Today’s feature is on Boon’s Asian Bistro in West Delray Beach, FL. (W. Atlantic Avenue and just east of the Turnpike) There is another Boon’s (related) in West Boca on 441, however, this one has a completely different menu. Boon’s Asian Bistro features cuisines from all over Asia, including Japan, China, Thailand and the Philippines.
Boon’s embodies Buddha’s philosophy to seek happiness through peaceful harmony with themselves and the environment. In this respect, they strive to provide sustainable, antibiotic & hormone-free food where guests’ complete satisfaction is their mission. They strive to be a place where even the unexpressed wishes or needs of their guests are fulfilled. Their pledge is to provide a dining atmosphere where guests will not only enjoy the highest quality of fresh, locally sourced foods from farms and artisans from around the world but provide a fun, relaxed environment where traditional dining norms are ignored and/or broken.
I was recently invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant during their soft opening. My companion and I had the opportunity to sample a nice cross section of the menu.
Tuna tartare with Casava Chips. This appetizer was very light and fresh and each component of the dish complemented each other. I especially loved using the Casava chips to scoop up each bite.
The Tom Kha Gai soup was outstanding. Full of flavor and mushrooms that have been cooked, as compared to most places that serve this dish with uncooked mushrooms. I believe the cooked mushrooms added another layer of depth and flavor.
Lobster roll. Most lobster rolls I have had contain battered & fried lobster inside the roll; this one utilized Maine lobster that had been poached in its shell and was very light. It was a lovely presentation, and I liked it, but it wasn’t a stand out item for me.
Tofu Tempura with a peanut dipping sauce. Nice and light.
I thought my favorite fish was Chilean Sea Bass until I met this beauty. May I introduce to you North Atlantic Black Cod. Have you ever had this fish? Well, it has now catapulted to first place in the category of my favorite fish dishes, thanks to Boon’s. I especially loved the glaze that coated the fish. Yummo!
The filet mignon was cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was wonderful.
The fried rice was excellent! I especially liked the grilled pineapple pieces that were included.
The Crispy Duck was seasoned and cooked to perfection!
This delicious dessert concoction is called the Buddha’s Candy ice cream sundae. It has all kinds of whimsical things thrown in for fun such as cotton candy, marshmallows and pop rocks.
Boon’s Asian Bistro Delray is located at 7959 W. Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33446
DISARONNO turned the literal translation of amaretto ‘a little bitter’ into something sweet for amaretto enthusiasts in Delray in honor of National AmarettoDay, this past Wednesday, April 19th. DISARONNO, the original amaretto since 1525, hosted a self-guided bar tour in Delray for DISARONNO Day, which also happens to be National Amaretto Day. During the bar tour, revelers were able to enjoy cocktails such as the Italian Margarita, Bourbon Sour and DISARONNO Breeze.
Starting off at City Oyster at 5pm, DISARONNO Day participants were also able to visit Tramonti, 32 East, Luigi’s Coal Oven Pizza, and Buddha Sky Bar as part of the official tour. Guests were provided a DISARONNO Sour Jar in which they could enjoy the cocktails and take it home as a keepsake souvenir. In addition, guests were given a DISARONNO t-shirt.
I started off at one of my favorite places on “The Ave”, City Oyster & Sushi Bar where bartender extraordinaire Wayne Pasik poured me the Bourbon Sour to get this party started. Nice pucker to it. Off to a good start!
Next, I headed over to Tramonti where Timothy crafted the DISARRONO Breeze for me. This was made with DISARRONO of course and sour mix, Zonin Prosecco & Bitters. It was delicious!
Next up was 32 East. As I pulled up a seat at the bar, I could no sooner get out the words “DISARRONO” when the lively group of guys hanging out at the bar next to me blurted out “we would like to buy you that drink”. While I was flattered, I explained that I was participating in this tour and before I finished, they repeated their kind offer. Then it dawned on me, they were from DISARRONO. Dave, Ed, Matt and the rest of the gang were so much fun to hang out with.
Following 32 East, I made my way to Luigi’s Coal Fire Pizza. Here, bartender Ryan poured me an Italian Margarita. How fitting in an Italian restaurant. The drink was great and so was Ryan!
The final stop on this amaretto tasting tour was Buddha Sky Bar where Chrissy got real creative and made me an impromptu cocktail featuring DISARRONO. She came up with a Black Cherry Collins – made with DISARRONO, passion fruit puree, agave, a splash of grenadine and muddled blackberries and raspberries. I think this one my favorite creation of the night. Way to go Chrissy!
I want to thank the folks at DISARRONO for inviting me to participate in this cool bar tour. I think I see some synergy here with my culinary tours. Can’t wait to explore the possibilities of collaborating with them again.
Here are a few recipes of the signature DISARONNO cocktails that were featured on the tour. Enjoy and drink responsibly!
