Dandelion Donuts

Donuts By Bike

I love donuts. Who doesn’t love a good donut? When I learned that a new local business could be bringing organic, vegan donuts to Tallahassee, I became very interested. Learning the donuts would be delivered by bicycle just made me giddy. That’s right, Dandelion Donuts will be delivering organic, vegan donuts by bike (the freight bike in the photo below).

img_1310.jpg

First Taste

Dandelion Donuts graciously sponsored Breakfast on the Chain, a monthly breakfast for bicycle commuters in Tallahassee, last month. This was my first opportunity to actually taste the donuts. I started with strawberry-basil. I appreciated how the natural berry and herb flavors came through. This was a welcome change to the artificial colors and flavors found on so many donuts. I also appreciated that it was not as sweet as donuts I usually come across. This made me feel better about eating a second one; this time a chocolate with cocoa nibs.

IMG_1315

Crowdfunding

Last week, I attended the launch party for their crowdfunding effort and sampled a summer herb donut. Like the Strawberry-Basil donut, the summer herb had a bright flavors. I am definitely looking forward to these being readily available.

img_1466.jpg

Coming Soon

It was clear from the number of people at the event that I am not the only person excited about these donuts. If you like donuts as much as I do, watch for these to roll into our community soon.

 

Advertisements

Pan con Tomate

After a truly memorable dinner of tapas and wine at Cúrate in Asheville, I took a momement to briefly thumb through their cookbook on my way out of the restaurant. While I did not take enough time to really absorb the photos and recipes, one page stuck with me. Their recipe for Tomato Bread included a description of rubbing garlic and halved tomatoes directly on toasted bread. Beautifully simple and  rustic.

A couple months later, I picked up the vegetables from our CSA one evening and I was handed a brown paper bag full of fresh tomatoes. My first thought was to make a red sauce for pasta, but then the recipe for Tomato Bread stirred in my mind. Not remembering the specifics, I searched the Internet for Pan con Tomate (tomato bread).

IMG_1023.JPG

Here is my take on Pan con Tomate:

First, make a small cut in the bottom of the tomatoes. Then, grate the tomatoes into a bowl, discarding the skin. The small cut helps start the grating process, otherwise the tomatoes slides along the grater rather ineffectively. The skin generally remains intact and is easy to remove from the top of the grater. Season the tomatoes with salt and minced clove fresh garlic to taste. I used about a half teaspoon salt and one clove of garlic to about two cups of grated tomatoes.

Slice a baguette in half longwise horizontally, then slice each half into 2 inch wide rectangles. Drizzle the bread with olive oil and broil it until browned. Rub a clove of garlic over the crispy bread and spoon the tomatoes over it. Finish with a light sprinkle of salt and a light drizzle of olive oil.

IMG_1033

Because Pan con Tomate is such a simple dish, the quality of the ingredients is very important. The tomatoes needs to be fresh and ripe. The olive oil should also be good quality. When done well, the dish should invoke feelings of eating at the beach or traveling the Iberian Peninsula.

Pan con Tomate makes a great tapa or a light dinner. It also goes well with a larger spread.

IMG_1035

Pimento Cheese Love

I should probably start by saying that this post is not sponsored by Sweet Grass Dairy and I did not receive any products from them for this endorsement. I just really like their cheese and thought I would share some of my favorite ways to serve it.

Pimento cheese. Not normally something I would say I like. Growing up, those sandwiches with the bright yellow/orange filling and the little red bits weirded me out. I also don’t really like mayonnaise. It wasn’t until I (reluctantly) tried the pimento cheese at Sweet Grass Dairy that I fell in love.

IMG_1865

The first time I tried this pimento cheese was at a wine and cheese tasting. It was tucked into a deviled egg. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t like it, but I didn’t want to say so until I gave it a try. And I was pleasantly surprised.

The pimento cheese at Sweet Grass Dairy has great texture and flavor. It is creamy, tangy, and slightly spicy with just enough mayo to hold together the delicious Thomasville Tomme cheese and Piquillo peppers. Oh my. This pimento cheese is perfect on crackers, on crusty bread, in a deviled egg, or by itself on a spoon (don’t judge!). More than once, I’ve gone to a potluck with a tub of this cheese and a sleeve of crackers and there is never any leftover at the end of the night.

