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Cucumber, Radish, and Watercress Sandwiches with Truffled Goat Cheese

Cucumber, Radish, and Watercress Sandwiches with Truffled Goat Cheese


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Ingredients

  • 9 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped watercress
  • 12 very thin slices white bread
  • 1 bunch radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 English hothouse cucumber, peeled, thinly sliced

Recipe Preparation

  • Blend goat cheese, watercress, and truffle oil in processor until just combined. Season with salt and pepper. Place bread slices on work surface. Spread each with goat cheese mixture, dividing equally. Set aside 24 radish slices for garnish. Top 6 bread slices with cucumber slices, then remaining radish slices. Sprinkle with pepper. Top with remaining bread slices, cheese side down. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Wrap individually in paper towels; chill.

  • Trim sandwich crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 squares. Transfer to platter. Top each with 1 radish slice and serve.

Reviews Section

  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons herbed butter (softened, or softened plain butter)
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise (or mayonnaise alternative)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Paprika (to taste)
  • 8 slices bread
  • 1/2 cup watercress (fresh, chopped)
  • Optional: fresh parsley (chopped, to taste)

Hard boil the eggs, rinsing with cold water when they are done.

While the eggs are still warm, peel them and mash them with the butter, using a potato masher or a fork.

Stir the mayonnaise and spices into the egg mixture.

Spread the egg salad onto two slices of bread.

Add the watercress and the parsley, if using.

Top the watercress with the remaining two slices of bread.

Remove the crusts and slice the sandwiches two times, diagonally, to make four tea sandwiches from each large sandwich.


Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches Recipe

Chopped eggs and egg salad are common fillers for English tea sandwiches. This recipe makes dill egg salad finger sandwiches. There are many other variations on egg salad sandwiches (or "creamed egg sandwiches" as they are sometimes called in England) you can try, such as egg salad tea sandwiches with chive butter on whole wheat bread, and paprika egg salad tea sandwiches.


RSVP / Holiday parties are a snap with these quick, sophisticated appetizers

It's the season of holiday parties -- a time when gracious hosts, eager to catch up with friends and family, find themselves in a desperate struggle to keep everyone's drink filled and provide enough little pieces of finger food so that no one goes hungry.

This happened at the last cocktail party I hosted. I put 6:30 p.m. on the invitation, and I figured no one would show up for 45 minutes or so after that.

But the invitation had also foolishly promised "lots" of Tex-Mex drinks and finger food, and by 7 p.m. our one-bedroom apartment was packed with almost 50 hungry people.

The pitchers of margaritas and strawberry sangria were almost halfway empty, but the only food that was ready was a five-layer bean dip. I had slaved over this gooey, dense concoction, making almost every layer from scratch. I offered it and a basket of chips to the hordes, hoping that it would keep everyone quiet until I finished preparing the rest of the food.

When I checked back 10 minutes later, the dip had vanished, its only traces a few stray beans and smudges of sour cream that the chips had somehow failed to reach.

Thanks to some helpful friends, the rest of the food eventually made it out, and no one left too hungry.

This kind of party is a host's worst nightmare, but there are certainly ways to avoid such calamities in the coming season.

The first, perhaps most obvious, lesson to be learned from experiences like this is not to prepare appetizers that take one or two hours to fix -- and just 10 minutes to consume. Instead, go for appetizers that can be fixed in 30 minutes or less. Consider nibbles like rich-tasting Truffled Potatoes With Creme Fraiche, chile-infused Chipotle Black Bean Dip and shiitake-topped polenta crusted pizza.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when preparing for holiday parties:

-- FIGURE OUT THE RIGHT AMOUNT TO MAKE. Caterers generally figure that each guest will need five to six "small bites" (equivalent to a canape or a chip's worth of five-layer bean dip) for cocktail parties, and 10 to 12 small bites for parties that presume to be a meal.

Each of the accompanying recipes makes 25 small bites. For a cocktail party for 25, you would need to make five or six of the recipes. Or double up two recipes (that brings you to four small bites per person) and then make one or two more recipes to bring the total to five to six bites per person total.

It doesn't sound like much, but it's a time-tested average of what most people eat. On the other hand, caterers generally deal with larger parties and have to worry about the bottom line, so make a bit more food if those numbers make you nervous.

Since dips and spreads are self-service, double those recipes instead of the ones that require more last-minute attention. The accompanying dip and spread recipes can all easily be doubled or tripled in almost the same amount of time it takes to make a single recipe, and they can all be made ahead.

-- DIVERSIFY YOUR PORTFOLIO. Mix cold appetizers that you can make ahead (the accompanying recipes all note which can) and hot appetizers that need more last-minute work. If you do prepare food in advance that will be served warm, bring it up to room temperature at least a half hour before heating it.

-- DON'T PUT EVERYTHING OUT AT ONCE. Guests are usually focused on chatting and perhaps drinking, so as long as you keep them going with a bite of something here and there, they'll be fine. At the same time, it doesn't hurt to have a few inexpensive and easy fillers, like cheese and bread.

All hot appetizers included today are finished under the broiler, so for variety you can heat up half of the polenta pizza and half of the truffled potatoes at the same time, then serve the other halves later. Ask a friend to pass around the tray so that they get eaten hot and everyone gets a shot at them.

-- LOOKS DO MATTER. Many catering chefs will admit that their food is more about looks than taste. Not surprisingly, the most impressive-looking recipes in this group -- Mussels Gratinee, Cucumber Cups, Truffled Potatoes, and Crostini With Duck Liver Pate -- also require the most individual attention. Pick out one or two of these recipes to create a really festive air for your party.

One of the keys to making things look good is creating uniformity. Try to cut each piece of crostini bread the same thickness, and each cucumber cup the same length. With clean lines, a group of hors d'oeuvres look stunning on a platter.

-- GET ON THE ASSEMBLY LINE. When making the carefully garnished hors d'oeuvres such as the Truffled Potatoes, it's faster to work in a conveyor belt style, not one by one. Get other people to help if you need to. Have all the garnishes and tools ready, then group the potatoes together. Sprinkle the entire batch with salt and pepper, then drizzle with truffle oil, then with creme fraiche, then chives.

A postscript to the Tex-Mex party: In the week following it, a friend admitted to me that he and another friend had parked themselves next to the five-layer bean dip and pretty much eaten the entire thing. It was quite a compliment, but next time I might tell those friends the party starts at 8.

Tools for Holiday Hors d'Oeuvres Parties

-- Decorative spreading knives

-- Serving platters and bowls

-- Sharp knife for delicate garnishes

-- Ramekins or small bowls for garnishes

-- Plastic containers, ziploc bags and plastic wrap for storage

-- Coolers for last-minute food and drink storage

This take on classic spinach dip has a slightly spicy kick with peppery watercress, ginger and chile pepper. This can be prepared several hours ahead.

INGREDIENTS:

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced

2 fresh serrano chiles, minced

2 bunches watercress, trimmed and chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup canned sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped

1 teaspoon rice vinegar or lemon juice

A few drops of sesame oil

Assorted crudites or thin slices of baguette

INSTRUCTIONS: Heat the vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and serranos. Saute until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the watercress a little at a time, stirring until completely wilted. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and cool slightly. Stir in the sour cream, water chestnuts, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Adjust seasoning, if necessary. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate.

Serve cold with crudites or thin bread slices.

PER 1-TABLESPOON SERVING: 30 calories, 0 g protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 4 mg cholesterol, 6 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.

TRUFFLED POTATOES WITH CREME FRAICHE & CHIVES

These hot appetizers are like miniature baked potatoes with a truffle twist.

They are easy to prepare but require last-minute heating and garnishing. When shopping, try to pick out potatoes of uniform size.

INGREDIENTS:

25 baby Yukon gold or creamer potatoes

A few teaspoons vegetable oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons creme fraiche

INSTRUCTIONS: Up to 1 day ahead: Cover potatoes with salted water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15-18 minutes. Drain, cool completely, then wrap tightly and refrigerate.

Up to 30 minutes ahead: Preheat the broiler.

Coat a baking sheet with the vegetable oil and arrange potatoes on it. Place under broiler until skin is browned and slightly crisp, about 5-10 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a cutting board and cool slightly.

To serve: Cut a crisscross on top of each potato with a small knife, then squeeze each gently with both hands until a little bit of the inside comes out.

Arrange the potatoes on a platter and sprinkle tops with salt and pepper. Drizzle just a few drops of truffle oil in each potato. Use a small spoon to dollop a bit of cree fraiche, less than 1/2 teaspoon, on top of each potato. Sprinkle the potatoes with chives and serve immediately.

PER POTATO: 33 calories, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 2 mg cholesterol, 6 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

Guests help themselves to this appetizer by spreading crackers first with goat cheese and then with the olive spread -- you might want to place a few topped crackers out so they get the idea. Be sure to bring the spreads to room temperature before serving so that all of the flavors shine.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup good quality garlic-stuffed green olives, drained

1 teaspoon finely chopped orange zest (zest of 1/2 orange)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, room temperature

25 water crackers (One 4 1/4-ounce package has 40 crackers)

INSTRUCTIONS: Up to 3 days ahead: Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree the olives in a food processor until smooth. Add olive puree and orange zest to the skillet. Stir together, then add the brandy. Cook for 1 minute to evaporate the alcohol. Return the mixture to the food processor. Add the parsley, pepper to taste and the remaining oil. Pulse until combined but still chunky. Transfer to a serving bowl and cool. Cover tightly with plastic and refrigerate.

About 1 hour ahead: Take the olive spread out of the refrigerator. Place the goat cheese in a serving bowl. Leave out at room temperature.

To serve: Place spreading knives in the bowls and place both on one platter surrounded by the crackers.

PER SERVING: 45 calories, 1 g protein, 6 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 2 mg cholesterol, 6 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

Serve this warm, spicy vegetarian dip in two batches to make sure it stays warm and that there is enough queso fresco and fresh cilantro on top. You can find queso fresco and canned chipotle peppers in larger supermarkets and Latin American markets.

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 cups canned refried black beans (about 1 1/2 cans, 15 ounces each)

1 canned chipotle in adobo sauce, removed from sauce, seeded and minced

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce or to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco or shredded Monterey jack cheese

INSTRUCTIONS: Up to 3 days ahead: Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cumin and saute until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the beans, chipotle, lime juice and enough water to thin to a dipping consistency. Add the adobo sauce to taste. Reduce heat to low and stir until flavors blend, about 3-5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool. Cover tightly and refrigerate.

To serve: Heat a shallow earthenware serving dish in a warm oven or by filling with boiling water then draining.

Reheat the dip in a microwave or on the stove over low heat, thinning with a bit of water if necessary. Place half of the dip in the serving dish and top with half of the cheese and cilantro. Refill it whe it runs out. Serve with thick tortilla chips.

PER 1-TABLESPOON SERVING: 24 calories, 1 g protein, 3 g carbohydrate, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 82 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

POLENTA PIZZA WITH SHIITAKES & TELEME

Teleme cheese is a soft and tangy Northern California invention that's wonderful as a pizza topping, though like fresh mozzarella it will turn into a gooey mess when overheated. In this recipe, you place it on top of shiitake- topped polenta wedges just as they come out of the oven. The Teleme will soften with the heat but still maintain a bit of texture.

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1 roll (18 ounces) prepared polenta

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 ounces Teleme cheese, diced and at room temperature

A few tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, for garnish

Dried chile flakes, for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS: Up to 2 days ahead: Heat the olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and thyme. Saute until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat and add the shiitakes. Cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cool. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate.

About 20 minutes ahead: Preheat broiler. Carefully slice the polenta into 12 or 13 slices (not too thick -- about 1/3 or 1/4 inch wide). Cover a sheet pan with foil and coat liberally with some of the vegetable oil. Arrange the polenta on the pan, then brush the top with the remaining vegetable oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Broil the polenta on one side until brown and slightly crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Take out of the oven, flip over and arrange the rounds right next to each other. Scatter the mushroom mixture over the top, then broil until the mushrooms are y hot, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the Teleme pieces.

To serve: Garnish the hot rounds with parsley and a sprinkle of dried chile flakes, if desired. Cut each slice in half. Arrange on a platter and serve.

PER SERVING: 36 calories, 1 g protein, 2 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 3 mg cholesterol, 31 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.

Green onions and red bell pepper add holiday color to this rich fritatta. It can be served warm or at room temperature. For more bulk, serve with bread and butter.

INGREDIENTS:

4 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese (about 1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 green onions, thinly sliced, including tender green tops

1/4 pound lump crab meat, picked over

1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

INSTRUCTIONS: Up to 8 hours ahead: Preheat the broiler.

Combine the eggs with the salt, pepper and Tabasco, then whisk in the ricotta until smooth.

In a 10-inch oven-proof skillet (preferably nonstick) over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the green onions and saute until just tender,

about 1-2 minutes. Add the egg mixture and cook without stirring until the bottom is set and top is still wet, about 5 minutes.

Top with the crab, bell peppers and Parmesan. Place under the broiler. Cook until the top is set and lightly browned, about 5-10 minutes. Use a spatula to dislodge the frittata from the pan and slide onto a platter. Cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate.

To serve: Serve at room temperature or reheat in a 350 degrees oven for 10- 15 minutes. Slice into very thin wedges.

Makes 25 hors d'oevres servings.

PER SERVING: 49 calories, 4 g protein, 1 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat (1 g saturated), 75 mg cholesterol, 74 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.

This hot appetizer takes a little over 30 minutes to prepare and then 5-10 minutes under the broiler -- a bit time-consuming, but very impressive looking and rich with the pesto and crunchy golden bread crumbs on top. It's not a bad idea to steam the mussels ahead and let them marinate in the cooking juices, but you can also put the whole recipe together at the last minute. It also makes an elegant first course for four people.

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound mussels, debearded

1/4 cup dry vermouth or white wine

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

3 tablespoons good quality prepared pesto sauce

1/2 cup bread crumbs (see Note)

1 lemon, cut into small wedges

INSTRUCTIONS: Up to 1 day ahead: Pick through the mussels and discard any that are open and won't close when gently squeezed.


