SEASON PREVIEW: Five local food and drink highlights to enjoy

As season approaches, hungry minds wonder what’s on the horizon for the local food-and-drink scene. Glad you asked.

Here’s what we’re hoping to enjoy this season.

The Regional's fresh-baked Parker House Rolls are served with seasoned butter. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)
The Regional’s fresh-baked Parker House Rolls. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)

WEST PALM’S BUZZY NEW SPOTS

From The Regional Kitchen to Cholo Soy Cocina, West Palm Beach is shaping up as the county’s foodiest city.

Cholo in chief: Chef Clay Carnes. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)
Cholo in chief: Clay Carnes. (Credit: Alissa Dragun)

Drop into The Regional for some of Chef Lindsay Autry’s Southern-meets-World cooking and you’ll witness a chef rising into her prime. The space may be cavernous, but it still feels cozy, thanks to seating layout and attention to décor detail.

At the other end of the size spectrum, there’s tiny Cholo Soy, an Andean street food-inspired spot where Chef Clay Carnes offers a variety of smoked and roasted meats and hand-made tortillas.

The Regional Kitchen + Public House: 651 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-557-6460; EatRegional.com

Cholo Soy Cocina: 3715 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; @cholosoycocina on Instagram; www.cholosoycocina.com.

GREEN MARKET MARVELS

Hello, pup: The West Palm Beach GreenMarket loves the pooches. (Greg Lovett/ The Palm Beach Post)
Hello, pup: The West Palm Beach GreenMarket loves the pooches. (Greg Lovett/ The Palm Beach Post)

Forget summer. The sunniest, most delicious time of the year in Palm Beach County is the fall and winter harvest season. Just drop into any of the county’s top green markets and you’ll find a bounty of locally grown produce, freshly harvested ingredients, prepared foods and other items. We love the West Palm Beach GreenMarket (Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) not only for its great variety, but also because it’s super pooch-friendly. But chances are that no matter where you live, there’s a good green market not too far away.

Check out our full green market guide for one near you.

PALM BEACH FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL

The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival runs from Dec. 8-11. (LILA PHOTO)
The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival runs from Dec. 8-11. (Credit: LILA PHOTO)

This festival is a little gem. Each year, it brings a constellation of food stars — and their cooking — to Palm Beach and environs. And unlike far bigger national food fests, this is one in which festival-goers get plenty of opportunity to interact with some of the nation’s top chefs. The four-day fest celebrates its 10th year this December. Tickets are on sale at pbfoodwinefest.com.

FARM-CHIC EVENTS

Swank Farm will host nine farm feasts this season. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)
Swank Farm will host nine farm feasts this season. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)

The now cliché “farm to table” tag takes on wider dimensions in this agriculture-heavy area. The county, which produces the most sweet corn, sugar cane and bell peppers in the country, boasts some $1.41 billion in total agriculture sales, according to Palm Beach County data. And what better place to soak up the flavors of a local harvest than on a boutique veggie farm?

Swank Farm in Loxahatchee Groves offers a series of harvest feasts throughout the growing season. These barn-chic affairs feature top chefs, locally brewed beer, sommelier-poured wine and live music. See this year’s schedule at SwankSpecialtyProduce.com.

Speaking of farm events, the Jupiter-based OBEO Society is hosting a “Boots, Brews and BBQ” event featuring a lineup of acclaimed local chefs and local beers at Jupiter Farms’ Lucky Old Sun Ranch. The cookout happens Sat., Nov. 12 from 3 to 11 p.m. For more information, visit ObeoSociety.com.

WHAT’S NEW IN BREW

David Bick of Sons and Daughters Farm and Winery pours a glass of Ginger Kombucha. His family opened their business to the public in April, making available their organic crops, wine and beverages. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
David Bick of Sons and Daughters pours Ginger Kombucha. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

The local brewery scene continues to expand, from Boca Raton to Tequesta, and the expansion involves more than beer. Accomplice Brewery in West Palm Beach is making some popular ciders. Sons and Daughters Farm & Winery is making fruit and flower-based wines and kombucha. The family-owned farm opened to the public for tastings in April.

And, yes, there’s beer. You’ll find the full run of local breweries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot restaurant news: Find out which restaurants, breweries and markets are opening soon

In case you missed this week’s news about upcoming restaurants, breweries and food villages, here’s a round-up:

A new food and drink-centric district coming to West Palm Beach

The Warehouse District, a sprawling complex of vintage buildings near downtown West Palm Beach, is shaping up to be an eclectic urban village of food and beverage creators and vendors, artists, fitness buffs and other indie entrepreneurs. Developers say they hope to open sometime in December or January.

