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Friday, January 31, 2014

Mikkelsen's Pastry Shop and the Caxambas Chapter of the American Culinary Federation

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is an Artisan pastry shop located off Old Highway 41 in North Naples. The owner has been making pastries for decades since being involved with his families' pastry business as a young child.

The vast majority of their business is commercial. They do have a retail area in their shop

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with some nice looking cookies

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and even better looking cakes and pastries.

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The final meeting of the season of the Caxambas Chapter (CCACF) (Naples/Marco Island chapter) of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) was at Mikkelsen's Pastry Shop. The ACF is an 85 year old organization of over 22,000 members with about 230 chapters nationally. Their primary mission is education, training and certification in the culinary world. Locally, the CCACF has approximately 140 members. About 60% of these are chefs, with the remainder being a part of a food-related function or business in the area. Interestingly, the majority of the chefs were employed in private (country club) rather that public settings. Caxambas is an area in Marco Island, FL, and is probably where this chapter got it's start.

Most of the meetings are structured to have a social and educational component. The meeting this day was purely social. This was my first meeting and I made the mistake of eating dinner beforehand.

A number of vendors contributed nibbles for the event. 

Boar's Head, a manufacturer of premium deli meats and cheeses since 1905, was there. They operate in all 50 states, the Caribbean and Canada.  The head of Boar's Head food service in the Southwest Florida area, their commercial end, was there to provide samples of their cheeses, sausages and dips. The sponsor of the event was most generous to make some flat bread as a vehicle for the (Hummus) dips.

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Swiss Chalet was there. They are a purveyor of goods to the professional chef.

They displayed and sampled a variety of vegetarian  Amuse Bouches (mouth amusers) as well as Macaroons.

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Traditionally, amuse bouches are small, complementary previews of what a diner has to look forward to in that particular dining experience. Macaroons are confectioneries, usually incorporating Meringues, combinations of egg whites and sugar. Both of these were excellent.

Swiss Chalet has a number of brands under their purview. One of these is Felchin, a Swiss manufacturer of chocolate. These were chocolates used for baking. Chocolate lovers, be prepared!

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Their flavoring was based on the percentage of Cacao in them.

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A couple of local vendors contributed to the event. One was Jabba Fine Foods. They are into smoked fish, and it was fantastic, smoked mahi-mahi, scallops and shrimp.

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I have never had smoked shrimp, but the flavoring and texture (moist) were amazing. 

They also had smoked salmon and grouper spread, the latter being amazing as well.

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Finally, Naples Smoke House and Provisions was there.

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They had a number of really good items.

Smoked salmon

bacon and crab dip.

The meeting was concluded with a call for arms for an upcoming charity event sponsored by the CCACF,  The Zoobiliee,

as well as upcoming CCACF meetings. All in all a really great evening and really good upcoming fodder for future blog posts.

Mikkelsen's Pastry Shop
1068 Business Lane
Naples, FL 34110

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Inca's Kitchen

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is a restaurant serving Peruvian Cuisine  in East Naples. Traditionally, corn, potatoes and chili peppers were the staples of Peruvian cuisine. With the Spanish Colonization of Peru beginning in the 16th century, other types of food were introduced. Contemporary Peruvian food is derived from a number of cultures.

Cancha, toasted corn nuts, were brought to the table with a variety of mild, Peruvian Chili sauces.

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Peru is noted for it's Ceviche, the country from which this dish originated. This is some sort of seafood that is marinated in citrus juices. One of my dining companions and I split an order of ceviche mixto.

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This was a mix of shrimp, fish and squid marinated in lime juice. It was spiced with Peruvian chili pepper, or aji, and served with onions, sweet potato and Hominy, staples of Peruvian cooking. It was very good.

Several members of the group ordered Pescado Inca's Wari.

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This dish was named after the Wari Empire, an ancient Peruvian culture. Fish on a fish reduction, grilled asparagus and sauteed spinach made up this dinner.

I ordered the Parihuela, a Peruvian seafood soup.

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It was excellent. Another diner ordered Chupe De Camerones, a Peruvian seafood chowder.

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It was thickened with rice potatoes and eggs, and looked great.

Other dishes that were ordered were the saltado de mariscos, or seafood saute,

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Aji ae Gallina, shredded chicken in a yellow pepper/cream sauce with walnuts

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and Lomo Saltado, or beef loin saute.

Everyone was very happy with their food and would come back again without hesitation.

There you have it for another review on Forks.

