Category: Food

The Rebel House, Boca Raton, FL 10/27/12

Rebel House Boca

Rebel House Boca Raton

How would you define the term, “New American Restaurant”? The Rebel House, in Boca Raton, bills itself as such, but this fun, funky place isn’t your typical eatery. We decided to check it out this particular Saturday hoping for an alternative to the more staid restaurants in the area.We called ahead and made reservations for 8:45. Our table wasn’t ready, so we decided to get drinks at the bar. The

Sweet Potato Skins

Sweet Potato Skins

Rebel House’s wine, beer and cocktail menu has something for every taste; eclectic beer selections, modestly priced wine by the bottle and glass – plus, their own spin on cocktails. Sitting at the bar we struck up a lively conversation with a gentleman who was obviously a regular at Rebel House. He told us the food was good and took an active interest in getting us sat at our table. After 25 minutes of waiting, one of the sympathetic bartenders ambled over to our area and bought us all a shot of Jameson whiskey, which was much appreciated.

Pork Belly Tater Tots

Pork Belly Tater Tots

The Rebel House’s vibe is casual and unpretentious. Our waiter brought us a bowl of their signature curry popcorn (delicious) to munch on as we decided on our food. After looking over the menu, we decided on the following:

Appetizers
Sweet potato skins – braised duck, ancho blackberry BBQ/Gorgonzola dolce.
Pork belly tater tots – with smoked tomato ketchup and spicy mayo.

Main courses
Pumpkin gnocchetti – with smoked duck sausage, crispy sage, and vanilla beurre noir.
“OG” recipe fried chicken – with cheddar cornmeal waffle, candied bacon syrup, watermelon relish.
Rebel Fried Rice – with bacon, corn, peas, carrots, crispy onions, sunny side up egg, spicy mayo.
Rib eye – with garlic beurre gascogne, fries.

Pumpkin Gnocchetti

Pumpkin Gnocchetti

All were thoroughly enjoyed. The pork belly tater tots, in particular, could make a meal, yet this appetizer only contained four. The steak was cooked to perfection (rare); the gnocchetti was a nice combination of smoky and slight spice; the table favorite fried chicken and waffle combo brought together sweet and salty in perfect tandem; and the fried rice exploded with flavor profiles – plus the fried egg was a fun touch.

All in all, The Rebel House is a great place to eat, drink and people watch. It is definitely Wanderlush worthy and a place we will go back to.

Note: Rebel House is operated by the same group as Charm City Burgers and El Jefe Luchador

Yellow Green Farmers Market

Yellow Green Farmers Market

Yellow Green Farmers Market

Having grown up in a rather rural environment, a place where it was not uncommon to see a stand in front of someone’s yard bearing fruits and vegetables from their garden (with an honor system for paying), I jump at the chance to check out advertised “farmers markets.”   I usually drag my friend or significant other on these escapades.  The day usually ends with some degree of disappointment at the reality that the “markets” offer nothing unique, but are more glorified flea markets.  I am okay with this, as long as it is billed as such.

Front of Market

Front of Market

This particular Saturday, I convinced my friend that we needed to check out the Yellow Green Farmers Market.  I had seen the advertisements, visited the website and felt fairly confident that it would be as advertised—a little bit of kitsch, vendors selling their wares and farmers market, all built into one.  We finally found the somewhat hidden drive to to the market. As we approached the building with cow statues and wagons in front, I did a little happy dance!

Fruit & Vegetable Stand

Fruit & Vegetable Stand

We parked, headed inside and began walking through the warehouse-size building. As we ventured down the aisles, vendors were happy to share samples with us and information about their offerings.  We encountered everything from speciality teas, breads and olives, to dried and fresh fruits, vegetables, sausages, plants, herbs, pottery, jewelry and clothing.  With so much to see, smell and taste, we ended up doing a circuit of the market, deciding what we were going to buy and picking up a complimentary market bag to hold it all.  Going back through the market we met up with several characters that seemed natural in this quirky market.

After filling our bags and heading back home we vowed that this would not be our last visit to this charming market!

    

Market 17 Farm Fresh Restaurant And Bar Saturday, July 14, 2012

 

Market 17

Market 17 Bread & Avotini

Market 17 Cheese Selection

Market 17 Cheese Selection

Fort Lauderdale’s fine dining scene is a mixed bag. Sure, over-priced eateries abound, and there is a smattering of good to excellent restaurants here and there, but not much that compares to Fort Lauderdale’s chic cousin, Miami.  However, there are gems to be discovered if you look hard enough.