Celis Produce is among the vendors at the upcoming Grange Hall. (Credit: Oak Media)
Celis Produce is among the vendors at the upcoming Grange Hall. (Credit: Oak Media)

The food hall portion of this village is the brainchild of real estate developer Chris Vila, a transplanted New Yorker who envisions a Chelsea Market-type of place that provides locals with one-stop-food-shopping options. Vila says he’s secured 12 vendors, including Rabbit Coffee roasters and Celis Produce.

A new craft beer brewery is headed to industrial West Palm Beach

The craft beer minds behind Tequesta Brewing Company and Twisted Trunk Brewing will join West Palm Beach’s rising food and drink scene next year. They will open Steam Horse Brewing near downtown West Palm Beach, says co-owner Fran Andrewlevich. The new brewery is headed to The Warehouse District, a sprawling urban complex that’s now under construction in West Palm Beach’s industrial district.

A new brewery will join the emerging craft beer scene next year. (Cox Newspapers)
A new brewery will join the emerging craft beer scene next year. (Cox Newspapers)

 

Several new restaurants are coming to Delray Beach Marketplace

Marketplace, on Atlantic Avenue at Lyons Road, will get four new spots, all aiming for a winter opening:

Hoffman’s Chocolates; Lucille’s Bad to the Bone BBQ; Batch Gastropub and Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt. Read more about the openings here.

photo bento boxes
Qwzine will offer healthy food like salads and bento boxes. (Thomas Cordy/The Palm Beach Post)

Promenade Plaza in Gardens gets a rebirth with new restaurants, shops

New restaurants slated to move into the redeveloped plaza are Qwzine, which offers healthy foods and Five and Ten Spot. Read more about the openings here.

New deli-themed spot on deck in Boca Raton

Rappy’s Deli, which will open in November, is the newest member of Rapoport’s Restaurant Group and will debut in Boca’s new Park Place, a soon-to-open plaza on Military Trail, between Yamato and Clint Moore roads. Read more about Rappy’s Deli here.

An artist's view of Rappy's dining room. (Courtesy: Rappy's)
An artist’s view of Rappy’s dining room. (Courtesy: Rappy’s)

Popular Midwest chain restaurant set to open in Jupiter

Butter burger fans get ready in Jupiter — Nov. 7 is the planned opening of Culver’s Butter Burgers & Frozen Custard, a popular restaurant chain in the upper Midwest. The Jupiter location will be the first in Palm Beach County. Established in 1984 in Sauk City, Wis., by dairy farmers George and Ruth Culver, the chain also serves custard, chicken, desserts and sandwiches.

The Culver’s restaurant is part of a medical building complex under construction in front of the Barcelona Apartments on the west side of Military Trail, across from the U.S. Post Office, south of Toney Penna Drive. Read more about Culver’s Butter Burgers here.

 

A Brooklyn-based eatery, famous for its old-fashioned cheesecake is opening in Boca Raton

Junior’s Restaurant & Cheesecake is set to open soon at Mizner Park in Boca Raton.

Alan Rosen, a third-generation owner, said he was looking to open a restaurant in Boca Raton, which he called “another borough of New York.” When the space formerly home to Ruby Tuesday’s became available, Rosen grabbed it on sight.

As displayed in the 2013 book "Junior's Home Cooking" by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen, a photo by Mark Ferri captures the fluffy nature of Junior's famous cheesecake filling nestled upon a sponge-cake crust.
As displayed in the 2013 book “Junior’s Home Cooking” by Alan Rosen and Beth Allen, a photo by Mark Ferri captures the fluffy nature of Junior’s famous cheesecake filling nestled upon a sponge-cake crust.

The restaurant will open first for lunch and dinner, then weekend breakfast, and then finally daytime breakfast. A full bar, plus takeout will be offered, as well as a section devoted to selling cheesecakes to go. Read more about what makes Junior’s cheesecake so memorable!

Readers Choice winner: Who has the best coffee in Palm Beach County?

We admit the question may have teetered upon the unfocused: Who has the best coffee in Palm Beach County?

But you knew what we meant, dear readers, and there was nothing unfocused about your answers. Who has the best coffee, in brew and concept?

Patrons enjoy the cramped confines of Subculture Coffee in West Palm Beach. A lease will give the shop additional space. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)
Subculture prepares for larger Clematis Street digs next month. (Richard Graulich/ Palm Beach Post)

You voted resoundingly for Subculture Coffee, the small-batch roaster and hipster concept with locations in downtown West Palm Beach and Delray Beach.

“It’s really encouraging. As a business owner, you want your product to stand on its own,” says Sean Scott, Subculture co-owner and coffee roaster. He describes the response to his coffee and concept as a kind of “gravitational, community pull.”

Which is to say: a hit. (Also a hit were Oceana Coffee in Tequesta and the Common Grounds coffee shop in Lake Worth, which tied for second place.)

