Recipe of the week: Southern-style deviled eggs with crispy Spanish ham

Chef Lindsay Autry pipes a kicky deviled yolk filling into herb-crusted egg white halves. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chef Lindsay Autry pipes a kicky deviled yolk filling into herb-crusted egg white halves. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

One might believe a good deviled egg shines in its simplicity and requires nothing else to achieve perfection. We beg to differ.

Sure, simple, Southern-style deviled eggs are swell on their own, but add a sliver of crispy Serrano on top, a dusting of Cajun spices and dill on the egg white halves and you’ve got deviled eggs that are sublime.

These are deviled eggs, as created by West Palm Beach Chef Lindsay Autry, of The Regional Kitchen & Public House.

SOUTHERN-STYLE HERBED DEVILED EGGS
In this recipe, Chef Lindsay Autry takes inspiration from her grandmother’s deviled eggs.

Makes 24 deviled eggs

12 whole eggs, boiled and peeled
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s or Hellmann’s)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped gherkins or dill relish

A mix of Cajun spices and fresh dish gives these egg halves an herbed crust. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
A mix of Cajun spices and fresh dish gives these egg halves an herbed crust. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

For herb crust:
2 tablespoons Old Bay Seasoning or any Cajun spice blend
1 tablespoon fresh dill, finely chopped

For crispy topping:
3 to 4 slices Serrano ham or prosciutto

Prepare the eggs:
1.
Cut boiled eggs in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and place them in a fine sieve over a small mixing bowl.
2. Force the egg yolks through the sieve into the mixing bowl, creating a fine powder. (Alternatively, you can mash the yolks with a fork.)
3. To the mixing bowl, add mustard, mayonnaise and optional cayenne and mix well. Adjust seasoning, and fold in the chopped gherkins or dill relish. Set aside.
4. Gently wipe out the egg whites with a damp paper towel to remove any of the leftover yolks.

To crust the eggs:
1.
In a small bowl, mix the Old Bay or Cajun seasoning together with the chopped fresh dill. Spread mix on a plate.
2. Place each egg white half, cut side-down on the spice blend to crust the tops. Set aside.

Crisp the topping:
Place slices of ham or prosciutto in a 250F degree oven for 30 minutes to crisp. Set aside.

Autry places crisped prosciutto atop herbed deviled eggs. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
Autry places crisped Serrano ham or prosciutto atop herbed deviled eggs. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

To fill the eggs:

1. Place the yolk mixture in a piping bag or a Ziploc bag. (If using a plastic bag, snip off a lower corner for piping.)

2. Pipe the mixture into the crusted egg whites. If using a simple plastic bag without a fancy pastry tip, pipe the filling in a zigzag motion for added flair.

3. Break crispy ham or prosciutto slices into bite-size pieces and place them atop filled deviled eggs.

GIVE YOUR EASTER EGGS A POP OF NATURAL COLOR

Here’s a natural way to dye your Easter eggs:

Chef Lindsay Autry soaks hardboiled and peeled eggs in natural ‘dye’ liquids that take their color from beets and turmeric.

(Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

After 3 hours of soaking, the eggs turn brilliant hues.

Like this:

Dressed up for Easter: a trio of colorful deviled eggs, jazzed up by Autry. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

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Here’s where you can dine for two without breaking the bank

So you and your significant other, or you and bestie, are looking for some place to eat. Whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner, your requirements are simple: good, but cheap.

This kind of leaves you with a short list, considering the most talked about (and delicious) places can break your shoestring budget. But have no fear. We’ve looked far and wide (across Palm Beach County at least) to find you taste-worthy meals for two for under for $40.

Warning, we are not including you drinking the night away on champagne, indulging in a three-course meal or calorie-splurging on dessert. This is for the savvy foodie, who wants good food, but knows it shouldn’t cost an arm and a leg.

For Breakfast / Brunch / Lunch:

Sara’s Kitchen

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Sara’s Kitchen is a hole in the wall of a very “business-looking” plaza. This place resembles your favorite neighborhood diner where they serve breakfast all day with a smile. You will need Sara’s Kitchen most when you and your BFF had a little too much fun the night before and are looking to solve your problems with comfort food.

  • Must try: Panhandle Benedict with hash browns or grits for $9.49 and Bananas Foster French Toast for $9.99 with a coffee for $2.99
  • Total Cost: Around $27 (including tax/tip)
  • Address: 2000 PGA Blvd., Building A, Suite #3140, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 7:00 am – 2:45 pm | Saturday-Sunday 7:00 am – 1:45 (yes, that is the exact time)
  • More: http://saraskitchenpalmbeachgardens.com/ 
The French House 

With a cozy and cutesy atmosphere, The French House makes the perfect brunch spot for you and your boo to start your day. The warm and helpful staff makes the place really come alive and feel authentic. Bon appetite!

