Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CRANBERRY-ORANGE SAUCE: I have received several requests for this recipe. It is a sure fire knock out.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cranberry-Orange Sauce: try this for a sure hit on Thanksgiving

In the mid-90's, my friend, Gail Carr, prepared Cranberry-Orange Sauce at an outdoor Thanksgiving dinner at the Carr farm in Micanopy. Frankly, it stopped me in my tracks and I have prepared it for every Thanksgiving since then to consistent applause. If you do not try this dish, you will "need to have your head examined." This recipe is abundantly easy.


CRANBERRY-ORANGE SAUCE

Ingredients:

1 large orange or 2 tangerines
1 bag of cranberries, 12 oz.
1 package of frozen raspberries in syrup
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons, fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons, orange flavored liquer such as Triple Sec

1. From the citrus fruit, zest 1 teaspoon of peel and squeeze 1/2 cup of juice

2. In saucepan, heat all ingredients (except the liqueur) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered until most of the cranberries pop and the mixture thickens slightly. Stir as needed.

3. Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the liqueur.

4. Stir into serving bowl and refrigerate for three hours before serving.

Note the new site for Slow Food Gainesville....excellente!


https://sites.google.com/site/slowfoodgville/

Congratulations to Slow Food Gainesville for a new web site that looks great.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Marilyn Monroe's Dressing Recipe from NY Times

Don't miss this article and recipe. I will be attempting this one ASAP.


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/10/dining/10marilyn.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=marilyn%20monroe%20&st=cse

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stephen C. O'Connell's Favorite Dish: clipping from my mother's files




I found the following recipe in my mother's files. It is attributed to Rita O'Connell, the then University of Florida President's first wife who pre-deceased him. President O'Connell later re-married and lived a very happy life in Tallahassee where he had served on the Florida Supreme Court. I am not sure where the yellowed clipping came from, but the type face indicates to me that the Gainesville Sun was the likely source.

My mother and Rita were very good friends and spent a lot of time in our living room discussing the intricacies of academic entertaining which Mrs. O'Connell had to master in short order when Steve became president of the university.

I have known a number of First Ladies of universities and Rita was my favorite. She was always very warm and gracious (as was Steve) and patient with my budding beard, long hair, and (of course) Roman sandals.

First Ladies of universities in those days were an extremely important part of the political life of a university and supervised innumerable social events at the President's House on campus. They were unpaid for their hard work, under-recognized, but integral to the workings of their spouse's administration.

To underscore that, when looking to post this recipe, I could find a picture of President O'Connell on-line, but did not find one of Mrs. O'Connell. These women deserve a vote of thanks by all members of the Gator Nation. Greater recognition of their contributions to campus life need to be given to these women.

The world is a better place for having Steve and Rita O'Connell be among us. I smile whenever I think of them.

VEAL CUTLETS

Ingredients:

Veal cutlets, 1 per serving
Fresh mushrooms
Spring onions
Frozen artichoke hearts
Salt and pepper
Paprika
Flour
Sauterne cooking wine

Cut the veal into bite-sized pieces. Shake on salt, pepper, paprika, and flour. Brown the meat in a frying pan, using corn oil. Cook until tender.

Place in a casserole with chopped stems of fresh mushrooms and chopped spring onions, saving the chopped onion stems for the top. Add one-half cup water and one-half cup of sauterne wine, just enough to cover.

Cook the dish uncovered for about 45 minutes in a 350-375 degree oven.

Cut the thawed artichoke hearts and mushroom caps into quarters.

Add both to the top of the casserole along with the chopped onion stems. Spoon gravy over the top frequently for another 15-30 minutes. Serve warm.

