Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on March 30, 2012
every once in a while, some legitimate establishment, a classy joint, will get in contact with me and invite me to their place for something nice to eat. or drink. it is always very pleasant, but i tend to get the suspicion that perhaps they meant to message scallywag journeys, not me. and then when i show up, with scraps of my last meal still sitting in my full, luxurious beard, they maybe begin to regret not double checking who this “food monster” is before sending out the invite.
MESSAGE TO POTENTIAL INVITERS: my reviews contain words like “ass” and “fuck”, and often reference vomiting. be warned.
so whether it be intentional or no, seasons 52 asked me to join them and a group of elite food critic-types for a special event celebrating their spring menu launch. as i would later learn, seasons 52 changes their menu every season (thus the ‘seasons’ in the name)… (the 52 is for the 52 weeks in each year, representing their weekly practice of sacrificing a market fresh goat to the god of the current season, be it WINTROUS, keeper of snow, or SUMMULON, the boiler of faces). the event would give us an opportunity to sample their new dishes, and take part in an interactive webcast of the head chef and wine chooser extraordinaire. also to rub elbows.
so i took this as an opportunity to prove, not just to the general public but to myself as well, that i am perfectly capable of carrying myself like a gentleman, and fitting in with those damned uptight blue bloods [who i secretly openly hate]. so i slipped into my fanciest dinner tuxedo, strapped on my most bold two-tone dinner tie, put on my elegantest dinner slippers, doused myself with my most fragrant dinner cologne, and coated my puffy lips with watkins patented dinner salve. i was most assuredly the classiest. they had to love me.
on our arrival (i was accompanied by my equally-classy but far sexier assistant), we were directed to the decadent krebstar room, a special room reserved for meetings or bachelor parties in the back of the restaurant. inside we found a beautiful dining table, complete with glasses and silverware. fighting my instinctual urges to steal everything in sight, i settled for drinking one of the complimentary cocktails offered to us. they were serving strawberry kir royal, which is strawberry-infused vodka, with agave nectar and zardetto prosecci, which i believe is a fish-based wine. despite my harsh dislike for vodka, based on a single college party, this drink was surprisingly tolerable. light and bubbly, with a distinct strawberry flavor. my rampant alcoholism began taking over my senses, but i fought it off, reminding myself that each dish would be paired with a wine. only a bit of waiting until my next drink.
while the other guests arrived (all four of them), we were kept entertained by one of the managers, and a constant influx of delicious appetizers.
apparently seasons 52 is known for their flatbreads. or at least they are one of their more celebrated items. we were treated to two different varieties of these flatbreads:
the ripe plum tomato flatbread has little slices of tomato dudes, coupled with basil, roasted garlic, and parmesan cheese. the tomatoes were good, but this seemed to me nothing special. i mean, it was well presented, but i was not blown away. i have had more interesting flatbreads. of course, this was just an appetizer. still, i couldn’t see these as being as famous as they made them out to be.
more to my liking was the artichoke and goat cheese flatbread, also featuring spinach, balsamic onion, and roasted peppers. now this one impressed me. the artichoke played beautifully with the cheese (which i wouldn’t have minded more of), and the spinach blended well into that flavor. the onions and peppers kicked out as a separate presence, which maaaaybe detracted from the main flavors here, but honestly i was pretty happy with them being there.
i found the second flatbread to be more crisp, likely having been made more recently. but that crispness was exactly what you’re looking for here, becoming more like a cracker than a bread, which i could eat endlessly. and that i did, having stuffed the rest of the flatbread down my pants when nobody was looking.
we were also treated to these little beauties, artichoke-stuffed artichoke leaves. with artichoke. the artichoke leaves had arugula and parmesan cheese, and were topped with an incredible balsamic glaze. we will see elements of this later.
these turned out to be incredibly delicious, and i regret only having one. i had already used up the majority of my extraneous pant space on the flatbread, so i decided not to steal any of these. foolish mistake. it was a nice, warm treat, with the parmesan cheese kind of taking a lead after the balsamic glaze fades. a lot of flavor, but not too much at once. good appetizer. i continued chewing on the leaf throughout the dinner.
after a while, the exciting webcast began. the whole production reminded me of shitty late night infomercials, with hosts that you could tell were not quite entertainers. the hosts were, in fact, the creators of the menu, giving us a unique insight into the food and wine pairings they’d designed. near the end, they fielded questions brought the them via tweets. tweetz. #S52Spring
none of the questions i asked were given any mention, likely due to the constant spelling errors, and their largely offensive and often pornographic nature. having quietly slipped to the back of the room to polish off whatever was left of the wine and vodka, i suppose my sobriety was quickly escaping me.
