Saturday, December 4, 2010

Fish out of Water

Last night my wife and I enjoyed our annual anniversary meal at Fish out of Water restaurant at the Water Color resort on 30-A.  We celebrated 32 years Thanksgiving day.  A blind date gone good.  The dinning experience was the best I have enjoyed since moving back to this area from New Orleans, 5 years ago.

We started with a drive along 30-A as the sun set sent orange and blue brush strokes across the skies.  Alys Beach, Rosemary beach, and Seaside, were decorated for the season which made the drive that much more special. 

We arrived and were seated in the wine room just in time to see the last of the sunset vanish from the horizon.  The wine room is a small room off the main dining room surrounded by walls of wine.  The table setting was simple but elegant.  Our server Tim, who was spot on with his service, presented us with a drink menu that listed house specialty drinks, craft beers, bottled beer, and wine by the glass.  I started with a Rob Roy and the wife a Pomegranate Martini.  This gave use time to study the menu in detail.  The only change on the menu was the pasta type for the Bolognese. 

From the raw bar, we shared Wild Hopper Shrimp cocktail and Snapper ceviche.  The ceviche would take several minutes to marinate which gave use time to enjoy the shrimp cocktail.  The large wild hopper shrimp were perfectly cooked and served with the traditional catsup based sauce we love.  The sauce was a perfect balance of sweet and spicy, not over powering the shrimp.  The snapper ceviche was small diced pieces of fresh snapper tossed with red onion and jalapeno julienne, marinated in lime juice.  This was served with super thin, fresh fried, potato chips. I could have stopped there and eaten the chips and drank craft beers for the evening, but I was there to dine.  The chips were awesome.  Next we chose the marinated olives and the sweet brass dairy cheese plate from the snack portion of the menu.  The black and green olives were marinated in olive oil (duh) with herbs.  The cheese plate offered an Asher blue, French Chevre, Thomasville Tomme, and a Brie.  The cheese was served with preserved figs and a quince paste.  I love blue cheese and the Asher answered the call, but the textural and taste difference of the cheeses made this a most enjoyable course.  Next I had the Dragonfly field lettuces salad, comprised of small lightly tossed greens with hazelnuts, thinly slice watermelon beets and speck (a dry cured ham like Prosciutto).  The salad was refreshing and woke up the palate for the main course.  The appetisers were paired with craft beers.  We tried Sessions Lager a pre Prohibition style lager from Oregon, a southern pecan lager, and a stone smoked porter. 

For the main course my wife ordered the Tagliatelle pasta and I had the Florida wild hopper shrimp.  The Tagliatelle wider than fettuccine and was colored with squid ink giving it a black appearance and a fresh ocean scent and taste.  This pasta was combined with blue crab meat, jalapeno, and bread crumbs.  I never thought my wife would eat squid ink pasta. but after 32 years of me telling her to eat outside the box, see did.  The Florida wild hopper shrimp were served on a bed of herbed risotto with hen of the woodsman mushrooms.  All I can say is exquisite.  Again the shrimp were perfectly cooked, the risotto was creamy, and the mushrooms sauteed masterfully.  You must try the plate.  Put it on you must eat bucket list.  The main course was paired with Leaping Frog Savignon Blanc.  Crisp, light, and clean, it went well with the seafood entrees.

We sat back allowing time to reflect on the meal and 32 years of life together when Tim said those dreaded words.  "Would you care for a desert menu"?  Well lets just see what they have.  First to catch my eye was a fresh Florida blueberry creme brulee.  The wife is a sucker for a good creme brulee so I couldn't resist.  Looking further down the menu I saw something that pulled me in.  Bomboli, Italian yeast doughnuts served with two sauces, a chocolate sauce, and hold on to your palate, a maple, bacon caramel.  Now how can you turn that down.  Tell me how you going to turn that down.  Man that was incredible.  Fried yeast dough filled with pastry creme, covered in sugar, and dipped in MAPLE, BACON, CARAMEL, SAUCE.  This has to be on the menu in heaven.

Chef de Cuisine Philip Krajeck has created an inspired menu based local fishermen and farmers to bring the kind of dinning this area sorely needs.  Please try this restaurant.  You will not be disappointed.  Ask for Tim.

I give Fish out of Water 5 stars.

Good eating.

Fish out of Water on Urbanspoon

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bonefish Grill

I am usually not one to visit corporate/franchise restaurants, but my exception is Bonefish Grill.  On the many occasions that I have eaten there, I have always had good service, and the food has always been consistant and spot on.  I even went to Bonefish on New Years Eve, the worst night of the year to go out to eat, and it was fine. 

We normally start with the Bang Bang shrimp, a signature Bone fish dish, and the bacon wrapped Scallops with the mango salsa and chutney.  The Bang Bang Shrimp are always sized right for an appetizer and the play on the crispy fried shrimp and the spicy creamy sauce is always been a winner.  I love scallops and the salty crisp bacon playing off the sweet taste of the scallops and salsa has been a favorite of mine for a long time.  It has even gotten the wife to eat scallops, which she normally doesn't eat.  Last night instead of the scallops I tried the coconut crusted shrimp.  This dish has popped up at many restaurants but I still think the texture and flavors are a winner and Bone fish does a great job on this one as well.