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Sea Salt St Pete Revisited – New Menu, New Tastings…A Must

It had been a long while since we had been to Sea Salt, when they invited us in for a special dinner tasting. The last time I was in for dinner, I was less than impressed, so honestly, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. They said we could bring up to five people total, so we invited our dear friends Nick Okeson, Scott Shiltz and Vicky Payne. We always forewarn that if the experience isn’t good, that we aren’t going to write about it. Well, I have to tell you, from the very first bite, this experience was incredible. In fact, Scott said he thought it was one of the best dinners of his life and I quite agree. Scott and Nick have traveled the world and eaten in many of the best restaurants, so this is quite a compliment.

Our surly crew – Vicky Payne, Nick Okeson, Scott Schiltz, Kevin Godbee & Lori Brown

Sea Salt offers a five to seven course dinner tasting by special reservation only and it is available every night. They also offer a wine pairing for an extra fee and I would highly recommend it. They have an excellent Sommelier, Jackie Eash, who does an incredible job of not only pairing great wines with the food but also of educating your mind and your palate about different wines from different regions.

When we arrived we did not know that we were going to be treated to the special dinner and wine tasting pairing. We thought we were all just ordering off of the menu. So we all started with a cocktail. The only one that was from their cocktail menu that is worth highlighting was ordered by Nick. He had the Golden Swan with Stoli Elite, J California Cuvee and Bitter Truth elderflower. As you can see, it is served in this stunning glass swan. While it was beautiful and he said delicious, he said it was a bit hard to drink. You might want to ask for a small straw with this one.

We also ordered the Seared Scallops with truffled corn, pancetta converva and chili oil for Vicky, as she doesn’t eat raw oysters, and we all got a bite anyway. This dish is as delicious as it is gorgeous. The scallops were cooked to perfection and that truffle corn was to die for. Vicky kept going on and on about it.

Sea Salt Seared Scallops with truffled corn, pancetta

Next, Jackie appeared as our oysters arrived, with a surprise pairing of Brut Rosé Vino Spumante 2018 il Vigliacco Buglioni. Oysters and bubbles are always perfect together, but this rosé was especially nice. Refreshing and dry with just a hint of tart berry.

We couldn’t decide which type of oysters to get so we opted for both. Below are the East Coast Oysters – Starting at the bottom with Whaleback from Maine, clockwise to the Beau Soleil from New Brunswick and next the Great White from Massachusetts. Kevin and I enjoyed these the best. They were some of the best I have ever had. Mild and nutty, truly sumptuous.

Scott and Nick absolutely loved the West Coast Oysters – At the bottom is the Hood Canal from Washington, next was Dabob Bay also from Washington and last, but not least, Fanny Bay from British Columbia. These are heartier, meatier and a bit brinier as well. We enjoyed these too but if I had to choose, I would pick the East Coast. The boys beg to differ.

Whilst we were oohing and aahing over our oysters, Jackie informed us of the actual wine and dinner tasting we were about to embark on and she took our menus away. I have to tell you that this was quite a relief because we were all unsure what to order, as everything sounded so good. The menu has changed quite a bit since we were last there, so I am glad that we got to see it. But it was really nice to just sit back and not have to make anymore decisions. What an amazing treat.

For our first course, Jackie chose a Honig 2019 Sauvignon Blanc. Personally, I am a Sauvignon Blanc lover and do not like chardonnay much so I was relieved at this choice. I had actually eyed it on the menu. Crisp and bright and perfect for the treats we were about to embark on.

Honig 2019 Sauvignon Blanc

Our first course I will call an appetizer sampler plate: bottom left is the Roasted Beet Salad with shaved pears, goat cheese, candied pecans and burnt honey vinaigrette top left is the Spanish Octopus with gigante beans, arugula, vernaccia-caper sauce top right we have the Burrata & Tomato which is a vine ripe tomato, burrata cheese, basil dressing atop grilled sourdough bottom right is their “New Vision” Caesar with soy paper wrapped romaine, parmesan, sherry vinegar and tomato caviar.

We all were in complete agreement that the octopus and the beet salad were our two favorites. I just kept going back for more of those gigante beans and that sauce that were served with the perfectly fork-tender octopus. I would order this again and again. The beet salad was just a delightful dance in your mouth of harmonious flavors. So good. There was nothing wrong with the burrata and tomato or the caesar salad, they were quite good. It was just the other two were outstanding.

For our next pairing, Jackie chose a Lincourt Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2017. I adore pinot noir but Kevin doesn’t really enjoy it as much. This pinot is special because the Lincourt vineyards are located in the Sta. Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County, CA and they receive an AVA (American Viticultural Area) designation because of their specific and unique geographic climate. According to the Lincourt website (and Jackie told us this as well), “The AVA is exposed to fog and coastal breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean. The hills run east to west allowing the cool ocean breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean to enter the valley.” Jackie said that there is no other region like this in California, so the grapes are exposed to a very different climate that is ideal for delicate pinot noir grapes to thrive.

This pinot is delicate, with great balance and we all thought it to be outstanding. She also pointed out that for the quality of this wine, it’s price point is exceptionally reasonable.

Lincourt Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2017

The pinot paired just perfectly with the Veal Ravioli with a Truffle Cream Sauce. As Jackie said, “Pinot noir is a no-brainer with any kind of mushroom.” Well, truffle is not just any mushroom and this was not just any ravioli dish. Holy smokes. I don’t really know what to say except this is one of the best dishes that I have ever had. The truffle was balanced perfectly so as not to overpower the delicateness of the veal. Exceptional! I think it was my favorite dish of the night.

Gota de Arena Tempranillo was the wine for our next pairing. This wine is an earthy, yet mellow, easy-drinking Tempranillo.

Gota de Arena Tempranillo

The Gota de Arena paired like peas and carrots with the Linguini Nero with squid ink, tomato, mussels and shrimp. The linguini nero gets its black color from the squid ink which can give a slight metallic taste at times, but with this dish you really don’t detect it at all. As Jackie said, “Yes, you can put red with seafood ladies and gentlemen, that’s not a thing anymore. The biggest thing is you want to compare the weight of the wine to the weight of the dish.” Great advice. This dish was buttery, umami, shellfish heaven.

And next our fabulous Sommelier, Jackie Eash, surprised us with, our already favorite, Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc 2017. Jackie does not know when she arrives with the Schramsberg that we are personal friends with the VP and it is our favorite. She goes onto describe its affiliation with the White House and many other great Schramsberg tales that you can hear all about in our podcast interview with Fred Zammataro – COO and VP of Schramsberg Vineyards. As Jackie said it, “I am treating this as a kind of intermezzo. Sparkling wines really go with anything.”

Fabulous Sommelier Jackie Eash with Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc 2017 We love our Schramsberg

So she paired it with the Lobster Risotto with tomato & basil. Lordy was this good. If you don’t love lobster, tomato, risotto and bubbles, then “Get Outta Here”…just kidding! A match made in heaven and the risotto was like a silky, delicate flavor bomb.

Lobster Risotto with tomato & basil

For our final dinner pairing, Jackie challenged us to a Merlot dual of “new world” vs. “old world”. She also stated that she wanted to dispel the myth that Merlot was not a good varietal, as the movie Sideways caused a lot of people to think. For the “new world style” she chose a Seven Hills Winery Merlot Walla Walla Valley 2017.

“New world style” Seven Hills Winery Merlot Walla Walla Valley 2017

For the “old world style” Merlot we tried the Chateau Tour Bayard Montagne-Saint-Emilion 2016. She also showed us their state of the art Coravin sealing system which preserves their “wines by the glass” bottles that they don’t open that often.

Old world style Merlot: Chateau Tour Bayard Montagne-Saint-Emilion 2016 showcasing the Coravin sealing system

In the picture below you will see the “new world” (left) and the “old world” (right) Merlot in the glass. Kevin and I both preferred the “new world”. While Vicky, Nick and Scott preferred the “old world” which actually has a bit of Cabernet Franc mixed into it. I found the “new world” to be very smooth and mellow but at the same time complex. I found the “old world” to be a bit more tannic, which some people prefer.

New world (left) and Old world (right) Merlot comparison

Our final dinner plate of the night consisted of grilled and roasted grouper with wild mushrooms, brown butter glaze, whipped potatoes and topped with some buerre blanc alongside a braised short rib with caramelized pearl onions atop a bed of sweet potato, parsnip and turnip. My, oh my.

I know I hailed the Veal Ravioli with Truffle Cream Sauce as my favorite of the night, however it is in very close competition with this grouper. I have never tasted a grouper dish, or any fish dish for that matter, that was as good as this one. When I put all of the components together in one bite, it almost tasted like perfectly seasoned, juicy, crispy turkey skin. I know that sounds a tad weird, but it wasn’t. It was sheer perfection.

And the short rib was nothing short of luscious. The pearl onions and the vegetables added a depth of flavor that was incredible.

Tasting menu specials of Grouper and Braised short rib

With dinner done, we were now surprised with a taste of Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2013 Made in Hungary.

As Jackie said it, “So what you have in front of you is the wine of royalty…this is a very, very famous dessert wine. It’s 5 puttonyos, that’s an indicator of the sweetness level and it has a very beautiful herbal note to it, but the sweetness is fantastic. But the thing that saves wines like this is that there is a super high acid content in it. So you get the sweetness on the palate and then it is cleansing at the same time. There is also a little bit of nuttiness in here.”

I am not a dessert wine person at all. I will typically just pass it to Kevin. However, she was correct in how she described it and I did detect this all. I finished it and really enjoyed it with our dessert trio. Oh, and of course, everyone else loved it as well.

Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2013 Hungary (photo courtesy of Royal Tokaji)

To pair with royalty, we were served Coconut Cheesecake with passionfruit puree, Chocolate Dome paté, Red Velvet cake with fresh strawberry and cream cheese. Yum, yum and yum. Nothing was left on any plate, but the smashing favorite was the chocolate dome.

Dessert Trio of Coconut Cheesecake, Chocolate Dome and Red Velvet Cake

All I can say, after what we all called an extraordinary dining experience like this, is go! Just go! We had not been to Sea Salt in a while and they have really elevated, not just the food, but the overall dining experience. They have a fantastic happy hour too, if you just want to go a bit more casual, but give them another try or a first try very soon.

Upscale dining with contemporary Italian and fresh seafood in downtown St Petersburg, FL.

Stpetefoodies

I have lived in the Tampa Bay area for most of my life. But would never want to live anywhere else besides St Petersburg. What an amazing thriving city we have!

I have owned my own businesses, and in my past careers I have set sales records in Pharmaceutical Sales and I'm a top performer in Real Estate.

I am a University of Florida graduate with a degree in Business Finance and love living in the Historic Uptown district of St. Petersburg. I am mom to a teenage son, long-haired female chihuahua, and a leopard gecko. I think he's a boy. (Kevin kind of stole my dog though. He calls her his "little dawg".)

I'm also a foodie that loves to cook, and eat out at great restaurants. Years ago, I even had my own food store (with my friend Lisa) in the location where Jimmy John's currently resides on 4th Street North just south of 9th Avenue North called Weekday Gourmet. I've also been to Napa and Sonoma on wine vacations eight times.

Kevin and I used to go out 4 - 5 nights a week and write reviews on our own timelines. Because of this, I am always asked by people where they should go, what they should order, etc. When we created the group it just seemed natural since we were already doing that. I love to write and take photos, so it just all works.

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Fish tacos are definitely a thing in the St. Pete area. It seems like almost every restaurant has them. Without doing an actual survey, I’d guess that 40%-50% of restaurants around here have fish tacos. We already have a Top 10 Taco Places list, and I tried to not duplicate any here with two exceptions, which are Red Mesa Cantina, and Nueva Cantina. Their fish tacos are so good, I just couldn’t leave them off. I kept this list to all whitefish with no breaded, fried, or other types of seafood…again with the same exceptions as I always get the shrimp taco with the fish taco at both cantinas. Since we live in downtown St. Pete, we tend to go to downtown restaurants a lot, and have been criticized for being too downtown-centric. This time, I made an effort to get to the beach resulting in five of the tacos on the list being in downtown, three on St. Pete Beach, one on the south side, and one in Gulfport. The list is in alphabetical order, but I do have some shoutouts. Best Overall: The Library, and Paul’s Landing – in that order. Best Blackened Seasoning: Rick’s Reef Best Flour Tortillas: Chill Restaurant & Bar, and Rick’s Reef. As with all of our lists, and unlike most other publishers, I personally went to all of these places, and ate all of these tacos, and took all of these photos. THE LIST IS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER <— LOOK For ALL of these – the fish was moist, juicy, fresh and flavorful… so I don’t have to repeat it ten times. “It’s really a lot like writing porn. After you’ve used the same adjectives over and over again, it’s like the Penthouse Letters…” – Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, Budapest – Aired June 14, 2015 The Best Fish Tacos in St. Pete Chosen by Locals 1. Chill Restaurant & Bar 357 Corey Ave St Pete Beach, FL 33706 (727) 360-2445 Chill Website Fish of the Day Tacos – Fresh Fish of the day grilled and served over flour or corn tortillas with mango salsa, guacamole, citrus slaw & a zesty chipotle ranch. The fish here is Corvino. Chill’s has a tropical slant with pineapple and mango. The flour tortillas are fresh, pliable and held together nicely. 2. The Library 600 5th St S St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 369-9969 The Library Website Blackened Fish Tacos (Mahi) – chile glaze, kale slaw, pico, feta, cumin aioli (Lunch menu only.) From a previous review: These are some of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. The grouper was moist, plump, juicy, and bursting with flavor. The combination of other ingredients previously mentioned made every bite a fantastic experience, not only of contrasting and complementary flavors, but also a wonderful mouthfeel of different textures. 3. The Lure 661 Central Ave N St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 914-8000 The Lure Website A Different Drum – Blackened Redfish with mixed field greens and citrus caper aioli. Redfish is just the name. The flesh is actually white. The Lure was the only place I found that uses it, and it was fresh, and light with fantastic flavors. 4. O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille 5405 Shore Blvd S Gulfport, FL 33707 (727) 323-8643 O’Maddy’s Website Maddy G’s Mahi Tacos – Lightly blackened Mahi with a baja slaw, pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo and an avocado coulis, served on flour tortillas. This is a large portion with two pieces of fish on each taco. I was full after the first taco, but ate the second one anyway. This used to be as a special only, but was recently made a regular menu item. 5. Nueva Cantina 1625 4th St South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 851-9579 Nueva Cantina Website All of the food at Nueva Cantina is excellent, and the Shrimp Tacos, and Pescado Tacos are no exception. Shrimp Taco – Fried or grilled, (I did grilled on both) shrimp with cabbage, pico de gallo, chipotle aioli, and lime. Pescado Taco – Fried or grilled fish with red cabbage, pico de gallo, cilantro, lime, and queso fresco. 6. Paul’s Landing 501 5th Ave NE St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 824-8007 Paul’s Landing Website Gulf Fish Tacos with avocado salsa, cabbage slaw, charred corn, and black bean salsa. In this case it was Grouper and one of the best Grouper tacos I’ve ever had! 7. Red Mesa Cantina 128 3rd St S St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 896-8226 Red Mesa Cantina Website Baja Fish – Grilled fresh fish, salsa roja, Mexican slaw and lime crema. The fish changes seasonally. In this case it was Mahi Mahi. Shrimp Taco – Grilled Shrimp, Mexican Slaw, Pico De Gallo And Habanero Aioli. I’ve probably had these 100 times over ten years. 8. Rick’s Reef 6712 Gulf Blvd St Pete Beach, FL 33706 (727) 826-0752 Rick’s Reef Website “We use fresh ingredients, and prepare each item by hand, just for you. There is no microwave oven, and no heat lamps. Your order comes straight from the kitchen to you! All sauces and dressings are made by hand each day.” They have Fish Tacos, which have less items. I had the Baja Tacos, which has more ingredients – fresh Mahi grilled or blackened, flour tortillas, with Baja sauce, cabbage and cilantro mix, mixed cheese and diced tomatoes. Rick’s wins by going back to the roots of street food, keeping it simple and flavorful with all the different textures that make your mouth feel great. The blackened seasoning is outstanding. 9. Sea Salt St. Pete 183 2nd Ave N St Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 873-7964 Sea Salt Website Soft tortilla, blackened Mahi Mahi, avocado, tomato, jalapeño-red cabbage slaw, cilantro, citrus-sriracha sauce. Fresh, delicious and tangy. 10. The Toasted Monkey 678 75th Ave St Pete Beach, FL 33706 (727) 360-5800 Toasted Monkey Website Fish Tacos – Two flour tortillas with Alaskan white fish fillets grilled, blackened, or fried. Served [&hellip]

