Subscribe: Epicurean Jacksonville
http://jaxeatdrinkandbemerry.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
Added By: Feedage Forager Feedage Grade A rated
Language: English
Tags:
brunch  dinner  don  easter brunch  easter  food  fresh  good  jacksonville  market  meat  menu  open  order  sushi  time 
Rate this Feed
Rate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feedRate this feed
Rate this feed 1 starRate this feed 2 starRate this feed 3 starRate this feed 4 starRate this feed 5 star

Comments (0)

Feed Details and Statistics Feed Statistics
Preview: Epicurean Jacksonville

Epicurean Jacksonville



Once upon a time, I thought I was an existentialist, but it turns out I’m an Epicurean. Epicurus was a Greek philosopher who is most often associated with the phrase “Eat, Drink and be Merry, for tomorrow you may die.” He’s often misunderstood as



Updated: 2017-11-19T05:24:12.110-08:00

 



The Kitchen on San Marco

2015-05-21T14:48:02.194-07:00

I've got a crush and it's going to keep me coming back to The Kitchen on San Marco. No, it's not one of their severs (though every single one has been adorable and charming) and it isn't the blue-eyed and food-passionate Chef Ryan. It's the beet salad.

Once, I was under the misapprehension that I didn't like beets. Most people, having only experienced the slimy, neglected pickled things that get thrown on to a salad probably feel the same way, but beets are a root veggie that benefits from the right kind of TLC. Here in Jacksonville the various preparations I've seen have made me into a beet cheerleader. (I'm going to take this time to recommend the beet fries from the food truck Funkadelic if you haven't tried those).

The crush-worthy beet salad at Kitchen on San Marco is mostly beets, some creamy goat cheese, vinaigrette, and leafy greens. Simple. Delicious.




More Than Soul...

2014-08-25T06:53:20.019-07:00

The Chefs of The Potter's House Soul Food Bistro were eager to show off their culinary prowess at a blogger event this past Wednesday. Their scope goes farther than the soul food they're known for, and they excel at doing catered events. Most often they're asked to do soul, of course, but they love doing the fancier events. Executive Chef Celestia Mobley says she learned “how to cook” from her Grandmother and she learned “the whys in culinary school.” There and during her career, she's picked up different styles of cooking from French cuisine and beyond. Assistant Manager Chef Ardelia “Ardy” Speed-Johnson cooks up healthy versions of soul food. I know, healthy and soul food seem to be mutually exclusive, but Chef Ardy proves that isn't so. For the event she did something that was a little more swanky than soul, the better to show off her range. She did a turkey ricotta meatball, no breadcrumbs, on a cooked kale bed with chipotle plum sauce. Garlic lead prominently, but it didn't overwhelm the other flavors, instead it seemed to frolic a bit with ricotta and the plum sauce, standing up well to the light bitters of the kale. With a pretty plating, this dish wouldn't be out of place at a fine dining catered event. If you're a bride to be, I'd say you need to be booking Soul Food Bistro for your wedding, now!Chef Greg Fountain, who brings the flavor of the Caribbean to Potter's simply cooked up shrimp and rice seasoned with a lively yellow turmeric and an endearing little sprig of dill. It was another classy dish that looked as good as it tasted. And it looked like spring and sunshine.We asked for dessert Chef Valerie Harris (known as Miss Val) to come out after a taste of what she could do, just so we could tell her, in person, how delightful all her selections were. My favorite of the bunch was the coconut cream pie, which for me, was life-alteringly good (your mileage may vary, of course). I have no idea why Potter's hasn't been on Diners Drive-ins and Dives. Seriously, Guy Guy Fieri needs to make a trip back to Jacksonville to hit this place up, the mac and cheese alone would make it worthwhile. They have garnered some recognition on a more national basis recently, getting nominated just this year for Best Soul Food at the Neighborhood Awards (hosted and put on by Steve Harvey). Locations: 5310 Lenox Avenue suite 1, Jacksonville, FL 32205, 904.394.0860 + 11876 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32225, 904.394.2801 See website for full hours. Closed Mondays.[...]



Did We Just Get Trolled by Councilperson Brown?

2014-02-26T16:33:46.138-08:00

Trolling, for those who don't know internetspeak, is the art of saying something really heinous/shocking/over-the-top in an internet forum or comments in order to gain a response. Very often, trolls aren't espousing what they believe, they're just looking for outrage.

So when Councilperson Reginald Brown opened the meeting by saying he wasn't against food trucks after proposing an ordinance that seems to legislate food trucks out of Jacksonville, it was all I could think. Reginald Brown trolled us with a food truck ordinance.

I appreciate that he is willing to receive feedback from the community at this juncture. Sincerely and totally. If it were going to stay the same, I was ready to mobilize. The question is: did he just put a pretty anti-food truck ordinance out there to simply to form a committee? To gain a response?

If he was serious when he put it together, then, it's a worse problem as it was a woefully misinformed piece of legislation. I have to say: I hope Jacksonville just got trolled.








Hawkers Update

2014-02-11T19:18:00.188-08:00

Went back to Hawkers and had a different experience. This time, not as good. They are on only their fourth day of service and I will say that they went to a lot of trouble to make it right.

Some of it had to do with "team service", of which I have not been a fan. It means that lots of different people bring you your orders and no one person is responsible for you, even though you have a server. For it to work, everybody has to be in the loop. So, if for example, somebody is running out an extra order out to you to make up for a screw-up, you might turn them away because you assume it's a mistake. And because all they were told was to bring you the order, they'll leave.

It's true, this time around the difficulty level was raised. I brought someone with me who has coconut and nut allergies (but can do peanut) and they were very careful about it. The server wasn't incredibly versed as to ingredients, but he did take it seriously and so did the kitchen. However, this made us the sort of table that sucks the server's time.

The server assumed that all the orders came from one person. He left quickly after getting an order for the small plates. I didn't get to put my order in, but managed to be happy with the small plates. And my hungry husband, who wanted an entrée for himself, was left wondering why he was passed over. He was finally able to put his order in, but some time later, the server came back, telling us they were out of the item he ordered.

