A hop is used to flavor a beer, and the flavor you get depends on when you add the hops. If you add them at the beginning, the beer will be bitter; if you add them toward the end of a boil, they will produce more of an aroma than a taste.
Hops sound pretty great, right? So why are we in a state-of-emergency? Well, the craft beer world is currently suffering from a major hop-shortage. Last year, Europe experienced a serious drought, which didn’t allow farmers to grow the hop-crop, causing this hop-tastrophe.
Our favorite beers all come from hops, even our famous, locally-brewed ‘Chancellor’ fromTequesta Brewing Company, who ironically, just celebrated its yearly, ‘Hop Week’. Tequesta Brewing Company (big sister to Palm Beach Garden’s Twisted Trunk), explains that Europe’s drought has not only made it hard to find European hops, but has also caused the price of American hops to rise.
TBC also says that it is much harder to acquire mosaic, citric and galaxia hops — three of the most popular varieties.
The brewery has a hop-purveyor who gets European hops for them, brew-master Matt Webster explained. The crop was so bad that the purveyor couldn’t complete the order, and the brewery had to turn to American hops.
Not that there is anything wrong with American hops. In fact, other Palm Beach County breweries like Due South in Boynton Beach aren’t affected at all by the hops shortage because they already brew with American hops from places like Yakima, Washington. For TBC, though, German hops is go-to source and they want to stay who they are.
So are we in a hop shortage? Yes. Will our favorite local breweries still produce our favorite drinks? Yes. Is Tequesta Brewing Company still putting out great beers? A for sure, yes.
Aguilera had been working as a baker for the past 25 years in West Palm, but she didn’t want to work at a supermarket forever. Eddy worked in construction since moving to the city in 2008, something he did make a living, not something he wanted to do. When they met in 2010, everything came together.
“We unified our ideas and we were able to open something we both love,” says Eddy.
The Cuban lovebirds — Xiomara from Las Tunas and Eddy from Pinar del Rio — opened their Cuban pizzeria and bakery in West Palm Beach in August. They called it “Mi Isla Pizzeria Cubana and Bakery.”
Aguilera admits that she never liked cooking, hence why she wanted a man who cooks. Her passion is making desserts, namely Cuban pastries and the undeniably-sweet café cubano, something she offers with a smile to every customer who walks in because “that’s just Cuban courtesy.”
Tapia, who’s a bit more timid, has always loved making Cuban pizza for his family. Now, he’s the guy in the back of the kitchen making the seasoned-magic happen for an entire community.
“You must try it,” says Tapia confidently.
That’s exactly how Tapia answered when asked, “What the heck is a Cuban Pizza?”
It goes like this: He makes sure the dough it just right. He says it’s a thicker bread that’s fully cooked, yet it’s chewier and fluffier than a traditional Italian pizza.
“La salsa es divina! (The sauce is divine),” says Aguilera.
Any Italian would tell you that the secret in a great pizza is the sauce. This Cuban twist is no exception. Tapia says the sauce is still tomato-based, but it has all kinds of Cuban seasonings that make it a lot more flavorful. He guarantees you’ll love it. But, like most true chefs, he won’t share more of the secret.
“It’s a recipe we both created. It is intimate,” says the Cuban gentleman.
Any guy that abides by the “don’t-kiss-and-tell” rule must be a keeper.
Both Tapia and Aguilera spent the past year perfecting the taste that would get people coming for more. In December 2015, Tapia traveled to all parts of Cuba to sample native pizzas, different tomatoes, spices and learn different cooking methods. It was Aguilera who would sit at the table and try all of his sauces.
“She is the tasting queen. She hates the kitchen, but loves to eat,” jokes Eddy while serving a Cuban espresso. A few months ago, they locked down a recipe they both love.
The toppings on these pizzas are both Cuban and traditional. You can choose from regular ham, pineapple or pepperoni to more Cuban ingredients such as chorizo, lechon asado(roast pork) or even guayaba con queso(guava with cheese.)
