While a steaming cup of anything isn't the usual drink of choice for Floridians in 90-degree weather, we make an exception when it comes to coffee. So when Nescafe' Dolce Gusto came to town Monday night and invited local food bloggers to a complimentary menu and coffee tasting at Restaurant BT, it wasn't hard for me to "make the sacrifice."
Six other enthusiastic diners joined me at this beautiful restaurant and did our food blogger thing: snapping pics and tweeting while we "oohed and aahed" over the fabulous food.
This was my first visit to Restaurant BT. Owner and chef (she prefers cook) B.T. Nguyen uses organic ingredients; small farm meats and poultry; wild, fresh-caught seafood; and local Florida produce.
Some of those fresh ingredients are grown here in Ruskin literally around the corner from where I live. Two of the items showcased on the menu is a 3 Boys Farm Squash Blossom Soup and chilled Japanese hydroponic cucumber salad.
One of the highlights of the evening was an invitation into the kitchen, where we watched B.T. prepare Shaking Beef, one of the restaurant's most popular featured dishes.
Shaking Beef is a Vietnamese classic. Filet mignon is marinated in a rich brown sauce and quickly browned and stir-fried over intensely high heat. The result? Tender, robust flavored cubes of beef, served on a bed of watercress. Ah, lovely.
When cooking, B.T., a Vietnamese-American, draws on her Asian roots and classic French techniques. After five mini courses of fresh and fried spring rolls, octopus carpacio, vegetarian samosas and a crustacean bisque, I was feeling deliciously satiated.
Then came dessert. Perking up my sweet tooth was a delicious trio of toasted coconut ice cream, banana tapioca and chocolate mousse. Bring it on!
Hey, how can you have dessert without coffee?
We were treated to a demonstration of The Nescafe' Dolce Gusto, a brewing system by Nescafe' and DeLonghi. It combines a DeLonghi-built, simple-to-use one-cup brewer with a capsule-based beverage system by Nescafe'.
As I found out, it's a user-friendly way to make a cup of coffee-house java, minus the barista or danger associated with espresso machines, milk foamers, coffee grinders, etc.
It also made some kick-a** coffee! Yummy.
SHAKING BEEF (Bo Luc Lac)
1 pound filet mignon steak
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons oil or butter
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 vine-ripe tomatoes
2 cups watercress
1/4 red onion, finely sliced
1 tablespoon cognac (Courvoisier, optional)
Cut steak into bite-sized cubes and place in a bowl with garlic, soy sauce, red onion, fish sauce, sugar and pepper; mix well.
Heat a large, heavy-based pan until very hot, add oil or butter until brown. Add beef cubes and toss by shaking the pan. Turn meat with tongs until brown and seared on the outside but still pink in the center (cook more if you prefer).
Add cognac and toss beef before removing from heat.
Slice tomatoes and arrange on plates to make a decorative base. Arrange watercress around or on top of tomato slices. Place the beef in a mound on top of tomatoes and watercress. Serve with jasmine-scented steamed rice.