  • Must try: Buffala baguette for $13.50 and splurge a little for the French Brunch for $16.50.
  • Total Cost: Cutting it close, but still making it at almost $37 (tax/tip included)
  • Address: 821 Lake Avenue, Lake Worth, FL 33461
  • Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00 am – 2:30 pm | Saturday-Sunday 9:30 am – 2:30 pm | Breakfast on Saturday 9:30 am – 11:30 & all-day breakfast on Sundays
  • More: http://www.thefrenchhousecafe.com/ 
Johan’s Joe 

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Most people aren’t familiar with this new-ish, downtown Swedish spot. Or they’ve seen it but are too afraid to try something as different as Swedish cuisine. But hey, Swedes are known for their meatballs, but you may leave loving their pastries. At Johan’s Joe, the décor is modern and clean, there’s free wifi (score!) and a helpful staff.

  • Must try: Savory Crepes for $10.50 and the Classic Swedish Meatball Plate $10.95 and throw in a Frappe Iced Latte for $3.95.
  • Total Cost: Roughly $30 (including tax/tip)
  • Address: 401. S Dixie Hwy. West Palm Beach, FL 33401
  • Hours: Sunday – Monday 7 am – 4 pm
  • More: http://www.johansjoe.com/food
Alaina’s Bake Shoppe & Café 

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If you can make it through the lunchtime rush on Northlake Blvd., reward yourself with a sandwich at Alaina’s. Get a fully-packed Panini or cold sammie, filled with fancy meats and delectable cheeses or for a quick (and sweet) bite, try the specialty cupcakes.

  • Must try: Two Pigs & a Birdie Panini and Peary Good Panini for $10.95 each
  • Total Cost: $26.68 (including tip/tax)
  • Address: 4377 Northlake Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 am to – 5:00 pm
  • More: http://www.alainasbakeshoppe.com/ 
KeKe’s Breakfast Cafe 

If you’re in the mood for a classic, American breakfast, but also want some elbow room for digging in and some colorful art to gaze into after each bite, KeKe’s is the place for you. No, it is not an IHOP or a Denny’s, and yes, the portions are huge. The specialty is pancakes (and this time of year, the pumpkin ones are everything), but the French toast is bomb too.

  • Must try: Create Your Own Combo with pancakes, French toast or waffles for about $10
  • Total Cost: $26 (including tip/tax)
  • Address: 10120 Forest Hill Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday 7:00 am to – 2:30 pm
  • More: http://www.kekes.com/kekes-wellington.html
Grilled Cheese Gallery 

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What’s better than a homemade grilled cheese sandwich? A gooey, restaurant grilled cheese sandwich from the Grilled Cheese Gallery (less clean up, duh). You honestly can’t go wrong with grilled cheese, but this place takes it to a whole new level, stuffing it with things like pulled pork, brie and mac and cheese. Yes, I just said that: grilled cheese, mac and cheese.

  • Must try: The Mac Daddy for $8.50 and The Artist for $10.
  • Total Cost: About $23 (including tax and 15% tip).
  • Address: 422 Northwood Rd., West Palm Beach, FL 33407
  • Hours: Sunday – Thursday 11:00 am – 9:00 pm | Friday – Saturday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • More: https://www.facebook.com/GrilledCheeseGallery/

Dinner 

The Dubliner 

Join the likes of famous Irishmen (Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw) as you indulge in a traditional Irish meal at The Dubliner. Although the restaurant is in busy Mizner Park, inside feels like your favorite pub, complete with Guinness, Jameson and Baileys. And guess what? It’s open late.

  • Must try: The Famous Shepherd’s Pie for $16.50 and the McMac and Cheese for $11.
  • Total Cost: For just $34 (tax/tip included) you have a foodie trip to Ireland in Boca Raton
  • Address: 435 Plaza Real (Mizner Park) Boca Raton, Fl 33432
  • Hours: Monday-Saturday 4:00 pm – 2:00 am | Sunday: 12:00 pm – 2:00 am
  • More: http://sub-culture.org/dubliner/ 
Kapow Noodle Bar

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Also hidden in the large scope of Mizner Park, Kapow gives a new twist to noodles. Take seat at the indoor-outdoor bar and enjoy a wide variety of small plates, dumplings and ramen. Share the plates to get the most out of your meal.

  • Must try: Pan-Seared Pork Gyoza for $7.50, Short Rib Steamed Buns for $9 and Pork Ramen for $16.
  • Total Cost: Hits close to $40 (with tax/tip included), so maybe save this for a fun date night before drinks and a movie.
  • Address: 431 Plaza Real (Mizner Park) Boca Raton, Fl 33432
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:30 am – 12:00 am | Friday-Satuday 11:30 am – 2:00 am
  • More: http://kapownoodlebar.com/ 
Havana 

Whether you are looking for a big sit down meal, or are having the late night munchies, Havana has you covered. The authentic Cuban food is unbeatable, and the celebs agree. Stars such as Martha Stewart and Sofia Vergara are frequent visitors to the spot on the corner of Dixie and Forest Hill.