Interview with Christine Cutler from The IFWTWA Welcome to the St. Petersburg Foodies Podcast Episode 145! On today’s episode, we interview Christine Cutler. She is the President of The International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. They will be having their 2021 conference in downtown St. Pete this November. Chris is also an expert on travel to Italy, Italian culture, and cuisine. Did you know that Spaghetti Bolognese does not exist in Italy? Neither does Fettuccini Alfredo, or Pepperoni Pizza amongst other things that we’ll discuss. After Chris, Kevin does some “cooking for one” with Bajan Sausage and Moroccan Meatballs from St. Pete Meat & Provisions.

I LOVE salad! My mom made a salad every single night to start off dinner, and dinner was always at six. Those were the two constants. Now, the best salads I have at home are made by Lori. She just has a knack. I could make the same salad as her, and it won’t taste as good. It’s not because she has a salad spinner, and I don’t. Below is a completely biased and opinionated list of my personal favorite salads in St. Pete. Before we get into the list, an important thing you should be aware of is that there are other publishers of “best of lists” that do not actually go to the establishments, or actually eat the food. (Sounds ridiculous, right?) They just download photos from the internet, or embed Instagram posts from someone else. Instant top 10 list produced without having to leave the house. That’s NOT how we do it. We absolutely DO eat all of the food on all of our lists. (How can anyone recommend something they never experienced?) Unfortunately, we’ve seen these junk lists a lot—from national and local publishers. We are also aware of a local publisher that offers paid placement in best-of-lists. There is no paid placement here. WE PERSONALLY ATE ALL OF THESE SALADS, AND WENT TO ALL OF THESE PLACES, AND THESE ARE ALL ST. PETE FOODIES PHOTOS. (All photos by St. Petersburg Foodies and as credited.) Best Salads Near Me …(and you, if you’re in St. Pete) These are listed in alphabetical order. <—— Look 1. Baba Restaurant, Bakery & Café 2701 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33713 (727) 954-3406 Baba Website Village Salad – tomato, kalamata olive, cucumber, capers, feta. From Lori: “Kevin humored me because I wanted the Village Salad with just tomato, kalamatas, capers, feta and cucumber. He couldn’t stop raving at how good it was. It’s my favorite type of salad…simple, light and great flavor!” This one is a simpler version than The Burg’s, but the addition of the capers makes a huge difference. The bright saltiness makes you just keep going back for more until it’s all gone. 2. Bacchus St. Pete 124 2nd Ave NE St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 258-8566 Bacchus Website French Country Salad – roasted asparagus, beets, arugula, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, lemon-dijon vinaigrette. It was super delicious, and huge. The photo is half of a split portion. Fresh, bursting with bright flavors, and a large portion. 3. The Bier Boutique 465 7th Ave N. St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 827-2691 The Bier Boutique Website House Salad – mixed greens, onion, tomato, bacon, feta cheese, sunflower seeds & chow mein noodles – choose from ranch, blue cheese or honey peppercorn vinaigrette. Fresh, full of texture and the honey peppercorn vinaigrette is smooth, creamy, bright and light. 4. The Burg Bar & Grill 1752 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33712 (727) 894-2874 The Burg Website Horiatiki (Village Salad) – tomatoes, cucumbers, greek olives, feta cheese, pepperoncini, onions, beets, green peppers, oregano, olive oil, balsamic dressing. This is one of our favorites that we always order. It’s the perfect combination of bright, light, crispy, salty, sweet, and spicy. 5. Copa 1047 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33705 (727) 623-9199 Copa Website Copa’s watermelon salad is bursting with flavor. It’s bright, yet balanced with sweetness, and saltiness. It’s composed of fresh watermelon, (of course), and tossed with heirloom tomatoes, onions, garlic, feta cheese, and balsamic dressing. 6. Gratzzi Italian Grille 211 2nd St South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 623-9037 Gratzzi Website Insalata Caesar – Hearts of romaine, house made Caesar dressing, shaved parmesan and rustic croutons. (The photo is the side salad portion. There is one twice this size as well.) It may seem simple compared to some of the others on this list, but it is definitely one of my favorites. I like that they give you the full length, stalk-like leaves. The romaine is fresh and bursting with flavor. The crunch of the croutons, and the softer bite of the shaved parmesan, along with the dressing make for perfection in your mouth. 7. The Mill Restaurant 200 Central Ave #100 St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 317-3930 The Mill Website We have two favorites here as well. Southern Belle Salad – romaine, red onion, candied pecans, sage derby, peppadews, dried apricots, honeycup vinaigrette, southern fried chicken. The fried chicken makes this one decadent, and a good one to share, or could be a complete meal for one person. It has such a great mix of ingredients that cover the complete flavor spectrum, and it’s nice and crunchy. Phyllo Feta – baby spinach, blackberries, red onion, yellow grape tomatoes, bosc pear, spiced walnuts, blackberry vinaigrette. That Phyllo Feta is so craveable. The feta is wrapped in phyllo and baked to a golden brown. It is a terrific accompaniment to the spinach salad with blackberries, red onions, yellow grape tomatoes and highlighted with spiced walnuts which hold up well against the sweetness of the Bosc pear and the blackberry vinaigrette dressing. 8. Noble Crust 8300 4th St N. St. Petersburg, FL 33702 (727) 329-6041 Noble Crust Website House Salad – mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber, radish, shaved fennel, carrots, croutons, parm, whipped feta, zesty vinaigrette. The Noble crust house salad is delicious. It’s a light and bright and then the ricotta cheese adds some depth, and the olives give it some saltiness. These are also my favorite croutons of all. 9. Stillwaters Tavern 224 Beach Dr NE St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 350-1019 Stillwaters Website Caesar Salad – chopped romaine & kale, parmesan, harrisa caesar dressing, sourdough croutons. Stillwater’s Caesar adds kale with the romaine, and it is actually quite delicious, and a nice little twist on the traditional version. I love it. 10. Teak 800 2nd Ave NE 4th Floor St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 513-8325 Teak Website Ultimate Wedge BLT – iceberg, applewood smoked bacon, red onion, tomato, grilled corn, [&hellip]

Okay folks, it’s June…and that means summer, picnics and the start of grilling season. I don’t know about you, but when I think about grilling, a juicy rack of ribs often comes to mind. However, being that we live in a small downtown St. Petersburg apartment with very minimal outdoor space, grilling is not something that we are able to do. Therefore, over the years, I have had to learn how to recreate favorites from the grill in our kitchen. Oven-baked ribs, when cooked properly, are just as satisfying as a slab from the grill if you ask me. Low and slow at 325 degrees and then finished with some high heat will yield a similar product. I typically gravitate towards Babyback Ribs. However, Rollin’ Oats offers some incredible St. Louis style spareribs that have changed the game. St. Louis Style Ribs often have more fat (much like a Ribeye steak), but fat means flavor. In addition to quality ribs, Rollin’ Oats also has a selection of premium organic barbecue sauces. St. Louis-Style Ribs with Hasselback Cantaloupe St. Louis style spareribs may contain more fat, but that means more flavor. Hasselback Cantaloupe1 Cantaloupe (Sliced into quarters, seeded and then sliced into half moons)1 bunch Fresh Basil 8 oz Fresh Mozzarella (Cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch slices)Olive OilSaltPepperSt. Louis-Style Spareribs1 rack Spareribs (Approximately 2-2.5lbs)1.5 tbsp Garlic Powder1.5 tbsp Paprika1 tbsp Salt1 tsp Brown Sugar1 tsp Cayenne Pepper1 cup Barbeque Sauce (Any will work – we love Annie's Organic!) St. Louis-Style Ribs Preheat oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, paprika, salt, brown sugar and cayenne. Rub spice mix evenly all over the ribs.Wrap seasoned ribs in foil completely, place on a baking sheet and bake for 2-2 1/2 hours. Remove ribs from the oven, unwrap. Coat ribs all over in barbeque sauce of choice. Increase heat to 425 F. Place ribs in the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes (sauce will begin to caramelize). Remove ribs from the oven and serve.Hasselback CantaloupeTake the melon half moons and cut slits every 1" without cutting through the skin. Stuff 1 leaf of basil and a thin slice of Mozzarella into each slit in the melon. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Appetizer, Main Dish, Side DishAmericanCantaloupe, Spareribs, St. Louis Style Spareribs

Interview with Thomas Miller from The Treasure Coast Foodie Welcome to the St. Petersburg Foodies Podcast Episode 144! On today’s episode, we interview Thomas Miller from The Treasure Coast Foodie. Just like us, he does reviews of local independent restaurants. He also does restaurant awards like us, has a wine club, dining club and more. He visited a few St. Pete restaurants for a feature article he is working on. He is also debuting a new video series reminiscent of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. At the top of the show we have Abby Allen with her recipe for St. Louis Spare Ribs with Hasselback Cantaloupe.

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Okay folks, it’s June…and that means summer, picnics and the start of grilling season. I don’t know about you, but when I think about grilling, a juicy rack of ribs often comes to mind. However, being that we live in a small downtown St. Petersburg apartment with very minimal outdoor space, grilling is not something that we are able to do. Therefore, over the years, I have had to learn how to recreate favorites from the grill in our kitchen. Oven-baked ribs, when cooked properly, are just as satisfying as a slab from the grill if you ask me. Low and slow at 325 degrees and then finished with some high heat will yield a similar product. I typically gravitate towards Babyback Ribs. However, Rollin’ Oats offers some incredible St. Louis style spareribs that have changed the game. St. Louis Style Ribs often have more fat (much like a Ribeye steak), but fat means flavor. In addition to quality ribs, Rollin’ Oats also has a selection of premium organic barbecue sauces. St. Louis-Style Ribs with Hasselback Cantaloupe St. Louis style spareribs may contain more fat, but that means more flavor. Hasselback Cantaloupe1 Cantaloupe (Sliced into quarters, seeded and then sliced into half moons)1 bunch Fresh Basil 8 oz Fresh Mozzarella (Cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch slices)Olive OilSaltPepperSt. Louis-Style Spareribs1 rack Spareribs (Approximately 2-2.5lbs)1.5 tbsp Garlic Powder1.5 tbsp Paprika1 tbsp Salt1 tsp Brown Sugar1 tsp Cayenne Pepper1 cup Barbeque Sauce (Any will work – we love Annie's Organic!) St. Louis-Style Ribs Preheat oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, paprika, salt, brown sugar and cayenne. Rub spice mix evenly all over the ribs.Wrap seasoned ribs in foil completely, place on a baking sheet and bake for 2-2 1/2 hours. Remove ribs from the oven, unwrap. Coat ribs all over in barbeque sauce of choice. Increase heat to 425 F. Place ribs in the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes (sauce will begin to caramelize). Remove ribs from the oven and serve.Hasselback CantaloupeTake the melon half moons and cut slits every 1" without cutting through the skin. Stuff 1 leaf of basil and a thin slice of Mozzarella into each slit in the melon. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Appetizer, Main Dish, Side DishAmericanCantaloupe, Spareribs, St. Louis Style Spareribs

