On a recent trip to Orlando to further my education in my Wines for Humanity business and to scout out restaurants for our new culinary tours soon to be offered up there, I was invited as a member of the press to dine at Cuba Libre who just so happened to be launching a new menu the night of my arrival into town.
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, located in Pointe Orlando on International Drive, announces its new menu, which debuted yesterday May 3rd, featuring 12 brand new classic and contemporary Cuban dinner items by Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot, inspired by his bi-annual culinary travels to Cuba. The menu overhaul includes creative appetizers, entrees, and hand-crafted cocktails. In celebration of the popular restaurant’s extensive menu release, Cuba Libre is offering a complimentary glass of its signature red or white sangria to any guest dining at the restaurant for dinner between May 3rd and May 10th, with the purchase of an entrée. Guests must mention the free sangria promotion to their server in order to receive the complimentary item.
“I’m thrilled to introduce so many new flavorful, unique, and authentically Cuban items to Cuba Libre’s menus,” said Chef Pernot. “While many menu favorites remain, our 12 new dishes range from impressive platters for two, to trendy items with a Cuban twist, and tapas recipes passed down for generations, and I believe that our guests, both new and recurring, will absolutely love the new additions.”
The Cuban restaurant’s new menu features 50-60% new items including several massive meat entrees for two, such as the Crispy Pork Pata, a 48-hour slow-cooked Berkshire pork shank, served with grilled seasonal vegetables and Moros y Cristianos, in a citrus pan reduction; and the Ribeye Jibaro “Doble,” a 32 oz. salmuera-rubbed bone-in rib-eye steak, served with “boniato bravas” and grilled broccolini. Notable dishes in the new “Latin Steaks and Chops” section include the Vacio Steak Argentino, grilled Argentine-cut bavette steak, with Moros y Cristianos and tostones, and Argentinean chimichurri; and the Puerco Cha Cha Cha, three pork favorites in one jumbo cut: a bone-in loin chop with meaty rib and crisp pork belly, with “boniato bravas” and charred herb salsa, and chipotle allioli. A tropical seafood dish, the Pargo Frito, has also been added – crispy whole red snapper, coconut basmati rice and candied cashews, with a sprouts salad and mango red curry sauce.
Cuba Libre has also added a number of new appetizers based on traditional Cuban recipes, like the Chicken Croquetas, Crab Guacamole, Albóndigas Cubanas (or Cuban meatballs), and Octopus a la Parrilla. Guests are sure to be impressed with innovative menu items like the Cuban Sandwich Spring Rolls, and a Cuban twist on the current poke trend, Chef Pernot’s Cuban Poke – marinated seasonal fish, compressed watermelon and English cucumbers, pickled seaweed, avocado, white rice and toasted macadamia nuts, with pumpkin seed oil vinaigrette. An effervescent new hand-crafted cocktail, the Second Street 75, made with Macchu Pisco, simple syrup, lemon juice and sparkling wine, makes for the perfect pairing for the new dinner menu.
My server on this evening was James who provided me the most attentive and friendly service I have had in a long time. I asked James for some recommendations and he did not hesitate for a moment when he recommended I try the new Crab Guacamole. The plantain chips were phenomenal – so fresh and uniquely shaped, perfect for scooping up the guac. I loved both the sweetness that the grilled golden pineapple provided and the generous chunks of blue crab meat in this dish. This was a winner for sure. Off to a great start.
I washed that down with their Classic Mojito made with Pyrat Rum. Next up, I tried the Octopus a la Parilla. I have had octopus many a time, but I had never been served baby octopus apparently…until now. Wow was this ever different and so tasty. The description read truffle, another favorite of mine, but I’m sorry to say that I just didn’t detect the truffle, but I did discover some heat in the smoked potato crema from the Spanish paprika. I liked this dish very much.
Another new menu item I got to try was the Cuban Poke. Tonight’s fish was ahi tuna. A couple things I really enjoyed about this dish was how the compressed watermelon both blended in and resembled the tuna in shape and color and also how it complemented all the flavors in this bowl; toasted macadamia nuts, pickled seaweed, white rice, avocado, English cucumbers and pumpkin seed vinaigrette. Well composed dish.
As my stomach was beginning to get full, a duo of steaks appeared before me. From the existing menu I tried the Churrasco a la Cubano and from the new menu, the Vacio Steak Argentino. This was a grilled Argentine-cut bavette steak served with chimichurri, tostone and Moros y Cristianos (rice & beans). They were both terrific but I have to say that the Vacio edged out the other one by a slight margin in my book. Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the flavors were incredible. The steak melted like butter in my mouth. De-lish!
