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The Trapiche Room offers a tranquil oasis off the Brickell jungle

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The mahogany table was set with starched white linens. The silver flatware was polished to a dull gleam and a large assortment of wine glasses sparkled in the glow of the J.W. Marriot's Trapiche Room restaurant. Two large paintings of the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina flanked the long tables. Thus began the evening for food writers invited to preview the Miami Spice menu at the intimate and award-winning Trapiche Room.

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The restaurant, located on the second floor, was formerly a wine and cheese tasting room in the hotel. It is named after the trapiche- a grape-crushing device used in Argentina for making wine. Both are appropriate references since the Trapiche Room has won Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence the past seven years. There are more than 200 wine labels to choose from.

The evening started with Alfredo Sarnataro, Director of Food and Beverage, welcoming the food writers and introducing Chef Daniel Goldish to the group. A six-course feast, with wine pairings and dessert, followed. The chef came out before each course to describe the dish about to be served. Rodrigo Martinez, the hotel sommelier, explained the wines poured.

Warm breads, including ciabatta, walnut and raisin and crunchy breadsticks, were placed on the table, along with a scoop of tasty tapenade.

Dinner began with an amuse bouche of aracini filled with fontina cheese and duck confit. The golden orb was centered on saffron aioli and crowned with a fried sage leaf. The crunchy exterior revealed a creamy interior, full of succulent duck meat. The saffron aioli, barely yellow, was a delicate touch.

Refined dining is the phrase that comes to mind after dining at the Trapiche Room. The flavors used were fresh and delicious, but not overbearing. All the dishes sampled were well balanced and restrained.

Service was impeccable- efficient and smooth, but not intrusive. Water and wine were refilled constantly, without prompting. Since there is only one seating per night, guests here are allowed to settle in, relax and enjoy being pampered with the food and wine.

The next course, an octopus salad, was served on a clear glass plate. The white suckered tenacle had been blanched, grilled and sliced into three pieces. It was served atop a spicy carrot puree, along with sliced radishes, yellow grape tomatoes and a frisee salad.

Next up was a dish available as an entrée for dinner during Miami Spice-braised lamb ravioli. The thin, delicate pasta encased moist lamb shank meat and was topped with thin shavings of snow white ricotta salata. A tender mushroom morsel and slivers of fresh mint accented the dish; pureed tomato sauce puddled underneath the ravioli and diced fresh tomato was sprinkled over the top.

The Miami Dining Examiner really enjoyed this dish and recommends trying during Miami Spice.

Speck, a smoked procuitto, has been popping up on menus lately. At the Trapiche Room, it was wrapped around Florida prawns and served with crispy triangles of polenta.

The pineapple and macadamia nut bar-b-que sauce drizzled around the plate was Chef Goldich's nod to his time spent cooking at the W hotel in Honolulu. The smoky speck encased the large white prawns. The crunchy/creamy golden polenta provided a contrast in texture, although more bar-b-que sauce would have been welcomed.

The dish was accompanied by a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, whose tropical flavors paired nicely with the Florida prawns. This dish is available as an appetizer for Miami Spice.

The favorite dish among the food writers was, without a doubt, the grilled rosemary skirt steak. The steak was cooked perfectly, with a red interior, grilled exterior and topped with thinly sliced fried leeks. The meat was tender, flavorful and the Miami Dining Examiner couldn't stop eating the potato puree, silky and full of truffle flavor. This dish was paired with a Malbec from Argentina.

The Miami Dining Examiner's favorite dish was the grilled swordfish with toasted farro risotto. The tender swordfish had nice grill marks on it and was topped with a mound of orange caviar. Delicate and light, it was served over a lovely farro risotto. The risotto was creamy and nutty, cooked with leeks and herbs and the farro, al dente.

Dessert was a limoncello ricotta cheesecake. The compact dessert, had a delicate crust on the bottom only and was served with a berry puree on the side. The lemon flavor was subtle, the cake smooth and creamy. It was served with a sweet Reisling wine.

Coffee and tea were offered, as the food writers applauded the memorable meal prepared by Chef Daniel Goldich and the staff.

"Thank you chef!" was echoed around the room in appreciation for this special sneek peek at the Traphiche Room's Miami Spice menu.

The Trapiche Room, specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, is almost a throw back to days when fine dining and excellent service were appreciated and valued. It is a perfect venue to broker a power deal or to celebrate a special occasion. It is available to be rented out for parties, with a maximum of 22 guests.

Miami Spice (August 1- September 30) is the perfect opportunity to sample the delicate, refined and well balanced dishes at the Trapiche Room. A three course prix-fixe lunch menu is offered Monday through Friday. Dinner is served Tuesday through Saturday. Lunch is $38 with wine pairing, dinner, $54 with wine pairing.

Complimentary valet parking (with ticket validation) is offered, making this another reason to visit this jewel at the J.W. Marriot. Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Brickell, but somehow, worlds away.

The Trapiche Room at the J.W. Marriot

1109 Brickell Avenue

Miami, FL 33131

305 329-3500

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