The server did not wait after delivering the news, but instead faded away into the crowded din. My husband was not happy about that. Sharing is kind of a big thing at Hawkers, so realize that if a server sees food on your table, they mainly come back when you're getting low. They will assume that you're happy with small plates, just like our server did. Unfortunately, what we had on the table wasn't what my husband wanted. The server needed to check with all of us, or even ask if we needed anything else. I realize that he was busy, and the questions about ingredients took a lot of his time.

Points for Hawkers:
--Once we were able to communicate what was wrong, they did their best to make it right and came by several times to make sure we were satisfied. Once in a while, stuff happens.

--They managed to get the allergy thing right! I know, because my friend is not in the hospital. If they had messed it up, she would be.

Things to know:

--Sharing is kind of a big thing at Hawkers, so realize that if a server sees food on your table, they mainly come back when you're getting low. They will assume that you're happy with small plates.

--Team service means that you have the right to FLAG ANYBODY down, not just your server. I'm not saying that's an easy thing to do, because they move at a high rate of speed.



Hawkers Asian Street Fare

2014-02-09T07:24:28.282-08:00

(image) The soft open of Hawkers did not disappoint. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from a space that had doomed countless other ventures, restaurant and otherwise. But I was blown away by the food. Asian fare, so often, is done too broadly, flavors exaggerated, pushing them well past the delicate balance the dishes should have, when they're done right.

I brought along a dining partner that has spent some time in Beijing and knows the cuisine. The steamed dumplings, she said, would be her test. And they more than passed. My test was the roast duck. I love duck but am afraid to order it at most places, because it's a commitment. When duck is good, it can be very, very good, but when duck is bad it makes me very, very sad. The small plate of roast duck was cheap enough for me to take the risk. I'm glad I took it. Best. Duck. Ever.

The bok choy was tasty, but impossible to eat with chopsticks and problematic to eat with a fork and no knife. If you're coming in while it is still soft open, know this: they have no knives. Ask if they do. When they have them, you can safely order the bok choy.  The quality was good enough that I am perfectly fine with the fact that I looked a bit barbaric eating it. Om nom nom nom!

Also: great service.

We ordered three small plates, two entrees, Thai tea, coke and a small sake. Total before tip was about $50.

Things to Know: They take chopstick etiquette seriously. Don't worry, there's handy graphics on the menu to educate you!

Hawkers 1001 Park Street, Jacksonville, Florida 32204
(904) 508-0342



Eat here: Blue Bamboo

2014-03-20T08:48:04.271-07:00

Five reasons why you should be eating at Jacksonville's Blue Bamboo:

(image)
1- It's a locally owned and operated restaurant on the Southside.In the commercial bustle of Southside, it's sometimes hard to remember that there are locally owned businesses that do a wonderful job. Blue Bamboo is one of those businesses.

2- There isn't anything like it in Jacksonville.This is Asian fusion at its finest, in a beautiful setting, with innovative cocktails and a great staff. Check out their menu to learn more!

3- It's a classier way to end or begin a night at the movies.Just down the road from Tinseltown, it's a way to get out of your dining rut.

(image) 4-Dim Sum Sundays. Once a month, they offer Dim Sum on Sundays. If you've had good dim sum, you're already making plans. If not, well, this needs to be part of your life.

5-Dennis Chan is part of Jacksonville's food legacy. His family has run about dozen restaurants in the past 60 years.

For more on what Blue Bamboo is all about, check out this interview at metrojacksonville.com





The Floridian, St. Augustine

2013-05-22T14:36:33.175-07:00

(image)

Bottom line: It was good enough I bought the t-shirt.

(image)
vintage lamp on the bar
The Floridian does have its peculiarities: beer and wine isn't served in the main dining area, but it is served in the tiny bar in the back, aptly named The County Line. It has something to do with booze licensing in Old Town. Basically you have to buy a bottle of beer or wine and then take it into the dining room after settling up. No individual glasses of wine or mugs of beers can cross "the county line" into the dining room. We got around it by simply sitting at one of the three high-top tables available within the Floridian's County Line bar. They serve up local brew here. Jacksonville's own Bold City and Intuition Ale feature on their craft-heavy beer menu.

(image)
some of their kitsch
You will be surrounded by well-curated Florida kitsch and served by contented hipsters who seem super-happy to work there. Like the Columbia House, it's touristy enough for out-of-towners. But I think it does more than its share of local trade.

As I am a big fan of shrimp 'n grits, that's what I decided to order. It was a great decision. But it wasn't easy, because there wasn't a single menu item that didn't appeal to me. I will, of course, be going back. Their 'N Grits menu item comes with your choice of tofu, shrimp or fish. I went with the classic shrimp and chose the remoulade instead of the blackened or grilled based on the server's recommendation. The unlikely flavor combination of salsa, feta and remoulade more than worked-- it soared beautifully over my delighted taste buds. This place definitely follows the localvore trend with farm providers such as the CartWheel Ranch out of St. Johns County and Wainwright Dairy, from Live Oak, Florida.

The menu is seasonal, so it can change. Check out their site to drool current selections.
over the

The Floridian 39 Cordova Street, St. Augustine, FL (904)829-0655

Things to Know:The weird bar rules.They're closed on Tuesdays Lunch is 11 am-3 pm everyday they're open except Sunday, when they open at noon Dinner is 5 pm- 9 pm going to 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays They don't take reservations, but you can call them for "priority seating."



Growing Lemongrass in Jacksonville

2013-05-15T14:02:01.530-07:00

I bought some lemongrass at local Oriental market recently. They were selling it in clumps of three or four stalks. I had planned to use it in cooking, but I didn't end up getting a chance to use it. I'd heard from several people that it grows quite well here in North Florida, so I decided to try it.

Lemongrass likes tropical weather and lots of sun, making it the perfect summertime crop. I've been recently demoralized in the garden department, since nearly everything I've planted is wilting and dying.