Located at the site of the former Fish seafood restaurant, Market 17 takes a fresh approach to creating unique and delicious cuisine—literally. Dishes are prepared utilizing ingredients purchased both locally and nationally from purveyors who focus on sustainable sources.  Market 17 has been quietly nestled in this plaza near Port Everglades since fall of 2010.  We had heard good things about it but somehow never ended up there until this particular Saturday.

As we walked into the subdued entry it was apparent they knew how to set the tone for a unique dining experience.  We surveyed the crowded  dining room and decided to dine at the bar instead.  Our bartender immediately came over and was pleased to give us recommendations for our first drink order after we asked her about several of the crafted cocktail options.  We all enjoyed our choices immensely.  As we sipped our drinks, we chose a cheese plate to get things started.  Market 17 features daily cheese options and on the evening we were there the offerings were Midnight Moon, a California Firm aged goat cheese with a nutty, sweet caramel-like flavor;  Sunshine Blue, a Florida semi-soft cheese with a clean, subtle taste; and Bijou, a Vermont French-style ripened goat cheese.

After looking over the menu, we were having a hard time picking as most everything sounded amazing.  In the end we ended up each getting something different hoping everyone would share a bite or two.  Once dinner arrived we all became somewhat possesive of our food.  It was that good.  Smacking of hands and forks headed towards other plates would not be out of the question.  We ordered a second round of drinks and continued our gluttony.

What we ordered -

Drinks:

  • Avotini  – Crop cucumber vodka, avocado, pineapple, ginger, fresh lemon juice and agave nectar
  • M-17 – Makers Mark bourbon, Jack Daniel’s honey, muddled port marinated cherries, topped with ginger beer & orange peel
  • Chenin Blanc Chateau Monfort Vouvray France 2009
  • 3 Philosophers Belgian Ale
  • Dogfish 90 Minute IPA
  • Adelsheim Pinot Noir 2010 Williamette Valley, Oregon

Food:

  • Local Oyster Mushroom Tempura served with a Ponzu Sauce and a Sesame Aioli
  • Six-Minute Farm Egg, with venison sausage, brussels leaves, pickled onion and a bacon gastrique.
  • Grilled Boneless Pork Chop, Brown Butter Cornbread, Arugula, Sweet Corn Pudding, Carrot Apple Butter
  • Elk Loin, Charred Eggplant Puree, Pea Tendrils, broccoli, Quail Egg, Mushroom Demi-Glace

From the food, decor and the ecletic mix of music it was obvious to us that Market 17 was striving to reach beyond the norm, which is why we loved it.

Market 17
1850 SE 17th Street Ft. Lauderdale
954.835.5507

Savor: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience June 8-9, 2012

Savor Craft Brew Festival

Savor Craft Brew Festival

There’s a saying in government, that “All politics is local.” To independent brewers, all craft beer is local, or regional. What one part of the country enjoys drinking differs greatly from any other, for the most part, but all are craft beers and are a reflection of their communities. Unfortunately, sometimes beer aficionados never have an opportunity to sample great beers from parts unknown. So much beer, so little time…

So, when a governing body like the Brewers Association (based in Boulder, Colorado) holds a centrally-located beer and food event like the annual “Savor: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience” in Washington D.C., craft beer drinkers everywhere rejoice. And with good reason. Where else do you have an opportunity to sample 100 amazing beers from 50 of the nation’s most dynamic craft beer makers, along with tantalizingly good food – all in the confines of a magnificent structure like Washington D.C.’s National Building Museum? We first learned of the event from the short-lived Discovery Television show, “Brewmasters,” that followed the day-to-day trials of maverick beer maker Sam Caligione, owner of Dogfish Head Brewing in Milton, Delaware. Sam unveiled his Bitches Brew (a tribute to the Miles Davis jazz album) at Savor in 2010. We made a vow that if we ever had a chance to get tickets (this year’s event sold out in about five minutes) we would make it a point to go.

National Building Museum

National Building Museum

Through patience and diligence we scored tickets in that five-minute window of opportunity. We felt like Charlie grabbing the last Golden Ticket after opening the Wonka Bar. Heck, with luck like this I am fully convinced that we need to play the lotto—very soon.