“We have a good balance,” says Aguilera. “He cooks and I make desserts.”
Attention, hungry shoppers: What’s better than a well-stocked supermarket?
A well-stocked supermarket with a sumptuous buffet tucked inside.
This is what one finds at the El Bodegon #5 supermarket on Lake Worth Road in Lake Worth. Beyond the shelves stocked with a diverse mix of Latin American and Caribbean specialty products, there’s a cafeteria-style area at the local chain’s location that sits across from John Prince Park.
Follow the stream of regulars to this flavorful corner where the steam table beckons with various soups, stewed and roasted meats, beans, rice, tamales, plantains and salads.
From Monday through Friday, the buffet runs a $6.49 lunch special: You get the main course, two sides and a soda. And we’re not talking about some skimpy helpings.
We visited on recent Saturday for a late lunch and found an equally terrific deal: a main course with three sides for $7.99. Call it a “meat and three,” Latin-style.
We scanned the buffet table, staffed by various servers ready to spoon out our selections and keep the line moving. We spied: chicken soup, hearty beef soup, creamy seafood stew, beef stew, creamy mushroom chicken, roast pork, two kinds of tamales, among other offerings.
We opted for a freshly roasted pork dish that featured a sprinkling of garbanzos, chunks of sautéed onion, tomato and some raw green onions. Glorious stuff. As our three sides, we chose yellow rice, nicely seasoned red beans (served in a separate dish) and a spicy Mexican chicken tamal that was wrapped and steamed in corn husk. The combo was large enough to feed three people.
Separately, we also sampled a large Guatemalan tamal that has been steamed in a banana leaf. The stewed chicken filling proved delicious.
On weekends, you don’t get a free soda with lunch. A can of soda will set you back $1.49.
The downside of dining here: Ambiance means bottled water displays and Corona promotional streamers.
The upside: You can walk off all those lunch calories by wandering through the chock-a-block aisles.
This new-ish restaurant, located just down the street from our office, became an instant staff favorite, thanks to its tempting, generous lunch buffet.
Owned and operated by a young couple – he’s Dominican, she’s Cuban-American – El Unico serves classics from both Cuba and the Dominican Republic. So, on any given day, you may find the buffet offers fresh, roasted pork (with stellar crackling), stewed chicken, ropa vieja (shredded flank steak in creole sauce), plus your choice of rice, beans (black or red) and plantains.
As in the buffet line at El Bodegon, this is not an all-you-can-eat kind of buffet. You get a choice of meat, plus rice, beans and a side. Depending on the meat, prices range from $4.99 to $9.99.
If you’re not in much of a hurry and you’d rather order your lunch a la carte, there’s a full menu of entrees, sandwiches, salads, sides and plenty of favorites (hello, mofongo!) from which to choose.
Enjoy your lunch in El Unico’s cozy dining room, which often is filled with Dominican bachata rhythms. It’s a hard deal to beat, this bachata buffet. Maybe that’s why the restaurant’s name means “the only one.”
This north county favorite is a true self-serve buffet offering deliciously old-school dishes. It’s not huge, but it’s mighty. The buffet line includes a varied salad station, a small soup station, some chilled offerings (egg salad, rice pudding) and a good selection of hearty meats and sides.
You have two options at lunch: Go the soup and salad route for $7.08 (served Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) or feast on the full buffet for $9.44.
At any given time, you may find baked chicken, Salisbury steak, carved to order meats (turkey, leg of lamb, ham, roast beef), turkey pot pie, chicken Francais, mashed potatoes, mac-and-cheese, baked beans, collards, carrots, corn and rice.
When it comes to brunch spots, this is not the most pizzazzy. There’s no Bloody Mary or Mimosa bar. There’s no ocean view or lush garden.
Still, there’s a line that stretches into the parking lot as the sun glints on passing traffic along U.S. 1. And there’s a sweet guitar weaving Sunday morning tunes, some standards, some bluesy, some folksy.