If you're worried about the winter killing it off once it gets cold, well, stop worrying. It will die off a bit, but it's hardy enough to rally most of the time. Even if it does die a cold death, it's not difficult to replace and plant.

Most gardening guides say you should place the stalks in a clear vase with water at the bottom. Change the water every couple of days and plant them when you get 1/2 long. As an experiment, I skipped that step on one of my stalks, just to see how it would do. I made sure to keep it moist in a sunny place. The experimental stalk already has new growth, about a week after I put it in the pot. It sprouted at the same time as the rest of the lemongrass, which I planted later.

As for the rest of the lemongrass, it was in the vase for about a week before I planted them. Once in the pot, it was only two days before it sprouted new growth.

My lemongrass is planted in a pot with potting soil, but I may decide to fertilize (probably organically) because these guys like rich soil (though I've heard they don't absolutely need it). I'm looking forward to cooking with fresh lemongrass from my garden.



Pepper Palace, St. Augustine

2013-05-15T13:55:07.185-07:00

(image) Whenever I'm in St. Augustine, I always pop into the Pepper Palace to freshen my supply of datil pepper. Of course that's not the only form of hotness they carry. For the real pepper-heads, they carry some of the hottest hot sauces you can find. The folks who work there are knowledgeable and eager to spread the datil gospel.

While there I also picked up some of Pepper Palace's spice blends. So far I've tried the tequila seasoning (sea salt, chili powder, tequila, rosemary, lime, citric acid...) which is gangbusters on any kind of whitefish.

I like to toss veggies in the Old St. Augustine Sweet Heat Barbecue Sauce (sweet peppers and onions) and roast them in the oven.

I've still got two more spice blends to try out. When I do, I'll post recipes for them!

For those of you who can't make the trip to St. Augustine, don't worry, there are multiple locations and, best of all, a website.



Top Pot Donuts Seattle and Maurice's BBQ South Carolina

2010-08-21T11:29:21.277-07:00

(image)
So I've been a bit busy. In the past two months, I've been to Seattle, drove to North Carolina and I've had three different sets of house guests. But I've been able to taste some really great food.

In Seattle, Top Pot Donuts was recommended to me by local Jacksonville Chef Dennis Chan. It was worthwhile because they were really good donuts. First, a bit of lore about the name. When Top Pot first opened, the owner was on a shoestring budget, so he bought a secondhand sign that said Top Spot. The S in spot wasn't quite operational, so he took it off. Hence, Top Spot Donuts became Top Pot Donuts, even though pots are not involved.

There are basically two different styles of donuts. The one pictured above is the "cake style" donut. The texture inside is almost like a slightly dry cup cake, perfect for dunking! The other style is the old school donut, aptly named the old-fashioned. We got a dozen. choosing as many different types as we could. It wasn't hard since they have about 40 varieties of donuts. They're really filling and they taste amazing. There's no scarfing down of five donuts because they're huge and decadent.

My other great dining experience was in South Carolina. You may have heard of Maurice's BBQ. We stopped there by chance on our way to North Carolina. We indulged in the buffet, where I discovered ribs so tender and soaked with flavor that I had to close my eyes to better experience them. South Carolina loves their sauces, and the mustard-based sauce on my ribs was amply dramatic and savory. I didn't take a picture because the camera was packed away and because, quite honestly, barbecue often isn't beautiful. It tasted beautiful, but it certainly didn't look it.



St. Augustine's Casablanca Inn and Eco Tour

2010-06-27T14:51:22.124-07:00

For Jacksonvillians, St. Augustine is a popular spot for a short getaway. Their B&Bs have competitive rates, and some even have great last-minute or weekday rates. We opted to go on the weekend. We stayed at the Casablanca Inn. Most people recognize this iconic hotel upon seeing a picture, because the white pillars and frontage on Avenida Menendez is eye-catching. A stay at the Casablanca includes a hearty breakfast served by a great staff, a parking spot close to the hotel (dear indeed in historic St. Augustine) and a $15 credit at their Tini Martini bar, over looking the bay. They've got quite a few packages worth looking at— stay for two nights till November 4th and you get a free Eco Tour for Two complete with a bottle of champagne. There are lots of other romance packages to choose from as well. The Inn has three buildings on its grounds, the Main House, the Coach House and the Secret Garden. The main house faces Charlotte Street. We were in the Coach House. While people most often request the Main House, perhaps because many of the rooms have an excellent view of the bay, I loved the Coach House. Not as many cars go by on Charlotte, so it feels restful and romantic. We relaxed on our small porch facing the quiet brick street. The Secret Garden Suites are better for longer stays, as they have kitchenettes and dining areas. As the name says, the suites are in a secret tropical garden tucked away in a side street you would never find without direction. We enjoyed drinks at the Tini Martini bar, in the front of the Main House, people watching as horses trotted by, carriages and tourists in tow.Zach McKenna has a passion for conserving wildlife and it shows. He runs St. Augustine Eco Tours in the marina next to the Bridge of Lions. You can, of course, book a tour outside of the Casablanca Inn's deal (free eco tour for two with two nights stay). They have many different tours you can take on various vessels. You can kayak, go on on a gorgeous catamaran or, like we did, hop aboard one of their rugged little research vessels. Unlike most boats I've been on, it's not a struggle to hear the guide, because the research vessel's engines are quieter and the ride fairly smooth, even when we ventured toward the sea waves.While the main draw of the tour is the dolphins that frolic in the Matanzas, there's no guarantee that dolphins will appear. Most of the time they do, but you can't force nature. We got very lucky and saw several pods, including some tiny, just-born babies that were still learning how to swim properly. The baby dolphins were awkward, unlike the graceful adults that sliced through the water with ease. I always thought that dolphins knew how to swim by instinct, but Zach told us that it's actually a learned behavior, like walking is for humans. Once we learned what dolphins looked like after we spotted the first pod, everyone on board was on the lookout for dolphins.Because it's a research vessel, they do have some interesting equipment. The last two pods of dolphins we encountered began talking to each other underwater, and thanks to the equipment, we got to listen in.Though dolphins are an exciting part of the tour, Zach McKenna's knowledgeable enough about local flora and fauna that he can tell you about them as you encounter them. We saw several species of birds in our travels. A flock of gorgeously pink spoonbills waded by the shore. He pointed out tiny lady terns waiting on pilings for their suitors to bring them fish.Post Eco Tour we ate at the White Lion. It wasn't my first choice, but I had a dim childhood memory of eating there. My husband had remarked on several occasions that he'd always wanted to go there and so we did. It is a tourist sort of place, though it's less of a tourist trap than the Santa Maria (which every local is vagu[...]