2 parts DISARONNO
1 part fresh lemon juice
¼ part simple syrup
Fill a Disaronno Sour Jar with ice. Pour in Disaronno and then the fresh lemon juice. Add a teaspoon of sugar. Stir and garnish with lemon slice.
1 oz. DISARONNO
1 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Lemon Juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
Shake all ingredients with ice, and pour over a highball glass with ice and garnish with a lemon or orange slice
I’m very excited to share with you my excursion down to South Beach a few weeks ago to attend my very first Slow Food Miami event, where over 300 ravenous foodies joined an elite group of South Florida’s top chefs for the recent 6th Annual Slow Food Miami “Snail of Approval” Tasting Party.
What is Slow Food Miami you ask? Slow Food Miami supports our local community from the ground up – from the Edible School & Community Gardens that are planted to encourage the enjoyment of foods that are local, seasonal and sustainably grown; to the local growers and artisan food makers they support for their use of sustainable methods. Planting a fresher future for our children.
All proceeds from events such as The Slow Food Miami “Snail of Approval” along with donor contributions support local school and community gardens and points South Floridians and visitors to food that is good, clean and fair by identifying and honoring producers, purveyors and artisans who contribute to food and beverage quality, authenticity and sustainability. In its inaugural year (2010), nominations were solicited among Miami-Dade county farmers. Now nominations come from the general public and all nominations are vetted by the Slow Food Miami Snail of Approval Committee and donor contributions support local school and community gardens.
They are a non-profit, 100% volunteer organization. Their local members are passionate about good food, supporting local growers and celebrating Miami’s diversity. By acting locally, we are helping to build a world where the food we eat is good for us, good for farmers and workers, and good for the planet. Slow Food Miami is the local chapter of Slow Food USA and the International Slow Food Association.
Celebrity Chef/Owner of Malibu Farm and author of Malibu Farm Cookbook: Recipes from the California Coast, Helene Henderson hosted this year’s Slow Food Miami’s“Snail of Approval” Tasting Party. Regarded as Miami’s “Freshest Night Out”, the 6th Annual celebration was held Friday, March 24, 2017, at the Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort. This year, the unforgettable evening under the stars was made possible thanks to a partnership with Eden Roc, The Miami Scout Guide, Just Ask Boo, Vero Water, JetSet Sounds, FOH, J Wakefield Brewery, Menu Men, Inc., and wines sponsored by Twenty-One Wine & Spirits. The tasting party united dozens of the city’s top chefs, and local growers and producers for a night of tasting and honoring Miami’s food scene.
The soirée took place at the spectacular newly renovated Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort with ambient tunes by Michael Casola from JetSet Sounds. The first 100 tickets sold were priced at $75. After that, general admission tickets went to $85 per person with sales ending at noon on March 23. Tickets at the door were $100 per person. All event proceeds benefitted the Slow Food Miami’s Edible Garden Program. VIP Garden Sponsor tickets were available for $750 and included a garden box for a school, free entry to Freshest Night Out with early bird admission at 6:30PM and a signed copy of Helene Henderson’s Malibu Farm Cookbook: Recipes from the California Coast.
The Eden Roc’s fusion of fun and luxury was the perfect setting for this festive and sophisticated event where the “who’s who” in the South Florida culinary scene mingled about the lovely ocean front property. Guests indulged in tastes from Miami’s best farm-to-table, including a mix of current 2016-2017 “Snail of Approval” honorees and past “Snail of Approval” winners. This year’s chefs and food artisans included:
Helene Henderson (Malibu Farm)
Adrienne Grenier (3030 Ocean)
Paula DaSilva (Artisan Beach House)
Sean Brasel (Meat Market)
Jessica Weiss Levinson (Serendipity Creamery)
Frederic Joulin (Semilla)
Zak Stern (Zak the Baker)
Blair Wilson (Social Club @ The Surfcomber Hotel) * “2017 People’s Choice” AwardWinner
Brian Nasajon (Beaker & Gray)
Corey Bousquet and Evan Boomer (The Brick) – *2017 “Judges Choice” Winner
Andres Barrientos and James Bowers (Miami Smokers)
Allen Susser (Books & Books, Coral Gables)
Ray and Shannon Allen (Grown)
Carolina Quijano (exquisito chocolates)
Buster Brown (Counter Culture Kombucha)
Giorgio Rapicavoli (Glass and Vine)
Maria Laura Aleman (Artichoke Foods)
Della Heiman (della test kitchen)
Rene Reyes and John Gallo (Pinch Kitchen)
Isabel and Susana Garcia (Cacao Art Chocolates)
Matthew Kenney (Plant Food & Wine)
Julie Frans (Essensia Restaurant & Lounge)
Muriel Olivares and Tiffany Noe (Little River Cooperative)
Freddy and Danielle Kaufman (Proper Sausage)
Gabe Bernal (Seasons Farm Fresh)
Aaron Dreilinger (Chef David’s Catering)
Chuck Lyons (Verde Community Gardens)
Paul Massard and Chris Nolte (Per’La Specialty Roasters)
Chris French (French Farms)
Carlos Cararas (MIA Beer Company)
Kevin Rusk- Titanic Brewery
Johnathan Wakefield (J Wakefield Brewing)
Ben Conniff (Lukes Lobster)
Cristina Ivory (Angry Booch)
Nick Paton (Kelvin Slushies)
The coveted “People’s Choice” Award, judged and selected by popular vote was awarded to Chef Blair Wilson from Social Club at The Surfcomber Hotel for his amazing sweet and savory pecan-smoked St. Louis ribs with sesame-sorghum barbecue sauce, toasted sesame seeds, and pickled local veggies, while the “Chef’s Choice” Award for the “Best Bite of the Night”, judged by Slow Food Miami’s Chef Host Committee, went to Restaurateur Corey Bousquet and Chef Chris Huff of The Brick for the ultimate comfort food of shrimp ‘n’ grits made with Key West pink shrimp and War Eager Mill grits.. This year the event also featured a live auction including a weekend at Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort and including dinner for two at Malibu Farm, among other surprises. Guests had the opportunity to purchase school garden grants at the event.
