Friday, August 30, 2013

Fab Finds: Wining and Dining

Ladies selling out The Joing
Always on the hunt for fabulous finds with food and wine, I found one heck of a great deal this week at Ladies night at The Joint in Cape Coral. This Ladies Night does not involve free, cheap booze or bawdy entertainment, there are plenty of spots for that.

This is a three course wine dinner the last Thursday of the month.  Last night I had a Crab and Lobster Cake with a Chilean Chardonnay, grilled lamb lollipops with an Australian Shiraz and a chocolate cherry "come to mama" dessert with a chocolate martini.

It gets even better, all that for only $20! Now that's a FAB FIND! I hesitate writing about this one because I don't want to get booted from my seat next month now that the word is out and reservations will surely fly in.

Chocolate Cherry Elegance, Creme Anglaise

Life is good for two other great dining establishments in Southwest Florida as they are in the middle of expansion projects.

Fancy's Southern Cafe is expanding into space next door formerly home to a deli. It's not more restaurant seating but a comfy, cool wine bar.  This part of the Daniels Road corridor needs a spot like this. Great for an after work cocktail and even better for patrons who aren't keen on lounging outside while waiting for a table.

And one of my favorite breakfast spots, CRaVE, is opening a market next door. So when you are plagued by a long wait on Saturday or Sunday morning, you can pop into the market and get some of their signature dishes and other goodies to go! Another BRILLIANT idea.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wine Wednesday: Delectus, its Delicious

The Delectus Bear Crossing Cabernet is so fantastic, it knocked me off my feet, literally.

I was fortunate enough to take a vineyard tour of Delectus while in Napa Valley over the weekend and thought it was the coolest thing ever to be drinking the Bear Crossing Cab, in the Bear Crossing Vineyard, while looking at the actual tracks from the crossing bears.

The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, harvested from two vineyard blocks at the highest elevation on the ranch.

I found out just how high that elevation was when I took one too many steps backward. My feet slid down the dusty, gravely soil and I ended up flat, face first.

"MAN DOWN" but the wine was saved. At $130 a bottle you bet your ass I held on to that glass, for dear life. The only bit wasted was a splash on the side of my face, that gathered more dust as the day went on. It gave the appearance that the accident had been much worse. It was a great tale to relive and laugh about on the long flight home. But back to the wine....

The Bear Crossing started with lovely dark chocolate, oak and then a little dust, but that was just in my glass. It's drinking like a champ. Don't just buy one bottle, buy two. These wines have great aging potential.

Thanks to Unfiltered Unfined Wines for a fantastic time.

Happy Wine Wednesday. Cheers!

Thanks for joining me on the ground Tom!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pushing Pizza In Naples

It's no secret that I LOVE pizza. While there a number of good places in Southwest Florida to eat it, not all have good ingredients. By good I mean organic, fresh, vegetarian and even gluten free. That is one reason I enjoy Pizza Fusion; you have all of these options and more.

Tonight I went to the opening of the new Pizza Fusion in Naples. And while I should be packing for my 5:45am flight tomorrow, I want to take a moment to rave about the new space on US41 and Golden Gate, by the Coastland Center Mall.

We started with a delicious roasted beet and arugula salad with feta and candied walnuts. Then we sampled the spicy Sausage and Tricolor Pepper pizza, The Farmers Market veggie pizza and the garlicky Spinach and Artichoke on a crisp Multi-grain crust. Full of flavor but not too filling, the thin crust was just right.

The newest Southwest Florida pizza franchise has a distinct local flare. Local artists took delicate pages from books about Florida and molded them with sturdy iron for unique chandeliers in the middle of the restaurant. The bulbs used are famous Thomas Edison design.

The new Fusion carries several local beers on tap, as well as a balanced, affordable selection of wines from around the world.

Congratulations Brown Thompson and staff on a successful opening and best wishes for much success at your cool new spot in Naples.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Fab Finds: Chocolate, Sippers and Sliders

Open Faced Tuna Sliders at Restoratives Cafe
I get to see and experience so many new things each week and I never seem to have enough space to write or time to broadcast everything. Then I remembered I have a blog, DUH.

Last week I went to the Grand Opening of Restoratives Cafe in Estero, FL. Brothers Jay and Tim Gillmore are serving up breakfast. hot soups, fresh salads and gourmet sandwiches. One of my favorites is the Open Faced Tuna Slider, sprinkled with Goldfish Crackers.

You might remember Chef Jay from hot spots such as Bistro 41 and Cru. Restoratives is on US41 just North of Corkscrew in the former Lush Bakery location.

