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Saturday, May 23, 2015

American Wine Society Vintage Chart

The American Wine Society is an organization that promotes the appreciation of wine through education. They have been around for almost 50 years and have about 120 chapters and 5,000 members in the U.S.

One of the cool things about their website is their Vintage Chart. One of the really important things about wine and any other agricultural product is Terrior, or the interaction of the local environment with plant genetics. With grapes, some years are better than others in that there is more sun, less rain, etc., etc. that produces a better crop and a better (loosely applied) Vintage.

I hope readers will use This Vintage Chart when purchasing their next bottle of wine. It rates wines on an alpha numeric 1-10 (low to high) and a-d (high to low) scale. Typically, when purchasing wine, retailers will charge the same amount of money from a given vintner and pay little attention to that year's terrior. A 2011 wine with a very poor vintage rating typically costs the same as a 2013 at the top of it's game. One can also use this chart to purchase wines that would normally be off the radar based on geography.

I hope this helps readers make a more informed and economical wine purchase next time around!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lunch at Pho Cali Vietnamese Noodle House



is a restaurant in Sarasota, FL serving Vietnamese Cuisine. My dining companion (DC) and I decided to eat lunch there.

Seeing what was served to other diners, they had some very great looking lunch specials that were a good value and very generously portioned.That day, DC and I split a couple of things off the Menu. I love Pho, pronounced "Fuh", that delicious Vietnamese rice noodle soup. Pho actually refers to the rice noodles in the dish. Today's flavor of pho was Pho Dac Biet, or pho with beef/beef parts in it. For a really good discussion of pho and how to make it, go Here.

The Pho Dac Biet served here had rare steak, Brisket, Flank, Tendon and Tripe in it.


Bean Sprouts, lime, basil and jalapeno peppers were served as condiments, and the combination was delicious.

DC and I then split Tom Nuong (grilled shrimp on a skewer), Thit Nuong (grilled pork) and Nem Nuong (grilled pork patties).


These were topped with ground peanuts and chopped green onion, and served with Julienned cucumbers, mint, Rice Vermicelli, lettuce and a sweet and sour fish sauce-based DipBahn Trang (rice paper wrappers) were served with this to make your own wraps to hold the whole thing together. All this was very good.

DC has a bit of a sweet tooth and ordered a Durian shake.


I hate durian as I think I am one of those who are genetically wired to find the smell and taste very noxious. It smells and tastes like garbage to me. Others find it pleasant. Oh well, plenty of other beverages on the planet.

The food at Pho Cali is very good and highly recommended. I would definitely go back when in the area.

It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

Pho Cali
1578 Main St.
Sarasota, FL 34236
(941)955-2683


Pho Cali on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Blue Sushi



is an sushi/Asian-themed restaurant in the Gulf Coast Town Center mall in Fort Myers, FL. They used to be part of the Blu Sushi empire which I Blogged about a couple of years ago, but split off about a year ago. They are rebranding themselves with a new logo (blue "blu" and orange "e" and will be remodeling this location). I asked them about Trademark Infringement, trademark confusion being an integral part of this.  Apparently all is worked out so onward and upward!

They have a really cool bar/lounge area




which leads into their sushi bar


and dining area.


Dining companion (DC) and I shared a few items from their dinner menu.



I had signed up for their e-mail blast and received a 30% off coupon that night.

The first thing ordered was the seaweed salad.


This was really good and followed by the seafood salad.


Tuna, salmon, wahoo, smelt roe, cucumber and seaweed salad was served with an in house Poki Sauce. Very Tasty.

We finished up with a sushi and sashimi combo.


This was a tremendous amount of food, with tuna, salmon, wahoo and escolar sushi, and tuna, wahoo, escolar and wahoo sashimi. There was also a simple tuna roll on the side.

The food here is not bad and at 30% off, came to $35.00 for all of this. I urge readers to get on this restaurant's e-mail blast to get some, undoubtedly really great future values.

Look for their new website and remodel in the near future!

Would I come back, yes most definitely!  It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

Blue Sushi
10045 Gulf Center Dr. Unit E105
Fort Myers, FL 33913
(239)334-2583

April Meeting of the Naples ACF Chefs Chapter

The American Culinary Federation  (ACF) is a group of chefs and food industry professionals. ACF has almost 18,000 members and 200 chapters in the U.S. Their mission is education, certification (more on that in a later post), scholarship and inclusion in international competition.


The kick off meeting for the Naples ACF Chefs chapter 2015 season was at the Windstar Clubhouse.



Windstar was one of Naples, FL first, if not the first gated communites and has been around for over 25 years.

After entering a very nicely appointed lobby area,

the dining area of the club was on the second floor.

The format of these ACF meetings is always a social hour, followed by chapter business/educational presentation and a sit down dinner.

Attendees mingled in the bar area



and were treated to samples of Voorn Croquettes


and given information about products by Oakes Farms


and Skuna Bay Salmon, all of these vendors donating their wares for the evening's meeting.


Skuna Bay Salmon is distributed by North Star Seafood on the east coast of Florida. Their Product List is extremely impressive and they are also another generous donor to local ACF functions.

After a discussion of chapter business by the chapter president


and an awards ceremony,


attendees



started on the meal for the evening. Here was the menu.


