7.31.2014

Much Ado About Moxie

Scallops with three cheese grits and lobster sauce. Get this.

Chef Tom Gray's Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails in the St John's Town Center is one of my new favorite places to grab a bite. I have enjoyed most everything I've tried there, some more than others.

My review of Moxie is in the Florida Times-Union this week, so I thought it would be good timing to drop a couple more photos here, since the paper has only so much space to indulge my obsession with food-porn. I wouldn't want you to miss out on some of the tastiest lunch, dinner, brunch and happy hour options that await hungry diners.

Mexican Street Corn Toasts - share this.
It took me a few months to get out to Moxie after it opened last November, but I have been making up for that lately by stopping in whenever I'm in the area. I've dubbed the little table at the end of the downstairs bar "the blogger's table" since the two large windows ensure there will be plenty of natural light for snapping pics. Also it is a little off the beaten path, so it is usually quieter than most other areas. 

Chicken and Waffles makes me want to lick the plate.
I usually have a go-to dish when I frequent a place. With Moxie, I am content to switch it up and try something new every time. Soon, though, I will need to get back around to this decadent dish of Chicken and Waffles, maple mousse and pepper jelly.  

Charcuterie selections make for a light nosh.
Behold, The Moxie Burger. 
With the selection of better burgers growing as new eateries come into the market, the double stacked Moxie Burger, with patties of beef, pork, and BACON ranks pretty high on my list. What this dish says to me is, don't wait for a special occasion to eat at a special restaurant. YOU make it special.  

Don't miss brunch - Saturday and Sunday 11 - 2:30

Desserts are an art form at Moxie - but not too precious to eat.
See you at Moxie!

Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails on Urbanspoon

Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails

4972 Big Island Dr,
Jacksonville FL 32246    

904.998.9744 

www.moxiefl.com



6.23.2014

Favorite Hidden Gem, Jacksonville: El Ranchito

When people ask me what's my favorite restaurant, it should come as no surprise that my answer includes not just one, but several places. Over the summer I'll be sharing some of these faves - new and old. I'll start with my FAVORITE HIDDEN GEM in Jacksonville, El Ranchito.

(This is excerpted from my original review, which appeared in the Florida Times-Union.)


Columbian, Mexican, Cuban all under one roof. GOAL!
I love a good “mom and pop” restaurant, someplace you feel welcome, regardless of whether you speak the language or hail from the same part of the globe. One that makes my list of favorites is El Ranchito. Cue the collective gasp from regulars who would prefer their favorite spot to remain their little secret.

Located on Beach Boulevard in Pablo Station near the northwest corner of Beach and San Pablo, El Ranchito hums with a Latin vibe. Columbian, 

Cuban and Mexican standards are all represented, and the crowd is as diverse as the menu. One day it is a bright, quiet spot to grab lunch or dinner, the next it’s filled with cheering fútbol fans, jostling for space with a stream of regulars, including more than a few in-the-know foodies. The space is small and neat, with minimal décor, indoor and outdoor seating. Banners advertising the World Cup festoon the small counter area.

Sopa de Costilla de Res
El Ranchito’s “mom and pop” for just over four years now are Ana and Jorge Argueta. She’s Columbian, he’s Guatamalan. Son Kenny and daughter Christina work with them, greeting customers as friends old and new, waiting and bussing tables. Kenny is quick to point out their Facebook page, and recommends checking it out for the specials.

On a recent visit, I particularly enjoyed the special Sopa de Costilla de Res ($4.99). Meaty chunks of beef short rib, tender and falling off the bone, nestled in with potatoes, carrots and cilantro in a flavorful broth which gets its reddish hue from achiote. This simple, yet satisfying Columbian dish is the epitome of comfort food. Here it is often available on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Empanadas Cubana
My dining companion and I shared crispy, warm Empanadas Cubana ($3.50), two fried flour turnovers amply filled with ground beef and Cuban spices. 

In contrast, Empanadas Columbiana (6 for $4.99, 12 for $9.99) feature a slightly sweet cornmeal shell and Columbian spiced beef.

