Jan Norris: Food and Florida

Food, Restaurants, Recipes and Pre-Disney Florida

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Gifts for Florida Cooks

December 13th, 2010 · No Comments

There’s usually a food lover on everyone’s gift list – sometimes, they’re easiest to buy for, since new cookbooks, tools and ingredients are at everyone’s disposal.

But for cooks who live in South Florida, a number of local stores, greenmarkets and other sources for uniquely Florida gifts.

Here’s a look at some to consider.

Food stuffs

Always a sweet gift, honey is a true prize from Florida. We have three notable kinds, among a large number: Orange blossom, preferred for its sweet, floral flavor by many chefs; palmetto honey, a unique smooth, herbal flavor; and the king of honeys and my personal favorite, tupelo. Tupelo, from the Apalachicola region, is considered the purest honey in the world – its unique make-up means it never crystalizes. You can buy some at the Palm Beach Gardens GreenMarket on Sunday from the Florida Honey booth, hit a honey stand on your way back from the Panhandle (there’s one around Panacea), or online – Amazon carries a Florida-based brand.

As a cook, I always appreciate spices. A number of spice folks sell regularly at area greenmarkets. so check them out and pick up a few interesting blends (you can taste them on the spot). Alternately, the Spice and Tea Exchange in Boca Raton’s Mizner Park has a number of spices, teas, and sugars to make anyone a more flavorful cook.

As a hostess, I also appreciate good cheeses. The coolest shop for these is The Cheese Course, also in Boca’s Mizner Park. The knowledgeable staff there can turn you on to pairings of wines with the cheeses from around the world, and let you taste, as well.

For the semi-pro

So your friend thinks they want to go pro – maybe make cupcakes or bottle a hot sauce or salad dressing. Local cookie maker, Lori Saitz offers How to Go Pro Coaching — teaching food entrepreneurs how to produce and market a product and handle state codes and legal issues as she has done with her successful Zen Rabbit Cookies. Contact her for a gift certificate for a one-on-one coaching session by callingĀ  561-889-8195 or via email at: Lori@ZenRabbitBC.com

Rent a commercial kitchen for your friend (or play caterer yourself and throw a major party!). Chrissy Benoit runs The Production Kitchen in West Palm Beach – contact her at 561-833-3585. In Tequesta, the Mise En Place kitchen is yours to rent – call Stacey and Mike Webb at 561-676-8716.


The Junior League of Boca Raton celebrates 10 years with their Savor the Moment– a lovely representation of South Florida entertaining recipes, and a James Beard Cookbook award winner for its classy look and the CD included – a real bonus.

Florida food writer Linda Gassenheimer has a new book out on Florida Keys cooking: The Flavors of the Florida Keys. She’s a Miami gal – hear her on the radio on WLRN from 1:30 to 2 p.m. Thursdays. She talks to a lot of local chefs to get their recipes and food insights for the update to the 1991 book.

Looking for a literary tie? Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote her classic,Cross Creek Cookery in 1942, an old Florida cookbook I particularly love.

Steven Raichlen’s classic, Miami Spice: The New Florida Cuisine is highly recommended, as is Three Guys from Miami Cook Cuban– a great resource for Cuban flavors.

I’ll go ahead and plug my little book while I’m at it: Florida Morning Glory – recipes from Florida’s bed and breakfasts. Brunch, breakfast and hors d’oeuvre recipes in a compact little tome.

Check back and I’ll list more – or share your favorites in the comment section.

*Disclosure: While I get no money from any local purveyors for mentioning their products, I am linked to a free program through Amazon (anyone can join it) and if you click through to Amazon from my web site and actually buy a product, I earn a miniscule percentage per order. (Wish I sold their cars!) I guarantee a jar of honey’s profit doesn’t come close to how much it costs me to produce my web site. I provide the links as a courtesy for my readers – that’s it.

Tags: Florida! · Holiday cooking

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