Revamped: Alhambra

2014-02-09T07:27:36.906-08:00

With all the changes at the Alhambra Dinner Theatre, we thought a review of their food and new décor was in order. Dinner has improved, with Matthew Medure on board designing the menu. The Alhambra has been in a fixture in Jacksonville community for over 40 years. In '84 it was bought by Tod Booth, who continued the proud tradition. By the late 2000s, Booth was relying heavily on out-of-town tickets, mainly from the Red Hat Society and other social clubs. But when the recession hit, this group shrunk considerably. The Alhambra was close to closing at the end of 2009, but a group of businessmen called the Theatre Partner's Managing group and spread-headed by Craig Smith, came in to the rescue. While they've always had community support, I think the aim today is to get more locals in their door, locals that may have abandoned the old Alhambra because of the food or the tired décor; and locals that had never been to the Alhambra. From what I could see, the audience demographic has slightly changed. While dinner theater is still the purview of the blue hairs, there were more people there under the age of 30 who hadn't been dragged there by a well-meaning parent. The age range was wider than I'd seen it at the Alhambra (notwithstanding their yearly Christmas Carole production). In Craig Smith's intro to the show there were jokes about what a flop High School Musical was, which I gather the Alhambra did to reel in the tween demographic, though they did chat up what a great show it was, despite the lack of audience draw. But 42 Street was a different story. They got their crowd with that one. High School Musical was a bit of a leap for the Alhambra, off of their usual formula for choosing a show. More “avant-garde” people complain about the mundane choice in shows that some community theatres make and that the Alhambra has made in the past. The truth of the matter is that these places just can't afford to gamble with their choice of shows. Community theatre can, because they have a funding cushion and donors, so from them, you'll see at least one gamble in a season line-up. Otherwise, you get the same musicals or type of musicals in rotation, because that's what people consistently come to see. It's refreshing to see them trying new things because dinner theatre has such a slim margin of error, financially. Trying to scratch out a profit at any theater is tough-- and then you add the logistics and cost of food, while charging close to what other shows do that don't serve food, just so you can remain competitive. (Some tickets to shows at the major venues in Jax, which will remain nameless, charge as much or more than the Alhambra and you don't get dinner). Before the food was dramatically rolled out onstage for The Foreigner, I got to look at the most striking changes the Alhambra has made: their remodeling. Outdoors, the fountain area where I went for a pre-show stroll has been brick-paved and landscaped nicely. Inside, the cramped ticket office is now hidden away, replaced by a hostess stand. The cramped buffet room is now a cozy lounge. At gala openings this is where they pass out champagne. It feels like an exclusive little club, perhaps a VIP room tucked away in an expensive restaurant. And there's a full bar in there as well. This is where the Alhambra could royally clean up. Mainly, they've cleared away the clutter that had built up over the years, stream-lined things and modernized. The stage and dining area is just, well, cool. It has a deliberate retro look (as opposed to their previous outdated look, which was only retro because they hadn't remodeled). Looking around, there's a distinct feeling that Jessica Rabbit might slide on stage at any moment and sing a torch song. Basically, you feel like you've arrived somew[...]



Food News and May Foodie Events

2010-04-27T11:44:46.798-07:00

City Kidz Ice Cream & Cafe introduced  its new corporate box lunch program.  Healthy and tasty lunch orders can arrive for a meeting, celebration or as a large lunch order.  Order 10 or more lunches and they waive the delivery fee.  On a somewhat less healthy note, Dunkin’ Donuts will be opening two more franchises here in Jacksonville. One will open in 2012 and the other will open in 2013. This is part of an expansion that will open a total of 17 new locations throughout Florida. May 3rd Andy’s Farmer’s Market Grill will open next to the Jacksonville Farmer’s Market on  West Beaver Street.  A new Urban Flats should be open at 9726 Touchton Road on the Southside. Good news for fans of the flat bread and wine restaurant, who used to travel all the way to Ponte Vedra.  Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives filmed several restaurants on the First Coast. On May 7th at 9 pm the Singleton’s episode will be re-run on the food network and 13 Gypsies will be shown on the May 10 at 10 pm.Every Friday  Sake 101  5-8 pm Circle Japan, 12192 Beach Boulevard, Suite 1, 710-5193.Every Friday St. Johns Towncenter Market 3pm- 8 pm, sjtcmarket.com Every Saturday Riverside Arts Market www.riversideartsmarket.com/ Every Saturday Orange Park Farmers Market 10 am-2 pm www.orangeparkfarmersmarket.com/Every Sunday Mandarin Farmers and Arts Market Noon- 4pm, www.mandarinfarmersmarket.comEvery Sunday The Avenues Mall Green Market Inside the mall rather than outdoors. Noon- 6 pm Wine Tasting Series at Zaitoon Mediterranean Grill Held on the First Wednesday of each month 6 pm- 8 pm, $15, 13475 Atlantic Blvd., Ste. 40 (located behind Fresh Market in the Harbour Village Shopping Center)  www.zaitoongrill.com April 30- May 2 The 46th Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival Includes dozens of food booths featuring shrimp specialties. The Fine Arts Show has been ranked 38th in the nation by Sunshine Artist Magazine as part of their 200 Best Shows in the United States. Downtown Fernandina Beach, www.shrimpfestival.com  May 21 Jacksonville Craft & Import Beer Festival It’s the second year for this festival and it promises to be bigger than last year. With over 35 breweries and 200 beers to taste, you’ll be sure to have a good time. VIP party starts at 5:30 pm ($45). General Admission 7 pm ($30). Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, www.beerfestjax.com/ May 26 Indie Dinner and a Movie at Gypsy Cab presents: “Don McKay” For a midweek date, you can take a ride to St. Augustine. The Indie film series at Gypsy Cab continues with the movie, Don McKay. Twists, turns, fantasy, reality, past history, and future tragedy runs into a mass collison in this comic thriller. Doors open for dinner at 6pm and the movie starts at 7 pm. Tickets are $25 and include a buffet dinner, the movie, one non-alcoholic beverage, and a donation to the St. Johns Cultural Council. For reservations call 904-824-8244. www.stjohnsculture.com  May 29 Blue Bamboo Cooking Class This time Dennis Chan is cooking up outdoor summer barbecue and showing you the ropes! $38 per person, includes lunch and a glass of wine or cocktail. 10 am- noon, www.bluebamboojacksonville.com  May 30 Jacksonville Jazz Festival-Jazz Brunch Enjoy the sounds of jazz with a brunch buffet of fresh salads, pastries, and gourmet prepared entrees. African American artist Marsha Hatcher will be on hand to sign copies of her award-winning poster. For brunch reservations at Café Nola, call 366-6911, ext. 231. 11 am- 3pm, Cafe Nola inside the MOCA Downtown, www.mocajacksonville.org[...]



