Archive for the ‘FOOD’ Tag

How to dine   Leave a comment

Dinner fit for a King (or you)

More and more people are (were?) cooking and eating at home usually just throwing something together and serving it when it only takes a minute or two longer to dine at home. You can even go one step further and make eating an adventure by serving all items separately and let each person make their own combinations. Or you can just nuke the frozen dinner, plop it on the table and eat.

  1. This particular dinner had chicken, broccoli and rice.
  2. I combined 2 bags of broccoli and cauliflower ‘rice’, a can of low sodium black beans and a can of vegetable linguini. I am a big vegetable eater and I use this combination over 5 days along with whatever vegetables come with the frozen protein dinner.
  3. I combine a can of low sodium, meatless pasta sauce along with a can of medium salsa (which is the reason for the other low sodium items.) Also, a bag of shredded cheese.
  4. All these items could be served separately on a plate or
  5. Combined all together. I top it with the chicken and white rice.
  6. Add a salad made of various lettuces chopped, tomatoes, onions and dressing of your choice and last, for dessert, a pint of fresh strawberries mixed with a bag of defrosted frozen assorted berries top with 2 packets of Sweet ‘n Low. Depending how hungry I am I will eat it all (I love fruit) or divide it among 2-3 meals.

If I wanted to go all out I would wear my silk bathrobe to eat a dinner fit for a King!

Posted May 24, 2020 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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FISHTALES RESTAURANT & NIGHTCLUB–REVIEW   Leave a comment


If you want to experience first rate service get over to the Fishtale Restaurant and Nightclub and just watch Debbie in action. She has a rhythm that keeps her moving, while keeping an eye on all her customers, acting just before they will call her for something. From the moment you enter, and she tells you to sit where you want and waits for you to decide, to saying goodbye when you leave she does everything right. You won’t have to ask for any drink refills, she will suggest the best items, tell you about all the entertainment they have in the evenings, bring you more bread just as you dunk your last slice into the wine/garlic/oil fluid of your bucket of seafood. She has a sense of humor, knows the menu, treats each of her customers as special people and seems to love her job!

Fishtales Restaurant and Nightclub is more than just Debbie though she is a very important part of the whole ambiance. There are bright neon fish and a mermaid around the room, not to forget that must in every restaurant these day television sets of various sizes. The bar has a eye-catching color scheme, the outside dining area is inviting–but not to me in Florida’s feel like 100 degree temperatures. There is a beautiful white (fake) flower display as you enter and each table has an orchid like decoration. The tables are attractively set and I must admit I loved their salt and pepper shakers!

Let’s talk about food. Both Allen and I ordered the ‘Beach Bucket of Seafood’ ($18 each)) one in their white wine sauce and the other in a marinara sauce. Both sauces were excellent and the three slices of thick toasted bread are great for dipping in either sauce. (Yes, Debbie will bring you more if you want.) The buckets consisted of Ipswich clams, littleneck clams, chunks of Dolphin and mussels all having their distinct taste and benefited by the sauce they were in. Allen had his diet coke ($2) and I had coffee ($2.50) The only complaint–and I don’t know if they have them–would be to serve bibs with this dish (Allen’s yellow shirt had a Picasso design of red sauce!) and wet naps when finished. Also a minor complaint–I am sure it was the manager–maybe owner?–who was walking around trying to decide where to hang draping and if it was she should have taken a moment to say hello. (The again she probably has enough confidence in Debbie to know she didn’t have to worry about a thing!)

We had a groupon and the total check with tax and tip (25% on original bill) came to $22.66. It was without a doubt one of the best ‘deals’ we have had in a restaurant in a long time and even without the groupon Debbie would have made the whole experience a winning one. I am sure if I had mentioned it was his birthday she would have made a big deal out of it–and he would have killed me!

The dining room is impressive at lunch time but I have a feeling it is whimsical, bright and, possibly, magical at night and I can see entertainers enjoying themselves while performing.

