The Sprouting Project consists of a state-of-the-art aquaponic greenhouse, an expansive organic garden, a large collection of beehives, and a barrel room.
Before the dinner, I had the chance to explore The Sprouting Project. These tours are offered every Saturday from 2:30 p.m. till 4 p.m. I really appreciate how the tours provide an exclusive experience that’s not only educational but fun.
The tour, which was lead by banquet sous chef, Andrew Brooks, joined Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort as part of our Leadership in Development (LID) program where he focused his efforts in the oceanside kitchen.
Chef Brooks recently accepted the position of banquet sous chef following a year in the oceanside kitchen where he actively worked with the restaurant chef to change both the lunch and dinner menus.
We started our tour at The Sprouting Project Garden which offers the freshest produce. The garden supplies the resort with a variety of fruits, herbs, peppers, citrus orchard, and vegetables. On a daily basis, the culinary team works diligently to harvest fresh, organic produce from the garden.
One of the best things about this garden is that the crops are free of harmful substances such as herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides. These crops are so fresh that the crop retains most of its nutrient value and provides guests with the freshest crops. We, then, headed to learn about the birds and the bees. And, afterward, we explored the apiary, which was located behind the greenhouse. The apiary hosts 27 colonies, 2.5 million bees, and 5,000 pounds of organic honey.
Throughout the resort restaurants, you will see honey on all of the menus. And during breakfast, there was an array of honey. A few of my favorites were the rosemary, wildflower, orange blossom, Florida whiskey, and cinnamon. They are absolutely delicious with homemade biscuits. We, then, had a chance to see where the hens lay their fresh eggs. I was totally amazed!
After our tour, we experienced making our own hot sauce and explore the barrel room. While we waited for everyone in the group to create their hot sauce, we had a chance to nibble on appetizers. I sampled the pimento cheese which was absolutely the best that I had ever tasted. I also sipped gin and bourbon fresh out of the barrel.
The 36 different barrels, which are changed often, range from gin, infused balsamic vinegar, fermented hot sauces, and bourbon. The tour was awesome, and I highly recommend it.
After the tour, we headed back to our rooms and prepared for the dinner which was held on the property and led by executive chef, Todd Ruiz.
Chef Ruiz oversees all of the culinary operations at Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort including nine restaurants, our banquets team, and The Sprouting Project. He brings more than 20 years of culinary experience to the resort, having most recently served as executive chef at Omni New Haven Hotel and Omni Berkshire Place Hotel in New York City.
Each ingredient is the star of the dinner because every month, the dinner features local ingredients from The Sprouting Project. This month’s featured ingredient: the Calamondin orange.
The Sprouting Project has three calamondin orange trees. You can pick this particular orange from the tree and eat it, but it gives off a bitter taste. I was really curious as to how the dinner was going to incorporate this ingredient because of its unique taste.
We started our meal with a variety of unique and tasty appetizers.
Our menu consisted of:
Green Calamondin+Hamachi+ Curry+ Egg Yolk
Shaved Carpaccio Calamondin+Red Romaine Heart+ Smoked Bay Scallop+ Almond Crisp
Uni+Asian Noodle+Brussels Sprout+ Sweet Soy+ Spicy Cashew
Waygu+ Coffee Rub+ Calamondin Ash+Mexican Chocolate+ Burnt Leave
Frozen Custard+Pistachio Crisp+ Blossoms+Candied Persimmon+ Jam
Each dish complimented the next dish, and all the dishes were plated to perfection.
These dinners take place each month, every month. December’s feature ingredient is truffles. The schedule for 2019 is available here: https://bit.ly/2Jt9W4S
I had the best time exploring the property and seeing the behind the scenes of the evening that takes place when it comes to this awesome project.
If you are a lover of superb dining experiences & all-things hyperlocal, make sure to add this experience to your bucket list. You will have a great time!
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