It wouldn’t be Sunday brunch at the Juno Beach Café without guitarist and singer Jordan Lee, who says he hasn’t missed a Sunday morning gig at this daylight café for the better part of two decades. He’s not a “look at me” type of entertainer, but one who gently enhances the ambiance.
The attention-grabbing stars here are the “UEPs,” the stacks of “Uncle Eddie’s Pancakes,” which are some of the most popular items on the extensive breakfast menu. Last Sunday, I pondered the eight pancake options offered here (from $5.99 to $8.99), from Nutella-slathered UEPs to Banana Nut Loads of Walnuts UEPs, and settled on a stack of plain originals, which fixed my pancake craving just fine.
The pancakes join the heaps of French toast, eggs, meats, breakfast skillets and other morning dishes spirited from the café’s kitchen.
Within that extensive menu are some true gems. The potato pancakes, for instance, are killer. Patted of shredded potatoes and onions, these thick and toasty latkes are offered in a combo ($10.29) with two eggs, bacon or sausage and a choice of applesauce or sour cream.
The toasty finish that elevates these potato pancakes also can be found in any side of hash browns here. Not too long ago, I enjoyed those with a spinach-tomato-cheese omelet, rye toast and bacon. And on another occasion, I had them with Eggs Benedict. (Breakfast joy: crispy potatoes that don’t ooze fat onto your omelet.)
Beyond potatoes and pancakes, menu highlights include migas ($11.19), a Mexican-style scramble with eggs, beans, peppers, avocado, corn chips and several other whims. There’s also chicken and waffles that are served with poached eggs and hollandaise ($11.29), cheese blintzes and apple crepes ($9.99), pecan praline French toast ($6.79, $8.79) and six types of Eggs Benedict ($9.99 to $12.49).
Service is harried and as friendly as one can expect during a Sunday morning bustle. But servers do their best to keep your mug hot and filled with fresh-brewed coffee.
And then there’s Jordan Lee, the gentle guitarist. He fills in the gaps of ambiance and service at brunch time. He provides that thread of a melody you may catch while waiting for a table, the raspy rendition of Johnny Mercer’s “I Remember You,” perhaps.
The regulars here have come to learn Lee’s own songs, like the one he titled “Cruise for Two.” It floats on a light reggae beat and can transport a breakfast patron eastward, across U.S. 1 and toward the sea:
“Hey, there’s a place where I’d like to be/ Sailing the ocean, from sea to sea,
“Jamaica island, Bahamas too/ No crowd of people, just me and you,
“Spending time together, just me and you/ On a cruise for two.”
More specifically, we found it on pages 74 and 75, where Marley’s recipe for a lush, roasted yam tart beckons like a warm fire on a wintry day.
That is, after all, what pops up in the thought bubble this time of year, even if we live in seasonally challenged South Florida: Ah, fall! Chilly temps and gemstone hues. Cider. Soups. Holiday baking. What shall we cook?
Okay, there are no raging autumn leaves or crackling fire on wintry days here, nothing so dramatic that it sparks cravings for appropriately hearty fare.
But we do have seasonal nuance. And we have imaginations. So we will cook for fall with the same brazen attitude we wield each time we zip up our winter boots and strut into our air-conditioned offices.
Perhaps this was the true appeal of that Ziggy Marley fall recipe – it’s a fall recipe wrapped in a familiar island cloak. The Grammy-winning musician, oldest son of legendary Jamaican singer/songwriter Bob Marley, presents lusciously roasted dishes in his newly published “Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook” (Akashic Books, $24.95).
Marley, who also owns a GMO-free product line called Ziggy Marley Organics, did not set out to write a Jamaican cookbook, but one that reflects his life. He took inspiration from the food of his Bull Bay youth, his family’s holistic Rasta culture, his wife Orly’s Israeli and Iranian background as well as his own preference for healthy, natural foods.