Thanks Fishtales, thanks groupon but most of all thanks Debbie!

SLIDESHOW

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bft27OYoFlA&feature=youtu.be

Posted June 20, 2015 by greatmartin in RESTAURANT REVIEWS

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BURGER21–A RESTAURANT REVIEW We have gone from a new Mexican franchise on every third block to a new burger franchise on every block! No wonder McDonald’s has been losing customers. Unlike McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s the new burger places, like their prices, are upscale. The newest in Fort Laauderdale is BURGER21 (though I counted only 20 on their burger list!) and is a much brighter and colorful setting than most. It also has one of the most cheerful, smiling staff I have seen in a long time. Each member of the staff gives you a big hello, makes suggestions, steer you in the right direction, ask how everything is but none to the point of being annoying. I do think they will have the same problem that Italio, which just closed, had and that is getting in and out of the place as it is right off Federal Highway and comes up without any notice with the narrow two way entrance/exit and the parking is in the rear. Also BURGER21 does not have a rear entrance which can be a little dicey in the rainy season here. Okay, let’s get to the food! I asked the order taker for a suggestion and she said they were known for their Tex-Mex Haystack ($7.99) which consists of a 1/3 pound burger, lettuce, tomato, apple wood-smoked bacon, Gouda cheese, guacamole, onion strings, chipotle-jalapeno sauce on a toasted brioche bun. It is a very impressive, tall burger that looks almost impossible to eat but once you press down on it that problem is solved. The main problem with it was that it had a very salty taste which at first I thought may have been the sauce but we also ordered a regular order of French Fries ($2.59) more than enough for two, but found them very salty, too. We both had fountain drinks ($2.29 each). Our check came to $23.16, including tax, which is a bit too much to pay for biting into salt. Just an aside regarding sitting: there are about 6 booths along the window which really has no view but are always taken, two high top tables, I think, no one sat at and a group of regular tables that were second choice after the booths. People love booths but don’t like the high tables! Bottom line is that we won’t be going back because, though the crew was upbeat, with too many people sodium conscious as I am, this is not the place to go. BURGER21 Slideshow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xGFR0pLoEE   2 comments


We have gone from a new Mexican franchise on every third block to a new burger franchise on every block! No wonder McDonald’s has been losing customers.

Unlike McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s the new burger places, like their prices, are upscale.

The newest in Fort Laauderdale is BURGER21 (though I counted only 20 on their burger list!) and is a much brighter and colorful setting than most. It also has one of the most cheerful, smiling staff I have seen in a long time. Each member of the staff gives you a big hello, makes suggestions, steer you in the right direction, ask how everything is but none to the point of being annoying.

I do think they will have the same problem that Italio, which just closed, had and that is getting in and out of the place as it is right off Federal Highway and comes up without any notice with the narrow two way entrance/exit and the parking is in the rear. Also BURGER21 does not have a rear entrance which can be a little dicey in the rainy season here.

Okay, let’s get to the food! I asked the order taker for a suggestion and she said they were known for their Tex-Mex Haystack ($7.99) which consists of a 1/3 pound burger, lettuce, tomato, apple wood-smoked bacon, Gouda cheese, guacamole, onion strings, chipotle-jalapeno sauce on a toasted brioche bun. It is a very impressive, tall burger that looks almost impossible to eat but once you press down on it that problem is solved. The main problem with it was that it had a very salty taste which at first I thought may have been the sauce but we also ordered a regular order of French Fries ($2.59) more than enough for two, but found them very salty, too. We both had fountain drinks ($2.29 each).

Our check came to $23.16, including tax, which is a bit too much to pay for biting into salt.

Just an aside regarding sitting: there are about 6 booths along the window which really has no view but are always taken, two high top tables, I think, no one sat at and a group of regular tables that were second choice after the booths. People love booths but don’t like the high tables!

