Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Taste of Georgia - A Vidalia Onion Dinner at Baraonda!

Photo from VidaliaOnion.org
Photo from VidaliaOnion.org


Last weekend, I was invited along with other food and lifestyle bloggers to attend a special dinner at Baraonda Ristaurante & Bar in Atlanta, hosted by the Vidalia Onion Committee from Vidalia, Georgia.
Chef Tom Hall of Baraonda, the winner of the 4th annual Golden Onion Culinary Competition at the 2015 Vidalia Onion Festival, prepared a lovely five course menu for us. 

With each dish, he featured the humble Vidalia onion and elevated it to new heights with striking flavor profiles and beautiful presentation.
Not only did we enjoy a terrific meal, but the restaurant paired wines with each course. The incredibly gracious folks from the Vidalia Onion Committee were on hand to share facts about Georgia's official state vegetable.
Executive Director, Susan Waters, was the ultimate organizer and hostess, singing the praises of vidalias, sharing recipe ideas like bacon-wrapped vidalias on the grill {so happening at my house this summer}, and educating us with vidalia trivia galore!
Did you know you can successfully store them in a pair of clean pantyhose?

Although I didn't grow up in Georgia {I'm a Florida girl}, I've lived here for over 20 years and been using Vidalia onions in my cooking for some time. Did you know that these sweet babies are only grown in south Georgia, which has the perfect combo of mild weather, water, and soil for them? They are planted in November and harvested April through September, which is when we can snap them up at the market. They are hand-planted and hand-harvested....which kinda blows my mind. That's a lot of work to get them to the table! I am very grateful to the producers and folks working to bring us this seasonal treasure.


The Vidalia Onion Festival started in 1977 in Glennville, GA and moved to Vidalia in 1978. It has been a tradition ever since and includes a bounty of fun for the whole family, including a carnival, children's parade, movies under the stars, Vidalia Onion chuck wagon cook off, street dance, 5K and 10K run, an airshow featuring stunt planes, war birds, and skydivers, recipe contest and public tastings, onion eating contest, musical concerts, and the Golden Onion Culinary Competition.
I didn't get to go to check out the festival this year, but I am so there next year!! I had no idea there was so much cool stuff happening. 
Who's coming with me? ROAD TRIP!


Ok. So I know you want to see and hear about what we had for dinner. I've made you wait long enough...here we go!


Antipasti: Georgia white shrimp with Vidalia onion, remoulade and roasted corn and farro salad
Paired with Purato Rose Sicilia, Nero d'Avola

What a refreshing way to get started. Shrimp were perfectly cooked, tender and the sweet onion was highlighted in the creamy remoulade.


Insalata: Iceberg wedge with Vidalia onion green goddess dressing, diced tomato, applewood bacon, and gorgonzola
Paired with Banfi Principessa Gavi Piemonte, Cortese
Rarely do I order a wedge salad, but this one was so tasty. The dressing was fragrant with fresh summer herbs. Complimented so well by the crisp white wine.

Pesce: Pan-seared red snapper with Vidalia onion, red cabbage and fennel slaw with citrus vinaigrette
Paired with Satrico Bianco Lazio, Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc-Trebbiano
So, this dish got my attention right away and was hands-down my favorite course. The fish was perfectly cooked, the citrus vinaigrette was light and barely sweet, and the thinly sliced Vidalia onion was charming and unassuming in the slaw . I pretty much stopped talking to my husband or neighbors to give the fish all my attention! Delicious.

Manzo: Braised beef stuffed Vidalia onion with tomato sauce and shaved pecorino Toscano
Paired with Tageto Donna Olimpia Tuscany, Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot-Petit Verdot-Cabernet France
I think this was a fan favorite and my husband loved it. Homey, rustic, and delicious paired with the red blend. Felt like we were transported to my Italian nana's kitchen.

Dolci: Vanilla bean gelato with Vidalia onion and aged balsamic jam
Paired with Troj Rosso Veneto, Merlot-Schioppettino-Refosco
I was looking forward to this course....A LOT! You know how I love my sweets. And I was hoping for a interesting finale to the meal. This was jammy, caramelly, and luscious. Yay chef!

This whole evening was such a treat and I left feeling inspired to cook. We were given a gift to take home, which of course included a perfect Vidalia onion. I'm gonna have to buy a bunch more, because I've got a caramelized Vidalia onion and goat cheese tart stuck in my head now. Post on that coming soon!

Thank you to Baraonda, Chef Tom Hall, the service staff,  sommelier Rich Stratdman, and Susan Waters of the Vidalia Onion Committee for a fantastic event. Looking forward to visiting Baraonda again very soon!


Disclosure: This event was complimentary, but the opinions expressed herein are genuine and unsolicited.

2 comments:

  1. Looks like a great time (and informative too!) The beef dish looks very interesting...

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  2. It was so delicious Janet! I've got 3 vidalias sitting on my countertop now.....with some plans to caramelize! Love learning new things

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