Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm not cooking, believe it or not. Only three people in the house and it just doesn't feel right--I need to cook for at least 20. So I bought picnic fixings, I'm going to pack it up and we're driving North while Ian (Son #2) drives South--we'll meet up at Clearwater Beach for hikes on the beach, a picnic (even if it's brisk...that's nothing for us northerners) and some all around relaxing. Big plans to finally visit Tarpon Springs and eat some great Greek food.

Happy Thanksgiving, readers. I'm thankful for each one of you that checks in here.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Video!

Okay, blogoshpere, go watch my Apalachicola Seafood Festival video at and click on "I liked it."
It's from the Apalachicola Seafood Festival...ate a fair few oysters that day

click the link above or right here:

Barb's Seafood Festival Video

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Serendipitous Life of Bees

I saw Secret Life of Bees recently (back off! I loved the book and the movie was good, too)...but afterwards, my friend and I took our daughters for a drink (wine for us, lemonade for them)--they were done before we were, and we sent them outside. When we found them, they were bent over this little gem: a honey bee hive in the wild--mind you, I live in densely populated South Florida.. The industrious bees were making honey in the well of what I think is a water meter.

Just kinda cool, right? Gives me hope.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

La Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive!!!!

Yes, it IS November. Drinking some Beaujolais Nouveau takes me back 20 years to NYC where I first discovered--and embraced--this tradition.

Third Thursday in November?
12:01 a.m.?
Crack open the Beaujolais Nouveau 2008 and let's have a party.

This year I did something a little different--I escorted the "first" case of Georges DeBouef BN 2008 to Casa Casuarina (former home of Gianni Versace in South Beach) on the back of a Harley in a Biker Brigade. It was for a good cause (City Harvest, City Meals on Wheels and Share Our Strength all benefited), and it was great fun. Whenever I get to spend a fun day like this, I remember what a great crowd and what great fun chefs are (I have momentary lapses of wanting to be back in the kitchen, but I lie down, drink more Beaujolais and it passes) and that sometimes you need to pause in the madness, raise a glass and just enjoy your company. Here's a shot of everyone anticipating that first pour:We had loads of fun, I got to celebrate my first Harley Davidson ride behind handsome, talented
chef Beto DiCarlo of Cafe Ragazzi in Surfside, and I got loads of photos. I almost won a cute little mini-bike (almost: my name was in the pot--we all almost won...only one person DID)...and I got to see inside the gates of the fabulous Casa Casuarina.

I'll close now, because it's my BIRTHDAY. I will share that I am 49. I try not to bug about it. In my head, I am that 25 y.o. drinking Beaujolais Nouveau with her lost friends (Claudia, Rich, Ray, Sharon, Marianne, Andy and oh-so-many others) in NYC til all hours of the night...ordering the first bottles of BN to drink with steak and pommes frites and arguing with the manager over the price of the bottle! (Remember that, Ray? I do!)...Sigh. Time does march on, doesn't it?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Avenue Sea, Apalachicola, Florida

I posted earlier about my great good fortune in going to Apalachicola last weekend. The area is stunning, set along the northern Gulf Coast of Florida, just where the coastline takes a 90-degree turn and heads west and becomes part of Florida's Panhandle.

Apalachicola is where David Carrier and his wife, Ryanne (I will edit this post with quotes: I've got connections and will catch him on the phone soon), decided to settle after exploring the culinary world--including time at French Laundry in Yountville, CA. All I can say is lucky Apalachicola for having such wonderfully skilled people running Avenue Sea at the Gibson Inn AND lucky David and Ryanne for finding Apalachicola.
We got to Avenue Sea after a long day at the Florida Seafood Festival. I ate a lot of oysters shucked by some of the best shuckers anywhere. Some I ate with more finesse than others. I'll just say I hope the less finessed don't make the tape (I was taping for the dining blog. Hi, Missy, Hi, Tim, Hi, Steve!)

But after we wrapped, I was sunkissed and windblown and tired. The restaurant happily changed our reservation to very early (we still had a half our to drive to our hotel stay at Port Inn)...Which worked--because those oysters I ate? That was ALL I ate during the day.

We decided for every course--appetizer of oysters (call me crazy) with cauliflower puree, curry jelly, citrus and a touch of pepper was irresistible. The puree was silken-I ate every oyster. I followed that with a risotto topped with scamorza cheese--and I finished with a grouper wrapped in bacon with ham jus...spectacular. Ian..hmm. He had rib eye as his third course. He had pork as his first..oh, I remember. Butternut squash soup as his starter. Perfect for the fall day we had enjoyed. And he put up with me making him wait for the first bite until I snapped a few photos.

One of the things that was so enjoyable was the pace of our meal. Granted we were super early, but still, the idea is to enjoy the time you have with your dinner companions, time to enjoy the flavors Carrier has put together with such care. Avenue Sea even quotes Ben Franklin on the menu--I believe this is the one: Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.

It does us good to remember that. On a regular basis. Benjamin Franklin was brilliant, wasn't he? And he sure knew how to love life. This is Ian behind the lovely (everything was lovely) coffee set. He knows how to love life, too.Ryanne is responsible for desserts. I'll go on record as not being a regular fan of desserts. Too often they disappoint. I went for the Milk Chocolate Caramel Tart in chocolate crust with..well, with heaven. Is that too much? Really. First off, braVA to Ryanne for going with milk chocolate. I love bittersweet with the rest of the sophisticates, but milk chocolate is comfort. And this was pure comfort, a wonderful, warm way to end the meal.

Honestly? I can't wait to get back to Apalachicola to spend more time and see more of the town...and to eat more of the Carriers' food.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

That header photo..

(Edited because I changed my header photo, but I leave this oyster shot here because it is one of my Best. Photos. Ever.)

Cheryl of 5 Second Rule, another food blog, commented on the photo--so I want to brag a little because I took that AWESOME shot but I also want to give credit to Chef Clay Conley of Mandarin Oriental's Azul here in Miami. This was an amuse bouche paired with a Pommery Champagne.

I'll go out on a limb here and say the pairing was genius.

The oyster was tiny (my oyster shucking days are ancient history, although I shucked gazillions at Union Square Cafe--I no longer can identify oysters on sight...which are tiny? I want to say Kumamoto) and topped with a sliver of cucumber, a touch of creme fraiche, caviar and chives. There was briny sweetness of oyster, the crunch and fresh taste of the cucumber, the smooth creaminess of the cream and then that little crunch and saltiness of the caviar and ever-so-slight bite of chive. All at once. Chef Conley gave me a reason to make this killer photo.