Resized Gabbiano FC Local DishCafe Gabbiano Peter Tracy Chef Paolo and Marc Grimaud

Restaurateur Marc Grimaud of Café Gabbiano knew his Lasagna Bolognese would be a palate pleaser at Forks & Corks 2016.

It was a classic choice from the Italian eatery’s menu, prepared with a slew of savory meats and cheeses.

“Lasagna is an Italian staple and a family-oriented dish. One of our favorite things about it is that it can be prepared in advance and finished 30 minutes before dinner,” Grimaud says. “This allows you to spend your time with your family, instead of in the kitchen preparing dinner. It doesn’t get much better than good wine and good food, and sharing it with family.”


5 layers lasagna sheets, fresh or dry 
½ pound Parmigiano-Regianno cheese
1 pound mozzarella cheese
3 pounds ricotta cheese
5 quarts Bolognese (homemade special recipe with veal, ground beef and filet tips; or store-bought variety)
Pinch of fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chop the basil. Chop the mozzarella into ½-inch cubes. Layer the bottom of a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan with Bolognese sauce. Add 1 layer of lasagna sheets and ladle on the sauce, creating an even coat. Evenly spread all three cheeses on top. Sprinkle with basil, salt and pepper. Repeat for a total of 5 layers. Finish with extra mozzarella and Parmigiano cheese to create the topping. Bake for 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven and serve.
Café Gabbiano | 5104 Ocean Boulevard, Sarasota | 941-349-1423 |

Author: Abby Weingarten

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Primo Ristorante Sarasota Local DishPrimo Ristorante Sarasota I'm an Original


An Italian classic rife with fresh flavors, the Forks & Corks 2016 dish from Primo! Ristorante was a savory delight.

“We had a lot of fun at the event this year, and we served our homemade sausage and roasted pepper crostino,” says Primo! restaurateur/chef Maurizio Colucci. “This dish is very popular in Italy and the way it is served changes based on the geographic region.”

Whether its topping is served over a slice of soft polenta or a piece of crusty baguette toast, the Primo! crostino is a surefire crowd pleaser.


1 pound fresh homemade Italian sausage with fennel seeds
10 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch fresh basil
1 Spanish onion, chopped
5 red roasted peppers, julienned
5 ounces dry white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
Virgin olive oil
Place the onions, sausage and oil in a 4-inch-tall pan. Let the mixture cook until it is browned and then add the wine. When the wine evaporates, add the tomatoes. Let the mixture cook for 30 minutes on the stove or in a 375-degree oven. Add the peppers, basil, salt and pepper. Served atop baguette toasts or soft polenta.

Primo! Ristorante | 8076 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota | 941-359-3690 |  

Author: Abby Weingarten

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fast n fresh 17 16 BFast N Fresh Lesley and Mike Harb OwnersFast N Fresh Logo 4C

Fresh, flavor-packed and intricately crafted, the Chicken Satay and Spicy Thai Kale Salad from Fast N Fresh was an instant attention getter at Forks & Corks 2016.  

“Always a crowd favorite, the dish is a delicious representation of just how tasty salad can be,” says restaurateur Lesley Harb. “A touch of sweet with a little heat—with exotic galangal and lemongrass—this one is always a hit.” 


For the Chicken Satay:
1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1-inch-wide strips
2 tablespoons Penzeys Sate Seasoning
2 tablespoons canola oil
Toss the chicken strips, seasoning and oil in a bowl, and coat. Grill and skewer.
For the Spicy Thai Kale Salad:
1 head Romaine lettuce, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 ounces kale, torn into small pieces
¼ head purple cabbage, cut into thin strips
2 medium carrots, peeled and grated
1 large red pepper, cut into thin strips
2 green onions, cut crosswise into thin rings (white and light green parts only)
4 ounces crispy wonton strips
4 ounces crushed peanuts
2 ounces toasted sesame seeds
6-8 ounces spicy Thai peanut dressing (see recipe below)
Toss the ingredients in a large bowl. Reserve some peanuts, sesame seeds and wontons to use as garnish on top of the dressing.  
For the Spicy Thai Peanut Dressing:
½ cup smooth peanut butter
4 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
4 tablespoons honey
4 garlic gloves, roughly chopped
5 tablespoons sugar
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Place the ingredients in a blender and mix. Refrigerate the mixture until it is ready to serve with the salad and skewers.


Fast N Fresh | 32 S. Osprey Ave., Sarasota, (941) 702-2900 | 8105 Cooper Creek Boulevard, University Park, (941) 315-4500 | 8138 Lakewood Main St., Bradenton, (941) 462-2650 |

Author:  Abby Weingarten

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Sandbar GTSandbar Ed Chiles Proprietor

Imbued with local and artisanal ingredients, the Hammer Sausage Sandwich from The Sandbar Restaurant was a primo dish at Forks & Corks 2016.

“The Hamery (artisan hams) is just one of the many partners we work with to provide best-of-class products to our guests,” says restaurateur Ed Chiles. “My wife, Tina, and I discovered The Hamery in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on one of our trips. They serve the best sausage I have ever tasted, so I had to have it on our menus.”

Whipped up by Sandbar chef Ian Fairweather, the sandwich is paired with Beagle Bay Organics sauerkraut (made with cabbage from Chiles’ Gamble Creek Farm in Parrish).


4 ounces Hamery sausage, cut down the middle so it lays flat
1 ounce ricotta cheese
1 ounce Spanish onion, sliced
1 ounce red pepper, sliced
4 ounces beer of choice
½ ounce olive oil
½ ounce garlic
1 Brioche bun
12 ounces more beer, for pairing
In a hot pan, sear the sausage for about 2 minutes on each side, and put it in a 350-degree oven to finish (about 5 minutes). When the sausage is cooked all the way through, take it out of the oven and let it rest. Using the same pan, add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, onions and peppers, and sauté them over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add the beer and let it reduce until it coats the onions and peppers. On the toasted or steamed brioche bun, spread the cheese. Add the onion, pepper mixture and sausage, and put it all on the top of the bun. Open the 12-ounce beer and enjoy it with the dish.

The Sandbar Restaurant |100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria | 941-778-0444 |

Author:  Abby Weingarten

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Bete Noir for LD storyMiles MadfishGrillMadfish

The Bete Noir—Madfish Grill’s flourless chocolate torte—is as popular at Forks & Corks each year as it is daily at the Sarasota restaurant.

According to Madfish’s general manager, Ben Gough, the eatery has been serving the gluten-free dessert for 12 years and has received continual raves.

“It’s a guest favorite and we chose to serve it again this year at Forks & Corks because of its popularity,” Gough says. “As it turns out, red wine and chocolate are soul mates.”

The only challenge every year is making enough of the chocolate torte to satisfy the massive demand. “In 2015, we ran out in three hours,” Gough says. “This year, we doubled down and almost made it to the end.”


18 ounces bittersweet chocolate
¾ cup water
2 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
1½ cups butter (3 sticks)
Place the chocolate and butter in a large bowl. Bring 1½ cups sugar and water to a boil for 1 minute. Pour the resulting simple syrup over the chocolate and butter, and stir it until it is smooth. Ribbon the egg yolks with the remaining ½ cup sugar and fold it into the chocolate mixture with a whip. Bake the dessert in a parchment-lined pan set in a water bath at 375 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes, until it is set. Chill before cutting.

Madfish Grill  | 4059 Cattlemen Road, Sarasota | 377-3474 |

Author:  Abby Weingarten

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