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Monday, August 22, 2016

Dinner at Cibao Grille



is a restaurant in the Neopolitan Way Shopping Center in Naples, FL.

As you approach the restaurant, there is ample outside seating.


As you enter the Cibao Grille, there is a nice bar area where you can dine


and a more formal dining area


with very well appointed dining tables.


Some very good multigrain and multigrain/raisin rolls are brought to the table while you are perusing the Menu.


My dining companion (DC) and I tried a couple of starters.

I ordered the crab cakes.


I generally do not order crab cakes out as they more often than not seem to be short on the crab and long on the cake.

The crab cakes here were not bad, better than most.

DC had a Cibao Salad, generously provided gratis by the restaurant management.

Mixed greens and watercress were served with a citrus vinaigrette and topped with tomato, Orange Supreme, and hearts of palm. Again, not bad.

For an entree, I ordered the walleye. It was dressed with marinated artichoke hearts, tomato and Bearnaise Sauce


Asparagus and mashed potatoes accompanied the fish. Delicious.

DC ordered Chicken Piccata.


It had been many moons since I have tried this dish and was on par in terms of deliciousness with my fish.

This was a traditional Chicken Piccata with breaded chicken breast, lemon caper butter and mushrooms. It was served with Rapini and in house made linguini dressed with olive oil and parsley. The pasta was very basic and was excellent.

On the whole our meal was very good. The starters were not bad and the entrees over the top delicious. The food served at Cibao is not edgy or experimental. It is good solid food that is very well executed with exceptional service and will keep you happy and coming back for more.

I cannot wait to go back and try a couple more of the entrees.

That's that for another post on forks.


Cibao Grille
814 Neopolitan Way
Naples, FL 34103
(239)434-6653

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Dinner at Taco Vazquez

Taco Vazquez is a restaurant inside of the Sunmart gas station


in Estero, FL. I was intrigued by this place not only for the kudos it has received but by it's interesting location.

As you walk into the Sunmart gas station you will encounter Taco Vazquez.


They do not have a website or an updated social media page, so here is their menu.





The first thing I noticed were the salsas, the majority made in house.


Here was the lineup from left to right. A Pasilla chili, tomatillo and avocado salsa, the latter still having an avocado pit in it which I thought was a nice touch. A commercially made Valentina hot sauce was also available. The former 3 salsas were fantastic and were made in house. The idea is to bring these to the table as samples.



DC and I ordered a number of things which were over the top delicious and an unbelievable value.

Tacos were the starter and were lingua (tongue), Chorizo and Barbacoa.




DC and I finished off with a couple of things.

I ordered the steak burrito.

This was great as it had no rice or beans in it and accommodated a somewhat carbohydrate-averse diner such as my self. There was about 1/2 pound of beef, with onions, cheese, cabbage, cilantro and tomato salsa. Excellent and less that $6.00.

DC ordered the Carne Asada plate.


This was also excellent with steak, rice and beans, tortillas and grilled green onions and jalapeno.

I have dined at many places in Southwest Florida but this venue is unique and an unbelievable value with very good food. Highly recommended. You may even want to get your food to go. After all, Koreshan State Historic Site  is just down the road.

Taco Vazquez
21481 S. Tamiami Trail (Sunmart Station)
Estero, FL 33928
(239) 948-8300

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Windows on Wine: Sauvignon Blanc

Here is another installment from local retired Master Sommelier Barry Larvin's wine blog, Windows On Wine. To learn a bit more about the grape, Sauvignon Blanc, and the wine made from it, go Here.

Cheers!

2016 ACF Caxambas Chapter Chef's Wine Dinner

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is a national organization of almost 20,000 members and 150 chapters nationwide. They are made up of chefs, food industry professionals and perhaps a food writer or blogger or two.

For the most part, here is what ACF is all about. I cannot say this any better so I am quoting from ACF's "About" page.

"We offer culinary competitions, certification, a national apprenticeship program, regional and national events, publications and much more to help foster the growth of professional chefs and the food service industry. If you are not part of our organization, we invite you to join us and gain access to the best culinary resources available".

The local ACF Chapter is The Caxambas Chapter of Naples/Marco Island and their moniker on social media is ACF Naples Chefs (ACFNC).

Once a year, ACFNC has a signature wine dinner. This year it was held at The Club at Mediterra.




I got there a bit early to find Executive Chef Tyler Field helping prepare the servers for the meal that night


and some of the kitchen staff finishing the passed starters for the dinner.