Bottom line is that we won’t be going back because, though the crew was upbeat, with too many people sodium conscious as I am, this is not the place to go.


BURGER21 Slideshow  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xGFR0pLoEE

Posted May 6, 2015 by greatmartin in RESTAURANT REVIEWS

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FOXY BROWN–A RESTAURANT REVIEW   1 comment

First and foremost the best thing about Foxy Brown was our server Kaitlyn who from beginning to end had a smile on her face, knew what she was doing, was all over the place helping every one but at the same time paying attention to her tables giving refill of drinks without having to be asked, checking back to make sure everything was okay and when we had mentioned we were going to split our sandwiches made sure to bring two extra plates.

We walked in near the end of lunchtime and more than half the tables had to be cleaned but it was good to see a working manager hard at work doing just that. In spite of the gray walls, a high ceiling and the tables all in a L shaped row Foxy Brown has an intimate, warm feeling. There is a narrow row between the tables and the semicircular bar but you never feel you are being crowded just as though the tables are right next to each other you don’t feel like you are with the next party. The tables are wide, even the deuces, the chairs comfortable and seeing the restaurant’s motto, “Be Nice”, on the inside wall, the entrance and on the menu gets everything off to a good start.

I ordered the patty melt, $12,  “the sandwich that inspired the menu” and Allen ordered the meatball grinder, $12, chicken and porcini mushroom w/ tomato gravy + provolone, and we were going to split an order of fries but Kaitlyn told us each came with a side so we ordered the French fries and tomato wedges in oil and parsley. I had a diet coke, $2.50, and Allen had a chocolate shake, $7.

The patty melt was served on marbled rye with a good, tasty thick meat patty, and provolone cheese, served at the temperature ordered. Though it was good it wasn’t better than most other patty melts I have had. The only thing wrong with the grinder was that the hero bread was way too thick. Allen said the shake was good and at that price it should be. There was a nice touch of being given hot towels when we were finished.

Altogether the check, with tax, was $35.15 and we gave Kaitlyn a $10 tip.

The sandwiches are all $12 and their main courses run from $18 for bangers and smash to $26 for sea scallops or crab cakes, which to my way of thinking is a bit high for lunch prices though they seem to cater to the downtown business crowd, being right on the fringe of downtown. Most of the crowd were gents in business suits with what looked like a neighborhood couple sitting next to us.

They have a large parking lot behind the restaurant along with a pleasant outdoor dining area.

Though the prices are a little too high for me Foxy Brown is nice restaurant a little off the beaten path, easy to get to, decent food and with a server like Kaitlyn you won’t go wrong.

As I was leaving I thought what a great downtown evening piano bar it would make but there isn’t room for a that piano!

Slideshow

https://youtu.be/h0agP2msSV4

 

Posted April 26, 2015 by greatmartin in RESTAURANT REVIEWS

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LAS VEGAS CUBAN CUISINE RESTAURANT REVIEW   1 comment


We mainly went for lunch here due to getting a groupon. I have eaten at this chain before but never go out of my way to come here though I really have no complaints but, by the same token, there is nothing outstanding to bring me back.

We were greeted immediately when we entered, was seated right away and very quickly were brought the drinks we ordered and a basket of bread.

Allen had the Chicharrones de Pollo ($13.95) consisting of garlic chicken chunks sautéed in olive oil, garlic, spices, bell peppers and onions and on a separate plate white rice, black beans and plantains. I had the Ropa Vieja ($11.95) consisting of thinly shredded beef cooked in a tomato based sauce and marinated in garlic, bell peppers, onions and bay leaves also with white rice, black beans and plantains on a separate dish. I had an American coffee ($3.50) while Allen stayed with water.

Our groupon was for $30 worth of food and our check came to $29.05. We were sort of ‘forced’ to order a flan as the waiter said his boss told him we had to hit that $30 mark. I didn’t care if the house kept the 95 cents or the waiter got it but, no, we had to order something so we split a flan for $3.75. Our check came to $3.15 (minus the $18 already paid for the groupon) plus a $10 tip costing about $15 each for lunch which is an average price in Fort Lauderdale.