Monday, October 25, 2010

from the Fresh from Florida blogger's e-mail per Rosemary

Florida Herbs: Rosemary
Laura | October 25, 2010 at 9:00 am | Tags: herbs, Nutrition, rosemary | Categories: Healthy Living | URL: http://wp.me/pnlCH-1IX

With the holiday seasons quickly approaching, special meals make them memorable. Sometimes the most memorable things we take with us are the smells from these beloved mealtimes as our favorite dishes are enjoyed. The smells we equate with these delectable dishes are usually due to the herbs corresponding with seasonal smorgasbords. To help your season and mine be more memorable than ever, I looked into some helpful herbs that will make any dinner table better.

Rosemary is a beautiful herb with bright evergreen foliage. The aroma is warm and peppery with a sense of pine. The taste is has a woody, balsamic aftertaste. Rosemary is commonly used with veal, chicken, pork and lamb, and it can be added to butter, salt or pepper. Veggies in need of a little butter can be spruced up with a little rosemary as well. Salads and olive oil also go well with the addition of rosemary. Many recipes recommend adding rosemary to soups and eggs. You can find rosemary chopped, whole and ground. Unlike some herbs, rosemary can be overused in cooking, because it does not diminish with cooking. Rosemary can also be used for potpourri, and linens can be dried in the sun spread over rosemary.

Some health applications we can enjoy from rosemary are: vitamins A, E, B6, and C, a-beta carotene, niacin, folate, magnesium, manganese, calcium, selenium, zinc, omega 3 fatty acids, phosphorus and potassium. Rosemary improves circulation, stimulates your immune system, improves digestion, increases blood flow and can reduce asthma attacks. Pregnant women should be careful of this herb.

This is definitely an herb to add to your meals. I enjoy roasting veggies in the oven with this herb and find that it not only tastes remarkable but the aroma is enjoyable as well. Remember a little goes a long way with rosemary, so all you need is a little with any dish.

Friday, October 01, 2010

DINING RECOMMENDATIONS FOR GATOR FANS GOING TO THE BAMA GAME


I grew up in Gainesville FL, but lived in Tuscaloosa from 6th grade through my sophomore year in high school. I consider both towns to be home.

Tuscaloosa is a lovely place where Southern hospitality still thrives. Here are some dining recommendations for those traveling north for Saturday's game between the Gators and the Tide.

IN TUSCALOOSA/NORTHPORT:

15th Street Diner: reasonably priced Southern cooking. The best of down-home veggies etc. Great meat loaf.

The Waysider: Fabulous breakfast spot. Always very busy. Coach Bryant ate here a
lot.

The City Cafe (Northport): Like the Waysider, an iconic breakfast. Another Bryant haunt.

Nick's in the Sticks: Super beef filet...funky atmosphere...very tasty food and never chic

The Cotton Patch: on the road to Birmingham and is a Southern cooking landmark. I prefer 15th St. Diner myself.

Archibald's: A's is the best barbecue in T-town, bar none. They serve take out only from a block building in Northport. Not the easiest place to find. Follow the smoke.

Dreamland Barbecue: The original location is loved by many. Just ribs, white bread and tea....no sides. Very good, but should be over run by Tide and Gator fans alike.

The Cypress Inn: pricey but said to be good. They are located on the banks of the Black Warrior River and the ambience/view is great.

If you love American art: The Jack Warner Art collection is a must-see. It is located in the old offices of the Gulf States paper mill located near Lake Tuscaloosa.

IN MONTGOMERY:

Lots of chains, but good food is still available. For lunch: the Montgomery State Farmers' Market has an excellent country cooking buffet. For supper: Martin's fried chicken is revered all over the South. The Hank Williams museum is located in Montgomery for those who need to pay their respects while passing through town.

Between Montgomery and Tuscaloosa I recommend Jim's barbecue. The Twix and Tween in Centerville is not what it used to be, but they sell their sauce and I always buy a supply when passing by.

LAST TIPS: While Tide fans are the most fervent of sports fans, they are also very hospitable. Conduct yourself well and you will be rewarded with many kindnesses. Lots of yes ma'ms and yes sirs will serve you well. And, the evening meal is "supper." Lunch is "dinner."

THE GAINESVILLE SUN REPORTS THAT LOUIS' LUNCH WILL CLOSE IN NOVEMBER!

