Category: General

Jupiter Craft Brewer’s Beer Festival – January 28, 2012

Jupiter Beer Festival

Jupiter Beer Festival

Regardless of what you may think of craft beer, it’s hard not to like what’s going on across America, and the world, for that matter, with regard to the popularity of craft beer.

In our little sparging tank of the world (South Florida) we’re fortunate to experience beer-tasting events like the annual Jupiter Craft Brewer’s Festival, located in Jupiter, Florida. Taking place in the more favorable mild winter temps of January, over 40 craft brewers descend upon Roger Dean Stadium this time of year to ply their wares to the most ardent beer aficionados.

Blue Point Toxic Sludge

Blue Point Toxic Sludge

For the uninitiated, the Jupiter Fest is a large, well-organized and well-attended event that never disappoints. Besides the beer itself, there is always food on hand, along with live music and a “Silent Disco” (don’t ask). True, there were some noticeably absent craft brewers like Flying Dog and Bell’s at this year’s event, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have more than our fair share of beer choices available. With our event lanyards draped across our chests and plastic steins in hand we proceeded to sip, sample and savor a good amount of some of the finest craft ales, pilsners, stouts and wheat beers the country has to offer.

Crowd Waiting for Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Porter

Crowd Waiting for Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Porter

Several local and state breweries were there as well, including Cigar City, Dogfish Head, Funky Buddha, Stone, and Blue Point. Of these, The Funky Buddha, located in Boca Raton, Florida, by far had the most unique and best-tasting beers of the lot. The Funky Buddha No Crusts (PB & J in a bottle – brilliant!) and Maple Bacon Porter were hands down the most sought-after beers of the event (as judged by the throngs of tipsy festival goers acting like orphans seeking their next bowl of gruel), and went quickly as the kegs were tapped. The one drawback to these events is the limited availability of certain high-demand brews. Several brewers had message boards posted stating when their specialty brews would be put on the public tasting block. We missed out on the Cigar City White Oak Peach IPA early in the afternoon, but were well rewarded with the Funky Buddha offerings later in the day.

After three and a half hours of sampling fine brew, it was time to call it a day. With our stomachs full and a pleasant buzz in our heads, we all headed south to grab a late afternoon bite to eat at Sweetwater Bar & Grill, located in Boynton Beach.

Sweetwater

Sweetwater Bar & Grill

Sweetwater is a charming bar and eatery that boasts an excellent beer and drink menu while serving up some amazing food. Among the most notable items were the scallops on the half shell special topped with a topping similar to dynamite you would find on some sushi dishes; tangy, sweet chicken wings; mini burgers and fries; belgium battered octopus, and Korean beef soft tacos that were to die for.

We will definitely keep Sweetwater Bar & Grill in mind during our next adventure on the Wanderlushes highway.

Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon – Wanderlush Style

South Florida Lazy Sunday

South Florida Lazy Sunday

I am not a firm believer in preventing a hangover via the “hair of the dog.” To me, it simply delays the inevitable – so why put it off? A better cure is to absorb any traces of alcohol in the system by a strict adherence to being lazy, eating rich food and imbibing (responsibly) in the curative properties of more alcohol. This method is unscientific at best, and to my knowledge no data exists to support it. But it sure makes for a fun and filling Sunday.

Bloody Mary at Sea Watch

Sea Watch Bloody Mary

Which is where we Wanderlushes found ourselves this particular January Sunday. Every so often we like to throw caution to the wind, venture out and do a modified version of a pub crawl in our town. Ours started with breakfast, or in this case a brunch of lobster benedict and Bloody Marys at one of our favorite Fort Lauderdale beachside restaurants, Coconuts. The weather was ideal for sitting outside, but even the booths indoor offer a favorable glimpse of the beautiful Fort Lauderdale intracoastal.