For dessert, I was presented a lovely tray of minis from which I chose the flan. But before I could dig in, I was presented with this lovely box which to select my eating utensil.
I am so excited that I got to try Cuba Libre while in Orlando and am super excited for the opportunity to work with them on some future groups. If you are traveling to the Orlando area, be sure to make this a stop on your culinary adventures.
About Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar
Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar in Orlando serves dinner daily from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Happy Hour is available every day from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. The bar is open until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, or to make a reservation, please call (407) 226-1600, visit www.cubalibrerestaurant.com, follow them on Twitter (@CubaLibreORL) or Instagram (@CubaLibreRestaurant) and “like” them on Facebook.
I had the opportunity to attend a blogger event at Saquella recently to be introduced to some new items that are being added to their menu so I can share them with you.
As many of you know, I spend a lot of time in the Downtown Boca area, particularly in Royal Palm Place and Mizner Park where I conduct my culinary tours. Saquella, located in Royal Palm Place, is the go-to-place for friends to gather for coffee and breakfast and a leader in the culinary scene here in Boca since they opened their doors back in 2005. They are recognized as a leader because of their philosophy which has been from the start and continues to be that they are always looking for new ways to innovate and evolve.
When Saquella first opened, the concentration was on their superior blends of coffee, innovative drinks and highly skilled baristas. They prided themselves on this and created the tagline, “Your First Cup of Coffee & Much More…” 12 years later, they have evolved into a full service breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner restaurant. While still providing the same quality drinks that they became known for, they are getting the word out that they are so much more. While Saquella has always been farm to table long before that name became in vogue, they developed a new tagline to better reflect the Cafe’s evolution and current offerings, “Scratch Kitchen & Bake Shop…”
Saquella has always drawn an International clientele and has become a landmark at the plaza, along with its neighbor across from them, Biergarten Boca. There’s a good chance if you live in Boca or travel to this area that you’ve been to Saquella, but what you many not know is that they are open for dinner and they have a full liquor license. Yep, you heard (well, technically read, correct). Myself and my fellow food bloggers were treated to several dishes prepared by Saquella’s Executive Chef Dave Fogel.
To get the night started off, we were each served a Cran Martini. It felt like we were celebrating Thanksgiving for a moment. What a lovely hue of red and what a novel idea of serving fresh cranberries in a cocktail in the Spring. I loved the tartness that the fresh cranberries provided. This martini drank like a Cosmo. I would highly recommend it.
The above dishes were not only gorgeous to look at and photograph, but each and every one of them was incredibly flavorful. I enjoyed them all. They all make for great sharing plates. The Shakshuka had melted mozzarella, which is something owner Avi had decided to add and boy are we glad he did. This addition took an already pretty awesome dish and elevated it to the next level Yum!
Again, aren’t these plates just gorgeous? The Sunflower seed crusted chicken was cooked to perfection and topped with an Ammoglio, an Italian version of salsa which was drizzled with a garlic confit. The Quinoa Crusted was delicious as was the beet purée found underneath. The short ribs had been cooked for 6 hours which imparted an amazing flavor and were fork tender. The asparagus asiago risotto was cooked to perfection and wonderful!
Peach Cobbler French Toast made with Challah bread with peaches baked into the bread
Saquella is open 7 days a week, Mon – Sat 7am – 10pm & Sun 10am – 4pm.
They are located in Royal Palm Place, 410 Via De Palmas, Boca Raton. You can visit their website or call (561) 338-8840.
It’s been a busy week for this Foodie Girl. Kicking the week off with Temper Grille followed by a wonderful tasting at Harvest Seasonal Grill set up for me by the company’s PR firm. I was super excited to finally make it in there after passing by it a gazillion times on my way from Boca to Delray to conduct my tours and then after meeting Reba, Harvest’s Marketing & Events Manager at the Flavors event last month.
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, a seasonally changing, farm to table concept serving wood fired steak, poultry, seafood, vegetarian and gluten free dishes offering guests locally-grown options typically under 500 calories.
The upscale-casual restaurant, whose mantra “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” is apparent in every detail, has vowed to change its offerings with the seasons (every three months), with menu items reflective of the time of year and produce available. The day of my visit was the first day the Spring Menu was being rolled out. Since opening in the Fall, Harvest has had a slight menu change for winter, but nothing like the overhaul of this new Spring menu I was told, where a good majority of the items have changed. That’s good for most and harder to accept by some who are sorry to see their favorites no longer on the current menu. I have a feeling though that those who are busy mourning the loss of their faves, will soon find new ones to enjoy and before long, their old faves will be back in season. I personally love the idea of keeping menus rotating, keeping them fresh with whatever bounty the current season has to offer, so kudos to Harvest Seasonal Grill for introducing this fresh new concept. Their awesome menu features mostly 500-calorie or fewer dishes, seasonally changing options that are made using the freshest ingredients around, and sourced from the 75 local farmers the eatery works with. Amongst them is Swank Farm and those who follow me know I love Swank Farm and their series of Farm-to-Table SWANK Table events.
