Mussel Up: Summertime Is Almost Here!

Mussel Up: Summertime Is Almost Here!

…Did someone say “swimsuit season”?  I JUST DID. Time to “mussle up” with more seafood and veggies, and I’ve got just the recipe for you to try.  Click to skip to the recipe

Secret Squash Jorj Morgan Filming

You can tell Summertime is right around the corner. Swimsuit ads keep popping up on my Facebook feed.

Yikes!!

Not only is there the spring panic of bathing suit weather arriving shortly, but add in a year’s worth of a stay-at-home pandemic and where are those dumbbells? Under the bed??

When I feel the need to rein things in a bit, my go-to is seafood. I eat shrimp for lunch and salmon for supper. And it usually works, until I get bored. 

While in this pattern, I came across an old fave that I haven’t had in a while. I saw fresh mussels at the local store and thought I’d give them a try.

The (lady) fishmonger was so sweet. She picked the closed shells from the bin, one by one, to the dismay of the growing line behind me. But I was left with a whole bunch of perfect mussels.

Earlier in the week my pal, Lauren, had gifted me with a Misfits box that contained a ridiculous number of veggies, so I had lots of THINGS to work with.

Misfits take the not-so-pretty produce that farmers grow and that retail grocers won’t purchase because they don’t look perfect and recycles them to people like me. People who don’t care if the tomato has a blemish as long as it tastes sweet. 

I chose the red onion and garlic in the box to start and then my eyes landed on the garlic. Yes!

There were also a bunch of kale leaves both dinosaur and curly. A bit of wine and a dash of stock and yum oh yum did I have a dish to remember. 

Bathing suit beware…. I’m coming for ya!

Mussels in Ginger-Garlic Broth
With Crusty Bread

Serves: 4 as an appy and 2 for a meal

Time: 30 minutes ‘til it’s ready

Ingredients

2 tablespoon olive oil

½ red onion, peeled and finely diced, about 2 tablespoons

2 to 3 cloves garlic, finely diced

1 (2-inch) knob ginger, peeled and finely diced, about 2 tablespoons

½ cup white wine

2 cups chicken stock

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 to 4 kale leaves, stemmed and finely chopped, about 1 cup

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

1 pound mussels

For bread:

Several thick slices crusty bread

Olive oil

Garlic powder

Parmesan cheese

Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra
Veal Sinatra

In a deep pot or wok with lid, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook until soft and fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer to reduce, about 3 minutes more. Add the stock. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the kale. Season with salt and pepper.

Cover the pot with the lid and simmer until the kale is soft, about 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to the broil setting. Place slices of bread onto a baking sheet. Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle it with garlic powder and top with Parmesan cheese. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and watch closely. Cook until the bread is golden, and the cheese is melty, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Place the mussels into the broth. Cover with the lid and cook until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Serve the mussels in a bowl with lots of broth and a couple of slices of toasted bread for dipping.

What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating: Super Supper Book Club Menu

What I’m Reading and What We’re Eating: Super Supper Book Club Menu

I chose a veggie-forward menu for this Super Supper Book Club, Social-Distance Edition. Safely supp over a good read and prepare for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal!  Click to skip to the recipe

 

In the months before COVID, we started posting a once a month book club guide for you to follow with your group. 

I stopped posting because we couldn’t gather.

But, in today’s environment, with some of the restrictions eased and our ability to safely gather in a socially distance approved way, I thought I would bring it back! My book club has gathered over the summer and we will convene again this week.

For those of you who are still staying home, you might consider starting a virtual book club.

A few of my besties did this over the summer as well, and we found that we gathered (virtually) more often than our in-person club.

I have included the full supper club menu here, but if you wish, just a sampling of one or two dishes works just as well.

Either way, if you are looking for a good read to share with friends (or just on your own), this one’s for you!

 

“The Family Upstairs” by Lisa Jewel

As I read, I had the same feelings that I had when I read The Goldfinch. The abuse of children is never an easy subject.

However, I loved this read because of the development of the characters from childhood to adulthood, the paths their lives eventually take, and The Baby that brings them together.

There are several twists and turns, many of which I didn’t see coming (which to me is the measure of a good suspense novel).