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20100930/ARTICLES/100939944/1118?Title=Louis-Lunch-closing-after-82-years

Friday, September 24, 2010

Louis' Lunch burger recipe


In a Yelp posting, one person claimed to have knowledge of the recipe for Louis' Lunch's burgers. They say it is: 1/3 ground beef, 1/3 ground pork, and 1/3 bread crumbs (plus spices).

If one were to jazz it up, add whatever spices you would add to your favorite meatball recipe or just salt and pepper. Further, I often add a healthy hit of olive oil when shaping the burgers. This adds a healthy fat and moisture to the finished product. Plus, it will enhance the crispy exterior that many afficianados of Louis's burgers crave.

Monday, September 20, 2010

THIS JUST IN FROM SLOW FOOD GAINESVILLE PER NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION THIS WEEKEND

Slow Food USA is hosting a national day of action this weekend -
Saturday, Spetember 25th! Let’s celebrate the advent of Fall and help
our community gardens to get a jumpstart! There are two locations
that we will be working and afterward we will have a potluck lunch
(details below).

1) Building raised bed gardens for Stephen Foster Elementary School
When: 8:30 am
Where: 3800 NW 6th St. Gainesville. FL 32609
What: Bring a snack, water, gloves and a shovel if you have one, and
plan to help the school set up their fall gardens!

2) Highlands Presbyterian Church has 10 raised Gift Garden beds and
would like to invite the community to come help plant, tend and
harvest the Fall garden. All food form the garden will be used as a
community resource.
When: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Where: 1001 NE 16th Avenue
What: Bring your water, gloves and come out to help. Highlands will
be providing seeds and seedlings for planting, however gardeners are
also welcome to bring seeds or seedlings they would like to cultivate
in the Fall garden. Highlands will have an assortment of gardening
tools available, however if you have your own hand tools, please bring
them along. If you have questions regarding this or future involvement
with the Highlands Community Gardens, please contact Rev. Alisun
Donovan (352 214 0117) or Donna Mitchell (352 328 6579).

We hope you can join us, the workdays we will be having a potluck
lunch (doors open at 11:30) at Highlands Presbyterian Church for all
foodies and gardeners interested in conversation about community food
programs, gardens and how we can reinvigorate Slow Food Gainesville by
helping out with these types of projects.


Also, I (we) wanted to let you all know that we are renewing our
commitment to keeping our Slow Food group active! After a year of
dormancy (baby, new job, etc....) we are ready to recommit to you,
Slow Food, and helping our community move the needle for
sustainability in our food system! I hope to post at least every
couple weeks to share opportunities and ideas as I did before, will do
my best to get he website up to date and keep it more active and we
want to get more invovled with these and other community gardens as
well as start hosting farm tours and potlucks again. If you have any
info or ideas and time to share, feel free to drop us a line -
slowfoodgainesville@gmail.com

See you in the garden!
Anna and Melissa

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hawaiian Pork Chops


This is a new recipe I am working on. Any comments will be appreciated. We are enjoying the dish and find the left overs to be very tasty.


HAWAIIAN PORK CHOPS

5 or so large loin or boneless pork chops
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, 3 tablespoons
1-20 ounce can, crushed pineapple
1-14.5 ounce can, diced tomatoes, drained
2-3 teaspoons, Cajun seasoning,
2 tablespoons, garlic powder
2 teaspoons, black pepper
2 teaspoons, pepper flakes
2 tablespoons, soy sauce


Heat up a large skillet on medium heat. Add olive oil and allow it to coat the pan.

Salt and pepper both sides of the chops.

Place the chops in the skillet. They should sizzle when added. If not, turn up the heat.

Sear the chops and turn after they look golden brown on one side. Do the same for the back side.

Add remaining ingredients.

Bring to a boil and then lower heat to very low. Cook slowly on the stove top, semi-covered. When the pork reaches 160 degrees turn off the heat, cover, and prepare plates.

