Saturday Afternoon Wine Tasting at Isle Cook, Key West

Isle Cook, Key West
Eden Brown Co-Owner of Isle Cook, Key West, and one of the only people I know who can successfully pull off that lipstick.

I have been trying to get to one of the fantastic wine and food tastings held weekly at Isle Cook. For one reason (I had too many mimosas at brunch!) or another (After all that tennis, I need a nap!) I had not made it to one. Then, one evening, over half price food at Azur, I heard the words “gorgonzola ice cream” and was all in.

Yes, Azur is still doing half price food before 7 PM, throughout the summer. I’m on the once-a-week plan. But back to Isle Cook.

Grilled shrimp paired with unoaked chardonnay at Isle Cook.

Every Saturday from 2 PM until about 3:30 PM, bar stools fill with a crowd eager to enjoy. Mostly locals, though tourists and other regulars enjoy the offerings. Four wines and four food pairings, each expertly crafted by resident chef, Martha Hubbard. Martha is not only a fantastic chef, but she is so easygoing and relaxed. When my friend and I arrived, neither eating pork, she whipped up an alternative for us in no time.

Coconut pork with mango (or for us, a grilled shrimp salad and chili oil), paired well with de Terzcal Chardonnay from Northern Italy. Martha detailed each food sample, while Eden described the wines. Next, a green papaya salad paired with McNab Ridge Sauvignon Blanc was perfect.

Tangy and wonderful green papaya salad at Isle Cook

The day we were there (like every other day between May and November) was the kind of hot where you go outside and think, just for a minute, that it might be possible to melt right onto the sidewalk. It is the kind of hot where you go outside, start sweating, and realize this is how it will be for the next several months, and you simply get used to sweating all the time. A bunch of people that wandered into the store feeling a bit like a steak being seared on a grill could thoroughly enjoy a fresh, crisp chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and a rosé.

Five spiced apple puff pastry at Isle Cook

After the first two savory courses, we moved on to five-spice apples in puff pastry with whipped cream paired with Sidebar Rosé, from the Russian River Valley in California.  The final pairing, Campo Viejo Tempranillo with gorgonzola ice cream, was a beautiful pairing. But I honestly could not focus on anything other than the ice cream. Did I mention it’s made with loads of delicious, tangy gorgonzola cheese? And that I demanded the recipe with a mouth full of deliciousness? (Yeah, I know, super classy.)

Though I have not replicated the ice cream yet (I do have the recipe), every time I think about it, it makes me smile (and then wonder why in the hell I haven’t made it yet).

Eden and Bill, the engaging owners of Isle Cook, work hard to create a convivial atmosphere, where each attendee feels like an old friend. These weekly gatherings are extremely popular and require a reservation. The $15 per person cost is a bargain. While you are there, I am certain you will find some kitchen wares that you must have. I know, I always do.