Last Night's Dishcrawl Was a Tour de Gastronomy Through Las Olas
For all of you who don't know what Dishcrawl is, it's an event geared especially toward foodies and those who just wanna eat. This guided tour takes participants to four local restaurants, allowing them to taste specialty meals. The kicker, however, is that those partaking in Dishcrawl have no idea what restaurants they are stopping at, let alone what they are being served, until the night of the event. Las Olas was the village of choice for last night's Dishcrawl.
Rebecca Shapiro, the Broward Dishcrawl event coordinator, says the secrecy only adds appeal. "It helps build anticipation," says Shapiro. "It's a food adventure. Plus, it may cause judgment [about the restaurants] if you know beforehand."
A wine boutique stocked with 40 flavors in self-dispensing wine machines, the Las Olas Wine Café served pita with Mediterranean hummus, salmon on crostinis and caprese sandwiches on baguette along with Sicamore Lane Chardonnay and Merlot. Although the pita with hummus tasted like, well, your standard pita and hummus dish, the salmon dish and caprese sandwiches were exceptionally delicious. Perhaps it was the little touches such as the lemon and chive cream cheese with the salmon as well as the homemade basil pesto combo with the crunchy baguette and fresh mozzarella cheese that really made the other dishes stand out.
The servers prepare everything themselves and so were extremely knowledgeable about the food. "Our food is great," said Erika, a server. "Our cheese plates and tapas are great to go with wine. You can even custom-make your cheese plate." Judging by the empty platter of food at the end of our 30-minute stay, participants of the Dishcrawl enjoyed the food as well.
The next stop on our gastronomic journey was the Las Olas Tuscan Grille. With dishes inspired by Tuscany (who would've thought?), we were first served green olives, diced tomatoes, and warm bread drizzled in olive oil as an appetizer; simple but tasty. What was next served, however, was anything but simple.
We each received a plate of gnocchi al pomodoro e mozzarella, risotto pocini e tartufo, pasta e fagiolo all Toscana and polipo alla girglia. The gnocchi was basically a dream for those who enjoy sensory overload: It had a chewy, soft texture layered with tomato sauce and pretty much melted in your mouth. The risotto pocini (caramel rice with truffle oil) had an almost sweet, buttery texture with chunks of delectable porcini mushrooms in every spoonful. The pasta e fagiolo, AKA Tuscan bean soup, was next. As for the grilled octopus (polipo alla girglia) resting on a bed of arugula with olive oil and lemon, it was gone from my dish in 30 seconds.
"It was perfectly grilled with a bit of a bite. It was the best octopus I've ever had," said Dishcrawl participant Jared. Turning to one of our dining companions reluctant to sample the cephalopod, Jared added, "You're really missing out."
"We use everything fresh and buy our food every day," said chef Silvio Crespo. "We go slow here. I don't like using something the next day or freezing it. We sell what we have. If we run out, we run out."
Our third stop was Mango's, where we were served an array of fish. We were served crab bisque, lump crab cake, and barbecued salmon. The bisque had a creamy texture and was filled with mushrooms and small chunks of crab in every bite. The salmon was the best part -- barbecued and topped with honey chipotle sauce and a mango salsa complete with red onions, cilantro, and tomatoes. It literally fell apart and melted with every bite. The crab cake sounded better than it tasted ("Chesapeake-style seasoned blue crab with Creole mustard, herbs and drizzled with Creole mustard") but didn't quite measure up to the other dishes.
"It was like a fish stick," said a fellow participant. "It was breaded with not a lot of flavor." Still, she agreed that the salmon was the best dish from this particular establishment.
4. Uddersweets Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Candy
Our last stop ended sweetly at Uddersweets. Here, we had the choice between two scoops of ice cream with two toppings or two truffles. Since my stomach was bursting with the three previous meals, I decided to go with the truffles: dark orange and dark raspberry. The dark orange truffle was sprinkled with crushed orange bits (AKA dyed chocolate) and tastewise resembled a creamsicle with a touch of richness -- not overwhelming, though. The raspberry truffle had decorative pink swirls but was too sweet for my taste. Still, I certainly wouldn't object to eating it again.
The manager, Jay, gushed about the custom recipes of his restaurant.
"The homemade ice cream is the most delicious I've ever tasted. The homemade chocolate is the most decadent I've ever tasted."
Uddersweets Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Candy is located at 920 E Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-760-1883, or visit uddersweets.com.
By all accounts, the Las Olas Dishcrawl was a success.
"It went really well," Shapiro said afterward. "Everyone had a great time, and in my book, that's a success. I'm really happy how it came out." As a Dishcrawl veteran, Shapiro has a tip for those looking to join the next one. To ensure you don't get the flavors of different foods mingling unwanted on your palate, she advises to "eat natural foods like plain bread or water [in between]. It gives you a clean taste."
For all you foodies in South Florida, the next stop is in Miami this Saturday in Brickell. Visit dishcrawl.com/sf/ to sign up. The four stops are kept secret until the night of the event. Those who sign up will be notified of the first meeting spot 48 hours before the event.
Check back with Clean Plate Charlie to find out when the next Dishcrawl is coming to Broward or Palm Beach counties.
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