Living on the Gulf of Mexico I normally shy away from seafood that doesn't swim in the Gulf, but Bonefish offers a variety of fish that I trust to be the freshest available here.  Talapia, Salmon, Wolf fish, and Rainbow Trout are offered on the menu as well as shrimp and scallops.  I have never tried the steak, but since Bonefish is under the same umbrella as Outback Steak House, I believe it would be good.  Last night my wife tried Lily's chicken a grilled chicken breast topped with spinach and goat cheese.  We both enjoyed this dish.

We ate at the bar last night and was served by the bar tender and a kitchen staff.  If you love fresh seafood, great service, Bone fish is a good choice.

I give Bonefish 4 stars.

Bonefish Grill

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Nick's Place

After a long week, last night I wanted to try some place different.  I have driven past Nick's Place near Freeport, Florida several times and have always wanted to try it.  Last night I did.  It's 50 mile drive down Hwy. 20 from my mothers house on the beach.  We took Hwy. 79 north to Ebro and the headed west down picturesque Hwy 20 through wooded canopies and rural scenery.  Nicks Place is located outside Freeport and the back Chattahoochee Bay.  It is an old fish camp purchased in 1954 and is now a restaurant.  If you like dives, and I do,  this is one for you.  The place is old with memorabilia, deer heads, and autographed photos everywhere.  The view is great.  You can see the high rise condos of Destin and Fort Walton to the south across the bay. 

We were told to sit wherever we wanted and choose a table by the big window for the view.  The menu is simple, fried and grilled seafood.  The waitress told us the fish of the day was Tilefish and that they didn't have oysters.  I asked about the oysters and she said they don't serve oysters until the water get at or below 72 degrees.  Well somebody finally gets it.  The whole month with an "R" really has some truth about the quality of taste of oysters during those months.  We ordered some steamed crab claws for an appetizer and a pitcher of Amber Bock.  The crab claws were seasoned with Old Bay seasoning, but some had no seasoning on the at all.  For dinner I ordered soft shell crab, the wife fried shrimp, and my mom fried scallops which we were told they were local bay scallops.  The soft shell crabs were fried correctly, but had been cleaned of the top shell and cut into two sides.  I guess I better stick with New Orleans for soft shells where they really now how to handle them.  The wife's shrimp were butterflied, large, and crispy, as they should be.  I have often been disappointed in local fired seafood because the crust doesn't adhere to the seafood as it should.  Mom's scallops were another story.  As often is the case the crust fell off the scallops when speared with a fork, and they had no flavor.  Scallops should be sweet and salty.  These were bland.  The sides are the proverbial Cole slaw, French fries, sweet potato fries, new potatoes, and hush puppies.  Those hush puppies were cold and hard as a rock, not the warm, light and fluffy, balls of joy, I really like.

Over all Nicks Place was OK, nothing to make me take that journey again unless I want a dinner get a way.

I give Nicks 2 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Besh Steakhouse New Orleans

I just got back from New Orleans and my taste buds have been renewed.  My soul has been lifted.  My stomach has been filled.  Thursday night my son Joshua graduated from a local Community College.  I am soooo proud of him.  Thursday night we went to Deanie's Bucktown seafood and tore into a large seafood platter and some onion rings.  This seafood platter contains two soft shell crabs, two crawfish balls, and enough shrimp, oysters, and fish, to feed 5 with leftovers, all fried to perfection.  As good as it was Friday night was a true dinning experience.  We went to Besh Steakhouse in Harrah's casino in New Orleans.  My son Andrew is friend with the general manager Miles, and a waiter Brian, so we were taken care of like royalty.  Truly one of the best meals I have ever had.

First we were brought out hot french bread baguettes with real butter.  Next Miles suggested a red wine called Two Angels.  It was a 2006 vintage high altitude grow divinity bottled, Rhone wine.  Out standing.  Miles brought out some chicken pate with fried crustini to taste as we enjoyed the wine.  Next Miles asked us all what are preference was to meat doneness and disappeared.  Next arrive 5 appetisers.  Oysters in Bourdelais sauce, Natchitoches meat pies, stuffed crab shells, Besh Barbecued shrimp, and plum lacquered pork belly spring rolls, and a dish called Louisiana seafood done three ways.   Shrimp Remoulade, Crab Maison with caviar, and fried oysters in a blue cheese dressing.  I'm not finished.

Next came the main course.  Josh the graduate got the 32 oz. Cowboy Ribeye, Andrew got the 30 day aged 18 oz. prime New York strip with blue cheese butter and Abita Amber onion rings, Kristi got the Wagyu flanks steak, Lori got the surf and turf which was two small tournedos of beef topped with crawfish bernaise sauce, and I got the seared yellowfin tuna with lentils, spinach and foie gras.  I'm still not finished.