Serve with grits or rice.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Local Food Entrepreneurs: Pay Attention to Blue Oven Kitchens


Go to Blue Oven Kitchens' site (www.blueovenkitchens.org) for the status of the incubator kitchen being planned (now known as Blue Oven Kitchens). Regular trainings are scheduled and everyone interested in expanding the local food industry should be take advantage of these opportunities.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Gainesville Guardian reports on new kitchen at West Coast Seafood



http://www.gainesville.com/article/20100826/GUARDIAN/8261009

The new kitchen at West Coast Seafood, a new addition to their business, is cooking to order fresh seafood from their seafood market. In other words, you buy, they fry. We will be checking it out soon.

I am always looking for more seafood outlets and I plan to go back and see how West Coast rates. The garlic crabs will be high on the to-do list.

If this article's descriptions pan out, West Coast Seafood will be one more reason why Eastside Gainesville dining is the best in the city.

Will keep you posted.

Monday, August 30, 2010

EDIBLE PLANT PROJECT: A VERY WORTHY LOCAL FOOD GROUP TO KNOW ABOUT

Check out this group at their site: www.edibleplantproject.org. They are holding workshops today at 11 am at the Friends of the Gainesville Organic Blueberry Farm, 1621 SE 15th Street, Gainesville, FL.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Adirondack Crescent Cheeses Extolled in New Book



http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/note.php?note_id=138192759538557&id=318937002745

Check out this new book by the Halls, our North Central Florida neighbors!

Friday, July 09, 2010

HOW TO DO FLORIDA: NEW WEB SITE

WWW.HOWTODOFLORIDA.COM is a new web site that is now up and running. The site is run by the State of Florida ag folks and will spawn a state-wide television program beginning in the fall on Sun network. It looks good and promising. Check it out.

Monday, June 14, 2010

FYR: Great article on maintaining cast iron pans

http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/06/how-to-buy-season-clean-maintain-cast-iron-pans.html?utm_source=Serious+Eats+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=53f9805033-Serious_Eats_Weekly_Newsletter_June_14_2010&utm_medium=email

Thursday, June 10, 2010

THE JELLO MOLD MISTRESS OF BROOKLYN

I heard an interview with this woman, The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn. Here is the link to her blog and see link to the program.

www.victoriabelanger.wordpress.com

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Excellent article on upside down gardening

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/20/garden/20tomato.html?scp=1&sq=upside%20down%20gardening&st=cse

Times article on new grassroot food vendors in NYC

This article should be read by future food entrepreneurs. Lays out a view of the NYC scene.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/dining/02vendors.html?ref=dining

Sunday, May 16, 2010

NEWS FROM SLOW FOOD GAINESVILLE

A few interesting things here.

1. High Springs Farmers Market is seeking a Market Manager. Consider applying if you're looking for a little extra work on the side!

* Pays $100 per week
* Weekly duties include vendor relations, setup of market booth/signs, record keeping, outgoing personality, multi-tasking skills sincere commitment to the Farmers Market and familiarity with USDA laws helpful.
* Email your resume to the manager farmersmarket@highspringsmainstreet.com


2. Vote for Florida Organic Growers' GIFT Gardens! FOG is trying to build more gardens for low income residents, this time for a proposed project in the Porters Neighborhood. Click here to sign up and vote!

3. Local Food Potluck in Micanopy for the Transition Town network in celebration of Eat Local Month! Bring a local or mostly local dish to share. It is part of a new group in Micanopy that has started a "Transition Town" right here in Micanopy! Saturday, May 22nd, 2010 from 6 to 8 pm behind Mosswood Farm Store in Micanopy. Drinks will be provided. A speaker will be discussing the benefits and sustainability of a local food diet and we will be discussing the planning of a Micanopy community garden.