Find the “Snail of Approval” list on the Slow Food Miami website, as well as on the upcoming mobile app. The Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort is located at 4525 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140. Discounted valet tickets were available for $20.
Follow #SnailMIA and #SFMFreshestNightOut on Twitter and Facebook for additional 2016-2017 participating honorees and the latest updates.
About Slow Food Miami
Slow Food Miami is a local 100% volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to “planting a fresher future for our children.” It’s the local chapter of Slow Food USA, a national non-profit dedicated to supporting good, clean and fair food for all that supports our local communities from the ground up – from the Edible School & Community Gardens that encourage the enjoyment of local, seasonal and sustainably grown food, to the local growers and artisan food makers who use sustainable methods. Slow Food Miami supports its Edible School & Community Garden Program through culinary educational events and fundraising, and aims to raise awareness for good, clean and fair food as a cornerstone of pleasure, culture and community. For more information, visitwww.slowfoodmiami.org.
About Malibu Farm
“Fresh, organic, local” is the motto at Malibu Farm, the soon to open Miami Beach outpost located at the Eden Roc of the hugely popular California farm to table restaurant and magnet for A-listers. Owner, cookbook author and farmer Helene Henderson will bring her signature style of local, sustainable, fresh-off-the-farm fare along with an extensive wine and cocktail menu. With spectacular ocean views, Malibu Farm is set to premier Spring 2017.
About Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort
With an oceanfront location in the heart of Miami’s Mid-Beach and just minutes from Lincoln Road, Ocean Drive and the Wynwood arts district, Eden Roc Miami Beach Resort offers travelers a beachfront retreat synonymous with contemporary Miami luxury. Following a multi-million-dollar renovation that revitalized and re-launched the Eden Roc, this property boasts 418 spacious guest rooms and suites, three stunning pools, 22,000 square feet of spa and fitness facility, the world’s largest Nobu Restaurant & Bar, and will soon be home to the farm-to-fork restaurant, Malibu Farm in Spring 2017. Inspired by the beauty and splendor of the ocean below, Eden Roc rooms and suites offer savvy travelers unique in-room dining offerings and spectacular ocean views, while light and airy furnishings set the perfect seaside scene. For more information and reservations, please call (305) 531-0000 or visit www.edenrocmiami.com.
I was invited to the pre-opening of Fresh Kitchen Boca, another great addition in the growing trend of healthy fast casual restaurants popping up in South Florida. Fresh Kitchen, a 100% gluten-free, build-your-own bowl concept has now opened in Boca Raton! All of their meats are hormone and antibiotic free, all of their sauces are homemade, and their menu, which is packed with flavor, changes with the seasons. They opened their first store in South Tampa in September 2014, followed by St. Petersburg and Sarasota, and now…are thrilled to call Boca their new home 🙂 Their goal was to create and serve fresh, high quality ingredients that nourish and energize our bodies in a fast-casual restaurant. The meal you want, when you want it, with countless combinations. Their food is made from scratch and fresh-to-order. From their grill to your bowl, as fast as you can point!
