The wait is over. Pairings starts tonight at 6:30 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, bringing with it food from dozens of local restaurants and wine from all over.
There will be so many great dishes to try from the likes of Mark Militello, Allen Susser, Dean Max, Michael Bennet, Mike Ponluang, and more that it will probably be tough to get everything in without making a mad dash around the Broward Center like an escaped inmate.
All the dishes should be fantastic, but a few are must-try in my mind. Check them out after the cut:
3030 Ocean - Chilled cucumber mint soup with spicy shrimp: This dish from Dean Max's seafood haven will be a great opportunity to try the work of new sous Jeremy Ford in action. Plus, if it turns out to be a humid night (and you know it will), a refreshing cucumber soup will cool you right down.
Bimini Boartyard - Escolar with beurre noisette and red curry mop: Translation: white tuna with a painting of brown butter/red curry sauce. Sounds like an intriguing offering from chef Michael Bennet. (In fact, the recipe is here.)
Chef Allens - Mango roasted pork loin with macadamia-nut rice: This Floribbean dish should taste great on a hot night. The mango should help tenderize the pork, while the rice acts as an earthy foil to the sweetness.
East Coast BBQ - Pulled pork with pear relish on crouton &
sliced brisket with a smoky-sweet Southern caramelized onion topping: East Coast makes authentic, down-home Southern barbecue, so this gussied-up version with sweet relish and caramelized onions will be interesting to try.
Steak 954 - Beef carpaccio, red radish, frisee salad, garlic chips, truffle aioli: Classic and simple, I'm eager to see what kind of quality beef Steak 954 uses in its carpaccio.
Hong Kong City - Sweet pork with plum sauce: There isn't a glut of Asian options at Pairings, so this Chinese-style pork will be a welcome addition. I also have more selfish reasons: I haven't been to Honk Kong City since it reopened.
Taste Gastropub - Pork belly with huckleberry marmalade: Taste took pork belly off its menu at the restaurant, so it's interesting that Susser and company will return to it here. The sweet marmalade sounds like the right trick to cut through the fatty belly.
Chima - Top sirloin and lamb chops: Last year, Chima's outdoor grill churned out freshly rendered lamb chops with the speed and efficiency of an assembly line. People tried to make off with as many chops as they could -- stuffing them into coat pockets and making significant others carry extra. Chima's chefs noticed but didn't seem to mind. Hit this booth up for that meaty fix.
Grill on the Alley - House-cured gravlaks and gazpacho shooters with blackened shrimp: They had me at "house-cured gravlaks."
Trina - Grilled ciabatta with sheep's milk ricotta, crisp olives, arugula, and mangalitsa: Everyone wants to see Trina's new chef, Mark Militello, in action. This dish sounds like one of his creative, well-balanced imagineerings. Mangalitsa is a Hungarian hog with delicious marbled fat. The cheese should pair nicely with it, while the olives and peppery arugula will cut through the creaminess.