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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dinner at Alto Live Jazz Kitchen


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is a restaurant/jazz club located in Bayfront, a mixed use commercial/residential development in Naples, FL.

They have a very nice bar

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA FOOD AND RESTAURANT REVIEWS

and restaurant area where they were setting up the stage for the evening's show.

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My dining companions (DC1 and DC2) and I shared a number of items from the Menu.

DC1 ordered the Alto Burger.

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A generous-sized hamburger was topped with Aged Cheddar, fried egg, tomatoes, red onion, Bibb Lettuce and fries. Love the green tomato here, a great touch.

DC2 ordered a couple of starters which we all tried.  The Tuna Cocktail was the first thing ordered.

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Cubed Yellowfin Tuna was topped with chili lime soy and Cilantro Microgreens,  surrounded by Wasabi and served with fried Wonton Skins. Light but delicious.

DC2 also ordered the Charcuterie and cheese plate.

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Pickled vegetables were served with apple slices, Candied Walnuts, Mortadella, Prosciutto, Soppressata, mango/ginger Chutney and Manchego, Gruyere and a Triple Cream Brie  cheese. Really, really good.

We finished up the meal with an Alto Chocolate Trio.

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A Flourless Chocloate Torte was paired with a dark chocolate Mousse and white chocolate ice cream served atop ground Graham Crackers. I do not have much of a sweet tooth but liked what I sampled.


While we ate, we were treated to the first set by the Rebecca Richardson Trio,

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good music that made the meal all the more pleasant. To top it all off, for the next month or so everything served at the restaurant (bar only) is 50% off from 4-7 P.M., a great value.

I would like to thank Chef Mereday for his unexpected largess by providing our meal gratis that evening.

Although I liked the food at the Original Mereday's a bit more, I would definitely come back for happy hour and more good music.


Alto Live Jazz Kitchen
492 Bayfront Place
Naples, FL 34102
(239)261-2586

Alto on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Naples Originals Gift Certificates

Naples Originals is a consortium of about 50 member restaurants. Every quarter, they offer Gift Certificates from their member restaurants at 30% off.  Here is the link. Be sure to get there about 6 A.M. on 9.18.2014. Bon Appetite!


https://naplesoriginals.instagift.com/discount-sale

Cheers,

Peter

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

6 Mile Cypress Slough Preserve and Lunch at The Amazon Grill


southwest florida food and restaurant reviews
is a 3400 acre area of Wetland maintained by and located in Lee County, FL. What is a Slough (pronounced "slew") one may ask? It is an ecological term meaning swamp or backwater which is just what this area is. There is a boardwalk running through the preserve

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that Winds around the area for about 1 and 1/2 miles. For those wanting to get away from it all but only wanting a small taste of nature, this place is for you. There are a number of scenic lookouts on the boardwalk


in addition to some interesting plant life.



There were even some baby alligators just off the boardwalk to be seen that day.

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After a walk through the preserve, my dining companion (DC) and I worked up an appetite.

 DC really wanted to try The Amazon Grill

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which is located in The Palm Point Plaza in Fort Myers, FL.

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They serve, purportedly, Brazilian Cuisine buffet style and it's all you can eat. Their dining area is simple, but commodious.

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They have a number of buffet stations. Fruits, salads and vegetables were at the first station.

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Yuca, Pinto Beans, Black Beans, Chicharron, lasagne, french fries, yellow and white rice were on another.

Rice PilafChicken Stroganoff, beef with onions, roast pork and a sort of Stewed Chicken dish were served on the third buffet station.

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All of this was completely unremarkable and at best, Brazilian-inspired.

The saving grace of this meal was the Churrasco, or grilled meats.


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There was all kinds of barbecue here. Beef Brisket, chicken, Spare Ribs, sausage, Morcilla (one of my favorites),



and chicken hearts.

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This was the first time I had ever tried these. As I was tasting the grilled chicken hearts, I felt as if I was a Doppelganger of Andrew Zimmern. Not bad but prefer other Offal.

There are also a number of condiments for your barbecue.



If you are a true Obligate Carnivore, or even a partial one, you will love this buffet as it's all you can eat meat. Would I come back? Perhaps one day but for the past week, it's been fish and chicken.

That's all for another post on Forks.

Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve
7791 Penzance Crossing, Fort Myers, FL 33966
(239)533-7550

Amazon Grill
11609 S Cleveland Ave, Fort Myers, FL 33907
(239) 939-0993


Amazon Grill on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Happy Hour at Mereday's Fine Dining


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is a restaurant in Naples, FL. It is located in Naples Bay Resort,

southwest florida food and restaurant reviews

another mixed use commercial/residential development.

As you walk into Mereday's

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they have a very nice dining area

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with an open air kitchen overlooking it.

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I really think having an arrangement such as this helps patrons connect more with what is served to them on their plate. The accessibility of the chef both visually and verbally for questions and or feedback helps tremendously with this.

That day, my dining companion (DC) and I went there for happy hour, which runs daily from 4-7 P.M. It is served at the bar.