What they serve:
100% gluten free ingredients
Dairy free and sugar free, unless indicated
Cold pressed juices, teas and frescas made in-house daily
House made dressings and sauces
Flavorful veggies that change seasonally
Hormone and antibiotic free meats
Fresh salad and slaw, rice, quinoa & sweet potato noodles used as the base for bowls
So the idea is to build your own bowl selecting from a number of bases: brown rice, coconut ginger rice, romaine salad sweet potato mash, kale slaw, vegetable quinoa, sweet potato noodles and perfect spice rice; then select your veggies: Parmesan broccoli, roasted mushrooms, sesame green beans, roasted Brussels sprouts & seasonal vegetable; next you select your protein(s): grilled citrus chicken, herb grilled steak (+$1.50), baked almond chicken, chia seed tuna poke (+$1.50), BBQ chicken, chia seed teriyaki tofu, Chef’s protein; and then you can sauce it up with the following options: creamy white ginger, coconut sriracha, herb balsamic vinaigrette, cucumber jalapeno & holy kale. As if that weren’t enough options, wait…there’s more…bean & corn salsa ($.50), Parmesan cheese ($.50), kale pesto tomatoes ($1.50), Feta cheese ($.50) and citrus avocado ($+2)
And when you go through the line, your creation might look something like this:
Everything I had was super fresh and flavorful. My favorites were the baked almond chicken, the herb grilled steak and the kale pesto tomatoes.
The selection of cold pressed juices is impressive *available at select locations* (I didn’t have any of these on this day but I’m looking forward to going back to try some. I hope they have the Macho Milk one at this location, cuz that looks right up my alley! Who am I kidding?!? They all look up my alley 😉
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.
A Banini, you ask? Certainly. The magnificent union of a bagel and a hot fresh pressed panini. It’s not only brilliant, but it’s delicious! I was invited for a tasting of a variety of banini, amongst other delicious items at the Brooklyn Water Bagel Company, the brand behind this creation, at their Fifth Avenue Shops location on Federal Highway in Boca Raton.
The Aha Moment
The aha moment struck one fateful Thanksgiving dinner when Steve Fassberg realized the recipe for success had been there all along. The seeds for Brooklyn Water Bagel and replicating that New York bagel were actually planted early on in his childhood. For Fassberg, creating the ideal bagel began the moment it clicked: “It’s all about the water.”
At the age of 13, Brooklyn-born Steve Fassberg trekked from Massapequa, New York to Miami, Florida, hauling bags full of NY bagels in the plane’s overhead compartment. He was bringing the Big Apple staples to his grandparents, whom upon seeing Fassberg exclaimed not “hello,” but “did you bring the bagels?!” Fassberg’s grandparents hadn’t eaten a good one since leaving New York and it was because the quality of water in Florida, they reasoned, didn’t match that of the New York water they had been accustomed to. New York water and its properties created that perfectly crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside combination.
The bagel visionary, a larger than life personality, cut his teeth in the world of entrepreneurship earlier than most. During the day, he poured his hours into banking and working with mortgage financing. At night he moonlighted as a restaurateur. By the age of only 21, he had saved up $80,000, just enough to open his very first deli. The Fassberg Kosher Deli in Flushing, Queens, furnished with booths made in Fassberg’s own garage by him and his friends, was opened in April of 1983 to huge success. In 1985, at the age of 25, Fassberg sold the deli for over a million dollars, marking the first of his many highly successful ventures in the restaurant industry.
It’s All About the Water
The visionary continued his career in investment banking, all the while opening and selling a roster of fruitful delicatessen and restaurant concepts. One Thanksgiving dinner, a new idea struck. The phrase “It’s all about the water” hit home once again and Fassberg dove into the chance create the perfect bagel, right here in Florida.
Brooklyn Water Bagel didn’t spring to life right away. Fassberg dedicated months of research to discovering and creating the perfect bagel, which involved not only the right oven, temperature and baking stone, but also the right water. New York pizza and bagels are so good, he discovered, because of the water. It was the only thing in baking that seemingly couldn’t be kept consistent everywhere, until then.
With the help of various water treatment companies and experts, Fassberg discovered what went into the ideal water and what had to go out. He utilized a 14-step system that purified the Florida water by methods like reverse osmosis and reduction of ions, removing from it the chlorine and ammonia present and neutralizing its pH level, among other processes, that would render it “Brooklynized™”.
Monte Cristo fresh-roasted turkey, ham, melted Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing
Chicken/Turkey BLT fresh-roasted chicken or turkey, crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato
Development of Concept
Once Fassberg’s water formula was in place, it was time to create the concept which would support a world class bagel product. The next few months were focused on testing menu opinions, Brooklyn design elements and of course the creation of Cubsta “iced coffee” cubes. This is a real treat. Be sure to stop in and try one of their iced coffees using these special coffee ice cubes. You’ll be hooked for sure!
Breaking Bread with Larry
After being open only a short time in Delray Beach, Florida, Fassberg had wild success by virtue of the first authentic New York bagel produced outside New York. Armed only with a really great recipe for a bagel and a shared passion for Brooklyn, he was able to land the attention of iconic television and radio host Larry King. Fassberg flew to Los Angeles to meet with King, who couldn’t believe the bagel he was eating was made outside New York. By 2010, moved by Fassberg’s passion for Brooklyn and creating a product so well thought out and unique, King signed on to be Brooklyn Water Bagel’s first franchisee and national spokesperson.
