Thursday, September 01, 2011

Folio Weekly Bite Club: Crabcake Factory


I was excited to receive my invite for this month's Bite Club for three reasons (1) I love seafood and (2) I heard wildly different comments from friends who had been to the Crabcake Factory and (3) I had yet to go myself.

I arrived and the bar was large and open with natural light, it's important to those stuck inside an office all day. I started my evening with an local brew, Intuition Ale Work's People's Pale ale and even commented to Jay Magee that beer is an excellent pairing with seafood especially crab.

The appetizers were passed as we mingled at the bar. 

The Jumbo Lump Crabcake Napoleons with tropical fruit salsa were not just pretty the crab "dome" was moist and crabby not bready. Whatever they use to bind it is pretty genius because it doesn't overtake the crab. It was better than the homeade crab cakes I make for myself last weekend and I thought they were pretty good but no compared with this. The fruit salsa gave it a nice tang.

The Ahi tuna and jumbo lump crab meat timbale has all my favorite ingredients; seaweed salad, lump crab and ahi and I could make a meal of these alone. At this point I'm realizing the Crab Cake Factory is back to the glory I heard so much of. The seafood is really fresh, crab and ahi can taste can get fishy if not fresh enough or stored properly this was not the case at all of all the foods I sampled.

The buffet portion of the evening featured;
  • Cream of crab bisque
  • Louisiana seafood gumbo
  • Tossed mixed greens served with homemade champagne vinaigrette 

The champagne vinaigrette was delicious and really tasted great with the strawberries on the salad. I enjoyed all the fresh veggies and was happy it wasn't calorie-laden with croutons and cheese. If this is the house salad I'd be happy to get it instead of the iceburg lettuce-shredded carrot-substandard dressing that a lot of places like to call a house salad. 

Check out the crab claw in that gumbo! While it would be too messy for me to eat crab like this the claw adds a lot of flavor. For fear of filling up I took a small bit of the gumbo broth and was impressed the roux was great flavorful not watery not oversalted and had a nice spicy kick.

For dinner we didn't have to choose we had a selection of main dishes on one plate;

Sea scallop with lemon beurre blanc, jerk Mahi mahi and Crab stuffed shrimp with mashed potatoes and asparagus. The mahi seemed to be overcooked but the rub was tasty. The scallop and crab stuffed shrimp were delicious and the sauce was light, lemony and divine. The mashed potatoes and aspargus also had the sauce drizzled on top.

I didn't really have room for dessert but I ordered the bread pudding and the caramel sauce it was served with forced me to finish the whole thing!

Knowing that Chef and his son Christopher are back to return the Crab Cake Factory to the glory people spoke so highly of makes me feel this is just the sort of place that can do really well in Jacksonville. Good location for beach dwellers, specials nightly, fresh seafood, great homemade sauces and a friendly atmosphere should help them bring business back through the door. If I lived closer it would be a nice place to grab a drink and some apps and I hear the brunch is a must to try. The grand reopening is coming soon so check the website for details.

Crab Cake Factory on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Folio Weekly Bite Club: Uptown Market

I was so excited to see the Bite Club was going to be on a Friday and at Uptown Market I had to sign up right away. I had been to Uptown Market for breakfast and lunch and enjoyed it very much. I was curious to know what they'd be serving for bite club since it was dinner time. The menu turned out to be unlike anything they normally serve but it was delicious. It felt exta special because Uptown was closed to the public. Enabling Chef Eddie and Marco to interact with us about Uptown Market and the food being served and Chad Munsey founder of vingevity wines talked about the small production wines that were being served.


Hors d'oeuvres: small Canapes (smoked salmon, Shrimp ceviche, spanish tortilla)

The shrimp ceviche was served with gazpacho elements on a asian soup spoon. I absolutely love these flavors and had at least two spoonfuls! I would buy this ceviche gazpacho by the quart to go or for lunch. 

I can never go wrong with smoked salmon especially paired with creamy cucumber it' classic fresh and light. I admit I did not try the spanish tortilla because I have been eating so many eggs lately.

The pinot grigio paired nicely with the two appetizers I tried. Very tasty with the acidity of the ceviche and the smokiness of the salmon. 

Black Hog Organic Field Greens and Heirloom Tomatoes, Crispy Prosciutto and Champage vinaigrette, dinner rolls and butter.

A great start to dinner I really enjoyed the tomatoes and crispy prosciutto 

This Cuvee de Blanc was sweeter than the first glass I had but not too sweet. I remember Chad comparing it to a Reisling or Gew├╝rztraminer .
Duck cooked two ways. Mandarin roasted duck legs with asian vegetables and seared duck breast served med rare with citrus sauce.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine served with cous-cous. Braised lamb with apricots and roasted vegetables served with lemon scented cous -cous.

Black Hog Farms Organic Chicken cooked in Riesling. Pan seared chicken on the bone, braised with chicken stock, riesling, tarragon and cream served with pan roasted vegetables.

