At the Grand Tasting in January, chef/restaurateur Jean-Pierre “J.P.” Knaggs of The Bijou Café opted to serve his colorful, flavorful Duck Confit with Creole Tomato Jam on Crispy Polenta Cake. As a Forks & Corks regular, Knaggs knew the way to patrons’ hearts with this dish. Insider Perspective: The tender duck combined with the crispiness of the polenta and the Creole complexity of the jam made this sample a savory standout
The Bijou Café ‘s Forks & Corks Top 5 List:
Q: What are a couple of tips for prepping for the Grand Tasting?
A: It is a very difficult thing to do, but try to predict the weather. Chilled soup will not go well on a cold, rainy day. Try to keep onsite cooking to a minimum so that there is less to go wrong. If your food is cold, keep it cold. If your food is hot, keep it hot. Have a checklist and triple check it before you leave your restaurant.
Q: Do you have a wine pairing suggestion for the dish you served?
A: A Pinot Noir, such as LOLA, matches beautifully.
Q: What have you learned from past Grand Tastings?
A: As beautiful as the setting is at The Ringling, it is not an easy place to cater. There are plenty of steps and a slippery tile floor, and there is a long distance from the parking area. It is difficult to promote yourself because the crowd gets so thick that people cannot see the name of the business (but, after a few glasses of wine, they do not really care anyway).
Q: What were the best compliments you received about the dish you served?
A: We always get compliments about our food because we take time to choose a dish that will go well with wines, is easy to eat with one hand, and reflects the cuisine of The Bijou Café.
Q: What is your favorite thing about the Grand Tasting?
A: It is usually a beautiful day, and it is such a pleasure to see the fun-loving people of Sarasota enjoying themselves, eating and drinking for a good cause. It is also good to catch up with friends from other restaurants and wineries.
The Bijou Café | 1287 First St., Sarasota | 941-366-8111 | bijoucafe.net.
Author: Abby Weingarten