Stone Vertical Epic Salon

Stone Vertical Epic Salon

Savor is a celebration, taste contest and marketing opportunity all wrapped up in one. With around 2000 guests, 50 craft beer makers and scores of media and other beer savvy types all in attendance, the atmosphere can seem a bit daunting. But before we fill our pint glasses, I’d like to talk about a special tasting event that took place prior to the doors opening at 7 p.m. Stone Brewing Company Co-founder Steve Wagner was kind enough to host a Stone Vertical Epic Series tasting event in one of the side rooms of the museum. Wagner talked briefly about Stone Beer and its history while offering generous sample pours of some of Stone’s vintage Vertical Epic beers, including the 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010. To our surprise, each of the beers has stood the test of time. This is due in part to the high alcohol content and bottling, which is something to keep in mind when purchasing limited edition beers that you may want to shelve and enjoy down the road. During the show we chatted with Steve’s wife Laura, who is not only friendly and accommodating, but also enjoys discussing craft beer as much as her husband. After the show she introduced us to Steve. Spending a few moments together talking beer and music, Steve is arguably one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people you could ever meet – and he knows a thing or two about beer.  To listen to any of the salons held during the 2012 Savor event go to CraftBeerRadio.com.

So, then it was on to the main event. Walking down the stairs to the main floor we stopped to get our bearings. Circumnavigating an event of this size takes planning and patience. There’s no way you can ever sample all beers available at each station (plus each food sampling), so the best strategy is to pick and choose among the most interesting beers and seek them out. Also, time is not on your side. The event runs from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., so making the best of those four hours is essential. We enjoyed a good cross section of beer, some good, some very good and some that fell flat in terms of taste and complexity. Every brewer whom we spoke to was very friendly and engaging, and was willing to spend a brief moment or two talking about their product (Sam Caligione, the rock star “mad scientist” of Dogfish Head, was there at the beginning of the event but left some time later in the evening). It should also be noted that each attendee was given a large bottle of Terra Incognita, a special collaboration beer brewed specifically for the event by Boulevard Brewing and Sierra Nevada Brewing. The following is a comprehensive list of the beers we tried. Again, you can’t do them all…so you do what you can:

Rogue Beer & Cheese Pairing Table

Rogue Beer & Cheese Pairing Table

Craft Beer Sampled:

  • B-Craft Black Double IPA    Arcadia Black IPA
  • Sky High Rye   Arcadia Rye Ale
  • Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale    Boulevard Brewing Co. Saison
  • Brooklyn BLAST!    Brooklyn Brewery Pale Ale
  • Bourbon Barrel Fuel    Capitol City Brewing Co. Stout
  • Kalevipoeg    Cigar City Brewing Baltic Porter
  • Barrel Aged Barley Wine Brewery    Coronado Brewing Company Barley Wine
  • Noble Rot Dogfish Head Brewing
  • Head Hunter IPA   Fat Heads Brewery IPA
  • Sorcerer    Fat Heads Brewery Belgian Style Ale
  • Curmudgeon Old Ale  Founders Brewing Company Strong/Old Ale
  • Black Mocha Stout    Highland Brewing Co. Stout
  • Razor Wit     Highland Brewing Co. Witbier
  • Bonnie Lee’s Best Bitter    Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery ESB
  • Kalifornia Kolsch     Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery  Kolsch
  • Double Wit Blackberry    Mother Earth Brewing Witbier
  • Belgo   New Belgium Brewing IPA
  • Tart Lychee   New Belgium Brewing  Wild Ale
  • Believer    Ninkasi Brewing Company Double Red Ale
  • Total Domination IPA    Ninkasi Brewing Company IPA
  • Dirtoir Black Lager    Rogue Ales & Spirits Black Lager
  • Chatoe Rogue Good Chit     Rogue Ales & Spirits Pilsner
  • American IPA     Schlafly IPA
  • 2IPA    Standing Stone Brewing Co.  IPA
  • Noble Stout    Standing Stone Brewing Co. Stout
  • Highway 78 Scotch Ale aged in Scotch Barrels     Stone Brewing Co. Scotch Ale
  • HOP Notch IPA    Uinta Brewing Company IPA
  • Labyrinth     Uinta Brewing Company Style : Black Ale
  • 50 Cat     Vintage 50 Brewery IPA
  • Yazoo Fortuitous      Yazoo Brewing Smoked Sour Ale
  • Yazoo Rye Saison      Yazoo Brewing Saison

It is quite an impressive list. You’d travel a long way and spend a long time trying them all, but we were fortunate to enjoy every last one of them in one evening. By the end of the night our palates could take no more of the onslaught. The beer and food took its toll, in a good way, so we wandered the floor one last time, looked around longingly at all the incredible beer just waiting to be sampled, hoping by some miracle we had room for just one more taste of this or a sample of that. But alas, all good things must come to an end. Savor is all that it’s billed up to be, and more. With any luck we’ll try to make it back here again.

