By Melanie Galarce
Every now and then we get invited to foodie events that are amazing reminders of why we love our Miami foodie community. Uvaggio’s Somm Slamm was exactly that; a one-of-a-kind experience dreamt up by the wine bar’s co-founders Heath Porter and Craig DeWald that offers guests a fun-filled night of gourmet foods, gracious company and unique wines.
On this particular Somm Slamm edition, the culinary contest featured Uvaggio’s in-house wine-o extraordinaire, Heath Porter, competing alongside Patrick Cappiello of New York City’s Pearl & Ash restaurant. The sommeliers compete by selecting the best wines for a three-course dinner of which they’ve only seen the ingredients (they don’t taste the meal until that night). Excited about the possibilities and some friendly competition, we kicked off the night with some small talk from the crowd in attendance at the beautiful Coral Gables Woman’s Club and were welcomed with bubbles and a selection of charcuterie, cheese and nibbles.
Yes, there was a plethora of wine served, which was all superb and, rightly so, took front and center* at this event. But the extraordinary thing about the evening was that the food was equally as good. As so, we’ll do our best to recap the foodie fiesta we had.
The meal started off with the Vegan Baby Gem Wedge Salad, which had cashew carrot emulsion, dill, mint, pickled carrot ribbons, radish and toasted pistachios, and it was prepared by guest chef Grayson Schmitz. You might have seen her a time or two on a little TV show by the name of Top Chef. She was thrilled to be in Miami for the first time and we were just stoked to try some of her food. Schmitz’s vegan salad was without a doubt the standout dish of the night. The unexpectedness of the nuts (cashews and pistachios) made this dish stellar. It’s the kind of dish I can have for lunch every day until the end of time.
Next up were a few menu items by Uvaggio’s own Chef Tanner Gill (who usually takes lead on all Somm Slamms hosted by Uvaggio). The Tuna Tartare with blood orange, roasted gold beets, pickled red beets, cucumber, frisee, and mustard vinaigrette was a great introduction to Tanner’s crazy good culinary skills.
Shortly thereafter, we were treated to the Espresso-Porcini Crusted Veal Chops with wild mushroom ragu, winter squash-hazelnut puree, and salsa verde. If fall could have a signature dish, I’d probably vote for this one. The sweetness of the squash and hazelnut puree coupled with the bitterness of the espresso veal chops is the perfect hearty meal that will make you want to stay indoors while the temperature drops.
Last, but certainly not least, was the Mulled-Wine Panna Cotta with vanilla bean, mulled-wine jelly, and mulled-wine syrup. As if we hadn’t already consumed six glasses of wine, we finished off the evening with a wine-infused dessert (and started calling an Uber shortly thereafter). The delicious cooked cream on this dessert was sweetened by just the perfect amount of vanilla and jelly flavoring.
Mel’s take: The Somm Slamm is the kind of interactive foodie event that those that love food dream of. There’s suspense, drama, great company, amazing food, and superb wine. Asking for anything else would seem incredibly unreasonable. For this alone, our community is indebted to Uvaggio.
Standout dish: I always feel a bit for vegans since I can’t help but feel like they’ve sacrificed ever eating a good meal again. I know it sounds slightly obnoxious, but I was aptly put back in my place by the Baby Gem Wedge Salad as it was undoubtedly one of the best salads I’ve ever had!
*And because we couldn’t forget to highlight the wine, below are some of the wines that were served; all original and incredible in their own right. Also, kudos to Mr. Heath Porter, who made it out victorious once again as the unanimous winner.