Now, the company has 25 location in 6 states around the country, including Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, California, Georgia and Massachusetts. In addition to featuring authentic Brooklyn-style bagels, The Original Brooklyn Water Bagel menu includes egg sandwiches, deli sandwiches, omelets and muffins along with a variety of farm-sourced and artisan-roasted coffee blends.
For more info on the company, check out their website.
They are located at: 2250 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, FL 33431 (561) 206-6821
They are open every day from 6am – 3pm.
I want to thank my friends at The Gab Group and Josh and Joe at the Brooklyn Water Bagel Company for having myself and my companion in to try out this lovely assortment. Thumbs up on food and hospitality. We will be back!
-phile: a suffix, denoting fondness for a specified thing; one that loves, admires, or is attracted to a specified thing.
Hello Foodie Friends,
Today I am here to share with you my latest Boca Food Find and that is GourmetPhile. As the definition above connotes, I am a GourmetPhile, a lover and admirer with a deep fondness & passion for food, particularly of the gourmet variety and GourmetPhile, the newest gourmet specialty market to open in Royal Palm Place in Downtown Boca, which satisfies my foodie cravings in every way.
I have been waiting for this store to open for a very long time and was thrilled to be asked to work with them to assemble some of the area’s social media influencers and Concierge for some special tasting events.
Their Story GourmetPhile is the love child of Blair and Zhanna Leavell. Zhanna was formerly a university professor of mathematics in St Petersburg, Russia, and Blair owned a software consulting firm. It must have been love at first sight for the two, who were introduced by one of Blair’s employees, as they were married just a few months after meeting. Zhanna, having difficulty finding work in her own field teaching mathematics here in the US, worked as a distributor of gourmet food items across Florida. Zhanna and Blair ended up becoming quite involved with gourmet food, attending fancy food shows around the country, etc. and decided they wanted to do something fun and entrepreneurial together that reflected their expanding interest in fine food. A little over a year ago they formed GourmetPhile and broke ground on this beautifully appointed new store.
Their Vision to be a one stop shop for everything amazingly delicious from all over the world that you can’t find at Publix, Whole Foods, Cheese Course etc. To also be a gathering place of informal elegance for foodies, chefs and connoisseurs. It is their mission to offer the best of the best, at a surprisingly affordable price point, without compromising on quality.
Their Store The Chocolate Room – It hits you right in the face when you walk in. You may find yourself salivating from the powerful luxuriant richness of the smells alone. Their chocolate room has a separate temperature and humidity regime, and their suppliers ship in refrigerated containers by air. The result is a fresher product that preserves the delicate terroir of the finest chocolates in the world.
Their filled chocolates wear their colors like tropical birds, with exotic flavors like guava/tamarind, pineapple/fennel/caramel and cardamom/rose. Their single origin bars have won the golden bean award many times. GourmetPhile is the only store in Boca that takes such care with chocolate.
The Wine Cellar – Also a separate temperature regime. GourmetPhile’s thoughtfully constructed cellar allows easy label viewing of 250 expertly curated wines you can’t find anywhere else in town. Highly skilled sommeliers with deep connections in the old world and the new have found some great mid range values in wineries located very close to grand cru vineyards, for example.
The Cheese Case – state of the art new display case with over 70 award winning cheeses from around the world. These are fabulous cheeses selected by a master cheese monger, with exotic wraps like spruce cambrium and grape leaves soaked in pear brandy. Come and try them – they are generous with their tastings!
The Caviar Case – Caviar has a special place in the couple’s hearts. Zhanna’s father was a fisherman (he passed away 5 years ago), so she grew up with the best black caviar by the bowlful as a child. Part of the impetus for their store is a celebration of these memories. Disappointed with the quality of most of the caviar that can be obtained in the American market, Zhanna was impressed with Petrossian, particularly due to the fact that it is never frozen, and for the superb flavor and mouth feel evocative of her childhood. Petrossian, the preeminent caviar by which others are measured – literally. They developed the grading methodology for taste, mouth feel, egg size, color, fat content and brine that is used throughout the industry today.
The caviar tasting that was arranged for a select group of Concierge, was conducted by JoAnn Economou, who covers the entire state of FL for Petrossian. The Petrossian family began importing caviar from Russia to Paris during the roaring 1920’s, when caviar became a popular extravaganza. Since the inception of the company, (over 95 years) Petrossian has developed a reputation for quality within the industry and are the largest importer of caviar in the U.S., selling 50 tons of it per year. Each container is labeled with the date, best used by info and detailed codes on the sourced sturgeon.
So what actually is caviar? Caviar is the salted roe (eggs) of sturgeon. Sturgeon are part of an ancient group of large fish with 27 varieties, many of which can be found in the Caspian Sea. Over fishing and pollution of the Caspian Sea has driven sturgeon to near extinction. The most notable sturgeons are Beluga, Ossetra and Sevruga. Wild caviar is no longer available and illegal to be sold in the U.S. since 205. Today, all caviar sold in the US. is farm raised, with many new varieties available in the market today. Caviar is sourced from Israel, Bulgaria China, Italy, Florida, California, North Carolina and the list continues to grow.
