When I was a little girl I loved books, riding my bike, playing hide and go seek, and being in the kitchen. I was happy to make my younger brother waffles for breakfast. I always volunteered to be my mom’s taste tester for favorites like Italian Potato Salad. I ate like a bird, but I ate often. It might not be surprising to hear that despite my love of food as a child, there were some items I wouldn’t go near. In general, children can be relatively picky about the food that’s put in front of them. They pay attention to how it looks, how it smells, and what it actually is.
What may surprise you is that those same foods I shunned as a child, I continued to shun into my adult life. I started this food blog staying away from those same foods. Fish? No way. Sushi? I’ll pass. Mussels? Forget about it.
As I started getting more opportunities to attend menu tastings and sample dinners at great area restaurants, I knew I had to let those shunned foods into my life. I don’t proclaim to always know the names of certain dishes, or have the best vocabulary for describing them, but I didn’t think I could have a food blog I could be proud of without at least giving these food items a chance. And, I have. I’m loving some fish, I’m obsessed with sushi, I tried mussels a couple of weeks ago.
Now, enter: Pelagia Trattoria, a gem of a restaurant in Tampa. This past Monday I had the opportunity to attend a dinner with some of my favorite food bloggers where we tasted samples of new menu items and I was able to try something I never would have before I created my little part of the internet.
As always, Pelagia hosted a fabulous dinner and really showcased their perfectly crafted dishes, courtesy of Chef Andrew Basch and Chef Brett Gardiner. Now, let’s get to the food!
With a plethora of beer and wine at our disposal, we settled in for the first course (of ten!) of a Cured Meat & Cheese Board.
I love charcuterie and just looking at the picture of this meat and cheese board again today is making my mouth water. Pelagia can expect to see me in shortly for some wine, cheese, meats, breads. Some of the items you can choose from when building your board include: Serrano Ham, Duck Prosciutto, Auricchio Provolone, and Bel Paese and Taleggio Cheeses.
Next was Chargrilled Octopus with Chorizo Oil, Frisee & Blood Oranges. I’ve had calamari plenty of times, but always fried so I did have a little hesitation with this dish. In all actuality, it was one of my favorites of the night. Tender and grilled perfectly, it paired so well with the chorizo oil.
Ahhhh! My favorite item of the evening was the lovely Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with Tomato Jam that you see above. All crab, with a beautiful aioli drizzle, this cake was so plentiful and delicious.
Next up: Grilled Pear & Watercress Salad with Maple Bacon, Blue Cheese & Cilantro Pesto. Oh wait, now this was my favorite (do you see a trend here?). I’m a really bit fan of grilled fruit. The juice from the grilled pear drizzled over the salad. I loved the sweet notes in this dish.
This next one, the Sausage & Ricotta Pizza, became my guilty pleasure of the night. Thin, crispy dough, rich sauce, cheese that was perfectly bubbly, flavorful sausage, fresh basil- pizza doesn’t get any better than this. It has an elegant quality to it and I can’t wait to go back for more.
The Porcini & Black Truffle Cream Cavatelli reminded me of my love for anything truffle. This pasta was so rich, but it was exactly how I would want it to be. I loved the earthiness that the mushrooms provided.
The Squid Ink Linguine, Seared Scallops & Blue Crab was next and another new item for me to try. The linguine has a great flavor and I heard plenty of others around me naming this one their favorite course!
Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve never had quinoa? Well, it’s true, but I’ve just never been around it, and I’ve never noticed it on a menu. Luckily, with the Florida Snapper with Charred Yellow Pepper Bisque & Organic Quinoa, I was able to change all that. I cleaned every last morsel of quinoa off my plate- and now I can’t wait to have it at other restaurants! The snapper was grilled perfectly and paired so well with the sauteed spinach.
Again, time for some quinoa. The last dish of the evening was a Lamb T-Bone with Minted Quinoa Tabouli & Juniper Berry Saba. The lamb was grilled perfectly and I loved the way it meshed so well with the mint from the quinoa.
Not pictured: White Anchovies, Radish Carpaccio & Orange Zest.
I basically rolled out of Pelagia with all this food in my belly, but it’ll be a long time, if ever, before I forget this meal. Thank you to Pelagia for being as wonderful as always!
For you folks who have not had the pleasure of dining at Pelagia, they are located on the ground floor of International Mall’s outdoor area, right next to the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, this is most definitely a restaurant you want to visit soon.