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Friday, September 23, 2016

Lunch at Simpson's Tavern

is a restaurant and pub in the Financial District of London and is the city's oldest chop house. It is about 1 block away from The Royal Exchange

which at one time was the center of commerce in London. At present, it contains upscale shops, offices and a dining area and is perhaps a topic of another blog post.

As you walk into Simpson's Tavern there is an outside space

where patrons can enjoy a beverage from one of three satellite bars. One outside of the restaurant,

one in the basement

and one associated with the dining area.

The latter bar was most remarkable due to the barmaid staffing it, Margaret. She was 82 years old and has been working here for 46 years. This was amazing to me due to the mutual loyalty that seems to be present these days between restaurateurs and their employees. 

As you walk into the dining area it is very much in the style of how it was when it first opened in 1757.

Dumbwaiters bring up fare from the basement kitchen to the dining area. The original brass stands for hats and such still are attached to the backs of the bench seating at the tables.

I was fascinated by the lunch Menu here, but breakfast is also served. In terms of food, I do not think much has changed in over 250 years.

The server was excellent, and chatted at length about the menu items. I am a fool for pork belly and there it was on the menu.

This is probably one of the best pork belly dishes I have had, with greens, Cracklings and a mustard mayo dressing. Heaven.

I then tried out their steak and kidney pie.

This was absolutely excellent and it had been many moons since I have had this. I was told by the server that I would not walk away hungry. He was right.

The food at Simpson's Tavern was beyond the pale. They really know what they are doing with British food. They should, as they have been at it for over 250 years. The server was exceptional, and the ambience remarkable for it's history. I can't say more great things about Simpson's, and if in London, I hope you will take the time to eat lunch here. They are also open for breakfast, but not dinner.

It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

Simpson's Tavern
Ball Court
38 and 1/2 Cornhill
London, UK EC3V 9DR
020 7626 9985

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Lunch at Martin Fierro

Martin Fierro was an epic fictional character out of Argentine literature of the late 19th century. It is also a Parrillada, or barbecue Restaurant (Restaurant's Website) in Naples, FL serving Argentine and Uruguayan cuisine.

As you approach the entrance, there is a nice outdoor seating area.

What caught my eye was a display table of their menus

and lunch specials that day, which at the time of this writing are served Monday thru Friday from 11 A.M. to 4 P.M.

What really caught my eye was the latter special for 2 with a beef and chicken skewer and 2 sides for $20.00. My dining companion agreed it looked good so in we went.

As you first enter the restaurant, you will notice their parrilla

and interior of the restaurant is long and narrow, sort of in a Shotgun style.

Our server encouraged us to order their bread, which at lunch is one dollar extra and is served with Chimichurri sauce.

I am not usually much of a bread eater, but this was very, very good.

We then decided on two sides. Grilled vegetables (green beans, yellow squash, red onions, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes) lightly seasoned with balsamic vinegar

and fried yucca with sort of a dill mayonnaise.

Both sides were excellent.

The skewers were then brought out.

Equally as good as the sides, both the chicken and beef skewers were served with more grilled vegetables, a grilled sweet pepper, edible flowers and a balsamic glaze. I don't know if the restaurant did this as they knew I published a food blog, but it was a very nice presentation.

One of the restaurant's owners was kind enough to let us try the Dulce De Leche crepes.

These were served with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. I am not much of a sweet eater but these were really good.

Both my dining companion and I really liked the food served at Martin Fierro. It was delicious and one of the better lunches I have eaten in Naples. On top of that, this lunch special was amazingly wallet friendly. It's a win-win no matter how you look at it. I highly recommend Martin Fierro and will be back to try some of their dinner items.

It's a wrap for another post on Forks.

Martin Fierro
13040 Livingston Rd. 
Naples, FL 34105

Thursday, September 1, 2016

UF/IFAS Chef and Producer Meet and Greet at Shangri-La Springs

The  University of Florida Institute for Agricultural Studies (UF/IFAS) is a Land Grant college with branches in every Florida county. What is this you may ask? In the mid 19th century, states were apportioned land by the federal government. The proceeds of the sales of these lands were used to maintain an endowment that would support colleges teaching agriculture and the mechanical arts.

What is the mission of UF/IFAS? I cannot say this any better, and here is a quote from the UF/IFAS website. "The Mission of UF/IFAS is to develop knowledge in agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge accessible to sustain and enhance the quality of human life."

Recently the UF/IFAS Collier and Lee extensions sponsored a Chef/Producer meet and greet at Shangri-La Springs, in Bonita Springs, FL.

I recently published a Blog Post on Shangri-La Springs after eating lunch there.

The meeting was in a building off the courtyard here.

After registering,

we went around the room introducing ourselves.

The group included chefs, growers, merchants, a master gardener and a food blogger, among others.

We were then treated to a tour of Shangri-La's agricultural space by Millisa Bell. Millisa works the garden here full time and is also known by the moniker, The Unruly Gardener.

The whole property is Certified Organic, and they grow a wide variety of produce.

Okra, black eyed peas, egg plant, tropical spinach, peppers, passion fruit, herbs, Seminole Pumpkin and many other Cover and edible crops were growing here.

There is also a fruit orchard that was recently planted.

Lychees, Loquat, black and white Sapote, figs, mango, mulberry, Persimmon and pomegranate in addition to other fruits can be found in the orchard.

There are also multiple bee colonies on property facilitating the pollination of their crops.

They harvest twice a week here and the menu at Shangri-La Springs reflects the seasonality of their garden's offerings.

After the tour, there was a round table exchange with Shangri-La Springs Executive Chef, Pyro Rodriguez, and representatives of the Collier and Lee County UF/IFAS.

Topics of discussion were how to educate the public that quality ingredients cost more money which reflects in higher menu prices but provide for a superior nutritional and culinary experience.

It was interesting talking about the benefits of buying from a local grower rather than a large food conglomerate. As an example, a corporate food purveyor may charge $1.00 for a product, but that product may be 7-10 days old. A local grower may charge $2.00 for the same thing but is in all likelihood a much fresher product. This gives the end user much more flexibility in when to use this item and results in much less product waste. 

They also discussed market management considerations in farmer's markets. In addition, ideas were put forward for better ways to connect chefs with producers in terms of the product needs of chefs and producer product availability.

We were then treated to a few tastes of Shangri-La Springs such as lentil salad, eggplant Caponata 

and Malabar Spinach spring rolls.

The rolls were good, and were made from blanched Malabar Spinach, yard long beans, peppers and a sweet and sour sauce.

This was a really good meeting. Not only did we get a nice tour of one of the engines driving the culinary arts at Shangri-La Springs but this was also a great opportunity for chefs and producers to interact with each other. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the dynamics of food and food production.

Shangri-La Springs
27750 Old 41 Rd.
Bonita Springs, FL 34135

UF/IFAS Collier County Extension
14700 Immokalee Rd.
Naples, FL 34120

UF/IFAS Lee County Extension
3410 Palm Beach Blvd.
Fort Myers, FL 33916