luckily for me, food was now to be delivered, with its alcohol sopping properties. of course, unluckily for everyone else, everything was to be accompanied by more wine.
we began our tasting with a tomato and haas avocado salad. it used arugula as a base, and featured the same balsamic glaze as we experienced before in the artichoke leaves. and they chucked a nice piece of grilled bruschetta in there for good measure. the arugula turned out to be a great starting point, with a fairly strong flavor for a green. the thick balsamic glaze played sweet against it. the avocado was ridiculously creamy and delicious, a nice counterpoint to everything else present. the tomatoes i have little to say about. they were there. i mean they were hanging out with us. but i don’t know who invited them to the party. the grilled bruschetta’s charred exterior was a really nice compliment to the rest of the salad. it was excellent.
next up was what would prove to be the star of the evening for me, as well as one member of the couple who came in during the salad course. but only one of us would end up embarrassing himself by singing about it at the end of the meal (it was me). this was one of the entrées – columbia river steelhead trout, served with “spring vegetables” and basmati rice with lemongrass sauce. the dish was accompanied by a glass of botani moscatel seco.
the trout… so. good. it was still mild, but with a full, fresh flavor. perfectly seared. the rice and lemongrass sauce was amazing, light, going well with the veggies. it was all extremely springy. SEASONS 52!! and the wine was like something i’ve never had before; it was light but it packed a large floral flavor, almost grassy. it played well with he fish, and almost perfectly paired the lemongrass flavor. incredible combination.
next they brought out the lamb, served with asparagus, truffle mashed potatoes, and with a red wine glaze. this was all accompanied by allegrini palazzo della torre, a rich red.
i was not nearly as impressed with the lamb as i was with the trout, finding the char grilled flavor to be overwhelming except in the very center of the chop, where i was met with perfect, tender lamb. it was disappointing, and i’m not sure whether this was intentional or not. i appreciate a nice smokey charred flavor, but i was far more interested in getting the lamb here. the potatoes were delicious, and the asparagus was asparagus. but the wine!
my god, this wine. it was a deep red wine, with such a lush, rich flavor. it was velvety, like a milk chocolate. sweet, smooth, warm, dark, beautiful flavor. pairing it with the lamb worked really well, and it would cut through the char flavor bringing out a bit of sweetness. it was an excellent pairing, and it is a wine i would love to drink by itself. perfect.
we began winding down the evening with a serving of spicy snow peas and shiitake mushrooms, served with roasted almonds. the spicy asian sauce they were drizzled with was perfect, warm, sweet, and lightly spicy. the mushrooms were excellent, and the almonds were a nice light touch; everything played perfectly against the snow peas.
this was served with a lioco indica rose, a light beautiful fruity wine. i usually hate roses, but this was a pleasant surprise, and worked to bring out the fresh flavor of the snow peas.
at the end of the meal, they tossed a couple of these trays filled with tiny desserts on the table, and gave us a sweet riesling to wash it all down with (but not too sweet). by this point, i had drank all my wine, and also managed to wrestle a few glasses away from my tolerant assistant. needless to say i was pretty trashed. my former plan to prove i had couth went out the window, as i had already begun stripping off layers of clothing. the revelation of the desserts was the final straw in my transformation from man to beast, and i leapt across the table and threw the mini desserts back like a bunch of jäger shots, as the rest of the guests screamed.
the “mini indulgences”, ranging from red velvet to key lime pie, were all quite delicious, none too sweet, and perfect endings to the meal.
our hosts helped hose me down after the mess i’d made, and calm me. eventually i sobered up, and they were kind enough to let me go without filing any reports with the cops (which is good for me because i’m on probation). after excusing myself to the bathroom to clean up a little, i joined my assistant and some of the remaining food reviewers left from the dinner, and we all had a nice drink at the bar. sitting among them, i finally felt accepted for who i was, despite the fact that i was no longer wearing pants.
here’s a photo of us all watching something on tv. what a magical evening it had turned into. just look at how casual and classy we all are! best friends forever.
This entry was posted on March 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm and is filed under Chain Restaurants, Events, Food, Humor. Tagged: alcoholism, artichoke, arugula, avocado, bar, chain, classy, flatbread, lamb, live music, seasons 52, spring menu, tragedy, trout, webcast, wine, wine pairings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.