Sidebern's Competes in International Sherry Competition

If they win, they travel to Jerez, Spain in January to compete internationally against the best restaurants in the world.

Upon his return, Kevin will begin contributing to Creative Loafing on a regular basis. The first entry? His adventures in New York.

Chad and Kevin's semi-final winning pairings:

SideBern's Small Plate Number One

Pickled Clams with Sea Beans & Hazelnuts

Hidalgo Manzanilla La Gitana

When we tasted this dry Manzanilla, from the town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda, we were reminded of the sea with its briny, salty and tangy flavors. The ‘Papirusa' is naturally high in acidity and finishes with a rush of roasted nut flavors on the palate.

Chef Johnson selected razor clams and sea beans to accent the briny quality in the wine.  The zest of two lemons is added to match the wine's high acidity and a dollop of hazelnut aioli garnishes the dish. These additions are balanced because the bright acidity of the lemons cuts through the richness of the aioli.

Chopped, toasted hazelnuts are also incorporated in the dish and hazelnut oil was selected for the aioli to accent the nuttiness in the Sherry's finish.  Together, a chilled glass of Manzanilla and a fresh dish of Pickled Clams with Seabeans and Hazelnuts create a delicious and exciting match for one another.

SideBern's Small Plate Number Two

Beef Cheek Ravioli with Duck Liver

Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso ‘Don Nuño'

Lustau's ‘Don Nuño' Dry Oloroso is a rich and complex wine with intense flavors of soy, aged beef and mushrooms that finished dry with the slightest hint of sweetness.  To complement, Chef Johnson created a dish with comparable richness to match the power and intensity of the wine.

The beef cheek and duck liver were chosen for their fattiness and irony mineral tones that complemented the soy, aged beef and umami flavors present in the wine.  The sauce is made with reduced Lustau ‘Don Nuño' Dry Oloroso, clove and sage to accent the hint of sweetness on the wine's finish.  Finally, the dish is garnished with drops of Blis Elixir that provides the perfect amount of sweetness for the liver and adds hints of maple flavor from its aging in maple bourbon barrels.  Chef Johnson and I are excited about this pairing and think the two augment and lift one another.

SideBern's Small Plate Number Three

Bacon Wrapped Venison wih Endive Gratin and Charred Maitakes

Lustau East India Solera

Lustau's East India Solera is a delicious blend of aged dry Oloroso and aged sweet Pedro Ximenez.  Classically, this wine is paired with dessert, cheese or served at the end of a meal.  Flavors of molasses, dried fruits, roasted nuts and candied rind coat the palate and provide for a complex and thought provoking wine.  We chose to create an unconventional pairing by serving it with a savory course.

Chef chose venison tenderloin wrapped in bacon as the base of this dish.  Chef frequently pairs sweet flavors such as molasses and honey with game meats, such as venison.  In this preparation, the East India Solera acts as that complementing sweet component.

We also liked the smokiness of the bacon with the wine. To balance the sweetness of the wine, bitter components like endive and maitake mushrooms were chosen. To accent the sweet candied rind components found in the East India Solera the endive was braised in orange and bay leaves.   The Cabrales cheese in the gratin was selected for its richness and pungency, and, as a natural match for the wine.

Chef Johnson and I really enjoyed creating this unique, unconventional pairing and were so pleased with the flavor profile of the dish and Sherry that we have added this to SideBern's daily tasting menu so our guests can indulge in this brand new combination.

Little ‘ole Tampa hits the big time this Thursday, as SideBern's sommelier Kevin Pelley and Executive Chef Chad Johnson head to New York City to match wits and palates with four other restaurants from across the country. They head to semi-finals of Copa Jerez where restaurants compete by offering up their most innovative food paired with Spain's historic yet completely misunderstood beverage, Sherry. (Read more about Sherry here).

In its third year, the competition is sponsored by the Sherry Council of America, whose main purpose lies in introducing our rich, affluent market to their food friendly alcohol. Copa Jerez could effectively do this as higher-end restaurants start to warm up to the idea of pushing Sherry to the masses. After working on their three entries for two months, Pelley is pretty pumped for the competition — especially the part about the free trip to New York — and hopes this encourages more of their guests to try his favorite Sherries. If you're curious about the concoctions, the duo has already placed one of their creations on their tasting menu at SideBern's...

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