Italian Culinary Experience with Cioppino and Zonin

My first restaurant review – I’m so excited 🙂

I’m a lucky, lucky girl to be invited to Zonin‘s Culinary Experiences at Miami-Dade Culinary Institute. This past event was hosted with the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne’s Italian restaurant Cioppino led by Chef Ezio Gamba, and it featured five different wines (including Prosecco) and five food courses (no wonder I find it difficult to lose weight). So here are pictures from the tasting and my thoughts on the dishes – enjoy!

Benevenuto Dello Chef (Small Bites): Grilled Ciabatta, Heirloom Tomato, Garden Basil with Aged Pecorino

This dish was delish! Incredibly fresh, local tomatoes with the perfect balance of yummy carbs.

Antipasto: Insalatina di Seppie, Burrata e Carciofi, Artichokes, Cuttlefish (obviously I took that off right away!), Lemon Zest, Micro Celery, and Burrata

I have to say I’m a big fan of artichoke and good burrata! This was a unique combination using the two especially since I wasn’t expecting the cuttlefish (blah!). I feel like there are very few things you can’t mix cheese with, and this is not one of them. Great starter minus the cute little fish…

Primo (First Course): Orecchiete con Salsiccia e Rapini AKA Fresh Orecchiete, Pork Sausage, Rapini

OMG. This was my absolute favorite dish! I had to actively restrain myself from not jumping over the table and scarfing down the rest of this pasta! I’ve never really tasted anything like this because of the orecchiete. It’s a relatively thick pasta in perfectly bite-sized pieces that make your taste buds dance for joy. The pork sausage sauce was excellent too.  I will go dine at Cioppino just for this pasta dish.

Secondo (Second Course): Sella D’Agnello AKA Lamb Saddle, Zucchini Blossom, Fig Vincotto

Full disclosure – I really don’t like lamb. I don’t think it’s because of the nursery rhyme we all learned growing up, but rather, I just don’t care for the taste. I was also not raised eating lamb (stuck within my boundaries of “normal” farm animals – chicken, beef, pork)… Anyways, this was actually the first time I ate and enjoyed lamb. Once I got over the fact that it was a poor little lamb, I realized how amazing Chef Ezio did with this dish! Although most of the tender pieces were cooked to a tender pink center, I was pleasantly surprised and grateful when I was served a piece with a darker pink center (I like my meat well-done – seriously). The sauce was delightful with hints of caramelized maple syrup. This was also the first time I tasted zucchini blossom – WOW. So amazing. Even though it probably helped that it was fried to a golden brown crisp, this veggie was delectable.

Last but not least – Dolce (Dessert)

We enjoyed Formaggi (fancy name for assorted cheeses). Honestly, I don’t remember what kind of cheeses were on my plate, and I realize this picture resembles something you’d see at Condoms USA, but it was quite tasty! Granted, I don’t really find cheese to be the best dessert, but rather an appetizer, as I told you before… Cheese is meant for almost everything. Plus, we got to wash it down with sugary cafecito!

Thanks to Zonin, Cioppino, and Miami-Dade Culinary Institute for this enjoyable dining experience! I never would have known this restaurant existed otherwise 🙂

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