Within that diverse mix, we found our fall inspiration. Marley offers wonderfully warming recipes, like a lightly spicy coconut-curry squash soup, a cumin-laced roasted cauliflower dish, a stout gingerbread loaf and, yes, that roasted yam tart.
At a time of the year when it’s hard to think of yams without visions of melted marshmallows, the yams in this tart stand on their own in their natural sweetness. That sweetness finds a buttery backdrop in the baked puff pastry, savory contrast in onions and feta cheese and thyme, plus depth and roundness in coconut oil.
The roasting yams and baking puff pastry will fill your kitchen with those fall baking aromas. And, let’s be real, isn’t that what we crave at this time of the year as we contemplate the sway of palm fronds outside?
ROASTED YAM TART
The sweet yams and creamy-salty feta are a pair made in heaven. Plus, the buttery pastry adds a rich, toasty element.
Recipe adapted from “Ziggy Marley and Family Cookbook,” published Oct. 11 by Akashic Books.
1 puff pastry sheet
½ pound yams, sliced
½ cup onion, sliced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup feta, crumbled
Hempseeds, as desired
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Par-bake the puff pastry sheet on a sheet pan to 80 percent of the package cooking time.
2. At the same time, combine the yams, onions, thyme, ½ tablespoons coconut oil, salt, pepper and 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil on a sheet pan and roast alongside puff pastry.
3. When pastry sheet is par-baked, remove from oven and brush with ½ tablespoon of each oil.
4. Remove vegetable filling from oven, making sure the yams are soft, and spread evenly over pastry.
5. Top with feta cheese and hempseeds, and bake until the cheese somewhat melts and puff pastry cooking time is complete (meaning the final 20 percent of the package cooking time).
6. Garnish with fresh thyme and serve hot.
Serves 2 to 4
Test kitchen notes: After making Marley’s recipe recently, we have the following recommendations to maximize the yams’ flavor and the puff pastry’s toasty texture.
Using a spray bottle, spritz olive oil on the yam slices and roast them on the sheet pan at 375F till tender (about 35 minutes), flipping them over halfway into the roasting time.
For a sweeter touch, caramelize the onions in a skillet before adding to the tart.
Bake the puff pastry separately from the yams to eliminate any excess moisture in the oven.
Less is more when keeping up with the latest social, fashion and food trends these days.
Take ripped jeans, for example. Instead of a subtle rip across one knee on a good pair, everyone from fashionable men to busy, I-just-need-something-to-throw-on moms are exposing an entire knee — and even a little thigh.
Then there are celebrities and beauty influencers posting selfies that embrace their natural skin with hashtags like #nomakeup and #naturalbeauty.
And while women are enjoying the skin they’re in, they also embracing the hair they’re under.
Over the past few years, a vast amount of women have publicly committed to big chops and no-heat hairstyles, encouraging other women to do the same. In most cases, these women have found that their natural hair texture — before chemicals, dye and styling products — is much more satisfying to their taste, looks better and feels better, #NaturalHair.
So, yes, it was only a matter of time before the “less is more” craze would venture into fine dining, and fine desserting.
We’re in a season of natural beauty exposed, where people are not only appreciating a more unfinished look but paying for it as well. Now, you’ve got the naked and semi-naked cakes. A two, three, four or more tier cake with buttercream filling, some fresh fruit or flower garnishment — and that’s it.
But make no mistake: Just because minimal vibes are trending doesn’t mean people are paying less. Not for jeans, not for hair or skin products, and surely not for the naked cake.
Pricing may start at about $7.50 per serving but it all depends on what you’re looking for. Will you be including fresh flowers or sugar flowers? What flavor do you want? Will the cake have three layers or five?
“Naked wedding cakes, to the average eye, seem to be something that requires less work, but that’s not it,” Janderyn Makris of Earth and Sugar tells us.
Her naked cakes start at the same price point as any other cake from her bakery because the amount of time spent on it is the same.
