Monday, May 24, 2010

Bennett's Fresh Roast

Bennett's Fresh Roast is definitely a place to see and be seen while getting a cup of the freshest coffee in Southwest Florida and handcut doughnuts that are "to die for"! I spent a lovely Sunday afternoon on my dear friend Bennett's outside deck sipping yummy Mimosa's made from Cristalino Brut Rose Cava. The color was a little odd and provoked a few strange looks, however, I have a new love for the taste of a Rose' Mimosa. Bennett's has splits of the Cava if you want to sip some sans the OJ.

But the REAL reason I'm writing about Bennett's today is to tease you! I was asked to be a taste tester for his new doughnut coming out in June. I stared blankly at the plate when he put it in front of me then thought instantly, "How decadent!" These flavors are classicly great together but I would've NEVER thought to put with a doughnut! Sorry but I am sworn to secrecy at this point. Let's just say everyone will be talking!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Laishley's Crab House

One of the many perks about living in Florida is access to fresh seafood. Another is waterfront dining. Both come together nicely at Laishley's Crab House on the Peace River in Punta Gorda. The place is massive with dining areas and bars both indoors and out.

We opted for lunch outside since there was a great breeze blowing across the deck overlooking Charlotte Harbor. We started with the Ponce de Leon Seafood Dip. It was in bread bowl, messy and hard to eat. We ordered several things to share including a big juicy cheeseburger, the signature Crab Louie Salad and some sushi. The sushi was fresh and delicous, the burger came with one of my favorites, sweet potato fries but they were out of pickles(?). The salad wasn't exactly what we were expecting. The portion was big, crab was good, the Blue Cheese and Russian Dressing strange but tasty, however, I would've preferred it with different greens.

The wine list looked good, the beer tasted good. Laishley's was casual, the atmosphere was great and the company even better. Don't expect 4-star dining but do expect a fabulous time on the waterfront!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

New Release: Malbec

When I hear the word "Malbec" the first thing that comes to mind is Argentina. However, this new release is actually French! The '08 vintage literally just off the truck and I was fortunate to be amoung the first in Florida to try it. The wine was light for a Malbec, ready to drink, but for sure could use some more time in the bottle. A bit astringent but with nice tannins and notes of cherry. I can't wait to taste it again in 6 months or a year to see how it matures. Grab one if you find it and let it have a nice rest in your cellar!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chateau d'Esclans

I caused some heads to turn over the weekend while sitting outside at Bistro 41 with a wine glass full of something,! "YOU!!!??? PINK????" a friend exclaimed as he approached. Apparently appalled that I might be drinking the dreaded White Zinfandel or perhaps worried that I had been in the sun too long and was delirious. I grinned and said seductively "Come over here and try it!"

I couldn't wait to see the look of disgust fade into approval. I was drinking a delightful French Rose' called Whispering Angel! Good on it's own or with food. You have to check out this video from the winemaker. Makes me laugh everytime I think of an angel in my mouth!

Monday, May 17, 2010

In A Pinch

It's no secret I love good food and wine. Lately I've made more of an effort to support locally owned establishments but I'm always up for a good "chain" adventure! This weekend I found myself face to face with a T.G.I.Friday's menu. A typical Friday's experience for me would be cocktails and apps at the bar before a movie or in an airport. I couldn't remember the last time I actually sat down to a full meal at the popular chain. But I did remember the wine by the glass list brought out a tiny bit of the wine snob in me. I know I know!! I can always go for a good burger and beer but on this night I was craving something on the healthful side and a yummy glass of vino!

I ordered the new Dragonfly Salmon dish with Kung Pao sauce, jasmine rice with pineapple pico de gallo and steamed broccoli. It was delicious! The sauce wasn't nearly as spicey as some Kung Pao's I've been hit with and the rice was sweet, with coconut and fruit! The broccoli was perfectly steamed! Even though it was a little sweet for my tastes it was great food, now back to the little wine issue! I ordered a Mirassou Pinot Noir which was very jammy and sweet for a Pinot. It worked good enough! The price definitely worked at $20!! Just an idea for you to try next time you go to Fridays!

