Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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EatBeat: Jan in Houston; Closings and Openings

October 15th, 2008 · 4 Comments

I’m in Houston this week meeting with other food editors and writers from around the country as part of our annual Association of Food Journalists conference. The big topic is the state of newspapers and what’s going to happen with the food sections in them. To say my former peers are nervous is the understandment of the year. But I love this group of dedicated professionals who turn out some of the best food writing in the country – we’re all old friends, and have a great time together, getting our batteries recharged.

We eat well on these trips, of course, but I welcome suggestions from you readers for Houston dining — I have a few days to explore and a friend with a car. Use the CONTACT at the top of the home page to tell me where you like to eat if you know the city. (Looking for off the path stuff, of course – you know me!) Barbecue is on my agenda, some Cajun cooking, and more. I’ve already eaten at a hot new Asian restaurant, GiGi’s Asian Bistro (heaven-sent pot stickers and a curious dried but most beef…) George 41 has eaten here (that would be former Prez Bush) — and the restaurant has ties to Palm Beach County, so I’ll report more on that later.

Back at home

Palm Beach Restaurant Week means diners can get out of the top restaurants on the island at lunch for $20.08 – and that’s a three-course meal. Great deal and 11 restaurants are participating. It’s Oct. 20-26; don’t miss your chance to eat somewhere you might not consider because of price.

Disney World’s International Food and Wine Fest continues through November 9; it’s easier than ever to get around because they’ve contained the seminars and bottle signings and a marketplace in the Odyssey. They also have a card you can use to swipe for food – load it up like a gift card to eat and sip your way around Epcot at the wine and food kiosks. The Eat to the Beat concert series has a few concerts to go on the weekends; it’s all fun (entrance is free with park ticket purchase) and showcases great foods and wines that can be found at some of the theme park’s restaurants, as well.

Speaking of which, there’s a new restaurant in the Contemporary Resort– Waves — definitely worth a look. A focus is on organics and natural foods here, with sustainable fishes and natural meats featured.  (The bread is superb – don’t miss it — great in the French toast at breakfast.) It’s a small manageable menu, with some signature drinks at the chic bar and “lounge” area. Pretty place, family friendly. It took the place of the so-so food court and grab-and-go on the first floor behind the check-in desks. A whole new arcade and family fun area is going into the resort’s 4th floor, where they still have character breakfasts. Check back: I have a travel piece on the Contemporary that will tell you more soon. (Hint: They’re adding a vacation club in towers next to the resort.)

Coming soon: The Lobster House in Tequesta….where the old Denny’s was on U.S. 1. More to come on that one.

Now open: Taverna Opa!, the Greek chain with dancing on the table and a lively after-hours scene  – at CityPlace. Charles Passy gives a good report on it in today’s Palm Beach Post Tabletalk. The brewpub inside the Corner Cafe on U.S. 1, in Tequesta. More to come on that one, too, and a big thanks to Dan Oliver, The Beer Guy at the Palm Beach Post, for following it for me.

Closed: City Kitchen, The Grape and Dale & Thomas Gourmet Popcorn — all at Downtown at the Gardens in Palm Beach Gardens. More on this situation later.

Tags: The Eat Beat: Restaurant News

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jordan // Oct 15, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    so glad to hear you were able to attend the AFJ conference this year. The event we did with you guys in Charlotte a few years ago was still one of my favorites.

    Too bad to hear about City Kitchen… Coral Gables hasn’t really been the same since City Cellar closed… very dead on that part of Miracle Mile.

  • 2 Ben // Oct 17, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I would be in heaven to be surrounded by that many people who know and love food! Wow.

    The St. Regis in Houston has incredible salads with homemade dressings. I rarely eat salad, however, their dressings make consuming lettuce wonderful.

    Safe travels.

  • 3 Ben // Oct 17, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Very sad to see Dale & Thomas Popcorn close, but it does not surprise me. Last time I was there, it appeared dreadfully slow.

    I order the D&T Popcorn online and it has quickly become a gift of choice. The chocolate carmel chunk is probably my favorite… and everyone raves about it.

  • 4 ksteinhoff // Oct 20, 2008 at 10:26 am

    Did your foodies finally decide to cut bloggers some slack?

    Trust me, it won’t be long before EX-print editor bloggers outnumber print editors.

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