Story and photos by Dwight Casimere
Coral Gables, Florida—The stunning Andalusian fountain courtyard of the Fontana restaurant at the Biltmore is the setting for one of the most fabulous Champagne brunches in the entire nation. The extravagant buffet runs the gamut, from Petrossian caviar and blinis, to sushi and sashimi, carving stations of succulent roasted meats to made to order omelets, delectable pastas and the most sumptuous and authentic Paella this side of Valencia. Executive Pastry Chef Olivier Rodriguez tops it all off with a wall of desserts.
Adding to the Latin exuberance so unique to Miami’s tropical atmosphere are the Classical and Flamenco guitar stylings of Juan Areco who made his Spanish guitar ring with orchestral clarity with his rendition of Spanish composer Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez (1939), which would have made the great Segovia proud.
Gosset premium Champagne ($29.99) from Ay in the heart of France’s Champagne region provided the grace note throughout the afternoon’s culinary adventure. A Grande Marque champagne with only 50,000 cases produced annually, Gosset is the first choice of true Champagne connoisseurs. Having made champagne since 1584, it is the oldest currently operating wine producer in Champagne.
Gosset champagne has a flavor profile that makes it perfect with food. Brut Excellence is composed of 42% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir, which is all from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards, and a small amount of Pinot Muenier, to give it softness and elegance. Winemakers add an additional 24% of reserve wines from two vintages to give it complexity and balance. The blend is both exotic and layered with richness. Peach notes and a unique floral characteristic made it sing in the back notes when accompanied with sushi. When tasted with Paella, its flavors danced with the nimbleness of flamenco dancers. Its long, light finish and light toast bristled the tongue like the sound of castanets to the ear.
Cappuccino was the perfect foil to a cascade of mouthwatering desserts, including a Bombay of peach and banana and a specially constructed chocolate ice cream blossom ensconced in a dark chocolate ‘nest;’ which was presented in honor of Dwight The Wine Doctor’s recent birthday. It was a touching end to an exquisite dining experience.
The Biltmore Coral Gables is a landmark in the Miami area and its most diverse dining destination. Constructed in 1926 by the legendary developer George Merrick, it approximates the grandeur of a Moorish castle transplanted from the heart of Grenada, Spain. Through its lavish restaurants, the Fontana, which features Italian cuisine and the top-rated contemporary French restaurant Palme d’Or and its headline-making Culinary Academy, it has become the gastronomic Mecca of South Florida. For more information on the Biltmore Coral Gables and its outstanding restaurants, visit www.biltmorehotel.com.