You’re probably wondering, “how can that be true if a naked cake has very little or no icing on its exterior?” Well, there are careful skills and techniques to consider, like layering the cakes with particular amounts of buttercream filling so that the final product is not lopsided.
For frosting lovers, this is a good thing. They shouldn’t turn away from a slice of naked cake because there may be even more filling in a naked cake than a normal one.
“The naked wedding cake must be clean,” Marian Meyers of Diva-Licious Cake House emphasized. But clean doesn’t necessary mean flawless.
It seems the idea of being ‘natural’, or ‘naked’ for the cake’s sake, is more about exposing and embracing flaws rather than covering them up. Are freckles on a nose just as beautiful as a contoured face? Are naked cakes as beautiful as desserts fully decorated in fondant and props? I’d say so.
But here’s an actual culinary star foodies can get excited about: Chef Lee Wolen of Chicago’s Michelin-starred Boka Restaurant recently joined the festival lineup. The James Beard Award nominee will be cooking at the “Rise and Dine” breakfast Saturday, Dec. 10.
Also new to the festival, which runs from Dec. 8-11, is food TV personality Adam Richman, of “Man V. Food” fame, who is scheduled to appear at two prime Saturday events.
Like Coolio, Richman is not without his own controversies. He has now regained status in the food TV world two years after a blistering Instagram rant derailed his Travel Channel “Man Finds Food” series. (The show premiered the following year with a new name.)
Wolen and Richman join a food star lineup that includes nationally acclaimed chefs like Jonathon Sawyer, Daniel Boulud, George Mendes, Ken Oringer, Mike Lata and Anita Lo, TV celebrity chefs like Jeff Mauro and Robert Irvine, and star Miami chefs like Michelle Bernstein, Jose Mendin, Brad Kilgore, Giorgio Rapicavoli and Timon Balloo.
“The festival is continuing to add new and fresh faces and exciting talent,” says festival organizer David Sabin. “We’re now finalizing the participation of other award-winning and notable chefs.”
Add to those Palm Beach stars like Clay Conley, Lindsay Autry, Tim Lipman, Zach Bell, Rick Mace and Julien Gremaud and you have the largest congregation of chefs in Florida in December.
With two months still to go till its kickoff event, the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival has sold out nearly half of its events.
The four-day festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in December, also has sold out of its four offered ticket packages.
Of its 15 scheduled events, top-sellers include the festival’s “Street Food” competition, the “Kids Kitchen” cooking classes (both at the Four Seasons Resort), and the “Chef Welcome Party” at The Breakers. The fest wraps up with a “Grand Tasting” bash and chefs’ throw-down at The Gardens Mall on the night of Dec. 11, a Sunday.
Ticket sales are exceeding expectation, says Sabin.
“It’s a testimonial to the thriving dining culture in Palm Beach County,” he says. “Year to year, festival-goers are growing more familiar with the venues and our staple events. It’s obvious in the response we’ve received to our signature events.”
The folks behind The Regional Kitchen & Public House in downtown West Palm Beach don’t believe in doomed locations. Some months ago, they invaded the cavernous space that once housed a succession of failed restaurants – from Cuban to American seafood to Brazilian spots – and raised a banner there for worldly Southern cooking.
Now, on most nights, The Regional hums with big-city ambiance as the restaurant’s various dining areas are filled with chatter and tables are laden with Executive Chef Lindsay Autry’s jazzed up pimento cheese, country ham carpaccio, fried chicken thighs and pozole verde.
Never mind that the restaurant’s façade is obscured by massive scaffolding as the larger building undergoes renovations. Even the Public House part of the establishment, also known as the bar and lounge, seems to draw its own lively scene.
Why all the buzz – and is it warranted?
Long story, short: Yes.
