If a gourmet pocket universe opened in an appliance store, this is what it would look like.

Mr. Forkful and I walked through a tidy storefront and into Ms. Tina Wilson’s (Aggressive Appliances) sea of stainless steel covering everything necessary for enviable indoor and outdoor kitchens. Then, Dana Rouquemore (Dinner Party Project), Mike Garcia (Smiling Bison, Ravenous Pig, Cask and Larder), and Michael Ring (Old Forester Brand Champion) ushered us through an epic night of locavore food, Old Forester cocktails, and conversation.

We were lucky enough to buy tickets for a food blogger Dinner Party Project — Droolius and We All Gotta Eat just happened to be there too! This food blogger-centric dinner included 12 people and some emotional conversation about what is at a flood blogger’s core. Friends, family, and memories seemed to drive all of us to share the joy of food.

Grit Cakes and DrinksBefore we could eat too many Shrimp and Grit Cakes (the magic was in the mousse!), Yelp Orlando ushered us to seats amongst candlelight, copper place settings, and verdant centerpieces. Our first bev was a snappy punch of Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon, Onli Hibiscus Pomegranate, and strawberry with basil that I couldn’t get enough of, that is until Whiskey Tango breezed into our lives.

The sweet-sour-spice combo with Laird’s Applejack was a well-balanced match that hung out with me as I sipped from a refreshing Cucumber Gazpacho. The heirloom tomatoes and microgreens were the stars complimented with fennel and peppers. Sweet and earthy beets debuted afterward on a sourdough Tartine with a touch of crème fraîche and dill with paper-thin slices of radishes.

Everyone was way past introductions and deep into our personal food stories. What is the best meal you’ve ever had? After a punch and a few cocktails, your answer may surprise you. Both Adam and I cited our unforgettable kaiseki meals in Hakone, Japan.

Our entrée, a Sweet Tea Chicken with Peach Mostardo with baked Sea Island Pea Pureé and Braised Kale, was an elevated-but-still-homey dish laced with yolk from a 63-degree poached egg. A few eggs like that on a pizza would be pretty much heaven, by the way — although the egg-over-easy on The Pharmacy’s Portuguese Pizza is also legit.

24-sweet-tea-chicken-panna-cotta

The night came to a close (why did it have to end?!) with a dairy-free Almond Panna Cotta topped with blueberries, vanilla, and lavender in addition to a wicked sponge cake crumble. The blueberries were plump with a hint of tartness while the other flavors melted into each other. Just bliss. One of Adam’s favourite drinks from the night — an Old Forester coffee lavender float — also brought the night full circle. Coffee’s a digestif after all, right?

We left stunned, stuffed, and amazed — oh and ready for another dinner party!