Friday's torrential rainstorms did not deter hungry fans from coming out to Taste of the Gables. The crowd was large and organizers packed them all in to what could be best described as a human conveyor belt of open mouths and hands grasping for the samplings put out by the 20+ participating restaurants. The event, scheduled to run from 6 to 8 p.m. had anticipated drawing about 400 people.
Restaurants geared up with hotel pans set to high and backup chow waiting to be put out. But what they had not planned for was the new greed that came into play when guests had paid $10 to attend. In years past, it was free to the public and those attending were thankful for any free piece of sushi or tenderloin.
Carla Ellek from Pasha's ran out of the Chocomousse and Ricardo Wilson from Fleming's, served up the signature filet with blue cheese. Both expressed frustration when they realized they had been too generous with their samples. Carla asked; " When someone says they want one more because it taste so good, what are you supposed to say?". Clearly not the disciplinarians of the bunch, they had several empty trays by 7 p.m., So they and others tried to appease visitors with coupons for free entrees and dessert.
Although at first this hungry guest was a bit put off by this tactic, in doing the math, I realized that with an average entree costing $18, the free entree coupon was a better deal than any sample put out on a paper plate.
Fortunately a few of the restaurants had planned for large crowds and we were able to devour some tasty dishes in the smoldering heat. At the beginning of the line the Szechuan calamari from Tarpon Bend was a good way to get the taste buds going. Then there were the spicy and tangy flavors in Talavera's shrimp tostadas. Angelique Euro Cafe's French pulled pork sandwiches were next and not spicy, but tender and rather mild in flavor.
We made our way through the lines, one by one and were encouraged by the folks at Fritz and Franz's Bierhaus to try their pork wrapped in cabbage. There was plenty of this dish to be had due to the ignorance of attendees who missed out on a delightful German specialty. Now if only there had been a stein of beer close by.
The event spilled out into a makeshift courtyard where Nil Lara was seen jamming on his guitar. The crowd was not large, but that did not stop him from playing with a lot of gusto..
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Visit Coral Gables Restaurant Week to get a full listing of menus and specials for all participating restaurants.
Photo by Christina Staalstrom