Meat lovers and big eaters in general will embrace the combination of sirloin steak, pork sausage, chicharrones (pork rind), plantains, corn cake, white rice, beans, and avocado salad that make up Colombia’s national dish, Bandeja Paisa ($12.99). It’s a lot of food. Plan to share, or take home leftovers.

Tacos de Carne Asada
Tacos de Carne Asada ($9.99) hit all the right notes – perfectly seasoned chopped beefsteak, onion and cilantro are served on steamed corn tortillas, with a wedge of lime. This simple, authentic dish shares billing as “Traditional Mexican” with more American inventions such as the Chimichanga (9.99) and Fajitas (11.99-12.99).

The Cuban classics are here –succulent Lechon Asado ($7.99 lunch / $8.99 dinner) is fresh-roasted pork, seasoned with a slightly tart, garlicy mojo; and Ropa Vieja (8.99 lunch / $11.99 dinner), shredded flank steak prepared in a savory sauce of tomato, pepper, onion and garlic. Another Cuban standout is Arroz Con Pollo ($10.99), tender chunks of chicken cooked with yellow rice.

Camarones Al Ajillo
Camarones Al Ajillo ($14.99) are sweet, tender shrimp sautéed in toasted garlic oil, served with plantain, rice, beans and salad. The crispy little bits of garlic in the oil are what transform this simple sautéed shrimp dish. I sopped up every last bit with the yellow rice.

Soupy Columbian red beans were soft and silky, and not over-salted. Alternate choices are white rice and equally delicious Cuban black beans, and your choice of savory or sweet plantains.


Tres Leches
Desserts are made in house by Ana, and the Tres Leches ($4.00) is one of the best I’ve tasted. Suitably dense, moist vanilla cake soaks in the sweetened milks and whipped cream as you eat it. Overall it is light and fresh, not too heavy, and not cloyingly sweet as it can sometimes be.

El Ranchito serves beer and wine, coffee, tea, juices, soft drinks (including Columbian, Mexican and Cuban favorites) and Horchata, a traditional Mexican drink made with rice and cinnamon.

Give me a clean, locally owned, one of a kind place with simple food made from scratch and reasonably priced, and I’ll return again and again. I’ll be returning to El Ranchito.

El Ranchito on Urbanspoon

El Ranchito

14333- 22 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32250
(904) 992-4607
www.facebook.com/elranchitojax

Hours:
    Mon-Thu 11:30-8
    Closed Tuesday
    Fri 11:30-9
    Sat 12-9
    Sun 12-8

Price range: $4-18

6.19.2014

I've Got The Georgia Blues

I've got the Georgia Blues.

Blueberries, that is.

Agriculture and tourism are Georgia's top two economic drivers, so it made perfect sense to me to mix the two during a recent visit. I was invited, as part of a team of registered dietitians, food writers and photographers, to tour Georgia's booming blueberry agri-business. We were guests of the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, and MBG Marketing (aka "The Blueberry People), a producer owned blueberry marketing cooperative.

Brandon Wade (from left), of Alma Berry Farms in Alma, Ga.,
Derrin Wheeler, director of MBG Marketing's Sunbelt unit,
Lorrie Merker, MBG’s VP of grower relations,
and Lane Wade, owner of Alma Berry Farms
 
Our tour guides prepared a great itinerary for our day in and around Alma, Georgia. What I had envisioned as a stroll through a blueberry farm with possible a side-trip for a slice of pie, turned out to be a well-orchestrated over-view of the state's blueberry production, in which we learned how the crop is grown, packed, processed and distributed. 

Blueberries, it turns out, are big business.  


According to the USDA, Georgia is on track to become the country's largest producer of blueberries.

Georgia produced 68 million pounds of fruit last year, but this year’s crop is expected to exceed 80 million pounds. Blueberries out-produced peaches in the late 2000s in Georgia, and have been racing ahead ever since, according to the USDA.

You heard me right. The peach has been toppled from its throne, and there's a new fruit wearing the crown. 