Monday, May 10, 2010


Every Mother's Day weekend the City of Lakeland Florida hosts Mayfair On The Lake. There are street parties, road races and an art show featuring more than 180 artists. The artists tents are spread out around Lake Morton with its Magnolia and Cypress Trees, massive Live Oaks, Royal Palms, Weeping Willows and historic homes! It's not just the vegetation that gives Lake Morton fame but the hundreds of birds, ducks and swans that call the area home, if only for a season.

If you plan to go stay at the Historic Terrace hotel, in the heart of the action. The Terrace was built downtown in 1924 and sits across the street from Lake Mirror, within walking distance to the art show. Confused by all these lakes? The name of the town is Lakeland! Lake Mirror has a historic Promenade, amphitheater, gardens and lots more to explore.

From the Terrace you can also walk one block to the center of downtown and Munn Park. The park is surrounded by shops, resturaunts and bars. A quaint, close getaway from Southwest Florida!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


For 21 years Marios has been serving up delicious Italian food in an unassuming strip mall off the beaten path in Lakeland, FL. The building looks tired but inside it's cozy and romantic, has a small bar and an accousitc guitar player on the weekends. If you love a good wine list as much as I do you will be very happy thumbing through the options at Mario's. 150 labels, 30 choices by the glass, a big selection of Italian wines by region and of course a good representation from California vintners.

We picked an affordable Pio Cesare Barbara d Alla. Italian wines are made to go with food so it was a nice surprise to find this one was enjoyable on its own. With pleasing tannins, cherry and dark fruit it was a nice match to my lobster ravioli and creamy red sauce!!! It was also a big hit with the Bolongnese AND the chocolate cake for dessert!! If you find yourself in Lakeland you need to find your way to Marios!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Soup, Salad and Sauvignon Blanc

Quick, Simple, Inexpensive and Healthful. Now that sounds like a good meal doesn't it? After polluting our bodies on Cinco De Mayo my friends and I decided to go light and pool our resources. What followed was so yummy I have to share!

We pulled out the "Foreman" and grilled some chicken breasts with a honey mustard glaze from a Santa Barbara vineyard, sliced it up and put it on a beautiful salad (mixed greens, fresh ripe tomatoes, red onions and avocados).

After rinsing the margarita residue from the blender we put in boiled carrots, minced ginger, butter, chicken broth and a little cream for a brightly colored, flavorful soup!!

The cherry on top was a crisp cold Brancott Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand. Sauvignon Blanc has become a benchmark grape for New Zealand and Marlborough the premiere growing region! The Brancott was full of tropical fruit and a great value. under $15.

30 is the magic number for this meal....$30/30 minutes!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bon Ton Cafe'

New Orleans is town full of flavor in EVERY way! I took a long weekend trip to attend a wedding so most of my dining options were not my own but all were fabulous none-the-less. Before my flight out on Monday I had time for a non-airport lunch and wanted to try the world famous "Mothers" on Poydras. Turns out I didn't have that much time, the line was down the sidewalk. So I wandered a couple of blocks to Magazine, stumbled on the distressed sidewalks and found Bon Ton Cafe'.

Bon Ton is in the historic 1840's Natchez building and can be spotted by the flickering gas lights and black and white canvas canopy. The tables are covered in checkered red and white tablecloths and the servers all in white. Bon Ton brags the Cajun food served is from family recipes and the family atmosphere is one of the many things the place is famous for.

The Crawfish Bisque was amazing! It was not a creamy bisque. It was loaded with Crawfish and a big hunk of dense stuffing. Crawfish, Red Fish, Shrimp, Jambalaya, Etouffee, Oysters the menu was loaded with delicious Cajun goodness. Whatever you do save room for dessert; bread pudding and Luzianne Coffee