While guests gathered before the first course was served,




they were treated to champagne



and appetizers such as 5 Spice Powder braised pulled pork tacos with radish and cilantro


and shrimp and corn fritters with a spicy "Cajun" remoulade sauce.



As the kitchen staff were putting the evening's meal together for attendees,



guests sat down


in anticipation of a 5 course food and wine pairing.


I am far from fluent in wines so I will focus on the food which was wonderful. One of the great things about the ACFNC events is that it's chefs cooking for chefs. Generally, the meals that are served there cannot be had anywhere for any price.

The first course was a knockout.


Using a cauliflower Royale or custard as a base, this dish was served with greens, smoked Marcona Almonds, orange Supremes radish, pickled mustard seeds, lump crab and pork belly. Delicious.

A Hudson Valley Foie Gras Mousse on a pastry Base was the second offering

.
and garnished with candied hazelnuts, apricot jam, a peach Fluid Gel and a Verjus vinaigrette. Very nice. After researching these ingredients, I think most people (as I did) don't realize how much work goes into a dish like this.

Cornish Game Hen was next.

Trumpet mushroom, asparagus, parsnip puree, fig Compote and Jus completed this course. Another great dish.

After a palate-cleansing Yuzu mimosa,

 
A duo of beef and pork tenderloin


was served with a saffron/carrot puree, root vegetables, haricot verts, tomato jam and jus. This was another outrageously delicious dish.

To top all of this off, the dessert course was a Chevre cheesecake with a pistachio crust, cherry glaze and served with a tarragon custard.


The food served that evening was completely over the top and some of the best cooking I have had the pleasure to eat recently. "Hats off" to Chef Tyler Field and his crew at The Club at Mediterra. It does not get much better than this.


It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

ACF Caxambas Chapter of Naples and Marco Island
President Chas Tatigian, CEC, CCA
PO Box 855
Naples, FL 34106
ctatigian@acfnapleschefs.org
www.acfnapleschefs.org

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dinner at Zen Asian BBQ



is a restaurant in north Naples, FL. The restaurant, as of this writing, has been open less than one year.

I have been there numerous times over the past 7 months or so. I consider this establishment one of the best restaurants in Naples. Even though this is another article in the legion of articles that have been written about Zen I thought I would add another one. This visit, as were my others, was very pleasant.

The owners are a meld of a chef/financial partnership. The principles really know what they are doing as they have come up with a fantastic product. Here is some of that.

The interior dining area is inviting


and has a sushi bar with ample seating should you choose.




My Dining Companion (DC) and I sampled a number of items off the Menu.

The Hokkaido Ramen is a must do. This is a miso-based Ramen from the northern most island in Japan, Hokkaido, where it was popularized.


Homemade noodles, shrimp, calamari, oysters, king crab, garlic oil, bean sprouts, scallions and egg make this dish. Fantastic and one of the signature dishes of the restaurant. For an interesting in depth discussion of the various types and styles of ramen, go here.

We also sampled the Korean Barbecue.



Cooked at the table, we ordered the Daeji Bulgogi pork, marinated in soy, garlic and ginger BBQ sauce. Served with leaves of Romaine per tradition to be used as wraps, condiments included kimchi, sprouts, seaweed salad and hot pepper or soy based sauces. Not bad.

One of Zen's proprietors saw me taking pictures and offered DC and I not only a very good dish, but a good photo op as well.


Kobe A5  (highest quality) beef is put into a soy dipping sauce and cooked on a hot stone. It can be topped with garlic if you wish when it's cooking. If you ever wondered what the difference was between Wagyu and Kobe beef, this is worth Reading.

DC and I finished off with a Hamachi Kama (Collar), or the section of fish just behind the head and the gills. In Hamachi, Yellowtail Tuna is used.


To get a better idea of the cut of a fish collar, go Here. Warning, not for the squeamish and perhaps better viewed after you've finished reading.
 
It was delicious, and served with grilled baby bok choy, tomatoes and Ponzu sauce. Highly recommended. It's worth a mention that they use the Robatayaki cooking method for this dish and some others, or grilling over very hot coals.

As usual, Zen Asian BBQ did not disappoint. Although food after all, is a matter of taste, I think it would be hard to find someone that has eaten here that didn't think that their dining experience was at the very least, very good.

If you haven't been, please do. I think you will find this a very nice dining experience that will want you coming back at some point for seconds.

That's that for another post on Forks.

Zen Asian BBQ
10823 Tamiami Tr. N.
Naples, FL 34108
(239)260-7037