This is my next pick for our Super Supper Book Club.

Gather your readers, give them the title, and dole out the recipes for what will be a roller coaster discussion and meal.

There are three stories woven into the narrative. On Libby’s 25th birthday, she finds out she’s inherited a Chelsea mansion that’s been held in trust.

She soon discovers the house has a dark history based on scant decades-old news coverage. Lucy is living hand-to-mouth in France when her phone reminds her that The Baby is 25.

Without the means or identity, she must resort to some pretty desperate acts in order to get back to England after 24 years. Henry knows everything that happened in the house in the last several years when his family lived there.

He knew why there were so many extra people living there, what happened to the once-opulent residence and its contents, and how and why people were found dead in black robes on the kitchen floor.

I already cooked up some questions for your Super Supper Book Club gathering…

  • Do you think Henry’s lies and violent acts were born out of his need to survive an unimaginable situation, or do you think there is, as Clemency states, “a streak of pure evil” in him?
  • In your opinion, who is the most tragic figure in this novel? 
  • What do you imagine happens to the characters after the book ends?

I chose a veggie-forward menu for this Super Supper Book Club. In contrast to the spartan food the children were given while they lived at 16 Cheyne Walk, this menu celebrates the abundance of the garden with dishes woven into a delicious menu that all your members will enjoy.

Super Supper Book Club Menu

“The Family Upstairs”

 


Fresh Corn, Green Bean and Arugula Salad with Lemon Balsamic Vinaigrette •
Canvas and Cuisine,  page 150

Cauliflower Risotto with Cinnamon-Roasted Butternut Squash • Canvas and Cuisine, page 36

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta and Toasted Breadcrumbs (Recipe below) Canvas and Cuisine, page 96

Fresh Fish of the Day in Puttanesca Sauce • Canvas and Cuisine, page 262

Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake with Thyme • Canvas and Cuisine, page 341

Grilled Portobello Mushrooms
With Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pancetta & Toasted Breadcrumbs

Best Stuffed Portabello Recipe

Spending quality time in the Farmer’s market naturally leads to veggie-forward main meals. This is one of these. There’s nothing better than meaty mushrooms, with a tangy, crunchy filling! You can serve these mushrooms as a first course, or as a late-night snack. Or you can stuff smaller mushrooms and serve these to your book club! The flavors are fantastic – everyone is a mushroom lover after tasting this dish!

Ingredients

1 cup Panko Breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus 2 more for sauce

1 (3.5-ounce) julienned sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained but save 2 tablespoons of the oil 

4 ounces pancetta, finely diced

4 large garlic cloves, minced, about 2 tablespoons

¼ cup Marsala wine

Juice of ½ medium lemon, about 2 tablespoons

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

8 Portobello mushrooms, stem and gills removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Yields: Serves 4 for a Veggie Main or 8 as an Appy

Time:   30 Minutes

glazed lemon cake with berry sauce
glazed lemon cake with berry sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°. Mix the breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons of melted butter in a small bowl. Spread the crumbs onto a baking sheet. Toast the buttered crumbs until they begin to crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes into a skillet over medium-high heat. And the pancetta and cook until crisp. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pancetta to a platter lined with paper towels. 

Add the sun-dried tomatoes to the skillet. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the wine and simmer until most of the wine has disappeared, about 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the lemon juice. Season with some of the salt and crushed red pepper. Turn off the heat and swirl in 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the parsley.

Heat a grill pan on high heat. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper. Grill the mushrooms, turning once, until they are just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the mushrooms to a platter. Spoon the sun-dried tomatoes into the mushroom caps. Top with pancetta and toasted breadcrumbs.

Your Perfect Holiday Menu + Reasons to Shop Small

Your Perfect Holiday Menu + Reasons to Shop Small

Since I was seventeen, I spent my Christmases in Florida… most of them in Fort Lauderdale. While the palm trees swayed from ocean breezes outside, we watched old movies and drank hot cocoa inside.  It was a fun way to pretend we were having a White Christmas!