If you tend to keep up with all of the latest food trends, and/or don’t live under a rock, odds are, you have heard of Birria or Quesabirria Tacos. However, for those who haven’t, Birria tacos are usually comprised of meat, such as beef or goat, that has been slowly braised and is then loaded into a tortilla and pan fried then served with consomé on the side. The meat is braised in a brilliant combination of chilis and spices and oozes with flavors. Quesabirria tacos take things one step further. In essence, they are the perfect storm of a cheese quesadilla and a taco, all wrapped up into one incredible being. Let’s get serious, who could be mad about that? While goat is traditionally used, I prefer beef. In fact, utilizing a combination of beef is encouraged, though, not necessary. I love using two pounds of just short ribs when I encounter some beautiful ones, but, use any kind of beef that you can get your hands on. Recommendations include: beef shank, chuck roast, cap roast, etc. Rollin’ Oats offers a superb variety of quality beef, most of which is grass fed and organic. Additionally, they have everything else needed for this fancy little taco number that you’ll want to make over and over. A lot of Birria recipes recommend Guajillo dried chilis, which are not always offered at Rollin’ Oats. However, they do have Anaheim and Pasilla chilis, which boast a very similar flavor profile. Short Rib Quesabirria Tacos Imagine if Birria Tacos and a Cheese Quesadilla had a baby – that's precisely what we have going on here. These babies take a little bit more time to make however, the cost is totally worth the reward. Meat and Marinade2 lbs Short Ribs, Beef Roast, or Beef Shank (You can use one or a combination of two meats – whichever you prefer)3 Dried Pasilla Peppers (Guajillo or Anaheim will work as well)1 7oz can Chipotle Peppers in Adobo3/4 cup Crushed Tomatoes1/4 cup White Wine Vinegar6 Garlic Cloves (Minced)1 1/2 tsp Oregano1 tsp Paprika2 tbsp Salt (Divided, plus more, as needed)PepperConsome1 White Onion (Medium in size, chopped)1 Cinammon Stick3 Bay Leaves4 cups Beef Broth1 tbsp Olive OilBirria Taco Assembly4 Tortillas (Your preference. I like Siete Foods grain free)1 cup Queso Blanco Cheese (Grated)Minced White OnionFresh Cilanto MarinadeAdd dried Pasilla peppers to a medium heat safe bowl. Bring a few cups of water to a boil and then carefully pour the hot water over the peppers. Allow to soak and soften for about 15 minutes. Remove peppers from water, cut off stems and dump the seeds out into the sink and discard. Add softened peppers to food processor with the rest of the marinade ingredients and 1 tbsp salt and process until smooth. Liberally salt meat with remaining 1 tbsp salt and some pepper. Pour marinade over meat and cover and marinade for at least one hour and up to overnight.ConsomeHeat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, 6-8 minutes. Add in meat and marinade and remaining consome ingredients. Bring to a simmer, partially cover and turn the heat to medium low/low (whichever heat level allows for a gentle simmer) until meat is fall off the bone tender and shreds easily, 3.5 – 4 hours.Remove meat/bones from consome, discard bones and place meat in a separate bowl, shred and reserve for assembly.Carefully strain consome into a heat proof bowl/pot through a mesh sieve and reserve for assembly, discard any solids. Birria AssemblyLadle one half cup or so of consome into a shallow bowl or onto a plate. Heat medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. One at a time, dip one side of tortilla into shallow bowl/plate of consome. Then place tortilla consome dipped side down into the skillet.Liberally cover tortilla in shredded Queso Blanco. Then, top with shredded meat, followed by onions and cilantro.Carefully fold the tortilla in half and continue to cook until each side of the tortilla is lightly crisp and golden. Serve tacos with consome on the side for dipping. Main DishMexicanQuesabirria Tacos, Birria Tacos

It isn’t hard to make a lobster dish fabulous, because, well, lobster is already plenty fabulous on its own. Over time, Lobster was tossed into that category of “occasion-only” meals, along with the likes of Beef Wellington, Prime Rib and Cassoulet – you know, those “never enough time on a weeknight” type-of-meals. Well, I’m here to debunk all of that and prove to you that you can, in fact, not only enjoy, but prepare a beautiful little lobster dinner on any night, occasion, or not. Lobster Thermidor is a French dish, typically comprised of lobster in a rich and creamy sauce. Normally, I’m a simple kind of gal when it comes to lobster. Some sous vide meat, drawn butter – that’s all I usually need. However, for Lobster Thermidor, I make an exception. Great to serve as an appetizer for a dinner party, whilst also perfect for a low effort, but impressive weeknight dinner which boasts a high return – it’s the dish that delivers whenever you need it. Recently, Rollin’ Oats added Luke’s Lobster, which is wild caught and sustainably sourced, to their shelves and the quality is incredible! You can find Luke’s Lobster meat, claws and tails in the frozen section at Rollin’ Oats in St. Pete. Lobster Thermidor 2 Lobster Tails (Preferably wild caught, like Luke's brand in the frozen section at Rollin' Oats)1 cup Heavy Cream1/2 cup Mushrooms (Chopped – I use Cremini.)1/4 cup Butter (Unsalted)2 tbsp White Wine (Nothing too sweet, but, something you would drink!)1/2 tsp Paprika2 Egg Yolks1/2 tsp Salt (Plus more, to taste)1/4 tsp PepperFresh Tarragon (Chopped, for serving (optional)) Fill a stockpot with water and a few heavy pinches of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add lobster tails and cook until bright red and beginning to curl up, 8-9 minutes.Remove tails and cool. Once cool, cut each tail in half long-ways. Remove lobster meat from shells, chop and reserve for later use. Additionally, also reserve the lobster tail shells (we'll be stuffing the meat back in later on).Heat a large pot like a dutch oven over medium. Add the butter and when melted, pour in the chopped mushrooms and cook until they become softer and begin to take on color, 6-8 minutes. Add in cooked lobster tail meat, paprika, pepper and 1 tsp of salt and reduce the heat to low.Pour in 1/2 cup of the heavy cream and 1 tbsp of the wine, stir to combine, and then simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the remaining tbsp of white wine. Pour mixture into a small sauce pan and simmer, whisking constantly, until liquid thickens slightly and becomes a custard.Remove from heat and slowly mix into lobster mixture.Place reserved lobster shells on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Spoon lobster and sauce carefully into each shell. Save extra lobster sauce for serving.Broil lobster tails until they begin to brown, 5-6 minutes. Remove from oven and serve garnished with chopped Tarragon (if using), along side some toasted bread and a light salad. Appetizer, Main CourseFrench

Don’t let this semi-intimidating name fool you, this chicken-rice-salad situation may sound intricate, but the truth is, it’s anything but. It all starts with some leftover rice, chicken, strawberries, whatever greens you have on hand and a few simple pantry staples items – that’s it. What is crispy rice you ask? This was something I discovered in the early stages of quarantine whilst watching Bon Appetit Magazine’s YouTube channel. In said video, they showed one of their favorite ways to utilize leftover rice (because let’s face it, we all always make way more rice than we need) by simply heating some oil/fat of choice over medium heat, spooning in and patting down some cooked rice and allowing the whole happy party to simmer away. Tenish minutes later, after a nice little invert, you’re left with a perfectly golden-brown crisp layer of sheer rice gold. When it comes to the type of rice to use for crispy rice, it’s truly all about preference. I usually like to use a basmati, just because that’s typically what I have on hand. Rollin’ Oats has a premium array of top-notch rice selections to choose from, and as always, they also have every single ingredient needed to make this recipe. Not only do they just have the ingredients, but Rollin’ Oats has the premium selection for all of the ingredients needed and so much more. As with the majority of my cooking, this recipe was designed with versatility in mind. It’s meant to be prepared in a way that suits you and your likes, lifestyle, etc. For example, if you follow a Vegan lifestyle, omit the chicken, add some crispy tofu or some extra vegetables. Or, if chicken isn’t your thing, replace it with a more desirable protein and perhaps swap out the strawberries. Add, subtract and improvise however you see fit. Strawberry-Balsamic Chicken with Watercress & Crispy Rice Brunch, Lunch, Dinner – this recipe is suitable for just about any occasion. Not only that, it screams Spring! Strawberry-Balsamic Mixture1 cup Strawberries (Washed, tops removed and sliced into small pieces)1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar1 tsp SaltCrispy Rice2 cups Leftover Cooked Rice4 tbsp olive oilChicken & Salad Assembly1 bag Watercress (Or any other similar green, like Arugula.)1 Avocado1 lb Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast Cutlets (2 8oz cutlets. Or, one 1lb butterflied breast )2 tbsp Olive Oil1 tbsp Balsamic VinegarSalt and Pepper1/4 cup Fresh Basil (Chopped) Strawberry-Balsamic MixtureCombine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and set aside until ready to use.Crispy RiceHeat a nonstick skillet, approximately 8", over medium heat and add olive oil. Spoon cooked rice into skillet while carefully patting down, making sure to cover the entire surface of the skillet. Continue to cook over medium heat until the edges of the rice begin to brown, approxmately 10-12 minutes.When all of the edges are golden brown, carefully place a heat-proof plate face-down over the skillet. Carefully invert the rice onto the plate – the top should be a nice brown color and ultra crispy. Set aside until ready to serveChicken and Salad AssemblyPreheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Salt and pepper all sides of the chicken breast cutlets and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Flip chicken and spoon reserved Strawberry-balsamic mixture over the chicken. If some Strawberries roast on the pan and not on the chicken, that's completely fine.Bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a few minutes. Remove strawberries from chicken (do NOT discard!) and slice chicken.To assemble the salad, start with the Watercress, spoon in some crispy rice, add avocado, top with sliced chicken, roasted strawberries and basil, evenly distribute oil and vinegar over the two salads and add salt and pepper to taste. Main Dish, SaladAmerican

In search of an impressive, low-fuss dish to serve at that dinner party you agreed to host? Craving a decadent meal on a Wednesday night where time spared for dinner is sparse? Or, perhaps you’re longing for a luxurious meal that also leans on the healthier side? Well, I have a recipe capable of satisfying all three of those scenarios – queue, Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Toasted Breadcrumbs. With this rendition, though, I made a couple of health-conscious swaps, while still maintaining the integrity of the original recipe. While there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with a beautiful batch of Linguine (especially when it’s freshly handcrafted), for this recipe, I opted to leave the gluten on the bench, and instead, chose to use Banza’s Chickpea Pasta Linguine. Banza is gluten free and contains half of the carbs that regular pasta does. In my opinion and experience with cooking with Banza, your guests will likely not notice any difference! If you shop at Rollin’ Oats with regularity like I do, you won’t ever have a problem finding Banza products, as they always have an array in stock. In addition to the Banza, all of the ingredients for this dish can be found at Rollin’ Oats! Yes, even the shrimp, which are located on the back wall in the frozen section. They’re even already peeled and deveined, which makes your life THAT much easier. The other swaps that I made for this recipe were minor: fresh herbs for dried, extra crushed red pepper and the addition of toasted breadcrumbs, which makes for the perfect crunchy topping. How to Make Shrimp Fra Diavolo Shrimp Fra Diavolo with Toasted Breadcrumbs Elegant enough for date night at home, yet simple enough as a weeknight meal in under 30 minutes. 1 Tbsp Butter (Preferably grass-fed, like Vital Farms)1/4 Cup Breadcrumbs (Panko, or fresh grated breadcrumbs work well!)1/4 Cup Fresh Basil (Roughly chopped)SaltShrimp Fra Diavolo2 Tbsp Butter1 Red Onion (Medium in size, chopped)8 Garlic Cloves (Minced)1 1/2 Tbsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes2/3 Cup Dry White Wine (Always cook with a wine that you would drink!)1 lb Shrimp (Peeled and deveined)1 28 Ounce Can Crushed Tomatoes (Organic is preferred)1/4 Cup Fresh Oregano1 8 Ounce Box Banza Linguine1 Tbsp Salt (Plus more, to taste)1 Tsp Black Pepper (Plus more, to taste)Fresh Basil (Chopped, for garnish)Parmesan Cheese (Grated, for garnish) Toasted BreadcrumbsMelt 1 tbsp Butter in a dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and stir occasionally until they begin to toast and turn golden, 5-7 minutes.Scrape toasted breadcrumbs into a medium bowl and mix in fresh chopped basil and a pinch of salt. Stir to combine and set aside .Shrimp Fra DiavoloIn the same pot that you used to make the breadcrumbs, add remaining 2 tbsp of butter and melt over medium heat. Add chopped onion, 1/2 tbsp of the salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until onion has softened and is very fragrant, 5-7 minutes.Add in minced garlic and 1 tbsp of the crushed red pepper flakes. Stir until fragrent, 1-2 minutes.Carefully add shrimp to pot in an even layer and sprinkle with other 1/2 tbsp of salt. Cook the shrimp 2 minutes on each side. Pour in the wine and allow mixture to simmer until reducted by half, 3-4 minutes.Pour in crushed tomatoes and oregano. Stir to combine, taste for seasoning and add remaining crushed red pepper for additional heat and salt, as needed. Reduce the heat and simmer. In the meantime, Cook pasta 1 minute-less than package instructions and set aside, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water. Remove sauce mixture from the heat. Add in cooked pasta, a few splashed of the pasta water and some of the grated parmesan (if using). Using tongs or large spoons, stir to combine and add more cooking water and salt, as needed.To serve, top with toasted breadcrumbs and fresh basil and grated parmesan, if using. Main DishItalianShrimp Fra Diavolo, Main Dish