The food was tasty and served hot, the service was good, the dining room pleasant and yet…



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uet8z_dRfrU

Posted February 25, 2015 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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FLIPPING THE PIZZA!   1 comment

I forget who wrote it but there was a post recently about eating pizza and it took me back to 1956!

I had just hitchhiked from Hollywood, California, to Miami Beach, Florida–it was a different world then! My aunt managed an apartment building on Washington Avenue just below 5th street and she also worked as a waitress at an Italian restaurant across the street. She got me set up in an apartment, let me enjoy a week as a tourist going to the beach, movies, bars, etc., and then walked into my apartment to tell me my vacation was over that it was time to get to work.

She took me shopping to get  black trousers, socks and shoes and a white shirt. At first she put me to work as a waiter teaching me how to carry 5-6 plates at a time and have fun while I was working. After a week the boss came up to me and asked me if I would like to learn how to make pizza and I jumped at the chance.

The pizza making room had a large oven to bake the pies in, a counter to make the pizza and a tray of all the toppings–life was simple then as you didn’t have all the ‘fancy’ toppings you have now. The room faced the street and had a big window in front that would allow people to see you making the pizza. I thought I would hop in and start flipping, twirling and tossing the pizza crust to rousing applause. It didn’t happen that way!

The first week I had to learn how to make the dough from scratch in a huge mixer using a large scoop for the ingredients. Then I had to practice stretching the dough into a circle making sure the outside was higher and thicker than the inside and how to repair a hole in the center if I made one–and I did that first week!  I learned about scooping the sauce–also home made–spreading it around with the back of the scoop and then measuring the cheese with my eye and spreading a certain amount evenly over the sauce. After that is was putting the toppings on, again just using a certain amount though with things like pepperoni it could be weighed on a small scale. After a week of flipping the soon to be pizza crust in the air, learning how to almost reach the ceiling and then have it land right on my fingertips and all in all, as the boss said, putting on a show, I was ready for the front window. (By the way back then we didn’t wear gloves putting the mushrooms, onions, salami, etc., on the pies and, as far as we know, no one got sick!)

I loved that job, the attention I got, the applause after I finished getting the pie ready and then putting it in the oven with a big flat ‘shovel’ not moving the pie but removing the shovel without tearing the crust or messing up the toppings.

At that time in South Florida most of Miami Beach closed down from Memorial Day to the week before Thanksgiving because of the heat, humidity and lack of tourists so I found myself out of a job but did work as a bellhop at the Sea Isle until November when I got a job as a waiter at Piccolo’s, one of the best restaurant jobs I ever had, but that’s another story!
Because of the training at the other restaurant I was able to help the cook here make the garlic rolls and once in awhile toss up a pizza–but it was back in te kitchen not where the public could see you.

To this day I can toss a mean pizza!

Posted February 23, 2015 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS

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NOW THAT SHRIMP IS SAFE TO EAT…   Leave a comment


Now that it has been decided that shellfish, though high in cholesterol is not bad for you because of not having any saturated or trans fat it is time for me to go back to eating it–like I ever stopped! (By the way keep in mind it is high in sodium!)

I don’t usually post recipes but this is so easy and s-o-o-o-o-o good! To think I use to take two days to make this recipe from scratch!

Actually I don’t know how or why but I had all the following ingredients so I decided to go the easy way and make shrimp and linguini in white clam sauce. I use to make it from scratch but with a crockpot this was simple.
Ingredients:
12 ounces of cooked shrimp peeled and deveined
10 ounces frozen mixed vegetables
16 ounce portion sized package of linguini
15 ounce can of white clam sauce
Parmesan cheese topping (Though some chefs would have a fit if you put cheese on shellfish I am not one of them!)