Swanky Easter Brunch

2010-04-02T10:49:12.456-07:00

Just a list of swanky Easter Brunch places here in Jacksonville I've compiled. Happy Easter 2010



III Forks Easter Brunch


11 am-3 pm

It's one of our newest upscale places to nosh (namely wet-aged steak) and you'll be happy to know that they will be open for Easter Brunch. Executive Chef Joe Everett and his team are preparing a memorable Three Course Easter Celebration, beginning with your choice of Cream of Asparagus Soup, a delightful culinary salute to the season or a famous III Forks Salad. Entree choices are all served with whipped potatoes, sugar snap peas and off-the-cob cream corn. The special III Forks Easter Brunch is $42.95 for adults and $14.95 for children under 12. (Includes tea and coffee) Call 904-928-9277. 9822 Tapestry Park Circle on the Southside.



Easter at Azurea


11 am-8 pm

Do brunch, lunch or dinner at one of the fanciest places to eat in the area. You can order a creamy She-Crab Bisque, Pan Roasted Black Cod with Mussel and Vine Ripe Sweet Tomato Broth, Potato Truffle Dauphinois and finish things off with a dessert of White Chocolate Coconut Cheesecake, Macaroon Crust with Compressed Strawberries. There's much more to their Easter Menu, so check it out at www.oneoceanresort.com/dining. Cost will vary depending on what you order. Inside One Ocean Resort at One Ocean Boulevard Atlantic Beach.



Casa Marnia Hotel Easter Brunch


10 am-2 pm

It’s a traditional family affair in Jax Beach, featuring Chef Aaron Webb’s generous buffet menu, including smoked ham, sausage, an omelet station, crab legs, macadamia crusted grouper, paella, tandoori chicken and more. Reservations required; call 270-0025. The cost is $38.95 (plus tax & gratuity). 691 N. 1st Street in Jacksonville Beach.



Easter Brunch at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville

11am-3pm

Enjoy the buffet of fresh salads, pastries and hot side items while you wait for your gourmet, freshly made entree. Over 10 choices including Shrimp and Grits, Kentucky Hot Brown & Banana Stuffed French Toast. Reservations strongly suggested. Go to their website at www.mocajacksonville.org $22/person / $8 Children under 10. Cafe Nola at MOCA 333 North Laura Street.



Orsay Sunday Brunch

11 am-4 pm

Orsay will be keeping their regular menu for brunch, which has always been good enough for any special occasion. Try the Croquet Madame or go for their raw bar and a Bloody Mary. You can see their full menu for brunch online at www.restaurantorsay.com/ 3630 Park Street in Avondale.



Easter Brunch at Salt

10 am-2 pm

Inside the Ritz-Carlton in Amelia Island, is one of the best restaurants in the area. Admission actually includes one 5x7 family portrait. Reservations required; call 277-1100. $65 per adult, plus tax and gratuity. $32 per child (ages 5-12), plus tax and gratuity. 4750 Amelia Island Parkway, Amelia Island.



Zaitoon's Easter Brunch

11:30 am-3 pm

The Mediterranean restaurant Zaitoon, will be open for Easter Sunday during their regular operating hours. They will have a full buffet. Reservations are suggested; call 221-7066. Adults meals are $26.95 (includes a complimentary Mimosa) and kids 12 and under cost $14.95 (children under 4 eat free). 13475 Atlantic Blvd., Ste. 40 (behind Fresh Market in the Harbour Village Shopping Center)



Calorie Counting on Menus

2010-03-05T18:17:50.139-08:00

So the Jacksonville Observer has reported that Jacksonville State Senator Steve Wise-R and Rep. Ed Homan, R-Tampa decided that it would be a good idea to put forth legislation in favor of forcing restaurants to put a calorie count on all menu items. They want to do this because they think it will make Floridians thinner--and therefore more healthy.

As a foodie this has made me made angry for a few reasons.

1: You can't legislate health. Case in point, larger warning labels on cigs in other countries resulted not in less sales of cigarettes, but in larger sales of decorative cigarette cases.

2: It stifles creativity. Chefs would not have the ability to be put together dishes based on what's fresh at the market. Nope. They'll have to stick to the calorie counted menu.

3: Higher cost for smaller businesses. Chains can afford to do calorie counts because they have the same menus across the country. But the cost of sending each dish to a lab is prohibitive for a local place. Say goodbye to Orsay.

4: Calorie counts are just a guess. Calorie counts even in chains can vary widely. Unless you're dealing with ALL prepackaged food ANYTHING can skew it higher. A piece of meat of the same size can vary in calories.