Harvest Seasonal Grill accommodates a vast range of dietary needs with allergy-friendly and gluten-free concessions, vegan items and dairy-free offerings. Additionally, they offer an extensive menu of organic wines by the glass, along with craft-brewed draft beers, and a cocktail menu boasting seasonally rotating libations made with fresh fruits and herbs. Reba had suggested we try a flight of their Sangrias. Always open for suggestions, I said sure and before long these two beauties were placed in front of us. I started with the White one and it was not your typical white wine Sangria. Very pleasant. I liked it. Then I made my way over to the Rose one. I have to admit, I never had a Rose Sangria before. White ones and Red ones, but never any Rose…until now. Folks, I can’t express in words how DELICIOUS this one was. You’re just gonna have to trust me on this and go in and try it out for yourself. Period, end of story, lol!
I fell in love with the calamari. Don’t let the word “spicy” in the title deter you from trying this dish if you are sensitive to heat. Just ask them to go light on the spice. That way they can adjust it so that it is very subtle. The white wine and lemon juice broth it comes with is soooooo good!!! The calamari were cooked perfectly and I love the healthier presentation to frying. The tuna poke was good, but not my favorite; I think it was the texture of the sweet & sour cucumber dressing that threw me. I had to dig a little to find the avocado in the Avocado & Artichoke Dip. But the flavors were nice and once I found the avocado, I was happy. I thought the herbed Naan chips were really unique and a nice flavorful accompaniment. The Pesto Caprese Flatbread was so light and packed with fresh herbs. I loved the crispiness of the flatbread and the flavor combination. This one was a winner for sure!
So I ordered the Cedar Plank Salmon and it was delicious. I really enjoyed the Paddi Pan (green squash) too. My dining companion ordered the BBQ Braised Short Rib and when I asked him what he thought, he said that it tasted like meatloaf. Meatloaf?!? So I reached over with my fork to give it a try. Well I’ll be darned, the bbq sauce did resemble the old school sauce that topped many a meatloaf back in the day. Sauce aside, the short rib was slow cooked and very tasty all on its own.
With so many wonderful selections, I chose the Chocolate Salted Caramel Mousse. This did not disappoint!
This popular farm-to-table eatery and wine bar may be new to Florida (we got lucky that they chose Delray Beach the place to open their first one in FL), but they have been wildly successful in other parts of the country with six other locations including four in PA (where the company is based) and one in NJ. For exact locations, click here.
Seasonally-changing menus are conceptualized by Corporate Executive Chef Joshua N. Short, who offers over ten years of culinary experience to the Harvest team, holding prior positions as a Sous Chef with Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and Executive Chef with The JDK Group. Every dish served at Harvest’s Delray Beach location is executed to perfection by their culinary team, headed by Co-Executive Chefs Bill Ring (formerly of 32 East) and Chef Jeremy Hanson (previously at The Seagate), who work alongside local farmers to highlight the best and brightest flavors each season has to offer.
Harvest Seasonal Grill’s use of sustainable, organic and healthy ingredients doesn’t end with the menu. A truly green concept, the eatery not only features recycled glass bar tops and a beautiful exterior living wall, but also uses all organic cleaning products, recycled paper products and eco-friendly ink on their menus.
Harvest Seasonal Grill is located in the Delray Place shopping plaza at1841 S. Federal Highway, #402, Delray Beach, FL 33483. For more information or to make a reservation, call (561) 266-3239 or visit www.harvestseasonalgrill.com.
I was recently invited back to BRIO for a tasting of some new menu items and to share with you a new promotion that they have going on in all their Palm Beach County locations now through April 15th. I’ll get to the promotion in a minute. On this particular dine, my companion and I who have eaten at BRIO on several occasions decided to start out with a “Flirty Cosmo” which is made with absolute Mandarin, pama, pomegranate liquor, fresh lime and fizz 56. It was a delicious cocktail and one we both would recommend.
We decided to try the Burrata & Ciabatta appetizer which was beautifully plated and was a wonderful combination of creamy burrata, roasted tomatoes, EVOO and grilled ciabatta for $10.95. I enjoyed building my own bruschetta by layering the tomatoes onto the ciabatta and topping with the creamy burrata. I was in heaven!