Inca's Kitchen
11985 Collier Blvd.
Naples, FL 34116

Inca's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 23, 2014

C Level Bistro and Wine Bar

C Level Bistro and Wine Bar

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is a restaurant on Bonita Beach Rd. in Bonita Springs, FL. In the dining area you can either sit at one of their tables

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or at the bar.

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They have a very nice selection of soups, salads, appetizers,

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and desserts.

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They also have a nice by the glass wine list.

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Happy hour is from 5-6:30. House wines are $5.00/glass, all others are $3.00 off the menu price. They also have a special on beers.

I was with a group for dinner and a number of starters were ordered.

Onion Soup Gratinee, a French onion soup topped with toasted bread and cheese,

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chicken liver Pate served with caramelized onions

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and Bruschetta, an antipasto, or "before the meal" dish. Tomato, basil and other herbs topped this dish.

A number of entrees were ordered for the table. A cheese board

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with French Goat Cheese, English Cheddar Cheese, Brie, Camembert and Delice de Bourgogne was served. Grapes and dates were also added as a garnish.

A very nice looking rack of lamb

was served with a Salsify (oyster root) sauce, herbed rice, grilled vegetables, green beans, fingerling and mashed sweet potatoes.

Another in the group ordered a crab cake

with Remoulade Sauce. Personally, I would not order this out as more often than not, they are short in the crab and long in the cake. This was not the case here, and they were very tasty.

Tournedos, or pieces of tenderloin, were topped with Pate de Foie Gras (liver/truffle paste) and served with Perigourdine Sauce. This is a very "big" sauce with butter and Madeira Wine.

This member of our group really enjoyed it.

Other dishes ordered were scallops with a Balsamic/Truffel glaze,

crab cake and arugula salad with a citrus pineapple/mango dressing

and a house salad with blue cheese and filet slices.

Everyone really enjoyed their meal and would come back without hesitation.

A very nice evening catching up with a couple of people I had not seen in quite some time, and another review on forks.

C Level Bistro and Wine Bar
4450 Bonita Beach Rd.
Bonita Springs, FL 34134

C Level Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Manzanillo's Cocina Mexicana (Closed)

Manzanillo's Cucina Mexicana, or Manzanillo's Mexican Kitchen, is located in North Naples in the space formerly occupied by EVOO.

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Their website describes their food as "authentic and traditional". I was anxious to try it.
In their dining area you have the choice of dining at a booth, table or the bar.

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Chips and salsa were brought to our table.

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This was served with an Ancho Chili salsa. Ancho chilies are dried Poblano chilies. Both the chips and the salsa were quite good, with the table ordering quite a few extra orders of salsa.

A number of entrees were ordered at the table. One of my dining companions ordered Enchiladas with Mole.

In traditional Mexican cooking, enchiladas are corn tortillas wrapped around a filling, in this case one was chicken and one was steak. Mole is a complex sauce of up to 30 different ingredients with ground peppers being the central ingredient. Sesame seeds, dried fruit, Cloves, Cumin, Cinnamon and chocolate may be added to some moles.

The enchiladas were served with Queso Fresco. This cheese is similar to Ricotta, in that the curds (milk solids) used as cheese are separated from the milk liquids, or Whey. Rice and Refried Beans served in Tortilla Bowls finished the dish.

Another dining companion ordered spinach and grilled chicken enchiladas.

These were topped with a Salsa Verde or green salsa, sour cream and cheese. Salsa verde is all about Tomatillos. Rice and refried beans also were served.

I ordered the steak Fajita.

Fajitas are grilled meats served with tortillas. In my dish onions and peppers were grilled along with the steak. Somehow, my server forgot the tortillas which was o.k. by me. Rice, refried beans, sour cream, red (tomato-based) salsa and Guacamole were served with it.

I have sometime wondered what the difference was between real Mexican Cuisine and Tex-Mex. Tex-mex is an Americanized Version of Mexican cuisine. The differences are primarily in the meats, cheeses and toppings used. Ground beef, yellow cheeses and sour cream, respectively, are examples of this. Nachos, fajitas and chips with salsa are also Tex-Mex inventions. From Manzanillo's Menu, it would seem they have somewhat of a Tex-Mex slant in their cooking.

Although their food was good, it was not very different from other "Mexican" restaurants I have been to in the area. Would I go back? Perhaps, but not in a rush.

That's that for another review on forks.

Manzanillo's Cucina Mexicana
13240 Tamiami Tr. N. Ste. 205
Naples, FL 34110

Manzanillo's Cocina Mexicana on Urbanspoon