The reasons extend beyond concept, planning and good intention. Of course there’s a solid hospitality entity behind The Regional – restaurateur Thierry Beaud’s TITOU group, which gave us Pistache on Clematis Street and PB Catch in Palm Beach, restaurants with enduring shine.
But at the core, the month-old Regional runs on soul, excellent food and attention to detail, a trifecta brought to life by Chef Autry, who also serves as the restaurant’s managing partner.
She pulls these elements together with a sense of authority, culled from her eclectic fine dining experiences. Autry is not only a chef on the rise, but a chef coming into her own – and it’s an exciting thing to witness.
Her menu is part memoir: Autry borrows flavors from her North Carolina childhood (hello, country-style sausage with field pea cassoulet), her Greek grandmother’s kitchen (as in veggie Greek salad with charred chickpeas), her days working for celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein in Yucatan and Miami (hola, grilled snapper in banana leaf with salsa verde), and her culinary pop-up explorations.
The menu sparkles with flavor combos that might make no sense in the hands of another chef – and she commands it with grace. Her Berkshire pork shank ($26), perched on creamed hominy and pozole verde, is downright statuesque. Her sweet tea-brined fried chicken thighs ($9) cut to the chase of flavor, focusing on the richest part of the bird. Even a dish as seemingly simple as chicken noodle soup ($8) is exalted by a long-simmered broth (deepened in flavor by heaps of bones), chicken that’s cooked gently in its own fat and hand-cut dumplings. It’s exquisite, this soup.
As does the menu, the décor touches reflect certain soul. Autry and her team doted on table setting details, including a caddy handcrafted by a Regional bartender with woodworking skills. It holds the menus and small bottles of The Regional’s special “house sauce.”
The amber glassware on the table is inspired by Autry’s grandmother’s table. It was “always set with those color glasses and pretty ‘share’ plates that make you feel like you’re dining on something special,” recalls the chef.
The art on the restaurant’s walls reflects Autry’s North Carolina roots in a series of photos she took at her family’s farm, as well as some local farm images. She had a replica of her family’s farm sign made – it hangs above The Regional’s kitchen.
“These personal notes make it really feel like home to me,” says Autry.
Interesting thing: The place feels homey even to those of us not born in North Carolina. Then again, “homey” doesn’t fully cover The Regional’s vibe. The place may pay homage to Autry’s countryside roots, but it is firmly metropolitan. Retro funk beats segue to soul on the soundtrack in the bar and main dining room, while soulful jazz flows through The Regional’s private dining room. Autry’s team spent about four months developing the custom playlists with a New York sound company.
The crisp details extend to the servers, their approach and their appearance in uniforms designed by ChefWorks and, for the women, a certain matte shade of coral lipstick.
Of course, Autry knows such details can be meaningless without drive.
“It takes a lot of time and energy to open a restaurant, and it’s remarkable to see all of the small details come together to make this establishment what I hoped it could be,” she says.
She says she looks forward to seeing “our little community grow.”
It’s an heirloom seed of a wish, but one that’s sown on fertile, West Palm Beach soil. How could it not grow?
This is not where one expects to find a killer egg salad sandwich or belly-warming fish and grits. It’s a diner where you least expect to find one: in an industrial/professional block on a restaurant-free road.
But here it is, Ralph’s Place, humming more than eight years strong on this quiet corner of Palm Beach Gardens – until it closes for good on Sunday.
And Ralph Percy, the diner’s 85-year-old owner, greeter and part-time cook, will be here till the last customer has left, the last dish is washed and the last light is turned off.
The new owners of the plaza that houses Ralph’s Place did not renew its lease, says Percy. So he will close the diner he’s operated for 26 years in three different locations.
“It’s the local gathering place for all the neighborhood and business people. We have regular customers every day. I know them by sight more than by name,” says Percy, who operated Ralph’s Place in one Northwood location, then another, from 1990. He reopened in Palm Beach Gardens in 2008, after his last Northwood lease was not renewed.