The blueberry boom came about in part as Georgia farmers were looking for replacement crops for tobacco acreages. One of the facilities we toured was a warehouse that had also been converted from tobacco to blueberries. 

The MBG cooperative owns and operates state-of-the-art blueberry receiving, pre-cooling, and shipping facilities in Alma, Georgia and Grand Junction, Michigan, in addition to facilities in  Michigan, North Carolina, Indiana and Florida.  During our tour we saw first hand why they are called The Blueberry People. 

I thought while we were in the height of Georgia's blueberry season, I would dabble in some blueberry recipe development. Stay tuned for some fun with the blues!  Thanks to our tour guides and sponsors - you'll see more of them in upcoming posts. 

5.24.2014

We Be Jammin' - Mango Style


Champagne Mango
Every year around this time the supermarkets in Florida are inundated with Mangoes. They start out a bit pricey, but as the season stretches on they begin to proliferate, and prices begin to drop. 

I love to eat them fresh cut, raw and unadorned, or chopped into a simple yet refreshing salsa with fresh jalapeno, red onion and cilantro. It's great as a topper to broiled or baked fish, or tossed in a taco with fresh cooked shrimp and cool crisp cabbage. 

I'll chop them up and pop them into the freezer along with bananas, berries and cherries, then whir them into smoothies in the blender or into a fresh-frozen treat using my new favorite kitchen toy, the
 Yonanas Frozen Dessert Maker

From April to August, I seek out the smaller, sweeter, golden yellow Mexican Ataulfo variety, also known as Honey or Champagne mango. These are also great to eat right from the peel, but this year I decided to take my Mango-madness to new heights by cooking up some Champagne Mango and Meyer Lemon Jam. I was pleased with the results - Sweet and spicy mangoes melding with tart, fragrant Meyer lemons, with just a hint of ginger and cinnamon backbeat. 

Champagne Mango and Meyer Lemon Jam on toast.
I'm still perfecting the recipe, and apparently mango can be tricky to thicken in jams, but I didn't use any preservatives or pectin, so if you try it, plan on keeping in the fridge for two weeks tops. Or make a batch, then invite the neighbors over for mango-jam topped waffles and blast through it all in one sitting!

Champagne Mango and Meyer Lemon Jam
I like sweet and tart jams, so I upped the pucker quotient of this honey mango jam by adding not only the zest and juice of two small, lovely Meyer lemons, but the pulp of a third, chopped into small, juicy chunks. You can omit the chunks and reduce the lemon quotient to the juice and zest of one lemon if you want a sweeter outcome. I also added a little spice – you can omit these if you want, but I like how they punch up the mango’s exotic flavor.

Ingredients
10 ripe champagne or honey mangoes
3 Cups organic cane sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh grated ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
juice of 2 Meyer Lemons
zest of 2 Meyer Lemons
pulp of 1 Meyer Lemon (optional)

Set a small plate with four teaspoons in the freezer. This will be your test for doneness.

Wash, peel, seed and chop the mangoes. Keep the chunks as large as you’d like to see in the finished product. Alternately, you can puree the finished jam for a smooth consistency.

In a large, non-reactive pan, mix the chopped mangoes, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, lemon juice and pulp. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Cook mixture on medium low, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved, then add the lemon zest.

Continue to cook for 35 - 40 minutes.

Test for doneness by pulling one of the spoons from the freezer, loading a small amount of the jam onto the spoon, then replace it in the freezer for 1/2 minute. Pull it out and check how solid the jam is remaining. Does it coat the spoon, and stay solid when you turn it slightly? It’s done. If it is still loose and weepy, keep cooking. Test this way until it holds together but remains soft. It will firm up a little more when it cools. When done, remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

When the mixture is cool, ladle into the jars and close the lids tightly. You can proceed to canning these for long term storage, or simply pop into the refrigerator, where they will keep for up to 2 weeks.

My ten small mangoes yielded just over 2 wide-mouth pint jars full.  