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Fish tacos are definitely a thing in the St. Pete area. It seems like almost every restaurant has them. Without doing an actual survey, I’d guess that 40%-50% of restaurants around here have fish tacos. We already have a Top 10 Taco Places list, and I tried to not duplicate any here with two exceptions, which are Red Mesa Cantina, and Nueva Cantina. Their fish tacos are so good, I just couldn’t leave them off. I kept this list to all whitefish with no breaded, fried, or other types of seafood…again with the same exceptions as I always get the shrimp taco with the fish taco at both cantinas. Since we live in downtown St. Pete, we tend to go to downtown restaurants a lot, and have been criticized for being too downtown-centric. This time, I made an effort to get to the beach resulting in five of the tacos on the list being in downtown, three on St. Pete Beach, one on the south side, and one in Gulfport. The list is in alphabetical order, but I do have some shoutouts. Best Overall: The Library, and Paul’s Landing – in that order. Best Blackened Seasoning: Rick’s Reef Best Flour Tortillas: Chill Restaurant & Bar, and Rick’s Reef. As with all of our lists, and unlike most other publishers, I personally went to all of these places, and ate all of these tacos, and took all of these photos. THE LIST IS IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER <— LOOK For ALL of these – the fish was moist, juicy, fresh and flavorful… so I don’t have to repeat it ten times. “It’s really a lot like writing porn. After you’ve used the same adjectives over and over again, it’s like the Penthouse Letters…” – Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown, Budapest – Aired June 14, 2015 The Best Fish Tacos in St. Pete Chosen by Locals 1. Chill Restaurant & Bar 357 Corey Ave St Pete Beach, FL 33706 (727) 360-2445 Chill Website Fish of the Day Tacos – Fresh Fish of the day grilled and served over flour or corn tortillas with mango salsa, guacamole, citrus slaw & a zesty chipotle ranch. The fish here is Corvino. Chill’s has a tropical slant with pineapple and mango. The flour tortillas are fresh, pliable and held together nicely. 2. The Library 600 5th St S St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 369-9969 The Library Website Blackened Fish Tacos (Mahi) – chile glaze, kale slaw, pico, feta, cumin aioli (Lunch menu only.) From a previous review: These are some of the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. The grouper was moist, plump, juicy, and bursting with flavor. The combination of other ingredients previously mentioned made every bite a fantastic experience, not only of contrasting and complementary flavors, but also a wonderful mouthfeel of different textures. 3. The Lure 661 Central Ave N St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 914-8000 The Lure Website A Different Drum – Blackened Redfish with mixed field greens and citrus caper aioli. Redfish is just the name. The flesh is actually white. The Lure was the only place I found that uses it, and it was fresh, and light with fantastic flavors. 4. O’Maddy’s Bar & Grille 5405 Shore Blvd S Gulfport, FL 33707 (727) 323-8643 O’Maddy’s Website Maddy G’s Mahi Tacos – Lightly blackened Mahi with a baja slaw, pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo and an avocado coulis, served on flour tortillas. This is a large portion with two pieces of fish on each taco. I was full after the first taco, but ate the second one anyway. This used to be as a special only, but was recently made a regular menu item. 5. Nueva Cantina 1625 4th St South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 851-9579 Nueva Cantina Website All of the food at Nueva Cantina is excellent, and the Shrimp Tacos, and Pescado Tacos are no exception. Shrimp Taco – Fried or grilled, (I did grilled on both) shrimp with cabbage, pico de gallo, chipotle aioli, and lime. Pescado Taco – Fried or grilled fish with red cabbage, pico de gallo, cilantro, lime, and queso fresco. 6. Paul’s Landing 501 5th Ave NE St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 824-8007 Paul’s Landing Website Gulf Fish Tacos with avocado salsa, cabbage slaw, charred corn, and black bean salsa. In this case it was Grouper and one of the best Grouper tacos I’ve ever had! 7. Red Mesa Cantina 128 3rd St S St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 896-8226 Red Mesa Cantina Website Baja Fish – Grilled fresh fish, salsa roja, Mexican slaw and lime crema. The fish changes seasonally. In this case it was Mahi Mahi. Shrimp Taco – Grilled Shrimp, Mexican Slaw, Pico De Gallo And Habanero Aioli. I’ve probably had these 100 times over ten years. 8. Rick’s Reef 6712 Gulf Blvd St Pete Beach, FL 33706 (727) 826-0752 Rick’s Reef Website “We use fresh ingredients, and prepare each item by hand, just for you. There is no microwave oven, and no heat lamps. Your order comes straight from the kitchen to you! All sauces and dressings are made by hand each day.” They have Fish Tacos, which have less items. I had the Baja Tacos, which has more ingredients – fresh Mahi grilled or blackened, flour tortillas, with Baja sauce, cabbage and cilantro mix, mixed cheese and diced tomatoes. Rick’s wins by going back to the roots of street food, keeping it simple and flavorful with all the different textures that make your mouth feel great. The blackened seasoning is outstanding. 9. Sea Salt St. Pete 183 2nd Ave N St Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 873-7964 Sea Salt Website Soft tortilla, blackened Mahi Mahi, avocado, tomato, jalapeño-red cabbage slaw, cilantro, citrus-sriracha sauce. Fresh, delicious and tangy. 10. The Toasted Monkey 678 75th Ave St Pete Beach, FL 33706 (727) 360-5800 Toasted Monkey Website Fish Tacos – Two flour tortillas with Alaskan white fish fillets grilled, blackened, or fried. Served [&hellip]

Interview with Christine Cutler from The IFWTWA Welcome to the St. Petersburg Foodies Podcast Episode 145! On today’s episode, we interview Christine Cutler. She is the President of The International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. They will be having their 2021 conference in downtown St. Pete this November. Chris is also an expert on travel to Italy, Italian culture, and cuisine. Did you know that Spaghetti Bolognese does not exist in Italy? Neither does Fettuccini Alfredo, or Pepperoni Pizza amongst other things that we’ll discuss. After Chris, Kevin does some “cooking for one” with Bajan Sausage and Moroccan Meatballs from St. Pete Meat & Provisions.

I LOVE salad! My mom made a salad every single night to start off dinner, and dinner was always at six. Those were the two constants. Now, the best salads I have at home are made by Lori. She just has a knack. I could make the same salad as her, and it won’t taste as good. It’s not because she has a salad spinner, and I don’t. Below is a completely biased and opinionated list of my personal favorite salads in St. Pete. Before we get into the list, an important thing you should be aware of is that there are other publishers of “best of lists” that do not actually go to the establishments, or actually eat the food. (Sounds ridiculous, right?) They just download photos from the internet, or embed Instagram posts from someone else. Instant top 10 list produced without having to leave the house. That’s NOT how we do it. We absolutely DO eat all of the food on all of our lists. (How can anyone recommend something they never experienced?) Unfortunately, we’ve seen these junk lists a lot—from national and local publishers. We are also aware of a local publisher that offers paid placement in best-of-lists. There is no paid placement here. WE PERSONALLY ATE ALL OF THESE SALADS, AND WENT TO ALL OF THESE PLACES, AND THESE ARE ALL ST. PETE FOODIES PHOTOS. (All photos by St. Petersburg Foodies and as credited.) Best Salads Near Me …(and you, if you’re in St. Pete) These are listed in alphabetical order. <—— Look 1. Baba Restaurant, Bakery & Café 2701 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33713 (727) 954-3406 Baba Website Village Salad – tomato, kalamata olive, cucumber, capers, feta. From Lori: “Kevin humored me because I wanted the Village Salad with just tomato, kalamatas, capers, feta and cucumber. He couldn’t stop raving at how good it was. It’s my favorite type of salad…simple, light and great flavor!” This one is a simpler version than The Burg’s, but the addition of the capers makes a huge difference. The bright saltiness makes you just keep going back for more until it’s all gone. 2. Bacchus St. Pete 124 2nd Ave NE St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 258-8566 Bacchus Website French Country Salad – roasted asparagus, beets, arugula, goat cheese, toasted walnuts, lemon-dijon vinaigrette. It was super delicious, and huge. The photo is half of a split portion. Fresh, bursting with bright flavors, and a large portion. 3. The Bier Boutique 465 7th Ave N. St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 827-2691 The Bier Boutique Website House Salad – mixed greens, onion, tomato, bacon, feta cheese, sunflower seeds & chow mein noodles – choose from ranch, blue cheese or honey peppercorn vinaigrette. Fresh, full of texture and the honey peppercorn vinaigrette is smooth, creamy, bright and light. 4. The Burg Bar & Grill 1752 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33712 (727) 894-2874 The Burg Website Horiatiki (Village Salad) – tomatoes, cucumbers, greek olives, feta cheese, pepperoncini, onions, beets, green peppers, oregano, olive oil, balsamic dressing. This is one of our favorites that we always order. It’s the perfect combination of bright, light, crispy, salty, sweet, and spicy. 5. Copa 1047 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33705 (727) 623-9199 Copa Website Copa’s watermelon salad is bursting with flavor. It’s bright, yet balanced with sweetness, and saltiness. It’s composed of fresh watermelon, (of course), and tossed with heirloom tomatoes, onions, garlic, feta cheese, and balsamic dressing. 6. Gratzzi Italian Grille 211 2nd St South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 623-9037 Gratzzi Website Insalata Caesar – Hearts of romaine, house made Caesar dressing, shaved parmesan and rustic croutons. (The photo is the side salad portion. There is one twice this size as well.) It may seem simple compared to some of the others on this list, but it is definitely one of my favorites. I like that they give you the full length, stalk-like leaves. The romaine is fresh and bursting with flavor. The crunch of the croutons, and the softer bite of the shaved parmesan, along with the dressing make for perfection in your mouth. 7. The Mill Restaurant 200 Central Ave #100 St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 317-3930 The Mill Website We have two favorites here as well. Southern Belle Salad – romaine, red onion, candied pecans, sage derby, peppadews, dried apricots, honeycup vinaigrette, southern fried chicken. The fried chicken makes this one decadent, and a good one to share, or could be a complete meal for one person. It has such a great mix of ingredients that cover the complete flavor spectrum, and it’s nice and crunchy. Phyllo Feta – baby spinach, blackberries, red onion, yellow grape tomatoes, bosc pear, spiced walnuts, blackberry vinaigrette. That Phyllo Feta is so craveable. The feta is wrapped in phyllo and baked to a golden brown. It is a terrific accompaniment to the spinach salad with blackberries, red onions, yellow grape tomatoes and highlighted with spiced walnuts which hold up well against the sweetness of the Bosc pear and the blackberry vinaigrette dressing. 8. Noble Crust 8300 4th St N. St. Petersburg, FL 33702 (727) 329-6041 Noble Crust Website House Salad – mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber, radish, shaved fennel, carrots, croutons, parm, whipped feta, zesty vinaigrette. The Noble crust house salad is delicious. It’s a light and bright and then the ricotta cheese adds some depth, and the olives give it some saltiness. These are also my favorite croutons of all. 9. Stillwaters Tavern 224 Beach Dr NE St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 350-1019 Stillwaters Website Caesar Salad – chopped romaine & kale, parmesan, harrisa caesar dressing, sourdough croutons. Stillwater’s Caesar adds kale with the romaine, and it is actually quite delicious, and a nice little twist on the traditional version. I love it. 10. Teak 800 2nd Ave NE 4th Floor St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 513-8325 Teak Website Ultimate Wedge BLT – iceberg, applewood smoked bacon, red onion, tomato, grilled corn, [&hellip]

Okay folks, it’s June…and that means summer, picnics and the start of grilling season. I don’t know about you, but when I think about grilling, a juicy rack of ribs often comes to mind. However, being that we live in a small downtown St. Petersburg apartment with very minimal outdoor space, grilling is not something that we are able to do. Therefore, over the years, I have had to learn how to recreate favorites from the grill in our kitchen. Oven-baked ribs, when cooked properly, are just as satisfying as a slab from the grill if you ask me. Low and slow at 325 degrees and then finished with some high heat will yield a similar product. I typically gravitate towards Babyback Ribs. However, Rollin’ Oats offers some incredible St. Louis style spareribs that have changed the game. St. Louis Style Ribs often have more fat (much like a Ribeye steak), but fat means flavor. In addition to quality ribs, Rollin’ Oats also has a selection of premium organic barbecue sauces. St. Louis-Style Ribs with Hasselback Cantaloupe St. Louis style spareribs may contain more fat, but that means more flavor. Hasselback Cantaloupe1 Cantaloupe (Sliced into quarters, seeded and then sliced into half moons)1 bunch Fresh Basil 8 oz Fresh Mozzarella (Cut into approximately 1 1/2 inch slices)Olive OilSaltPepperSt. Louis-Style Spareribs1 rack Spareribs (Approximately 2-2.5lbs)1.5 tbsp Garlic Powder1.5 tbsp Paprika1 tbsp Salt1 tsp Brown Sugar1 tsp Cayenne Pepper1 cup Barbeque Sauce (Any will work – we love Annie's Organic!) St. Louis-Style Ribs Preheat oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, combine garlic powder, paprika, salt, brown sugar and cayenne. Rub spice mix evenly all over the ribs.Wrap seasoned ribs in foil completely, place on a baking sheet and bake for 2-2 1/2 hours. Remove ribs from the oven, unwrap. Coat ribs all over in barbeque sauce of choice. Increase heat to 425 F. Place ribs in the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes (sauce will begin to caramelize). Remove ribs from the oven and serve.Hasselback CantaloupeTake the melon half moons and cut slits every 1" without cutting through the skin. Stuff 1 leaf of basil and a thin slice of Mozzarella into each slit in the melon. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Appetizer, Main Dish, Side DishAmericanCantaloupe, Spareribs, St. Louis Style Spareribs

Interview with Thomas Miller from The Treasure Coast Foodie Welcome to the St. Petersburg Foodies Podcast Episode 144! On today’s episode, we interview Thomas Miller from The Treasure Coast Foodie. Just like us, he does reviews of local independent restaurants. He also does restaurant awards like us, has a wine club, dining club and more. He visited a few St. Pete restaurants for a feature article he is working on. He is also debuting a new video series reminiscent of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. At the top of the show we have Abby Allen with her recipe for St. Louis Spare Ribs with Hasselback Cantaloupe.

