All Eyes gallery: A movable feast for the mouth and the eyes
A thunderstorm dropped rain on roads so hot they steamed. As the clouds dispersed, a low, golden sun came out, casting dramatic light on the orange groves. Spanish moss glowed on oak trees; the red heads of leggy sandhill cranes pecked at the ground.
It was another slow summer evening along the rolling country roads of eastern Pasco County.
This was the scene Thursday as 80 diners traveled between Pearl in the Grove and three other restaurants owned by Curtis Beebe and his wife, Rebecca.
The couple’s debut “go at your own pace” progressive dinner had sold out quickly.
Appetizers were served at Local Public House in San Antonio, a casual, laid-back pub with a commitment to local fare. The next course was lionfish bouillabaisse at Pearl in the Grove followed by steak and scallop dinner at Rebecca’s at City Market. The feast finished with three flavors of panna cotta at Provisions. The last three restaurants are all in Dade City.
Each plate was paired with wine or beer choices that included Tozai Snow Maiden sake and JDub’s Bell Cow Milk Chocolate Porter.
“Everybody expects summer to be slow,” Curtis Beebe said. “There aren’t a lot of events, so we created our own event to get people out.”
He estimates 70 percent of the diners were locals, coming from within 20 miles of the restaurants.
As for the menu, the Beebes and their culinary team wanted to create food they thought was evocative of each place.
Lionfish on the Pearl in the Grove menu is in line with its edgier fare.
“It’s a great tasty little fish. As long as we can get it we’re going to keep selling it,” Beebe said.
The invasive fish has to be cleaned by someone who is certified in removing the venomous spines. It also “fits in with the ethos we have of eating local and sustainable,” he said.
The couple is planning more summer events, including a fish fry with a live band in the parking lot of Rebecca’s, a “comfortable, familiar” restaurant and the only one of the four with a kids’ menu.
Another progressive dinner is scheduled for August. For reservations or information, call 1-352-588-0008.
Progressive Dinner Menu — July 21
First stop: Local Public House and Provisions, 32750 Pennsylvania Ave., San Antonio
Palmetto Creek pork belly "wings” made of free range, organically raised pork
Hard-boiled eggs with remoulade
Sriracha sauce and mozzarella potato chips
Pairings: Gotham Project Rose 2015 wine or Two Henry's Sunset Kolsch
Stop two: Pearl in the Grove, 31936 St. Joe Road, Dade City
Lionfish bouillabaisse, duck fat confit potatoes, gulf shrimp, Cedar Key littleneck clams, olive tapenade on crostini
Pairings: Snow Maiden Sake or Cigar City Brewing Invasion IPA
Third Stop: Rebecca's at City Market, 14148 Eighth St., Dade City
Filet mignonette with a demi-glace and scallops in a beurre blanc. Served with stewed okra and tomatoes.
Pairings: Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan brown ale or Block 9 Pinot Noir
Last stop: Provisions, 14148 Eighth St., Dade City
Choice of panna cottas (chocolate, banana, or vanilla)
Pairings: Anna Lisa Moscato or JDubs Bell Cow Milk Chocolate Porter