August 4th, 2014 · 1 Comment
Ramen noodles can only take a brain so far. And they add up to the dread Freshman 15 – as in pounds you’re going to gain in the first year because you’re eating stupid. Mom and Dad are not there to cook at least one balanced meal for you.
Here are foods you need to have around – with bang for buck nutrition.
Almond or nut butter. Skip the Skippy – too much sugar. Give almond or cashew butter a try. I’m wild about this one:
To make a neat Thai peanut sauce for the salad you brought home from the dining hall, or frozen egg rolls your mom sent, you’ll need these to go with that nut butter:
(And the above is gluten-free.)
Smart kids pick up extra hard-boiled eggs from the dining room and make egg salad or deviled eggs with them. See the above Sriracha sauce for them – along with mayo and mustard – also must-haves in your slim pantry.
Make your own trail mix in huge batches, and repackage into small cans for midnight snacking. Seeds, a little dark chocolate and maybe some nuts, if you can handle them. Start with seeds and dried fruit.
Forget bread – buy pitas and tortillas instead. These are decent.
You want to eat fresh fruit and veggies, and can steal some from the dining hall, but you’re bad about getting around to them. Buy Green Bags that help the produce last longer in your fridge.
These Green Bags are reusable.
Keep the iron plate clean – invest in a sandwich press – there’s no end to what you can press to make food – way beyond grilled cheese. Think chicken quesadillas, Italian hot paninis, hot pastrami on rye, tuna melts, pattie melts, veggie burgers, hot chocolate chip cookies for ice cream sandwiches…and chocolate turnovers – to impress those guests.
And if you are on the Meal Plan and have a moderately equipped dining hall, here are the hacks for it, courtesy of BuzzFeed.
More restaurant news from around the area, a follow up on my recent post about openings and closings.
Lobster-stuffed red snapper at The Island /courtesy photo
The Island Restaurant & Lounge has opened in Lake Worth in the former Bizarre Avenue Cafe location on Lake Avenue.
With a Caribe flair, the restaurant offers dishes such as locally caught whole red snapper stuffed with lobster, stewed pork in ginger sauce, and fried Key West grouper. Curries, and tropical spices figure prominently in the foods.
Local and organic produce is the goal when possible, owners say. Tropical fruits are a mainstay, along with classic and reinvented rum cocktails.
The restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m.. The upstairs lounge features live music nightly.
The Island Restaurant and Lounge, 921 Lake Ave., Lake Worth; 561-5884488; theislandlakeworth.com
The Chickpea features a hummus bar. /courtesy photo
Still fairly new, The Chickpea, a casual hummus bar and Mediterranean grill, opened on Clematis in downtown West Palm Beach in April. It gets top reviews from vegetarians and gluten-free diners as well as mainstream diners (there are beef and chicken offerings).
It’s a multiple-choice menu – choose a pita wrap, a bowl or platter, then start adding fillings (chicken, falafel, beef, hummus) and sauces. Add-ons include all the special hummus varieties, and spreads like guacamole made from chickpeas, m’hamara – walnuts and red peppers, baba ganoush. Side salads are quinoa, tabouleh or a chopped cucumber salad.
Chickpea is open from 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday.
The Chickpea, 400 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-755-5151; the-chickpea.com
Chef Scott Guli
Garden City Cafe is a new Italian opened last weekend in Palm Beach Gardens by a former Carmine’s chef, Scott Guli. He learned from his father’s restaurants in New York, and brought his skills to South Florida working at CG Burgers, Carmine’s Coal Fire Pizza, Noche nightclub and Carmine’s Ocean Grill.
Along with Italian trattoria classics – pizzas, calzones and rolls and a variety of pastas – a Chef’s specials list includes St. Louis ribs, Garden City “old school” fried chicken, and sliced sirloin steak chimichurri. Contemporary flatbreads include the Garden City – with goat cheese, caramelized onions, mushrooms, Kalamata olives, mozzarella and a crispy onion topping. The Brisket flatbread has caramelized onions and red cabbage slaw while the Bang Bang shrimp contains Stilton cheese.
Guli also has a “Good for you” menu featuring gluten-free and vegetarian offerings along with modern salads. Pizzas and pastas can be made gluten-free for a $3 upcharge.
It’s open for lunch and dinner daily. An early-bird menu is served 3-6 p.m.