Our server Jake was a huge fan of their Brussels sprouts, claiming these are the very ones that got him to eat brussels sprouts. With a recommendation like that, how could we not try them as well? We asked him to bring us a side of these which he graciously offered to do, although now that I’m writing this, I only see it listed as a side option to their entrees. The Maple Balsamic Brussels Sprouts were very tasty and I would highly recommend you try them.
For entrees, my companion had the Center-Cut Filet Mignon (Comes in 6 oz. $24.75 & 8 oz. $29.50) and comes with one side. He chose the Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes. My companion ordered his steak medium rare but it came out pretty rare, so we did ask for a bump up. I would recommend ordering this steak medium. We ordered the mushroom marsala sauce to top the steak and it was a nice compliment.
For my entree, I selected the Pasta Alla Vodka. The pasta that was used for this dish, explained to me by Elvin, the GM at the Boca BRIO location, was a sacchetti, (a little purse in Italian) filled with ricotta, spicy tomato Parmesan cream sauce (not too spicy, trust me), crispy pancetta and basil for $18.95. You can opt to add a protein to this entree and the chicken I ordered really was a wonderful compliment to this very tasty dish. I would highly recommend it!
And now on to the current promotion they are running here at the Palm Beach County locations:
Present Special “A Variety of Flavors” Lunch and Dinner Menu, Available Feb. 28–April 15
BRIO Tuscan Grille is offering an array of new dishes for the “A Variety of Flavors” promotion, taking place Tuesday, Feb. 28 through Saturday, April 15. The lunch and dinner menus present two exciting new appetizers, three entrées (including two mouthwatering seafood dishes), and a divine dessert.
“With our ‘A Variety of Flavors’ lunch and dinner menus, our guests can enjoy unique flavors with a Tuscan twist, including mouthwatering seafood dishes, for a limited time,” said BRIO Tuscan Grille Chef & Culinary Director Alison Peters.
The menus include:
Calamari Fritto Misto: Peperoncini, aioli, Pomodoro; $10.75 at lunch, $11.75 at dinner
Spicy Shrimp & Eggplant: Pan seared shrimp, Romano crusted eggplant, black pepper cream; $11.50 at lunch, $12.50 at dinner
Peroni Beer-Battered Fish & Chips: North Atlantic cod, fries, Brussels sprout slaw; $17.95 (pictured below)
Lobster & Black Pepper Shrimp Ravioli: Spicy black pepper cream, spinach, grape tomatoes; $19.95 (pictured above)
Butterscotch Budino: Italian for “pudding,” Marcona almonds, caramel, vanilla whipped cream; $3.95
Serving as perfect complements to these special dishes are BRIO’s exquisite wine selections. Suggested wines are the light, fruity and elegant Sketchbook Pinot Noir (Mendocino, California); and the lush and silky Benziger Family Winery Chardonnay (Sonoma, California).
Jingle All the Way to BRIO Tuscan Grille this Holiday Season my Foodie Friends! BRIO Palm Beach County Locations Present Delicious Holiday Features, Gift Card Deals and Unlimited Cheer
The holidays are just around the corner and BRIO Tuscan Grille will be celebrating in a big way! From seasonal entrées and desserts to gift card incentives, there is something for everyone. BRIO is the perfect gathering spot for friends and family throughout the holiday season.
Oh what fun it will be to eat, drink and be merry at BRIO Tuscan Grille this holiday season! Following jubilant Tuscan tradition, BRIO locations in Palm Beach County will revel in the holiday spirit, welcoming guests to gather ‘round the table to indulge in special seasonal fare. In addition, BRIO is happy to “give the gift of BRIO” to its guests, with bonus gifts for guests who buy $100 in holiday gift cards.
The restaurant just rolled out a few new delicious and indulgent holiday favorites, including a mouthwatering Broiled Main Lobster Tail with Creole Shrimp Pasta, a Surf & Turf of Beef Medallions with jumbo shrimp & Romano crusted eggplant served with white cheddar polenta and for dessert, a Chocolate Layer Cake with Candy Cane Gelato.
BRIO will also offer a two-course prix fixe menu for New Year’s Eve, starting at $29.95.
Seasonal Entrées & Desserts
“Indulgent cuisine is one of the most exciting parts of Tuscan holiday tradition, and we at BRIO are pleased to present these seasonal dishes infused with delicious flavors,” said BRIO Culinary Director & Chef Alison Peters.