Co-owned by nightlife/restaurant czar Rodney Mayo, Subculture is both a local coffee brand and coffee shop. As a coffee brand, it uses beans harvested in far-flung places (as in Chiriquí, Panama, and Oromia, Ethiopia). Those beans are roasted in Subculture’s industrial Diedrich roaster and produce a wide range of fresh brewed coffee, diverse in flavor depth and weight.

A cappuccino by coffee master Sean Scott, founder Subculture Coffee. (Palm Beach Post file)
A cappuccino by coffee master Sean Scott, founder Subculture Coffee. (Palm Beach Post file)

This is not coffee that can be described as strictly bold or strictly high-octane. “Our coffee changes quarterly, due to seasonality,” says Scott. “I really focus on offering four or five different origins at a time, with each having unique characteristics. I try to roast to enhance those unique qualities in varieties.”

As a shop, its original location on Clematis Street has proven to be a game changer for that main drag’s 500 Block. Living up to its name, the shop has added a chill, creative subculture to the block.

There’s more than just coffee going on at Subculture – the place has nurtured a consistently caffeinated community and brought events like Tacos and Hip Hop to the block. All this in two and a half years.

And there’s more: Within weeks, the Clematis shop will double in size as Subculture expands into the locale next door.

The new space allows Scott the room to host weekly coffee appreciation classes, exploring everything from bean origin to processing technique to brewing.

“It brings coffee to the level of wine. We know that wine is complex. That’s what I want people to know about coffee,” says Scott, who plans to open the space sometime in October. “We want to move beyond the caramel macchiato and further educate our community.”

photo subculture coffee shop
A pair of macchiatos at Subculture Coffee shop in West Palm Beach. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

SUBCULTURE COFFEE

In West Palm Beach

  • 509 Clematis St.; 561-318-5182; open Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday to 2 a.m.

In Delray Beach

  • 123 E. Atlantic Ave.; 561-808-8482; open daily from 7 a.m. to midnight

Online: SubcultureCoffee.com

Make these easy apple and honey muffins for a sweet Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah arrives Sunday night, just as it seems the world could use a critical dose of sweetness. The Jewish new year, symbolized by the sweetest of foods, is a time for renewal, for family, for matters of the soul and for rivers of honey.

And if something as simple as honey-dipped apples can beckon happiness, imagine those ingredients baked into warm, heady muffins.

If you celebrate Rosh Hashanah, here’s a recipe for some exquisite apple and honey muffins. It comes from “Our Table,” a new kosher cookbook by author and food stylist Renee Mullerpublished by Artscroll ($34.99).

Renee Muller's recipe for Apple and Honey Rosh Hashanah Muffins appears in her upcoming book, "Our Table: Time-Tested Recipes, Memorable Meals.” (Courtesy: Our Table/ Artscroll)
These Apple and Honey Rosh Hashanah Muffins appear in Renee Muller’s book, “Our Table: Time-Tested Recipes, Memorable Meals.” (Courtesy: Our Table/ Artscroll)

The recipe’s use of brewed tea exalts the apple and honey flavors. It’s a holiday winner: Fragrant with cinnamon, the apples and the muffin batter hint of fall.

APPLE AND HONEY ROSH HASHANAH MUFFINS

This recipe is reprinted with permission from “Our Table: Time-Tested Recipes, Memorable Meals,” by Renee Muller (Artscroll/October 2016). It’s freezer-friendly, dairy/pareve.

roshhashanahourtablecoverMuller writes:

“At our house, Rosh Hashanah cannot happen without honey muffins. At least, that’s the way my kids see it. It’s a family project, and by now, a family tradition, too.

“This recipe was given to me by a relative in Israel who bakes them all the time and claims that no matter how many batches she bakes, there are never enough.

“She’s absolutely right. We once baked a quadruple batch of these (sans the apples) for a bake sale on our block and we were left without a crumb!” 

Makes about 48 muffins

For the apples

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

4 Granny Smith apples, diced

4 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the muffins

2 cups prepared tea, lukewarm

2 cups sugar

2 cups oil

2 cups honey

12 eggs

6 cups flour

2 tablespoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 heaping tablespoons cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Prepare the apples: In a saucepan, melt butter over a medium-low flame. Add apples, sugar, and cinnamon; cook until apples are fragrant and soften a bit, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

3. Prepare the muffins: In the bowl of a stand mixer, on medium speed, combine tea, sugar, oil, honey, and eggs. Mix until smooth. Reduce speed; gradually add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

4. Fill each muffin cup halfway with batter. (I like to use a cupcake pen for this; I find it very helpful.) Top with a teaspoon of prepared apples. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out almost dry with some moist crumbs attached.

Author’s note: “The apples are optional; I find that some children prefer the muffins plain. We add the apple for Rosh Hashanah (very loudly singing, ‘Dip the apple in the hooooneeeyy’ as we do so) but throughout the year, we bake them plain.”