Cook linguini in crockpot and then drain. Add veggies and after 15 minutes add clam sauce. Last 5 minutes add shrimp.

I then divided it into 4 portions, only because of the sodium, which I put in the freezer. Normally I would just eat the whole at one sitting. When I am ready to eat I’ll make a salad with Romaine lettuce, green peppers, onion, tomato and an Italian dressing.

A portion: 656 calories 952 mg of sodium 165 mg cholesterol 32 grams protein 6 grams of fiber 2 grams of saturated fat 15 grams of fat


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfrZILAaw58&feature=youtu.be


Posted February 18, 2015 by greatmartin in RECIPES

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FOLLOW UP TO CAFE AT BOOKS & BOOKS POST   2 comments

In this day and age most of us will call, email or snail mail a complaint just to get it off our chests not really expecting a response or even satisfaction. After writing a review last week I thought that would be the end of it but to my surprise I received the following:

Sharon C. of The Café at Books & Books
Business Manager 2/5/2015

Hi Martin,

We are so sorry you had a bad experience. We are just getting started and fine-tuning what we do. Please be our guest next time you are planning to attend a show. We will gladly make it up to you.

Best,
Sharon

I had no intention to go back and, in fact, we talked about eating at the Quarterdeck in Fort Lauderdale before going to see “Wicked” in March at the Arsht Center but because she took the time and effort to respond and I know from experience that things can go wrong when opening a new restaurant we have decided to go back at least one more time.

Now we don’t quite know what she means by ‘Please be our guest’–how do you interrupt that? :O)

Posted February 15, 2015 by greatmartin in RESTAURANT REVIEWS

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THE CAFE AT THE BOOKS AND BOOKS–MIAMI RESTAURANT REVIEW   Leave a comment

(If anyone thinks I am wrong at any point please feel free to tell me–nicely!)

We go the Arsht Center about 14 times a year. I was raised on Miami Beach but very seldom went to Miami–let’s just say this was way before the 1960s. When we first started to come to the Center we tried a few restaurants on Biscayne Boulevard which we weren’t very pleased with and thought were a bit expensive so ate in Fort Lauderdale before going to Miami. Just for an explanation it is a late lunch for us.
Due to leg problems we usually valet park at the theatre so I was very glad to see a café was opening. When I got home I checked out the web site and it took 3 emails to 3 different people to finally get a copy of the menu. Okay it happens.

Looking at the menu I saw it was a bit pricy but wasn’t surprised because of the location and at least it wouldn’t be $60 a head as the other place was. Going to see “Newsies” at the Arsht Center we decided to give it a try.

After valet parking–that’s $25 plus a tip–we walked down to the café and upon entering there was no one to greet us but we saw a line of tables on the right and there was an empty deuce so we sat there. (It wasn’t until later that we learned there were 2 other sections, one outside out of view.) We did get a menu right away and Allen told me to order him a diet cola while he went to wash up. No one came to the table while he was away nor until about 10 minutes after he got back.

Now let me say upfront that though the waiter could have, should have, known certain basics as greeting a customer, at least within 2 minutes, not matter how busy he is. Another thing he has to be taught is that he should always ‘sweep’ the room to see if a customer wanted/needed anything. As it is he had about 10 tables which even for a professional server, without help, is at least 5 to many. There seem to be one busboy who disappeared for long times–probably to cover the unseen other seating sections. No where was management visible until about 45 minutes later but we will get to that in a bit. Giving them a benefit of doubt let’s say some server called in sick.

Now to the menu itself. We both decided to have the Sears Burger ($12 each) which came with Tillamook Cheddar, Secret Sauce (don’t forget that sauce) and ugly tomatoes. There was nothing about potatoes, veggies or salad being served with it so we ordered a Farmer’s Grilled Vegetable to share.