Sea Watch

Sea Watch

After brunch we drove north along A1A, breezing through Fort Lauderdale into smaller seaside towns like Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Pompano Beach, Lighthouse Point, Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton. We decided to make a pit stop at one of Pompano Beach’s oldest and most frequented beachside eateries: Seawatch. Still full from our brunch at Coconuts, we ordered four Bloody Marys and sat outside on the upper deck patio/dining area that offers unbeatable vistas of the grassy dunes and beach. It’s days like this that we’re grateful to be living in South Florida and not digging out of three feet of snow in sub-zero temperatures somewhere else.

Sea Watch

Sea Watch

After sipping on our drinks and enjoying the gorgeous weather, we piled back into the Wanderlushmobile and headed north along A1A to Boca Raton, admiring many of the multi-million-dollar homes situated on either side of the street. It’s staggering to think how much people pay to live along the beach in South Florida, though it must be worth it because, as the late comedian George Carlin quipped, “You only have a**holes on three sides of you.”

Biergarten

Biergarten

We made it to Boca Raton and stopped by the Royal Palm Plaza to check out an arts and crafts fair taking place in the parking on the Federal Highway side of the shopping center. There were people there selling original art, clothing, homemade pickles and jewelry. We wandered around for a while checking out the wares and decided a little snack was in order, so we ended up ordering some noshes at The Biergarten Boca Raton. The décor at this Boca newcomer is decidedly hofbrauhaus, with waitresses clad in festive Oktoberfest dresses and a menu consisting of German and American bar bites and pub grub. We ordered beers, a plate of chicken wings, sausage bites with mustard dipping sauce and bier cheese fries, which were good, but were served sundae style and with a thin cheese sauce. Overall the Biergarten is a fun place to enjoy some lighter fare and beers, especially outside, weather permitting.

Biergarten Apps

Biergarten Apps

Most people would be sated at this point and call it a day. But not the Wanderlushes. With the sun still shining we were bound and determined to make the most of this lazy Sunday, so we headed over to Mizner Park to check out the Cheese Course.

Cheese Plates

Cheese Plates from The Cheese Course

This establishment does wine and cheese right. Not only do they boast a world-class array of some of the finest domestic and imported cheeses, they have an eclectic wine selection so you can purchase and enjoy both on the premises. A pleasant woman working behind the counter offered samples of three delicious cheeses, which we all tried.  After sampling the Cahill Porter, Cacio di Bosco (Truffle!) and Teahive cheeses we decided we had to share  couple of cheese plates to complete our evening.   We looked for a nice bottle of red to accompany our selections and settled on a bold and zesty Sebastiani California Zinfandel.  We then sat down at a long, rustic wooden dinner table (country style) and enjoyed our cheese, bread and wine feast. Whatever traces of hangover or blahs we had in the morning were long gone by the time we left Boca Raton early that evening. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday, in our book.

New Times Pairings Event, Thursday, September 15, 2011 Broward Center for the Performing Arts

VIP Pairings Lounge

"VIP" Pairings Lounge

Septembers in South Florida can be brutal. High temperatures and humidity levels prevail, leaving everyone wondering when we’ll get a welcome relief from it all. September also means it’s time once again for the New Times Pairings, an annual wine and food extravaganza held at the Broward Center For The Performing Arts, in Fort Lauderdale.

View from the Top

View from the Balcony

We did our homework, as usual, gathering a wine barrel’s worth of information on the wide variety of wines, food, etc. available during the event, most notably in the V.I.P. section, which always boasts some incredible high-end vintners (presented by Wine Watch) and amazingly delectable food.

However, that said, the 2011 version of the V.I.P. section, which was located in a different area from last year, felt less top end and more like “V.I. Paid For This”? It wasn’t bad, per se, it’s just that in our minds it didn’t merit the cost ($75 per ticket) to get a one-hour head start on the general admission folks to eat, drink and rub elbows with the Real Housewives of Broward County, cougars and a few middle-aged hipsters. Sure, we sampled an impressive array of high-end wines and nibbled on some delicious food, but overall we were under whelmed. On a negative note: there was a gentleman serving wine at one of the tables who felt texting on his phone superceded his actual job, which was to serve pours of wine and answer questions, if needed. Several people remarked on his lack of professionalism.

