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Bradenton, FL Welcomes Bon Appétit Chef de Cuisine Mary Nolan June 9 for an exclusive Cooking Demonstration and Luncheon. On her Food Network program "Chic & Easy," Chef Nolan showcases simple meals and tips to impress guests without breaking the bank, making the process seem effortless even for those without formal cooking training. Exclusive VIP packages are being offered to guests staying the weekend at one of four hotel partners – Holiday Inn Lakewood Ranch, Comfort Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites, and Wingate by Wyndham – who are offering rates starting at just $89. The Food Lovers Package can be added to the hotel stay for $175 or The Culinary Delight Package for $125. The Food Lovers Package includes: • VIP Meet & Greet with Chef Nolan held on Friday, June 8 • Cooking demonstration and luncheon • VIP Champagne Brunch held on Sunday, June 10 • A copy of Bon Appétit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook ($50 value) The Culinary Delight Package includes: • Audience view of the cooking demonstration and luncheon • VIP Champagne Brunch held on Sunday, June 10 • A copy of Bon Appétit Fast Easy Fresh Cookbook ($50 value) To book your hotel and reserve your spot in the kitchen, call (941) 729-9177 by April 30. For more information visit www.AMILBK.com It's sometimes called "Forgotten Florida" between St. Petersburg and Sarasota on Florida’s west coast including Anna Maria Island & Longboat Key, Bradenton and Lakewood Ranch, which are treasured for their authentic Old Florida charm, breath-taking scenery, funky dining and shopping districts, and 16 miles of sugar-white sands. See this earlier post for more area info: Finding Forgotten Florida
The pinot grape is the focus of the Willamette Valley of Oregon, and thus the feature of the Willamette Valley Vineyards recent wine dinner hosted by Greg Norman’s Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach, SC. The Pinot Noir is a black skinned fruit, typically associated with the Burgundy region of France, and grown in the cool climates of California’s Sonoma Valley and Oregon which is at the same latitude and with similar climate as Burgundy. The Pinot Gris, a white wine made from the gray-skinned fruit, is sometimes referred to as the child of Pinot Noir. It’s the same as the popular Pinot Grigio if Italian. The Willamette Valley Vineyard produces 60 wines, all from the valley’s locally grown fruit, and all are Oregon certified sustainable wines. Jim Bernau, a sixth generation Oregonian, began with the winery in 1983 and in 2011 was awarded the first-ever recognition as Hero of Salmon for the implementation of the high-impact Salmon Safe Sip Save campaign. The vineyard has been a pioneer in moving the Oregon vineyard industry toward greater ecological sustainability in helping to restore the salmon watersheds so that native salmon can spawn and thrive. The first lesson delivered by Mandi Silver, the vineyard’s eastern regional sales manager, was the pronunciation which is Will-am’ette with the emphasis on the am syllable to rhyme with damit. The dinner opened with Chef Jeff Edwards' samplings of fried artichoke hearts with a spicy dip, pulled duck on flat bread and crab in buttery crust. The appetizer course was perfectly paired with the chilled Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling 2009 which is a semi-sweet medium bodied German-style wine. Guests were seated for the second course of Crepe of Forest Mushrooms a La Normande which was paired with chilled Pinot Gris 2009. The third course was Salmon with Marionberry Glaze served with Willamette Valley Vineyards Cluster Pinot Noir 2010. This versatile light fruity wine was described as “liquid fruit salad in a glass.” The marionberry, a hybrid blackberry grown only in Oregon and named for Marion County in the Willamette Valley, was hand delivered directly from its source as another distinctive highlight of this dinner. Venison Meatloaf with Winter Squash Puree and Celery Root Au Jus was paired with the Willamette Valley Vineyards Pinot Noir 2008. This rich and refined wine scored 90 points in the Wine and Spirits February 2011 issue, and the winery was named the magazine’s 2011 Winery of the Year as well as the Wine Press Northwest Oregon Winery of the Year. The Estate Pinot Noir 2008 was the elegant pairing with the Herbed Elk Medallion with Strawberry Fig. This lively spicy wine was selected from the few remaining cases of a small production. Finally, dessert of Curried Mango, Pineapple Upside Down Cake with served with Willamette Valley Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2007, an explosively sweet and intense chilled wine from the limited production of only 58 cases. Six courses including such features as duck, crab, salmon, venison and elk, each with unique presentation, added up to more than your mother’s meatloaf dinner. Greg Norman’s Australian Grille is frequently recognized among the best fine dining establishments in the Myrtle Beach area and received the Wine Spectator magazine Award of Excellence in 2011. The restaurant is celebrating its twelfth anniversary with a continuing series of monthly wine dinners and additional tasting events. Whether a connoisseur of fine wines or a novice sipper, meat and potato lovers and persnickety diners alike can easily select a favorite wine or an exotic entrée created by the award-winning culinary staff.
