There is a culinary wonder in our midst. His name is Chef Gary Moran. I was first introduced to Chef Moran at a Yelp event earlier this year. I met him and his wife Amy Moran (like they say, "behind every great man there's a great woman". That would be Amy. She does the organizing, promotion and social media for Chef Moran.) and I got a sneak peak of his food. It left me wanting more. Chef Gary Moran has been involved with some great restaurants (including Tavern on the Green in New York City, Datz, Wimauma (which Amy and Gary originally owned and are no longer affiliated with) and more). Now he is focusing on hosting culinary events throughout the Tampa Bay area. These events are themed and often involve wine pairings. I recently attended one of these events titled "Standing on the Backs of Giants" at the Historic (and gorgeous!) Don Vincente De Ybor.
Standing on the Backs of Giants (ie, culinary giants) featured classic dishes and their modern interpretations as determined by Chef Moran. What makes these events so much fun is that they are much more than a dinner out. Amy or Chef Moran come out in between each dish and tell you about themselves and the food. You are seated at large tables with people that become your friends halfway into the meal. The entire experience is magic. Then there is the food. The food that you will be dreaming about for many nights to come until you can get to another Chef Gary Moran event. Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I am going to show you what I had to eat and briefly comment on it. Honestly, these pictures do not do it justice. You HAVE to TASTE Chef Gary Moran's food.
|Tomato, Basil and lemongrass water with Frico crusted Romaine Heart and warm Tomato and Benton's Bacon Salsa|
You have to be a genius to come up with something like this! A liquid salad? It sounds a little weird, but it was fantastic. Chef Gary Moran described how he infused the water with the tomato before we tried it. This dish definitely was a crowd pleaser and had everyone eager for more.
|Papa pomodoro with Grilled Asiago, Fontina and Pancetta Panini|
This is basically an adult version of grilled cheese and tomato soup. The crispy panini with the salt of the pancetta and the grilled asiago paired perfectly with the creamy pomodoro. Delicious.
|Beef Wellington with glazed vegetables and sauce Bordelaise|
This dish was my favorite of the night. I have always wanted to try Beef Wellington and Chef Gary Moran did not let me down. The beef melted in your mouth and the pastry was buttery, flaky and nicely golden on the outside. Even the vegetables had everyone talking. After asking a few people we were able to discover that they were parsnips (which I had never had and LOVED), sweet potato and carrot.
Sous Vide" Filet Mignon Mille Feuille with |
I really liked this dish too. Chef Moran took the same meat and vegetables from the Beef Wellington and prepared them differently for this course and it had a completely different (but still delicious) taste. There were two sauces on this dish and I really loved the Red Wine-Coffee Reduction. The other sauce was changed out from the wild mushroom foam into a stroganoff sauce that was also really good. One of the cool things about Chef Gary Moran is that he will change his menu if he thinks of something that is even better or gets some last minute inspiration.
|Bread Pudding with Bourbon and Apricot Hard Sauce|
This dessert was heavenly. I have always been a fan of bread pudding, but this was the best I have ever had. My Husband does not like bread pudding and he devoured this. The apricot sauce was thick and almost caramel like and the cream on top was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I want this instead of Birthday Cake for my next Birthday. Pretty Please?
|Anton Mossimans Bread Pudding with Bourbon & Apricot Kanten|
Yes, there were TWO DESSERTS! This Bread Pudding was a harder "cut" bread pudding. It was very different, but I didn't care for it as much as the first bread pudding. The bread was covered in an apricot gelle that moistened the dense bread. There were also almonds throughout the bread pudding. This was the one dish I could have passed on. Luckily the rest of the meal was so good that I didn't even care. I wanted to go to the next event!
Did I mention that we were served wine with every meal? The wine we were served was carefully picked to match the food and we were treated to very generous portions of it (and refills!). My favorite wine of the night was actually one that Dave Matthews has a hand in (yes! THAT Dave Matthews):
If you live in the Tampa area and have not heard of Chef Gary Moran, you are missing out. His food is incredible and these events are so much fun. They make an incredible date night. Make sure you check out the upcoming Black and White party and the discount code I have for you below.
VOTE FOR CHEF GARY:
It is once again time for the Creative Loafing Best of the Bay. If you have been lucky enough to experience Chef Gary Moran's food (or if you just want to be awesome), please vote for Chef Gary Moran as the best Chef in Tampa Bay. I am voting for him.
*Black and White Dinner Party at Nova 535 (St. Petersburg)
-Wed August 7th at 6:30pm
- $40 per person -DISCOUNT CODE: Purchase your tickets for only $20 per person with the discount code (note: must purchase tickets individually for full discount): wine
-All guest must wear only black and white and food will all be black and white
-there will be a DJ and dancing
Black and White Sesame crusted Tuna Tataki with Shredded
Diakon & Seaweed Salad and Soy-Clam Jelly
Escargot with Parsley Butter, Cauliflower Puree and Black Garlic Sauce
Steamed Halibut with Wild Herb Pesto and Bacon-Squid Ink Sauce
Black Duck with Roasted Parsnips and Pickled Cherries
Parsnip and White Chocolate Cheese-Cake with Oreo Crust
*Late Summer Feast at Mangroves (South Tampa- SOHO)
-Friday August 16th
-$75 per person - 5 course dinner with wine pairings (menu to be announced at a later date)
-will feature a separate room for couples vs. singles
I am really excited for both of these events and hope to attend. See you there? Follow Chef Gary Moran's Culiary Events on Facebook to keep an eye on new events and details as they become available. Just click the like button below.
Disclaimer: I received free admission for two to Standing on the Backs of Giants in exchange for this post. I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions and words are my own honest views.