It’s PB Food + Wine Fest week: here’s a glimpse of the action

The Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival kicks off Thursday, celebrating its 10th year of existence. What will it be like?

Here are 10 moments from previous years.

one

The beach behind the Four Seasons Palm Beach resort is the backdrop of the annual Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, which runs from Thursday through Sunday. (LILA PHOTO)
The beach behind the Four Seasons Palm Beach resort is the backdrop of the annual, star-studded Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, which runs from Thursday through Sunday. (LILA PHOTO)

two

Inspired bites, as in these burgers by uber chef Daniel Boulud, range from the casual to the more refined. (LILA PHOTO)
Inspired bites, as in these burgers by uber chef Daniel Boulud, range from the casual to the more refined. (LILA PHOTO)

three

Simple and sensational. It is Palm Beach, after all. (LILA PHOTO)
Simple and sensational. It is Palm Beach, after all. (LILA PHOTO)

four

The festival is a wine lover's oasis, with wine dinners and free-flowing tastings. There's a ton of beer and craft cocktails, as well. (LILA PHOTO)
The festival is a wine lover’s oasis, with wine dinners and free-flowing tastings. There’s a ton of beer and craft cocktails, as well. (LILA PHOTO)

five

Famous chefs, like Elizabeth Falkner and Robert Irvine, are now regulars at the fest. (LILA PHOTO)
Famous chefs, like Elizabeth Falkner and Robert Irvine, are now regulars at the fest. (LILA PHOTO)

six

And Jeff Mauro, Food Network's 'Sandwich King.' He's a regular, too. (Photo: Fernanda Beccaglia)
And Jeff Mauro, Food Network’s ‘Sandwich King.’ He’s a regular, too. (Photo: Fernanda Beccaglia)

seven

Beneath the palms, the festival is a big, grown-up affair. (LILA PHOTO)
Beneath the palms at The Breakers, the festival is a big, grown-up affair. (LILA PHOTO)

eight

Kids get their event, too -- there's a Kids Kitchen class offered by Robert Irvine. (LILA PHOTO)
Kids get their event, too — there’s a Kids Kitchen class offered by Robert Irvine at the Four Seasons Palm Beach resort. (LILA PHOTO)

nine

Palm Beach's local stars, like Chef Lindsay Autry, shine at the fest alongside visiting stars. (LILA PHOTO)
Palm Beach’s local stars, like Chef Lindsay Autry of The Regional, shine at the fest alongside visiting stars. (LILA PHOTO)

ten

The big finale happens Sunday at The Gardens Mall, where wall-to-wall bites and sips are served and where local chefs compete in an annual throwdown for charity. (LILA PHOTO)
The big finale happens Sunday at The Gardens Mall, where wall-to-wall bites and sips are served and where local chefs compete in an annual throwdown for charity. (LILA PHOTO)

Celebrate National Fried Chicken Day with this crispy rendition

Fried chicken to remember. Autry's secret: a dip in lemony buttermilk. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)
Fried bird to remember. Autry’s secret: a dip in lemony buttermilk. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)

The realization that today is National Fried Chicken Day sparked a craving for a favorite recipe: Lindsay Autry’s addictive rendition of the Southern classic.

The North Carolina-born chef, who plans to open The Regional Kitchen & Public House restaurant in West Palm Beach this summer, gives her bird a nice, long bath in a zesty buttermilk marinade before dusting with a flour-cornstarch mixture, then frying.

Southern-born Chef Lindsay Autry at work. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)
Southern-born Chef Lindsay Autry at work. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)

Here’s the recipe: http://sp/cox/web/html_writer_shared.jshttp://sp/cox/web/html_writer.js //

LINDSAY AUTRY’S FRIED CHICKEN
    Serves 42 cups buttermilk
2 lemons, zest only (reserve juice for another use)
1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano or fresh oregano
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

