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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Lunch at Dolce and Salato

Dolce And Salato (sweet and salty in Italian)

is a restaurant in Naples, FL that serves Italian Cuisine. I had not eaten there for almost 3 years. Remembering how good it was, I was happy when my dining companion (DC) that day decided to meet me for lunch.

Dolce and Salato has a very pleasant indoor dining area

with some of the nicest Parquet flooring of any restaurant in the area.

The restaurant also has a lovely outdoor dining area,

which is where DC and i decided to have lunch.

After being brought some really good Focaccia bread, some with olive spread,

DC and I split a starter of beef Carpaccio.

Our dish was served with mixed greens, shaved Grana Padano cheese, and Truffle Oil. This was absolutely delicious, and one of the best plates of carpaccio I have ever had.

I love goat cheese and beets, it's just something about that combination, so i ordered the baby spinach salad.

Baby spinach was circled by rounds of beets topped with dollops of Chevre cheese and topped with walnuts and Balsamic Glaze. This is a very light dish and just right for me that day.

DC had the tuna sandwich as a salad.

Tuna, capers, tomatoes, red onions celery carrots, olives, fresh basil and topped with balsamic glaze. DC really seemed to enjoy the salad.

On the way out of the restaurant from settling the bill I looked over at one of the counters and realized why the restaurant is named as it is, for it's sweet and salty snacks.

This is a very pleasant place to have lunch with very good food and good service. I think DC would second me on that. I will definitely be back for a return visit, and it will not be 3 years until the next one!

That's that for another post on forks.

Dolce and Salato
300 5th. Avenue S.
Naples, FL 34102

Friday, September 25, 2015

The September Meeting of the Southwest Florida Chefs of the American Culinary Federation

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is a professional organization of chefs, cooks, food industry professionals, food enthusiasts and a food blogger or two.  They have about 200 chapters and almost 20,000 members. They offer training, accreditation, scholarship and certification to foster professional growth in the culinary arts.

The Southwest Florida Chefs of the ACF is the Lee County, FL chapter and hold monthly meetings most months.

This month, the meeting was held at Crown Colony Golf and Country Club in Fort Myers, FL.

This chapter monthly meetings always start with a dinner and then have an educational component. The educational component that day was fruit carving and plate garnishes.

Attendees were served appetizers which were a selection of meats

 and cheeses

 and lined up

for an Asian-themed meal of Asian style short ribs,

seasoned with soy, ginger, cinnamon, anise, 5 spice powder and topped with noodles and peppers,

sesame/soy pork tenderloin

which was soy-marinated pork tenderloin with sesame oil and pineapple salsa,

pacific rim shrimp,

prepared with fried wanton skins, jicama slaw, green onion and pepper jelly,

stir fried vegetables,

and ginger and lemon grass jasmine rice Croquettes.

As attendees sat to enjoy all this good food

the president of the chapter, Scott Boyd, gave a few announcements to the group and acknowledged Crown Colony Executive Chef Jeff Caponi for hosting the meeting.

The educational component of the meeting began, and was on fruit carving and plate garnishing.

Executive Chef Robert Saalfeld and Sous Chef Matt Thivierge from Naples Lakes Country Club brought their culinary carving tools

and demonstrated a number of displays. These ranged from the simple, such as a beet decorated pineapple top

or a simply carved melon rind

to things more ornate,

which really seemed to get everyone's attention.

Practically, this was explained as a way to put fruit to good use that may not be able to be served while bringing a dining experience to another level.

Chef Dave Rashty from the Pink Shell Resort (sorry about the photo quality)

gave a demo on Tomato Water gelatin, which can then be cut into all kinds of shapes to use as plate garnishes. We were also given a handout with recipes for garnishes and references sources such as Le Repertoire De La Cuisine. Very cool.

Executive Chef Scott Boyd of Magnolia Landing Country Club and Chapter President demonstrated a couple of very simple garnishes one could use.

The first was partially peeling back the husk of a Tomatillo, sticking a fork into the fruit and immersing this briefly in a fryer.

The second was getting thin slices of plantin

and making parallel, longitudinal slices through them not quite end to end and putting them in a fryer with this end result.

Only a chef could think of this! Simple but with the right dish, very effective.

Chef James Frazier from Florida Gulf Coast University Resort And Hospitality Management Program brought a spiral vegetable slicer and Mandolin to demonstrate a few garnishes.

