Articles from: July 2010

Caliente Kitchen Restaurant & Lounge Delray Beach, Florida

Caliente Kitchen

Opening a restaurant/lounge in Florida, just like anywhere, takes a great deal of time and effort. Coming up with the next popular “place to see and be seen” in South Florida is especially tough. Which is why when our friends invited us to attend a private grand opening event for a new and exciting restaurant/lounge in Delray Beach, we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

Our friend Rob, a true entrepreneur in every sense, along with several business partners, opened Caliente Kitchen, an upscale Mexican eatery and lounge on trendy Atlantic Avenue, in Delray Beach.

This particular night was billed as an intimate, private event for close friends, families and associates to see the restaurant, take in its rustic ambience, and enjoy some cool margaritas while sampling a fixed tasting menu featuring a sample of several items from the regular menu.  Walking in to the restaurant you really do get the sense of being transported into a rustic hacienda in Mexico.  The decor features heavy wood furniture with burnt red leather upholstery and tin light fixtures.  The main focus at the front is a gigantic wood framed mirror that takes up a large expanse of the wall across from the bar.   The pleasing effect makes the front area feel much larger than the actual space.   There are several high bistro tables in this area which are removed later in the evening to allow for a dance floor.  This is where we were seated for the evening.  There was definitely a keen eye for detail in the interior design of the space.

Caliente Tasting Menu

Our server, one of several in this very attractive bar (all bearing “Papi” name tags!) and wait staff, immediately took our drink order and brought us a bowl of fresh tortilla chips and homemade guacamole along with chicken nachos to munch on prior to taking our entrée orders.  Both were delicious and paired well with our large, frosty cold margaritas.  Another round of margaritas later our entrees arrived.  Like the appetizers, they didn’t disappoint. The tacos were generously filled with a choice of marinated, shredded chicken, ground beef and homemade pico de gallo or grilled vegetables and queso fresco; the Dos Equis marinated sautéed chicken breast was probably the most interesting and tasty of the main courses.  We finished the meal by sharing coffee flan and tres leches desserts.  Both were good but the tres leches was by far the favorite of our table.

Overall, it was a very enjoyable evening.  There were a few minor issues with service and presentation but that is to be expected at a pre-opening event.  The missteps were small,  and the great food, service and atmosphere far outweighed them.   We can’t wait to try the regular full menu once they have gotten into their regular groove.  We didn’t get to partake in the night club aspect of the establishment, but it was a “school night’ after all and even us Wanderlushes have to consider the consequences of overindulgence.   By looking at Caliente’s Facebook page you can tell the nights are already going strong.

The food and drinks were all very good, the service, prompt and friendly…and the vibe is exciting and upbeat. We wish Rob all the best with this latest business endeavor. Though, with Rob’s “Midas Touch” sensibilities and his astute business acumen, we expect Caliente Kitchen will be a great success.

Dogfish Head Beer Tasting at Morton’s Steakhouse

Off centered ales for off centered people...

Several weeks ago we decided to attend a Dogfish Head beer tasting at Morton’s Steakhouse, located in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Blake, a Fresh Beer Inc Rep, craft beer Jedi-In-Training and an all around highly evolved individual, hosted the event.  Having lived in Delaware, we were already very aware of Dogfish and had been lucky enough to visit both their Rehoboth Beach Brew Pub and the Milton brewery.

We were running a little late to the event, but once we arrived we were greeted warmly at the door by Valerie, the event’s coordinator.  We were issued wine glasses (what, no mugs?) and our Dogfish Head tasting was underway.

Midas Touch

We started off with the Midas Touch (9.0% ABV).   Dogfish uses an ancient Turkish recipe that is apparently the oldest-known fermented beverage in the world.   We picked up a definite sweetness with hints of honey along with a slight earthiness.    Notes from Dogfish: Pair with Pan-Asian dishes, risotto, curries, baked fish and chicken.   Wine Comparison:  Sauterne and Champagne

Raison D'etre

Next up was the Raison D’Etre (8.0% ABV).   This is a Belgian-style Brown Ale brewed with beet sugar, raisins and Belgian-style yeast.   There is a slight sweetness again but many more layers in this complex beer.    Notes from Dogfish: Pair with wood-grilled steak.

Moving on to the 90-Minute IPA (9.0% ABV) we were definitely starting to appreciate the Dogfish way.

90 Minute IPA

This beer was hoppy but not as much as you would think.  It had a nice balance of the bitter andsmooth.   Notes from Dogfish: This Imperial IPA was brewed to be savored from a snifter per Dogfish’s website.   A big beer with a great malt backbone that stands up to the extreme hopping rate.    90 Minute IPA was our first continually-hopped beer, which is a method of hopping that allows for a pungent, but not crushing hop flavor.

Palo Santo Marron

The final beer for the evening (and our favorite) was the Palo Santo Marron (12% ABV).  We definitely picked up caramel and vanilla in this brown ale.  Notes from Dogfish: An unfiltered, unfettered, unprecedented brown ale aged in handmade wooden brewing vessels.  This beer comes from the exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood from which these tanks were crafted.  Palo Santo means “holy tree” and it’s wood has been used in South American wine-making communities.   Wine Comparison:  Oak Aged Cabernet   Food Pairing Recommendations:  Steak, chorizzo sausage, cajun cuisine, farmhouse cheddar

Lamb Chop & Assorted Cheeses

Morton’s pass around appetizers to accompany the event were plentiful and very tasty.  We dined on  several mini flat bread pizzas topped with Salmon; grilled lamb chops, tenderloin sandwiches, four beer friendly cheeses and tuna tartar served on thinly sliced cucumber.   Also, a big shout out goes to  our new friend in the biz, Blake.  He was very generous with the pours and offered a lot of background on each of the beers and shared a unique blending of the the Palo Santo and 90 Minute IPA.

Most, if not all, of the guests in attendance appreciated the beer 101, if not the beers themselves.  At the end of the event we had a chance to talk more in detail about beers we enjoy with fellow enthusiasts.   The extra post-event beer pours were much appreciated, too.

Tenderloin Sandwich

Our only “beef” with the event, and it’s a minor one, was how many glasses of unconsumed beer we saw sitting on the tables.  I have no problem with leaving a half-empty mug of Bud or Coors (hell, I’d leave those full). I take umbrage at anyone who would leave a sip, swirl or swig of a fine craft beer like Dogfish Head behind. Are these people crazy? You can’t muster up the will power and stamina to finish even the tiniest bit of beer sitting at the bottom of your glass? That’s blasphemy in our house.  This was a quaint event that had good food, great company and of course, outstanding craft beer.



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