  • Must try: Sandwich Cubano for $8.69 and Chicharrones de Pollo for $13.99 or eat your weight in empanadas at the walk-up window. 
  • Total Cost: About $28 (including tax/tip).
  • Address: 6801 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach, FL
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm | Friday-Saturday 11:00 am – 11:00 pm | 24 hour walk-up window
  • More: http://www.havanacubanfood.com/ 
The Counter 

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So The Counter may be in a mall, but it’s a far, far stretch from what the food court is serving up (insert praised hands emoji here). It is a famous burger chain, with locations mostly in California, and some even in Ireland and Malaysia. If you’re splurging, you can create your own burger, but for the best price, it’s best to stick to what they create — whether that’s Brie cheese over American or Crab Cake over beef.

  • Must try: Why the Face burger for $12.25 and BBQ Bacon for $13 with a side of Parmesan Fries for $8.
  • Total Cost: Right at $40 (including tax/tip), so if you want to ditch the fries to save a few bucks, the burgers are still filling enough.
  • Address: 3101 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens, Fl 33410 (in the Gardens Mall)
  • Hours: Monday-Thursday 11:00 am – 10:00 pm | Friday-Saturday 11:00 am – 11:00 pm | Sunday 11:30 am – 9:00 pm
  • More: http://www.thecounterburger.com/PalmBeachGardens_FL/ 
Carmine’s Coal Fired Pizza

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Split at pizza pie (or two) at Carmine’s Coal Fired Pizza. Carmine’s has many different kinds of locations (a market, an upscale restaurant, a burger place and a seafood place), but this location will make you feel warm and cozy, thanks to the intimate interior and wall of brick oven pizzas. Stick to the pizzas, but ask for extra toppings.  

  • Must try: Pizza Pesto (medium) for $15.95 and the White Pizza (medium) $15.95.
  • Total Cost: Coming to a close $39 (including tip/tax), but come on, you’re getting two pizzas with the works.
  • Address: 4575 Military Trail, Jupiter, Fl 33458
  • Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00 am – 10 pm | Friday-Saturday 11:00 am – 11:00 pm
  • More: http://www.carminescfp.com/index.html
Rancho Chicos

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You will never find a faster meal than at Rancho Chicos. Take a seat in the eclectic dining room that looks like it belongs in a theme park and munch on endless (warm) chips and (spicy) salsa until your meal arrives. The beans and rice, which in most Mexican restaurants are discarded to the side due to lack of flavor, are killer at Chico’s and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you finish them.

  • Must try: Combination Cheese Enchilada & beef burrito with rice and beans for $10.25 and the Dos Spinach Enchiladas for $9.99.
  • Total Cost: $24.61 (including tax/tip).
  • Address: 6390 Indiantown Rd., Jupiter, Fl 33458
  • Hours: 7 days a week 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
  • More: http:/http://www.ranchochico.net/ 
Thai Lotus 

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One of the best things about Thai Lotus (other than the fact that it is delicious) is the big portions. It is the perfect place for you and your beau to share a dish or two. Try a curry! A noodle! A roll! A soup! Whatever your heart desires — just make sure you get two. And get ready for some heat. Thai Lotus ranks “spiciness” on a scale of 1-4 stars, 1 being easy to digest and 4 being fire dancing on your tongue. Believe it or not, 3 stars is perfect.

  • Must try: Massamun Curry with tofu for $11.95, Pad Thai with beef for $10.95 and the Crunch Roll $9.95.
  • Total Cost: Just hits the $40 (including tax/tip), but if you share it all, it’s one heck of a meal.
  • Address: 201 North U.S. Hwy., Jupiter, Fl 33477
  • Hours: Monday-Friday 11:30 am – 2:30 pm, 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm | Saturday 5:00 pm – 9:30 pm | Sunday 5:00pm – 9:00 pm (no sushi)
  • More: http://www.thailotusflorida.com/

What meals did we miss? Comment below with your favorite cheap (but tasty) eats in Palm Beach County!

Presidential election heartburn: What do the candidates eat?

What fuels the presidential candidates, other than mutual hostilities?

If you’re a certain part-time Palm Beacher, it’s drive-thru cuisine.

If you’re his opponent, it’s hot chiles.

But we already know that. We already know Donald Trump loves Big Macs and fries and Hillary Clinton keeps the hot sauce close.

And like too many of this year’s election-related topics, this one is likely to give us heartburn. But isn’t it better to focus on someone else’s food choices as you fizz up those Alka-Seltzer tablets? It’s no time to think about that pizza you scarfed down last night. With Election Day less than a week away, this may be your final chance to deflect from the junk food guilt you’ve been lugging.

So here’s a glimpse of what may be on the candidates’ plates:

Donald Trump, as he leaves a farmer's round-table event in suburban Boynton Beach last week. (Lannis Waters/ The Palm Beach Post)
Donald Trump, as he leaves a farmer’s round-table event in suburban Boynton Beach, last week. (Lannis Waters/ The Palm Beach Post)

From Trump’s scandalous former Mar-A-Lago butler, Tony Senecal, we know the boss preferred his burgers and steaks severely overcooked, with ketchup. From his former Mar-A-Lago chef, Aaron Fuller, we can surmise the kitchen staff catered to the rock-hard-steak requests. (Bound by a confidentiality agreement, Fuller would not discuss the food choices.)

