Jan Norris: Food and Florida

Food, Restaurants, Recipes and Pre-Disney Florida

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Thanksgiving Dinner – Plan It Out to Pull It Off

November 21st, 2014 · No Comments

kid tday letter Thanksgiving Dinner   Plan It Out to Pull It Off

 

Here’s a 3-year-old’s idea of how easy Thanksgiving dinner is. If only!

Actually, the dinner isn’t that hard. If you break it down into the individual dishes, it’s really quite easy, once you know How to Cook A Turkey.  There are enough recipes around the web that teach you how to make every part of the meal succssfully.

But it’s all that planning and timing. There be the dragons of Thanksgiving dinners everywhere.

Just consider: You’re doing what hotel banquet chefs (PLURAL) do every day, but without all the help! It’s a heroic thing to make this dinner with maybe only one helper – let alone do it by yourself. And guess what – most pro cooks get into trouble and have looked like this at one time:

 

lucy chocolates 500x385 Thanksgiving Dinner   Plan It Out to Pull It Off

 

Things go smoothly at first, then the clock seems to do this:

 Thanksgiving Dinner   Plan It Out to Pull It Off

Slow down and don’t panic

No worries! I’ve got you covered – here’s my pretty much fail-proof planner.

It covers everything from tablecloths, to how much to cook, to when to put the rolls in the oven. I can’t help you with dear evil Aunt Rose, who insists on smiling as she asks why you’re not married – especially since “even Charles Manson is!”

Print this out!

Click on the link below and print out my master plan tonight – hoping it’s Friday before Thanksgiving as I write it, you have most of a week to get going.

Sit down with your recipe box and a glass of wine. Get a pen and paper and get to work. The planning you do now will make you feel like this, the day of:

arthur wide 08cbafcbc2d0257f734ebec140e0f3c657263a66 s4 c85 500x280 Thanksgiving Dinner   Plan It Out to Pull It Off

CHEERS!

GO HERE for the Thanksgiving Day Planner!

 

 

 

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Freebies for Halloween – and Free Rides From AAA for Those Who Imbibe

October 31st, 2014 · No Comments

kkreme boo deals 500x500 Freebies for Halloween   and Free Rides From AAA for Those Who Imbibe

 

Boo! or Trick or Treat! – those phrases can get you free foods and dog treats or other goodies at participating national chains.

One of our favorites is at PDQ – arrive in costume and kids will eat free – plus, you get buy-one get-one-free on ANY order. PDQ, where they make your salads and chicken fresh to order, is one of the better “fast” food spots around. (Local PDQ outlets are at Palm Beach Lakes just west of I-95, and in Wellington, on  S.R. 7 south of the mall).

Here are a bunch of others. Leave comments if you know of even more.

  •  Baja Fresh: Buy an adult entree and kids in costume eat free with this coupon:

kidsmeal coupon bajafsh 500x207 Freebies for Halloween   and Free Rides From AAA for Those Who Imbibe

  • Chipotle: Wear a costume, and after 5 p.m., a burrito and other meals are only is only $3. (Benefits Chipotle Cultivate Foundation to promote sustainable foods.)
  • Petco: Get a pound of free dog treats from the Treat Bar through today with a $10 purchase and their “unleashed” coupon from their website.

 

  • Krispy Kreme: Show up in costume and choose a free doughnut, including the special edition Ghostbusters doughnuts.
  • Sbarro: Kids in costume get a free slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza.
  • IHOP: Kids can create their own “scary face” pancake for free.
  • Wendy’s: Buy a Halloween Frosty coupon book for $1 and get coupons for free Frostys. (Benefits the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
  • Sonic: Corn dogs are 50 cents on Halloween.
  • Arby’s: Say “trick or treat” when you order, and they’ll add bacon to your order (even milkshakes.)
  • Jamba Juice: Free smoothies for kids, 2-7 p.m.
  • Olive Garden: Free kid’s meal with the purchase of an adult entree and a coupon from their website.
  • Carraba’s Italian Grill: Free kid’s meal with the purchase of an adult entree.
  • Starbucks: After 2 p.m., get a “Franken Frappucino” or other grande Frappucino for only $3.

