Top Chef Tour Coming To Jax!

WOOT - get excited Jacksonville foodies - the Top Chef Tour is coming to Hemming Plaza April 9! Richard Blais (hottie from Season 4) & Sandee Birdsong (Season 3) will be kickin' it up downtown LIVE! Growers from Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Fernandina, Gainesville and south Georgia will bring fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs to the plaza from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - so bring the eco-friendly shopping bags and get ready to cook all weekend!


A LIttle Bit Of Gypsy

I adore all things Cole Porter. Not just the top hits like "You're The Top" and "Under My Skin" (though I'll always have a place in my heart for that one, JS) but it's the little hidden gems of his that I love best - the ones you don't often hear - except maybe in some Woody Allen movie soundtrack. They stay with me always, like old friends, waiting for someone or something to come along and let their particular genie out of the bottle. It was one of those "ah HA" moments when I first stepped into the charming little 13 Gypsies in Jacksonville. 

It was like running into a dear old friend you haven't seen in years. I truly can't explain it, except to say it reminds me of the intimate neighborhood places my friends and I used to frequent in Cincinnati or St Louis. But its something deeper than that. Definitely, absolutely, 13G is one of a kind, and a labor of love for Chef Howard and wife / partner Kiki

Billed as a "Small, European Style Tapas House and Bistro" - the menu is Tapas, Sandwiches, and Salads, Soups and desserts, fresh breads... Everything we've had so far has been great peasant fare - thoughtfully prepared and simply presented. The Montini melds tender smoked ham with creamy Gorgonzola and green grapes in fresh flatbread, served alongside field greens perfectly dressed with a balsamic bite. The Chorizo Burger will make your mouth sing, I kid you not! They make their own sausage, breads, pastas, cheese and cured meats. Chef blends spices like a culinary wizard, and I'm told the charming Kiki, who presides over the front of the house, also makes the desserts (which I've yet to sample, but I know they will be lovely). My FAVORITE thing about 13G is that it is CLOSE to the day-job and open for lunch! Hallelujah! Oh, and the Cole Porter reference earlier? 

"Hiding away... There's a little bit of gypsy in me, Just hanging around...."


Pick a Pair

The Pickled Pear on Edgewood. In search of a spot where I can get anything OTHER than eggs for breakfast, I stumbled across this little gem in the former home of Sweet and Savory. The new owners kept the same basic open caterer's kitchen layout - no frills here, just some mighty fine food. Baked goods look amazing, I'll be back to check them out. My choice for nontraditional breakfast was chicken salad on a croissant - substantial, yet delicate - JUST a hint of curry - grapes, tender chicken, finely diced celery. They offer meals to go in the case, and a catering menu. Trust me on this one. I got mine to go because I'm not a fan of their decor (or lack of attention to decor), but the food is worth the pop-in, so I expect to be back for breakfast OR lunch soon. The Pickled Pear - BEASTIES - see you there!

I promised a PAIR - So here's a place I've been driving PAST on my way to work for years now - Gina's Deli - The sign promises Mediterranean breakfast. My first (and so far only) experience - quick and easy parking (lunch might be a different story)... PLEASANT greeting and excellent service from the counter. Well lit, clean, customer friendly atmosphere. I was the only customer - maybe they don't get much of a breakfast crowd? I ordered the steak, egg and cheese rider (that's a sammie in a pita, y'all) and out it came in short order, smelling like heaven in a sack, neatly wrapped and with not a hint of grease. Bite THAT micky-d's! Lovely soft fresh floury pita, and a huge portion of fluffy eggs folded around sweet, salty bites of steak and lightly caramelized onions - with just a hint of gravy. Is it wrong to obsess over beakfast? Not being a big egg fan, I was amazed at how quickly I devoured this delicious treat. Oh, yeah, I'll be BACK, and I'm bringing my friends! Next trip, lunch. Watch for the BEAST, Gina's!


A Poem

haiku at lunchtime / frozen springrolls dissapoint / mushy, oily too.