5: Less fresh food. If this is enforced, see above--in order for calorie counts to be accurate, less fresh food will be served in restaurants. How is this more healthy, exactly?

6: This will further homogenize our fruit and vegetable supply if all the states decide to do this. If each restaurant needs an exact calorie count, then they'll look for fruits and veggies that deliver a consistent count per gram that they are familiar with. That means they'll stick to a particular genus. If we don't have a variety of different genuses it could lead to a farming disaster for the US. We're already in trouble on that front because we don't grow enough different varieties of, say, corn. If you grow one type of corn only, it takes only ONE wave of disease or bugs to wipe out all of the corn in the US. If you grow a bunch of different types of corns some will be resistant.

I'm also annoyed because it seems to me the sort of thing I'd condemn Democrats for, but both of these guys are Republicans! It costs small business owners more and it sticks the government's nose in something that it should not interfere with.

We are not California.



The Death of Sushi

2010-03-03T11:54:49.745-08:00

(image)
A friend of mine sent me a link to something called a Sushi Popper.

This unholy item makes sushi more convenient with a push pop candy apparatus, so that it may be eaten at the ball park, in stadiums and other such places. This is part of a trend that I blame on the popularity of sushi.

Restaurants that have no business making sushi want sushi on their menu. So they get someone else to roll them up a supply, which they leave in their fridge until someone orders it--not unlike what you'll find at a Publix in the sushi case. At least there, you know that your roll might have been made up the day before. At a restaurant you expect that the chef is rolling it up when you order it.

What I like about the Sushi Popper is its sheer audacity. One look at the packaging, and you know that baby wasn't made-to-order. They, like the sushi you sometimes get at non-sushi restaurants, are made up ahead of time. Sushi Popper hires local rollers to fill their blasphemous tubes (Hi Kellie, I stole your phrase!)The tubes are then refrigerated and await your order.

I don't think they're a horrible health hazard. After all, I've eaten sushi from the case and lived. Many people have.

But it still makes me sad because the real, made-to-order deal is just so much better. If I had kids I wouldn't want them to grow up in a world where sushi came in tubes.



A Trip to Fresh Market: Hydroponics and Swedish Pancakes

2010-03-02T13:35:45.803-08:00

Get Your Hydro Here.
I picked up a decently sized basil plant from Fresh Market the other day when I was waiting for one of their food demos to start. (It was an Italian Beef Tenderloin served with Gorgonzola butter. The beef was excellent, particularly set off with the butter, but the pasta served with it, wasn't entirely my cuppa.)

The basil was grown hydroponically and the fragrance hit me from a couple of feet away.

I grow my own herbs at home. Sometimes I grow them from seed, like my purple Thai basil. I've got a large rosemary bush which I didn't grow from seed, some chives, parsley and a little bit of thyme I rescued from one of those refrigerated packages which leave the roots and some soil intact.

I knew that the basil I was looking at was exceptional. The copious amount of leaves and their size were one thing-- but the important part is how it smells, and this basil was quite possibly the most fragrant I'd encountered.

I've since transplanted the beauty into a pot after using some of it in a diced strawberry and honey mixture, as well as in a pasta dish (angel hair pasta with a Parmesan basil and olive oil sauce, topped with tilapia.)

All very delish.

This plant has piqued my interest in hydroponics, which was formerly relegated into categories labeled "Pot growers" and "moon colonists." Narrow minded, I know. But it's not just me. Type in a google search.

The only problem is that it looks like I'd have to use specialized equipment and buy nutrients. This translates into money, and I certainly don't have much of that, despite the fact that I just told you I was in a Fresh Market.

Swedish Pancakes

I actually got out of there for about $21, namely because I found Lund's Swedish Pancakes. I then cleaned them out of Lund's pancakes. Except for one box, which I left out of a misplaced sense of guilt.(image)

You don't know what I've gone through to find Lund's Swedish Pancakes. I called both Native Suns, a Euro specialty market, I went to four different Publixes, called around to Winn Dixie, I went to the other Fresh Market (the one on San Jose) and I called the distributor. They were willing to ship me a large amount, but I'd also have to pay shipping. I could also get them over the internet. Same deal with shipping, even if I didn't have to buy a case.

So imagine my shock and joy at finding the box that had burned itself into my brain--when I wasn't even looking for it; when I had given up all hope.

You might imagine that I really like Swedish Pancakes. I do. My father likes them more and he can't find them either. I plan to share some of my bounty with him. In this way, he will know that I love him.

Swedish pancakes aren't spongy and thick like most pancakes can be. They don't bubble as pancakes do when you cook them. No, indeed not. This batter is thin, the result of which I can only describe as the holiest of matrimony between a crepe and a pancake.



Code Organ OR I stole this from Jax Con

2010-03-02T12:30:39.468-08:00

I surf Jax Con aka Jacksonville Confidental and they had something on there called code organ, a fun way to waste your time. It takes the html coding of a site and translates it into music. I must say, my Epi Jax blog sounds pretty sweet! One side note though, do make sure you cut/paste the whole thing, including the http://



Spice of the Moment: Spanish Smoked Paprika

2010-02-25T12:15:22.597-08:00

Like most Americans my first experience with paprika came on deviled eggs. It didn't taste like much and it was only trotted out for that particular dish. When I experimented in my mother's kitchen, I opened different spices and took a whiff. I even gave the paprika a chance, but it didn't pass the sniff test.

What I didn't know is that there are different varieties of the spice and that it has a relatively short shelf life as far as spices go. When I found a recipe which called specifically for Spanish smoked paprika, I didn't use the stuff in my cabinet (because there was none) so I had to buy it.

It was a whole new experience--the difference between a skeleton and a living being. You might know the general shape of an animal from its skeleton, but you wouldn't know the important details. There's beauty in the flesh. That's what smoked Spanish paprika is to the musty stuff I knew growing up: alive rather than a pile of bones.