Side note: We also experienced some of the local flavors of D.C. during the Thursday and Friday we were there. The following is a list of some of the beers we enjoyed at several restaurants in the city:

  • Graffiato (Thursday afternoon):  Pork Slap Farmhouse Ale paired with a Burrata and White House pizza
  • District of Pi Pizzeria (Schlafly Brewing Co. tap takeover, late Thursday afternoon): Pumkin Ale, Christmas Ale, Export IPA, Bier de Garde, Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout (our favorite of all the beers we tried that weekend.)
  • Church Key Restaurant (Thursday night):  Allgash Curieux, Backin’ Black IPA, Son Of A Pooch, 16 Mile IPA, Mirror Pond 30, Snack Attack, Jean Ribaut 20, Kujo Nitro, Wookey Jack, Flying Dog Cask Disobedience Abbey Dubbel, Exportation 21

Graffiato BurrataPi Schlafly Tap TakeoverThe Capital
 

Sugarcane, Miami—April 28, 2012

In the “here today, gone tomorrow” world of South Florida eateries it’s easy to adopt a jaded attitude toward the maverick chef who dips his toe into the cold, unknown waters of self-ownership – only to see it go bust in less than a year, or even a few months.

Tim Balloo, executive chef, along with the developers behind Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill (creators of Sushi Samba), not only had the ambition to establish a tapas/small plate style restaurant in Miami, they’ve seen their brainchild grow into one of the most popular award-winning establishments around. And with good reason: Sugarcane’s décor and ambiance are chic and hip, but the food and drinks are the real stars.

Beef Tartare

Beef Tartare

But as successful as Sugarcane is, a laid-back eatery of this type could easily morph into “the place”—a hodgepodge of Ed Hardy T-shirted, Axe Body Spray-saturated tools sipping on martinis, checking out the eye candy – you know, the type of place you tend to swear off forever.

Not Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. This trendy, hip eatery clustered in Miami’s Midtown area has maintained its cool vibe, never compromising its menu to appeal to the latest gastronomic fads or flavor-of-the-month in the culinary world. They have stayed loyal to what works, creating  small plate items that are the talk of the town.

Scallop Crudo

Scallop Crudo

This particular evening Saturday we were joined by our friends Hugo, his wife Dolly, along with Joel and his wife Analena. Hugo was celebrating a belated birthday and was anxious to try Sugarcane.

Keep in mind that Sugarcane gets crowded on the weekends. This Saturday was no exception. We were seated outside in a long picnic-style wooden table that sat under a large awning. There was a threat of rain (which we experienced later in the night), and it was windy, but this didn’t deter us from enjoying a beautiful South Florida evening.

To get things started we ordered from Sugarcane’s drink menu, which has enough choices to satisfy everyone, from the casual to the more sophisticated drinker. Our choices included the Rum Sazerac (amazingly strong but smooth), Mojitos,  a Blackberry Toast (bourbon & blackberries) and the Hemingway (Zafra 21 year Panama rum, lime juice and egg whites) all of which were enjoyed. It was a bit of a wait for the drinks given how crowded the restaurant was inside and out, but they were well worth it.

Duck & Waffles

Duck & Waffles

When it was time to order plates our server suggested ordering a few plates at a time rather than all at once. Logistically this is a good idea since it would be a nightmare for any server to carry dozens of small plates at a time to a table, plus it gives patrons a chance to savor each delicious item, then order more if desired.

Among the standout items:

  • Steak Tartare (topped with a raw quail egg)
  • Scallop Crudo (apple, black truffle, lime and jalapeno)
  • Goat Cheese Croquettes
  • Duck & Waffles (served with maple syrup and topped with a fried duck egg)
  • Pork Belly (prepared over a Robata Grill, served with mustard seed slaw

From our table on the patio we watched amazed as Sugarcane had a steady stream of patrons coming in up until the time we left, which was about 11:30pm.  One thing of note is as crowded as Sugarcane was, we never felt rushed to finish.  Our server was extremely accommodating and friendly.  There was a delay between some of our courses, but we attributed that to the kitchen rather than the server.  It was a beautiful night in Miami and no one, including us, was in a rush for the evening to end.

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