Courtyard

Courtyard

In spite of the V.I.P. area let down, this year’s Pairings was a lot of fun. Meandering past the food and wine stands throughout the night (too many to sample), it seemed less crowded and there was a more relaxed vibe to the event. Trash piling up was a problem in certain areas, and that’s to be expected to an extent, but it was especially prevalent in the V.I.P. area where there were fewer tables to bus.  At several times during the night we noticed people putting plates on tables when there was a trash can nearby.   Really?!  You couldn’t walk the few feet to the trash can?  We also chatted with our craft beer expert friends Blake and Ryan, who, per usual, were quite generous with their pours.

PL8

PL8

It’s impossible to list everything we tasted, but among the stand-outs in the VIP area:

2009 Roessler Blue Jay Pinot Noir Anderson Valley $36
2009 Roessler Pinot Noir Laurellwood Willamette Valley $36
2006 Vinoce Cabernet Franc Blend Mount Veeder  $58
2007 Vinoce Cabernet Franc Blend Mount Veeder $58
2008 Vinoce Cabernet Sauvignon Mount Veeder $58
Green Range Farms Florida Wagyu Ribeye/ Truffle Creamed Corn/ Bordelaise Sauce – Melted in the mouth with a creamy lushness.

SA1A

SA1A

Among the stand-outs in the general admission area:

SAIA: Scallop  & Victory Prima Pils
Alibi:
Profiteroles with Lavender Honey & Parlay “the Bookmaker”  $25
Sette Bello: Escarole & Sensorium Syrah/Grenache/Marsanne/Viognier Blend 2008  $30
Casa D’Angelo: Roasted Veal Risotto Timbale & Corte Pavone Brunello di Montalcino 2005  $40
3030 Ocean:
Pumpkin Soup w/Pumpkin Ale
Bhudda Sky Bar:
Vinoce Sauvignon Bland Napa 2010 $22
PL8: Shrimp Bruschetta 2009 Hahn Pinot Noir Monterey  $12
Rok:Brgr: Lobster corn dogs & Ayinger
Bravo Ristorante: Pollo Scarpariello   Poliziano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2006 $31
New River: Spellbound Petite Sirah Reserve $49
Kilwins Las Olas: Dow 10-Year Tawny Port $33

Once again, Pairings didn’t disappoint. The wine and food were plentiful, the atmosphere friendly. We’ll be back next year, to be sure, though we may just have to forgo the extra expense of the V.I.P. treatment. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.

Mai Kai Restaurant, Ft. Lauderdale

Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a Hawaiian/Polynesian-themed restaurant in town that served island food, plusMai Kai really strong fruity, rum-soaked drinks in cool-looking glasses served up by co-eds clad in skimpy island wear? Oh yeah, and put this all under a thatched roof faux tiki-style building with torches and “waterfalls,” too.

Welcome to Mai Kai, located on Federal Highway, in Fort Lauderdale.

Since its inception over40 years ago, The Mai Kai has been offering tourists and locals alike authentic Polynesian cuisine (think Japanese or Korean BBQ, but with more Don Ho and less Kim Jong-Il) and dinner shows consisting of Shakira-like hula dancers and dudes twirling fire batons. However, most locals (us included) prefer to sip drinks in the Molokai Bar, which is located just inside the restaurant. If you’ve never been, check it out some time. With its signature clipper ship nautical-themed décor and polished wood bar, the Molokai Bar is a relaxing saloon in which to enjoy cocktails and/or appetizers with friends, or as we noted, a fair number of business professionals taking full advantage of the Mai Kai’s happy hour drink prices.