“The best time I’ve had in my career is when I’ve made the client happy. It really comes down to what the client wants,” Fuller said when asked for his culinary opinion on overcooked meat. “We all have different opinions about how we like our meat. That doesn’t mean mine is one that is better than the other.”

Trump’s fast-food habits have been well documented as he’s been caught on camera ready to devour some KFC aboard his plane, snapped with a questionably timed taco bowl at the office and immortalized with heaping amounts of fries.

Those hard-cooked steaks he so loves? They once had culinary promise. We learned during one of the candidate’s local appearances that Trump steaks were actually steaks purveyed by Bush Brothers, the 91-year-old West Palm Beach provision company known for supplying some of the best beef in the country.

In an interview last year with Bloomberg’s “With All Due Respect,” Trump issued this confession: “I love steak and hamburger and pasta and French fries, all of the things that we shouldn’t be eating.”

He also admitted he can’t resist bacon and eggs. “I eat what I like,” he said.

Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Cincinnati this week. (Cox Newspapers)
Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, during an appearance in Cincinnati this week. (Cox Newspapers photo)

As for Clinton, while she was spied holding a pork-chop-on-a-stick at last year’s Iowa State Fair – and, yes, that was Clinton seated before two tempting cheesecakes at Junior’s restaurant in Brooklyn in April – the former secretary of state is more disciplined in her food choices.

She eats like a world traveler, one who has learned to eat well and eat selectively, rather than to simply eat and be done with it. Then again, as the Huffington Post notes, she was the most-traveled secretary of state in history, having visited 112 nations and clocking more than 950,000 miles.

Earlier this year, she played food critic for Thrillist.com, penning a review of “not-to-be-missed dining experiences” across New York state. Her picks included a few references that reveal some foodie tendencies: Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster in Harlem, Fox Run Vineyards boutique winery on Seneca Lake (for riesling and a light lunch), the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse.

Closer to her Chappaqua home, Clinton is loyal to Crabtree’s Kittle House Restaurant & Inn, where she gathered with locals on the night her nomination was announced in Philadelphia. It’s also where she celebrated Chelsea Clinton’s baby shower.

The place serves farmhouse-fancy food and tempting, Hudson Valley-inspired dishes, including grass-fed Angus beef cheeseburgers and NY strip steak with buttermilk Vidalia onion rings. Of course, Clinton might order them many shades rarer than overdone.

Diner en Blanc: what to pack in your picnic basket?

You may not know the location of Diner en Blanc yet, but you’ve got your snazzy white outfit and “tablescape” planned for Friday night’s big outdoor feast, to be held somewhere in West Palm Beach.

But here’s the question: What kind of food does one pack for an event that’s part pop-up dinner, part synchronized picnic?

Matthew Levi, right, of West Palm Beach, smiles with family and friends after helping decorate during Le Diner en Blanc in downtown West Palm Beach on November 10, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Matthew Levi, right, of West Palm Beach, smiles with family and friends after helping decorate during the 2015 Diner en Blanc in downtown West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

We attended last year’s secret, massive affair and have few tips to share on the topic.

READ: Nine things to know about Diner en Blanc

First, keep in mind this is an outdoor event, which means it’s vulnerable to the elements. Second, keep in mind you may have to lug your supplies for many yards.

With those two things in mind, here are five ideas on what to tuck into those picnic totes:

1. Cold or room temperature and crispy is fine: think crisp veggies, good crackers, breadsticks, even room-temp fried chicken. Hot and crispy, not so much. Your crispy duck might not survive the schlep, neither will your warm, toasty garlic bread.

2. You can’t go wrong with fancy charcuterie.

A charcuterie and cheese board is as fancy as its components. (Cox Newspapers)
A charcuterie board is as fancy as its components. (Cox Newspapers)

Here’s how: Pack great cheeses – oozy ones, sharp ones, aged ones, even beautifully stinky ones. Tuck in some fine Spanish ham, Italian salumi, hot mustard, elegant jams or honey. Add baggies of fresh fruit and nuts. After you set up your table, you can arrange them on a nice platter with those crispy crackers or hearty bread.

3. Whip up some sophisticated chilled soup, like Chef Michelle Bernstein’s White Gazpacho.

Michelle Bernstein's White Gazpacho is luxury in a shot glass. (Palm Beach Post file photo)
White Gazpacho is luxury in a shot glass. (Palm Beach Post file photo)

Here’s how to make it: In a high-speed blender, add 1 ½ cup Marcona almonds, ½ teaspoon fresh garlic, ½ tablespoon peeled shallot, 2 cups of peeled and chopped English cucumbers, 2 cups seedless green grapes, 1 tablespoon fresh dish and 1 ½ cups cold veggie broth. Puree until very smooth. With blender running, add 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar and 2 tablespoons dry sherry wine. Slowly drizzle in ½ cup quality extra-virgin olive oil. Blend for at least 4 to 5 minutes, until velvety smooth. Chill until ready to sip. Garnish with sliced grapes, crushed almonds and dill. (Recipe serves 4.)