Caviar Knowledge: 30g is more than one ounce (28g). All caviar is offered in grams. The lid is crimped to ensure no air has entered from the time of packing it in New York until it reaches the guest.
Malossol means “little salt” in Russian. Other companies add salt to their caviar to give them a plumper look, but JoAnn explained it doesn’t improve the quality, it just makes them saltier. Petrossian does not over salt their caviar.
Proper serving utensils for caviar: Mother of Pearl, Horn or Gold. No silver pieces should be used, as it imparts a metal taste on the caviar and changes the flavor.
Accoutrements such as eggs, onions, creme fraiche which are traditionally served with caviar. Purists tend to enjoy the caviar without all these extras.
Blini is the small thin pancake used to hold the caviar atop. Toast points are also used.
Very cold vodka, as well as French Champagne is the most appropriate beverages to serve with caviar. White wine, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc are also acceptable. To clear the palate, many people drink tea without the sugar.
The Charcuterie Case – the finest European sausages and hams, rich pates and Scottish and Norwegian salmon
The Frozen Section – delightful Jeni’s ice cream and various frozen ready to eat gourmet desserts.
Tea and Coffee – in keeping with our pursuit of the best of the best, GourmetPhile offers two products with a very rich history. Kusmi tea was originally the tea of the Russian Tsars. After the revolution, it moved to Paris to escape the Bolshevics. It was an instant success and has enjoyed a storied history at the top of the gourmet tea market ever since. Lavazza, established in Turin, Italy in 1895, has been owned by the family of the same name for four generations. They are the quintessential Italian espresso.
The Rest – aged balsamics, olive oils, mustards, marmalades, honeys, spreads, chutneys, wine and cheese accoutrements
small plate menu – choose from cheese, charcuterie or caviar small plates, order a glass of wine from the daily pours, or just buy a bottle from their wine cellar and enjoy it right there with no corkage fee
food pairing tastings with highly regarded sommeliers and fine wines, champagnes, beers, cheese, charcuterie and other specialty gourmet foods
gorgeous gift baskets – have one created from anything in the store, with floral accents!
delivery within Boca Raton area with company delivery van
Hours of Operation: Tues – Sun 11am – 9pm
Located in Royal Palm Place, 501 SE Mizner Blvd. in Downtown Boca (561) 757-6208
Ancient Egypt contributed so much to aid the way we live today. Thanks to their innovations, we now go by 365 day-per-year calendar, work to mathematical numbers, as well as adopt basic construction concepts that the world still relies on today, such as utilizing levers and ramps.
However, aside from the well-publicized inventions that Ancient Egypt contributed to the world, they also made significant findings in culinary arts. They didn’t just cook their food using an open fire. Ancient Egyptians baked and made liquor way ahead of any other cultures.
Egyptian bakers made bread from wheat and barley. Unlike other societies that cooked bread using pots and stone, Ancient Egyptiansused closed ovens to let the bread rise and cook. In addition, they used honey, fruits such as dates, as well as butter in order to give their bread texture and better flavor. They also used sesame seeds to garnish to their bread. With their ways with bread, perhaps it’s safe to say that the Ancient Egyptians were the first bakers who made artisanal pastries.
In addition to good baking, Egyptians also grew grain for the purpose of producing beer. When they drank, they didn’t just pour them into cups. They made beer jars that were for strictly made for drinking. The existence of these beer jars is evident on the graves of the departed. Ancient Egyptians placed beer beside graves for their loved ones to take to the after life.
Ancient Egyptians are still honored today because they have made so many contributions to modern society. No one really knew how they were able to start conceptualizing something as forward thinking as the pyramids using archaic and basic tools.
In addition, who told Cleopatra, the most iconic Egyptian pharaoh of all time that food had medicinal benefits that would improve skin and general wellbeing? No one studied nutrition during those times, and no one could’ve confirmed to her the vitamins and minerals that every fruit possessed.
Ancient Egypt is full of educational materials about food that perhaps a historical walk centering on their culinary contributions would be great idea moving forward. Understanding their ways would be beneficial in understanding the food we enjoy today and would act as a great history lesson for everyone.
Today I am sharing my recent dining experience at McCoy’s Oceanfront Restaurant. Located inside the Marriott Pompano Beach, the resort’s signature beachfront restaurant and lounge pays homage to its Prohibition-era namesake. Some of you may recall a post I did on McCoy’s back in April of last year when I was still blogging under BocaFoodFinds. New year, new blog and new Executive Chef at McCoy’s. His name is Eric Kaszubinski and he has been with the Marriott chain for like a gazillion years. Chef Eric was appointed Executive Chef of McCoy’s this past April and has been turning up the heat and blazing a new trail in the food and beverage scene ever since.