Smoked Spanish Paprika comes from very mild sweet peppers that are ever so slowly smoked, generally with oak chips (though not always). Sometimes a combination of peppers are used. Despite peppers being the base, the most commonly found paprikas here in the US don't add heat to a dish. In some ways, it reminds me of chipotle, without the heat and with less dramtic sweet notes. Instead it's savory and smokey, with just a touch of the sweet.

I'm gaining an interest in trying to smoke my own paprika, though it really seems involved and I would have to get a smoker. I do have a dehydrator, so I can experiement with drying and grinding various peppers, but I won't get that smokey flavor.

I'm also interested in some of hotter Hungarian and Spanish paprikas. I'm unlikely to find these in a typical supermarket, but some of Jacksonville's ethinic markets and the interweb should should serve me well.



Not a Shack.

2010-02-23T14:18:25.044-08:00

I expected Salt Life Food Shack to be more, well, shack-like. The atmosphere is, instead, more beachy-but-upscale. The food is mid-range in price and the servers are beach girls, dressed more decently than Hooters girls, but meant to be eye-candy just the same.

I ordered the soft shell crab BLT. It includes a whole soft crab, two slices of crispy bacon, tomato slices, some shredded lettuce and a po' boy type sauce between ciabatta. It was the prep of the crab, the quality of the bread and the sauce that launched the sandwich into awesome.

Can't say the same of the sushi tuna roll I ordered, but I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to sushi.

My dining companion ordered their burger, which he declared tasty.

I do want to go back and explore more of their more expensive dinner options. As long as you aren't freaked out by the prospect of a whole soft shell crab in your sandwich, I do highly recommend the soft shell blt for lunch.

Lunch for two, with a sushi roll, a burger, soft shell blt and two non-alkie drinks came to just over $29 before tip.



Romance on the River: Valentine’s at The Landing

2010-02-12T10:56:28.211-08:00

Just a Press Release for the Landing and the deals they got goin' on for Valentine's. As to me, I'll be staying home on the day and rescheduling my V-day dinner on a different day!


WHAT: Romance on the River: Valentine’s Day at The Landing and FREE parking

WHEN: Sunday, February 14, 2010

WHERE: The Jacksonville Landing participating restaurants
2 Independent Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32202

WHY: Downtown Jacksonville along the St. Johns River is one of the most romantic places in Northeast Florida. The Jacksonville Landing is home to seven riverfront restaurants, all of which are offering Sweetheart Specials for Valentine’s Day (see below for individual specials). From chocolate-covered strawberries to “Dinner for Two” and complementary champagne, The Landing has it all for this special day. No need to worry about paying to park! The Landing is offering up to four hours of free parking with purchase from the following locations:
American Cafe, Benny’s Steak & Seafood, Chicago Pizza, Cinco de Mayo, Hooter’s, Koja Sushi, The Twisted Martini or Vito’s Italian Cafe. Valid only with purchase. 4 hour max, $1 per hour thereafter.
Not valid with any other offer. Good only 2/12-2/14/10.

Individual merchant specials are as follows:
American Cafe
Sweetheart Special: Dinner for Two only $27.99 +tax
Add a bottle of wine to your meal for only $15.00.
Benny’s Steak & Seafood
Gourmet Three Course Dinner for Two $89.95 +tax
Also enjoy a champagne split with your meal.
Cinco de Mayo
Buy one margarita or draft beer get one 1/2 off.
Hooter’s
One free dessert per couple with purchase of any entree.
Koja Sushi
Choice of free drink, appetizer or dessert with purchase of $15.00 or more.
Sundrez
Heart Box Valentine’s Candy
Stuffed Animals
Jumbo Valentine’s Day Cards $6.95
Valentine’s Day balloons and much more!
-more-

Dipper Dan’s Ice Cream & Treats
6 Jumbo Hand Dipped Chocolate Strawberries $9.95
3 Jumbo Hand Dipped Chocolate Strawberries $6.95
Vito’s Italian Cafe
Three Course Meal for Two, only $85.00 +tax
Complimentary Glass of champagne included.
Don’t Forget!!!
The Landing offers valet parking every Friday and Saturday evening for only $10.00

For a complete list of all events at the Landing, please log onto www.jacksonvillelanding.com , www.myspace.com/jacksonvillelanding or www.facebook.com/jacksonvillelanding



The Jacksonville Landing, located in the heart of downtown Jacksonville adjacent to the St. Johns River, is a multi-purpose facility providing year-round dining, shopping and entertainment. With more than 40 shops and restaurants, visitors are sure to find exactly what they are looking for, as well as enjoy the fabulous view of the river. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. Restaurants and clubs stay open later. For more information, or a complete list of events and entertainment, please call (904) 353-1188 or visit www.JacksonvilleLanding.com.



White Meat Vs. Dark Meat

2010-01-11T17:48:41.262-08:00

This week I'm fixing my toasted garlic and smoked paprika boneless chicken thighs.

Now chicken thighs tend to put off those that prefer white meat. White meat doesn't have as much flavor as dark because it doesn't have as much fat. Those who prefer white hold that it isn't as greasy and is a better "blank canvas" for flavors.

These differences mean that in certain recipes, one or the other is the better choice.

Such is the case with my toasted garlic and smoked paprika chicken thighs. The dark meat is just better.

I'm actually thinking about throwing in a few pieces of white meat for those who claim a strong aversion to dark meat--but, I hesitate. It doesn't feel right or true.

I've never been one of those cooks who wail about a recipe's integrity. The fact is I feel for poor maligned dark meat. This a recipe where boneless thighs are given the chance to shine--to be a star on the plate--not everybody's second choice.

The specter of my mother rises and I feel the urge to say things like "Just try a bite" and "I can't believe you don't like it. It's so good!"

Taste is a personal thing. I can't impose the experience on others that I'm having with a particular mouthful any more than my mother could. I can't make light meaters (thus I have coined a term)experience dark meat in the same way I do.

But.