While the Season included baking and tree trimming, shopping and wrapping were not far behind. I remember all the personalized gifts purchased from Paper Mpressions and all the beautiful tablescapes on display at Special Additions. I remember buying the boys matching holiday outfits from Flora Ottimer and finding crafty creations at Cross Stitch Cupboard.

Small businesses have always been a part of our community, like patchwork squares in a storied, family quilt. Our friends are their owners, our families are their customers and together we keep each other wrapped in friendship.

While some of these stores have disappeared, some are still going strong. Cactus Flower, owned by Candy Johnson has been in business for over 30 years. Her customers are not only her friends, they are each other’s friends. In the spirit of friendship (which is celebrated in Canvas and Cuisine), I hope my Fort Lauderdale pals will drop by to say hi, sip some bubbly and support Candy Johnson’s store this Thursday. I look forward to seeing you!

3020 N Federal Hwy

While you’re there, take a look around. Cactus Flower’s vendors are both old and new, and the combination leads to whimsical tables perfect for entertaining.

Meanwhile, please accept this simple, yet elegant holiday party dinner plan as my gift to you. It allows you to prepare everything in advance, so that you can enjoy your party as much as your guests do. And, if you are looking for the perfect serving platter for the salmon, or cake stand for the jam cake… then I’ll see you at Candy’s on the 12th! Merry, merry!

 

Simple Holiday Dinner Party Menu

Pan Roasted Veggies

Cumin Crusted Salmon with Tarragon Caper Sauce

Cranberry Jam Cake

Pan Roasted Veggies

serves a crowd

45 minute cuisine

16 to 20 Brussels Sprouts

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

Juice of ½ lemon, about 2 tablespoons, plus more for the other veggies

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the other veggies

1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more for the other veggies

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper, plus more for the other veggies

16 to 20 Baby New Potatoes

2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 teaspoon dried thyme

16 to 20 Whole Baby Carrots

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground curry

16 to 20 Asparagus Spears

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 Large Yellow Onions

Preheat the oven to 425°.

Cut each Brussels sprout in half and steam (or blanch) until they begin to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with Balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet.

Cut each potato in half and steam (or blanch) for a about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with mustard, Parmesan cheese, garlic, thyme, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Steam (or blanch) the carrots for a about 4 to 5 minutes. Toss with brown sugar, curry, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons lemon juice, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

Cut the onion into wedges leaving the root intact. This will help to keep the onion together. Toss with Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some of the salt and pepper.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

You can prepare the vegetable up to this point several hours in advance. When you are ready to serve, roast the veggies until they begin to crisp and brown, about 20 minutes. You can serve them warm or at room temperature.

Cumin Crusted Salmon

with Tarragon Caper Sauce

serves a crowd

20 minute cuisine

For salmon:

1 (2 ½ pound) center-cut whole salmon fillet with skin

Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon hot paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground oregano

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

For sauce:

1 cup sour cream

½ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup cream

3 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the whole fillet, skin side down, on a rimmed baking sheet, coated with vegetable oil spray.  Drizzle the lemon juice on top.

Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, and oregano in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Rub this mixture all over the salmon, coating well. Drizzle the top with olive oil.

Place the salmon into the oven.  Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Roast until the salmon is rare in the center, about 8 minutes per inch of thickness, or about 15 to 30 minutes for the whole fillet.

For the sauce, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, cream, capers, tarragon vinegar and fresh tarragon.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the salmon with the sauce on the side. Garnish with fresh lemon or orange slices and fresh tarragon sprigs.

Cranberry Jam Cake

serves a crowd

60 minute cuisine plus baking

For filling:

1 (12-ounce) jar cherry preserves

¾ cup granulated sugar

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries, (about 3 to 3 ½ cups)

For cake:

8 large egg whites

3 ½ cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks, room temperature

Zest of 2 large oranges, about 2 tablespoons

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 cup milk

For frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, 2 sticks room temperature

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 (32-ounce) package powdered sugar

Juice of 1 large orange, about ¼ cup

1 to 2 tablespoons half and half (optional)

Place the filling ingredients into a deep pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries soften and begin to pop, about 20 minutes. Use a potato masher to mush up the cranberries. Remove the pot from the heat and cool. Spread the filling into a shallow pan. (A cake pan or pie plate works well for this.) Place the pan into the freezer to cool thoroughly while you make and bake the cake.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Spray 2 (9-inch) square cake pans with vegetable oil spray. Place a square of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan and spray again. Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, about 3 to 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the whipped egg whites to a large bowl. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Use the mixer to combine 1 cup butter and granulated sugar. Stir in the orange zest. Add ⅓ of the flour followed by ⅓ of the milk. Continue until all the flour and milk have been added. The batter will be quite thick.

