John and Mable Ringling Musem of Art, for the Forks & Corks Grand Tasting presented by The Sarasota –Manatee Fresh Originals. The Grand Tasting featured signature dishes from the area’s top chefs, along with a vast array of wines and beers presented by guest vintners and breweries. More than 100 wineries—and about 75 individual winemakers—participated this year.
Some of my top food picks were the Pork Belly with Sweet Soy Drizzle and Edamame Fried Rice presented by Madfish Grill, Tommy K’s Minced Chicken & Lettuce Cups presented by PattiGeorge’s, the Gnocchi Bolognese presented by 15 South Ristorante, and the Pickled Oyster Shooter with Jalapeno-Horseradish Infused Vodka and House Prepared Sangrita presented by Sietsa Key Oyster Bar.
During the four-hour tasting, we explored the museums grounds, visited the Circus Museum and Ca d’Zan (Home of John Ringling) and the impressive galleries of priceless art all donated to the state by John Ringling. The Circus Museum was my favorite as they have artifacts from the actual Ringling Brothers circus, as well as a room where you can try out your own circus skills such as tightrope walking, fitting into a clown car and acrobatics on top a horse....all of which I had to try out.
The Circus Museum celebrates the American circus, its history, and unique relationship to Sarasota. Established in 1948, the museum was the first in the country to document the rich history of the circus. View colossal parade and baggage wagons, sequined costumes, and a sideshow banner line that document the circus of the past and of today. The cornerstone of the Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center is the world's largest miniature circus, The Howard Bros. Circus Model. The model is a replica of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919 – 1938. It was created over a period of more than 50-years by master model builder and philanthropist Howard Tibbals.
Also impressive and interesting is the Ringlings' dazzling palatial mansion, which is a tribute to the American Dream and reflects the splendor and romance of Italy. Described as “the last of the Gilded Age mansions” to be built in America, Ca' d’Zan has 56 rooms filled with art and original furnishings. In 1924, construction began on Ca' d’Zan, which means “House of John” in Venetian dialect. The house was completed just in December 1925, at a cost of $1.5 million. In April 2002, comprehensive restoration and conservation was completed on Ca' d'Zan that spanned six years and $15 million.
Just before a food coma set in, it was time to leave Ringling, the Forks & Corks Festival and Sarasota. I was impressed, and will be back once again. Thank you to VISIT Sarasota and the Ritz Carlton Sarasota for a fantastic visit in your lovely city. "May all your days be circus days!"