efforts at Loews Hotels reinforce the importance of providing guests a uniquely local experience.

My husband and I got to check out the new St Pete Farmers Market Menu and it exceeded our expectations. Four courses paired with amazing wine left us with another memorable dinner at Loews Don CeSar.

First Course
Lake Meadow Natural Crispy Farm Egg
Grilled Asparagus, Serrano Jamon, Lemon Truffle Vinaigrette
Wine pairing option - Hugel "Tradition Pinot Gris

This was an incredible dish. We were lucky to dine at Maritana Grille on a day they got in duck eggs, which took this to a whole new level. The duck egg was fried and served over grilled asparagus and an incredible portion of serano jamon.
Stone Crab
Wagu carpaccio, corn blini, violet mustard, asparagus
Wine pairing option - Cade Sauvignon Blanc

This dish was intricate and delicious. Four different presentations of stone crab made for four incredible bites.

Second Course
Seely's Arc Rabbit
English Pea Puree, Carrot Puree, Bacon, Spring Onion, Sherry
Wine pairing option - Paul Jaboulet Syrah

I will be honest - going into this dinner, both Gabe and I were planning on ordering the pork belly for course two vs. the rabbit. However, we decided to go ahead and try it since we wanted to experience the entire menu. This was both of our first times eating Rabbit and it was delicious. I was not expecting to be this wowed.
Palmetto Creek Pork Belly
Anson mill grits, truffle, kale, malbec and smoke
Wine pairing option - Saldo Red Zinfandel

Our server Jeff explained this dish as Southern perfection and that it was. It was presented with smoke from wood chips, which gave the most amazing flavor to an already perfect dish. I could eat this every single day.

Third Course
Chilean Sea Bass
Saffron Risoto, Tomato, Rainbow Chard, Riesling
Wine pairing option - Failla Chardonnay

I adored this dish - the Sea Bass was super buttery and paired excellent with the Risoto. Also, the wine pairing for this one was my favorite of the night.
Anderson Lamb Rack
Soubise, Turnips and their greens, chocolate port demi glace, perigord truffle
Wine pairing option - Provenance Cabernet Sauvignon

Gabes Lamb dish did not disappoint and you have to love the amount of truffle. The chocolate port demi glace was awesome.

Fourth Course
Iberico Jamon
Artisan cheese, marcona almonds (aka truffle almonds), spring harvest honey
Wine pairing option - Chateaux De Stony Muscat Ice Wine

I am not one with a sweet tooth so a cheese and meat plate at the end of my meal is my ideal dessert. I also have an addiction to marcona almonds, which I was first introduced to at Loews Don CeSar. 

White Chocolate Blueberry Mouse
Fire roasted graham, streusel, local blueberry jam, coconut ice cream
Wine pairing option - Perrai-Carano Eldorado Noir Black Muscat

Holy moly this dessert. As mentioned above, I am not big on sweets so this gem right here was a bit of perfection. The blueberries were not tart and were probably the best blueberries I have ever had in my life, without exaggeration (which I am known to do). Paired with coconut ice cream, what one would think is an odd pairing ended up being the perfect companion. 

The St. Pete Farmer’s Market Tasting Menu is $85 per person, plus tax and gratuity. A specialty wine paring menu is also available. For reservations call 727-363-5077 or visit www.loewshotels.com.
Loews Don CeSar Hotel is located at 3400 Gulf Boulevard, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706.

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