April 23, 2014

May 11: Crab cakes and pork sliders dominate Taste of Collier, plus summer wine series and openings and closings

The 28th annual Taste of Collier brought an estimated 8,000 people to Bayfront to sample delicious small plates from 33 local restaurants on May 1.  Walking in 80 degrees with a balmy breeze can work up an appetite, and attendees were not shy in their samplings.

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Crab cakes and pork sliders a popular items, with several restaurants serving up their versions, so it was fun to pick informal winners in these categories. Some of the afternoon’s favorites were Bricktop’s fish tacos; Fred’s Food, Fun & Spirits’ pork osso buco; HB’s on the Gulf’s poppy seed crusted ahi tuna; Mulligan’s Sports Bar’s pulled pork sliders; Naples Grande Beach Resort’s Caribbean Steak and The Pub at Mercato’s Tipsy Laird fried cheese cake dessert.

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The Real Seafood Company’s, and Sam Snead’s Tavern’s crab cakes were my favorites. The Real Seafood scored another winner with lump crab topped gazpacho was a cooling delight. St. Mathews House’s ahi tuna escabeche and their crimini mushroom terrine were welcome treats. Truluck’s crab claws with remoulade sauce had people coming back for seconds. Stoney’s Steakhouse’s prime rib sliders were a small lunch for some as the festival neared its close.

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Decanted Wine’s Summer Wine Series is Back

Decanted Wine’s popular seminar series is back for another summer.  Join Jessica and Al and explore popular topics in the wine and food world. The summer seminars are fun, educational and a great way to taste a variety of wines and learn which you like best. Discover the differences between Old World wines from their New World kin, find the right wines to pair with food and learn how to properly serve your wine for maximum enjoyment. There’s time for questions and answers, then wine tasting with ample delicious appetizers. Plus the wines you taste are available at significant discounts.  The first seminar is Wednesday, May 11th, from 6:00pm to 8:00 pm, covering wine basics & etiquette.

The fee is $25 per session or $100 for entire five-class series. Seminars are held from 6 to 8 p.m. on the second Wednesday of every month from May to September in Decanted's private tasting room. Classes are limited to 15 attendees. Call 434-1814  or visit www.decantedwines.com.  1410 Pine Ridge Road, Suite 21, Naples.

Openings and Closings

Yanos First Street just opened in Fort Myers in the spot Delicious Things occupied for 6 years before closing up shop. Owned by Chris and Sarah Yanovich, Yanos offers "contemporary cuisine and boutique wines." Chris an experienced chef, recently at H2, and Sarah a “front of house” veteran, decided the time was their first restaurant together was right.

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They’ve spiffed up the décor, brought in a good variety of wines and were packed with customers at the last Art Walk.  The cavatappi with jumbo shrimp, littleneck clams, scallops pancetta and mushrooms in a rich pesto broth ($24) is a must try. The brine-cured pork chop ($17) comes with garlicky spinach, blue cheese and apple cream. And the huge 16-ounce ribeye steak with “ultimate” baked potato, truffle butter and petite salad is only $28. 

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2262 1st Street, Fort Myers, 332-7797.

 

Chen’s Buffet has opened at the long shuttered, former site of Duval Street Seafood Company in Bonita Springs at 26051 S. Tamiami Trail. Competition should be fierce on pricing, with successful Paradise Buffet-Seafood and Sushi nearby.

China-Tokyo Oriental Restaurant and Lounge of Naples closed after thirteen years at the Pine Ridge Crossing Shopping Center on Airport. Decreased traffic in the Center, and customers going to nearby Bluefish Japanese Steakhouse for buffet meals was a double whammy. Remy’s Bistro closed a few months ago in the same Center.

Ellington’s Jazz Club and Restaurant on Sanibel Island has unexpectedly closed before the end of the season, and former co-owners Sharon Wise and Jill Algrin could not be reached for comment. A new spot, Il Ciello (“The Sky” in Italian), will take over with visiting chef Loretta Paganini in the kitchen.

 

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