 Some ribbons of carrots and daikon were made

and used as a very simple garnish to elevate (literally) your dish to a new level.

Prepared with the mandolin; herbed potato window panes were on the left, which are thin slices of potato pancaked together with herbs in the middle and fried, fried shoestring potatoes, Gaufrette, or waffle cut potatoes in addition to deep fried basil leaves,

 which all make great garnishes,

 even for these simple potato Quenelles.

Chef Jack Elias from the Commercial Foods And Culinary Arts Program at Cape Coral Technical College gave a demo primarily on garnishing with sauces. 

He got his demonstration started off though showing us how to make a pastry bag out of a piece of parchment paper.

First the square piece of paper must be cut into triangles,

rolled into a funnel

and folded as to stay together.

He made it look so easy but i knew it wasn't!

The sauce portion was pretty amazing. A little bit of this,

and that,

a bit of blending,

and voila!

Some different initial patterns and a little more blending,

and there you go.

Another example,

how much fun is that!

At the end of the meeting some of the members were recognized for their contributions to the evening's meeting.

This was a very fun, interesting and informative meeting of the Southwest Florida Chefs of the ACF and I look forward to attending more.

The Southwest Florida Chapter of the ACF
Chef Scott Boyd, President

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Lunch at Cochon Butcher and the New Orleans Glassworks and Printmaking Studio

is a sandwich/takeout shop in the Warehouse Arts District of New Orleans, LA. CB is part of the Link restaurant group in the area which includes a number of James Beard Foundation awardee chefs and restaurants. These awards are sort of Oscars in the culinary world, and are generally a very good sign.

As the astute reader may guess, the cuisine at CB features meats, and really, really good ones. Not only are they really, really good, but all made in house which to me makes them even better.

As you walk in they take your order from the counter

from either the Dine In Menu, Take Out Menu, Wine, Beer Or Cocktail menus or their amazing selection of House Made Meats and Sausages.

There are also a number of condiments one can purchase as well.

I know you can click on the above links to see the various menus, but I wanted to post the one for the house made meats and sausages. There are not many places that have a selection of in house made items such as these.

O.K., enough of my rantings but I thought these offerings were really cool

If eating in, you walk into the dining area,

place your order number on your table

and wait for your server to bring your order.

My dining companion (DC) and I tried an number of things that day. The first was the Boudin.

Boudin can be a combination of "something" and rice in a sausage casing, especially in Louisiana, and this was a cut above. Here is one fellow bloggers Take on it. The in house made pickles and stone ground mustard were exceptional.

DC and I then moved onto the duck pastrami sliders.

This was unbelievably delicious, the smokiness of the duck combining perfectly with Gruyere cheese.

Round three was their version of a Muffuletta sandwich. This sandwich originated in the Central Grocery of New Orleans and used to be great. Unfortunately, with the originators, it's long on the bread and short on the muffuletta.

CB's version was anything but that.

Mortadella, Cappicola, salami, Provolone cheese and olive salad are placed inside a sesame seed bun. Again, served with those great in house pickles. This brought back memories of what a muffuletta sandwich should be.

Brussels sprouts that were flash fried and splashed with sherry vinegar and chilies were also ordered and were very good.

I have almost no sweet tooth but DC does and DC ordered a piece of Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie.

Totally decadent, layers of chocolate, peanut butter, cream cheese, heavy cream and nuts. I tried a bit of it and it was good, but I am not one for dessert. DC loved it though.

We also bought some of the deer sausage to go. Moist, smoked and all you could say was great!

On the way out the Joint Was Jumping.

Another very good sign.

To walk off all this really great food DC and I decided to check out the nearby New Orleans Glassworks and Printmaking Studio.

I was there years ago and hoped to catch some of the artists in action.

Unfortunately, there was nothing going on that day, the ovens were off and the artists were nowhere to be found.

We did get to see some of the fruits of their labor which were very nice.

I was told the next time to call ahead for a schedule of the glass blowing demonstrations. C'est La Guerre.

The food at Cochon Butcher was great. DC said it was the best place ever. I thought it came close. The flavors and selection of the meats were amazing. All in a very affordable, casual atmosphere. Definitely a revisit when back in New Orleans.

That's that for another post on Forks.

Cochon Butcher
930 Tchoupitoulas St.
New Orleans, LA 70130

The New Orleans Glassworks and Printmaking Studio
727 Magazine St.
New Orleans, LA 70130