Tag Archives: dining

Oyster Ideas

Some of the best oysters you will ever eat are flamed in butter on this grill. Do you know where this is?

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Meet Bon Appétit Chef de Cuisine Mary Nolan

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

Not Your Mother’s Meatloaf

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.

Sex and Sponges in Beautiful Barbados

Barbados officially celebrates its high season for visitors beginning in mid-December when North Americans and British are particularly eager to avoid their cold winter. For history and details about this fabulous destination we recommend the Barbados Travel Companion app available from iTunes. It was authored by experienced travel guide writer and journalist Harry S. Pariser and published by Sutro Media which boasts more than 300 mobile apps covering the world’s best destinations. We didn’t go to Barbados for sex or sponges, but after getting the complete scoop from Harry, it might be time to plan another trip. Here’s a little preview of the app content.

The good news for Barbados lovers is that all year is a near-perfect season, and spring or summer rates for lodging or travel packages can be quite enticing.

This is a beautiful friendly Caribbean island which welcomes guests all year. The interesting people are its foremost asset. With golfing, diving, surfing, any water sport, plus swimming with the turtles among the coral, there’s never a shortage of activity. Check current event schedules to plan for something special. The gorgeous beach itself, with an occasional break for a rum punch or several, delivers a pretty good vacation, and the beach locales range from busy resort areas to secluded spots for napping under swaying palms.

Summer in Barbados features the Crop Over Festival which is a five-week event. Its origin is more than 200 years old when the sugar cane crop harvest was finished and called for a celebration. Albeit not still based on the harvest schedule, the festival includes dancing, parades, competitions and of course the fabulous food, arts and crafts which are popular year-round. Thousands of visitors are attracted during this season, and all for good cause.

Duty free shopping is available in Bridgetown, the capital city, in department stores and jewelry shops plus small malls outside the city, but my favorite shopping is among the craft vendors in Pelican Village or along the street in many areas. Tropical batiks, straw hats or local art and pottery are frequently the same products in various locations, but I find the browsing and light bartering to be part of the fun. Vendors are not allowed on the beach, and hawking is not common.

Touring the rum distillery or studying the island’s architecture, rich history and culture also provide myriad choices for daily excursions beyond the beach.

Good food is not a secret here. Spices combine Caribbean influence with occasional Asian or French and create many special dishes including fresh local vegetables such as sweet potatoes. A flying fish sandwich was the first meal I chose in Barbados, and it’s often one of my favorite entrées. It’s local and plentiful due to its actual appearance of flying out of the water (toward the anglers we believe) while it’s supposedly trying to escape larger fish. Other fish is fresh as well as shrimp, lobster, and much more. Pickled sea cat, a relish made from octopus, adds a nice touch to fish and other selections.

Let’s talk about pudding and souse another day! Do you know what they are? Have you sampled them in Barbados, or maybe elsewhere? We heard it was good at Lemon Arbour in St. John.

Let me know what you think about finding the fine food, great beaches and dazzling upcoming events. Sex, sponges, octopus and rum are deserving of further review as well.

French Connection Dinner

The FRENCH CONNECTION DINNER ~ Celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau is a special event at The James Beard House in New York November 18. Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard is the honored chef preparing a 7-course dinner for eighty guests. The best of Georges DuBoeuf 2011 Wines will be paired with his modern French cuisine. Think of some courses including beef tail, frog legs or duck for a truly rustic meal.

Friends of Chef Poinard can purchase dinner tickets at the James Beard Foundation member price of $130 per person. The general public price is $170.

Chef Poinard owns Bistro de Leon in St. Augustine, Florida. He is one of the top 100 chefs of France, and this Florida restaurant resembles his five restaurants in Lyon with casual ambiance and local produce and seafood selected daily for an ever-changing menu. His wife Valerie contributes her family’s winery savoir-faire to the dining experience.

If you can’t make it to New York, maybe we’ll see you in St. Augustine. Choose weekend breakfast, lunch some days or dinner any day for all-French and all excellent. Check out the three-course meals in the French tradition and enjoy the important breads. Reserve for Thanksgiving, where it’s turkey or ham or vegetarian. Don’t even think it’s stuffy or expensive there – not at all!

Oysters R Definitely In

Does the month have an “r” in it? Must be the season, then.

The season for harvesting is announced by each state and along most of the southeast coast begins mid-September. However, the weather and water temperature determine the actual open or close of each year’s season. The mighty mollusk lives on the bed in shallow coastal waters which rapidly change in temperature and salinity. The home of the oyster defines its taste and establishes its identity in markets or restaurants.

While the season for harvesting usually does include the “r” months, the season for eating can be year-round due to the ability to ship refrigerated products which has not always been the case.