If I toss some white meat into the recipe, nothing will stop me from placing a small pile of dark meat on their plate. "Just try a bite," I'll say, after extolling the virtues of dark meat in this recipe. And maybe, just maybe, one of them will have a revelatory experience.

Smoked Paprika Boneless Chicken Thighs

Olive Oil
1 head of Garlic
Chicken Thighs
Smoked Paprika
Bay Leaf
White Wine
Salt and Pepper

To begin with, slice fresh garlic. Don't crush or mince the garlic, you're going to be toasting the garlic in slices. One head of garlic or 10 cloves should be sufficient. I like to wear gloves. Because otherwise I smell like garlic for several days, even after the spplication of soap.

In a large deep pan, I heat olive oil. Once it's heated, I throw in the garlic. Some slices will cook faster than others. Have a plate nearby with a paper towel on it to place the toasted garlic and drain the oil.

Leave the remaining oil in the pan, but take it off the burner whilst you prepare the chicken thighs. A little salt pepper and a liberal amount of smoked paprika should go on the thighs. Make sure you get smoked Spanish paprika--it's better than the other stuff.

Place the pan back on the burner and let it heat up. Toss your thighs in the pan. Let them brown and turn twice. Then pour enough white wine into the pan to cover half the chicken. Throw a dried whole bay leaf or two into this. Bring the wine to a boil and then bring down the temp to about medium and then to simmer. Place the lid on and allow to cook for about 12-15 minutes more.

After the 12 minutes is up, check on the thighs. Turn them over and turn up the temperature to reduce the liquid a little, if need be. Boneless chicken thighs normally take about 20-40 minutes total to cook on the stove top at medium heat.

Allow a few minutes to cool, off hot burner and top with garlic slices to serve. Bread goes well with the tasty sauce, made possible by dark meat goodness.



III Forks

2009-12-01T17:57:29.452-08:00

Tonight I got to nosh and nibble at III Forks. It seemed like every media outlet was there as well as some of Jacksonville's big spenders.

Trying their filet mingon, I found that Capital Grille now has some serious competition in the steak department. Their Kona crusted steak may no longer be king.

Their scallops were perfectly cooked, not overdone despite being on a buffet line.

The crab cakes probably follow the plated recipe, which is why they tended to fall apart as you used tongs to lift them to your plate on the buffet. This is not a criticism--they were falling apart because they use more crab meat than bread crumbs. Served straight to your table they would hold up well and on the buffet they were tasty, if slightly messy.

Their single culinary misstep was in the shrimp. Larger does not mean better. The shrimp were huge, served cold with cocktail sauce. But large shrimp are often not as flavorful as midsized shrimp. The fault, as far as I could tell, was in the shrimp, not in the prep of the shrimp.

And their desserts were heaven. The tiny creme brulees had the requisite caramel glass to break through and their chocolate cups were divine.

Decorwise, III Forks is swank, with high ceilings, dark wood and modern details. A girl would feel quite special if you took her out there. I also think it will be come the new go-to for salesmen romancing clients.

III Forks 9822 Tapestry Park Circle Jacksovnille, Fl (on Gate across from Tinseltown)(904) 928-9277



Freebie at Zaxby's

2009-11-18T14:11:03.746-08:00

(image)
I stay away from fast food as much as possible, but I'm all about sharing deals and Zaxby's claims they're an "alernative to fast food", so here it is, fresh from an email press release:

REGENCY ZAXBY’S HOSTS UNIQUE FOOD GIVEAWAY NOVEMBER 19

Dine at Zaxby’s on November 19 and Receive the Repeat Order FREE in December


WHAT: The Jacksonville Zaxby’s restaurant at Regency is giving away free meals in December to anyone who makes a purchase on Repeat Day, November 19. Guests who place dine-in or drive-through orders on Repeat Day are invited to save their specially colored receipt and return once during the month of December to receive a repeat of their original order ABSOLUTELY FREE. Gift cards, boxed lunch orders, Party Platterz and catering orders are excluded.



WHERE: 9575 Regency Square Blvd. — Jacksonville



WHEN: Thursday, November 19



An alternative to fast food, the Georgia -based fast-casual chain offers prepared-at-order chicken fingers, wings, sandwiches and salads. Zaxby’s most popular items are its hand-breaded Chicken Fingerz and Jumbo Buffalo Wings smothered in a choice of 10 sauces with names like Wimpy, Tongue Torch, Nuclear and Insane.



Zaxby’s operates more than 485 restaurants in 11 states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia). For more information visit www.zaxbys.com.



The Dish

2009-10-19T23:01:01.673-07:00

We all love food with a view. Downtown's cityscape is pretty impressive dozens of stories up, but in the past the highest restaurants with an aerial Downtown view were also members only propositions. Not so any more, with the opening of the Skylight Dining and Conference Center (50 N. Laura St.) on the 42nd floor of Jacksonville's tallest building (The Bank of America Tower, originally called the Barnett Tower). Word is that you can actually eat lunch there for around $10.

The Uptown Market & Deli (1303 N. Main St.) is in full swing in Springfield. You can find it in new Third & Main building, along with City Kidz Ice Cream Cafe. (Do try City Kidz crab cakes!) Uptown is the newest place for Jacksonville's Urban set to catch a deli bite or breakfast and will be open till 8 pm. If you want table service, you'll have to go from 7 am to 2 pm, after that you can order from the deli.

Shatki Life Kitchen (51 Pine St., Atlantic Beach) is a restaurant, but they've been spreading their raw-foodist vegan cheer in more places than you would expect. They sell vegan crackers at the Beaches Green Market, Native Sun Market carries their various sundries and now European Street is selling their desserts.

We hope the Village Bread opening at the Landing will survive longer than Karlene's Deli did. Since they've weathered a less than stellar locale in the past, perhaps they will.

Don't take the loss of The Fresh Market at its 10950 San Jose Blvd locale as another sign of our doomed economy. It's merely moved just down the street (on the opposite side) to 12795 San Jose Blvd. Things must be looking up, because they've actually expanded.