IMG_1774

Our favorite way to eat Sweet Grass Dairy pimento cheese is on bread, open-faced and topped with a pickled green tomato slice. We serve these yummy open-faced sammies alongside a simple salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar.

I highly doubt I would like any pimento cheese other than this one. We try to get up to Thomasville every few weeks and you can be sure whenever we are there, I come home with a tub of this cheese and plans for a simple, delicious dinner.

If you are interested in trying this yummy cheese and don’t like anywhere near Thomasville, you can order it online here: http://sweetgrassdairy.com/products.

Big Catch Charity Fish Fry

A few weeks ago, the company where I work agreed to sponsor the Big Catch Charity Fish Fry to help raise money to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend and help grow their mentoring program. As part of our sponsorship, we received several tickets to attend the event. Not being one to turn down fresh Florida seafood, I enthusiastically agreed to use a ticket and go to the fish fry. My coworker’s fiancé, Reggie, also joined me.

The Big Catch Charity Fish Fry was held at Posey’s Dockside Cafe in Panacea, Florida. Although this Posey’s location is fairly new, Posey’s is a long-time Wakulla County institution. Beginning in the 1920’s, Posey’s Oyster Bar in St. Marks attracted people from the Tallahassee area with their “topless oysters” and smoked mullet. The oyster bar gained more recognition when it was mentioned as a destination in the New York Times Travel section. Unfortunately, the same year as the New York Times nod, Posey’s Oyster Bar sustained irreparable damage from Hurricane Dennis. Fortunately, Posey’s opened newer locations in Panacea and continues to serve scrumptious Florida seafood.

Back dock at Posey's
Posey's Dockside Cafe

The dinner plate at the Big Catch Charity Fish Fry included delectable fried shrimp served with cheese grits, coleslaw, hushpuppies, and iced tea. I have a deep love for cheese grits, but Reggie almost committed southern food heresy by passing on the cheese grits, explaining that he prefers his grits with sugar. Luckily for him, one of the servers admitted that she is not originally from North Florida and also prefers her grits with sugar and butter.

Posey's Fried Shrimp
Posey's Fried Shrimp Plate

With a hot, fresh plate of perfectly fried Florida seafood, the Big Catch Fish Fry was a fantastic event that supported a great organization. For more information about Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend, check out their website at  http://www.bigbendmentoring.org. Next time you are in the Big Bend area, be sure to stop by Posey’s for some fried shrimp and cheese grits.

A Taste of Ft. Lauderdale: Original Fat Cats

Although I am not usually one to hit the bars, I did venture out one night for a few drinks in the city often referred to as Ft. Liquordale. I do not know whether Ft. Lauderdale deserves the name Ft. Liquordale or not (I imagine the party probably starts well after I’ve gone to bed), but I do know that Original Fat Cats is an awesome bar and that I will be going back to Original Fat Cats if I ever end up in Ft. Lauderdale again.

From the outside, Original Fat Cats is fairly unassuming. This place does not need flashy signs or a fancy facade. Likewise, the interior is also unassuming. The bar is dark with a saloon feel and a somewhat random mix of decor including skateboards, a replica of the lamp from A Christmas Carol, posters, and a vending machine that sells stick-on moustaches.

Got stick-on moustaches?
Original Fat Cats

The customers at Original Fat Cats when I arrived were obviously regulars. Talking and joking and generally having a good time, it was obvious that they make this a regular stop on their way home in the afternoon. It was also obvious that they all know the bartender and that he knew them.

Don, probably the most incredible bartender around, gave me a run through of what brews they had that day. While I was impressed with the quality of the selection available, I was more impressed with Don’s intimate knowledge of not only the characteristics of each brew, but also with his knowledge of the distributors, how the beverages were shipped, how long the shipping process took, and the temperatures at which the beverages were kept during storage and shipping. If it were possible to earn advanced degrees in beer (not just an extracurricular study), Don would not just be a professor; he would be the dean of the college.

