Orlando: Tallarico Vodka Dinner at Norman’s
The dinner was hosted by The Tasting Panel magazine, a magazine devoted to the spirits industry.
We began our evening with shots of Tallarico vodka and Norman’s House Salad. My initial impress of the vodka which I confirmed with fellow writers was it was very nice. One said, “I wanted to hate it because you know, it’s vodka but I just couldn’t.” Tallarico had a nice body and taste.
Norman’s is considered one of the best restaurants in the area and I was looking forward to the meal. We asked what the focus was and although Chef Norman Van Aken has a French technique background, think of this as a high-end farm to table restaurant.
To go with our next course, the tuna tiradito, we were given the Hollywood Fashioned. It was their take of an old fashioned with Tallarico vodka. Although I generally prefer pre-Prohibition recipes, I can see muddling cherry and orange adds to the flavor of the vodka. Other listed ingredients were agave, calypso spice and bitters.
The cocktail didn’t distract from the tuna though I thought having more of it neat would have been better. Especially to go with the paddle fish caviar crema on the plate. And that purple potato! Even the fish. All classic pairings with vodka.
Next we had a Gibson-style cocktail called The Dirty Lily (Tallarico vodka, pickled ramps). Chef Norman had the ramps picked about a month before our dinner. I love ramps season. This was my favorite cocktail of the night.
We had a choice of chicken or steak. I went with the juicy ribeye with fingerling potatoes, truffle mushroom ragout and cabernet sauce. My steak was done just the way I liked it, medium rare. For years I’d have a nice steak and martini. This meal reminded me of many good times.
To end our meal, we were given caramel martinis with a trio of desserts. I joked with some wine people our martinis had nice legs.
Caramel Martini – Tallarico vodka, butterscotch, Godiva liqueur
My favorite of the three desserts was the key lime tart. We also had chocolate flourless cake and cheesecake. There’s something about Florida that makes key lime pie extra special.
Currently Tallarico Vodka is in limited distribution but I was told over 50 restaurants and bars carry it in Los Angeles. I’ll have to keep an eye out.
Norman’s at the Ritz Carlton
4012 Central Florida Pkwy., Grande Lakes, Orlando, FL 32837 — (407) 393-4333
© The Minty 2013