March 26, 2015

Hot Dish

Inside the Gulfshore's Dining Scene


Trader Joe’s: Here’s what all the fuss is about

  Naples’ Trader Joe’s opened last month, and thousands of local patrons couldn’t be happier. After giving it a few days to weed out the monster crowds, we decided to take a peek and see what the fuss is about. Trader Joe’s (“TJ’s” to the faithful) enjoys a well-deserved, cult-like following for interesting, relatively inexpensive, good food. There’s a casual Caribbean look now at the former Borders bookstore with waterskiing cows, beaches and boats on the walls. The food is generally organic or wild-caught, with funky “shrimp corn dogs” tossed in for good measure. Most patrons I talked to flock to TJ’s for “healthy,” “unique” and “tasty” foods. I've had fun buying and tasting my way across the store.   Their $2.99 “Two-Buck Chuck” Charles...

Posted at 11:40 PM | Permalink


Food trucks: A delicious bounty on wheels

Have you been to a food truck rally? It’s the best. Across the country, food trucks have been  culinary magnets on wheels. The prices are inexpensive ($3to $9) for good-sized portions. Each truck’s chef specializes in unique dishes that have been honed to perfection. You get to sample perhaps 10 chefs’ top dishes, with the trucks within  20 feet or so of each other.   Seminole Immokalee Casino will be hosting Paradise Food Truck Rally every Sunday in March from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.  with a Live DJ. Each week, there’s a different set of trucks, coming from Miami to Tampa and Gainesville.  I’ve been and can’t get enough of the variety. Treat the event as a tailgate party—bring chairs, perhaps a table, or grab a blanket for a picnic lunch feast. Best part for...

Posted at 11:23 PM | Permalink


Inside a Naples Winter Wine Festival dinner

Forty five guests at the 2012 Naples Winter Wine Festival  experienced a magical  evening in a dream-like setting  at one of 17 elegant vintner’s dinners. This dinner featured renowned Chef Dean Fearing of Fearing’s in Dallas, fine wines from Gargiulo Vineyards of Oakville, California, acclaimed pianist Robert Wells and singer Maria Wells, a magician, and a surprise duet. The next day, 580 guests gathered under the Auction tent at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort to raise $12.2 million dollars.  All funds directly help the children of Collier County. The evening’s dinner, hosted by NWWF trustees Laura and Jim Dixon and  NWWF trustees/vintners Valerie Boyd and Jeff Gargiulo, was held at Michael DeGroote Sr.’s  lovely Port Royal beachfront home. Guests were greeted with...

Posted at 06:10 PM | Permalink


Gordon's on the River marks the return of the classic supper club

Inside the dining room at Gordon's on the River. This elegant setting perched above Naples’ mangrove-shored Gordon River is truly the favored catbird seat for upscale diners—both seafaring and landlubbers alike. During the season it's a welcome lush oasis to relax in, free from the crowds and noise at popular spots. It is set apart from other restaurants by Chef Andrew McLaughlin's culinary expertise. Shrimp cocktail appetizers I flipped over the large tender diver scallops topped with bits of crisp onions, wonderfully sauced tenderloin, and delicious rich venison with Madeira sauce and ostrich (tastes like steak, not chicken) with grain mustard-shallot sauce. Gordon’s luscious bread pudding is a dessert must! A trio of featured desserts. Sommelier Ian...

Posted at 05:22 PM | Permalink


Le Lafayette owners open new Paris Bistro

Paris Bistro and Bakery offers delicious French cuisine and bistro comfort at bistro-friendly prices in a welcoming setting. Brothers David and Phil DiGrazia with Astrid Maillard, co-owner of Naples’ Le Lafayette Restaurant, opened the Bistro about a month ago.  It’s already popular with Le Lafayette’s regulars, and has been discovered by curious drivers on Tamiami Trail North. Located at the prior site of Amador’s  Bistro Italiano, the trio has wisely kept Amador’s upscale décor and added unique accents with an antique scale and paintings.   Le Lafayette chef/co-owner Sebastian Maillard is currently the main chef, alternating with other Le Lafayette chefs. A baker as well, Maillard added the bakery and a long, open case displaying a luscious variety of fruit...

Posted at 10:26 PM | Permalink

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