Broiled Maine Lobster Tail & Creole Shrimp Pasta with angel hair, spicy cream sauce, capers, red peppers, green onions and basil ($25.95)
Surf & Turf — Grilled-to-order beef medallions, jumbo black pepper shrimp over Romano crusted eggplant and white cheddar polenta ($28.95)
Chocolate Layer Cake with Candy Cane Gelato — Decadent chocolate cake, milk and white chocolate mousse, fudge ganache frosting and candy cane gelato ($6.95)
The perfect accompaniments to a Tuscan-style holiday meal, BRIO’s select white and red wines include the delightful Sketchbook Cabernet Sauvignon (Mendocino, California) priced at $10.95 per glass/$40 per bottle or the truly exquisite Hess Shirtail Chardonnay priced at $9.95 per glass/$38 per bottle.
New Year’s Eve
Guests can celebrate New Year’s Eve in style at BRIO, which will offer a two-course prix fixe menu, including one of the above entrées, along with guests’ choice of soup/salad or petite dessert, starting at $29.95. The two-course prix fixe menu will be offered 12/30/16 to 1/2/17.
Gifts for Holiday Party Guests
What is a holiday party without a takeaway gift? Now through Jan. 15, 2017, hosts and guests in parties of 10 or more will receive a $10 off bonus gift for a future visit to BRIO in January or February 2017. The promotion applies to parties hosted Sunday–Thursday.
Gift Card Bonus Offer
With all of the excitement the holidays bring, everyone needs to give themselves a gift! Through Friday, Dec. 30, 2016, BRIO guests who purchase $100 in BRIO gift cards will receive a $20 bonus gift, valid Jan. 1–March 15, 2017. This promotion is available at all BRIO restaurant locations and online at www.BrioItalian.com. And yet another plus —personalized BRIO gift cards and e-gifts are available!
During the holidays, reservations are highly recommended at BRIO for both private parties and individual guests. Guests can now make reservations online for all BRIO restaurants by visiting www.BrioItalian.com. For a list of locations, please visit www.BrioItalian.com.
I tasted these new featured holiday dishes (compliments of BRIO, although all opinions are my own, as always) at the BRIO located at The Shops at Boca Center, 5050 Town Center Circle, Suite 239, Boca Raton, FL 33486.
BRIO offers lunch and dinner, as well as a special children’s menu; brunch is offered Saturday and Sunday until 3:30 p.m. The 8,800-square-foot restaurant has indoor seating for 260 guests and al fresco dining for 100 on its outdoor terrace, as well as a full-service bar that seats 40. BRIO also offers a private dining area that seats 16–48 guests. The restaurant is open Sunday 11:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Monday–Thursday 11:30 a.m.–10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. For more information, visit www.brioitalian.com. For reservations, call The Shops at Boca Center restaurant at (561) 392-3777.
Santa Claus is Sharing Holiday Joy During Breakfasts with Santa,
Including Fun-Filled Activities, at Palm Beach County BRIO Locations in December!
Ho, ho, ho! Santa is making special visits to BRIO Tuscan Grille locations at CityPlace and The Gardens Mall to listen to Christmas wishes and spread holiday cheer. Guests will enjoy a delicious plated breakfast and holiday activities including face painting, holiday crafts, cookie decorating, ornament making, and Christmas carolers. Santa Claus will be visiting tables collecting wish lists, and will also take photos with guests (be sure to bring cameras!)
BRIO’s breakfast will be plentiful with delicious items for both adults and children. Choices on the adult menu include:
Eggs, Home Fries & Bacon: Scrambled eggs, bacon, brunch potatoes and brioche toast. Turkey sausage on request.
Berries & Cream French Toast: Honey, cinnamon, sweet cream cheese stuffed French toast, fresh berry compote, and Applewood bacon
Sicilian Omelette: Cherrywood smoked ham, bacon, Fontanini sausage, caramelized onions, tomato compote, Mozzarella, Provolone and Parmesan cheeses. Served with brunch potatoes.
Ham & Biscuit Benedict: Two poached cage free eggs, Cherrywood smoked ham, housemade biscuit and hollandaise. Served with brunch potatoes.
Children’s selections include Kids’ French Toast served with maple syrup and fresh fruit; and Kids’ Scrambled Eggs served with bacon and fresh fruit.
All meals include choice of coffee, tea, soft drink, milk or juice, muffins and yogurt parfait.
Reservations are required for the Breakfast with Santa events.
Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016
BRIO at CityPlace
550 South Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach, FL 33401
Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016
BRIO at The Gardens Mall
3101 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
$11.95 per adult; $5.95 per child
Reservations are required. Call your local BRIO or visit www.brioitalian.com to reserve for this special Santa event!