Chef Eric oversees the culinary execution of the resort’s food and beverage program, which includes McCoy’s Oceanfront, in-room dining and catering for meetings and events. My dining companion and I were greeted at our table by Chef Eric who took the time to share with us his journey here and how excited he is to be able to explore his creativity and applying his love of the ocean to the dishes they’re serving in McCoy’s. He goes on to tell us how Pompano Beach has so much to offer by way of fresh, local ingredients and that it gives him such pleasure to live here and to be able to give guests a taste of this great city.
Chef prepared a variety of items from their lunch menu for us to taste. While we waited, we were presented with a cocktail & wine list. After scanning the menu up and down, my eyes kept returning to the Harlemese Sangria, a beautiful drink comprised of Chateau St. Michelle Riesling, fresh fruits, St. Germain Elderflower liqueur and garnished with HUMONGOUS blackberries, fresh strawberries and mint. It was practically a meal in itself.
The first item the Chef brought out was the local fresh ceviche. The fish changes daily and on this day, we delighted in the Corvino which sat in a bath of coconut, rum and slivered red onions (a little too many onions for my liking) served with some lovely plantain chips; but overall, the dish was very flavorful and we both liked it very much.
Next item to hit our table was the Ale Braised clams. These clams happen to come from Cedar Key and were accompanied by pork belly and a broth made with Cigar City Maduro craft beer, garlic and fennel. First of all, full disclosure, I’m not a huge fan of steamed clams (or oysters or mussels for that matter). These clams were a little bit on the small side and my companion and I decided that their choice to stay local probably had a lot to do with that. Aside from the size, the combination of flavors and the other components on the plate certainly made up a well balanced dish. We both agreed that the broth resembled something of a French Onion soup-type flavor, which we both thought was delicious.
As part of its commitment to sourcing fresh, local products, McCoy’s is now home to an Urban Garden, located at the front of the restaurant, where fresh plants and herbs grow and ultimately make their way into the dining menu. McCoy’s has partnered with Tampa-based Uriah’s Urban Farm to source local products. Plants are changed weekly and Chef Eric is more than happy to guide guests through the uses for each. We had the opportunity to sample the fresh from the garden Strawberry & Citrus Salad made with arugula, fennel, orange, pistachio, feta cheese and tossed in a citrus vinaigrette. It was very light and well composed and just screamed FRESH!!!
Undeniably one of our favorite items we tasted throughout the day was this scrumptious crispy Rock Shrimp tacos. Served in a corn tortilla with an avocado “butter” (I’d say a more accurate description for this “butter” might be avocado crema), jicama slaw, and tossed in a sweet Thai sauce. The shrimp are from Florida. The shrimp were cooked to perfection. They were crispy but not laden in a heavy batter. I can’t believe I’m saying this, because I’m usually the biggest wimp in the world when it comes to heat, but…they could stand to add a little heat to the sweet Thai sauce. The lovely jicama slaw would be right there to help soothe some of that heat. But believe me, this is a super delicious dish as is.
Now, having just returned from New England, I had “chowda” on the brain. I saw this offering on the menu and asked Chef Eric if it would be ok to try his version. I’m sure glad we did. It exceeded both our expections ten-fold. It was chalk full of seafood – ground conch, rock shrimp and local catch (in this case the Corvino was used) along with sofrito (A colorful blend of red, green, orange, and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, green onions, tomatillos, and garlic), veggies, potatoes, saffron and rum.
One other item that caught my eye, which wasn’t on the lunch menu, but was featured as a starter on the dinner menu was the local burrata, tomato jam (with caramelized red onion), fig balsamic & lemon oil. Had to have it. So happy Chef Eric was able to accommodate. Yay! It was terrific. A must-try for sure.
And speaking of dinner menu: highlights from the new dinner menu include the Ale Braised Clams with pork belly, garlic and fennel (pictured above); Florida Pompano with sautéed fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, wilted greens and lemongrass herb butter; Farro Risotto with day boat scallops, gulf shrimp, English peas, summer squash, baby spinach and pancetta; and Lake Meadows Chicken with haricot verts, goat cheese polenta and her jus.
We concluded our tasting with the Black Forest Cheesecake, which you can have for either lunch or dinner (who knows, maybe you can even have for breakfast if you ask Chef Eric nicely enough) lol. This little masterpiece is made in house and has a delicious oreo crust and bourbon cherries. It was rather addicting.
I want to thank Chef Eric for really extending himself and providing my guest and I with a wonderfully personalized tasting experience. One that we will remember for a long time and new memories we look forward to creating there in the future.
Chef Eric recently rolled out brand new breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour menus. If you haven’t been to McCoy’s or if it’s been a while, I highly suggest you head on over and give them a try. I know there are so many choices to go, but trust me on this one, it’s a great find.
McCoy’s is located 1200 N. Ocean Blvd. in Pompano Beach, just south of the 14th Street Causeway inside the Marriott, right on the beach. For more info, you can visit their website or call (954) 782-0100.
