Award Winning Mango Cheesecake (Florida Weekly)
Wine Spectator awards and other news for foodies
I'd planned to write today about some great specials Cin Cin Gastro Pub was offering, but I'm too late: this stellar restaurant closed Saturday.
Cin Cin shifted concept from higherend Mediterranean to modestly priced gastro pub last spring. The change made sense in light of the ailing economy. Prices were lower, but the food remained fresh and creative. It boosted business, but not enough.
"People loved it, but there weren't enough of them," says owner Michael Peceri. "The economic recession in Lee County and the prognosis for it to continue into 2012 is the basic reason Cin Cin and our Executive Chef Scott Sopher cannot continue to provide the most creative, high quality cuisine. Compromising those standards is not a viable option."
While it's too late to save Cin Cin, I hope this serves as a warning to everyone who values independent restaurants, the passionate chefs and entrepreneurs who run them and the soulful food they serve. Yes, times are tough and we aren't eating out as much as we used to, but I urge you to make the effort whenever possible to support the mom-and-pop establishments you value.
Wine Spectator announces annual restaurant awards
The much-sought-after Wine Spectator Restaurant Wine List Awards have just been announced in the magazine's Aug. 31 edition. This year, there are 33 Southwest Florida winners. That's two more than last year.
That doesn't mean these are the only wine-worthy local restaurants, but it does mean they are the only ones that applied for the award and met the criteria.
In all, 2,957 restaurants received the Award of Excellence, given to those that offer "a well-chosen selection of quality producers along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style," according to the magazine. They typically offer at least 100 selections. Most of the region's winners received this award.
The Best of Award of Excellence went to 816 restaurants for "restaurants that clearly exceed the requirements of the Award of Excellence," Wine Spectator reports. These show great depth and typically offer 400 or more selections. In Southwest Florida, these included Bleu Provence, Escargot 41, The Grill, Naples Tomato, all in Naples; and Sale e Pepe in Marco Island.
Mangomania-cheesecake The Grand Award — for restaurants "that show an uncompromising, passionate devotion to the quality of their wine programs," offering 1,500 or more selections — went to 72 establishments, the closest of which is Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa.
Local restaurants new to the list this year are Angelina's, Baleen, Capital Grille, The Grape, Olio on Naples Bay, Sea Salt and Tastings. Posthumous recognition goes to Ruth's Chris and Trilogy in Naples.
Following is the list of all the area restaurants that made this year's list: Boca Grande: The Temptation Bonita Springs: Angelina's and Chops City Grill Captiva: Keylime Bistro Estero: Blue Water Bistro, The Grape and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse Fort Myers: Tastings Marco Island: Arturo's and Sale & Pepe (Marco Island Beach Resort)
Naples: Andre's Steakhouse, Baleen (La Playa Beach & Golf Resort), The Bay House, Bleu Provence, Café & Bar Lurcat, Campiello, Capital Grille, Chops City Grill, Escargot 41, Fleming's Steakhouse, The Grill Room (The Ritz-Carlton, Naples), HB's on the Gulf (Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club), Naples Tomato, Olio on Naples Bay (Naples Bay Resort), Pazzo, Ruth's Chris (closed), Sea Salt, Shula's, Stoney's Steakhouse, Trilogy (closed), Truluck's, The Turtle Club and Yabba Island Grill.
Restaurants on hiatus
Ellington's Jazz Bar and Restaurant on Sanibel has closed. Its Web site indicates it's moving, but the new location has not yet been announced.
Wyld's Café in Bonita Springs is closed for the summer. According to its Web site, it will reopen Oct. 1.
Mamma Pasta in Fort Myers is closed for vacation until mid-August.
The Robb & Stucky KitchenAid Culinary Center in Bonita Springs has closed for the summer and is expected to reopen in October.
Newcomers on the dining scene
Laurent and Krystelle Begue have opened Bon Appetit Bistro in Miromar Outlets. It's a casual French café serving sandwiches, salads, soups, quiches, homemade tarts and pastries and specials such as lobster bisque and beef Bourguinon. Coffee, espresso and wine are also available.
David O'Toole's Original Roadhouse has opened in the former Hops Brewery on U.S. 41. The menu features a wide range of American fare; the specialty is steak. It has a full bar. It's at 5043 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers.
Sweet fun in the summertime
This year's Mangomania, Pine Island's celebration of all things mango, was held July 11-12 and was as fun-filled and tasty as ever. Among the competitions was the mango food contest, open to home cooks and professional chefs. Having served as one of the judges, I can tell you there were some excellent entries this year. Here are the winners:
Appetizers, professional: 2 Dudes Foods, Fort Lauderdale, coconut shrimp, first place; NTL Catering of Bonita Springs, second and third, with mango, shrimp and lobster salad and bronzed grouper nuggets with mango rice pilaf and banana, pineapple and mango coulis.
Entrees, professional: NTL Catering's panko-encrusted mahi with mango chutney sauce, first; The Island Grill, St. James City, second, with its Island Grill shrimp and mango wrap; and 2 Dudes Foods, third, with blackened tuna. Dessert, professional: Island Grill's mango cheese cake took the prize.
Dessert, amateur: Judy Batill, Cape Coral, first prize, with her Mamma Mia Mango Masterpiece; Tammi Russell of Cape Coral, second and third place, with mango glazed kolacky and mango- Key lime minis. Salsas/relish/chutneys (pros and amateurs): Margaret Loflin of St. Petersburg, first place, with Marco Island mango and black bean salsa; Wendy Hendricks, Fort Myers, second, with mango salsa; and Donna Fisher of Pine Island, third, mango chutney.
A familiar face returns to Cru
Shannon Yates has returned to Cru, where he's working the bar and greeting his friends and fans, who have been stopping in for drinks since he began work there July 13. "It feels good," says Mr. Yates, who birthed the restaurant some years back before leaving to re-establish Bacchus elsewhere in the Bell Tower Shops.
Meanwhile, William Fluharty has signed on as director of operations at Swanky Lifestyle, the parent company of Bacchus, Mad Takeout and Krafty Kuisine. A Fort Myers native, he has 10 years of restaurant management experience.
Whole Foods heads north
Whole Foods Market in Naples begins weekly delivery service to some parts of Lee County starting Aug. 1. Orders will be delivered to customers' homes. A delivery charge of $10 to $30 will apply, depending on distance. To register, contact the store at (239) 552-5100. KAREN FELDMAN / FLORIDA WEEKLY
Link to Article: http://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/news/2009-07-22/cuisine/087.html
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