A few weeks ago Mrs. Trader (Nautical Nina) and I had the opportunity to experience the Sapphire Falls Rum Dinner. The Universal Orlando Loews Resort puts on this event 2-3 times a year. Each time they feature a different rum brand and pair their multiple offerings with a five course dinner. This past evenT starred Plantation Rums. From start to finish it was a Rum-Riffic evening! SPOILER ALERT: We LOVED this event and will be back for the next one and would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is a Rum Lover or a Foodie (or BOTH, like us)!
Upon arrival at Sapphire Fall, we were directed downstairs to Amatista Cookhouse. There we checked in and were welcomed to the patio for beer, wine or, of course, rum. They had a punch pre-made with Plantation Three Stars rum. I will say that while good, the punch could have benefited from being served over crushed ice like a Painkiller. There were some passed appetizers while everyone waited to be welcomed in the dining room.
We had the pleasure of talking with Phil, Assistant Director of Food and Beverage, before the doors opened to welcome us to our tables. Phil is an amazing host and definitely is one that will go above and beyond to make you feel welcome.
Prior to entering the dining room we were assigned a table. Nautical Nina and I joined Rum Master Eddie, his wife, son and brother all at Table #1. As we entered and found our table, we settled in for dinner. The rum punch from outside was also available at each table but the best was yet to come.
We started with Sticky Santiago Spareribs which were agave braised with a pineapple mango chutney. The ribs were paired with a Carnaval featuring Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple Rum. I already knew I was a big fan of Stiggins’ Fancy rum and this drink was wonderful.
It had a little charred pineapple in it, which was a nice touch. It was during this first course we were introduced both to Aaron, our mixologist for the evening from Sapphire Fall, and Rocky, Rum Ambassador for Plantation Rums. During the course of the evening Aaron would share how he built each rum drink and Rocky would give great information on each Plantation rum. (Rocky had amazing stories about the lengths that the Planation team goes to in order to ensure a premium, quality product. It was really wonderful to have the opportunity to hear those stories first hand.)
Next we moved to a Simple Seared Scallop paired with a Voodoo Lemonade made with Plantation Three Stars. The lemonade was nice, light, made for pool side enjoyment.
Then the soup course was a Bahamian Bouillabaisse (with snapper, shrimp, calamari and mussels) which was paired with a Plantation Original Dark Overproof “Red Tide”. Since first coming out I have enjoyed the O.F.T.D. Overproof from Plantation and Red Tide was very nice… had an Old Fashioned feel to it, slightly sweeter. It was a good contrast to the seafood soup.
The main course was an amazing Caribbean Rubbed Ribeye which was matched with, in my opinion, the highlight of the evening… The Smoke Show with Plantation Original Dark. Aaron served it “trapped” in smoke and then released the drinks and smoke to fill each table. The aroma of the smoke paired perfectly with the drink and steak. This was so enjoyable that Phil, and our wonderful waiter Henry, were kind enough to grab us another round.
We “ended” with a Autumn Spiced Cheesecake and Plantation Barbados 2002 Gran Terroir rum for sipping. The cheesecake was fantastic with hints of cinnamon, clove, allspice and more. The Barbados 2002 is a great sipping rum… it is how a Barbados Rum should be… a little “lighter” than a full Jamaican rum but able to stand on its own and represent Barbados with a slightly sweet finish.
The good news was that the evening was not even over yet… we ended back on the patio with hand-rolled cigars, coffee and one of Plantation’s newest offerings, their Xaymaca Extra Dry. I have had the opportunity to become very familiar with this wonderful offering from Plantation… so much so that it actually is part of my “Mai Tai Rum Blend”.
I would be remise if I didn’t call out the fact that I had the opportunity to meet “Typhoon Tommy” (designer/builder of the beautiful Suffering Bastard tiki bar) and his fiancé, Kari (creator of Magical Tiki Meet Up). It was wonderful to chat with them about all things rum and tiki, and I hope that our paths will continue to cross in the future.
It is hard to put into words just how fantastic the Rum Dinner was. Phil’s team hosted an amazing evening and Aaron did a wonderful job building and pairing the drinks. (Shout out to Henry too… he was attentive and personable and has a true eye for guest service!) It was wonderful to hear the stories from Rocky and have the opportunity to chat with him thought out the evening (how do I get his job?!?!). Fernando, the incredible manager of Strong Water, also made an appearance and, like always, it was a pleasure catching up with him.
(Special THANK YOU to Rum Master Eddie who is always a wonderful host and makes sure we don’t miss the invites these events!)
While the next hasn’t been scheduled, Nautical Nina and I will definitely be joining! Keep your eyes on my Instagram (@trader_jays) and I’ll be sure to post as soon as the next one is announced… I’d love the chance to taste some rum and eat some amazing food with everyone.