36th Day of Lent

Today our friend Marit had a rare day off of work – I think she’s worked 19 days in a row or something crazy like that.  So we thought it would be a good day for a happy hour on the water somewhere.  We decided upon a new place with a great location, Hudson at Waterway East in  Delray Beach.

While waiting for Marit, Susan and I started off with the portabello fries and the lamb sliders.  Both were pretty good – the fries had a nice breading and the sliders were topped with feta, basic, & mint and served with a tzatziki sauce.

portabello_fries lamb_sliders

After Marit arrived, we ordered the crispy fried calamari and the Tuscan flatbread.  The calamari were topped with cherry peppers and were served with a lemon roumalade.  The girls’ favorite was the flatbread, made with a basil pesto, mozzarella, teardrop tomatoes, arugula, and lemon vinaigrette.

calamari flatbread

The crowd was pretty steady, and actually got busier as the evening went along, which is not bad a for a Tuesday.  Then again, with the great location on the Intracoastal and the perfect South Florida weather, how can you go wrong at Hudson at Waterway East?

Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest

March 29th was the 6th Sunday of Lent, and it was also the 2nd day of the inaugural Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest.  I was out-and-about in Delray Beach on Saturday, but since Sundays don’t count during Lent, I waited until the 2nd day of the festival to attend so I could enjoy some yummy bacon.

Since I heard the festival was a sell-out on Saturday and that they may have temporarily run out of bacon, I decided to make some for breakfast before leaving the house.  Of course, I sliced up some of the best bacon in the world, Nueske’s Applewood-Smoked Bacon – sliced it up thick, of course.  Again, thanks to Larry from Salt7 for the Nueske’s bacon!

nueskes nueskes_cooked

The festival gates opened at 1pm on Sunday, so we decided to get there a few minutes before to avoid the crowds.  Good thing we did, because there was already a line to get it – and a longer line at the ticket tables.  What do you wear to such an event?  Well, I went with a Christmas gift from my girlfriend’s brother-in-law Bobby – reminds me of the logo of the AMC television show Breaking Bad:

warren

The first things we saw after walking in are buckets of peanuts at every table (nice touch) and the Fireball Whiskey booth.  We’d be returning to that booth… several times.

peanuts fireball

Because we heard the lines at the bars were long on Saturday, we decided to knock that out first.  Specialty cocktails were $8, and bourbons were $16 and $20.

drinks bar

Next was the food.  The booths reminded me of Delray Beach’s Garlic Fest, but instead of garlic, everything had bacon.

foodbooths_1 foodbooths_2

food_1 food_2

Entrees were all $12 – I started with the bacon-wrapped sausage:

sausage

Time for another drink.  Instead of waiting in line at one of the main bars, I went to the Smoke Inn booth where they were serving up maple bacon old fashioneds.  When I got back to our table, I found that Javier just got a bacon parfait – that’s mashed potatoes and pork belly topped with gravy.  Looked good enough to eat!

maple_bacon_old_fashioned bacon_parfait

Now it was time to meet Cheryl from Nueske’s, the title sponsor of the festival.  She was attending with her friends Ann and Marjorie.  We also checked out the pig races – winner gets a small bottle of Fireball!  We decided not to wait in line to play… we just hit the Fireball booth again and paid for shots.

cheryl pig_races

All-in-all, we thought Delray Beach’s first attempt at Bacon & Bourbon Fest was a fun time.  I think all the negative comments I read after the first day came from people who were denied entry because they didn’t purchase tickets online before the event.  Everything I read about the event said to buy tickets early, and that there would be a limited amount of tickets available at the gate.  So next year, buy your tickets online everyone!

Nueske’s Bacon

This is it, everyone.  What the New York Times called the “beluga of bacon, the Rolls-Royce of rashers”… Nueske’s Bacon.  Nueske’s is a specialty meats supplier out of Wisconsin whose tagline is “The World’s Best Applewood-Smoked Meats” – that alone is enough to make your mouth water.

So, my old friend Larry, the GM at Salt7, knows all about my trials and tribulations of giving up bacon for Lent.   He also knows that Sundays don’t count during Lent (maybe because I told him), so what does he do yesterday?

He gives me a slab of Nueske’s Applewood-Smoked Bacon to take home and enjoy today, that’s what!

nueskes

This piece of uncut meat smells so sweet and savory, I almost didn’t want to slice it.  But when I did, I made sure to slice it nice and thick – thicker than you’ll ever find in any store-bought bacon.

nueskes_sliced

I noticed the difference while cooking the bacon too – higher-quality bacon does not exhibit a lot of far runoff, and doesn’t shrivel up into nothingness.  The thickness of the cut also deters curling.  What you end up with is nice meaty chunks of bacon goodness.

nueskes_cooked

So what did I do with all these amazing bacon?  I decided to top our dinners with it – that night’s being grilled chicken.  That huge piece of bacon almost covers an entire chicken breast!

nueskes_chicken

And I’ve got a lot of uncooked bacon to spare… what to do for next Sunday….

Oh – just to remind you:  Nueske’s is the title sponsor for this weekend’s Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest… don’t miss it!