Upfront let me say the coffee and cola only cost $2 which is a good price in a restaurant. When we got our food, in a reasonable time, the first thing we saw were really big slices of potatoes on the burger plate plus some freshly tossed greens. Allen had ordered his medium and I wanted mine medium rare as I know most restaurants will not cook meat rare. There was absolutely no difference between our burgers even though the server did ask which one of us got the medium rare.
Okay let’s get to that vegetable plate and that ‘secret’ sauce. There were 5-6 slices of very thin cucumbers or zucchini and, I think, one very thin slice of yellow pepper. I am a gourmand not a gourmet which is why I am unable to be definite. They were suppose to be grilled but were cold and they had that secret sauce on them just as the potatoes had under them and the burger had it on it. The sauce had a ‘bite’ which is fine but it made everything taste the same and I was surprised it wasn’t on the greens!

At no time did anyone come over to ask if we needed anything or how everything was. I did catch the server’s eye and was able to get another cup of coffee.

There was a whole other problem. When we ordered I saw someone I knew and wanted to pick up their check and since they had just ordered I called the server over and told him I wanted to pay the other person’s check so to put all our food on that check and be sure to give it to me. Well it wasn’t his fault that someone else joined the other person 15-20 minutes and you guessed it–I paid for the other person too not even knowing them! He really should have checked with me first and I would have said okay but…

It was now 7 PM and three new deuces sat—oh yes a manager(?) did come out and help clean tables–and by 7:15 as we were getting ready to leave their orders still hadn’t been taken and finally–the hostess?–came over and started taking their order for the server. If those 6 people got served and made the curtain by 8 PM I would be very surprised.

Finally, a long story short, we will go back to eating in Fort Lauderdale before we come to shows in Miami.

PS Yes the server got a 20% tip as most of it wasn’t his fault–he was doing his best with too big a station.

Look at 3rd photo–I should have taken another picture–the Farmer’s Grilled Vegetables are in the upper left corner.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIDSONfpgIE&feature=youtu.be

Posted February 12, 2015 by greatmartin in RESTAURANT REVIEWS

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HOW A JEWISH BOY BECAME AN “ITALIAN”   1 comment


As a Jewish boy brought up in the Bronx with a mother who was the worst cook ever we couldn’t wait for my father to come home on weekends as we knew our big meal would be a Chinese dinner on Sundays after seeing a movie. I have many memories, good and bad, of eating in Chinese restaurants but for some reason I have lost my taste for it as I grew old.

Little by little, I think mainly due to my Italian friends, when I was a teenager I started to get introduced to the world of pasta, veal and eggplant. It was all solidified when I became a waiter and my first job was in a pizza parlor but my second was at Piccolo’s on Miami Beach. Sam Piccolo made sure his servers knew how to cook every item on the menu and it was a huge menu.

For many years my favorite restaurant was Marchi’s in New York, which is still in the same location since 1930 and serving the exact same menu. You are served 9 courses of never ending food!

Since I moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1979 Big Louie’s has been my favorite Italian restaurant for pizza, pasta and garlic rolls. A couple of years ago I became familiar with Café Vico more upscale than Big Louie’s with more finesse with presentations but both restaurants are equal in satisfying customers.

In a sense Big Louie’s is like an Italian Mama’s kitchen and Café Vico is for the Bride’s reception.

I will be having my 20th Leap Year birthday at Café Vico on Monday, February 29th, 2016, but just the other day, after the movie, Allen and I went to Big Louie’s for a late lunch. The pizza was hot and tasty, the salad fresh tasting and the garlic rolls were drenched in oil and topped with enough garlic that I couldn’t/wouldn’t kiss anyone for days. It was all delicious.

Big Louie’s is one of the very few restaurants that I worked in that I went to eat after I left the job. My last job, for 3 years, was there and I retired from work but not from eating there.

When you come down to Fort Lauderdale we will eat there at least once!

After the opening show on the slideshow you will see what we had to eat Christmas Day, Thursday, 2014.

Posted January 11, 2015 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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