4. Rice salads (or other grain salads) served room temperature can be luxurious.

Fancy grain salad: black rice with roasted squash. (Cox Newspapers)
Fancy grain salad: black rice with roasted squash. (Cox Newspapers)

Here’s a variation: Make a pot of your favorite rice. Separately, sauté onions, garlic and celery in olive oil until just tender, adding a sprinkling of curry powder or ground turmeric and ginger. Add the rice to the sauté by the spoonful, tossing to coat the rice in the aromatics. Add a handful of frozen peas and stir. Shut off heat and allow mixture to sit until the peas are tender. When cool, add your choice of raw, chopped veggies, like diced zucchini, seeded tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh herbs. You’ll have a mix of textures and flavors in one hearty bowl.  If you prefer a hot meal, pack soups, stews or chili in Thermoses.

5. The takeout option: Order dinner from your favorite West Palm restaurant and pick it up before you get to the meet-up location. Once the location is announced Friday afternoon, you may have a better idea of nearby restaurants. You’ll only have to bring your dinnerware and table setting.

Fancy dinnerware spotted at the 2015 Diner en Blanc. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Fancy dinnerware spotted at the 2015 Diner en Blanc. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

It may sound like a mission – and it can be, depending on how you take on the night. But relax. It’s a party. It’s a picnic. Pack what you love to eat in your fancy duds. If that means Fritos in a martini glass, rock on!

Feast on five of our favorite juicy local sandwiches

Today we talk about the infinite possibility of fillings than can be stacked between two slices of bread, tucked into a bun, celebrated for its majesty. Today is the day for exploring the contrast of flavors and textures, and the way the fillings in a Vietnamese banh mi teach a baguette how to be spicy, crunchy and rich all at once. Today is for marveling at how a Cuban sandwich made miles away, in Tampa, could possess a certain smoky-spicy layer, thanks to Genoa salami.

We present five of our favorite local and more unique sammies:

The Jibarito

Behold the Jibarito. And, yes, those are tostones in place of bread. (Photo: Samantha Ragland)
Behold the Jibarito. And, yes, those are tostones in place of bread. (Photo: Samantha Ragland)

This is where paleo meets Puerto Rico: a sandwich that swaps out the bread and swaps in two enormous, smashed and crispy-fried green plantains. Tucked between those tostones is a choice of steak or chicken, crisp lettuce, tomato and mayo. It’s a regal idea rooted in peasant life. The name of the sandwich is derived from the word jíbaro, which in Puerto Rico means humble dweller of the countryside. It costs $8.95 and it’s served at Don Café restaurant, 136 N. Military Tr., West Palm Beach; 561-684-0074.

The Gordo Burger

A gordo burger prepared at La Perrada del Gordo. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)
A gordo burger prepared at La Perrada del Gordo. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

This Colombian-style colossus is more super-sandwich than burger. It starts with a beef or chicken patty, then layers on the sauces: garlic sauce, pink sauce, pineapple sauce and a Colombian fast-food classic called “showy” sauce, plus ketchup and mustard. Stack some tomato slices, bacon, cheese and a crush of potato chips and you’ve got the Gordo.  It costs $6.75 and it’s offered at La Perrada del Gordo, 2650 S. Military Tr., West Palm Beach; 561-968-6978.

The Chimichurri

El Unico's juicy version of the Dominican "Chimi." (Photo: El Unico)
El Unico’s juicy version of the Dominican “Chimi.” (Photo: El Unico)

Not to be confused with the garlicky Argentinian or Uruguayan sauce. This sandwich hails from the Caribbean. You can call it a Dominican beef sandwich, but that doesn’t begin to do it justice. It starts with toasty bread, then it’s stuffed with either thin-sliced beef or a hand-patted beef patty, sautéed onions and cabbage slaw. The “Chimi” is dressed with a proprietary, mayo-based sauce and sold for $7.95 at El Unico restaurant, 6108 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-619-2962.

The Hullabaloo BLT

All hail Hullabaloo's BLT sandwich. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)
All hail Hullabaloo’s BLT sandwich. (Thomas Cordy/ The Palm Beach Post)

This is not your boring, room-service BLT. Chef Fritz Cassel has created a shrine to the BLT concept: It starts with challah bread, then stacks on some thick, house-smoked pork belly, heirloom tomato and arugula and adds a smear of red pepper aioli. It’s served at lunchtime for $11 at Hullabaloo, 517 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-833-1033.

TocToc’s Pork Arepa Sandwich

TocToc's pork-stuffed arepa sandwich. (Contributed by TocToc)
TocToc’s pork-stuffed arepa sandwich. (Contributed by TocToc)

Here’s a guilty pleasure worth diving into at the Saturday West Palm Beach GreenMarket: a Venezuelan/Colombian corncake (arepa) stuffed with shredded pork and a big, juicy tomato slice. You can find this sandwich at the TocToc Arepas booth. Yes, it’s a simple pleasure, but it’s one that resonates with flavor contrasts – the sweet arepa, the rich pork, the fresh tomato. It’s sold by TocToc for $7.50 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the GreenMarket on the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront (eastern end of Clematis Street).

