Hot Dish

Hot Dish: May 13, 2009

BY May 13, 2009
Inside the Gulfshore’s dining scene.
Famous Pastry Chefs Create Sweet Prize for Food Fest High Bidder
As people excitedly bid on incredible food and wine packages at the recent Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest auction, Fort Myers’ own famous chocolatier Norman Love and Food Network Challenge Host and Executive Pastry Chef Keegan Gerhard decided—on the spot—to offer a Desserts Dinner for 12.

Chef Norman Love, Retta Singer, Chef Keegan Gerhard, Elliott Singer and Chef Brian Roland at the Singers’ Dessert Dinner.


It was served May 3 at the Naples home of winning bidder Retta Singer, who donated $15,000 to The Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. Retta and husband Elliott’s kitchen was the epicenter of an unforgettable epicurean evening. Gerhard, who flew in from Denver, met with Love’s staff, creating from scratch some of the most delectable desserts you could imagine! 

Chefs Keegan Gerhard and Norman Love in action preparing artful 
creations at the Desserts Dinner.

After M Waterfront Grille Executive Chef Brian Roland served hors d’oeuvres, masters of pastry arts Love and Gerhard brought forth a rainbow dessert sextet, each paired with fine wines—a red fruit consommé and granita with warm lemon madeline; a luscious French toast with a molten chocolate center; Meyer lemon pudding cake with marinated raspberries and white chocolate sorbet; freshly made warm cinnamon beignets with a dipping trio of orange jam, bittersweet chocolate sauce, and bourbon vanilla cream; and three-cherry compote, finishing with mignardises.

Meyer lemon pudding cake with marinated raspberries, lemon white chocolate sorbet and raspberry foam.

Tickets will probably sell out in advance for next year’s Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. Why wait? Register early to sample fine foods and incredible wines, and chat with nationally recognized chefs, vintners and celebrities in 2010.
Authentic Brews and British Food Await at The Pub in Naples’ Mercato

Success is clearly on tap at The Pub at Mercato in Naples. The space, which seats and stands a few hundred people, has been jam-packed at lunch and every evening till closing—and it’s barely been open a month. Proprietor Nick Sanders has recreated an authentic British Pub, inside and out.

The Pub at Mercato in Naples

Stroll through the open patio into the pub’s wonderful open oak bar that seats 30. The servers even wear tartan kilts and Pub shirts.

Pub servers Jake Flicker, Renee Romeo and Michael Henthorn sport 
authentic attire.

It is a “gastro Pub,” serving a higher quality of food and some tasty, nontraditional fare, such as spicy Jamaican shrimp, Nicoise salad and a Cuban-style, pulled-pork toasted Panini. My British friend and I pronounced the fish and chips, English pot roast and shepherd’s pie to be very good. Most lunch and dinner items are $9 to $14—very easy on the budget. Try the Tipsy Laird dessert: berries sautéed in brandy and placed atop fried pound cake with authentic English custard for $7.

The Pub’s Tipsy Laird

There’s a wonderful assortment of ales, lagers, stouts and IPAs, including Newkie Brown Ale, Guinness Stout and London Pride on draught, served as 10- or 20-ounce pours. There’s no shortage of single malt scotches, small-batch bourbons and a good mix of martinis. And the wine selection, both red and white, is priced right, from $5.50 to $8.25. 
I like the mix of ages and the friendliness of the patrons and staff here. With affordable prices and great brews on tap, how can they not thrive?The Pub, 9118 Strada Place, Suite 8160, Naples, 594-2748.
Sample Many Flavors with Charlie Chiang’s Dim Sum
Charlie Chiang’s has just started serving Dim Sum on Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Dim Sum is a wonderful way for people to taste many items in a single sitting. Most orders are $3 to $4.95 and come as four small items per order. 

Beef noodle soup

There are more than 60 items from which to choose! To make it easy, here are some of my favorites: beef noodle soup, odon noodles and tempura shrimp, short ribs, soup, shrimp toast, steamed chicken with ginger and scallions, roast duck, roast chicken, shrimp toast and spicy tangy dumplings. 

Short ribs

Try the beautiful peach-shaped buns or Malaysian sponge cake for dessert.

Peach buns

Charlie Chiang’s also has half-priced sushi on Tuesday and Thursday from 7:30-9:30 p.m., a three-course lunch for only $7.99, served daily from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and an $8 dinner offering your choice of six entrees on Mondays from 6 p.m. till closing. Happy Hour, from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, has discounted drinks, appetizers and sushi. Dine indoors or on the patio, right on the river.
Charlie Chiang’s, 12200 Tamiami Trail N., Naples, 593-6688.

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