Garden City Cafe in PGA Commons West, 5520 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-370-3436; gardencitycafepga.com
The original Mrs. Smokey’s Bar-B-Q in Lake Park. /courtesy photo
Mrs. Smokey’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q of Lake Park is planning to open its second location in Jupiter in the Abacoa Plaza. A September opening is the goal.
Rendering of EatScene, planned for downtown West Palm Beach.
Eat-Scene, based loosely on Eataly in New York and the original, Eatzi’s in Dallas, Texas, is a gourmet market/deli/bakery/cafe concept coming to downtown West Palm Beach. Owner Tony Solo is a West Palm Beach resident.
The hand-out statements project 20 independent vendors offering fresh produce, meats and seafoods, spices, teas, coffees, chocolates, baked goods and more. A deli and prepared food section will be indoors along with four “micro-eateries.” A traditional bier garden is shown outdoors in renderings.
The “mission” as stated is “to create a ‘market culture’ for wine and food enthusiasts.”
Eat-Scene will be at the corner of Quadrille and Fern Street – a block east of Publix at CityPlace. It’s planned to open in December.
California Pizza Kitchen’s harvest kale salad. /courtesy photo
California Pizza Kitchen, which has a flagship in Sawgrass Mills in South Florida, has changed up its menu with more sophisticated choices – and a few contemporary twists on old favorites.
At a media dinner in Boca Raton last week, samples of the new menu included a Bianco California flatbread – with whipped truffle cream layered on a flatbread crust with Gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses, studded with a bit of garlic and sage leaves. It was a winner – even for the 8-year-olds I had in tow to try out the kids’ menu.
Another favorite was the Harvest kale salad. The kale paired nicely in this fresh mix of farro – a much underused grain – carrots, Napa cabbage, cranberries, grapes and goat cheese. A light vinaigrette let the flavors come through.
Cedar plank-roasted halibut, a wood-fire grilled boneless ribeye (also Little Leaguers-approved), and a roasted garlic chicken with vegetables round out the entrees.
From the pizza and flatbreads menu, a new Lobster roll flatbread is just that – lobster roll mixture on a flatbread – makes a light lunch and is chunky with lobster meat.
The new cocktails on the bar list are standouts, too – the unique California Roots has a creamy froth thanks to avocado. It’s mixed with vodka, mint, agave sour and has a fennel salt rim.
The Boca store interior has been opened up to include more tables and fewer booths – with the view of the pizza chef, who was kind enough to toss some for the crowds, and with the kids.
California Pizza Kitchen has numerous locations in South Florida, including the Boca Town Center, 6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton; 561-368-2805; cpk.com
3rd and 3rd in Delray Beach is closed, management says for the summer (Sept. 1). A sign on the door indicates they’re renovating and making some changes while taking a break for the summer.
Bistro Gastronomie in Yamato Village Plaza in Boca Raton has closed. The well received restaurant said it’s closed for restructuring of management. They responded to an online note about it with their own note – in their words:
“We regret any inconvenience that has been caused due to the temporary closure of the restaurant while it undergoes a reformation of ownership. Bistro Gastronomie and it’s former staff genuinely appreciated the opportunity to serve all of our valued guests. We look forward to your valued patronage again very soon and with all of the excitement with a fresh start. Thank you for taking the time to write. Best Culinary wishes.”
In Lake Park, Out to Lunch, a breakfast, lunch and catering spot on U.S. 1, has closed.
Also in Lake Park, Philly’s Sub Joint on U.S. 1. has closed.
Tags: The Eat Beat: Restaurant News · Where to Eat in Palm Beach County
This article is reprinted from the Palm Beach Gardens edition of Florida Weekly newspaper, July 10, 2014.
By Jan Norris
Chicago diners and Palm Beach diners like the same foods, but the Chicago diners are “more laid back,” according to chef Michael McLaurin of Del Frisco’s Grille. “They play around more and are more relaxed.”
The executive chef at the grill says steaks are certainly a big seller here and in the Windy City, where he got his start. But dining habits and attitudes are different. “They go out to eat more than people in Chicago,” he said. “And here, they’re more serious about their food. And more demanding. They want what they want when they want it.”
He got his start in a pizzeria — first, as a dishwasher, and when pressed into service as a pizza maker, found a talent for working behind the stoves. He was playing football in high school and considered going pro.
But a love for cooking, starting when he was 6 or 7 years old, cooking grilled cheese and eggs for his family, overtook his football ambitions.
