Ed’s Corner – March 2012

March 6, 2012

Is it March already??? The time has just flown by. Sandbar is enjoying our new deck kitchen which opened in December. All of our kitchen staff has embraced the changes which is what you hope for when you take a model A and turn it into a Mercedes; they have really stepped up their game. I hope you have had the chance to try our beautiful Gulf shrimp, I believe they are the sweetest shrimp I have seen in my 32 years in business, which is really 34 years if you count the year I washed dishes and worked one of the stations at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami and my year as a pots and pans washer at the ATO house in Gainesville.  Try the Bud N Bay Shrimp at the Sandbar, the shrimp and pasta with bottarga, or the shrimp and grits featuring the Bradley Store heritage coarse ground yellow grits with fresh Gulf shrimp and guanicale, (Italian cured hog jowl) and Amish bacon, surrounded by a little pork jus. Chef Ian Fairweather’s heirloom tomato salad is getting rave reviews. I honestly think it is one of the most well balanced and beautiful dishes we have ever done. Stay tuned for burrata salad’s which we will kick off this month. Burrata is mozzarella on steroids. It was everywhere in LA and Napa when we were touring there recently.

Chef George, at Mar Vista, continues to wow customers with his unique take on tater tots. Leave it to Chef George to make tater tots into a gourmet dish.  George is also buying some beautiful Black Grouper and really nice Chilean Sea Bass which he is doing with a red curry. His braised short ribs and his roasted salmon over a cauliflower puree are superb as are his fresh yellow fin tuna with brown butter and glazed brussel sprouts with prosciutto. Don’t miss his jalapeno cornbread either, he’s searing it on the flat top, I know it’s wrong but it’s so right. If you have any room left try the coconut cake, which was featured in Southern Living and is made by a sweet lady in the village and the pecan pie squares, yep, same lady.

Chef Will Manson at the BeachHouse has a few new fish dishes on the menu, a Red fish Creole which offers a generous filet of farm raised, iron skillet blackened and served over a bed of yellow rice pilaf and a savory Creole sauce. Second, we have a Scottish salmon filet char grilled, brushed with a rosemary and Vermont maple glaze, topped with fresh spinach, Montrachevre goat cheese, sundried tomato slivers and lemon butter. We also provide an array of fresh fish catches including Mahi Mahi, Yellow Fin Tuna, Pompano, Cobia and Rainbow Trout. Our Tuna Nacho’s which were featured at the 2012 Forks and Corks event were so popular, it encouraged us to run it as a special appetizer. It is raw cuts of yellow fin tuna served on flour tortilla crisps, with seaweed salad, pickled ginger, spicy mayonnaise and wasabi sour cream. Our Bud and Old Bay head-on-shrimp have been a big hit here as well. They taste like lobster. Wow! Regular menu items, like our Soft Shell Crab sandwiches and grouper sandwiches have consistently hit a home run with our customers and it brings them back again and again.

Now for a word on wine…and that word is…Lola. It is my priviledge to be a partner with “local boy makes good pinot”, Seth Cripe. Seth has spent the last 17 years in Napa working for the Swanson’s and then the Wagner family, known for their spectacular Caymus cabernet. Seth was born and raised here and most of us are familiar with the Cripe family’s history in the restaurant business. Their pedigree in the restaurant goes way back to the French Crossantarie in Holmes Beach and then Cuisine De France at the 75th Street Plaza before moving on to Marley’s and currently Central Café where brother Mark sells tons of Lola and does inspired food. Seth’s first wine under his own label was the 2008 Lola Pinot Noir. He made around 1400 cases of the Russian River Pinot Noir and shipped 600 into Florida. You all loved it and we sold over 100 cases in our three stores. It’s truly a great pinot and the best part is that we offer it at a very good price. Seth’s approach to wine making is to use his long term experience in Napa with some of the best winemakers to make really good wines that are approachable and affordable. He says it’s simple and he actually makes it look easy, obviously it is anything but. I had an opportunity to become a partner in Lola Wines and I was delighted to join Seth in this worthy endeavor. Seth’s second varietal debuted in December of 2011. The cool climate Sonoma Coast sourced chardonnay has nice acid and great fruit. It is aged in stainless steel with 15% French Oak. You all loved it too. On your next visit you will find that we are offering Seth’s third varietal, a Riesling from the St. Lucia Highlands in California. It’s a beautiful dry wine, more sauvignon blanc like, in my opinion, than the sweet Riesling’s that one normally expects. Cool bottle and label and a beer cap top, yep, you heard me right. The only wine currently sold in the U.S. that has a beer cap top, which is a historic tradition in Germany and Alsace. And by the way, you can buy all of these wines, through Sandbar and Mar Vista, at wholesale prices to take with you and drink at home.

On the construction front we are working on phase II at Sandbar and Mar Vista and also looking at some exciting new projects at the BeachHouse. We are blessed to be the stewards of three incredible locations and we will continue to work on products and services as well as improvements to our stores so that we can continue the historic tradition of great times and great memories.

Thanks for all of your support!

Ed

 

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