Fun Fact: In the 1700′s, the word mango was used as a verb meaning to pickle.  For a time, anything pickled was called a mango, including peppers. This misuse of the word continued well into the 1970s in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania. When groceries carried actual mangoes, the sign would sometimes read "Fruit Mango" so as not to confuse shoppers. 






5.07.2014

Dining Al Fresco at THE PLAYERS at Sawgrass

Does this lovely Spring weather awaken your desire to dine al fresco? This week, First Coast residents and visitors have the opportunity to do so in a place so exclusive, it’s only open six days a year! THE PLAYERS has returned to THE PLAYERS Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass, May 6-11 in Ponte Vedra.  Here’s a quick, and by no means comprehensive look at the dining options that await golf fans this year.

Wine & Dine on 9 -  gourmet small plates prepared by Matthew Medure, one of Northeast Florida’s most renowned chefs, in a beautiful garden setting - also features BERINGER® Wine Bar.

Service with a smile at Up In Smoke BBQ Food Truck
Trucks on 10 sports some great-tasting dining options from six of your favorite local food trucks: Mama’s Food (Argentinian-style cuisine); Baby’s Badass Burgers (gourmet hamburgers); Corner Taco (semi-swanky street food); Gourmet Aviator (Latin-American and Caribbean cuisine); Up In Smoke BBQ (Southern barbecue); and Super Food (new American cuisine). 
Located between 10 fairway, 11 fairway and 15 green, this public venue also offers an open-air, centrally located Michelob ULTRA Mobile Bar, outdoor seating and an upgraded restroom. Mama’s Food’s Chicken Quesadilla wins our (in no way official) food blogger’s award for great flavor.

Say Hi to lovely Debby N at TacoLu's Tacos on 12
New this year, TacoLu, Jacksonville’s most popular go-to taco spot, will bring their own Baja style outdoors flair to The PLAYERS at Tacos on 12. Seating and shaded areas located between 12 green and 13 tee will give fans the chance to rest, relax and enjoy some of “the Lu’s” delicious menu items. There’s even a designated selfie spot for snapping photos TacoLu style.

Try the Verde, Bangin’ or Baja tacos – always made with the freshest ingredients. 

One of the most popular recent additions to THE PLAYERS food lineup, Taste of JAX has been upgraded for 2014 with an expanded patio, more seating and two new, local restaurants. New this year are 4 Rivers Smokehouse (Texas-style smokehouse); and Culhane’s Irish Pub (Irish-inspired cuisine). Returning from 2013 are Indochine (Thai and Southeast Asian cuisine); Metro Diner (classic American
Snag a slice of Pele's Wood Fire Pizza at Taste of Jax
fare);
and Pele’s Wood Fire (modern Italian-American cuisine). Located between 11 green and 12 tee, this public venue also offers a Bacardi® open-air bar, permanent restrooms and video boards to keep up with the tournament action.

Insider tip: The Reuben Egg Rolls from Culhane’s Irish Pub are tasty, and oh, so portable!

The Food Court has been relocated to behind No. 16 green – near the Couples Gate, which provides more shade. You’ll find plenty of choices to satisfy everyone in the family: Winn Dixie Fresh Café (new in 2014, featuring fresh-made sandwiches, gluten-free and healthy food options); and Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q; Brucci’s Pizza; Firehouse Subs; MShack; and Tropical Smoothie Café. Get your food, then stake out a shady spot at The Grove, an outdoor, shaded area located behind No. 17 tee. The expanded venue includes pavers, tabled seating and a large video board showcasing the Golf Channel and NBC broadcast you won’t miss any tournament action.

Best view and shrimp wraps too!  Sea Best 17 Deck
It’s hard to beat the views and atmosphere around No. 17, the most iconic hole in golf, but this year, thanks to the addition of the Sea Best 17 Deck, fans have a bird’s-eye view of the island green, No. 16 fairway and green as well as the 18th tee box.  Open to the public, The Sea Best 17 Deck is a bleacher behind No. 17 green with a covered deck, misters to help fans stay cool, and a menu featuring Sea Best seafood. Try the Sea Best Shrimp Wrap and one of this year’s signature libations featuring Grey Goose Vodka.