I apologize for the delay in posts…didn’t mean to keep you hangin’, lol! So where did I leave off? Oh yeah, I had just wrapped things up in Portland and was heading up to Bar Harbor. I decided to take the scenic route 1, as I was told there were numerous quaint towns along the way that I should check out. I can’t reiterate enough how much fun I had driving this Mini Clubman (courtesy of Mini of Peabody) up the coast. This car was made for hugging the winding road and I felt so safe behind the wheel.
I did pass through some quaint towns before making a stop at Rockland where I got out and explored a bit. This town definitely has potential for a future foodie tour. I wish I had more time, as I would have liked to stop in Camden, but it was getting late and I wanted to arrive at my Airbnb and meet my host Anny before dark.
As I mentioned in earlier posts, I decided to become a first time user of Airbnb and when planning this trip to New England, I researched and selected to stay with these specific hosts which I have been highlighting along the way. Anny and I had communicated prior to my arrival so she knew more or less what time to expect me. She and Sweetie Pie, her lovely white Great Pirinese welcomed me into their home and showed me to my room. I was staying in the Ancestor’s Room, as Anny explained and pointed to all the photos of relatives adorning the walls. I didn’t have much time to chit chat that night as I had to get over to Bar Harbor to meet with Kristi (my Ops Mgr for our Bar Harbor tours). The drive from Southwest Harbor, aka “The Quietside” (compared to the hustle and bustle of Bar Harbor in season) into Bar Harbor at sunset was magnificent. The sun was going down over the lake and I could make out the silhouettes of kayakers in the distance paddling across the water.
I was so excited to meet Kristi for the first time in person, after communicating with each other via phone and email for months. I was also super excited that she invited me to dinner at one of her restaurants, Cherrystones, which just so happens to be one of the stops on our Taste of Bar Harbor tour. For a starter, we had their crispy Brussels sprouts and OMG were they delish! Anyone who knows me, knows that my all time favorite Brussels come from Smoke BBQ in Delray Beach, with a close runner-up at The Office, also in Delray Beach. But after tasting these at Cherrystones in Bar Harbor, ME…I certainly have to rethink my hierarchy in which to base all future Brussels to. They were that good! We also enjoyed a couple entrees, and while the fresh fish dish was certainly fresh and tasty, the star in my opinion was the lobster carbonara, which included fresh picked Maine lobster sautéed with smoked bacon and a creamy carbonara sauce, served with penne pasta and topped with fresh chives.
After a delightful meal and meeting, I said my goodbyes until the next morning when we’d meet up with our tour guide Jessica and do a walk through of our tour. The next morning, after luxuriating in the most magnificently updated spa shower at Anny’s (we’re talking a rain shower head from the top and pulsating jets on the sides and music…the whole shabang), I was served a lovely cup of tea and warm pastries. Anny is a great story teller and I was fascinated by the stories she shared with me in the short time we had together. Prior to opening her home to Airbnb guests, Anny had a pie business which she started at age 60 after finding it very difficult to find a job in a new town at her age. The business was called, what else…”Sweetie Pies”.
“A Taste of Bar Harbor” tour
Guests on this tour will delight in the delicious food with a view at The Fish House Grill where they will get a little clam chowda, lobster roll & an Old Soaker Blueberry soda tasting . The party will then move on, walking through historic downtown Bar Harbor viewing sights that include The Shore Path, Agamont Park and several historic Bar Harbor homes and, of course, a great view of Bar Island. Our local guide will share fun facts and interesting anecdotes about the town she is intimately familiar with and will impart some local insider’s tips as well. Next stop, Bar Harbor BeerWorks for a gourmet burger, fries & local Maine brew tasting, followed by a visit to either Peekytoe Provisions or Acadia Country Store where guests will get a live oyster shucking demo and/or tips on selecting the freshest seafood along with a tasting of some local seafood or products native to Maine. Onward to Cherry Stones for a taste of their famous cherrystone clams & some blueberry pie ala mode. Next, guests will be introduced to Bar Harbor Popcorn and learn how they make their popcorn, the various flavors they infuse, and tastes will be provided of their most popular blueberry and other flavors. Participants will be given an opportunity to purchase bags to take home with them. The tour will conclude at the now famous MDI Ice cream shop where Obama ate ice cream when he came to Bar Harbor, before returning to The Village Green, a beautiful park in the center of town.
And there you have it. My wrap up of my 5-day adventure in New England getting my tours set up just in time for this season’s Fall Foliage cruises. So far the Norwegian Gem and the Dawn have experienced our Taste of Portland and by the time you read this, we will have passengers from the NCL Gem and the Oceania Regatta taking our tour in Bar Harbor.
Private group tours are available in all these New England towns year round with a minimum of 10 participants. For more info on how we can plan a customized tour for you and your friends/colleagues, please contact me at info@SavorOurCity.com or (954) 410-3177.