 

First look: New restaurant Newk’s Eatery hits the spot

Each time I passed the prime, long-vacant space at Legacy Place, I would remember a horrible cup of coffee. It was served a decade ago at a café long gone from there. And it was served with a bad attitude.

What a waste of space, I’d think each time I passed the spot. Here’s a lovely, fountain-side space in a busy plaza in Palm Beach Gardens, and it’s empty.

Thanks to Newk’s Eatery, which moved in earlier this month, the space is empty no more. More importantly, it’s well occupied.

Legacy Place: Newk's first southeast Florida location. (Contributed by Newk's)
Legacy Place: Newk’s first SE Florida location. (Contributed by Newk’s)

Newk’s is no fancy joint. It’s a fast-casual chain restaurant, the first of 10 planned locations for southeast Florida. It was brought to the shopping and dining plaza by the local family behind eight Five Guys locations in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

The place offers hearty, generously portioned soups, toasted sandwiches, interesting salads and personal-size pizzas. Just as importantly, it offers excellent service.

Toasty edges: Newk's pepperoni pizza. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Newk’s pepperoni pizza. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

I dropped in for a quick, late lunch recently and enjoyed a bowl of Newk’s Loaded Potato soup (large, 16-ounce, $6.99), a special served on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. I was not disappointed: creamy, lots of flavor, smoky bacon hints, filling. The soups, which are rotated daily in selection, are offered in 8-ounce, 16-ounce, and 32-ounce servings. The 16-ounce proved to be entrée sized.

I found the perfect soup accompaniment on Newk’s large round condiment table: thin, Italian-style breadsticks.

Hits the spot: a large (16-ounce) potato soup. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Hits the spot: a large potato soup. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Days later, we returned to sample other items. Newk’s Club ($8.19), a pretty straightforward rendition of the classic, was stacked with smoked ham, (nitrate-free) turkey, Swiss cheese, thick-cut bacon, romaine and sliced tomato on Newk’s lightly toasted “French Parisian” baguette. As a side, we chose a pimento and bacon mac-and-cheese ($3.79 as a side) – it was tasty, though a touch oily.

Newk's club sandwich is served on a toasted baguette. (Contributed by Newk's)
The club sandwich is served on a toasted baguette. (Contributed by Newk’s)

A half-order of Caesar salad ($4.49) was quite delicious, a toss of fresh romaine with plenty of garlicky dressing, shredded Parmesan and buttered croutons.

We also tried Newk’s pepperoni pizza ($8.19), a 10-inch pie topped with pepperoni, thinly sliced Roma tomatoes, shredded mozzarella and provolone cheeses and fresh basil. The toppings proved quite delicious, but the crust didn’t hold up. While crispy around the edges, the crust sagged in the pie’s middle, forcing us to use a fork and knife.

Well dressed: half Caesar salad at Newk's. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Well dressed: Newk’s half Caesar. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

For the sipping, there are plenty of fountain drinks and a small selection of beers, which include Der Chancellor, locally brewed by Tequesta Brewing Company. (Wine is not offered.)

Newk’s is an ideal stop for a filling lunch or casual, fuss free dinner. No item is priced higher than $13. (There’s a kids’ menu priced between $3.75 and $5.50.)

And, yes, there’s coffee. But this one is served with a smile.

Newk’s Eatery: at Legacy Place, 11345 Legacy Ave., #100, Palm Beach Gardens; 561-626-3957; Newks.com

Hours: Open Monday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

 

 

Openings: Trump’s former chef debuts Abacoa restaurant

For days now, friends and locals have been shuffling into Aaron’s Table & Wine Bar for a sneak-peek taste of the new Abacoa restaurant by Mar-A-Lago’s food and beverage director.

Aaron Fuller’s restaurant officially opens to the public at 4 p.m. Saturday. That’s four days before the presidential election that pits Fuller’s Mar-A-Lago boss, Donald Trump, against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

On the menu at Aaron's: pan-seared branzino with lemongrass-infused butter. (LibbyVision.com)
Aaron’s branzino is pan-seared and served with lemongrass-infused butter. (LibbyVision.com)

But Fuller says he prefers not to talk about whatever happens or doesn’t happen on Tuesday.

“I stay out of those conversations,” says Fuller, who served as executive chef at Trump’s Palm Beach estate and club before his present role as food-beverage chief there. “My big goal here is to do the best I can at my new restaurant.”

That’s not to say he’s secretive about his political loyalties. On his Facebook page, Fuller roots for his boss and posts items consistent with Trump’s more fervent supporters.

Still, he must stay mum on far lighter topics – like the boss’ food preferences.

“I signed a confidentiality agreement here,” he said this week on a call from Mar-A-Lago, where he has worked for seven years.

