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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The February Edition of the SW Florida Restaurant Review Group Monthly Social Dinner

The SW Florida Restaurant Review Group (SWFRG) is a Face Book page dedicated to restaurant reviews and other food-related matters in Southwest Florida. What is remarkable about this page is that it has been in existence for less than two years, and already has over 16,000 members. A statistician would have in many cases enough reviews to actually see if positive or negative reviews of a particular establishment were overall statistically meaningful!

Once a month SWFRG has a social dinner. These sell out very quickly. They provide a number of very positive benefits to restaurants and diners alike. Besides providing business to the restaurants, they give feedback to them from the experiences of the diners. They also provide a very nice social function for attendees.

This dinner was held at The Turtle Club in Punta Gorda, FL.

As you walk into the restaurant there is a very nice bar area,

and a "claw bar", or a bar selling shellfish

which leads out into a very pleasant outdoor dining area.

The SWFRG dinner was held in the front dining area of the restaurant.  As attendees started to gather and peruse the menus and place their orders,

I started off with a farmer salad.

Spinach, red onion, mozzarella, basil/balsamic marinated strawberries and poppy seed dressing. Not bad.

As the diners waited for their meals, SWFRG Admins Mark and Clark presented a plaque to the restaurant owner as recognition for participating in the evening's meal.

Chris, the owner,  told all of us how he planned to change the restaurant including a remodel, a re-branding, bringing in blues musicians to play and offering a happy hour.

My dining companions (DC's) at our table ordered a variety of dishes from the restaurant's Menu.

There was low country shrimp and sausage with lemon flavored grits, spinach and butter sauce. 

What is low country anyway? It is a Geographic area.

Other DC's ordered fried oysters and Hollandaise Sauce with potatoes and spinach,

steak and fried shrimp with mashed potatoes and green beans,

and steak and lobster tail with potatoes and green beans.

All of this looked really great. It was a pity I could not get photos of other things coming out of the kitchen to give readers a more comprehensive view of the restaurant's food given the number of diners there that night.

Everyone really had a great time eating and socializing,

and it was a really lovely night out at the SW Florida Restaurant Review Group Monthly Social Dinner.

Cheers from the SW Florida Restaurant Review Group!

The Turtle Club
139 W. Marion Ave.
Punta Gorda, FL 33950

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lunch at USS Nemo

is a restaurant in Naples, FL. They are best described as an Asian fusion restaurant and have been open for 16 years, a very good sign. I have eaten here a few times over the years and it has been a year or so since I have been back. I friend had recently done a very nice favor for me. I thought I would buy my friend and dining companion (DC) lunch that day as payback which would also provide great fodder for another blog post.

As you approach the restaurant, there is an outside, but limited, dining area .

As you enter the restaurant, the interior space is commodious and inviting.

and if you choose, you can eat at their bar area.

DC and I tried a few things off the Lunch Menus.

Some very nice bread was brought to the table,

which was sort of a sour dough/Ciabatta bread hybrid.

DC and I split the crunchy grouper starter.

This was really really really really good. Chunks of grouper were breaded in corn flakes, perfectly fried and covered in a mango Yuzu sauce with red cabbage and pomegranate. 

Perfection was followed by almost more perfection.

I ordered the swordfish tacos.These were served with seasoned vegetable rice and greens with miso dressing. Chipotle and tomatillo salsa, pico de gallo and avocado were brought as condiments. The only complaint I had about this dish was that the serving size of the condiments was ornamental. There wasn't enough to season the tacos. Easily remedied though.

DC ordered the miso salmon.

This was perfectly cooked salmon in a citrus/ginger butter sauce with rice, carrot tempura and asparagus. I loved the flying fish roe garnish, beautiful.

All of the food served to us that day was exceptional and there is a reason why USS Nemo has been open for 16 years, highly recommended.

They are open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30-1400.

That's that for another post on Forks.