From specialty burgers to traditional appetizers, Burger-Ish in St. Pete Beach is here to wow you. Looking for a juicy burger with a 2 for 1 beer pairing? Burger-Ish has you covered. This casual spot is perfect for fueling up post-beach trip or to cheer on your favorite sports team with their 12 flatscreen TVs all around. The vibrant atmosphere is super spacious and welcoming and they typically have live music on Friday and Saturday evenings. Lately, the weather has been impeccable and Burger-Ish had their garage style doors open to let in that nice breeze. They also have patio seating to soak in every bit of sun that you can get. Their menu has American favorites from chicken wings, burgers, sliders, and more. Plus a full cocktail, beer and wine menu. The daily specials are wonderful, find them here. Burger-Ish is a burger joint where I could eat all day every day until I literally exploded. All of the food I consumed was tasty and great. Naturally, I started with red sangria which was only $6 on Sunday. It was the refreshing sip I needed after a long day in the sun. To start, we ordered the crab cakes which are labeled on the menu as a fan favorite and spicy. The drizzle of avocado cilantro lime sauce had a really nice zest to it. I really enjoyed the habanero aioli sauce and fresh pico de gallo too. The crab cakes were seasoned to perfection, soft to melt in your mouth, and overall tasted very fresh. Side note: The crab cakes were outstandingly scrumptious but they weren’t at all spicy. The burger section of the menu has classics and specialties that are perfect and picture-ready. The St. Pete Special burger is a—wait for it—genuine hit with an all beef burger, bacon, onion ring, American cheese, sweet and smokey mesquite bourbon sauce, finished with a fried egg, lettuce, tomato, onion, all on a pretzel bun. The slathering bourbon sauce and oozing egg yolk really make this burger stand out. If you’re okay with a little mess for a tasty burger, you should order this. We upgraded to the sweet potato fries and I 100% recommend doing the same. The fries were crisp and salted on the outside with a nice soft inside. First off, the sliders are 20% off on Mondays. You’re welcome. Second, they come in 3s with a side of fries. These aren’t the kind of sliders to leave you still hungry after. They are a great size and the fries are crisp and warm. The Geez Louise comes stacked with 3 beef sliders topped with American cheese, avocado lime sauce, lettuce, tomato red onion, on a brioche bun. These sliders avoid the dreaded ingredient overload, but you still have the option to add avocado or bacon for $1. These sliders are addictive, I can’t wait to order them again. If you’re not in the mood for a burger, Burger-Ish has a ton of other options from sandwiches, tacos, salads, and more. I was craving a grouper sandwich and really enjoyed The Big Mouth Grouper Sandwich with grilled grouper, avocado, romaine lettuce, tomato, and red onion on a pretzel bun. The grouper was pleasantly seasoned and the toppings were all fresh and enjoyable. I wasn’t crazy about the pretzel bun. It seemed like a lot of bread in the way of the grouper, but besides that, it was still good. I also added the truffle oil to the fries for an additional $2 which gave them a balanced earthy and garlicky boost. Burger-Ish knows what’s up because they have a $2 off taco Tuesday daily special. I mean how can you resist a taco Tuesday deal? All tacos come with red cabbage, pico de gallo, avocado lime sauce and sour cream. You have the choice between blackened grouper, coconut shrimp, pulled chicken and pulled pork. We went with the pulled chicken and pulled pork. Both were described as very good. I was suprised by how big they were and that drizzle of avocado lime sauce and sour cream was just right. Pro tip: order a side of barbeque sauce for the pulled pork tacos for extra flavor. Since the tacos are considered an appetizer, they don’t come with a side but that didn’t stop us. We ordered a side of onion rings and were certainly satisfied. They were crispy and served hot. Does anyone else like to dip their onion rings in ketchup or is it just me? Maybe I’m just a condiment overuser, but either way, these were perfect. Burger-Ish is a blissful burger joint with a variety of other options too. If you’re in the mood for a traditional burger and iced cold beer, you’re in luck here. On the other hand, if you want something different but still reliable, they also have you covered. Stop by for a casual yet amazing meal. You can’t go wrong.

Interview with Chef Susan Burdian from Social Roost Welcome to the St. Petersburg Foodies Podcast Episode 143! On today’s episode, we interview Chef Susan Burdian. Susan is an acclaimed chef from NYC, and is now heading up the kitchen at Social Roost here in downtown St. Pete. She has cooked for Anthony Bourdain, and at The James Beard House, and is experienced in over ten different types of cuisine. After Susan, we have the best lamb we’ve ever had in our lives. We made the Colorado Rack of Lamb from St. Pete Meat & Provisions. It blew us away! We ate double portions, and there were no leftovers.

There are definitely certain things that drive me to specifically make my way to Gulfport. Like the lasagna at Pia’s, for example. Now, with Cori’s Seafood Grill situated comfortably on 49th St. and 15th Ave S, I can add seafood to that list too. Cori’s Seafood Grill isn’t just any restaurant – oh no, Cori’s is far more special. On March 19, 2020 Cori Brie Register passed away from cancer after fighting Ewing sarcoma, which is a very rare childhood cancer. Cori’s father, Dave, who owns Key West Seafood Co. next door to Cori’s, as well as Key West Shrimp Company in Madeira Beach, decided to open Cori’s seafood in October of 2020 to help carry out Cori’s legacy. Cori managed the Key West Shrimp Company at the Madeira location and always talked about opening up a seafood restaurant with her father. Not only did Dave and his family want to open Cori’s to assist in carrying out Cori’s legacy but they also wanted to make a difference by helping others – which is what Cori did, she helped others. During her fight with cancer, Cori assisted other children with their daily battle with cancer too. Because of this and other ways in which she graciously volunteered, Cori was referred to as the Sunflower Warrior – the perfect nickname for her and her beautiful soul. When you visit Cori’s, you’ll notice the front counter of the restaurant which is adorned with brilliantly painted sunflowers. Also during your visit, you can make a donation to help children who are fighting cancer. Thus far, Cori’s Seafood Grill has been able to donate almost $4,000 to charities which help brave children with their battle with cancer. How incredible is that? It truly doesn’t get more heartwarming than that. During our initial visit to Cori’s we ordered our food and opted to dine at one of the picnic tables outside versus getting our food to-go. We watched TONS of folks who chose to do the exact same thing as us. We were truly blown away by the number of cars in and out of the parking lot during the brief wait for our food – it was tremendous. The menu at Cori’s Seafood Grill is quite expansive. In addition to the large array of seafood options you’ll also find burgers, wings, various other sandwiches, soups and salads just to name a few. As far as customer favorites Dave said that the Lobster Roll (a MUST order), Po Boys, Clam and Seafood Chowders and the Grouper Sandwich are all popular with visitors to Cori’s. The French fries are also definitely worth mentioning as they are hand-cut daily. In addition to the fan favorite menu items listed above, it is also absolutely worth noting that on Tuesdays Cori’s offers $2 tacos (chicken, fish or shrimp) and on Wednesdays their Fish Sandwich is only $5. Almost all of the seafood that is served at Cori’s is sourced locally including from the family’s seafood shop located right next door. In addition to the two seafood shops around town, Dave said that they also own four commercial crab, lobster and fishing boats which Cori’s younger brother, Bryce, captains. Cori’s twin brother, Logan, owns and manages the the St. Pete Beach shop. My husband and I chose to visit Cori’s on a Wednesday as we had read about their $5 fish Sandwich (served fried, grilled or blackened). However, upon arrival, the Grouper Sandwich was highly recommended so we decided to order that instead. The sandwich is served on a Kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato and onion and we also asked for some tartar sauce on the side. Did I mention that they make their sauces and breading in-house? Wow, what a sandwich. The fish is thin, perfectly seasoned and fried to perfection. This sandwich definitely was enough to feed both myself and my husband. When I first noted that the Lobster Roll was one of the items on the menu that was marked with a little yellow butterfly (Cori’s favorites), I knew that it had to be mine. It consists of Maine lobster meat drizzled with house made sauce, stuffed into a New England style split-top roll. It was truly almost to0 beautiful to eat, and after just one bite it became apparent that the Lobster Roll tastes even better than it looks, if you can even believe it. And the best part? They definitely don’t skimp on lobster meat. In addition to the Lobster Roll, the Coconut Shrimp under the appetizer section also was marked as one of Cori’s favorites. The six shrimp starter is served with a delectable house made sauce, which pairs quite superbly with the sweet coconut notes that linger with each bite of shrimp. In my opinion, the Coconut Shrimp along with a side of fries or hush puppies would make for the perfect lunch or light dinner for one. Speaking of the hushpuppies, you better believe that we ordered some of those too. If Hush Puppies are on a menu, any menu, there is a 100% chance that my husband will select them (one of the many, many reasons why I married him). The Jalapeño and Sweet Corn Hush Puppies are deep fried, served in quantities of six, and are served with a side of ranch or tartar. Just as the menu states, I can attest that these are in fact “fried balls of goodness.” It goes without saying, Cori’s Seafood Grill is more than just a restaurant – it’s a restaurant with compassion, selflessness and lots of love. The positive vibes spread by this establishment are contagious. We cannot wait to continue to eat our way through the menu at Cori’s and we encourage you to do the same too. I can only begin to imagine how truly proud Cori, herself, would be to see the success of the restaurant and the way that her legacy is being honored.

Satisfy your sweet tooth with sugary, Italian confections at Sorrento Sweets in downtown St. Pete. Whether you’re looking for a melt in your mouth butter cookie or a crunchy biscotti, the Salvatore family has recipes that are decades old and totally trustable. This humble storefront on Central avenue serves fresh cakes and pastries, cookies and cannolis, sandwiches, gelato and a full coffee and tea menu too. Give your sweet tooth what it wants and head over to Sorrento Sweets for Italian classics. While walking along Central Avenue, the smell of freshly brewed coffee drew me into the doors of Sorrento Sweets. There’s nothing like steaming hot lattes and iced macchiatos to accompany biscotti, cannolis, cakes and more. I couldn’t resist an iced caramel macchiato with almond milk. It was sweet and just right. They were very generous on the caramel drizzle so be ready to slurp some up through the straw. I also had a regular hot coffee on another day and it was a very refreshing brew. Their coffee menu is wonderful with cappuccinos, cafe mochas, lattes and more. Pair your cup of coffee with a delicious breakfast sandwich to cure those morning cravings. Sorrento Sweets has a great list of sandwiches in general and the breakfast options are perfect for something quick and on the go. The Sausage & Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich is served on a freshly baked buttery croissant with thick turkey sausage patties, an egg and cheddar cheese. This was perfect. The buttery and slightly flakey croissant was so soft and dreamy and having it paired with the warm savory fillings was the ideal combination. If you head in closer to lunchtime, they have five sandwiches that’ll peak your attention. I went with the The Sorrento Caprese served on their signature panini bread with sprinkled extra virgin olive oil on both sides, fresh mozzarella, sliced roma tomato, balsamic glaze, basil pesto, fresh basil, and what makes this one special is the added prosciutto. Each bite was even better than the one before. Their panini bread is outstanding and having it pressed made it all nice and warm. Inside of this wonderful sandwich is such fresh ingredients with a zesty basil pesto paired with salty prosciutto, delicious mozzarella and bursts of sweet tomato. I highly recommend this if you’re in the mood for a savory and delicious sandwich. Am I the only one who reaches for something sweet after every meal? I hope not! After enjoying The Sorrento Caprese, I had to nibble on a few of the cookies. Whether you want a true Italian Macaroon, something covered in sprinkles or a variety of everything, you’re in luck. You can order as many cookies as you’d like, as you pay by the pound. I indulged in a few of my favorite Italian cookies and couldn’t be happier with how truly delicious they all were. Here’s what I got: Rainbow Cookie, Italian Macaroon, Crocantini, Shell Dipped, Rainbow Sprinkle, Peanutter, and Quasimale Biscotti. All in all, these were all fabulous. One of my favorite things about a good Italian cookie is dunking them into a piping hot coffee and some of these crunchier ones totally hit the spot. My favorite was the Crocantini for its hints of cocoa and hazelnut. I’m so excited to have these cookies right at my fingertips in downtown St. Pete whether I’m looking for a sweet treat for myself or to bring a bigger batch to a party. Staying on the sweet train, next up is the Cinnamon Roll and Chocolate Cannoli. I only have one word to describe the first bite of each, “wow”. The gourmet Cinnamon Roll is served warm and has the best warm white icing glazed on top. If you love cannolis as much as I do, then trust me when I say that these are truly outstanding. You have the choice between a classic, chocolate and pistachio cannoli. I went with the chocolate and couldn’t believe how good it was. The light and crunchy cannoli and sweet filling were a treat I can’t wait to have again. In addition to their pastries, cookies and cannolis, they also have gelato and sorbet. For those hot days, this is the perfect escape from the heat. You can get a classic scoop or turn it into a smoothie. Gelato Flavors include Vanilla Bean, Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt Caramel, Coffee Chocolate Chip, Pistachio Sicilian. Sorbet Flavors are Raspberry, Mango Tropical, Lemon Zesty. My friend and I decided to try the Raspberry and Mango Sorbet. We were both blown away at how refreshing they were. I enjoyed the strong flavors of both, but have to say that the raspberry was my favorite of the two. This is definitely my go-to order this summer to cool off. Even after all of these sweet treats, there are still so many offerings at Sorrento Sweets that I cannot wait to try. Take a peek at their displays for more deliciousness. Overall, this is a gem of a place that Central Avenue is lucky to have. They have so many awesome offerings and really bring a decadent sweet scene to the burg. The welcoming interior feels like a homey spot that I can see myself hanging out at whether with friends over coffee and a treat or solo to get some work done on my laptop. Either way, having these Italian bakery goodies within walking distance to my apartment is dangerous but exciting.