Aaron's port poached pear salad. (LibbyVision.com)
Aaron’s Table’s port poached pear salad. (LibbyVision.com)

What Fuller is eager to talk about, however, is Abacoa, the newly energized district near his home in Jupiter. This is where he chose to open Aaron’s Table and where he’s hoping to add his flair to the eclectic district.

“We live literally two blocks away, my wife and kids and I,” says Fuller, who hopes to attract a mix that includes families, date-night couples, casual groups and ladies’ night revelers.

He’s hoping the “farmhouse chic kind of feel” of Aaron’s Table will make diners feel welcome and comfortable, despite the menu’s swanky terms.  To drive home this wish, he notes that his braised lamb shanks are simmered in Civil Society IPA – that is, beer brewed directly across the street in Abacoa.

Duck confit flatbread with arugula, fontina, almonds and dried cranberries. (LibbyVision.com)
Duck confit flatbread with arugula, fontina, almonds and dried cranberries. (LibbyVision.com)

Upholding the “wine bar” part of the restaurant’s name, Fuller lists 22 wines by the glass on the menu. And Thursday nights from 6 to 7 p.m., he hosts wine tastings with passed hors d’oeuvres.

“We’re doing some fun things, without being too snobbish,” he says. Fuller says he’s pleased at the early response to the restaurant. “The feedback has been fantastic.”

Man in charge: Aaron Fuller at Aaron's Table in Abacoa. (LibbyVision.com)
Man in charge: Aaron Fuller at Aaron’s Table in Abacoa. (LibbyVision.com)

Although he has a chef de cuisine at Aaron’s (his Mar-A-Lago protégé Marc Cela), Fuller crafted the menu himself and took inspiration from his own wanderings. So, there’s a little Palm Beach, a little global in it.

“The menu itself, the only reasoning behind it is my experiences at different places in the world. I could call the lumpia ‘spring rolls,’ but my wife is from the Philippines and we know them as lumpia. The items like the langoustine – that’s from the Palm Beach side of me,” says Fuller of his sautéed langoustines in a sweet corn sauce.

Sautéed langoustines in a sweet corn sauce. (LibbyVision.com)
Sautéed langoustines in a sweet corn sauce. (LibbyVision.com)

Of course, inquiring minds want to know: Would his Mar-A-Lago boss order those fancy langoustines? Or would Trump request a well-done burger instead, as other past staffers have reported?

Fuller says only this: “He expects perfection. We do our best to do that for him and for everybody we serve. He’s known for quality and that’s what we try to give him.”

We asked one final question, one not covered by that confidentiality agreement:

What would Fuller serve Hillary Clinton?

“I don’t know,” he says, taking a measured Mar-A-Lago moment. “That one – you’re making me laugh with that one.”

Baked Alaska a la Aaron's Table in Abacoa. (LibbyVision.com)
Swanky stuff: Baked Alaska at Aaron’s Table, Abacoa. (LibbyVision.com)

Aaron’s Table & Wine Bar: 1153 Town Center Drive, Jupiter; 561-855-2628; AaronsTable.com; hours are Tuesday through Sundays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., with happy hour offered from 4 to 7 p.m. On Wednesdays and Fridays starting Nov. 11, there will be live music.

Exclusive: Tiger Woods’ former chef to open new restaurant on Dixie dining corridor

The husband-wife team behind Kitchen, the Belvedere Road hotspot popular with local and visiting celebs, are deep into the planning stages for a neighboring restaurant.

Chef Matthew Byrne and wife/partner Aliza Byrne will open Patina, a Greek and Israeli-inspired restaurant, on West Palm Beach’s happening Dixie Highway dining corridor. They expect to debut in the fall of 2017.

“What’s the best place to open a restaurant? Next to a busy restaurant,” Matthew Byrne told The Post this week. “That’s restaurant 101.”

Growing the business: Kitchen's Aliza and Matthew Byrne. (LILA PHOTO)
Growing the business: Kitchen’s Aliza and Matthew Byrne. (LILA PHOTO)

The busy restaurant next to the Byrnes’ upcoming concept? That would be Grato, the acclaimed trattoria opened by South Florida star chef Clay Conley and his Buccan Palm Beach partners 11 months ago.

The Byrnes hope to infuse a Mediterranean feel into the 2500-square-foot indoor space and courtyard. The building’s vintage floors inspired the name Patina, they say.

Matthew’s experience in the kitchen of a longstanding Greek restaurant in the couple’s native Philadelphia partially inspired the concept, as did Aliza’s Middle Eastern roots. (Her father is Israeli.)

“Think lemon, sea salt, rosemary, whole fishes, tons of squid, charred lamb,” says the chef. “I’m really excited about some vegan items on the menu.”

The vegan plates will come naturally to the concept, as will the fish and meat dishes, he says. And while he admits he’s not a disciple of the “small plate-y” approach, he expects to offer some shareable dishes, hummus, baba ganoush and other classics.

“It’s my version of Greek-American and Israeli food,” says Byrne, a former private chef who worked for golf star Tiger Woods.

