Murder of grapefruit? Pride of grapefruit?
I only ask because last week, we were invited to a (fully sponsored) TexaSweet Citrus Marketing dinner at FINO. We ate probably three pounds of delicious Rio Star grapefruit each AND got cute Lands' End goodie bags to take home with grapefruit and juice glasses and a Le Creuset juicer and an extra-informative pamplet and CD with more grapefruit information than you could shake a grapefruit at.
We love FINO. If you use that handy little search thing up in the top right-hand corner of the blog, you'll see three other FINO posts. So when TexaSweet invited us to have a bunch of grapefruit at FINO on them, well. We were there fifteen minutes early wearing matching bedazzled grapefruit sweatshirts.
Since it was FINO, drinks were in our hands very extra quickly. Chef Jason Donoho's 5 grapefruit courses (not including an amuse bouche) were paired with wines and grapefruit-centric liquor drinks by our friend Josh Loving.
The first drinks up were HEY LOOK OVER THERE BECAUSE I FORGOT TO WRITE DOWN THE SPARKLING ROSE CAVA'S NAME DISTRACT DISTRACT and a Hemingway Daiquiri with flor de cana rum, lime, Rio Star grapefruit (what?) and luxardo maraschino, one of our favorite mixing liqueurs. Refreshing and a good mix of bitter and sweet.
The Hemingway Daiquiri snuggled up nicely to our amuse, a tart tomato-grapefruit gazpacho.
Between the gazpacho and the daiquiri, I was feeling very much like asking for a beach lounger and large umbrella. Of course, it's Texas, so we're already in the 80's here and light flavors don't seem crazy out of place.
Next up, a delightful salad of beets, grapefruit (Rio Star! I know, I was surprised too!), burrata (swoon), arugula and basil.
Just lovely. These are flavors that just GO together. And I got me some burrata, so I was happy.
Our next drink was called "The Sauce" and was a rich, heady mix of maker's 46, zucca rabarbaro amaro (which we all practiced saying with varying degrees of success), mezcal, grapefruit bitters, and xocolatl mole bitters. This all came together to form something very Manhattan-like, with a nice bitterness and smoky undertones.
I love that FINO has house-filtered sparkling water. Natura definitely has a fan in me.
We drank our waters and sauces with a Rio Star Grapefruit Cured Hamachi Crudo with dill, cucumber, and yogurt. It all tasted very Greek and lovely. I could eat crudo all day long.
In the brief repreive between courses, everyone hopped on their phones to tweet and blog and talk grapefruit. I think Teddy of Fun with your Food is adorable.
The wine was GOOD. The nice, kinda funky flavors went really well with the next course:
Roasted Lamb Chop with spiced carrot-saffron puree and candied rio star grapefruit.
I've never had a lamb preparation quite like this - the sweetness of the accompaniments really played up the sweet flavor of the meat. I'm not sure that this will be my new favorite way to eat lamb, but I'd definitely try it a few more times to be sure.
Next we were served a little palate cleanser, a grapefruit sorbet with campari. The picture makes it look a little dinky. Huh.
And Josh brought out one of my favoritest drinks in the world, a Venetian-style spritz with Aperol. This drink always makes me want to buy a bunch of Missoni and lounge on the balcony of a palazzo. This is why I need a sugar mama AND a sugar daddy. Fatty and Stinky just don't bring in the ducats the way they should.
It's just so simple, and pretty, and ridiculously easy to make at home to wow your guests. Aperol, prosecco, top with soda water. Don't go expensive with the prosecco, and feel free to use Campari instead of Aperol; the Venetians to it both ways.
Dessert was vanilla panna cotta with a rio star grapefruit bitters gelee. That gelee, I could have eaten in bulk; the panna cotta, not so much.
Thanks to FINO, and Jason and Josh and the crack service team there, and to TexaSweet for all the citrus and the adorable goodie bag. We had a truly lovely evening. Actually, I think I might go have a grapefruit right now. They really might be the best thing about living in Texas in the winter (well, that and the 65 degree days, the sun, and the killer Tex-Mex everywhere).
FINO, as always, is at 2905 San Gabriel in San Gabriel's Court. 512.474.2905.