Tidbites: New Faces Downtown

 

Tidbites: New Faces Downtown

 

Date: February 27, 2013
by: June LeBell | Contributing Columnist

 
 

 

 

+ Made Makes a Splash
Made is the sparkling new restaurant at 1990 Main Street. Moving into the space that was occupied for a while by Brasserie Belge, Made — which stands for Modern American Delicious Eats — has changed both the look and the menu. No mere appetizers for Made. The restaurant makes them into a more contemporary “apps” with small plates of grilled corn dogs, wings, ribs, crispy duck empanadas, fried tomatoes and mussels in a spicy chorizo broth with grilled bread. There are soups and salads, heartier entrées from short ribs to burgers, and some ingenious sandwiches including a “BLFT” — that features the usual BLT plus a fried heirloom tomato, for an extra lilt.

Made is a family owned and operated restaurant by Mark D. Woodruff and Michael Ripatranzone. Mark used to work at Two Senoritas but, in 2007, he graduated from the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) and now he’s back in Sarasota. With that kind of training and Michael behind the bar, American-inspired Made should make a lot of people happy.

+ Clasico is a New Classic
The corner of Palm and Main has struggled with its identity. It’s gone from bookstore to cafe; and bookstore to Apple computer outlet and cafe; to, well, your guess is as good as mine. Finally, a classic restaurant has moved into the space and, according to owner Pablo Castro, “We named it Clasico because it is a classic corner space, where Palm and Main converge, where friends meet to discuss love and life and politics and watch people go by.

“It’s like a Spanish Tasca,” he explains. “It’s your hangout where you disconnect from life and reconnect with friends. Our service philosophy is casual, no stress.”

Pablo’s hometown is Buenos Aires, but Clasico’s cuisine, prepared by Chef Geoff Reyes, is contemporary American. Locally, you’ll remember Pablo from Uva Rara, the beautiful restaurant that used to be in Burns Court, and the great Selva Grill (right down the street from Clasico), where Pablo was a co-founder and co-owner for four years. Eventually, Clasico will serve its meals “city-style,” where customers order at the counter and their food is delivered to them. They’ll be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a late-night menu after 10 p.m.

+ Eat At Home With Elegant Fare and Little Fuss
Another pretty new face downtown is As Good As It Gets, an elegant gourmet shop at 49 South Palm. Douglas Gourley opened this charming food boutique on Sept. 7, and he’s rightfully proud of the 40 different European cheeses they carry.

“We have cheese from France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, England, Holland and Spain,” he told us, rattling off the countries like a travel agent touting a high-end European tour. There’s also a magnificent array of Scottish smoked salmon, four kinds of prosciutto, luscious foie Gras, and a white balsamic vinegar so sweet and smooth you might drink it for dessert.

If you’re a tea drinker, you’ll go crazy with their varieties from the great Tea Forte company and their beautiful pyramid-shaped silken tea bags or, if you prefer, canisters of loose leaf teas. There are rum cakes and champagnes and caviars, including the one from Sarasota’s own Mote Marine. (We had some the other night with iced vodka and were thrilled with its texture and taste.)

Douglas has a wonderful story to tell about his transition from work at 3M and living abroad to coming to Sarasota and becoming a “purveyor of extraordinary delicacies.” Ask him the next time you drop by.

+ Looking Back at the Sixth Annual Forks & Corks
The recent four-day culinary and wine celebration that brought celebrated chefs and vintners together with the public and, in the process, raised funds for the Ringling Museum and other non-profits, has some fun facts to share with us. Ready? During the festival ...

18 visiting winemakers were guest panelists on three different educational seminars.
680 guests attended the winemaker events and dinners.

38 different winemakers from around the world were guests of honor at these events.

More than 700 people attended the public tastings and more than 1400 bottles of wine were sold.

At the “Grand Tasting,” 400 tickets were sold in the first 10 minutes of ticket sales.

All tickets were sold out in under four hours, and all VIP tickets went within an hour.

More than 48,000 samples of food were prepared and served at the Grand Tasting.

More than $100,000 in wine sales were recorded over the Forks & Corks weekend.

$12,000 was raised at the silent auction for the American Red Cross.

72.5% of ticket purchasers reside in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

+ Looking Ahead to a Wine Walk
You’ll have a chance to stroll the grounds of the Ringling Museum 6 to 11 p.m. March 15 and enjoy pairings of wines, food and entertainment from around the world. You can taste your way from Argentina to California to Italy, while enjoying Mabel’s Rose Garden and the glorious and elegant Ca’ D’Zan while sipping wines and tasting foods prepared by Treviso Restaurant.

There’s even a VIP area with special cuisine, distinctive blends and dedicated service staff on the Ca’ d’Zan terrace overlooking Sarasota Bay.

Tickets range from $110 (for Museum members) and $125 to $185 for the VIP section. For more information, call 941-360-7399 or go online to ringlingmuseum.org.

 

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