Food reviews are mixed, though the Mai Kai’s drinks are top notch. Looking at the illustrated, full-color menu, you’ll notice the cocktails are divided into three categories: mild, medium and strong. Kim and Mitch had the Cobra’s Kiss,  and Jen enjoyed the Tahitian Breeze while I sipped on a Hidden Pearl, a medium strong punch laced with rum, served in a tulip glass.

Mai Kai Back Bar

Mai Kai Back Bar View

This particular night, one of our favorite local bands, Slip & The Spinouts, was playing sets from 6 to 9 p.m. It was Slip’s birthday, so in true fashion he celebrated his big day doing what he loves most: playing kick-ass rockabilly music and enjoying a few birthday libations between sets. With dinner plans already made and still in a proper frame of mind, we finished our drinks, said good night to Slip and the boys and headed out. As to the libations, just keep in mind that yes, the Mai Kai’s drinks are fruity, cold and delicious – but they can also be deceivingly strong. Here’s a simple sobriety test: order one drink and enjoy it. If you’re bold enough to cross the two or three-drink threshold and start seriously entertaining the idea of twirling fire, hula dancing or singing Tiny Bubbles, it’s time to say aloha to the Mai Kai. Cheers!

Dapur—Asian Tapas Restaurant and Lounge

Dapur Restaurant

Dapur

Gauging the eating habits of Fort Lauderdale foodies is always a crapshoot. What’s popular today may be gone today, literally. Seizing on the hot trend of tapas dining, Chef and restaurateur, Edi Mulyanto, has put together a chic dining spot with a decidedly South Beach feel to it: Dapur. If the site looks familiar, you may be thinking, “Another restaurant? There?” Have faith, dear readers. Dapur is the latest incarnation to open at the location of several restaurants and nightclubs that have come and gone. Dapur looks promising. The night we dined the main room was filled with customers and the lounge on the other side also had a fair amount of patrons. The décor is “Eclectic Asian Spare,” with simple wood tables, white plates and non-descript flatware, plus a fair amount of candlelight to set the mood beautifully.

Dapur boasts an extensive specialty drink and martini menu, along with an eclectic array of white and red wines. Dapur’s signature cocktail, the Dartsmoor, which Kim, Jen & Mitch all ordered (I stuck to a, yawn…glass of Sauvignon Blanc; big mistake due to its small pour), was as good as described on the menu, though they were a bit smaller than we had hoped.

Hamachi Tartar

Hamachi Tartar - Gold Flakes on Top!

The portion sizes on the small plates are as advertised. It’s best to order several small plate items to share. We didn’t order any of the “large” entrees from the menu this particular night, but we could see some of the items being delivered to other tables (and something to try the next time we dine there). All of the entrees we were lucky enough to savor with our eyes looked and smelled incredible. Dapur’s staff is friendly and accommodating, as well. No high-brow stuffiness or SoBe attitude here. Our server was quite excited to talk about the food, but mostly he couldn’t stop raving about the drinks. They were delicious and refreshing.

Our Table Selections listed in order by favorite to least:

  • Hamachi Tartar—hamachi, fresh ginger, chives and garlic, soy yuzu sauce
  • Hamachi Kama—grilled yellow-tail tuna jaw with a ponzu dipping sauce
  • Royal Tuna  Roll – Albacore, Hamachi, Jalapeno Tempura, Cilantro, Inside and Topped with Tuna and Wahoo
  • Crab Cake—jumbo blue lump crab, heart of palm and crunchy coconut with a tangy creamy sauce
  • Bang Bang Scallops – Scallops with Soy Garlic Butter Sauce on Brussel Sprouts
  • Vietnamese Rolls—vermicelli noodles, basil, vegetables and shrimp with a peanut hoisin dipping sauce
  • Thai Pancake—green mussels, egg, tempura batter garnished with scallions and bean sprouts
  • Pretty Roll—salmon, tobiko, cream cheese, crab, wrapped in cucumber (no rice) (more of an appetizer than a roll)
Thai Pancakes

Thai Pancakes

Dapur
1620 N Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale
www.dapurkitchen.com

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