Hang out on the Clubhouse Lawn!
If you have an upgraded Clubhouse ticket, don’t spend all your time indoors!  Hang out on the Clubhouse Lawn and enjoy food and beverages, available for purchase from award-winning TPC Sawgrass Nineteen.  In the shadow of the beautiful 77,000 square-foot clubhouse, the lawn offers ample chairs, umbrella tables and a view of No. 18 green.

New this year, the Michelob ULTRA Blue Room VIP Lounge is an exclusive venue located adjacent to Stadium Village. Tickets to the Blue Room include access to the grounds, as well as beer, wine, soda, water and upscale cuisine from select local restaurants such as Black Sheep and Mellow Mushroom. The Blue Room features outdoor games, music and themed days for a different experience each day of the tournament. Daily tickets cost $100 for Thursday; $125 for Friday; $125 for Saturday; and $100 for Sunday and are available exclusively on www.THEPLAYERSBlueRoom.com.

Pro tip:  Drink water, lots of it. Chilled, filtered drinking water is available in the permanent restrooms near The Patio, Taste of JAX and Wine & Dine on 9; so keep that bottle and refill it as many times as you’d like as a way to stay hydrated and save money at THE PLAYERS.

Thanks to THE PLAYERS for inviting me for a complimentary Taste of THE PLAYERS event so I could sample and snap some of the best of the best to share with you!

4.28.2014

Semi-Swanky Fare In Five Points

Corner Taco Dishes Up Semi-Swanky Fare In Five Points

This review was originally published in the Florida Times Union

One overcast afternoon near the corner of Post and Oak Streets in Five Points, an auction was taking place at the former location of Gina's Deli.  Since then, the space has undergone a total transformation into a bright, vibrant neighborhood taqueria.

Corner Taco owner Chris Dickerson, who honed his culinary skills at four-star restaurants in several states, started serving up gourmet tacos in 2011 at a Neptune Beach bar, before renovating a classic 1965 Airstream Globetrotter into a food truck featuring what he lovingly refers to as “semi-swanky street food.”

Three short years later, the airstream is parked in the side lot as Dickerson runs his brick and mortar restaurant - taking orders from behind the counter, checking on the crew’s progress in the kitchen, and buzzing around the dining room greeting customers. A line forms at the counter during peak lunch and dinner times, but it appears to move quickly, and the food seems to be coming out fast as well.

The restaurant’s mainstays include many of the food truck favorites, including “Semi-Swanky” Tacos (1 for $3.95, 2 for $7.50, 3 for $10.95) filled with Carnitas, Dijon-Buttermilk Fried Chicken, or Chicken marinated in their signature Fresh Thyme Vinaigrette
Dijon Buttermilk Fried Chicken Taco

“Semi-Swanktacular” Tacos (1 for $5.35, 2 for $9.95, 3 for $14.75) are Brisket, Daily Fish (typically Mahi Mahi, Grouper or Swordfish), Seared Asparagus, and The 5 Points (Tabouli and Hummus).

All tacos are served on a freshly made corn tortilla, with red cabbage, cilantro, lime, and a sweet chile-lemon sauce.

On our most recent visit, we honed in on a crowd-favorite from the food truck. The Dijon Buttermilk Fried Chicken taco sported juicy chunks of chicken in a super-crispy light coating made with rice flour. We were offered hot sauce, but it didn’t need any embellishment. The Brisket taco was pleasantly moist and savory without being overly salty. Dickerson explained that it gets a flavor boost from steeping in a porcini mushroom broth, and a mild, sweet heat from a dark red chile powder sourced from Chimayo, New Mexico.  A side of silky Black Beans ($3.95) with country ham also benefitted from the porcini broth.

The Daily Fish taco held tender Mahi-Mahi, perfectly seasoned. One of several vegan items on the menu, the Seared Asparagus taco was filled to the brim with tender-crisp asparagus spears. A light dusting of Maldon sea salt flakes added a fresh, briny note. 