The Best Chili to Eat in St. Pete Chili’s geographic origins go back to what is the currently most talked about border … unfortunately for no reasons having to do with this quite popular food. Chili was born in both Northern Mexico and Southern Texas – on the border and over the border. Its more official name is Chili con Carne – Spanish for “with meat”. It started out as just chili peppers, meat, salt and water. No beans. No tomatoes. The beans are the most contentious thing when it comes to chili aficionado purists. As a matter of fact, The Chili Appreciation Society International specified in 1999 that, among other things, cooks are forbidden to include beans in the preparation of chili for official competition. What. However, others argue that chili with beans has a long enough history so as to not be considered inauthentic. It certainly seems to be the more popular incarnation at restaurants and in home recipes. The ten on this list ALL have beans. So there, Stan. Does anybody have a GasX. Just kidding. I did eat a lot of chili though. We stopped doing rankings a long time ago, and have been putting the lists in alphabetical order. However, I occasionally give shoutouts to a few favorites. In this case two, which are tied for my #1 favorite chilis. The Bier Boutique – It’s the spiciest one on the list, and that’s how I like my chili. Hurt me! Please. Sea Dog Cantina – It’s the most complex, and delicious with deep layers of flavor. Several of the dishes are pictured with raw red onions, and melted cheese. All of these offered it as an option, which I went with each time it was offered. However, I also dug below them to try at least 3-4 bites of chili without the raw onions and cheese first to better ascertain the chili’s flavor. I also dug through each one to find which ingredients I could see. Some people like to follow along and try each place themselves. If you decide to go try any of these, my advice is to test how hot it is being served. I had a few that came out scalding. Not only will you burn your mouth, but you won’t be able to taste anything. One time I burned the heck out of my mouth and in my notes I put, “no flavor”. After it had ten minutes to cool off, it was a whole different world. I could now taste all the flavors, and the dish actually made the list. (That was El Cap.) These are not ranked from best, to second best, and so on. We’ve come to feel that is not a good way to do it when they are all amazing executions of this popular dish. An important thing you should be aware of is that there are other publishers of “best of lists” that do not actually go to the establishments and actually eat the food. We absolutely DO. (How can anyone recommend something they never experienced?) Unfortunately, we’ve seen it a lot – from national and local publishers. We are also aware of a local publisher that offers paid placement in best-of-lists. There is no paid placement here. I PERSONALLY ATE ALL OF THESE BOWLS OF CHILI, AND WENT TO ALL OF THESE PLACES, AND THESE ARE ALL MY PHOTOS. (Except The Bier Boutique, which my partner, Lori, took.) These are listed in alphabetical order. <—— Look Here are the 10 Best Bowls of Chili in St. Pete for 2021 1. The Bier Boutique 465 7th Ave North St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 827-2691 The Bier Boutique Website Meat, beans, veggies & hot peppers come together in this sweet and spicy concoction – served with sweet cornbread. I didn’t believe that it would be spicy. Most places that say “spicy” are catering to those who believe mild/medium is spicy. I’m typically disappointed. I was thrilled to be proven wrong. I loved it. The flavor is great and get this…it’s made with chunks of potato too. Tied for my #1 favorite because of the hearty, and spicy flavors. Bier Boutique Review 2. Boulevard Burgers & Tap House 5905 Gulf Blvd St Pete Beach, FL 33706 (727) 201-4906 Boulevard Burgers Website A cool hangout on St. Pete Beach, Boulevard Burgers is of course best known for their burgers. Their chili is packed with rich chili flavor. It has kidney beans, tomatoes, and cooked white or yellow onions, in addition to the raw ones I added. 3. The Chattaway 358 22nd Ave S St. Petersburg, FL 33705 (727) 823-1594 The Chattaway Website The Chattaway is a quaint eatery on the South Side that was establish in 1951 by Englishwoman, Jillian Frers. High tea is served every day, and so is chili. Their chili is mild, but flavorful. It is unique in that it is a little on the creamy side. They include bell peppers, kidney and pinto beans. Note: The Chattaway is CASH ONLY. 4. Courigan’s Irish Pub 1 Beach Dr SE ste 41 St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 551-9019 Courigan’s Website Courigan’s chili is more tomato-forward, and tangy. There are a small amount of diced green bell peppers in there too. It’s definitely fresh, home style, and quite tasty. Spice-wise, the temperature is mild on this one. 5. El Cap Restaurant 3500 4th St N St. Petersburg, FL 33704 (727) 521-1314 El Cap Facebook El Cap is an old-school throwback that’s been around since 1963. It’s loved by locals, and best known for their burgers, which still use the same recipe from when they opened. The chili is old-school as well with the melted cheese being two processed American cheese slices. The chili is mild, and more on the sweet side. It includes kidney beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, and white beans. 6. Engine No.9 56 Dr M.L.K. Jr St N St. Petersburg, FL 33705 (727) 623-0938 Engine No.9 Website Bold n’Spicy Firehouse-style [&hellip]

Best Italian Meatballs in St. Pete for 2021 There are all kinds of meatballs in different cuisines, and regions, but the Italian meatball is what we’re talking about here. There’s tons of places to get good meatballs in St. Pete, but these seven really standout above the rest. Before we get into the list, an important thing you should be aware of is that there are other publishers of “best of lists” that do not actually go to the establishments, or actually eat the food. (Sounds ridiculous, right?) They just download photos from the internet, or embed Instagram posts from someone else. Instant “Best of …” list produced without having to leave the house, or even get dressed. That’s NOT how we do it. We absolutely DO eat all of the food on all of our lists. (How can anyone recommend something they never experienced?) Unfortunately, we’ve seen these junk lists a lot—from national and local publishers. We are also aware of a local publisher that offers paid placement in best-of-lists. There is no paid placement here. I PERSONALLY ATE ALL OF THESE MEATBALLS, AND WENT TO ALL OF THESE PLACES, AND THESE ARE ALL ST. PETERSBURG FOODIES PHOTOS. These are listed in alphabetical order. <—— Look 1. Annata Restaurant & Wine Bar 300 Beach Dr NE #128 St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 851-9582 Annata Website Meatball Gigantica – whipped ricotta, creamy polenta, herbs, Grana Padano, tomato sauce, basil chiffonade. THIS. IS. A. PERFECT. MEATBALL! Everything about the Meatball Gigantica is just right – the flavors, the texture, the density all just make you go mmm and shut your eyes in delight. It’s the little details too, such as the herbs. Herbs are not the first thought that come to mind when thinking of meatballs. This perfect meatball wouldn’t be what it is without them. You can see the fresh, house-made ricotta in the middle. The creamy polenta, and tomato sauce are just right. Come hungry as this meatball lives up to it’s name. 2. Fabrica Pizza 101 7th St S St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 290-9643 Fabrica Pizza Website Oven Roasted Meatballs – In warm house-made tomato sauce, parmigiano, chives. Everything just comes together perfectly here. The sauce, the seasoning, flavor, and texture. There have been times that we eat these 2-3 times in a week. Fabrica’s pizza is also excellent. They made our top 10 pizzas list. 3. IL Ritorno 449 Central Ave North #101 St. Petersburg, FL 33701 (727) 897-5900 IL Ritorno Website Smoked Meatballs – smoked pomodoro, piave, chianti, fresh basil. (Piave is an Italian cow’s milk cheese, that is named after the Piave river. As Piave has a Protected Designation of Origin, the only “official” Piave is produced in the Dolomites area, province of Belluno, in the northernmost tip of the Veneto region. Wikipedia) IL Ritorno’s meatballs have been one of our favorites since they hit the menu four years ago. The flavors, texture and sauce all harmoniously arouse you into a new experience that you’ve never had before. These are unique—there’s a light breading on the outside that creates a nice texture, the meatballs are smoked, and the meat and the sauce have that wonderful Italian Piave Cheese. 4. Noble Crust 8300 4th St N. St. Petersburg, FL 33702 (727) 329-6041 Noble Crust Website Meatballs – beef + pork, tomato sauce, ricotta, parm, basil. Noble Crust’s meatballs are fantastic—bursting with flavor, rustic in texture, with a nice char on top from a last minute in the broiler, and they come with a delicious parmesan, and let’s not forget the basil. What could be an afterthought, wonderfully perfumes your senses just before your teeth sink into the land of umami, tang and spice. The basil of course also adds a nice green brightness to the mix. Just like Fabrica, Noble Crust also made the top 10 pizzas list. 5. Pizza Box 923 Central Ave St. Petersburg, FL 33705 (727) 623-0444 Pizza Box Website Meatballs – Made with Angus brisket and short rib with garlic, onions and bread crumbs. Just like IL Ritorno, Pizza Box has been one of our favorites for over four years now. The flavors and textures are phenomenal, and unique. The sole cooking implement at Pizza Box is the wood-fired oven that Adam (Chef & Co-Owner) made himself. So, the meatballs are cooked and smoked at 700 degrees. They have a smokey flavor, and an excellent hard char on the outside. Pizza Box is also on the top 10 pizzas list. 6. Tutto Bene 3038 Beach Blvd S, Gulfport, FL 33707 (727) 954-7960 Tutto Bene Website The Meatball Ricottara is two housemade and scrumptious meatballs, served with red sauce and ricotta. I’d highly recommend ordering this as you wait for your main entree. The meatball itself is soft and moist with a delicious coating of tangy red sauce. Full review of Tutto Bene here. 7. The Urban Stillhouse 2232 5th Ave S St. Petersburg, FL 33712 (727) 440-8040 Urban Stillhouse Website Urban Stillhouse just opened in August 2020. It is a 16,000 square foot space with two floors with great food by Chef Kenny Tufo, formerly of Sea Salt St. Pete. (Full review here.) The three veal meatballs are made with pine nuts, cherries and San Marzano tomato sauce and then placed atop a plank of fried eggplant. They were extremely delicious, moist, hearty and comforting, and the eggplant is an extra bonus. Tell us what your favorite meatballs are in the comments below! Love this post? Save it to your foodie Pinterest board!


5 days in Chicago - reporting back

Hi Chicago Hounds! Thanks to your help we had some marvelous meals while in your city. Here’s my report:

* Tuesday- a late lunch at PJ Clarke’s – Mr CF had the open face turkey sandwich, I had the club sandwich. This was very close to the hotel and we were really hungry. Everything was tasty.A light and late dinner in the hotel at Chibar – drinks, flat bread with tomato and mozzarella , fried gruyere cheese sticks and something else I’ve forgotten.

* Wednesday - Hot dog in Millennium Park after going through The Art Institute – it was a hot dog… nice bun though. I stayed away from the catsup. -)

* Thursday - Fox & Obel lunch – roast beef sandwich with blue brie lettuce and tomato – yum, loved the bread and the brie. Finished with a ginger cookie. I love this place! I need this at home! And to top it off, they’ve got a nice wine selection. We made pests of ourselves here later in the week.

Dinner at Tru. We had a drink in the bar area – which wasn’t really a bar – while we were waiting for another member of our party. Tru was very kind in getting jackets for the 2 men who forgot theirs… in spite of my telling them!
We did the Chef’s menu, which was:

Preserved baby artichoke with navel orange and white sardine

Strawberry-tomato gelee with fava bean puree and a shaving of Parmesan. Very light and fresh tasting. I really liked the tomato flavor.

Sashimi - tuna, hamachi, escolar (the escolar was fishy) with a slice of kumquat and radish. A separate dish with white soy and traditional soy was served in front of the Sashimi

About here in our dinner we had a rock star sighting – surprised me! I’m not sure I’ve ever been anywhere and had someone famous be there too.

Frog leg (boneless and panko crusted, then fried) sitting on a bed of carrots, with watercress soup. The soup was poured into the bowl – where there were small dots of emulsified garlic with a dot of watercress on top… this looked like little frog eyes once the watercress soup was added, which made us giggle a bit. Well, me anyway.

Artichoke consommé poured over little dots of 4 different gelees - a mustard cinnamon, turnip caramel, cucumber and grilled peanut . The mustard cinnamon one was very interesting.

Antiqua Tagliatelle with chanterelle mushroom cream, spinach and a slice of truffle and pecorino. A bit dry, I would have preferred a bit more of the mushroom cream.

Pan seared Fois Gras with a morel mushroom and a weird cake/bread thing – I guess it was made from pecans, I didn’t care for it - and leaves made of zucchini which was totally unnecessary. The Fois was lovely – the accompaniments were wrong, IMHO.

Wild asparagus poached Sturgeon on a bed of asparagus spaetzle with a mushroom and onion infusion. The asparagus ‘spaetzle’ had a large sized caviar/roe in it – it gave the asparagus a disconcerting feel and the burst of salt from the roe was odd. The fish was lovely.

Roasted Colorado lamb loin with farro verde, nectarine and Picholine olive. The lamb was fabulous but again, I didn’t care for the other elements – they just didn’t seem to go with the dish.

A marvelous cheese course – I had thePetit Basque, a Blue and a soft blue brie – I didn’t get the names of the others… but they were great!

A dessert amuse of rhubarb consommé with lemon and ginger tapioca

Gianduja Cremeux with chopped toasted hazelnuts, a sprinkle of basil and Concord grape sorbet -chocolate mousse/pudding on swath of homemade Nutella, a bit of hazelnut brittle, slices of grapes & grape sorbet. This was like very fancy peanut butter & jelly – delicious and we were amused

Mignonettes – a huge choice (minus a rack of lollipops) that accidently were knocked over at another table, prompting one of our party to say to another, “I dare you to say ‘5 second rule” and causing the rest of us to laugh) was available - some of our choices were: apricot jellies, pistachio meringue, raspberry cake, and caramel

This was a very nice place and service was impeccable. The wine sommelier was very knowledgeable and helped us narrow our choices down. Overall we enjoyed our dinner, there were some strange things about it – a lot of round rubbery bits: the caviar in the asparagus, the lumps of jellied flavors in the consommé, the tapioca in the rhubarb consommé, the unnecessary starches that were heavily textured with the Fois Gras and the lamb – but we’d try it again. We almost went back on Saturday for the cheeses.

* Friday – we went to Coco Pazzo for lunch. They were very accommodating and made bruschetta for Mr CF that wasn’t on the menu with tomatoes, garlic and basil. He also had the Rigatoni alla Buttera – sausage, peas, tomato, parmesan and cream. He said it was okay, he’s very hard to please when it comes to pasta. I had the Insalada di tonno – mixed greens, green beans, boiled eggs, olive oil dressing – and it was very good. I also had a glass of the Rose. Our associate had the Smoked salmon Panini and loved it. He said the salmon was still cool even though the bread was warm and toasty. We skipped dessert and walked back to Fox & Obel for banana pudding - eaten outside by the water and thoroughly enjoyed.

* Saturday – we tried the Gage for lunch and we ate way too much. I had my first Poutine - elk ragout cheese curds and fries. Wow. Now I understand poutine and we all decided it would be great hangover food. We also tried the goat cheese grits – loved ‘em , the fried zucchini & olives – too much breading on zucchini and it was too thin - but the olives were great, and the fried chicken livers with coarse mustard. We should have stopped there but we couldn’t. I had the chili roasted chicken salad – mixed greens, cucumbers, radish, goat cheese and a roasted curry dressing. The salad was great, loved everything except I felt there was too much chili seasoning on the chicken. Mr CF and our associate tried the locally crafted sausages – 3 different sausages with coarse mustard, served with potatoes roasted with Brie in a little cast iron casserole. They ate all but one (though they did eat much of the 3rd) and the potatoes with the brie was really a hit too.