Kitchen tip: I recently discovered an amazing gadget called ‘The Cupcake (or Muffin) Pen.’ It really removes the whole messy aspect of filling cupcake pans with batter. Look for it in specialty equipment stores.”

Cauliflower rice has reached craze level — but does it taste like rice?

There’s a Cuban slang term that perfectly describes the latest cauliflower trend.

“It’s like white rice. It’s everywhere,” goes the saying popular among my rice-crazy people.

In this cauliflower trend case, it’s not like white rice – it is white rice. It’s cauliflower rice and, yes, it’s everywhere.

Dueling bowls of cauliflower fried rice: Which did we like best? (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Dueling bowls of cauliflower fried rice: Which did we like best? (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Chefs are stir-frying it. Big box stores are selling chilled packages of it. Paleo devotees and vegans are singing its praises.

But does it taste like rice rice? Short answer: It can. Sort of.

Like rice, cauliflower morsels soak up the flavor of their seasonings. The cruciferous veggie can develop a sulfurous scent if overcooked, but it can be avoided in a quick, well-seasoned skillet.

I first tasted cauliflower rice in a brilliant stir-fry dish by nationally acclaimed Miami chef Giorgio Rapicavoli, a James Beard Award “Rising Star Chef” nominee who is a regular headliner at the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival. The almost crunchy cauliflower fried “rice” is sautéed with shishito peppers and carrots at Rapicavoli’s Eating House restaurant.

Inspired, I bought a head of cauliflower days later and riced up the florets in my food processor, reserving the stems for soup. I chopped up aromatics and veggies, then went about my stir-fry, swapping in the riced florets for white rice.

The result was tasty, but rather mushy. Perhaps I left it in the pan, covered, for too long. Or perhaps residual moisture on the florets combined with the heat emanating from the spinning processor blade doomed the rice.

Riced and packaged cauliflower at Trader Joe's. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Riced and packaged. 

Whatever the case, my cauliflower rice enthusiasm was relegated to the back burner of my mind. Then I found a bag of perfectly riced cauliflower at in the produce section of Trader Joe’s.

It was evidence of a trend already well established. A Paleo-following friend mentioned she buys packaged riced cauliflower at Costco. And recently, Green Giant got in the cauliflower rice game, rolling out bags of frozen “Riced Veggies” this month.

Cauliflower rice without the chopping and food processor hassle? I was intrigued enough to grab a bag of it at Trader Joe’s and cancel my white-rice side dish plans for our Sunday night supper.

I kept the preparation simple. I sautéed chopped onion, celery and two or three garlic cloves in olive oil for a couple of minutes over medium heat, then added about a cup and a half of the packaged rice and turned up the heat to medium-high. I seasoned the ingredients with salt and pepper and sautéed the granulized cauliflower in the garlic-infused oil for three to four minutes. I lowered the heat and covered the pan for another minute or two, then tasted for seasoning and texture.

It was not as tender as my food-processor rice had been, but it was not mushy – it was almost there. I covered it for another minute and it was perfect.

I scooped a large spoonful of the rice into a bowl of garbanzo, butternut squash and chorizo stew. The rice soaked up the stew’s flavors without losing its lightly chewy texture.

I topped my homemade garbanzo stew with cauliflower "arroz." (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Garbanzo stew + cauli “arroz.”

The heady bites of that Sunday supper sparked other cauliflower rice ideas and curiosities: Would it work in paella, or arroz con pollo? Could it ever match the creaminess of risotto?

Nina Kauder, a plant-based chef working in Lake Worth and Boynton Beach, can vouch for the success of cauliflower rice in risotto. She sampled a stellar rendition at a five-course, “plant-powered” dinner she presented some days ago at Boynton Beach’s Secret Garden culinary incubator. It was a mushroom Marsala served over truffled cauliflower risotto.

The success of this rice, she says, was built with layer upon layer of flavor, from the dish’s earthy mushrooms to its meaty chickpeas and bright, fresh herbs.

“When you’re creating vegan food, you want to build a lot of layers of flavor. You can’t be one note. It’s not enough,” says Kauder.

Cauliflower rice, an excellent source of vitamins and phytonutrients, has many benefits, she notes. But, flavor wise, it needs some love.

That love starts in the form of aromatic sautés or sofritos and continues with spices and herbs and seasoned broths made of roasted veggies and/or bones.

“It’s all about the seasoning. It’s what focuses the flavor,” says Kauder, who suggests experimenting with nutritional yeast for deeper, rounder flavors. Just sprinkle about ¼ cup of the yeast into your cauliflower rice sauté. “The greatest cheat in vegan dishes is nutritional yeast. It gives you the cheesiness in flavor and texture.”