Fold the egg whites into the batter using about ⅓ of the whites at a time. This will lighten the batter. Use a spatula to scrape and smooth the batter into the two pans. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer the cakes to a rack, remove the parchment paper and cool completely. Now is a good time to remove the cranberry filling from the freezer. You want it to be chilled – not frozen!

Use an electric mixer to combine 1 cup butter with cream cheese until fluffy. Add the vanilla and salt. Mix in the sugar a little bit at a time. Alternate the sugar and the remaining orange juice. If the frosting is too thick, you can thin it with a bit of half and half.

Now, here’s the fun part. You can turn this into a four layer cake, by horizontally slicing each of the square cakes in half. Or, you can just use one layer of jam frosting in the middle of the two cakes. It’s up to you how much cranberry to put in the center. Either way you will have cranberry jam left over which is the whole idea. The jam is perfect as an accompaniment to your favorite pork or poultry dish or spread onto your morning Christmas toast! Spread the frosting around the sides and the top of the cake.

 

 

Kiwi Cooking Class: Learning in New Zealand

Kiwi Cooking Class: Learning in New Zealand

Chef Grant Allen

 

Tucked into the countryside of KeriKeri, in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, is a local farmstead with herb and vegetable gardens, and state-of-the-art kitchen (pictured above). The transplanted Canadian owners of the homestead offer cooking classes from local Chef, Grant Allen. Allen’s philosophy on Kiwi cooking is that it’s similar to New Zealand cooking and based on our English, Scottish and Irish traditions.

“Our ‘culinary culture’ reflects our colonial history; as we travel, we become more aware of our Pacific and Asian neighbors, and their ingredients and cooking methods; like, New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Maori.” said Chef Allen.

Grant also believes that Kiwi cuisine is evolving. It has its origins in the food of their “European Grannies” and Maori cultures, while it is absorbing the influences of Pacific and Asian cuisine. To demonstrate these tastes and flavors, Grant offered an expansive menu that included a multi-coarse luncheon meal.

It started with the local delicacy of white fish bait fritters, a delicate crepe made up of whipped egg whites and whole, baby, salty white fish. He added Iki Mata, a ceviche of snapper cooked in citrus, with finely diced veggies and herbs.

Another starter, showcased beetroot chips stacked with crème fraiche and smoked salmon. Mussels, one of New Zealand’s most prized crops, were topped with coconut cream, ginger and diced chili, then broiled and served warm.

The main course featured a whole leg of lamb, simply prepared on an outdoor grill served with an herb-fresh salsa verde alongside buttery, garlic hasselback potatoes and a most delicious salad of fresh lettuces and herbs plucked from the garden, with crisp corn, avocado, pear and orange segments.

A secret ingredient to Grant’s salad were baby, sweet tomatoes that had been marinated in balsamic vinegar and honey, which later turned into the salad dressing. Dessert was made by a local cookbook author who whipped up a stone-fruit crumble which perfectly finished the meal.

As cooking classes go, this one was not only informative, but ABSOLUTELY DELISH!!!!! The meal was totally indicative of the food we explored in New Zealand. I come away with two words that for me, define the experience… fresh and simple.

Check out Grant Allen’s cooking tips on Facebook @grantcooks. What you see below is, in his own words, The Making of a Good Salad:

Remember these principles when composing:
Use what is fresh and in season – be inspired by what you find at the market.
Contrast colors and textures
Contrast shapes and size
You need “Crunch”
Build your ingredients to create a vibrant picture .
Dress with flavors that compliment or contrast with your ingredients.
Classically a vinaigrette has a 2/3 oil and 1/3 acid ratio but it’s over to you – use different kinds of oils , vinegars, citrus juices, pomegranate juice, verjuice, honey, mustards.
Season very well – remember your dressing is being carried by a lot of unseasoned ingredients.
Wash and spin your greens, wet leaves will wilt when dressed.
Dress just before serving.

