There was a time when Baz Lurhmann’s Moulin Rouge was on heavy rotation in my house, and when I finally visited Paris, France, I did make the pilgrimage to the famous Red Windmill. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford a ticket to go inside, but one day I hope to nix that line item off my lifetime epic quest list. On Saturday evening, I attended the 6th Annual Cabaret & Cabernet benefitting UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management. For an evening, I vanished across the Atlantic, to the City of Lights without even leaving Orlando with several friends.
Whisk me away to Paris just for one evening!
A local friend and UCF Alumna provided me with a ticket to attend the event as she was unable due to a scheduling conflict. I promised her I would do my best not to lose myself in the excitement and forget to document the evening. After I checked in, I was able to write a wish and tie to the Lock Bridge before meeting up with my friends Kelly, Lara, and Candace at the water fountain. We snapped some photos, picked up our champagne flutes and walked the red carpet to the photo area. We snapped some fun photos together while we waited for the festivities to begin.
Greeted with chilled champagne and fresh strawberries as we waited!
The evening was kicked off by The Starlet Knights dressed in adorable red fringe dresses performing the iconic can-can. The quartet of students dazzled with sky high kicks that would make any Rockette proud! Great attention to detail was evident in the party planning aspects of the evening making for a light and elegant evening.
A Courtyard Celebration
The Rosen Campus is gorgeous both in its architecture and landscaping. I could easily picture a television program or novel being set at these wonderful facilities. It is conveniently located in the greater resorts and theme parks sector of orlando off Universal Boulevard and it’s neighbors include the Rosen Shingle Creek Golf Resort, The Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute, SeaWorld Orlando, and all the fabulous restaurants and entertain on International Drive (I-Drive) like King’s Bowl. We dined al fresco in the Gazebo Courtyard while we enjoyed live vocal stylings by Joanna and Joseph Puccio Ball, and an encore dancing performance by the Startlet Knights!
- Baked Brie in Pastry with Honey & Figs
- Prosciutto wrapped Artichokes with Chevre & Chives
- Mini Shrimp Salad Croissants with Roasted Pepper & Boursin*
Whoa, Nelly, the winner of round one was the baked brie. I need to get more adventurous and use phyllo and lighter pastry when baking brie. I liked the prosciutto wrapped artichokes with chevre, but it felt too heavy in the warm evening. Of course, the shellfish allergy required me to pass on the shrimp salad croissants, but my tablemates raved about them!
The suggested wine pairings were a Sauvignon Blanc with the baked brie, and a Chianti for the prosciutto. Both were light and a lovely way to ease into the evening. As the catering team began to prepare for the second course, we headed inside to the “Moulin Rouge” Room for some live entertainment.
- Ratatouille Stack
- Smoked Salmon Crostini with Pickled Onion, Dill & Capers
- Caramelized Onion & Feta Tartlets
Round Two goes to the Smoked Salmon as it was perfectly balanced. The ratatouille stack was nice, and the tartelet was okay. The vegetables were a little underdone and the crust of the tartlet was too sweet (akin to a dessert tart). Merlot balanced out the weight of the salmon, while the Pinot Gris uplifted the refreshing Ratatouille.
- Duck Confit Flatbread with Roasted Garlic Pea Tendril & Quail Egg
- Quiche Primavera
- Coquilles St. Jacques*
I’ll admit, this course was okay, but I only liked the flatbread. The quiche might have been better had it been served hot (or at least warm). Although I couldn’t enjoy the scallops, my tablemates were a little disappointed that they ran out well before we could get served. I really liked the Cabernet which they paired with Duck Confit. As I don’t eat much duck, I savored every bite. The Sauvignon Blanc was a crisp refresher as we hurried back to watch the last segment of the live music performances inside the Moulin Rouge Room.
I think the slight delay in starting the evening resulted in the rushing through the third course. We wound up bringing our plates and balancing our wine glasses as we hurried back indoors to get a table.
We adjourned to the water fountain courtyard for dessert, contest results, and some beautiful performances on the lyra (aerial hoop) by some local aerialists. Personally, I often commit sacrilege by divulging my lack of chocolate genes. I appreciate dark , fine chocolates, but often my preferences is that it is combined with an additional flavor to breakdown all the chocolateness (fruit, nuts, cream, etc.).
A nice, chilled Reiseling was served with three fantastic choices of French desserts:
- Strawberry Nutella Crepes
- French Cream Puffs
- Classic Macarons
I was rather stuffed by the time the fourth course came along, but I wiggled around to make room for dessert. All three items were wonderful, and I enjoyed their diverse flavor profiles.
As the night wound down, I was so thrilled I had the opportunity to attend this event. The students really put together an evening in which I felt like I was whisked away to one of my all-time favorite places in the entire world. Paris is one where where I’ve made many memories, and one where I hope to visit again someday. The parting gifts included a wine stopper with the Eiffel Tower, commemorative event wine glasses, and the fun parasols we posed with at the beginning of the evening.
Lovely aerial artists showcased their talents on the lyra.
Now that they days are getting longer and the weather is warming up, more and more events are outside. I had such a blast visiting the Rosen School and seeing the talents of their hard working students. Whether they graduate and stay locally to improve Orlando or blaze new trails on their own, I wish nothing but the best for these young men and women. Even the most professionally planned and meticulously executed events have their snags, but if there were any shortcomings, the students navigated them without the guests noticing.
I hope to enjoy another one of their events in the future. Our evening didn’t end there, but I’ll save that story for another time.
Answer Me, These Questions Three
- Have you been to Paris? If so, what is your favorite place?
- Summertime in Florida means plenty of outdoor events. Which event are you looking forward to most?
- If you’re local in Orlando, would you be interested in Nerding Out together?