A side of Quinoa ($3.95) reportedly contained red onion and orange, but neither was readily noticeable. Two tacos and one side proved more than enough for a satisfying mid-day meal.

Dickerson’s food philosophy centers around building clean, fresh flavors “using ingredients you can pronounce.” Most menu items are made fresh to order, many are gluten free. Fresh corn tortillas are formed in a custom-made tortilla maker, then dropped on the grill for a quick toasting. Dickerson said they have been averaging 500 -750 tortillas per day.

In the beverage department, we opted for a blood orange San Pellegrino. Seasonal Aguas Frescas are also available, along with Mexican Coke, beer and wine.

A selection of local beers on tap included Florida Saison from Green Room Brewing, Belgian Pale Ale from Aardwolf Brewery, Jon Boat from Intuition Ale Works, Brown Ale from Engine 15 Brewing Company, and Jai Alai from Cigar City Brewing.

We didn’t save room to try the Dyno-Mite nachos ($13.95), Cheddar & Brie Queso ($8.75, with chips) or Salad with Fresh Thyme Vinaigrette ($6.95), but we’ll be back.
See you there!

Corner Taco on Urbanspoon

Corner Taco

818 Post St., Jacksonville
facebook.com/cornertaco



4.09.2014

One Spark's Culinary Creators

Jacksonville hosts One Spark crowd-funding festival April 9-13

Among the hundreds of projects that will vie for votes and donations at this year's One Spark festival in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, 28 of them are food-related.

Some seek operating cash to improve or expand on existing businesses, and many are looking for ways to improve the lives of First Coast residents, feeding the hungry, providing training in food-service, sustainable gardening, packaging and distribution of food. Here are three we're excited about.

Gastrofest 2015 aims show the world what the Jacksonville culinary scene has to offer with a festival featuring “everything from fine dining to food trucks, from microbreweries to local cookbooks, from vegans to local beef.” Their One Spark booth will feature many local culinary businesses  and fellow One Spark creators sampling their creations and demonstrating their skills - here's the schedule.

Find Gastrofest creators Erin Thursby, Kamron Perry and Nathaniel Price
  at Main Street Park during One Spark, and on the web at www.gastrofest.com.

Follow them on facebook and twitter. Vote #20026



Mark Patterson created a niche in the frozen dessert market by crafting a great tasting, protien rich healthier alternative to traditional ice-cream. Now he's courting funding at One Spark, to expand his Jacksonville-based line of Naturally Smart Frozen Desserts, currently available in chocolate and vanilla flavors at Grassroots, Whole Foods, BioMax and other natural food retailers. 

He seeks funding to develop three new flavors — coffee, coconut and green tea. 

Mark spent years working in local restaurants before he decided to develop Naturally Smart. He's doing everything right, and keeping much of the production and marketing of his product local. Grab a sample of this cool treat at Chamblin's Uptown during One Spark. #20007


Conscious Market wants to develop a system to efficiently collect and redistribute excess food from small businesses.  An outreach of the nonprofit Character Counts!, it is developing a line of food products and a mobile application to facilitate the tracking of perishable and non-perishable goods. Learn more on Facebook

Conscious Market creator and spiritual force of nature Florence Haridan and the crew will be sampling their wares during One Spark at Workscapes Jax. #20538

See you at One Spark!

3.22.2014

No Meat March Madness

So we're "doing" No Meat March this year. A 31 day challenge to go meat free, presented by Jacksonville's own The Girls Gone Green, a non-profit whose mission is to explore environmental, animal and health issues impacting us today.

Crab Panzanella Salad - Pele's Woodfire - Jacksonville FL
Except that in the White casa, we're not exactly going meat free. We are allowing ourselves to consume fish and seafood. And eggs, and dairy...

Oh, and there where those couple of days where, being somewhat Irish, we allowed ourselves to consume a few pounds of corned beef, but let's stick a pin in that for now. And there have been a couple of work assignments that required me to eat beef, so...

Let's just say, in our own way, we're "doing" No Meat March. 