--
Supporting good, clean and fair food.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Friday, April 09, 2010

Fish Sauces explained. My secret ingredient


Lynn Rossetto Kaspar of the Splendid Table radio program swears by Three Crab fish sance as her go-to secret ingredient. The following is a good article on that sauce and other Asian fish sauces. I may be trying a few out.

http://importfood.com/satc2401.html

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Viva Voltaco's Spring Salad reprised

VIVA VOLTACO’S SPRING SALAD

Italian angels can cook, and they work at Voltaco’s in Ocean City, NJ, a seasonal Italian sub shop on West Avenue six blocks off the ocean and the boardwalk. In spite of being off the beaten path in this popular family beach resort, Voltaco’s is jammed with locals and tourists alike. They come for the fabulous food first and the angels second.

Aromas of freshly baked breads, pungent chopped herbs, and onions fill the small shop during lunch hour. A Voltaco's sub is wrapped in butcher’s paper, doused with Italian dressing and passed to eagerly awaiting customers. Each one is a blessing from heaven.

Owners Vicky and Joe Tacarrino are open during the summer months and make enough from their seasonal business to close up during the winter months. Next summer, if you are anywhere east of the Mississippi during the summer, go to Ocean City NJ and savor their wares. They are open for supper as well and sell freshly prepared and home made dishes ready to take home after a long day at the shore.

This salad is something we tried by accident when my wife decided not to have a sub. I tasted it and loved it every bit as much as their subs. We left determined to make our own version at home and our recipe follows. Here is our take on their salad.

Viva Voltaco’s.

Ingredients:

One bag of spring mix greens
2 pared and sliced fresh pears
a handful of walnuts
crumbled blue cheese
Voltaco balsamic dressing (balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, honey, mustard)
Balsamic vinegar. 3/8’s of a cup
1 teaspoon, lemon juice
salt, a pinch
black pepper, a pinch
Creole seasoning, a pinch
Honey, 2 tablespoons
Naples Valley Hot Mustard (or your favorite hot honey mustard)

To make the dressing:

In a food processor: To the balsamic vinegar add the lemon juice, salt, black pepper, Creole seasoning, honey, and Naples Valley Hot Mustard. Pulse several times. Through the tube of the processor, drizzle 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil while continuously running the processor until all oil is emulsified with the dressing.
Chill for an hour.

To assemble the salad:

Rinse the greens and either spin-dry them or wrap them in paper towels to soak up all of the water. The water will dilute the rich flavors. Place in a large salad bowl.
Add dressing and toss to coat the leaves.
Peel the pears, core, and slice. Arrange attractively on top of the greens.
Take a four finger pinch of walnut halves or broken walnuts and sprinkle over the salad in a circular motion.
Do the same with the blue cheese.
Serve from the serving bowl into smaller bowls with two serving spoons or forks making sure to top each serving with representative quantities of the pears, walnuts, and cheese.

FLORIDA FOOD SUMMIT, APRIL 12-13, 2010

Don't forget to attend the Florida Food Summit on April 12-13 at the J. Wayne Reitz Union at the University of Florida. The summit is sponsored by the UF Office of Sustainability and will be highlighted by a Fair and Farmers Market from 11 AM-3PM on the north lawn of the JWRU and talks both days.

The local food issue has been prominent in our agricultural and culinary circles. It is a boost to the movement to have attention given to this issue by UF.Please turn out.

For more information: www.sustainability.ufl.edu

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Monday, April 05, 2010

HOUSEKEEPING: A search tool is now part of my blog; ordering through Amazon can be done directly from the blog site

I have added a search function to my blog page to assist you in finding blog entries from my archives. This tool should make it easier for you and for me when looking for a restaurant review, menu, or recipe.

Also, if you are ordering books through Amazon, take a look at the books in the carousel or go there and order other books. CFF receives a small portion of your purchase to help me keep the reviews and articles coming. Many thanks.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Jones - A+ suppers

There are not enough stars in the sky to apply to the last two meals I have had at The Jones. First a water buffalo burger.....yes, you heard me right. Lean but juicy and very, very tasty. Tonight a chicken dish with shitake mushrooms, spinach, and a tomato cream sauce. I never give A + grades. This was off the charts. Heavens to Betsy!