Nice selection of brews
The regular brews (daily specials are on the chalkboard)

On strong recommendation from my co-worker, I first ordered a Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat mixed with a cider. I was a little skeptical at first, but this is a great combination. The Tangerine Wheat and Cider is a very crisp and refreshing beverage, not as fruity as I anticipated with the Tangerine Wheat and not as sweet as I anticipated with the cider.

Tangerine Wheat and Cider
Tangerine Wheat and Cider

For my second beverage, I struggled with choosing between Left Hand Milk Stout and Old Thumper Cask. On recommendation from Don, I went with the Old Thumper. The caramel aroma and the dry, hoppy finish make this brew a new favorite for me.

Unfortunately, I had to leave just as things started to pick up at Original Fat Cats. If I end up in Ft. Lauderdale again though, I will definitely stop by and see what else Don recommends.

A Taste of Ft. Lauderdale: Sushi Rock

Although I do not like to be away from home for long, I do enjoy the opportunity to explore new places and find great new restaurants when I travel for work. I recently traveled to Ft. Lauderdale, where I stayed for about five days. When I was not working, I used a guide that Erin, my co-worker and a graduate of Ft. Lauderdale’s Florida Atlantic University, put together for me. High on the list of places to eat was Sushi Rock, a very tiny sushi joint on downtown Ft. Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard.

Sushi Rock
Sushi Rock

Per Erin’s suggestion, I ordered a Sublime roll. This sushi roll was composed of tempura shrimp, baked seafood dynamite (a seafood casserole with shrimp, scallops, fish and crab), scallions, sesame seeds and fish roe, topped with avocado and eel sauce. The baked seafood dynamite was definitely the star of this roll. Unlike many other seafood casseroles and seafood dips I’ve before, the seafood dynamite managed to be both rich and light, and did not have an overwhelmingly strong seafood taste or smell. Although this tasty roll deserved the name Sublime, the combination of the seafood dynamite with the avocado and the fried shrimp was a little decadent.

Even though the Sublime roll alone could be an entire meal, I fortunately ordered a Rolling Stone roll also. The Rolling Stone roll was filled with steamed shrimp, cucumber, and lettuce with a little bit of Japanese mayonnaise. This roll provided a light, crisp foil to the rich, decadent Sublime roll. Together, the decadent Sublime roll and the light Rolling Stone roll made for a well balanced dinner of fresh, flavorful sushi.

Sublime and Rolling Stone Sushi Rolls
Sublime and Rolling Stone Sushi Rolls

NOLA Eats: Cafe Du Monde

Earlier this week I was in New Orleans for the National Conference on Volunteering and Service. It was my first trip to the Crescent City (a nickname New Orleans earned from its position on the crescent of the Mississippi). My parents have traveled to New Orleans several times for college football bowl games, weddings, and vacation but when I was little, I distinctly remember my dad telling me that I wasn’t allowed to go to New Orleans until I was 21. Since I was traveling for work, I didn’t exactly do a lot of partying (and let’s be honest, I’m not really a partier no matter where I am…) but I did enjoy some delicious good food including beignets from Cafe Du Monde.

Cafe Du Monde is famous for their beignets. The main store is really open 24/7 and every time we passed by (at least three times during our evening walks through the French Quarter looking for dinner) it was packed! The last morning we were in New Orleans, we stopped and my coworker and I split an order of three beignets.

The beignets were so good – hot and fluffy, doughy and soft, doused in powdered sugar – mmmm mmmm good! Perfect little pillows of (deep fried) deliciousness. I probably definitely could have eaten all three by myself but I’m glad I didn’t or I might have gone into sugar shock.

I came home with a Cafe Du Monde coffee mug and a box of Aunt Sally’s pralines but I passed on the Cafe Du Monde beignet mix – I just don’t think I could replicate the flavor and texture in my own kitchen (plus frying is a royal pain!). But next time I’m in NOLA, I will happily return to Cafe Du Monde for another delicious beignet (or two or three…).