Mushroom Marsala over cauliflower risotto, as presented at Secret Garden dinner in Boynton Beach. (Contributed by Sivan Fraser)
Mushroom Marsala on cauliflower risotto, as presented at Secret Garden. (Credit: Sivan Fraser)

Some days ago, I asked Tequesta personal chef Lenore Pinello to conduct a flavor and texture experiment in her cook shop, In the Kitchen. (Watch the cook/taste test on video at MyPalmBeachPost.com/rice.) The recipe: her simple fried rice.

Pinello fired up two woks and stir-fried a progression of veggies in them. To one wok, she added cauliflower she riced using a hand grater. To the other, she added the Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower.

In the end, it was a bit of a tie. For flavor, we preferred the hand-grated cauliflower best, as it soaked up more flavor than the other. For texture, we liked the more al dente feel of the packaged rice.

“But I could eat both of them all day long,” Pinello said.

Then, in an apparent flash of inspiration, she reached for one of the cauliflower stems she had set aside. She grated the vegetable’s tougher part into a bowl. The texture of the riced stem was similar to that of the packaged cauliflower rice.

That seemed to explain why the bagged rice was drier than the fresh one – the fresh one was made of more tender florets.

Chef Kauder believes that using the stems is a genius move.

“What do you do with the tough core once you’ve packaged the florets? It’s perfect for the job at hand (ricing). It’s maximizing the retailability and reducing their waste,” she says.

The bigger picture, of course, is that trendy cauliflower rice may be succeeding in places the food pyramid fails.

“The truth is no one eats enough vegetables – even vegetarians,” says Kauder, noting the uncanny resemblance of white rice and cauliflower rice. “We eat with our eyes first and sometimes vegetables that are reminiscent of other foods are not enough – it really has to look like it.”

FRIED CAULIFLOWER RICE

Recipe by Chef Lenore Pinello of In the Kitchen shop in Tequesta.

Serves 4

4 sliced bacon, cut into lardons (cubes)

1/2 cup diced onions

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 cups riced cauliflower, either freshly grated or packaged

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1/2 cup shredded carrots

1/2 cup sliced scallions

2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger

Preheat a wok or large skillet. Add bacon and stir-fry until golden brown.

Add onions and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Drizzle sesame oil into pan until fragrant.

Add cauliflower and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes, until tender (but not mushy). Add soy sauce to coat the cauliflower rice.

Toss in peas and carrots and stir-fry until the colors are bright, about 1 minute.

Add the scallions and ginger and cook for 1 minute.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into bowls and serve immediately.

Loren Cordain, the researcher who dubbed the term "Paleo diet," has written a new cookbook called "Real Paleo Fast & Easy" that features this recipe for crisp spicy pork with cauliflower rice and herbs. Photo by Loren Cordain
Loren Cordain’s ‘Real Paleo Fast & Easy’ cookbook includes the following recipe for this crispy spicy pork with cauliflower rice and herbs. (Credit: Loren Cordain)

CRISPY SPICY PORK WITH HERBS

with cauliflower rice

Recipe from “Real Paleo Fast & Easy,” by Loren Cordain (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Serves 4

1 pound ground pork

3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

1 teaspoons crushed red pepper

1 teaspoons cumin seeds

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium head cauliflower, broken into florets

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped almonds, toasted

2 teaspoons lemon zest

1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley

1/4 cup snipped fresh mint

Lemon wedges or crushed red pepper, for serving (optional)

Form pork into two 1/4-inch-thick patties. In an extra-large skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Place patties in skillet; cook 3 minutes or until bottoms are browned and very crisp. Carefully turn patties and cook 3 minutes more or until second sides are browned and crisp. Reduce heat to medium. Break patties into small pieces; add smoked paprika, crushed red pepper, cumin and garlic. Cook 2 to 3 minutes or until spices are fragrant and meat is cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a food processor pulse cauliflower (in batches if necessary) until the pieces are the size of rice. In a large skillet cook cauliflower rice in the remaining coconut oil over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender and just beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Stir in almonds and lemon zest.

Serve pork over cauliflower rice; sprinkle with parsley, mint and, if desired, additional crushed red pepper and lemon wedges.

Dim sum review: Why you should indulge in Grand Lake’s weekend tradition

Dim sum at Grand Lake is an adventure of eclectic small bites. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)
Dim sum at Grand Lake is an adventure of eclectic small bites. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)

Here’s a compromise for anti-buffet types who love to brunch: a buffet that comes to you. The food is tucked into small tin pots and rolled to your table in a metal cart. Lovers of Hong Kong style cuisine call it dim sum.

Yes, I know you’ve heard about dim sum. But who are we kidding? This isn’t Hong Kong or New York or San Francisco – or any city where dim sum is more a religion than a meal. This is Palm Beach County, where dim sum menus are few and far between.

Luckily for seekers of the real deal, there’s still tasty dim sum to be found at Grand Lake, the 10-year-old Chinese restaurant that sits in a suburban West Palm Beach plaza.