Hanging out in downtown Fort Myers, FL last week I snuck in the construction zone of the new Broadway Factory; it's on Broadway between Starbucks and Hotel Indigo. Local chocolatier Justin Schaffer (Irresistible Confections) is teaming up with entrepreneur Mike Bartholomew for a crazy confection shop. Besides chocolate, you can also get yogurt but what I'm really excited about is the champagne bar and chocolate fountain. The creative brains behind some of the cool decorative concepts at The Firestone are helping with some fun features for the space; it will be impressive. And it will be opening next month.
Women and Wine and Sip and Send

Do you dread having to wait in line to send packages? You wont if use Sip & Send on Santa Barbara in Cape Coral, Fl. The shipping store is contained within a cafe, wine bar and retail shop. I'm suddenly finding lots of things to ship to friends and family out of state.

Once a month Sip & Send has a Women's Wine night. I check it out last week with my fun friend at Opici, Heather Smith. She talked and I sipped some of my favs from Clayhouse and Buried Cane, all of which were available that night for a discount. You have to reserve a seat for these events since the space is small.

Let me know about YOUR Fab Finds too!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Yum Yum Rum, National Rum Day

It's National Rum Day. Not like anyone needs an excuse to drink the festive spirit, but just in case, now you have justification.

I used to pass this spirit off as a sweet party drink sure to give me a raging headache, make me wonder what happened to my sunglass and how I got a fist-full of beads.

My whole perception of rum changed when I attended a rum dinner two years ago at Hemingways Island Grill in Estero, FL. I met Francisco "Don Pancho" Fernandez  the so-called rum czar and sipped on a 25-year-old barrel aged Panamanian spirit that sells for $400 a bottle: Panamonte.

Panamonte drinks more like a cognac than a rum, those rich oak flavors give it a silky quality and I can assure you there are no headaches. I tried Panamonte again this year at it's debut party in Panama, the country, not the city in the Florida Panhandle. Owner Jim Wasson also makes an overproof rum that you can actually sip on its own, called Panama Red.

Country music star Kenny Chesney is also a rum aficionado. He has just launched a line of spirits called Blue Chair Bay Rum. The portfolio includes a White, Coconut and Coconut Spiced selections.

If you look on the shelves in your local liquor store you'll see more and more flavored rums. Malibu is out with the first low calorie selection called Island Spice. It is made with Truvia. There is even a new rum distillery in Southwest Florida called Wicked Dolphin.

When you sit down at happy hour today and are asked, "What are you having?" start the night with a festive rum cocktail, or a refreshing splash over ice. Cheers!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wine Wednesday, Big Basin

Balance is the key to most things in life, wine being one of them. It was the topic at a seminar I attended this week hosted by Premier Beverage and Augustan Wine Imports at Bayfront Bistro on Fort Myers Beach. I'll share more about the event later.

Since it's Wine Wednesday I wanted to feature one of the vineyards I was introduced to during the course of the day; Big Basin. These wines are brand new to Florida and I'm so glad they are here. Only 169 cases were produced of the Coastview Vineyard Pinot Noir ($45). It smelled a little like cola but tasted of raspberry, lots of minerals.

I also really enjoyed Big Basin's Homestead Red; a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre. It smelled a bit sticky and juicy. It was a bit acidic with lots of dark fruit and a long delicious, cherry finish. Hate to be a tease, but on the winery website, it is sold out. Call your favorite restaurant or wine store to see if they can get it for you

What's in YOUR glass for Wine Wednesday?? 

Monday, August 5, 2013

What's in YOUR Refrigerator?

Seriously? What's in it? What would camera's find if they showed up today for proof? That's what happened to me last week for the online food section of the Fort Myers News-Press. Reporter Yvonne McClellan stopped by with some fancy attachments on her iPhone, a lavalier mic and off we went.

Being in the media myself, I had given some thought to what I wanted to point out, forgetting that Yvonne was the one with the agenda, the story to tell. Instead, as soon as she hit record I went on tangents about the photos on the door, the lack of salad dressing inside and why my rice was in the cold box instead of the pantry. She was extremely gracious, wanted to know my food philosophy. I eventually told her it was "fresh and flavorful" but that part ended up on the cutting room floor. So did the story about the green hot sauce I smuggled back from Puerto Rico in a Bacardi Rum bottle (you'll see it on the top shelf). My refrigerator had soooo many stories to tell, but we only had three minutes.

I admit to pulling a mushy beet out of my hydrator and ungluing a random sauce bottle from the middle shelf in preparation for the interview, but other than that, what you see is pretty much what you get.
Click here and enter my frig at your own risk.