A BOUNTIFUL SUMMER SALAD

Cos lettuce leaves
Ice burg lettuce leaves
Watercress

Blanched corn kernels
Fine sliced red , white or spring onions ( scallions )
Fine diced or ribboned cucumber
Fine diced or sliced peppers

Orange segments – save the juice for the dressing
Pomegranate seeds – save the juice for the dressing
Baby tomatoes – marinate in balsamic and liquid honey – save the marinade for the dressing
Nash Pear – slice finely with the skin on and dress with a little lemon juice to stop browning

Avocado – split, remove the stone a slice, leave the skin on if you wish, this stops the avocado getting mashed.

Mix together the citrus juice etc and blend in avocado oil to your taste, season well with S+P

My Taste of Italy!

My Taste of Italy!

I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Italy. We visited Sorento and the Amalfi coast and then motored our way north to the region of Tuscany. Most of us on the trip took in the sights and attractions, but I focused on the food and wine.

We interspersed multi-course meals in Michelin star restaurants with neighborhood trattoria’s (many of which offered menus featuring pages of pizza and pasta choices). I came away with three favorite dishes.

At the Don Alfonso 1890 Ristorante in Sorrento you can choose from several pre-set menus, starting with three courses and adding up to an astounding seven! My favorite course was dessert, a large platter filled with bite size pastries from truffles to cookies to nut-coated cake sticks, all set atop a smoke filled background. It was something! I’m posting a video to my social media on this one!

Just a quick nine minute helicopter ride from Sorrento you are transported to cliff side gardens and vast views of the Amalfi coast in the quaint city of Ravello. The Belmond restaurant in the Hotel Caruso sits at the top of the village and offers an outstanding dining experience. The menu features fresh Mediterranean cuisine, starring seafood from the coastal waters.

My favorite dish was an elegantly presented tuna tartar infused with fresh peaches. It was almost too gorgeous to eat, but I took one for our team and devoured every bite.

My final meal was a delicious lunch at Osteria di Passigno in Tuscany. The restaurant sits next to an ancient abbey house where a few monks still reside. The fields are filled with grape vines. A few varieties of wine are grown here, but the pride and joy is the Chianti Classico, a designation of wine that is solely made in this area.

After a quick tour of the winery and gardens, we were treated to a multi course meal that started with an extra virgin olive oil tasting and finished with pear-filled puff pastry drizzled with locally grown honey.
My favorite dish was a brothy fish stew accented with shaved vegetables that rose like stalagmites from the center of the dish.

I arrived home after a lengthy day (I mean 24 hours) of traveling. After a day of emptying suitcases, petting the parent-deprived dog and checking in with pals, I found myself in the kitchen. Inspired as I was, my first dish was neither pasta nor pizza. Instead, it was the delicious Mediterranean inspired fish dishes that won me over.

It took only a quick trip to the market to come up with the ingredients for one of my favorite dishes from SUNDAY BEST DISHES, Puttanesca Poached Cod. I share it with you, not only because it is a simple, yummy dish, but also, because it might inspire you to make Italy a destination in your travel plans.

 

Puttanesca Poached Cod

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 (7-ounce) tin flat fillets of anchovies packed in oil

1 (14-ounce) can marinated artichoke hearts, about 8 to 10 medium size, sliced

1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced, about 2 tablespoons

2 tablespoons capers, drained

1 cup red wine

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

4 (4 to 6-ounce) fillets of cod

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon coarse black pepper

Lemon wedges

Place the olive oil and anchovies (with oil) in a skillet over low heat. Cook until the anchovies begin to melt. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the artichoke hearts, olives, garlic and capers. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour in the wine. Cook until most of the liquid disappears, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the sauce reduces by half, about 10 to 15 minutes. Place the cod into the sauce. Cover the skillet with a lid. Cook until the cod just begins to flake, about 5 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets.

Season the top of the fillets with salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of lemon juice. Serve the cod surrounded by the sauce and lemon wedges.

