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OLA At Sanctuary Sommelier Albert Omahen Talks Wine & Food 2009

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I cold-called OLA at Sanctuary to find out if they got anything going on for the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival 2009. I spoke to a real cool dude, sommelier Albert Omahen about fish tacos, wine, and the smoker's palette. Here's what he had to say:


"The Chef is doing items outside of here, Douglas Rodriguez, he's the top Nuevo Latino chef. He's nominated for top chef of the south this year for James Beard awards.

"Sunday, at the beach, behind the Delano, he's doing a tasting. I believe he's making tuna tacos and smoked marlin tacos, but let me go ask him and find out --

"Saturday, he's doing a lobster ceviche and hamachi ceviche at the Mandarin. He's doing the first course, the ceviche course."

"Sunday, he's doing tuna tacos, smoked marlin tacos, and salmon tacos all in malanga -- it's from South America. We make our taco shells out of that. Jose Luis Flores is the sous chef, he's gonna be out there with him.

"The smoked marlin tacos are marlin from Hawaii marinated with rum, brown sugar, and capers in a jalapeno stuffed shell.

"I'm the dining room manager and sommelier. The boat show was very good to us this year, so we're hoping for the same reaction from Wine & Food. I mean, when you got the top chef in Nuevo Latino cuisine."

New Times: What kind of wine would go good with the fish tacos? The smoked marlin.

Albert Omahen: Smoked Marlin? I like a Godello from Spain, its got the weight of a Chardonnay but without the oak, good acidity, very refreshing, with a good weight to complement the food.

It's like a medium body wine, with an oily texture, good with fish, especially with marlin, it has a smoked flavor without overpowering the fish.

I been a sommelier for some of the top chefs in Miami.(author''s note: He was talking real fast during this part and I couldn't get all the names down, but there were several more) Militello, Douglas Rodriguez for five years now, I opened La Broche.

NT: What happened with that?

AO: It was a new style of food Miami wasn't ready for. Our menu here at OLA is predominantly Spanish and South American wines.

NT: Why's that important to people's interaction with the food?

AO: It's vital, you want the dining experience. You want to complement your food with wine, without it you can destroy the whole experience.

NT: What tips can you give the people out there?

AO: Number one: Cost should not distinguish if a wine is good or not, people always do that, they also get scared away when the sommelier approaches the table. I'm not trying to sell you the most expensive bottle, it's about the quality.

Albarino is a very clean white wine that goes nice with fish ceviches, a very nice white wine. I like to with play with varietals.

NT: What's that?

AO: It's the type of grapes, a Cabernet, Merlot, chardonnay, those are all varietals, I like to introduce people to different varietals. I try to complement ones that they like or introduce em to new ones to get excited about.

A lot of smokers, if you're a heavy smoker, it's the same as with liquor. Most heavy smokers don't want a wimpy liquor, they want an oak barrel scotch. Same with wine, you want a tannic structure -- dry, pucker your mouth flavors in big red wines, a good structured wine. Majority of red wine is aged in oak.

Listen it's getting busy in here I gotta go.

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