More info to follow....

HARRY'S FELL DOWN LAST NIGHT

We had out of town guests and wanted to take them to a restaurant that showed off the downtown area, but was more informal than some. I had reviewed Harry's a while back on this blog and had given it flying colors.

Last night, however, the very same dishes were not good. The shrimp and scallops over the grits cake was way, way too salty and my wife's shrimp (shrimp and grits) was rubbery and overcooked. Consistency is important in the restaurant business and Harry's fell down last night. Maybe they had a new cook.

I would have sent my back but we had already waited a long time in spite of the restaurant not being full. Plus, we did not want to make a scene. The meal last night made me very reluctant to return. It is hard to reconcile having the very same dish be fabulous one night and lousy the next.

Billy, you need to "mentor" someone on your staff.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

THANKS FOR THE KIND WORDS, FLORIDA FOOD HOUND. GOOD LUCK IN YOUR NEW HOME IN ILLINOIS

Series on Gainesville Restaurants on East Side

Always good to learn about another blog covering the restaurant scene in and around Gainesville.

Check out CROSS FLORIDA FOOD for a series on local restaurants on the East side of town.

Lots of good ideas here. Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

East End Eatery: The Jewel of Eighth Avenue


East End Eatery (1202 NE 8th Avenue, Gainesville, FL 32601, 352-378-9870)is one of several sure-fire go-to restaurants on the east side of Gainesville. I can depend on their offerings and have thoroughly enjoyed each meal that I have had there. EEE features creative cuisine focusing on fresh,local foods whenever available. The dishes are healthful and all have intriguing tastes.

The restaurant came about after the success of its parent endeavor, Elegant Events Catering. Favorite dishes from the catering business have been incorporated into the EEE's menu. Their statement of purpose says it well: "As a locally owned small business, we strive to bring the very best of our community to you in the form of healthy, delicious and affordable lunches and carry-out. We have embraced the need for sustainability by providing Eco-friendly materials [menu and to-go packaging]. By utilizing sustainable methods in our preparation, we are doing our part to help preserve what we have -- a beautiful East End of Gainesville."

We have eaten there a number of times now. Often the menu features specials such as quiches, salads, and usually a hot dish. Their meat loaf and a beef stroganoff were definitely A plus comfort food. EEE's Mashed potatoes are better than Mama makes (sorry to the mothers of Gainesville).

Today, for example, we dropped by EEE for a quick lunch. My wife ordered quiche with a side curried apple sweet potato soup that was fresh, pungent, and with multiple layers of bright, rich flavor. The serving sizes were ample and the soup came in a large cup, much larger than normal. The quiche could have used stronger flavor, maybe a sharper cheese.

I ordered the Moroccan Chicken Salad Wrap that was flavored with oranges, dates, and cardamom. I was totally delighted with the wrap and found the meal tasty and refreshing. The side of potato salad was freshly made in the restaurant and "popped" with flavor.

This is definitely a go-to restaurant, a Percy Harvin of the Gainesville restaurant scene (along with Ruby's, The Jones). If you have not tried the East End Eatery, head on over and you will be glad you did.

GRADE: A

Monday, March 08, 2010

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Green Market, formerly Greenery Square, now hosts a farmers market on Fridays and Sundays. The site, located just east of the Mall on Newberry Road, is very accessible and convenient. The public attendance was a great success. We hope farmer vendors will join in and increase their participation. This site is destined to be a great success.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

GAINESVILLE'S EAST SIDE RESTAURANTS SERIES: Civilization, was "a" bomb, not "the" bomb

While starting a series in my blog on the quality/value of east Gainesville restaurants,we decided to start with one that I had not yet patronized. What a mistake!

Our dining experience at Civilization was grueling, painful, and tasteless. The only redeeming points to the restaurant were the industrial chic design of the place and the well-intentioned staff. Oh....and the toasted bread was crisp.