Artichokepita in miniature phyllo cups - easy and fun to eat
It was kind of a big deal for the Madre. We like meat products. She's old school "meat 'n three style" when it comes to cooking. This was going to disrupt all known patterns of meal preparation and consumption. 

She began asking about it in mid-February. "What kinds of things can we eat? Can we eat chicken? (no) Can we start eating pasta again then? (sure, a little, let's not go crazy though...) 

I tried to call it off before it started because I thought she was not going to be able to handle it. But she surprised me. We've been eating (sort of) meat free for twenty days now, and so far we're enjoying it. I even entered a recipe contest with two non-meat selections. Artichokepita takes the best flavors and textures of artichoke dip and toasts it up in mini phyllo cups. And Soul Food Spanakopita puts a Southern spin on the classic Greek dish. 

Egg Salad. Sort Of. Casa Nancita 
There are just ten more days of No Meat March, and already I'm dreaming of steak, bacon, and chicken ANYTHiNG. I think we'll make it though. And I may have dropped a few pounds, so there's that.

As penance for not strictly adhering to the program, I've made a small donation to The Girls Gone Green / No Meat MarchI hope you'll consider doing the same! 

I'm enjoying our meatless fare, but to be totally honest, at this point, I can't wait for Steakpril. 

3.14.2014

Happy Pi(e) Day!

It's Pi(e) Day!  

I'm celebrating by stopping for lunch at YOUR PIE in Tapestry Park. They are celebrating the venerable mathematical symbol today by selling their fresh-made veggie pizzas for $3.14* all day. 


•The $3.14* price includes your choice of white or wheat dough, sauce, one cheese and fresh vegetables.

•Gluten-free dough ($2.50), extra cheese(s) and all meats ($1 per portion), and sales taxes are additional.

At that price, I can afford to grab a gelato too! Additional Promo details are on their facebook page. 
This cracks me up though:  
Limit five (5) pies per guest. Dine in only please.

If you can eat FIVE pizzas dining in, in one sitting, I am in awe of you.

See you at YOUR PI(E)!

Your Pie Southside
4828 Deer Lake Dr W
Near Aloft Hotel, facing Southside Blvd

2.24.2014

JACKSONVILLE HOME + PATIO SHOW

FEB 27 - MAR 2, 2014
AT THE PRIME OSBORN CONVENTION CENTER

_________________________________________________________
Check out the lineup OF LOCAL CULINARY TALENT APPEARING AT the
Jacksonville Magazine Cooking Stage.

I'VE GOT FIVE sets OF TICKETS TO GIVEAWAY!


lEAVE A COMMENT BELOW OR tweet me @nancy_White - let me know who you're most excited to see at the show. I'll draw the lucky winners on Wednesday. 

2.15.2014

What's New?

"The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar, familiar things new."   ~ William Makepeace Thackeray


It has been 15 years since we pulled up our shallow stakes in St Louis and headed to Florida's First Coast. Lately, I've been reflecting on how much has changed since we arrived, and looking forward at how much potential for greatness is stirring in our Bold City. Even the beaches have transformed significantly in that relatively short time.


Bowl of Pho - Atlantic Beach
A few months ago, the Madre and I were at Table 1 in PVB enjoying lunch and libations, when a couple a few seats over confided to our server that they had recently returned to the beach after a decade long absence. They wanted an insider's perspective on which of all these new beaches area restaurants were the best of the best

If you know me personally, you know I wouldn't think twice about interrupting / adding to their conversation. On this day, however, Madre and I shared a giggle at the ironic situation, but did not chime in. I wanted to hear the server's suggestions.


PVFC Conch Fritters. Get your own order! Palm Valley
Off to a promising start, she mentioned Palm Valley Fish Camp, which is on my permanent short list of places to recommend. Of the next three spots she named, one had taken over an infamous venue the couple would have recognized as Ward's Landing and morphed it into a seafood version of the meat-n-three spot for the blue hair crowd, one was a chain, famous for its Bang-Bang Asian appetizer. I refer to this one as "Fish Back" as a nod to its cousin, the Australian themed joint cranking out giant breaded deep-fried onions and large hunks-o-beef. One just happened to be next door to PVFC, and that's about how she stated it.  "Oh, and ______ is down there too." I couldn't have said it better. In fact, my directions to the place would include, once you see their sign, slow down - the very NEXT turn is the PVFC parking lot. Turn THERE. 