On Friday, as Ralph’s Place buzzes with lunchtime customers, Percy is deep into his head count for the day. “We do 200 customers a day. So far today, we’re at 103,” he says.
One of those 103 is Mabel Brinkley, a tap dance aficionado enjoying a plate of fried fish for lunch. She’s a regular here. She comes every Tuesday for lunch with her senior dance group. There’s much to love about Ralph’s Place, she says.
“I like his personality. The service is excellent. I’m going to miss it,” she says.
Her server, Bonnie Sue Fickett, is going to miss the place as well.
“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” says Fickett, a Maine native who has been a restaurant server for 40 years. She’s worked at Ralph’s for just eight months, but has already collected various customer appreciation letters as well as some job leads. “(Ralph) is just such a nice person. I love it here. I’m gonna cry.”
For most of the past 8 ½ years, Percy has been here at 5:30 a.m. seven days a week, opening the diner at 7 a.m. each morning and closing at 2:30 p.m. He’s done all the food shopping for the diner, and prepared “90 percent” of the lunches, too. On the plus side, it doesn’t take him too long to walk home from work – he lives one block away.
What will he do once Ralph’s Place is gone?
“I’m up there in years and retirement is inevitable,” says Percy.
Retirement is also a fuzzy term. Percy retired nearly 40 years ago from a national shoe company. He had moved to Florida from Syracuse, NY, in 1965 and “retired” 11 years later. He opened a couple of shoe stores and operated them for nearly a decade.
It was after his brother took over the old Albritton’s Drug Store in 1990 (and closed it a few months later) that Percy opened a diner in that 40th Street location. He ran Ralph’s Place there until he moved it to 24th Street, and finally to its final Burns Road home.
“I started out as a novice,” says Percy. “I was new and had no idea. My sister had a restaurant in upstate New York and I would pop in and out and so on.”
But he gravitated toward the kitchen at his first Ralph’s Place, where he had hired an “excellent” local cook. Percy says he would hover over the stove as she cooked, exasperating her.
“She said to me, ‘Excuse me. You can’t stand there and watch me – you’ll drive me crazy,’” he recalls. But he continued to hover until he took over the stove one day. “I’m pretty agile. I play a lot of tennis. I thought, ‘I can flip eggs.’ So I said to her one day, ‘Move over.’”
Many over-easy eggs later, Percy ponders whether the closing means he’ll hang up his spatula for good. Probably not, he says.
“I’ll get bored. I’ll look for something,” he says, referring to another location. “It would have to be around here. I wouldn’t go somewhere else where I’m not known.”
So this may not be a final good-bye to his customers, he says.
“The customers ask me, ‘How are we going to find you?’ I tell them, ‘You’ll have to take a break for a few months at least.’”
It’s hard to imagine a weekend when there was not a celebration of some kind at Avocado Grill, Chef Julien Gremaud’s popular spot in downtown West Palm Beach. Perhaps that’s because the very air in the lively restaurant, which spills onto the sidewalk and side patio, seems to sway.
But as Avocado Grill turns 2 this weekend, the restaurant is cranking its celebratory mode to full blast.
First, there’s a reggae brunch Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., to the live music of Spred the Dub. On the menu: island-y offerings like coconut lobster rolls, jerk shrimp tacos and dirty rice. Five hours later, the vibe turns clubby as DJ Adam Lipson kicks off his set (9 p.m).
Sunday starts with a brunch as well – a ‘70s-style disco brunch. Adding to the mood: music by Mr. Trombone (Wayne Perry), drummer Ryan Anthony and DJ German Garcia. Brunch also features a costume contest. The contestant with the best retro ‘70 attire wins a $200 Avocado Grill gift card.
Chef Gremaud is hoping guests “go all out” on their costume concepts.
“It’s almost Halloween and we want to see what everyone’s got,” he said via news release.
Of course, there are two weeks of potential celebrations to go before Halloween shadows our doors.
And Gremaud admits he “can’t resist a good party.”