Thanks again Larry and Salt7!

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Nothing says Sunday like brunch at Caffe Luna Rosa.  And every time I go to Luna Rosa, I order a side of bacon with my first drink – and it comes out within minutes.  This morning, I think we started with three orders of bacon:

Luna_Rosa_bacon

Caffe Luna Rosa’s famous applewood-smoked bacon

I love this bacon.  I actually drove up from South Beach one morning just for the bacon.  Do you know what else I love at Luna?  Their bloody marys – they come with an antipasto salad on top!

Luna_Rosa_bloody_mary

They always have some great bunch specials at Luna Rosa!  This morning, I opted for the Lobster & Filet Mignon Benedict.  I mean, I don’t know how you can say no to that!  (unless you don’t eat meat)

lobster_filet_benedict

The boys must have enjoyed their bacon appetizers, because they ordered more bacon with their meals!

chase

Thank you Missy for the wonderful brunch!

Twenty-sixth Day of Lent

My good friends Missy & Beaudon – and their sons Alex & Chase – got in town today, visiting from Longwood for the weekend.  They met me, Susan, & Meredith at my favorite happy hour spot – Salt7 – for some cocktails and apps before headed to dinner after Casey, Roger, and Katelynne got there.

Today’s choice for dinner was Racks Fish House & Oyster Bar.  I honestly have never dined there for dinner – only for a stone crab claw at the bar once.  I was impressed by the menu and the extensive bar selection.

I started with the raw bar – in the steam kettles they make a daily preparation of mussels.  Today’s preparation was in a white wine, butter, & garlic sauce with jalepenos and andouille sausage.   Very tasty – I could have used more sausage though.  After all – I gave up bacon for Lent… ha!  (Missy got the same thing but without the sausage… I asked for her sausage)

mussels

For our entree, Susan and I split the seared scallops & pork belly – now that’s more like it.  This came in a vanilla puree, mushrooms, and a truffle shallot jus.  The scallops were huge!

scallops

I washed it down with a couple IPAs, Susan had a couple glasses of pinot grigio.  Nice evening with some good friends!

Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest

from Flickr Creative Commons

from Flickr Creative Commons

Hey South Floridians!  My own city of Delray Beach – which was named 2012 Most Fun Town in America by Rand McNally & USA Today – is hosting its own bacon festival!  From the same people that bring you the Delray Beach Garlic Fest and the Wine & Seafood Festival comes the 1st Annual Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest, March 28 & 29th!  And because March 29th falls on a Sunday, all you people that gave up bacon for Lent need not worry – come and enjoy the bacon!

This event, 3 years in the making, will celebrate our most flavorful food and the quintessential American liquor.  Why bacon & bourbon?  “We just thought it would be a great hook to come up with some creative menus with bacon and bourbon,” said Nancy Stewart, executive director of the festival.

The Delray Beach Bacon & Bourbon Fest will be a little more upscale than the city’s other festivals.  No plastic cups here – bourbon will be served in glassware.  Also, there are only a limited number of tickets available.

From their website:

“We bring you a wide ranging menu of bacon and pork related dished from the sublime (Braised Pork Bellies with Tamari, Garlic, Ginger & Chili Peppers) to the insane (Bacon Ice Cream anyone?). Menu items developed by chefs exploring the boundaries of New American Cuisine and the Farm to Table movement to good old fashioned comfort foods, just like Mom used to make!”

“Completing the palate pleasing properties of bacon, we also bring to you an eclectic selection of bourbon and whiskeys. The distiller’s art and patient techniques are shared in a series of seminars and tastings. All intended to enhance your knowledge and pleasure of American made Bourbon and whiskey. Although, we may throw an Irish-made whiskey into the mix for historical purposes.”

For more info and to purchase tickets. visit http://www.delraybaconfest.com/, and check out their Facebook and Instagram pages too!

 

Sixth Day of Lent

It’s February 24, 2015… also known as Taco Tuesday – that day of the week where restaurants try to draw in more customers with taco specials.  We see it as a time to get some great meat eats!

We decided to hit one of Delray Beach’s favorites for Taco Tuesday, a place called El Camino.  On Tuesdays, their entire taco offering is $2 each, and the place is packed all day.  And El Camino doesn’t serve your Americanized, “hard shell with tomato and lettuce and cheddar cheese” tacos.  These are built with house-made corn tortillas and love.

First we went with our favorite, the Barbacoa:  brisket, cilantro, queso fresco, onions, and salsa borracha:barbacoa

Now, because we’re craving bacon, we’ll have some pork… next is the Carnitas:  spicy braised pork, morita salsa, and queso fresco:

carnitas

Finally, the Pork Belly.  Now, some of you might say, “Well, bacon is pork belly!”  We reply, “Hey – it isn’t cured in sodium nitrite.”  This Pork Belly Al Pastor is made with annatto, N.M. red chile, onions, and pineapple-arbol salsa:

pork_belly

We could have kept on going down their taco menu, but had other places to be.  Plus, the cocktails at the bar are out of this world, so you gotta check El Camino out – Lent or no Lent.