Not really, but the Parson's Table does take its name from its original use as Little River Methodist Church. Ed Murray Jr. thrives on the stress of creating delicious plates of food for hungry diners six nights a week. The executive chef and owner of Parson’s Table in Little River, SC has been cooking for 35 years and still loves the kitchen. He maintains an optimistic outlook about the economy and the accompanying challenges. He thinks of the Little River area as a “dining destination” with the fine dining presented by the Brentwood, Chianti South and his Parson’s Table. The trio attracts a loyal following of golfers and locals, and more visitors are discovering these great finds. Murray’s philosophy is promoting “break the chain” by eating local. Murray has always emphasized fresh local seafood and produce, even before the concept was such a trending phenomenon. His fish selections echo the catch brought in to the dock just minutes away. This week it’s sea bass which is prolific, as well as some trigger fish, all of which are line-caught with respect to protecting the sea turtles and any endangered species. During his 18 years at this restaurant which he bought from his parents, changes have included more attention to dietary needs, more glazes rather than heavy sauces, half portions/small plates and an expanded appetizer selection. But there's still a big batch of cornbread stirred up daily! He calls the menu eclectic, as it ranges from curry dishes to traditional veal marsala or wiener schnitzel, along with the emphasis on regional and coastal dishes. One of the long-time favorites, which will probably always remain on the menu, we hope, is the Little River Shrimp and Scallops. Steaks, lamb and prime rib are also special. Murray also has expanded the wine list and has a sommelier on staff and years of recognition by Wine Enthusiast magazine and Wine Spectator. Murray has been named among 80 of the Best Chefs in America, a group distinguished by such notables as Wolfgang Puck, and the restaurant has received the Mobile Travel Guide award and the Diners’ Choice Award from Open Table. From Chicago, by way of Boston, Albuquerque, Las Vegas and Daufuskie Island, Murray relishes his first and only job of cooking and enjoying the heat of summer in the kitchen. The other heat he loves is that of a marathon run which is one of his other passions. Antique cypress doors, beautiful stained and beveled glass and the main chandelier were collected from a variety of sources by the original owner. The small rooms offer privacy for groups as well as additional displays of the furnishings. Take a little tour here:
Cuban-style burger. The best ever!
So Bobby Flay came over to grill burgers last night...No, he didn't...He came into my bedroom one morning with a big...No, not really! I mean his show came on TV one morning as I was waking late. The resulting recipe for his Cuban-style burger turned out to be the best burger I ever ate. Swiss cheese, ham, dill pickle and all layered onto a well-done lean burger with more cheese and smashed on a fat onion bun. I must admit that I used the correct ingredients, but not his preparation at all, for the mayo-mustard-garlic spread which is also a tasty addition to almost any sandwich.
Thanks, Bobby! Bring it and Mitch can grill it. What are we doing next?
Bonjour!It’s no secret among area food lovers that Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro in Little River is the place to be. This is a lovely upscale restaurant, voted the Best French Restaurant on the Grand Strand last year and in the running in the current competition. The restaurant is in a restored circa 1910 home visible from U. S. 17, just minutes north of Myrtle Beach, although sitting back from the highway and facing a side street. The mood for fine dining is enhanced by the architecture and the seating in several small rooms, as if it’s still a private home hosting a few guests for dinner. The French chef/owner Eric Masson has classical training, three degrees from a noted French culinary school and extensive experience which is reflected in the delicious and creative entrees. His wife Kimberlee is popular for hosting the Wine Club which meets monthly for themed tasting events. The couple is increasingly recognized for their culinary contributions to the Grand Strand scene. Chef recently hosted a private dinner for celebrities Aaron McCargo Jr. (left) of Food Network TV's "Big Daddy's House" and Guy Fieri, (right) also of current Food Network fame. Seven courses, a lot of wine, a few beers and about five hours later, the guests raved about the hidden gem of a restaurant. Daily choices are a light menu at the upstairs wine bar, a four-course prix fixe or a diverse les viandes (meats) and les poissons and fruits de mer (seafood) menu. The chef grows his own herbs and chooses fresh seafood brought from local waters. The discriminating seafood lover will be happy in this one local place which does not serve a single fried seafood platter. A recent wine club meeting showcased a five-course menu with tastings of 20 Spanish wines which members brought. The Chef’s Amuse Bouche was Indigo Farm Organic Fig with Fresh Goat cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon. The chef actually goes to the nearby farm and picks his own figs too. The next course was the Paella de la Casa with local shrimp, imported Chorizo, grilled chicken, sautéed peppers and steamed mussels in a Spanish saffron rice. You can't eat this without saying Yummmmmm! The next plate arrived, and most diners abandoned knife and fork for the finger-licking good lamp chops, Chuletillas de Cordero con Mermelada de Pimientos de Piquillo. That was followed by Tapas of Spanish cheese. One of the chef’s specialties was presented for dessert: Cinnamon Scented Crème Brulee. I've sampled his various flavors of creme brulee on other occasions and loved every one of them. The wine club dinner meetings are limited to an intimate gathering of 20 with reservations required, and the conversation flows as freely as the wines. Masson’s previous successes as executive chef include Marché at 74 State Boutique Hotel, Albany, New York; owner of Saratoga Lake Inn & Bistro, Saratoga Springs, New York which was voted Best French Restaurant by the Metroland in the first year of business. He also was the Iron Chef Competition Winner in 2004 for the local competition sponsored by the March of Dimes. He was executive chef/operations manager/owner, Ferrandi’s Restaurant, Amsterdam, New York which was voted Best French Restaurant by Metroland three years in a row. He was awarded the 40 under forty by the Capital Region Business Review in 2000. His French experience was as executive chef, Chez Mary de Rosay,Megeve, France; executive chef/partner, Restaurant Le Quincampe, Paris and executive chef, 5 Infanterie Regiment, Paris. A little bit French and totally lowcountry in warm hospitality, this is a dining experience to repeat often. For information about the wine club, cooking classes or special events: TheBrentwoodRestaurant.