FOR THE ADULTS:

It’s the scariest thing about Halloween – people who drink and drive. Don’t do it! Call AAA for them or for you – they’ll get you home safe. Or if you’re my friend, call me – no questions asked. I’ll come for you.

  • AAA Holiday Safe Ride Program: You do NOT have to be a member of AAA to get a free ride or tow all weekend from AAA. They’ve teamed up with Anheuser-Busch to keep impaired drivers off the roads. Don’t drink and drive! Put it in your phone right now! 855-286-9246 (855-2-TOW-2-GO).

ONE TO MAKE THESE FOR THE KIDS!

jellyworms Freebies for Halloween   and Free Rides From AAA for Those Who Imbibe

Use a dark red gelatin or green for green worms – and put them in a bowl of “dirt” – crushed chocolate creme cookies. Ewww!

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EatBeat: Avocado Grill, with Farm-to-Table Menu, Opening in Former Gratify Space

October 8th, 2014 · No Comments

avocado grill guac EatBeat: Avocado Grill, with Farm to Table Menu, Opening in Former Gratify Space

Guacamole and other avocado dishes star on Avocado Grill’s menu of small plates. /photo provided.

Julien Gremaud is closing in on the finishing touches of his new downtown West Palm Beach restaurant, Avocado Grill. He’s hiring in preparation for the opening tentatively set for next week.

We caught up with the former executive chef of Pistache, now opening his own concept, during construction at the 1955 building on Datura to talk about the new venture. It’s in the spot that once was home to Spoto’s Oyster Bar, Gratify Gastropub, and most recently, Barrel and Grain.

I stepped around tools, building materials and workers on ladders to meet him in the restaurant for a tour of the large room that will be divided into a bar area and dining space. Outdoor dining also is in place out front and along the west side of the building.

In lime (he said avocado) green shorts and a pink shirt, he was all smiles despite the chaos.

“We’re improving the space throughout,” he said. An open kitchen still remains from the days of Spoto’s, but the bar area, which once swooped into the bar area, is smaller to allow bigger bar tables and more dining seating.

The “casual, sophisticated” restaurant’s theme is avocados, symbolizing fresh Florida foods with a healthy profile.

“They’re a superfood, too, and I just love them – I think they are what a Florida lifestyle is about. People are getting

The location on the waterfront was perfect for his idea, he said.]

“As soon as I saw this space, we wanted to brighten it. It screams healthy food, great cocktails, wine and sharing plates of food.”

The new American menu

Julien table EatBeat: Avocado Grill, with Farm to Table Menu, Opening in Former Gratify Space

Julien Gremaud chose a piece of a ship’s hull from Bali as a tabletop for community dining at Avocado Grill. /photo by Jan Norris

It’s what today’s diners are beginning to seek out, he said.

“People want to eat healthier today. And lighter foods – especially in South Florida. When it’s 100 degrees outside, you want something more refreshing.

“It’s how they eat in Italy. It’s all about the climate,” he said, and in Saint-Tropez, his hometown in coastal France.

The theme also lends itself to small, shared plates.

“I think we miss that concept in America. My inspiration was how appealing it is to be able to sit down and try different things in one meal. Share sushi or oysters with friends over a glass of wine.”

He sees restaurants everywhere changing their menu formats.

“I strongly believe we will lose the traditional concept of appetizer, main dish and dessert as a meal,” he said. “Small plates are the way it is going to be in the future. The great thing about them is you get to taste different creations all in one meal and discover new flavors.”

It’s also playing off the social aspect of sharing a meal with friends and talking to one another – slowing down and actually having conversations, he said. A large table in the bar area is for communal seating.

“Everything we do comes in coquottes (small casserole containers), and individual ramekins set in the middle of the table.”

Flavors for the dishes will be drawn from other sun-drenched countries around the Mediterranean, Asia and South America, he said.