Chicken looked lovely and I had a taste but I really enjoyed the duck & lamb much better 

Loved these root veggies

I was last in line and the fingerlings were gone I'm sure they were great but I'm glad because I had plenty on my plate

The lamb sauce was very rich and the cous cous soaked up the juice perfect with it

Before I even tasted it I guessed the lamb would be the star, maybe because it happens to be a favorite of mine

The lamb's glamour shot

I choose the duck, a small piece of chicken, lamb, root veggies and the cous cous it paired well with the syrah. The lamb and duck were outstanding! 
I skipped dessert and went with a second glass of syrah!
If you go for breakfast get my favorite the huevos rancheros, if you go for lunch get the fried green tomato mozarella salad but if you get invited to a moroccan fantasy at Uptown Market run don't walk! I'm curious to see if they will start doing dinner it was a nice atmosphere on a Friday night.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

James Beard Foundation Dinner: A Dream Team Assembled

James Beard Foundation Dinner
April 9, 2011

My husband and I have stayed at One Ocean multiple times, it is our "close to home" escape. This year's occasion was our second wedding anniversary and I saw this James Beard Foundation Dinner was the very same weekend. At $125 a person some say it was a bit pricey however when I thought of the five chefs who would be cooking and the five courses that would be perfectly paired with wine I knew it was a steal! Not to mention we found out that Jacksonville hadn't hosted a James Beard dinner before so we were all to happy to be part of history.

The table setting was gorgeous and unique no table cloth just a silver finished table and bunch of white hydrangeas 

First Course Seared Day Boat Scallop and Sweet Pea Puree paired with 2008 Sebastiani "Unoaked" Chardonnay, Sonoma County California

A perfectly seared scallop with this light pea puree so bright and fresh and spring. This dish was Chef Tom Gray from Bistro Aix
Before each dish the chefs spoke about the dish from the kitchen while the sound and image was shown in the dining room this really gave it a very intimate feel.

Second Course Pork Belly, Poached Egg, Pumpernickel, Bacon Shards Ynez Valley California

How do you make bacon fat powder? Have you had many poached eggs for dinner? I can't answer these questions but I can tell you it was delicious the pumpernickel with sherry vinegar cut the fatty pork belly and the egg was creamy. This screams Orsay to me not that this is on the menu but the three pork elements and great use of egg is something that I notice on the Orsay menu when I visit.   

Third Course Cepe Mushroom Agnolotti in white truffle emulsion paired with 2008 Lincourt Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills California

I have to admit this was the one dish I had no idea what it was going to be. I didn't  know Agnolotti was a type of pasta. I will say this dish was fantastic and even thought is was light in color the mushroom and truffle (you can never go wrong with truffle) were great with the Pinot.  This dish was Matthew Medure.

Fourth Course Spring Lamb Loin paired with 2007 Kuleto Estate Syrah, Napa Valley California

I love lamb! This perfectly rare lamb was paired with baby corn and fava beans and a spring salad that kep things light since we were at the fourth course.

Fifth Course Fresh Strawberry Tart Basil IceCream paired with Chalk Hill Semillion, Sonoma County California

After all this food you realy need a light fresh dessert and this was exactly that. The tart strawberries and ice cream were delicious satisfied a sweet tooth and a great ending to the evening.

These delightful chocolates were passed to each table and looked beautiful however I couldn't possibly have another bite I felt terrible to waste them so I took pictures to preserve them. I would have loved a little favor box or bag that I could have packed these up for later. I have no idea where they are from so if you know please send me a message.

Wine Footnote: I apologize for not talking about the wine paired with each course more. The fact is they were all perfect and it is exactly the purpose of a chef's menu paired with wine it is what I can't do at home without some assistance from my friends at wine warehouse.  The pairings were great and I appreciated that each course was mindful of the next not too heavy, not a bunch of the same flavors.

One Ocean is always great. This time the dinner was really something special to mark a special occasion and it became a special occasion itself. We lucked out by having fun foodies Maria Coppola & Jon Cummins as table mates. I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Azurea at One Ocean on Urbanspoon
Bistro Aix on Urbanspoon
Matthew's on Urbanspoon
Orsay on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pastiche 2.0: Pastiche is now the Patio at Pastiche


Pastiche has always held a special place in my heart I've celebrated some fantastic occasions with their food present; a friend's wedding shower, another's bachelorette dinner, my first dating anniversary with my now husband and they also catered our wedding. There have also been countless lunches just because so when I heard that Pastiche was closed my heart sank. The bad news is they aren't open for dinner right now but the good news is plenty;  they are open for lunch again,  have gourmet take away, an airconditioned enclosed patio and still provide top notch catering. I have been back four times since they reopened about three weeks ago!

One of the new items I love is this fried rock shrimp salad. The fry batter is light the rock shrimp are sweet and the avocado is plentiful and everything is on soft bibb lettuce with a slighly spicy asian dressing. Truely one of the best salads I ever had!   

This tart has fresh strawberries, blackberries, orange zest and a creamy vanilla filling. The surprise? a white chocolate coating in crust that keeps it from getting soggy. These are available at your table or in the gourmet to go case.

My work friend got this unique cobb salad with deviled eggs I can't speak for taste but she assured me it was fantastic and the presentation was impressive.

I used to love the hot ham and cheese with apple that was on the lunch menu but I remember it being a little salty. I spoke with my waiter who was knowlegable enough to tell me the ham had been switched out and it was no longer salty. Also this sandwich does not include the apple but the fig mustard that they are using more than makes up for it! It is so good I may ask about buying it the next time I am in.
Gourmet to Go

I need to get this soup and try it I love cold soup and I think the horseradish that they use will give it just the right zing.

As I write this I wish I was eating this! They offered this as an appetizer on the old menu and I have gotten it will friends many times to share over wine. A nice selection of cheese paired with honeycomb, dates and nuts.

These bleu cheese stuffed dates wrapped in bacon should be in my oven right now I think this combo would be delicious.

I hope you can make it to Pastiche soon and if not at least drop by and pick up some goodies to go.

Pastiche on Urbanspoon