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A recipe that was served at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Florida. Adapted from Recipes from Historic America by Linda and Steve Bauer. Great book! Here's a little history: As a young man in 1925, George E. Merrick saw the vision of a magnificent hotel on Florida's east coast. He joined forces with Biltmore hotel magnate John McEntee Bowman at the height of the Florida land boom to build a grand hotel. After 10 months and $10 million, the Biltmore debuted in January 1926 with an inaugural celebration that attracted people from Northern cities on trains marked "Miami Biltmore Specials". Champagne flowed while guests fox-trotted to the sounds of jazz. The "American Rivera" resort attracted many of the world's rich and famous (and infamous). Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers, Judy Garland, Al Capone, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and assorted Roosevelts and Vanderbilts all stayed there frequently. Fashion shows, gala balls and weddings became routine events. World-class golf tournaments soon followed. Born in the Jazz Age, the hotel often hosted Big Bands to entertain its wealthy, well-traveled visitors. The Biltmore survived the Depression by offering aquatic galas at its grand pool - these events kept the hotel in the spotlight and drew crowds. Thousands would visit on a Sunday afternoon to enjoy synchronized swimmers, bathing beauties and alligator wrestling. High-diving star Jackie Ott performed from an 85-foot platform. Before making a name for himself in Hollywood, Johnny Weissmuller broke a world record at the Biltmore pool, where he also served as a swimming instructor. As with several large hotels in America during World War II, the War Department converted the Biltmore to a hospital. It served the wounded as the Army Air Forces Regional Hospital. They sealed many of the windows with concrete and covered the marble floors with linoleum. This early encounter with medicine evolved after the war as the Biltmore became the site of the University of Miami's School of Medicine. Later, the Biltmore functioned as a VA hospital until 1968. The City of Coral Gables was granted ownership control of the hotel in 1973, through the Historic Monuments Act and Legacy of Parks program. While local government pondered its future, the Biltmore remained unoccupied for nearly 10 years until the decision was made to restore it. Four years and $55 million later, the Biltmore reopened.
- 2 lbs potatoes, peeled (red, yellow or purple are good choices)
- 1⁄2 cup butter
- 1 cup half-and-half cream
- salt and pepper
- 4 sea bass fillets, skin removed (8 ounces each)
- salt and pepper
- 4 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
- 1⁄4 cup fresh raspberry
- 1⁄4 cup blackberry
- 1⁄4 cup blueberries
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh strawberries
- 1 cup diced mango
- 1 tablespoon minced chives
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- Place potatoes in a pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Simmer until a knife can be easily inserted into the center of potato, about 20 minutes. Drain well. Press the potatoes through a potato ricer or food mill into a mixing bowl. Add the butter, cream, salt and pepper; mix until incorporated, but do not over-mix. Keep warm.
- Season the sea bass with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat an ovenproof skillet on high heat; add grapeseed(or olive) oil and heat just until it begins to smoke.
- Carefully place the fillets, skin side up, in the pan; sear until golden brown. Remove from the heat. Turn fillets over and place the skillet directly into the oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 7 minutes or until fish is cooked to your desired doneness.
- Meanwhile, for salsa, carefully cut the raspberries, blackberries and blueberries in half. Place in a bowl; add the remaining ingredients and stir gently.
- To serve, place about 3/4 cup potato purée on each plate. Top with sea bass; place a spoonful of wild berry-mango salsa over fish. Garnish with any seasonal steamed vegetables.