Taste, taste, taste …

January 22, 2016
By Marcy Shortuse

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■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
This is part two in a three-part series featuring each restaurant representing their deliciousness at the 2016 Taste of Boca Grande. The event will be held on Monday, Feb. 1 at the Boca Bay Pass Club, under a tent.
Tickets are $90 each and can be purchased at the Boca Beacon office, The Boca Bay Pass Club, The Boca Grande Club, The BRC Group, Michael Saunders & Company, Thor Johnson, Kathy Hawken, Nick Kaiser or
Prime Time Steak & Spirits. Only cash or check for the tickets, please.
This week our “Taste” adventures will spotlight some rude shrimp, a little chocolate, a little cheese, a lot of handsome, fresh vegetables and a touch of grenobloise. Follow along and allow yourself to be immersed in these not-so-humble offerings from some of the area’s finest chefs.
Farlow’s on the Water
Chef John Mazza
– St. Croix crab salad:
House specialty crab salad served
with an organic bibb lettuce;
– Mango jerk shrimp: Fresh shrimp grilled to perfection, then topped with our house mango jerk sauce;
– Sweet potato pie in phyllo cups
Farlow’s on the Water has a reputation for having some of the best food offerings the off-island realm can provide. Chef John goes above and beyond for this Taste with his St. Croix crab salad. No, it doesn’t have an island accent, but it is infused with island flavor. Chef uses organic Bibb, or butter head, lettuce in his salad.
The island theme continues with mango jerk shrimp. Jamaica is the home of jerk, which isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s really quite good. Jerk is the process of spicing and grilling meat, in this case, shrimp. The result is a sweet, yet spicy mélange of goodness on the palate, and in this case is completed with Farlow’s famous mango jerk sauce.  Layout 1 (Page 9)
So no, the shrimp aren’t mad. Just a little spicy.
Chef will top off his offerings with an American favorite – sweet potato pie. This dish is often thought to be an African-American concoction, but many believe it originated in Peru. It was made famous in America during slavery times, as yams and sweet potatoes were abundantly fed to slaves.
Sweet potatoes are considered to be one of the healthiest foods you can eat, as they are high in vitamin A and beta-carotene.
The Grapevine Gourmet
and Gift
Chef Patty Kitchen
– Chicken potpie in a pastry shell
– Antipasto platter with cacio di bosco cheese and Bellavitano merlot cheese
– Pineapple and strawberry skewers drizzled in chocolate
Would you believe pot pies go back as far as the Roman Empire? That’s right, the food you grew up eating because frozen ones were only 50 cents each were actually served to royalty during a time of depraved, insatiable living.
They often served them with live birds under the crust, but Chef Patty Kitchen has no intention of doing that to you.
Chicken has become a favorite filler for the pot pie (dead, cooked chickens, that is), and a good pot pie is truly one of the best comfort foods you will find.
Antipasto is how Italians do appetizers. It often consists of olives, anchovies, sausage, peppers and a few artichoke hearts on the side. The word origin aptly means “before food.”
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The Grapevine has some of the best cheese you will find within our region. We are not kidding, it’s that good. If you go to the Wisconsinites handbook, otherwise known as cheese.com, you’ll see that cacao di bosco is a pecorino (hard cheese) made from both sheep and cow’s milk with tiny bits of dark truffle scattered throughout. The taste comes through as sweet, nutty and pleasant.
Bellavitano merlot cheese comes from Sartori, and is one of the popular cheeses they have. According to their web site “cheese makers have skillfully combined rich, fruity Old World flavors with an original texture, creamy with a crystalline crunch. BellaVitano will remind you of versatile Cheddar, but with inspiring Italian style.”
Fruit and chocolate? Nothing more needs to be said. It’s good for you, so it doesn’t count on any diet plan.
Howard’s Restaurant
Chef Cyndi Sterling
– Seafood bruschetta
served on ciabatta bread
– Smoked salmon crustinis
– Lump blue crab, gulf shrimp,
tomato and Parmesan cheese
on toasted Italian bread
Chef Cyndi at Howard’s is doing some bready good things this year for Taste, including another ancient Roman dish – bruschetta. Back then olive growers would go to market and show off their wares by toasting slices of bread and dipping them in their freshly pressed olive oil for their customers to try. The word “bruschetta” literally means, “to roast over coals.”
The smoked salmon crostinis Chef Cyndi will be serving are baguettes topped with garlic herbed cream cheese, Pacific smoked salmon and chives.
Crostini means “little toast,” made by thinly slicing bread and toasting or grilling it to make it crispy.
Her third dish includes lump blue crab, Gulf shrimp, chopped fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, scallions and parmesan cheese on toasted fresh Italian bread, drizzled with balsamic glaze.
Lump crab is frequently used in recipes, and is the extra chunks of meat that come out of the crab’s body. It is usually served fresh from the sea; still salty, always tender.
These are three breads you will definitely want to taste at Taste.
Libby’s Café and Bar/Louie’s Modern/Muse
– Muse: Maple butternut squash
confit and vegan museum lavash;
– Louie’s Modern; Heirloom carrot
tartar/avocado agave/rice cracker (vegan and gluten free);
– Libby’s: Applewood smoked trout grenobloise, with an everything bagel spice crisp and Mote caviar
All three of these restaurants are based in Sarasota, were brought to life by the Seidensticker family (company name Tableside Restaurant Group), and cater to some of the most discriminating palates in that area. They are also well practiced at being leaders in vegan and gluten free dishes. Always on the cutting edge of culinary technology, this restaurant whose home is on the grounds of the Ringling Musem have not disappointed with their menu this year.
While we normally hear about a duck confit, Muse will be using squash for theirs. The word “confit” simply means preserving a meat, fruit or vegetable by slow cooking it in a liquid that is not conducive to bacterial growth … and we all like that.
Butternut squash, by the way, is another great source of vitamin A and free radical scavenging vitamin C, as well as fiber, B6, manganese and copper.
Muse’s vegan museum lavash is sure to be interesting as well. While it’s not peppered with works by Rubens and Veronese, you’ll just have to try it and see.
Louie’s Modern will present another vegetarian dish with heirloom carrot tartar and avocado with agave nectar on a rice cracker. No GMOs here, just “original” vegetables at their finest. If you’ve been eating your run-of-the-mill grocery store carrots for years, take a moment and try a real one, just for good measure. They are as close to original as you can get.
From Libby’s Modern the chef will be bringing applewood smoked trout grenobloise. As you might have guessed grenobloise is French, and any dish with that name (which literally means “Grenoble,” a city in France) is served with a sauce of browned butter, capers, parsley and lemon. Applewood provides a mild, fruity smoke that is subtle, but dense. It works perfectly with trout.
It’s pretty neat that Mote Marine Laboratory has gone into the caviar business. And why not? They’ve got everything they need, right there. Their caviar is Siberian in origin, and is considered a mild and smooth treat that melts in your mouth. Mote sturgeon are grown indoors where everything is strictly controlled, from water quality to the fish’s diet.
Happy sturgeon = happy eggs!