Market 17, one of Fort Lauderdale's hottest new dining establishments, is coming out of the gate with a noteworthy wine event.
Clean Plate Charlie: What is the concept at Market 17?
Kirsta Grauberger: Wine country cuisine. Great farm-fresh food paired with great wine.
Tell me a little bit about you and how you got into the restaurant business?
In 2006, I was working as a graphic designer and took a part-time job as a server to make some extra money, and I enjoyed the restaurant business more than graphic design and quickly moved into management from serving.
What made you decide to become a sommelier?
I wanted to be good at my job as a server and manager. I took jobs at restaurants that had extensive wine programs, and a good employee in this business has to have great knowledge of the products or services offered. Then the more I learned about wine, the more fun it became, and it was a natural progression to sommelier.
How did those experiences evolve into owning your own restaurant?
I've always dreamed of having my own restaurant, and being an entrepreneur has always appealed to me. I'd been running restaurants for a while. Opportunity knocked.
What were your culinary inspirations for the menu?
Executive Chef Dan Ramos is responsible for most of our menu, including the inspiration, which changes daily. However, I weigh in quite a bit. The main inspiration is to always offer food you can't find everywhere else and make it taste great.
What sets Market 17 apart from other restaurants in Fort Lauderdale?
Outside of dining in the dark, we always offer four-, six-, eight-, and 17-course tasting menus, and I don't know of any other restaurants that offer that many tasting menus.
Additionally we work with local fishermen that bring us fish directly from the boat the day it was caught. Also we have an ever-changing list of game on the menu that I don't think you can find anywhere else, i.e., guinea fowl, antelope, elk, ostrich, bison, etc.
Clearly wine is a passion of yours. How is that reflected in the wine list at Market 17, and what is the focus?
We have an international list, and just like our food, we like to find quality, small-production, family-owned wineries that have a passion for what they do. The focus is great wine.
What are some wine "gems" on the menu people might not be familiar with but should try?
We have many, but it really depends on someone's palate and what they are looking for, which my brother and I are more than happy to match up. But we have some fun, unique stuff. For example, a 100 percent Malbec from Bordeaux with meat, or Tannat from Uruguay with fish, a sparkling Shiraz with dessert, and I could go on forever on all the single vineyard gems we have.
What is one of your favorite food and wine pairings on the menu at Market 17?
Well, we do really well with our pairings on our tasting menu, which we change every day. I love making the pairings every day. I certainly don't have a favorite, but you can never go wrong with strong cheese and a semisweet wine.
Why did you choose to showcase the wines of Paul Hobbs at your event on Thursday?
Well, Paul Hobbs himself is actually the guest of honor at the dinner. He will be talking about his wines and the different projects he's involved in. He rarely does events, as he's a very busy man, so when we were approached to host Paul, we of course were extremely honored to be asked and jumped at the opportunity.
Which of his wines will be featured?
We will be pouring:
Reception: Ceviche Station.
Wine: Crossbarn Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, California 2008
First: Butter-poached lobster-tail medallions, sautéed salsify, parsley purée, preserved lemon, and sorrel hollandaise.
Wine: "Hyde Vineyard" pinot noir, Carneros, California 2007
Second: Pan-basted pheasant, Hen of the Woods Mushroom, cowpeas, kale, and verjus pan sauce.
Wine: "Ulises Valdez Vineyard" pinot noir, Russian River Valley, California 2008
Third: Roasted duck breast, orange glazed, kuchoba squash dumpling, sautéed savoy cabbage and hazelnuts, brown butter emulsion. Wine: Bramare Malbec, Lujan de Cuyo, Mendoza Argentina '07
Fourth: London broil, roasted heirloom tomato, crispy parsnip and shallot rosti, natural jus. Wine: Paul Hobbs Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California 2007
Fifth: Grilled antelope loin, Gruyère potato soufflé, broccoli hearts, roasted Brussels sprout leaves, juniper demi.
Wine: Paul Hobbs "Beckstoffer to Kalon" Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, California 2007 Dessert will be truffles paired with Pulenta late-harvest Cab Franc from Argentina, part of the Paul Hobbs import portfolio.
What are your future plans with special events, such as wine dinners, etc.? Do you have any already scheduled, and if so, what?
We love doing events, so we hope to schedule at least one or two a month. We actually have a charity wine dinner the day before the Paul Hobbs event to benefit Riverwalk Trust, where rock star Jean Charles Boisset will be the guest of honor. We should have a "dining in the dark" wine dinner coming very soon. A true blind tasting.
For more information, visit Market 17
Paul Hobbs Wine Dinner-- Thursday, January 27. Reception: 6:30 p.m. Dinner: 7 p.m.
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Cost: $175 per person
*Note: Event was sold out at presstime, but Market 17 was taking names on a wait list.