Go-cart driver: The dim sum cart is offered Saturday and Sunday. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)
Go-cart driver: The dim sum cart is offered Saturday and Sunday. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)

The Saturday and Sunday dim sum crowds put plenty of mileage on that metal cart. It’s laden with dumplings, finger foods and dim sum favorites.

On a recent visit, I asked my dining companions, two dim sum devotees, to order their favorite dishes. I added a couple of my own (Hello, sticky rice in lotus leaf!) and soon our table was filled with what seemed like the contents of two dim sum carts.

We feasted on plump shrimp dumplings ($4.25), pork sui mei dumplings ($3.95), raggedly finished and greasy fried taro dumplings ($4.25), dense chive dumplings ($4.25), sweet-savory steamed barbecue pork buns ($4.25), chicken feet ($3.95) and rich steamed egg custard buns ($4.25).

In this dumpling landscape, two dishes stood out as must-order: the delicious shrimp dumplings and the sui mei dumplings, which revealed their porky filling through their split tops.

Dim sum delights are tucked into steamy tins. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)
Dim sum delights are tucked into steamy tins. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)

Best of all, however, was a bean-curd skin roll stuffed with pork and chopped vegetables ($4.25). The beautifully seasoned filling is wrapped in a thin tofu sheet, steamed and served in a savory sauce.

Also delicious: the sticky rice in lotus leaf ($5.25), moist, nicely seasoned rice that’s wrapped in an aromatic lotus leaf and steamed until fragrant. The result is a dim sum cousin of a cornhusk-wrapped tamal or plantain-leaf-wrapped pastel. The filling takes on an ethereal layer from its steamed wrapping.

A crispy roasted duck dish ($8.50 for a quarter bird, $15.95 for a half) was ample and tasty, though slightly overcooked in parts.

We started our dim sum feast with steaming bowls of fish fillet congee ($7.25), a delicately flavored rice porridge. Hinting of ginger and dotted with chunks of mild white fish, it was downright soul-warming.

As one might guess, we had plenty of leftovers. But before those take-home containers were filled, we enjoyed our dim sum bites amid the chatter of locals in this family-owned restaurant.

No, there’s no bottomless Bloody Mary bar. But we did have a couple of pots of hot chrysanthemum tea. It soothed our full bellies on a lovely Sunday.

Dumplings galore at Grand Lake Chinese restaurant. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)
Dumplings galore at Grand Lake Chinese restaurant. (Yuting Jiang/ The Palm Beach Post)

REVIEW

DIM SUM AT GRAND LAKE

FOOD: B+

SERVICE: B

ADDRESS: 7750 Okeechobee Blvd. #6, West Palm Beach

TELEPHONE: 561-681-1388

PRICE RANGE: Inexpensive to moderate

NOISE LEVEL: Low key, manageable.

FULL BAR: Beer and wine only

HOURS: Open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m. Cart-served dim sum is offered Saturday and Sunday.

CREDIT CARDS: Major cards accepted

RESERVATIONS: Walk-ins welcome

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:

A — Excellent

B — Good

C — Average

D — Poor

F — Don’t bother

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swank Farm steps up barn-chic dinner series in Loxahatchee Groves

Rural meets big city: Swank Farm hosts a series of feasts each harvest season. (Palm Beach Post file) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The table set for lunch prepared by chef Daniel Boulud during a visit to Swank Farm on Monday, October 20, 2014 in Loxahatchee. Swank Farm provides fresh produce to Boulud's restaurants Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach and DB Moderne in Miami. (Madeline Gray / The Palm Beach Post)
Rural meets big city: Swank Farm hosts a series of feasts each harvest season. (Palm Beach Post file)

Growing season has kicked off at Swank Farm, which means party season is on the horizon at Palm Beach County’s premier hydroponic farm.

Farmers Darrin and Jodi Swank have stepped up their farm dinner schedule this harvest season, booking nine “Swank Table” events beneath their newish, soaring, open-sided barn between December and April.

That’s one more dinner than last season. But as Darrin Swank puts it, the chef-driven feasts signal a shift in the farm’s identity and goals.

Jodi and Darrin Swank. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)
Jodi and Darrin Swank. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)

“We’re going more from a production side to more of an educational, entertainment, tourism side,” says Swank, whose 20-acre farm sits on a dirt road in Loxahatchee Groves. “Our idea is to keep bringing more and more folks here to educate them about the values of using local produce.”

The Swank Table events draw carloads of South Florida foodies in farm-hip garb. They travel west for chef-made dishes inspired by just-harvested ingredients, locally brewed beer, sommelier-poured wine and live acoustic music.

This year’s lineup features a night with the chefs from Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood and Coconut Creek restaurants, a specialty farm market, a Chinese New Year celebration, a Valentine’s dinner, a 70s party, an Argentine barbecue, a vegetarian feast, a white party and a pig roast.