Self-designed, and sustainable build-out

avocado grill tables EatBeat: Avocado Grill, with Farm to Table Menu, Opening in Former Gratify Space

Booths and tables are Gremaud’s design. /photo provided

He stops to peel back a sheet of thick plastic to show off a communal table for the bar area, made of recycled ship’s wood. Gremaud is overseeing all aspects of the décor.

“It’s part of a hulk of a Balinese ship – over 100 years old. The wood is so beautiful.” A faint layer of paint still shows through – put on to protect the wood, he said. “I love the old wood and iron,” he said. “It has history.”

It’s also a form of recycling, he figures, which fits into his theme of earth-friendly foods.

Reclaimed shutters will go on the wall in front of the kitchen. Vinyl that looks like fabric will cover the small banquettes and a local marble company will make the tabletops.

“The most complicated thing is the back bar,” he said. A shelf system suspended from the ceiling will hold the bottles.

“It is the weight of a car. We will have strong cables holding it up.”

A stainless steel raw bar will be next to the drinks area. “We’ll have fresh oysters, but we’ll shuck them in the back. It’s a beautiful open kitchen so you can see it all right there.”

A mirror behind the bar will reflect the light and brighten the room, but Grimaud is keen on the huge doors that open out to reveal the amphitheater, and Intracoastal beyond it.

“The doors will be open all the time. I think it’s a beautiful view, and we will still have seating outside on the sidewalk. We’re adding more seats to the side of the building and changing the plants, too.”

The city code won’t allow for a wall or even certain landscaping for the outside area that borders a parking lot. “We wanted a door to open out there and make it easier but they city won’t allow that, either,” he said.

Grimaud scoured antique shops, flea markets and stores to find décor and serving pieces.

He smiles broadly telling of his recent trip to his native France, where he took time off to get engaged – all while shopping for the restaurant.

“I found copper dishes for small plates at the flea market there.”

The price made him pause, he said. Not long ago, you could find inexpensive old copper kitchenware there, he said, but no longer. “It used to be thrown away – now they are all looking for it to buy it back,” he said, shrugging.

Hand-molded tile for the bar was another quest. “It’s everywhere in Europe, but you don’t find it here.”

He located only one man doing them in Miami – and he’s eight months out in orders, Gremaud said. Though he could have bought them off the Internet, he chose to go with the local artisan as part of his commitment to buying local whenever possible.

Local artisans and food producers will be a large part of the restaurant, he said.

“I’ll buy bread from a local bakery and try to support the local community. But, if you do only farm-to-table, you will have a very limited menu. You can’t get certain things here in summer and some things not at all.”

Artichokes aren’t grown in Florida, yet he wants crispy artichoke hearts on his menu.

Local foods emphasized

He’s partnering with local produce buyer Joe Scalisi to create the seasonally inspired menu and source products in season found on local farms.

“He’ll juggle the information and see who has what. I want to eventually build up relationships with the farmers,” Grenaud said.

The sources of the ingredients will be listed on the menu whenever possible.

The menu is divided into eight categories – avocado, salads, vegetables, land, sea, pasta, sushi and large plates.

Sushi will be only rolls, and not the usual, he said.

While there will be vegetable plates on the menu, and some gluten-free foods, “I will not be focused on vegan dishes,” he said. “There will be a wide list of vegetables to choose, and of course, six or seven preparations with avocados.”

Beverages get their own craft treatment – cocktails made with infusions made in-house, and fresh juices for drinks like a kiwi-basil margarita. “We’ll be using things like coconut milk and yuzu in some.”

House-made desserts round it all out.

He’s hoping it all catches quickly, though a soft opening is planned to work out any problems. But he remains confident.

“I’ve had plenty of time to prepare. It will be approachable and I think people will like it,” he said. “I hope they do.”

Avocado Grill

  • 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach
  • 561-506-0821; avocadogrill.com
  • Opening mid-October for dinner daily, and brunch on the weekends.
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