The upcoming restaurant will have a full bar, unlike Kitchen, which serves only wine and beer, he says.

New item: salmon carpaccio with hearts of palm and cukes in lemon-dill dressing. (LibbyVision.com)
New item: salmon carpaccio in lemon-dill dressing. (LibbyVision.com)

The chef offers a kind of preview of the Patina cuisine on his revamped Kitchen menu. You’ll find hints of it in his carpaccio of salmon, buttery slices of raw salmon served with hearts of palm and cucumber in a fresh lemon-dill dressing ($16). It’s also in the pan-roasted halibut with artichokes in a heady truffle-clam broth ($32).

The prospect of a new up-market spot in the Flamingo Park area will likely intensify the Dixie dining corridor’s heat as a dining destination.

The Byrnes purchased the 1817 S. Dixie Highway space in January from Palm Beach resident Jeffrey Cole’s Blenheim Holdings for $770,000. (Cole is a loyal Kitchen customer.) Until recently, the property housed Solar Antique Tiles.

The couple is in the permitting stage for renovation of the space.

Matthew Byrne's halibut in truffled clam broth. (LibbyVision.com)
Matthew Byrne’s halibut in truffled clam broth. (LibbyVision.com)

The Patina project is underway as the Byrnes’ Kitchen, which celebrated its third anniversary in October, continues to expand. By December, they expect to spread their presence in the Belvedere plaza to include the space where Shoppe 561 now operates. That space will house a wine bar/retail space they call Prep Kitchen.

The 1600-square-foot space would host visiting winemakers, wine tastings with Chef Matthew and other wine-related events. It also will serve as a spillover space for diners waiting for their table at Kitchen. During the day, the space will serve as a retail shop, selling wines as well as grab-and-go items such as salads and Kitchen’s desserts.

Once Patina opens, the chef says he will likely shuttle between the restaurants, located just blocks apart. He says he’s confident his Kitchen crew will keep his current restaurant on point.

“It’s my original team,” says Byrne. “They’ve been with me for three years, since Day 1.”

Kitchen: 319 Belvedere Rd., West Palm Beach; 561-249-2281; KitchenPB.com

Hot tamales: new USPS stamps a Latin feast for the eyes

At the risk of slowing down the nation’s snail mail, I present you the most delicious U.S. Postal Service stamps ever issued: Each bears the likeness of a classic Latin dish. Each might make you linger wistfully before dropping that letter in the mailbox.

The USPS’ calls this batch of 2017 Forever stamps the “Delicioso” series. And, let’s be real, what else would you call a series that includes tamales and flan if not delicioso?

If you’re a food-loving stamp geek like me, you may have rejoiced when the USPS issued its “Celebrity Chefs” stamp series featuring masters like Julia Child, James Beard and Edna Lewis.

If you’re not a stamp geek, bear with us as we display the half-dozen featured dishes. You don’t have to love stamps to love empanadas.

TAMALES!

stampstamales

The festive, colorful Delicioso stamps were designed by New York artist John Parra under the direction of graphic designer Antonio Alcalá.

Want to sample some local tamales? We found them on the buffet line here.

SANCOCHO!

stampssancocho

“With the release of the new Delicioso Forever stamps, the Postal Service celebrates the influence of Central and South American, Mexican and Caribbean foods on American cuisine,” the USPS says on its website.

Sancocho, a robust stew popular in the Dominican Republic and Colombia, is like a big bowl of love. Try a local rendition here.

CHILE RELLENO!

stampschilerelleno

The 2017 stamps will be sold by booklet of 20.

Want to make chile relleno? Here’s a classic recipe by chef Rick Bayless.

CEVICHE!

stampsceviche

Each of the six dishes featured reflect “an array of Latin American culinary traditions that have found new life and variations in the United States,” says the USPS site.

So, how do you make a good ceviche in the USA? Chef Clay Conley shows you in this video.

EMPANADAS!

stampsempanadas

Other 2017 Forever stamp tributes include a Chinese “Year of the Rooster” stamp, a shark series and a John F. Kennedy stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of JFK’s birth.

Want an empanada? Here’s a terrific empanada recipe from author Sandra Gutierrez’s “Empanadas” cookbook.

FLAN!

stampsflan

Okay, swooning now. If you’d like to lick a flan-filled spoon instead of stamp, here’s our favorite recipe.

stampslatinall

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the 20 best restaurants in Palm Beach County?

What are the 20 best restaurants in Palm Beach County right now?

That’s a tricky question. Every 20-best list not only is subjective and unique, but it’s also constantly in flux. New restaurants open and replace others. It’s the cycle that keeps our local culinary scene fresh and vibrant.

This is why we issue a new list every few months.

Which restaurants made our most recent list? (Cox Newspapers photo)
Which restaurants made our most recent list? (Cox Newspapers photo)

Here’s my latest “20-best right now” list. The restaurants are not ranked, but rather listed from north county to south county.

Your 20-best list might be different from mine. I’d love to read it. You’ll find my contact info at the bottom of the list.

Bon appetit!