Basically, we spent an hour and half waiting for a table and waiting to be served. 90 minutes! When the meal finally arrived (Coq au Vin), it was pretty much tasteless without any depth of flavor.

A dish often put in the category of comfort food, this version coupled with the horrendously long wait rendered our visit to this restaurant a total bomb. If I had cooked this dish at home I would have considered what I was served to be a complete failure. My wife's flank steak was just OK and the chimichurri sauce was barely apparent.

Upon our arrival, the restaurant lot did not have many cars in the lot and we decided to give the restaurant a try. We went in and found two parties ahead of us. The hostess said we could be seated in about 15 minutes. With no place to sit, we stood at the door for about 20 minutes. We were finally offered some seats at a booth set up for waiting patrons, not diners.

Many of Civilization's flaws begin with poor table management. The restaurant needs to add more two person tables. There were many four person tables seating two people. One six person table that had been configured by sliding together one or more tables had two people seated at it. While the restaurant is small, better tabling is needed to maximize the numbers of people that can be served and the number of settings per table per evening. They will surely fail if this problem is not solved.

Several tables had customers with glassy eyed looks of having waited way too long for their food. One of the two parties ahead us, upon being seated, were quick to tell the waitress they were very ready to order. They seemed exasperated too at the long wait and had too ample an opportunity to review the limited menu.

At no point did anyone ask how our meal was etc. I had to flag down someone to request......a napkin. Finally, after we were able to pay our check, we left the restaurant passing the main counter and the hostess and manager/owner. There was not a word uttered. Nothing like "thanks" or "good night" or "we hope you enjoyed your meal."

I will not return. Why would I want to go to a restaurant where the wait is long/painful and the final dish served is tasteless and unimaginative?

Civilization needs to re-examine how they move people through their establishment comfortably and gracefully. Their food needs considerable improvement. If you are looking for good restaurants on the east side, there are many other excellent choices: Satchel's, Ruby's, East End Eatery, The Jones.

If you go to Civilization, be forewarned. I hope they can turn their restaurant around, but for now I can not give them a passing grade.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

GAINESVILLE'S EAST SIDE RESTAURANTS SERIES: RUBY'S RESTAURANT

To begin my series on east Gainesville restaurants, I am re-posting my review of Ruby's Restaurant. Day in and day out, Ruby's food is my favorite restaurant in town. Her cooking hits it out of the park every time.

RUBY'S RESTAURANT IS THE GEM OF GAINESVILLE RESTAURANTS



























Ruby's Restaurant located at 308 NW 5th Avenue (378-0490)is flat out my favorite restaurant in Gainesville and I recommend that you rush over and support this local business. I guarantee you will love their food. The first time I visited Ruby's I felt like Columbus when he first eyeballed the New World through his hand telescope. I was on to something very important. I felt like I had struck gold.

Once in a very, very rare while, I taste a dish in a restaurant that is so good on return visits I am incapable of ordering anything else on the menu. That experience has happened not once, not twice, but three times at Ruby's. Three of Ruby's signature dishes (there are more I have not tried yet) are Dirty Rice w/ Shrimp, Blueberry De-Lite, and their Gator Burgers. "Mercy," and a shake of the head is always my reaction after the first bite of each.

The Dirty Rice with Shrimp is a Louisiana inspired plate of rice and meat with beautiful seared and seasoned shrimp on top. I may never get past this dish when presented the menu. It is tasty and no one else in town has undertaken it. I will go back again and again for this spicy rice dish.

I am not really a dessert person but a taste of the Blueberry De-Lite is as fine a dessert as there is on the planet. New Orleans' Commander's Palace's bread souffle with whisky sauce has a challenger. The De-Lite has a crunch crust on the bottom with layers of pudding, cream cheese, blueberries, whipped cream and nuts. I try not to lead you into sin, but dive in on this one.

The Gator Burger is a show stopper. I was expecting your basic good small restaurant burger. Instead I saw them put the one pound patty on the grill. It looked like a frisbee. The burger came out perfectly cooked on Texas toast. I immediately knew that it was beyond my capacity so I cut it in half and saved the other half for a buddy at the office who loves fine burgers. I can not even imagine what the Double Gator Burger must look like.