Dinner that night was at One Sixty Blue. Lovely place and really great food. Our waiter threw us for a loop though - he asked if we had ever been to OSB, which we had not. He immediately went into the hot cheese appetizers… and then told us the chef was French. I was confused, we didn’t have menus at that point – so I wasn’t sure if that was our only choice for an appetizer or what and wasn’t sure why he needed to tell us where the chef was from. But anyway! We ordered wine (and were brought the wrong one) and our waiter recommended a Reislng to go with our cheese appetizers. We did go with 2 of them: the Nancy Hudson Valley Camembert with Michigan apples & candied walnuts – this one was our favorite and was very good with the wine and the Cabriole Farms with herbs and sundried tomatoes

Mr CF and I had the endive salad topped with pear slices. This came with a cracker dome, the salad was underneath.

Cold cream of corn soup with bacon, corn, tomatoes, and a tortilla chip

I had the lamb with Ratatouille – a lovely round of lamb loin cooked sous vide to medium rare with the incredible vegetables. Loved it.

Mr CF had the veal tenderloin. This was also amazing. I don’t know what all was in that dish. I know there were gooseberries… but wow… tart, cinnamon, floral all together.

Our associate had the pork chop Kurobuta and it was also a huge success. There were apples and grapes, a delicious ‘barbeque’sauce and I don’t know what all else.

The chef did come by and we told him how marvelous dinner was. It truly was.

Dessert s - Peaches in cream - market green peaches topped with a strip of macaroon then a layer of cream brulee, and a macaroon - same as macaroon layer – filled with a ginger blueberry filling. I had a late harvest Reisling with this, a fabulous match with the peaches.

I have to say we had a bit of a letdown at this point. Online there is a wonderful list of cheese that is no longer available. We primarily chose to come here because of the cheeses. So to find that the list is trimmed drastically was disappointing to say the least. And while looking at the dessert wine list we saw that we missed the Rabbit Boudin… we weren’t told it was one of the specials! That and the cheese list made me fume a bit.

But the guys had a few cheeses – a Pleasant Ridge from Wisconsin, a Petit Basque, an aged Gouda and a Valencay- soft bluish (which was my favorite). They also had a glass of port which was deemed even better than the glass at Tru.

Overall a delicious dinner! We were very pleased in spite of the minor goofs.

* Sunday breakfast - We had intended to go to The Daily Grind, we’ve been to the one in Palm Desert and remembered they had one in Chicago. But even though this place came up on Google – I don’t think it was the same and they were closed. There was a very likely looking place across the street, Fiddlehead Café, so that’s where we went. I hadn’t heard of Fiddlehead Café, but what we had for breakfast was excellent and the menu for dinner looks pretty darn good too. Mr CF had biscuits and gravy, and the mushroom crepes – he liked the biscuits (but not the gravy) and thought the mushroom crepe was very good. I had the Truffled Eggs - fabulous – soft scrambled eggs with truffled goat cheese on puff pastry. Our associate had Salmon Benedict - smoked salmon with excellent poached eggs and hollandaise. I think he had smoked salmon almost everywhere we went , I wasn’t sure there was anyone who liked salmon as much as I do – but I stand corrected! I really liked this place.

Also, I totally send kudos to the manager. He had an unexpected service issue, there was nothing anyone could have done to avoid it, but he more than took care of the problem. He went above and beyond, in my opinion, to make sure that everything was as it should be.

So we’re back home again – in Indiana – fat and happy with our time in Chicago. I send thanks to the Chicago Chowhounds’ – I couldn’t have done it without you!


Featuring Apple Pie

Labor Day Weekend for my clients in the summer of 2010

Calamari Salad over Arugula

Pearl Couscous and Pink Lentil Salad

Vinegar and Dill dressed Cucumbers with Watercress

Grilled Vegetables – Zukes, Onion, Tomato

Roast Beet/Goat Cheese Platter

Grilled New York Strip Steaks

Spears of Grilled Asparagus

Roasted Garlic and Onions and Mushrooms

Miso Chicken Salad with Asian Greens

Warm Thai Beef Salad with Spinach

Summer Rolls of Local Beets and Carrots

Crisp Okra with Jalapenos

Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin Beef

Roasted Beets with Soy-lime vinaigrette

Romaine – Blackened Onion Vinaigrette

Enchiladas Rancheros of Stewed Turkey

Plantanos Maduros and Tostones

Steamed Spinach with Toasted Local Garlic

Ugly Apple Pie with Homemade Wineberry Sorbet


KATRINA CATAMARAN

Originally from Chicago, Jacob moved to the west coast in 2010 where he discovered his love for sailing. A single day trip in San Diego had him hooked and pretty soon he was chartering and eventually purchasing his first sailboat in 2014. In 2017 after spending several years sailing the coast of California and Mexico he quit his job as a hospitality manager and decided to pursue a full time career on the water.

Over the last two years Jacob has spent the summer season in the Med working charters for everyone from honeymoon couples to giant flotillas of nearly 200 yachts! During the winter season of 2018 he moved to Australia to sail charters in New South Wales for the summer down under. When it warmed up in the north he returned to sail California and Mexico once again along with the Abaco's islands in the Bahamas. Since making the Virgin Islands his home he has explored the hidden gems and tourist hot spots to provide the trip of a lifetime for any guest.

Always pursuing additional knowledge, Jacob has spent his time gaining experience on vessels ranging from 25 ft race boats to 85 ft luxury cruisers. Whether it's a mono hull or catamaran big or small as long as it's sailing the ocean blue it's the right boat.


Born and raised in Florida, Dani grew up with a tremendous love for the ocean and the outdoors, which continue to bring her joy and a sense of comfort. From an early age, curiosity and excitement were instilled as her father began teaching her the way around the kitchen. Her later career in hospitality industry throughout her college years helped mold her understanding of the ins and outs of the restaurant world.

After obtaining her Associate in Arts from Valencia College she embarked on her first adventure to Hawaii while working on cruise ships. This was where she got her first taste and joy for life on the water. Living and working on the beautiful islands only deepened her passion for people and cooking abroad. Traveling and experiencing new cultures is a life-changing experience she dreams of offering to others.

The following year, she decided to trade the big ship life for a more fulfilling pursuit, where she could connect on a deeper level with her guests and let her true passion for the culinary arts come to life, playing with her creativity in food menus and toying with new delicious experiments. After her first trip as a chef aboard a sailing yacht in Portugal she knew she&rsquod found this opportunity, and for the last 3 years she has been working on sailing yachts in Portugal, Croatia, and the Virgin Islands this has allowed her to travel to over 20 different countries increasing her knowledge of alternative cuisines and her love of sailing.



Specifications

Type Catamaran
BuilderFountaine-Pajot
Year Built2018
Size50.00 Ft
Beam26 Feet
Draft4 Feet
Guests8

Boat Details

Cabins: 4
Queen: 4
Single Cabins: 1
Showers: -
Wash Basins: 4
Heads: -
Electric Heads: -

Pick Up Locations

Details

Engine Details

3.5 KW genset
Fuel Consumption: -
Cruising Speed: -
Max Speed: -

Locations

Winter Area: Caribbean Virgin Islands, Caribbean Leewards
Summer Area: Caribbean Virgin Islands, Caribbean Leewards

Amenities

Salon Tv/VCR: -
Salon Stereo: -
Sat Tv: -
# of Videos: -
# DVDs/Movies: -
# CD's: -
Camcorder: -
Books: -
Board Games: -
Sun Awning: -
Deck Shower: Yes
Bimini: -
Water Maker: -
Special Diets: -
Kosher: -
BBQ: -
# Dine In: -
Minimum Age: -
Generator: -
Inverter: -
Voltages: -
Water Maker: -
Water Cap: -
Ice Maker: -
Sailing Instructions: -
Internet Access: Onboard WIFI
Gay Charters: -
Nude: -
Hairdryers: -
# Port Hatches: -
Guests Smokes: -
Crew Smokes: -
Pets Aboard: -
Pet Type: -
Guest Pets: -
Children Ok: -
Hammock: -
Windscoops: -

Water Sports

Dinghy size: -
Dinghy hp: -
Dinghy # pax: -
Water Skis Adult: -
Water Skis Kids: -
Jet Skis: -
Wave Runners: -
Kneeboard: -
Windsurfer: -
Snorkel Gear: -
Tube: -
Scurfer: -
Wake Board: -
Kayaks 1 Pax: -
Kayaks (2 Pax): -
Floating Mats: -
Swim Platform: -
Boarding Ladder (Loc/Type): -
Sailing Dinghy: -
Beach Games: -
Fishing Gear: -
Gear Type: -
Rods: -

Breakfast
All breakfasts served with assortment of fresh fruit, juices, coffee & tea
&bull Lump crab Benedict
&bull Quinoa roasted sweet potato & kale salad with citrus thyme vinaigrette & sunny side up egg accompanied
by fresh blueberry muffins
&bull Sundried tomato spinach & goat cheese quiche served with bacon
&bull Huevos rancheros with homemade refried black beans & pico de Gallo avocado and feta
&bull Fresh lemon and sugar crepes finished with whipped cream and berries
&bull Poached eggs in a Middle eastern shakahuka with blackberry yogurt bowls and local honey served with
home made Swiss bread
&bull Zucchini corn fritters, arugula salad, guacamole finished with an egg and sweet tomato onion relish served
with banana nut loaf

Mid Morning Snacks
&bull Rhubarb & orange polenta cake
&bull Fruit tart with pastry cream
&bull Mini cucumber finger sandwiches
&bull Baked camembert in pastry dough with thyme & fig jam
&bull Blini with smoked trout, herb creme fraiche & fennel salad
&bull Raspberry meringue cakes with amaretto cream
&bull Parmesan truffled deviled eggs

Lunch
&bull Grilled Mahi sandwich on brioche bun with sriracha aioli and healthy broccoli apple salad
&bull Chicken & steak kabobs grilled over an open flame with fresh vegetables and hand cut potato chips
&bull Salmon ceviche poke bowls served over white rice Asian vegetables and marinated red cabbage with a
spicy chipotle sauce
&bull Healthy Mediterranean falafel bowls Lima beans cucumber & tomato served over greens with house made
tzakiki and hummus & fresh naan bread
&bull Slow cooked pulled pork tacos with Asian sesame slaw
&bull Crispy Shrimp Caesar Salad with Homemade Dressing & Fresh Focaccia Bread
&bull Roasted Vegetable & Chicken Quinoa Stack with Arugula & Feta Salad

Canapes
&bull Melon prosciutto mint skewers
&bull Crostini assortment plater
&bull Spinach artichoke wonton cups
&bull Crispy brussel sprouts with dijon aioli
&bull Cranberry pecan goat cheese truffles
&bull Chili Lime baked Shrimp on cucumber rounds
&bull Ceviche spoons with fresh guacamole

Dinner
&bull Crispy Trout with Chopped cabbage & watercress salad with fresh mint, cilantro, watermelon radish and
naval orange dressed with a spicy peanut sauce
&bull Grilled flatiron steak with a rosemary potato puree finished with fresh chimichurri
&bull Grilled Salmon served with White Rice & Finished with Mango Red Cabbage Lime Slaw
&bull Creamy Tuscan chicken with sun-dried tomatoes and wilted spinach
&bull Honey Garlic Glazed Pork Chop with Butternut Squash Puree and roasted asparagus
&bull Blackened Seared Scallops over a Charred Green Bean Medley with Ginger Miso Dressing

2 Pax 3 Pax 4 Pax 5 Pax 6 Pax 7 Pax 8 Pax
Winter 2020 to 2021 ย,000 ร,000 ฤ,000 ล,000 ฦ,000 ว,000 ศ,000
Summer 2021 ย,000 ร,000 ฤ,000 ล,000 ฦ,000 ว,000 ศ,000
Winter 2021 to 2022 ย,000 ร,000 ฤ,000 ล,000 ฦ,000 ว,000 ศ,000
Summer 2022 ย,000 ร,000 ฤ,000 ล,000 ฦ,000 ว,000 ศ,000
GENERAL NOTES:
MINIMUM NIGHTS: 6, Inquire for less
For 6 night charters, divide weekly rate by 7 nights X 6 nights. For 5 nights or less, divide weekly rate by 6 nights X number of nights.
BVI PORT FEE: Add 踰 each end for BVI ports other than West End or Jost.
If cruising area includes BVI, rates are PLUS permits, licenses and fees which are to be paid by client.

**4 QUEEN CABINS AVAILABLE FOR ADDITIONAL ũ,500 - PLEASE INQUIRE FOR APPROVAL FIRST**

HALF-BOARD OPTION - SUBTRACT 贶 per person from weekly rate: Includes 7 breakfasts, 4 lunches and 3 dinners. Other meals ashore at client expense.
After deduct = [email protected]ม,700 [email protected]ย,550 [email protected]ร,400 [email protected]ฤ,250 [email protected]ล,100 [email protected]ล,950 [email protected]ฦ,800

LOCAL FARE MEAL PLAN OPTION - SUBTRACT ๛ per person from weekly rate: Includes 7 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 6 dinners. Requires 2 lunches and 1 dinner ashore at client expense.
After deduct = [email protected]ม,850 [email protected]ย,775 [email protected]ร,700 [email protected]ฤ,625 [email protected]ล,550 [email protected]ฦ,475 [email protected]ว,400

SLEEP ABOARD Sleep aboard the night before charter dates. Available for 趚 per cabin per night, with a 2 cabin minimum. Includes snacks, welcome cocktails & continental breakfast. Dinner is to be taken ashore at client expense. EXCLUDES: Christmas and New Year's weeks.

CHRISTMAS: 7 night minimum, 2-8 guests ห,000 - full-board only. Must end by 12/26

NEW YEARS 7 night minimum, 2-8 guests, ะ,000 - full-board only. Must begin 12/27 or later.



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