The first course


was a delicious take on Gazpacho. I loved the Yin and Yang thang.

After that, the second dish


was served with scallop, Tuna "Tar Tar" and Bang Bang Shrimp. This and other dishes were beautiful plated atop vegetables or flowers.

What followed


was Cedar-Planked Skuna Bay salmon, microgreens with a lemon-Truffle vinaigrette and perfectly cooked Short Ribs on a bed of cinnamon-flavored sweet potato.

Dessert


was totally over the top with coconut Sorbet in a Praline Basket, with Pina Colada Creme Brulee and berries and creme.

Hats off to Executive Chef Joe DiPrima for a delicious and over the top meal!

That's that for the April Naples ACF Chefs meeting and another post on Forks.

RIP Grumpy's Ale House


is a bar in the Pavillion shopping center in north Naples, FL. I read in Local Media that they were closing yesterday after being open for over 6 years.

By 4 P.M. today there was not much left.



What a shame. This was one of Naples's better, if not best dive bars. It was "divey" enough to keep out the suits but not "divey" enough so you would need to white-knuckle your iPhone. Where else could you get a beer in Naples, FL at 7:30 in the morning? Great for shift workers, right? The good news for all you Grumpy's aficionados is that they are relocating. Expect them to be up and running again in the near future.

Grumpy's Ale House
3830 Mercantile Ave.
Naples, FL 34104


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dinner and Happy Hour at Inca's Kitchen




is a restaurant serving Peruvian Cuisine in Naples, FL.  They have 2 locations, one of which recently opened in the Pavilion shopping center in North Naples.

As you walk into the restaurant they have a beautiful bar and raw bar area. The raw bar serves Tiraditos, sort of a Peruvian sashimi in addition to Sushi-Inspired Rolls. This is exemplary of the multicultural influences over the years on Peruvian food.


 There are also equally beautiful dining areas



in addition to a very nice private dining room should you desire.


Before dinner, Cancha


or roasted corn kernels, a traditional Peruvian snack, were brought to the table with a trio of mild Peruvian chili Sauces, a nice way to start off the meal.


My dining companion (DC) and I then tried a few things off the menu.


I apologize for quality of the menu, but you get the idea. Barring menu aesthetics, the food DC and I sampled was excellent.

The first thing tried was the octopus salad al Rafeal's.


This was absolutely delicious. Octopus was mixed with a dressing of Red Vinegar, olive oil, cilantro and Capers, with a bit of Peruvian corn, avocado and mango "Chimichurri".

After management found out why I was manically taking pictures of the food, they graciously brought a dish of Charipita Ceviche gratis, charipita being a spicy South American pepper.


This was some of the best ceviche I have ever eaten. Not at all too hot, fish (Corvina), shrimp, scallops and mussels were served in a Tiger's Milk, Passion Fruit juice with onions, sweet potato, mango salsa and Tostones, or fried plantain slices. On a second visit I urged the owner to put it on the menu. I hope he does, it was that good!

DC and I moved on to the Wahoo ceviche.


This dish as with the other two were a "flavor explosion" once eaten and beautifully plated out.

Wahoo was marinated in lime juice, Aji Limo pepper, and served with a shot glass of wahoo tiger's milk.

We finished with an order of Lomo Saltado. This is a Peruvian dish with an Asian influence. It is a stir-fry of beef, onions, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and Soy Sauce (hopefully not that kind). This dish was served with rice and fried potatoes. Unfortunately, it did not photograph well but it was really good.

After I found out they had a happy hour I decided to go back unaccompanied. Inca's only started this about a month ago and they are still perfecting it. There are no wine specials as of yet, but discounts on beer and cocktails. Happy hour runs at the bar from 4:30-6 P.M. and 8-9 P.M. Tuesday-Sunday.


After my first dining experience there I really wanted to try the happy hour food offerings. These are priced at $5.00 each.

Again, cancha was brought out before my order. Guess there's no escapin' this at a Peruvian restaurant.



The first thing I ordered was a ceviche trio.


Swai, an Asian fish, was served 3 ways, with yellow pepper/lime juice, lime juice and Rocoto pepper/lime juice. Onions and sweet potato served as garnishes. I have really never tried swai, but it was very well flavored so much so that I had 2 orders. Additionally, as all dishes here are,  it was beautifully presented.

I moved onto the bacon-wrapped shrimp.


These were good and served with a mango/pepper/onion Sweet and Sour Sauce.

I am a big fan of Chicharron, or fried pork belly, so I wanted to try the restaurant's take on it.


It too was nicely presented, served atop a rocoto pepper Coulis and sweet potatoes. It was very nicely flavored and unusual in that most of the fat was cut off the pork belly. I am still deciding if I like my chicharron this way and will have to order this again when I go back. Again, their happy hour has only been running for about a month and they are still working out the "kinks". They will be expanding both their food and beverage item offerings during happy hour in the near future, and I cannot wait to go back.

Inca's Kitchen has great food and is easily one of the top 10 restaurants in Naples. The interior of the restaurant is beautiful, the service excellent and the food, for the most part, incredibly delicious.

That's that for another post on Forks.

Inca's Kitchen
8955 Tamiami Trail N.
Naples, FL 34108
(239)631-5954

Inca's Kitchen on Urbanspoon