Michael McLaurin started cooking for his family when he was 6 or 7; he now is chef at Del Frisco’s Grille, which opened last year at Royal Poinciana Plaza in Palm Beach.
“I decided to skip (football) at the college level. I wanted to have a backup plan. I ended up going with the culinary side to the College of DuPage and later, the Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago.”
It served him well. “Not a day goes by that I’m not doing something school taught me — I use (the lessons) every day.”
Chicago a teaching ground
Mr. McLaurin picked up his current grill lessons in restaurants in and around Chicago — Zed451 and Moxie, and traveling to kitchens with the Levy group. At one point, he owned his own catering company, MCM Catering.
Cooking for the VIP programs at the U.S. Open and Kentucky Derby were highlights of his travels, he said.
Del Frisco’s Grille, Palm Beach
He came to Del Frisco’s Grille via the Double Eagle Steak House in New York’s Times Square.
Working within the Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, he was promoted to sous chef and moved around to the different concepts they opened.
There are three concepts — the Double Eagle Steak House — it’s a typical steakhouse and there are 15 or 16 from Texas, Vegas,New York, Charlotte, N.C.,” he said. “Then Sullivan’s Steak House — it’s the same type of steakhouse but with a lower price point. There are 25 of those.
“And Del Frisco’s Grille — their latest — it’s a grill and more casual concept. It’s more fun. We get to play with the food a little more. Things like ahi tuna tacos, cheesecake egg rolls — it’s more of a family type of place.”
Broiling is a specialized technique
Along the way, he learned the ins and outs of proper broiling — the technique he most enjoys.
“It’s different from grilling. With grilling, the fire is on the bottom. But in broiler, you sear a piece of meat and you’re cooking it from the top to the bottom, so the juices can run down into it.
“It’s also cooking at a higher heat — almost in an enclosed space. Our broilers here are at about 1,800 degrees — at restaurants, that kicks up some really high heat.”
Meats cook quickly and must be watched carefully, but the result is a steak with a light char that remains moist and tender, he said.
“It’s one of our signature dishes — we want to be known for our steaks. They’re all Prime USDA grade. But other standouts are the veal meatloaf — it’s a comfort food people love. And the beef shortribs stroganoff that’s amazing.”
As executive chef, he says, “It’s my kitchen. It’s my responsibility — from bringing the food in to putting it on the plate. I have to make sure everybody knows what they need to do for perfection.”
Loyal staff counts
He has a dedicated staff, and praises them equally, though he says the hardest part of a job as chef is motivating everyone. “I have to be sure they’re doing the right things. Other than that, we have a lot of fun in the kitchen. They’re the staff I started with — they’re here all year. The staff inNew York was a great staff as well — you can take the ones from Palm Beach and they’d be just as comfortable in New York — they are similar diners.”
A demand from one of his pickier diners is no problem, he said. “If we have it in house, we’ll do it. I have no problem making anything for anyone.” Serving the guest and giving them a good experience is paramount, he said.
“You’ve got to deliver, or they won’t come back.”
When it’s busy and the kitchen is slammed, working on a time limit, it can be stressful, he said, but, “Other than that, we have a lot of fun in the kitchen.
“When everything comes out fine and good, it’s a great place to work.”
On his off time, he relaxes with his wife and 4-year-old daughter at the pool, or beach, saying he loves South Florida and especially the weather.
It’s a struggle with a chef’s schedule to have a family life, and young children, he said, but civil hours at Del Frisco’s help.
“I try my best, and now I get to put her to bed every day, and tell her a bedtime story. I’m still trying to find that balance.”
Q&A in the chef’s words
Name: Michael McLaurin
Restaurant: Del Frisco’s Grille, 340 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach; 557- 2552; delfriscosgrille.com
Original hometown: University Park, Ill., about 10 minutes south of Chicago.
Mission as a chef: “To ‘FEED’ guests, by bringing in the freshest and the best product possible. FEED means Far Exceeding Expectations Daily.”
Cuisine style: “Grilling.”
Training for your job: “Washburne Culinary Institute, Chicago.”
What’s your footwear of choice in the kitchen? “Mozos.”
What’s your guilty food pleasure? “Chocolate-covered strawberries.”
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a restaurateur or chef? “Have a short memory, because you are only as good as your last meal you put out.”
Tags: Chefs of Note