 

 

Food Tour of Boynton and Delray a Feast of World Cuisine

Food Tour of Boynton and Delray a Feast of World Cuisine

Sharlyn Davis-Powery, owner of Cafe Sweets Bakery in West Palm Beach, enjoys a stop on the food tour.

3 to 4 hours of FUN!

If you’re lucky enough to know West Palm – and lots of my subscribers do – then you, my friends, are privy to some remarkable dining experiences. Believe me, I know. I lived in Ft. Lauderdale for most of my life, and now in Jupiter, Florida. My food blog editor, Jen, set off with her family on a five stop restaurant tour that looped around the historic and art-filled districts of Boynton and Delray Beaches.

Lead by Lori Durante, founder of Taste History Culinary Tours, the group was picked up by 11 a.m., and whisked away to venue #1: Hurricane Alley.

Here, they tucked into “Floribbean” flavor, a combo of Florida and the Caribbean in every bite. Tour goers remarked that the chowder had a freshness to it – must’ve been the day’s fresh catch. At this particular establishment, Jen recommends the smoked tuna dip, topped with a fresh jalapeno in the photo below.

Next came a short walk to view the massive sculptures by Albert Paley that decorate the Avenue of the Arts. Since my upcoming cookbook, Canvas & Cuisine is bursting with art, I was happy my food blog editor took the time to appreciate it with her family on this special Saturday.

Soon after, they ducked into the Amanda James Gallery to meet her, view the whimsical things she makes, and see her husband’s paintings that are also on display. It was a nice way to work up an appetite for ice cream.

Food tour stops in the Amanda James Gallery. She is pictured, back row right.

 

At the Boardwalk, Jen tells me she tried many combinations of custard, gelato and Italian ice, but her absolute favorite was the “Strawberry Banana”. It was the most perfectly balanced ice cream she had ever had. You really do feel like you’re on the Atlantic City Boardwalk in Jersey in this fun ice cream shop.

After that, Driftwood: a fairly new establishment that is owned by a young family who have been chefs as far away as Hong Kong, and know their world cuisine. The presentation of their appetizers was art in and of itself. They made Jen a mixed drink to end all mixed drinks. Here’s a photo.

 

The tour bus re-boarded soon after, and headed to Delray. The next tasting: Foxworth Fountain, a historic pharmacy that still has art deco era lettering on its outdoor sign. The owners here, direct descendants of the original pharmacy owners, have stayed true to what the venue looked like in the good ol’ days.

Their soda fountain counter and kitchen dispense treats like egg creams, ginger seltzers and chicken salad, using the same recipe handed through the generations: a generous sprinkling of curry and sweet grapes.

After that, the group took a sweep through the historic Colony Hotel that hasn’t changed a bit since the 1920s. This architectural jewel is so close to the ocean, you can smell it – feel its tropical breezes on your skin: a perfect lead up to the last stop.

Curry jerk meatballs, savory roasted chickpeas, cheesy Caribbean chicken bake, and guava cheesecake

 

Bamboo Fire Café represents a lot of different cultures and cuisines, from Jamaican jerk chicken to the roti dishes of Asia. Jen wants the recipe for their homemade Calypso Lemonade, but they thought better of sharing their secrets. Jen thinks she could taste confectioner’s sugar, vanilla bean, and maybe the savory element of tumeric in the super refreshing drink. Curry and jerk meatballs, a spicy chicken in what tasted like a plantain and mac n’ cheese bake, and guava cheesecake rounded out the experience. Everyone vowed to return.

Before they said goodbye to their guide, Lori – who, btw, has won all sorts of commendations and awards for this tour, they visited the industrial arts section of Boynton Beach. They had come full circle, and it was the perfect opportunity to admire warehouse murals with eye popping designs. Lori says she loves the art as much as she loves the food.

Anna Russon, my food blog editor’s daughter, in front of an Industrial art installation; note her tote, compliments of the food tour!

Tell Lori, hi from Jorj.com!

I will send Jen back to report on other tours offered by Taste of History. Heck, I may come along next time. Perhaps I can sweet talk my way into learning some of these family recipes. Highly recommend this tour!