Panini's has been our favorite Beaufort, SC restaurant for years. There's no better view of the sunset over Waterfront Park and no comparable pizza for sure. Always trying to top their own success, they're serving new specialties this weekend for the Beaufort Shrimp Festival. The People's Choice winner for so many years we all lost count, and we'll see some serious competition again. The historic bank is a lovely building, easy to find downtown on the corner of Bay Street and within walking distance from any of the bed and breakfasts and a couple of hotels. Or walk up from the park to the back for casual outdoor dining during almost any season . The pizza and pasta have been my favorites, although the big salad and crusty focaccia have kept me happy for about a hundred lunches. Of course the panini needs no explanation -- plenty of varieties on the menu. Hoagies are on the new fall menu, and I'll be tasting the blackened flounder hoagie with caper remoulade sauce on my next lunch visit. The new menu features even more local seafoods with Nick's special touches. His heritage is Italian, and his thinking is Italian albeit with South Carolina lowcountry accents. My small plate order of peel and eat local shrimp, lager steamed with old bay, was a big meal for me. Nothing small about it. Plan on plenty of napkins and cold beverage too! It's spicy and just right. As an experienced critic of all things shrimp, I can promise the shrimp bisque on the starter menu is some of the best ever. The Italian taste is pepperoni. What a great combination! Any of the seafood tapas are tasty too, with more variety and unique presentation that you will find anywhere in town. Our friends who eat calamari everywhere they go will be right at home with the almond crusted dish and spicy aioli plus fra diavolo sauce. For dinner, everyone loves the Mediterranean Shrimp and Grits. It's simply made with pancetta polenta which is an improvement over many traditional recipes. One of my personal favorites is the new Flounder Francaise with lemon butter and almonds, plus pancetta polenta. If you crave paella, this is the right place -- the only place to fall in love! Know about my favorite dessert? Well, two or three actually, and they're here! Creme brule, tiramisu or chocolate panini, just for me. Yummmmmm Guess we'll be here a lot to sample more new dishes, but never too far from a mac and cheese (5 imported cheeses) or a Mediterranean pizza fresh from this brick oven. Hope we'll see you too!
WaterScapes at the Marina Inn at Grande Dunes reflects Executive Chef James Clark’s emphasis on sustainable foods. He’s particularly proud of the eggs. An omelet, scrambled or fried egg at WaterScapes is made with a hormone free and truly free ranged egg. The weekly delivery of 30 dozen from Travis Hughey’s farm brings a rich flavor to breakfast dishes as well as desserts. The Hughey’s Red Star chickens are a breed famed for big brown eggs. One breakfast entrée specialty is the Shrimp & Crab Omelet which combines sweet bay shrimp, jumbo lump crab, scallions and roasted red pepper coulis. Another tasty treat is the Bananas Foster French Toast with butter- and brown sugar-caramelized bananas glazed with dark rum. The chef’s favorite on the breakfast menu is Biscuits with Andouille Sausage Gravy. Andouille is a bold flavored sausage which lends an interesting twist to sausage gravy. WaterScapes serves breakfast, lunch and dinner with indoor or terrace seating facing the poolscape and marina. Marina Inn was recommended as a luxury choice in our book Myrtle Beach: A Guide to South Carolina's Grand Strand published by Channel Lake in the 2010 Tourist Town series. The restaurant was not covered, but it's a fine choice with the breakfast of special note plus lunch and dinner entrees also being fresh sustainable choices such as the Seared Grass Fed Beef Tenderloin or the Wood Grilled Pork which is accompanied by Carolina Barbecue Sauce. The fresh fish board changes daily with such features as mahi mahi or a Whole Crispy Black Bass. The wine list is equally impressive. Be sure to save room for the dessert specialties created by Pastry Chef Tina Spaltro. She's Italian American, and her passion for food combining Italian and American flavors is reflected in her work. My favorite just might be the Trio of Creme Brulee. Dining is possibly surpassed by the view of the marina on the Intracoastal Waterway. What do you think?