Dessert arrived.  Bread pudding, my favorite, Chocolate cake with brandy marinated cherries and ice cream, strawberry shortcake, cream brulee with mixed berries,  and a white chocolate cake with a rum ice cream. 

Saturday was Po boys, boiled crawfish and shrimp, and today was a Muffaletta.

Now I'm finished.

If you go to New Orleans please go to Besh steakhouse.  It will be a dinning experience you will not soon forget.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

BP and the spill

OK, it's time to get on my soap box, and no it's not those cute wooden cars I built with my son's in the Cub Scouts. I'm talking about BP and the spill. I have a unique perspective and I want to share it. I was born and raised in Panama City and my mother lives in a house she built on the beach in 1966. I have spent countless hours cleaning up after our "wonderful" visitors. Beer cans, beach toys, fireworks, and yes condoms. She is now surrounded by ugly condos and the thousands more visitors than the beach can support. She has strangers park in her drive way, use her outside shower, and use the underside of her house as a toilet. Where were we when the Bay County Commission was allowing our beaches to be polluted by this massive over building on our beaches. Remember I spent 15 years as a kitchen and bath designer. I did the Southern Living house at Water Sound, but lost my job when the construction boom ended.  We need to wake up and realise that we need more than white sand to make Panama City grow.  Where are the amusment parks?  Where are the attractions?  What do you do on a rainy stormy day? I also lived in New Orleans for 30 years, taught at the New Orleans School of Cooking, and I know this will devastate the seafood industry, thus the restaurant business there as well. I also know that the oil industry is important to the people of Louisiana both from a jobs stand point, but also those rigs are reefs for fish and shrimp.  One third of the seafood consumed in the US comes from Louisiana.  Where is our seafood industry?  It's terrible that this has happened. Remember people have lost loved ones. Stop pointing fingers and bitching. Everyone is hurting.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Frankie D's

Frankie D's moved from Thomas Drive to town several months back.  As I have said before when restaurants move they sometimes lose something in the move.  I can gladly say Frankie D's has not, in fact I think they have improved.  They have a great neighborhood feel.  Something I miss about New Orleans.  Friendly service and good food are a staple here.  The sandwiches, dinners, and especially the pizza (thin crust), are great.  Served up in a sports bar theme, mainly Chicago, and you have one great neighborhood joint.  You really should try Frankie D's.

I give them 4 stars.

Frankie D's on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Apricot Srirachi glazed chicken wings

Tonight I was in the mood for some chicken wings, so I tried the apricot sriracha glaze from an earlier post.  I combined an 18oz. jar of apricot preserves with 1/3 cup each, creole mustard, sriracha pepper sauce, honey, and brown sugar.  I got the idea from a BBQ forum that I'm on.  The recipe called for orange marmalade instead of the apricot preserves.  Along with the wing I made fire roasted tomato risotto and balsamic glazed roasted chipolini onions.  The wings are sticky and sweet with a back heat from the sriracha pepper sauce.  I first marinaded them in my Bubbaque rub and grilled them on the Weber grill.  The fire roasted tomato risotto was creamy and had a great sharpness from the Parmesan cheese.  All together the meal was outstanding.  My wife bought me an apple pie for later with some Breyers vanilla bean ice cream.  I can't wait.

Good cooking.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bubbaque Chicken Wings

I frequent several BBQ forums on the web.  Recently a guy posted a recipe for Orange Marmalade, Sriracha chicken wings.  I had some left over apricot, creole mustard glaze from my New Years pork roast so I added brown sugar, honey, and the sriracha pepper sauce to it.  I used my Bubbaque rub on the wings and grilled them.  During the last minutes of the cook, I placed the wings in a bowl of the sauce and coated them several times returning them to the grill often.  They were the best wings I have ever cook.  Sweet and spicy.  Just right try it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dee's Hangout Revisited

I rarely get a day off, so when I did, I decided to take the wife out for lunch.  Since we moved in town we don't get to the beach very often, and we miss some of our favorite restaurants there.  We have not been to Dee's Hangout in a while and I was in the mood for some authentic New Orleans Gumbo and a Po-Boy.  The special of the day was cast iron skillet fried chicken with your choice of vegetables.  My grand mother fried her chicken in a cast iron skillet and Dee did not disappoint me.  My wife got three large pieces of chicken perfectly fried moist and crisp.  She got the rice with chicken gravy and glazed sweet potatoes.  Man my mouth was watering.  Of course nothing has changed in the Gumbo department.  I got a cup of seafood gumbo that was loaded with shrimp, oysters, crab meat, and sausage.  Staying with the same theme, I got a combo shrimp and oyster Po-Boy ( not on the menu) dressed (New Orleans for mayo, lettuce and tomato).  I can't tell you how wonderful it is to eat a Po=Boy on true New Orleans french bread.  For all those restaurants serving Po-Boys on a hoagie roll, shame on you.  Go to Dee's and see what your missing.

Dee's was full when we arrived and had to sit at the bar.  I'm glad business is good for Dee because I can always count on some truly wonderful fare every time I go.

Dee's gets 5 stars.

Dee's Hangout on Urbanspoon