Hot Dish: May 27, 2009
By Ivan Seligman
Inside the Gulfshore’s Dining Scene.
The Caribbean Comes to Naples
Sheraz Khan, the feisty, European-trained chef/owner of Sweet Mama’s Island Cuisine, serves island-sized portions of tasty Caribbean dishes, with a nod to her Trinidad roots. A blend of European, African, Asian and Indian cuisines, Sweet Mama’s uses spices and fresh produce that make for a special treat.
Sweet Mama's Chef/owner Sheraz Khan with jerk chicken platter.
I favor lunch’s $6.99 jerk chicken with island rice and peas, and recommend the dinner menu’s red snapper escoveitched ($16) or the spiced duck with a tamarind sauce and red pepper jelly ($19). The sides of corn casserole and mac ‘n’ cheese are tops! While in Europe, Khan studied in Italy. She can serve up great pasta and gluten-free dishes—and discuss the nuances of many Italian towns and their local specialties. Sweet Mama’s Island Cuisine, 336 Ninth Street N., Naples, (across from NCH Wellness Center), 331-8509.
New Grocery Features Locally Grown Produce
Coopers Farm Market is the newest grocery store in town, serving naturally fresh, locally grown produce seven days a week, from 10 a.m. till 6 p.m. Dave and Deborah Jirous opened the market last month and already have a steady stream of customers in search of their tasty vegetables, herbs in pots, fruit and fresh juices.
Coopers Farm Market owners Deborah and Dave Jirous.
Plump tomatoes, eggplant, pineapples, watermelons, cukes and zucchini are what’s hot. Coopers will stock Jacquie’s Jammin’ jams, salsas and marmalades, and other vendors’ sauces and spreads. Dave has been growing produce for years; he offers only what’s fresh and tasty from local, natural growers. Coopers Farm Market, 285 Ninth St. S., Naples (across from CVS), 774-0069
From Russia, with Love
Camilla Eastern European Foods Market is standing room only on Saturdays from 3-6 p.m., with more than 60 varieties for wine tasting and 24 great beers to sample. I favor Krimskoye, the classic sparkling white muscat from Moldova; Kindzmarauli, from the Georgian saperavi red grape; and the wonderful Magnat pilsner from Kiev.
Camilla Eastern European Foods Market in Naples.
Try the layered cranberry cake, shashlik marinated lamb and plov (rice pilaf). Did you know Koreans have been in Russia since the start of the Korean War? Their culinary influence can be found in Khe, a marinated fish salad with pickles, zucchini, cabbage and carrots—overnight express shipped at $20 per pound. Funchoza is a rice noodle dish. Basturma, a beef/prosciutto, sells out at $14.50 per pound. Camilla’s Eastern European Food Market, 4947 N. Tamiami Trail, Suite 102, Naples (across from Outback Steakhouse), 653-9484.
Get Big Discounts at Locally Owned Naples Restaurants
Naples Originals, a group of 39 locally owned independent restaurants, will start its quarterly gift certificate sale at 7 a.m. Thursday, June 4, offering $25 gift certificates for $17.50 and $50 gift certificates for $35—a 30 percent savings. For all the details, and to buy the certificates online, go to www.naplesoriginals.com. The certificates will immediately be e-mailed to you. All you have to do is print them to redeem at the restaurants. I’ve used them. It’s the real deal—and they sell out fast.
Comings and Goings...
—One of my favorite Italian restaurants, Naples’ Tre Fratellis, will be closing, for good, on Sunday, May 31. Visit Gino, Dita, Michael and Nora to enjoy favorite foods for the last time. 975 Pine Ridge Road, Naples, 596-2766.
—Naples’ The Chardonnay will be closed for the summer. When it reopens in the fall, expect a fresh new menu. 2331 Tamiami Trail N. at 22nd Ave., Naples, 261-3111.
—Time for a breather. Chef Shannon Yates has amicably split from the Swanky Lifestyle culinary endeavors Bacchus, Mad Takeout and Krafty Kuisine and will be spending time in Europe this summer—relaxing as well as dining. Chef Dave Spino will continue at Bacchus’ helm, and Ruth Cohen stays the course at Mad Takeout. Look for monthly “parties with a purpose” at Bacchus this summer to support community services such as Feed the Hungry and Community Cooperative Ministries, says Swanky Lifestyle Operations Manager Cyndie Doragh. Several other Bell Tower restaurants may join in to offer combined events this summer.
Let's broaden our choices of great Southwest Florida restaurants together. Post your hints and experiences below or e-mail me at Diningscene@live.com.