USS Nemo
3745 Tamiami Trail N
Naples, FL 34103

The Naples Art, Antique and Jewelry Show

The Palm Beach Show Group is a production company featuring displays for sale of upper end antique, jewelry and art in various markets in the United States. They come to Naples, FL typically in February for member participants to display and sell their wares.

When the Palm Beach Show Group organizes their annual event in Naples, FL they usually set up a tent to house the event.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to the VIP (how did that happen!) opening on Friday, February 19, 2016. As you entered the tent, VIP's were treated to champagne and passed appetizers.

Passed appetizers included

 Fried chicken balls with Romesco Sauce,

 Brie cheese tarts,

chicken satays with peanut sauce,

endive with artichoke

and tenderloin skewers with gorgonzola cheese sauce.

There was plenty of antiques and art here, so much so, I will be only presenting the show mostly in generalities



interesting gem stone displays,

jewelry and sculpture, 

antique optics.

fine Persian rugs,

this impressive full set of antique Tiffany and Co. cutlery,

this one of a kind set of 19th century wood working tools in a  mahogany case,

displays of beautiful antique furniture ,

and sculpture.

I loved Craig Alan's painting of Marilyn Monroe.

Blow it up, it's all about people, Tres cool.

It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

Palm Beach Show Group
1900 Australian Ave.
Riviera Beach, FL 33404

Friday, February 19, 2016

WillaKenzie Estate Wine Tasting

The Willamette Valley is an American Viticultural Area (AVA) in Oregon. Briefly, AVAs are wine production areas designated by the U.S. Government. If a vintner claims to be from a particular AVA, 85% of the grapes used in their wine must be from there.
This area is nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains. This climate, and flooding that occurred at the end of the last Ice Age, has produced some extremely arable land.
Terroir can be an agricultural term and is the interaction of climate, geology and plant genetics to influence the outcome of a harvest, in this case grapes. This area is know for it's superior terroir. As far as grapes go, the terroir in this area is similar to the Burgundy region of France. The Willamette Valley is known for it's wines, especially Pinot Noir. What really started the whole thing going in this area was Eyrie Vineyards. They scored 2nd in a prestigious blind taste competition in the Burgundy region of France in the 1970's. Fast forward to the 21st century, and this area produces world-class wines. 
WillaKenzie Estate is a vintner in the Willamette Valley, specifically in the Yamhill-Carlton sub-appellation (sub-region) of the Willamette Valley AVA. They have been producing wines in this region for about 20 years.
They were recently in Naples, FL for a tasting of their wares.

The event was held in downtown Naples, at the Inn on 5th.

As you walk into the inn,

 you enter the lobby area,

which led up to the room

which had a very nice balcony area where the tasting was held.

There were sampling a number of wines that day

two of which, the Reserve and Blanc De Pinots, were only available to those attending the tasting.

Most generously, they also gave attendees an opportunity to win a Magnum of reserve Pinot Noir.

One of the co-founders of the winery, Ronni Lacroute, was there,

if you had any questions and/or wanted to discuss her wines in depth.

There were also a number of excellent food pairings with the wines provided to attendees prepared by Inn on 5th's chef, David Nelson.

Displayed items included mozzarella and tomato skewers with balsamic glaze and arugula,

and a very nice charcuterie plate.

Passed items included mini Beef Wellington,

bacon wrapped scallops,

grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup

and toasted coriander seed seasoned lamb rib chops with lemon yogurt dressing.

Hats off to WillaKenzie Estate and The Inn on 5th for a great evening of wine and food. If WillaKenzie Estate comes back to Naples, FL or to an area near you please try to go. The wines are excellent and the food pairings (as judged by the Naples, FL tasting) sublime. These tastings are highly recommended.

It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

WillaKenzie Estate
19143 NE Laughlin Rd
Yamhill, OR 97148

The Inn on 5th
699 5th Ave. S.
Naples, FL 34102