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Image– topped with macerated berries

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Sunday Morning, 10am

One lonely bottle of Banyul does not last long in my house. Eyeballing it every day makes me drool like Fido would over a juicy T bone, so when it’s my turn to make dessert, deep dark chocolate is just the ticket.

Now, what to make? What’s in the pantry? And, can I do this without going to the store?

Lazy Sunday mornings like this, I know why I bought those Lindt dark chocolate bars on sale at Target. They’re in the pantry, yeah! The rest was easy.

  • Water
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Sugar

 

For the lava center – I am inserting one with Dark Chocolate Orange Caramel, and the other, with Cadbury Milk Chocolate Caramel, to test the Banyul pairing to review on our first Frick and Frack blog. The cake will be made with Theo’s fair trade organic, 70% cocoa, toasted coconut dark chocolate.

On top -Berries are always in my fridge, so with Strawberries and Blueberries starring at me, I grabbed the mint, 2 tbs of vanilla sugar and generously coated a cup or so of each, and they are now marinating in the fridge till dinner.

Film at 11.


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Out of the Ashes

Creating a neighborhood where there was none before, is more than just throwing up a few shinny new buildings and a couple of skinny Palm Trees. It is about creating the heart and soul of the town; the style, the culture and the food. And nothing shows more heart, than food.

Recently, two large South Florida cities have created vibrant downtown areas from ruins that once were home, to only wild dogs and junkies’ needles. Today, these neighborhoods are revitalized with new life, and filled with exciting young chefs serving delightfully creative dishes at every turn.

Part 1: Wild Olives Café – City Place, West Palm Beach, Florida

Almost twenty years ago, West Palm Beach put a Revitalization plan into action that took acres and acres of horribly blighted land and created a sparkling new city from burnt-out rumble.

It’s been ten years since City Place was first opened and it is now the thriving town center, envisioned so long ago. And as with any city, there is that favorite local café, the one with really good food at great prices that it quickly becomes…your place to go.

The one bright spot that is bursting with all the warmth of a small trattoria in Tuscany, is Wild Olives Café, providing us with great food, excellent prices and that warm, easy, feeling, shaping the heart of City Place.

Casual enough for quick bite and modern enough for a first date, you may be greeted by Chef John Crolly; the hot, young, King of the kitchen that enters the room and lights it up with his smile. His food is fresh and enticing but more importantly, a pleasant change from the usual everyday fare.

With easy dishes like Spaghetti and Meatballs ala Nonna [a tried and true favorite here], it is the menu of inspiring dishes such as the Fig & Prosciutto Flatbread, and the Butternut Squash Lasagna w/ an herbed fresh ricotta drizzled with a luscious maple crème, that sets this chic café apart from the rest. A good bottle of wine with dinner and a bite or two of that soft, moist White Chocolate Bread Pudding for dessert, and Wild Olives Café can easily become habit forming!

Next Week Part 2: Mid-Town Miami


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Frog Legs and Cowboys

frog

On the edge of the Florida swampland, where the cows graze and airboats rule, Bullfrog Legs are the prized local delicacy.

The plump, tender little thighs of this regal amphibian are served here fried with a side of Louisiana style hot sauce because, it’s “the only way” for them to be eaten, according to Rita, the local frog leg supplier in Fellsmere, Florida, home of the annual Frog Leg Festival. “Those chefs who sauté them, don’t know what in the world they’re doing.” Rita says.

Every January, Ferris wheels, frog legs and bull riding cowboys take over this sweet central Florida town, all in the name of charity. And in the true spirit of a small town carnival, the whole town gets involved by putting out thousands of fried Frog Leg’s and Gator Tail dinners, from the basement of the local High School.

On the road into town, we see hand tooled signs directing us to shuttle bus parking, the Bullfrog Bash Rodeo [and BBQ] and, two local couples smoking fresh mullet on the side of the road, which was awesome! Mullet is usually snubbed by most local fisherman and mainly used for bait, but, freshly smoked; this mild flavored white fish is perfect served with sliced apples and horseradish sauce, made into a spicy fish dip, or, all on its own with a touch of lemon.

“Gigging” frogs is an old Florida tradition and the Blue Cypress swamp located just west of town, is a great fresh water fishery filled with gators, exotic birds and frogs. Hunted at night from an airboat, using a long fiberglass pole tipped with a barbed trident, the “Froggers”, are fitted with a light that is attached to their hat and like a jousting knight, the frogger runs the airboat straight at the frog, skewers it and drops it into a sack on the front of the airboat. The crowd roars!

Looking for a way to raise money for the local schools and to entice the city folk to visit Fellsmere, local frog legs were deemed the ticket. Utilizing their local bounty, the festival has blossomed from 400 dinners at its inception in 1990, to over 7000 dinners in 2010.

I was a bit disappointed at first that fried, was the only way they were prepared here but, being the most flavorful frog’s legs I’ve ever tasted, sans the hot sauce, they were not all wrong. For once, it was not garlic that presented itself first. It was the pure taste of the meat that enticed me. Chicken-fish comes to mind, but, it was more than that, more like a big juicy chicken wing drumette, with an essence of seafood. Hot sauce not required.

Being the pairing nut that I am, I am now on a mission to find the perfect dipping sauce et al, for the fresh legs that Rita set us up with before we left town. How does lightly fried with and Orange-Coconut sauce sound? Or, sautéed in butter with touch of tarragon?

Any suggestions?