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Tampa Bay Brewing Company highlights rare fish at Ora King TYEE Salmon Dinner

Lately I’ve been craving fish, specifically salmon. I’m not entirely sure why but I know it’s weird. Last week, my opportunity came true when fellow Tampa foodie Carlos Hernandez of the popular Carlos Eats blog invited to the Ora King TYEE Salmon dinner at Tampa Bay Brewing Company. It’s been a couple years since the last time I was there so I was super excited to attend. It was such a fun experience tasting the different salmon and beer pairings (unfortunately I couldn’t really drink all the beers since I was driving myself *sad face*).

I’d never heard of this kind of salmon before learning about it in the event description left me mind-blown. The Ora King TYEE was found less than 100 years ago in British Columbia. It’s so rare that only 40 are harvested monthly and grown in New Zealand. Tampa Bay Brewing Company is the first brewery in the country to receive the Ora King and the first to have the fish in the entire Tampa Bay area.

First Course

Our first course of the dinner is TYEE Salmon Tartare with shallots, micro cilantro, red chile flakes, avocado, cucumber, sesame seeds, lime smoke caviar, and Feuille de Brick. Right off the back I noticed how refreshing and cool it tasted from the cucumber alone. The taste of the fish doesn’t compete with all the other ingredients and, although unseasoned, fresh. We were told ny ne way to eat the course is scooping it on top of the Feuille de Brick like chip and dip. The beer pairing was a Mango Vanilla Berliner that had a sweet and citrusy taste. I realized last month I prefer sweeter beers than the regular, stronger versions so this one is really my speed.

Second Course

Next, we ate TYEE Salmon Crudo with Leche de Tigre Granite, salmon mousse, cherry capers, a piece of green plantain, Echalote Pickles, cilantro, Double Coast Lager compressed kiwi, and salmon skin powder. Kiwi is definitely a key ingredient in this dish. The compressed kiwi is a different touch than what I’m used to. At first glance it looks like a soft mashup of kiwi and seeds but once it hits your tastebuds, you realize it’s cold and icy. The crudo is paired with a Kiwi Double Coast Lager(perhaps the same one that made up the compressed kiwi ice). Usually when beers or any alcoholic drink has a fruity or sweeter notes to it, the smell can be overwhelming and intense…this lager wasn’t like that at all. The smell of kiwi was fragrant and I kinda thought about buying some from the grocery store for a hot second.

Palate Cleanser

The first palate cleanser before continuing the remainder of the dinner is a Meyer Lemon Sorbet. What a surprise it was to receive a small jar of sorbet including the name “lemon” but it looks like it’s made with kiwis. I got a chance to talk to TBBC owner Vicki during this period and she told me she made the sorbet herself with fresh lemon juice and kiwi’s. Fruit seeds can be annoying at times but they added another layer of texture to complement the smooth and creamy sorbet. I need TBBC to sell this in their restaurants.

Fourth Course

This one is my favorite. I’ve mentioned a couple times how much I like meals that come in bowls. It came with black risotto(cooked in squid ink), carrot marmalade, Latin micro greens, roasted pine nuts, lime zest, white truffle oil, chorizo oil, and Reef Donkey compressed lemon. The salmon in this dish is the largest out of all the other courses so that was a plus for me. I spoke to Vicki again about this dish and told her this course should be an entree option at the restaurants. I never thought carrots could be made into a marmalade but it should be a thing definitely. When the marmalade hit my tastebuds, I thought it was candy initially…it’s that sweet! I can see myself eating this on its own with a spoon for real.

Palate Cleanser

Our second palate cleanser, mango sorbet, is just as soft and creamy as the lemon sorbet. I’m glad they went with unfussy palate cleansers that don’t alter the tastebuds and other flavors. Again, just like the previous sorbet, it tasted refreshing and the sweet flavors aren’t distracting. Maybe I should start buying sorbet now whenever I have a kind of ice cream craving…?

Fifth Course

Finally, the last course of the dinner. Salmon cheesecake is something I never expected to ever come across in life. Trying to wrap my head around that concept left me mind-blown because of the innovation around it. Cheesecake is one of my favorite desserts but this version left me wanting a little more. I thought it needed a smidge of added sweetness to it like honey or something to counterbalance the salmon. One thing I suggested at the dinner is for the portion size to be smaller because if guests don’t like it too much, they may feel obligated to finish the dish. A smaller portion is more manageable and creates less pressure to eat the entire slice.

I’m so happy Carlos invited me out to this tasting because I had such a great time sampling the various dishes and just hanging out. I can’t wait until the next outing.