Ruby's is owned by Ruby and Johnny Moore. Both come from families of fine cooks. If I were to label Ruby's, I would call it progressive home cooking. The Moores have put together a menu that pulls from African-American cooking traditions (the motherlode of Southern foodways) and takes that cuisine to the next level with unique twists and turns that make their dishes always tasty and often intriguing. Imagination and love are clearly at work at Ruby's. Their son, Johnny Jr., works in the restaurant and charms each customer with his enthusiasm for his parent's cooking. Give Ruby's a try. You will not be disappointed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Hogtown Homegrown

Local and Seasonal Recipes, Menus and More 


A periodical produced in Alachua County, Hogtown Homegrown, is well worth reading regularly. Their sidebar, What's Fresh Right Now, and other information about local food sources and production are valuable contributions to our local food community. Check it out at www.hogtownhomegrown.com.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Try out Thomasville's Sweet Grass Dairy cheeses at Union Street Farmers Market today

Today 02-17-10
Sweet Grass Dairy at
Union Street Farmers Market


Sweet Grass Dairy will be at the Union Street Farmers Market today. Lila will have the following cheeses with her . Greenhill, Crossroads Blue, Lumberjack, Harvest and Thomasville Tomme.
union
We hope you get the chance to come visit the Sweet Grass Dairy booth later today. As always, the hours will be 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm. See you this afternoon.
Sincerely,
The Sweet Grass Dairy Gang

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

GAINESVILLE'S BEST VALUES ARE ON THE EASTSIDE: REVIEW SERIES TO START THIS WEEK

My wife is out of town for a week and, as much as I love to cook, cooking for one person is a pain. I have been venturing out for lunch a bit more than normal and have found little to nothing in my neck of the woods (University and 34th Street area) that suits my tastes. Sometimes I just turn around and settle for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at home.

As I have searched in vain, it quickly has become obvious to me that my favorite restaurants in Gainesville are all on the east side of town, east of 6th Street. Starting with my favorite, Ruby's, on 5th Avenue (east of 6th Street) there are many fine restaurants waiting to serve you tasty and memorable meals at great prices. A number come immediately to mind: La Fortuna, East End Eatery, Terrell's Barbecue, The Jones, The Top, Juniors, Mac's Drive-Thru, The Sandwich Inn, Blue Water Bay, along with several fine restaurants in the city center's dining district.

While it is a bit of a trek for some of you who live on the west side, Gainesville is NOT that big of a town. A drive east takes a few minutes extra and the locally owned restaurants there will welcome you with open arms. Liberate yourselves from the Chain Restaurant Jungle that clutters Archer Road and most high traffic routes on the west side. Take a ride east and your will never go back. I guarantee you will marvel at the variety of restaurants that are trying to provide meals that are closer to home-made, show their ethnic roots, and do a better job of patronizing local food purveyors.

So... I am going to begin reviewing my favorites to spur you to action. Stay tuned and I will add a new review weekly until I run out of east side restaurants to recommend. That may take longer than you might think!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Easy Pepper Beef Stew

Last night, I was reading In Nonna's Kitchen, a wonderful book containing stories and recipes from Italian mothers and grandmothers. I came up with the following recipe that was inspired by one in the book. I highly recommend the book too!

EASY PEPPER BEEF STEW

3 lbs. stewing beef cut into 2 inch chunks
1 tablespoon, black pepper. Crush to release flavor.
Ten cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bottle of red wine - Burgundy is a good choice
salt  to taste
strong pinch of Cajun seasoning
liberal dash of soy sauce
1 pound box of sliced mushrooms
tomato paste to taste or up to one can
a healthy splash of Three Crabs Fish sauce (optional)
Ketchup, 1/2 cup

Place all in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours. Serve over whole wheat noodles or brown basmati rice. MMMMMMMmmmmmmmm good.

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