Slovenian Wine + Florida Lobster = A Great Evening at The Flaming Buoy

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A couple of weeks ago, while the dogs were taking me for a walk, my friend Fred (co-owner of The Flaming Buoy) came running out of the restaurant. He shouted from across the street “We’re having a winemaker dinner with the Edi Simcic people. Want to come?” Of course, I don’t need to be asked twice. “Sure, we’ll be there!” And that is all I knew until the details were published the following week.

Slovenia borders Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia.  In fact, on a cruise from Rome to Venice several years ago, we stopped in Rovinj, Croatia before heading to Venice. We skipped right over Slovenia. (Not to worry, we did a lovely wine tour in Croatia earlier in the week.) While not as well-known of a winemaking region as its Italian neighbor, they are doing some great things.

Jay is getting prepared for the onslaught of thirsty diners.

Jay is getting prepared for the onslaught of eager diners.

The Flaming Buoy is a small restaurant, so this dinner was one seating only. A modest but feisty crowd gathered at 6:30 Friday evening, enjoyed a glass of sparkling Rebula as everyone found their way to tables. FKGuy and I sat at the bar and made some new friends.

The meal began with a Caprese salad served alongside grilled Key West pink shrimp with a lime chutney. A smooth and delicious Tokata paired with the food. Tokata is made from Tokaji, but can’t be called that since it is not from the Tokaji region in Hungary. Call it what you like, it is an easy drinking wine, perfect to start the meal.

What's better than Lobster Thermidor? TWO of them.

What’s better than Lobster Thermidor? TWO of them.

Richness abounded in the next course: Lobster Thermidor served with a bacon wrapped scallop and mashed sweet potatoes. (I quickly swapped my scallop for FKGuy’s lobster and we were both happier for the switch.) Another perfect pairing, as the Chardonnay stood up nicely to the richness of the accompanying food.

By the time we reached the third course, I was full, thanks in part to the second Lobster Thermidor. But the feeling faded, as New York strip with blue cheese butter and onion rings quickly won me over. Paired with Kolos, the blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, this full-bodied, age-worthy wine is only made in the best vintages.  The Kolos spends four years aging in new oak barrels before release. It is a big wine that can stand up to bold, flavorful foods.

Yes, I'm behind the bar for a photo op with the winemaker.

Yes, I’m behind the bar for a photo op with the winemaker.

Suddenly, dessert was upon us. More food? How could this possibly be? Though I was ready to burst, the wine (and food) was still coming. Edi’s Selection is a sweet, rich, elegant wine. The caramel and nutty flavors of the wine were a perfect combination with banana bread French toast. A side of vanilla ice cream was a bonus.

Any wine dinner that comes with a side of education, and an introduction to new (to me) wines, should be absorbed and enjoyed to the fullest. The Flaming Buoy folks did a fantastic job pairing the foods and making the entire crowd feel welcome.

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