See the full schedule at SwankSpecialtyProduce.com. Individual event tickets cost $160 per person.

 

Which pizza is best for watching tonight’s presidential debate?

Close-up of cheese pizza
Which cheese pizza scored most votes? (File photo)

Will you be glued to tonight’s nationally televised presidential debate? If so, you’ll need dinner with that! And we have the perfect suggestion: Pizza! Who knows more about room-temp pizza than journalists on election night? No one. And we proudly claim our expertise!

We snag all available opportunities to devour pizza – by the slice, by the pie, or by the stack of boxes. It’s rib-sticking grub, as we were reminded last October when we gathered at one end of the newsroom to taste-test four downtown West Palm Beach cheese pizzas.

We sampled pies from Pizza Girls, City Pizza, Mellow Mushroom and Nico’s Pizza.

In the end, Nico’s scored the highest percentage of our votes (38 percent).

See? None left. (Photo by Laura Lordi)
See? None left. (Photo by Laura Lordi)

The Clematis Street pizzeria delivered with its thin, foldable crust, hearty sauce and cheese and slightly greasy awesomeness.

Second place went to Mellow Mushroom (34 percent). Next was City Pizza of CityPlace (16 percent). Lastly, Pizza Girls fans were saddened to see the waterfront spot earned a paltry 13 percent of our votes.

Or you can take the Palm Beach Post readers advice for the best pizza in Palm Beach County…“Readers’ Choice: Best Pizzeria in the County.”

Foodie central: village for indie vendors to rise in West Palm industrial zone

Palm Beach County’s foodie city of the moment is about to get more tasty. West Palm Beach might soon be home to a new food and drink-centric district that’s in development along the city’s industrial zone.

Celis Produce is among the vendors at the upcoming Grange Hall. (Credit: Oak Media)
Celis Produce is among the vendors at the upcoming Grange Hall. (Credit: Oak Media)

The Warehouse District, a sprawling complex of vintage buildings, is shaping up to be an eclectic urban village of food and beverage creators and vendors, artists, fitness buffs and other indie entrepreneurs. Developers say they hope to open sometime in December or January.

This district will boast a New York-inspired food hall, Grange Hall Market, as well as what will be the city’s only craft beer brewery, Steam Horse. It’s located in the industrial zone that sits off Elizabeth Avenue, just southwest of the Palm Beach County Convention Center, near downtown West Palm Beach.

The food hall portion of this village is the brainchild of real estate developer Chris Vila, a transplanted New Yorker who envisions a Chelsea Market-type of place that provides locals with one-stop-food-shopping options.

“Locals can do their shopping there, buy their proteins and veggies, and take it all home to cook. Or they can just buy a whole dinner and wine and eat it there,” says Vila, son of home-improvement star Bob Vila of “This Old House” fame.

The District will be home to Steam Horse brewery, sibling to Tequesta and Twisted Trunk breweries. (Cox Newspapers photo)
The District will be home to Steam Horse brewery, sibling to Tequesta and Twisted Trunk breweries. (Cox Newspapers photo)

A covered loading dock will be transformed into a dining and events space, he notes, and a greenway will offer plenty of spots for enjoying a bite. Vila says he’s secured 12 vendors for Grange Hall, among them Rabbit Coffee roasters, Celis Produce vendors, plus a butcher, fishmonger, florist, coffee roaster, taco spot and rotisserie chicken joint.

Central to The District’s larger mission is that the market and other spaces within the complex will nurture independent vendors and artisans.

“Our goal is to have a place where those folks can thrive, expand and grow,” says The District’s developer Hunter Beebe of Johnstone Capital Partners.  “I believe the ultimate synergy will drive success for the entire community. The heart and soul of this is not me or my team, but these tenants.”

One of those indie vendors is Celis Produce, whose owners have nabbed a spot in Grange Hall. It will house Celis’ second location.

The Celis brothers (from left: Felipe, Camilo and Alex) are bringing their organic goods to The District's food hall. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
The Celis brothers (from left: Felipe, Camilo and Alex) are bringing their organic goods to The District’s food hall. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

“The concept sounds amazing. I feel it’s what we need here,” says Felipe Celis, who co-owns a West Palm produce delivery and juice bar business with his two brothers. Besides selling produce and some pantry items at the food hall, the Celis brothers plan to sell juices, acai bowls and quinoa bowls for onsite consumption.

The District’s 85,000-square-foot area includes about eight buildings that were constructed between the 1920s and the 1950s, says Beebe.

“There’s a lot of character in those buildings. We bought them all within the last year, and we’ve undertaken this effort to essentially redevelop them,” he says.

Beebe envisions a district akin to Miami’s hip, artistic Wynwood neighborhood, “with a heavy focus on local entrepreneurs, culture, art and food – but not food in the big business kind of way.”