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During happy hour, items from the bar menu

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in addition to their wine and beer menu are 50% off.

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DC and I shared a number of things off the menu, the first being the seared Baby Back Ribs.

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This was a full rack of ribs, kindly served as individual ribs. They were coated with Unagi (eel) sauce and topped with Cilantro. Really good.

This was followed by the Asian chicken salad.


Perfectly cooked Rice Noodles were topped with Napa and Red cabbage, Arugula, bell pepper and a Vinaigrette made from Peanut Butter (probably not this variety though!), Soy Sauce, Rice VinegarSweet Thai Chili Sauce and topped with cilantro and basil Microgreens. All this was topped with an expertly cooked Airline Chicken Breast. The textures and flavors were exceptional. This dish was my favorite of the evening.

DC and I then moved on to the Tarte Flambee "pizza".

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This is the restaurant's take on the traditional Alsatian dish. This was served with Carmelized Onions, Gruyere Cheese and Nueske's Smoked Bacon, the latter an alternative for the traditional Lardon. Really, really good.

We finished with the the Beef Fillet.

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Beef Fillet  was served with creamed potatoes, baby carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and asparagus. This was served with a red wine Demi-Glace . The vegetables were cooked Al Dente, crisp and delicious. One of the chefs prides himself on the Veal Jus he prepares for the demi-glace, which was 3 days in the making. It shows.

The ambiance at Mereday's is very pleasant, the service well executed and the food a cut above. This is not surprising, as the owner has trained in some Very Good Kitchens. A friend who was discussed in another Post thought this was one of the best kitchens in Southwest Florida. I would agree.


It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

Mereday's Fine Dining
1500 5th Ave. S.
Naples, FL 34102
(239)732-0784





Mereday's on Urbanspoon

Monday, August 25, 2014

August Meeting of The Caxambas Chapter of The American Culinary Federation of Naples and Marco Island

As discussed in a previous Post, The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is a 20,000 member organization of chefs, food industry-related members and maybe a food writer or two.  On this day, the monthly Naples and Marco Island ACF Chapter meeting  was held at The Lely Players Club and Spa,


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 a private country club.

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They have a beautiful dining area inside the club,

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perfect for this month's food theme which was barbecue.

I was intercepted by The Players Club Executive Chef, Dan Kniola, who showed me the smoker he was using that day for his Beef Brisket.

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The speaker that evening was Executive Chef Kristopher Jubinville (Chef K) of St. Matthew's House,

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a local homeless shelter and their associated catering business, SMH Catering, which helps bring in revenue to the shelter.

Chef K explained the "low and slow" approach to smoker cooking. Typically the temperature is maintained around 200 degrees for about 10-12 hours. This breaks down the Collagen in the meat, effectively tenderizing it. The importance of knowing your flavors before using the smoker was also emphasized. The voluminous amounts of smoke generated by these cookers tends to dumb down the chef's sense of taste and smell. More on barbeque later.

These monthly meetings always have a social hour, an informational component and then a wonderful dinner.

As attendees gathered for the social hour

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Pero Family Farms, one of the vendors donating their product that evening,

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was highlighting their sweet peppers with a  Bruschetta starter.

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After social hour, the general and educational component of the meeting began. 

After the Chapter President, Chas Tatigian, made a few announcements, Chef K talked a bit about barbecue.

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 He talked about the different woods used in smokers.

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He liked to use Oak or Hickory wood as a base, adding sweetness with either Apple Wood, Pecan Wood or Cherry Wood chips.

He explained the use of Spice Rubs in barbecues, which almost always contain a salty and sweet element.

Brining was also touched on, good when smoking poultry as it helps retain moisture.

Chef K also likes to spray what he is smoking every 3 hours or so to keep it moist, but then leave it be. A Dr. Pepper/Rum spray is one of his favorites.

Now for the good part! After the presentation, attendees lined up for the food.

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There were a number of salads served that evening.

.southwest florida food and restaurant reviews
 

There was a garden salad served with a Ranch or Balsamic dressing, an Asian noodle salad (a new item from Pero Farms), Genoa Salami with roasted sweet peppers and fresh Mozzarella cheese in addition to Caesar Salad.

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The entree selection was really good too. Beef brisket,




chicken thighs brined in Vanilla/Dr. Pepper,


roasted potatoes





As if there were any more room left in most for more food, the dessert table was very impressive.


 There was white chocolate raspberry tart, Cheesecake, Ganache tart, fruit tart, Chocolate Mousse Tart, brownies,




chocolate cheesecake and Mocha Torte, among other offerings.



Yikes! But so good!

Before closing I would like to acknowledge Cheney Brothers, Pero Family Farms, Sturdivent's Food Purveyors and Naples Smokehouse and Deli, among others for their donations that made this great meal possible.

That's that for another post on Forks.

ACF Caxambas Chapter of Naples and Marco Island
Pres Chas Tatigian, CEC
P.O. Box 855
Naples, FL 34106
(239)304-6045