Whether the best-tasting oysters are harvested locally from cool waters during the winter months or whether it’s the only possible time to have an outdoor fire, it’s the best excuse for a gathering. With the oyster as the main attraction, an oyster roast can be found somewhere along the coast on any weekend when the plentiful oyster harvest during the official season provides an economical feast for a crowd.

The Bluffton (SC) Oyster Company is the last remaining oyster company on the South Carolina coast. Situated on the May River in Bluffton, just a few minutes from Hilton Head Island or Beaufort, it’s the site of many roasts as well as the supplier or caterer for those in neighboring communities and backyards.

Steamed or roasted, almost the same really, is achieved by piling oysters on a rack over an outdoor wood fire. Steaming occurs if the oysters are covered with a wet burlap bag. They can also be piled into a large shallow pan and covered loosely with foil on a gas grill. Drawn butter, maybe lemon, and definitely cocktail sauce with plenty of horseradish and saltine crackers are standard accompaniments. Opinions differ as to when they are done. If the shell begins to pop open, it’s usually considered to be done. Some connoisseurs prefer them wet, meaning that they are heated and the shell is just barely able to be opened. Those who prefer their oysters dry will wait for the shell to pop completely open and more cooking to occur.

Everyone who loves oysters and lives along the coast is likely to have a personal oyster knife, plus a drawer full of regular ones in the kitchen for company, too. An upscale personal oyster knife may be purchased in several local gift or jewelry shops where they may be beautifully engraved with logo, monogram or any choice of design.

Beyond the roast, oysters can be seriously dressed up such as for Oysters Rockefeller. For recipes to do-it-yourself and recommendations of the best oyster eating along the southeast coast, grab a knife and check back here soon to let the tasting begin!

Wining & Dining in Church

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:

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Lowcountry in your Pocket

The South Carolina Lowcountry is in your phone.  Things to see and do throughout Beaufort County are covered in our app Hilton Head Essentials, published by Sutro Media this month. It’s available for download from the iTunes app store for iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch devices.

More than 800 images with 130 items showcase the coastal area.

It includes a Google map for each entry; one-touch phone calling to each business; one-touch access to the individual website; immediate access to selected YouTube or user reviews; relevant hours and pricing information. Categories include where to stay, where to eat, shopping, attractions, selected upcoming events plus a bit of history and local culture throughout Hilton Head, Bluffton, Beaufort and the neighboring rural areas and towns.

Authors Liz and Charlie Mitchell, long-time South Carolina coastal residents, created the app in partnership with Sutro Media. Their first app Myrtle Beach’s Best was launched in December with a new version published in January.

Updates of Hilton Head Essentials are planned for additional golf and event coverage. Local businesses are invited to follow the authors on Twitter or the Hilton Head Essentials Facebook page or contact the authors via their website.  Event schedules and updated information may be considered for inclusion in future versions. Businesses do not pay to be listed, and the authors base choices on personal experiences and availability of quality content.

The Mitchells also co-authored two travel books published by Channel Lake in the 2010 Tourist Town series. The books available from major booksellers and from Amazon are Hilton Head: A Guide to the South Carolina Lowcountry and Myrtle Beach: A Guide to South Carolina’s Grand Strand. Both books are sold at Sunset River Marketplace in Calabash where the authors appear for periodic special events.

The Hilton Head guidebook also is available in Beaufort at Cuthbert House Inn and at the Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce and in Bluffton at Rose Hill Mansion.

Thank you Bobby Flay!

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?

Introducing Myrtle Beach’s Best

Our new travel app Myrtle Beach’s Best is now available for download via iTunes for iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. It’s $1.99 with free updates forever. As you might expect, it’s written in our two strong and opinionated voices. You wouldn’t want any less than honest reviews and opinions of locals when planning your trip, right?

It includes more than 130 insightful entries, richly visual slide shows with 1120 views and a Google map for each entry; one-touch phone calling to that business; one-touch access to the establishment website; relevant hours and pricing information and immediate access to some YouTube or user reviews. You can add your own comments too.

These categories are offered: Attractions, Beaches, Best Dinners, Day Trips, Easy Lunches, Entertainment, Festivals, Golf, Shopping and Top Hotels. 

An alphabetical listing of everything is shown, and it can be sorted by city, by distance from wherever you are, by price or by category:

The introduction to the golf listings offers a slide show of some beautiful Myrtle Beach National courses:

Sutro Media is a new kind of app publishing company, one that bridges the gap between traditional print media and new media outlets. It’s amassing the world’s largest collection of indie travel writing voices to create new products on the exciting and versatile mobile platform.

If you travel, you will find it easy and fun to explore the world using a mobile phone.  You may be standing on a street corner surfing for a reliable restaurant or lying on the couch planning a tour, and the app will lead you by the hand. No need for a phone book, a map or even the Internet to find where to shop, dine or play in Myrtle Beach when you have the app on your mobile device.

Sutro Media currently has more than 60 apps for sale on iTunes and another 175 in the pipeline.

Let us know what you think.