Spring Flavors and Signature Dishes – It was the first day of Spring and what better way to celebrate the day than with a Spring menu preview and tasting prepared by Chef Gina Rodriguez. On March 20, 2013, as part of the Serrano Spring 2013 Menu Tasting Event, media and food bloggers from the Philadelphia area gathered to sample selections from Serrano and Chef Rodriguez’s new spring menu.
After living in Philadelphia for nearly a year, Chef Rodriguez took inspiration from the feel of the four seasons in creating her spring menu for Serrano. “Spring is probably my favorite season,” said Rodriguez, “the fact that I get to actually experience it now in Pennsylvania is a blessing.” After slowly nurturing each recipe to life, Rodriguez refuses to choose her favorite stating, “It’s like having children, I can’t pick a favorite.”
The tasting included handcrafted cocktails, passed hors d’oeuvres, two courses with wine pairings and house made desserts.
For the handcrafted cocktails, Serrano unveiled two amazing concoctions: 6th Thyme which was made from house made mead with local honey, aperol, thyme and white cranberry* and the Jim Dandy In The Everglades, made from orange vodka, peach bitters and prosecco*. I tried the two cocktails and while they were both delicious, the 6th Thyme will have my heart forever (the sprig of thyme added to the drink was the absolute perfect touch).
To open the event, Chef Rodriguez chose three passed hors d’oeuvres to highlight for the evening: Shrimp Mousse In French Brick with Truffled Herb; Corn Fritters with Cayenne Honey Drizzle* and; Heirloom Tomato with House Made Ricotta *. Below is a photo of the Heirloom Tomato with House Made Ricotta.
The first course, paired with a White Tariquet Classic from France, included: Watermelon Salad with Baby Spinach, Frisee, Sliced Watermelon, Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette*; Steamed Mussels with Spring Tomato, White Wine and Herb Broth*; and Chef’s Choice Hand Made Spring Flatbread*.
- The Watermelon Salad was so incredibly luscious and fresh. The combination of watermelon, bleu cheese and vinaigrette reveals the lighter side of Spring season with an intense pop of flavor.
- The Steamed Mussels were all the rave. Served with toasted ciabatta, the wine-herb broth begs to enjoyed just as much as the mussels themselves. Simply delicious.
- For the Spring Flatbread, our table was served the tomato flatbread. It was warm and hearty, yet light and easy to enjoy in the warmer weather.
The second course, paired with the Byron Pinot Noir from California (an amazing Pinot Noir!), featured Chef Rodriguez’s 20 S. Spring Lamb, (named after the address of the restaurant) a Guinness Braised Lamb In Corn Crepe with Sautéed Pea Tendrils, Herb Mashed Potato and a Dijon Lamb Demi*; Jumbo Scallops, seared scallops with Mushroom, Sausage & Fingerling Potatoes in an Arbol Chili Gastrique and; a Spring Vegetable Curry served over Couscous*
- My husband had the 20 S. Spring Lamb. To be honest, he was a little hesitant about the corn crepe and was unsure what to expect. All it took was one taste and he couldn’t get enough. He even talked about his entree the next day (over and over again).
- My table mates had the scallops and they were absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful in size and finished with the perfect sear. I had dinner envy.
- I had the Spring Vegetable Curry and it was so yummy with a special, spicy kick of curry. I would have never thought to serve curry over couscous and I thought it was a brilliant combination.
For dessert, we were treated to House Made Ice Cream and a Seasonal Fruit Tart.
Serrano and Chef Gina Rodriguez truly outdid themselves with the Spring 2013 menu. The tasting was one surprise after another, with each course leaving everyone speechless and completely satisfied. It was a beautiful evening in a spectacular setting (seriously, this place is pure class).
(Note: * Indicates new cocktail or dish)
Serrano had been a staple on second street for over 25 years. You could say it was on the street prior to the neighborhood being “hip”. Named after the pepper, not the ham, the food can be described as internationally influenced contemporary cooking. Recently, Chef Gina Rodriguez came on board to relaunch the menu and restaurant’s reputation for producing exceptional dishes at neighborhood prices. The vibe of the restaurant is very laid back. On any given day you can find a doctor next to an artist sharing a drink. Serrano recently refreshed their website. You can check them out at serranophilly.com, on Facebook and on Twitter.
About Donal McCoy (Owner)
Born and raised in Belfast, Donal McCoy has been working in the hospitality industry all of his life, starting as a bartender in the Europa hotel at age 15. After traveling to the states and working several years at the Jersey Shore and Philadelphia, McCoy became the managing partner of Serrano and the Tin Angel in 2005. McCoy brought Executive Chef Gina Rodriguez on board to re-launch the menu, while redesigning the wine, beer and cocktail menu himself. McCoy has extensive knowledge of Bourbons, whiskies and classic cocktails. In his spare time he enjoys playing guitar and spending time with this wife and two dogs.
Meet the Chef
Executive Chef Gina Rodriquez, an Arizona native, entered into cooking as a second career. Rodriguez earned a degree in psychology and worked for a Tucson behavioral health center before enrolling at Scottsdale Culinary Institute. After graduating SCI Le Cordon Bleu, an externship in New Orleans under noted chef John Besh, and mentoring by French Master Chefs, Rodriguez has worked at major resorts and restaurants in San Diego, New York, New Orleans, Arizona and California before arriving in Philadelphia.
In a male-dominated profession, Rodriguez is proof that women are a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen (amen to that!). She served as the first female behind the stoves at the acclaimed Ventana Room at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson, Arizona, earning the coveted AAA 5 Diamond award in 2008, the only female awarded in the US that year. When not cooking for others Chef Rodriguez enjoys reading and her favorite dish when eating out is Pho.
THANK YOU so much to Serrano, Donal McCoy, Chef Rodriguez and the entire Serrano staff for an incredible evening. Serrano in Old City, Philadelphia is absolutely GGG approved! xoxo
Disclosure: My visit to Serrano was part of the restaurant’s Spring 2013 menu tasting event. I was not charged for my meal. Opinions are my own.