Brisket Taco, Avocado Taco. Taco Lu - Jax Beach
HAD I chimed in, I would have also suggested they check out TacoLu, Salt Life Food Shack, North Beach Fish Camp, Royal Palm Village, Culhane's, The Fish Company, Bowl of Pho, Simply Tasty Thai, DaVinci's, Poe's Tavern, Pho Viet, Bongiorno's, Safe Harbor Seafood, Firehouse Subs, DeliComb, Metro Diner, The Blind Rabbit, Caps on the Water...

You get the drift. Plenty to choose from.



The Sleeper - Poe's Tavern - Atlantic Beach
All of these are on my list of go-to places (or NOT on my list, for that matter) for specific reasons, and explaining the nuances would have taken all afternoon. So we ordered another round of drinks and kept our opinions to ourselves. That is, until now. 

What's YOUR favorite beaches area restaurant? No crossing the ditch...

2.06.2014

Gadget Fever - fitbit flex

I have a great doctor. I'd tell you her name, but then you'll want to switch over and pretty soon it will be even MORE impossible to get in to see her. I'll just say she's super smart, AND she can read me like a book. Recently I asked her for help with shedding some pounds. We talked diet, which certainly plays a role, but more importantly we talked lifestyle. What am I, realistically, willing and able to do to make a change? Even just getting out and walking four times a week would deliver some solid health benefits. Since it wasn't the first time we'd talked about walking, she suggested an incentive to make it more interesting. 

"Have you seen the fitbit," she asked?

"It's an activity tracker, a pedometer, it has a sleep monitor and a calorie counter. It syncs to your iPhone with Bluetooth, there's an app, you can get badges, and go online and check your progress. I got one over the holidays. It's easy and fun to use. I think you're going to like it too." 



She shared an amusing anecdote about her kids, but my mind was racing.

Why had I not heard of this before? Clearly I have been living in a cave. Sure, it is a comfy cave I designed myself, with a caramel macchiato fountain, the walls lined with decadent baked goods, and in the garden we grow chocolate covered cherries... but the holidays are long over, and its time to remodel. 

This new thing was cool and fun and it would make me like exercise, and I had to have it. Amazon came through in usual PRIME fashion, and I was able to score this chic and techno-fabulous Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity + Sleep Wristband for a mere $89.95

Once I found it I realized I had seen it before, on the wrist of one of my well-toned, super-fit marathon runner-type friends. Seemed legit!   

So I've had it on since it arrived late yesterday, and so far I am impressed. I have emerged from my chocolate covered fantasy world. Serious geek squeaks ensued when I read about all the data this thing can collect and parse out to you. Suddenly I'm portioning my food, and parking at the far end of the aisle and walking instead of circling the lot until the RockStar spot opens up. And that's just the first day. 


Lest you think I'm going to miss out on my favorite foods... worry not.
I needed to grab a late lunch while I was running a few errands, and I remembered our friends at Firehouse Subs are rolling out this full line of sandwiches and salads, Hearty and Flavorful, under 500 calories each. 

I opted for Capt. Sorensen's Datil Pepper Grilled Chicken (430 Calories) and my magic bracelet stopped me from ordering the combo (chips and a soft drink)! I stuck with water, no chips, and was still more than satisfied. Score one for fitbit flex AND Firehouse!
I've set a weight loss goal, and the fitbit is tracking my every activity in accordance. Sure, right now I'm 134 calories over my "budget" for the day, but I have burned 574 more than I consumed, so I'm going to call it a wash. I'm not vying for Biggest Loser overnight here, I just want to get back into a more livable regimen and drop a few sizes. 

Will it stand the test of time? Stay tuned and find out!