Adding lifestyle layers to The District, his team has signed on an indoor cycling studio, he says. “We will also have the first squash club that West Palm Beach has ever had. We’re excited about that,” says Beebe, who counts art galleries in the mix as well.

While it may seem as if developers are building a brand new neighborhood, Beebe cautions that’s not the case.

“The neighborhood exists. What we’re trying to do it bring it back to life. This is not like CityPlace where you are sprouting up with a (from-the-ground-up) development,” he says, emphasizing that The District’s project seeks to redevelop an area, not build from scratch.

He notes that many of the previous inhabitants of the industrial district were working trades that are now gone.

“A lot of those businesses have gone away, and so the buildings have become less productive,” says Beebe, who splits his time between Palm Beach and New York. “What we saw is this opportunity to reimagine the neighborhood with something that’s consistent with productivity now in West Palm Beach.”

Rabbit Coffee roasters are among the vendors at Grange Hall. (Meghan McCarthy/ The Palm Beach Post)
Rabbit Coffee is among Grange Hall vendors. (Meghan McCarthy/ The Palm Beach Post)

Some of the remnants left behind by previous generations and inhabitants will serve new functions. Take the long-abandoned 1920s rail line that cuts through the property:

“We are developing the Trail Line,” says Beebe, describing a pedestrian swath of green that connects various concepts. “This will become a very active pedestrian greenway.”

West Palm’s quickly emerging food and entertainment scene provides fertile ground for The District’s development, says Vila.

“I think it’s a wonderful time to be here,” he says. “West Palm Beach is growing and can sustain something like this.”

Follow The District’s progress: on Istagram @grangehallmarket and @warehousedistrictwpb

Steam Horse craft beer brewery headed to industrial West Palm Beach

A new brewery will join the emerging craft beer scene next year. (Cox Newspapers)
Steam Horse Brewing will join Palm Beach County’s emerging beer scene next year. (Cox Newspapers)

The craft beer minds behind Tequesta Brewing Company and Twisted Trunk Brewing will join West Palm Beach’s rising food and drink scene next year. They will open Steam Horse Brewing near downtown West Palm Beach, says co-owner Fran Andrewlevich.

The new brewery is headed to The Warehouse District, a sprawling urban complex that’s now under construction in West Palm Beach’s industrial district. When completed, The District will serve as its own mini-neighborhood and will be home to Grange Hall Market, an eclectic food hall, and other food and beverage spots. It’s located in the industrial zone that sits off Elizabeth Avenue, just southwest of the Palm Beach County Convention Center, near downtown West Palm Beach.

Andrewlevich and brewery partner Matt Webster hope to open next year by late spring or early summer. They tapped into the vintage rail theme in naming the new brewery. An abandoned rail spur on the property inspired images of old locomotives billowing great clouds of smoke. And so Steam Horse was born.

The brewery and large tasting room will breathe new, hoppy life into a 6000-square-foot space currently occupied by a cabinet shop. Andrewlevich notes the space, which will be mostly devoted to Steam Horse’s tasting room, is about the same size as Twisted Trunk on PGA Boulevard.

“We’re hoping to get in there by January to start the renovation. Hopefully, permits will move smoothly,” says Andrewlevich, who says building has begun on the brewing equipment for the place.

About the beers to be brewed, the brewmaster promises a “wide variety.” And while the brewery will offer no food, patrons can order from nearby restaurants and have food delivered to the tasting room.

Vintage steam locomotives inspired the brewery's name. (Cox Newspapers file)
Steam Horse: Vintage steam locomotives inspired the brewery’s name. (Cox Newspapers file photo)

Andrewlevich, who was the original brewmaster at the now-defunct Brewzzi brewpub in CityPlace, believes Steam Horse will be the city’s first true brewery.

“I’ve been researching this and I haven’t found any other breweries. Brewzzi was a brewpub, which is different,” he says.

He says he is most excited about joining the city’s burgeoning dining and entertainment scene. Just as Tequesta and Twisted Trunk breweries have their distinctive personalities and crowds, he expects the West Palm brewery to draw from the city’s hipster demographic.

“The market as a whole is young and vibrant and it’s Ubers and people going out. It’s a little trendier, a little more cosmopolitan,” says Andrewlevich. “We just love what’s happening in the restaurant scene, the art scene, the music scene here. Everything that’s alive is here.”

Steam Horse will join an emerging, countywide craft beer scene and native breweries that include Funky Buddha and Barrel of Monks in Boca Raton, Saltwater in Delray Beach, Due South, Copperpoint and Devour in Boynton Beach, plus Tequesta Brewing in Tequesta and Twisted Trunk in the Gardens.

Follow: For Steam Horse updates, follow its siblings, Twisted Trunk and Tequesta Brewing.