    1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces: 2 wings, 2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 breasts cut in half (or 10 pieces of your favorite cuts of chicken)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 quart pure canola oil for frying
    FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE:
1/2 cup Florida honey
2 tablespoons of your favorite hot sauce (we used sriracha)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped roughly1. In a blender, combine the buttermilk, lemon zest, oregano, Dijon mustard, garlic powder, black pepper and thyme. Blend until well combined. Place all the chicken pieces in a large resealable plastic bag and pour buttermilk mixture over chicken. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight to get the best flavor. Remove chicken from the buttermilk brine, drain well, and discard the liquid.
2. In a large bowl combine the all-purpose flour, cornstarch, kosher salt and pepper. Use a whisk or fork to combine well. Place the chicken into the flour mixture and press into the flour, making sure to coat well. Allow the chicken to sit in the flour mixture while the oil is preheating.
3. Preheat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat with the canola oil until it reaches 315°. Shake off the excess flour from the chicken pieces, and gently place in the skillet.
4. Fry the chicken for 4 minutes on each side until golden brown. Use a thermometer to test the internal temperature of the chicken, making sure it is at 165°.
5. Drain the chicken on a rack or paper towels, seasoning with kosher salt as they come out of the fryer. While the chicken is cooling, combine all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

Step away from the lard. Frying in canola oil yields decadent fried chicken. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)
Never mind the lard. Frying in canola oil yields decadent chicken. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)

   

Note: A small deep fryer can be used for frying the chicken, but using a large cast-iron skillet will give you better results.

 

New West Palm Beach restaurant Grato adds Sunday brunch to its offerings

Ham and fontina crespelle at Grato. (Photo: Liz Balmaseda)
Ham and fontina crespelle at Grato. (Photo: Liz Balmaseda)

Grato, the hottest new restaurant in the county, has added brunch to its buzzy dining experiences. Chef Clay Conley and his Buccan Group partners quietly debuted brunch at the months-old West Palm Beach trattoria on Valentine’s Day and have been serving decadent daytime fare since.

And by decadent, I mean a ham and fontina cheese “crespelle,” a neat stack of ultrathin crepes layered with ham, cheese and béchamel and topped with a poached egg and a charred scallion vinaigrette. Turns out, the dish is also Conley’s personal favorite, according to the eatery’s news release announcing brunch service.

“It’s got all the classic brunch style ingredients but comes together in a different way,” Conley says.

Grato's orange-apricot scones. (Photo: Liz Balmaseda)
Grato’s orange-apricot scones. 

For a nice starter dish, try the fresh-baked orange-apricot scones ($6), served with strawberry jam and whipped honey butter. (Or buy an order of them to go – they’re still delicious the next day at breakfast.)

Also on the menu: lobster Benedict ($22), brick-oven breakfast pizza topped with ham, asparagus, fontina cheese and eggs ($16), potato and fontina frittata ($11) and bourbon French toast with vanilla poached nectarines ($13).

For those who love a boozy brunch, there are blood orange mimosas, Italian sangria, frozen Bellinis and a concoction called “Bloody Caesar” – he’s Bloody Mary’s perfectly briny brother. (Brunch cocktails cost $8 each.)

All the above is served in a warm, wood-accented setting that welcomes families, couples and solo diners.

Grato chef and co-owner Clay Conley. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)
Grato chef and co-owner Clay Conley. (Photo: LibbyVision.com)

Hours and info: Brunch is served Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reservations are strongly recommended, but walk-ins are welcome.

Grato: 1901 S. Dixie Hway, West Palm Beach; 561-404-1334; www.gratowpb.com.

Critic’s pick: cozy vibe, scratch-made eats in Northwood

Chef Roberto Villegas opened Table 427, a cozy spot on Northwood's main drag, in 2013. He makes everything from scratch, from the bread to the salad dressings to the gnocchi. (Jennifer Podis/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chef Roberto Villegas opened Table 427 in 2013. (Jennifer Podis/ The Palm Beach Post)

Central county pick: TABLE 427

In Northwood’s primetime bustle, it may be easy to overlook this quiet, cozy eatery.

Located on the historic district’s main drag, Table 427 is the domain of chef/owner Roberto Villegas, a versatile cook who often takes inspiration from his Mexican roots. His dishes are not precious, but they are earnestly prepared and lovingly served.

Villegas is the culinary equivalent of a DJ – he takes requests. And for those who enjoy surprises, he offers a “No Menu” option, a five-course dinner of his own design.

The pace here may be slower than at other neighborhood eateries, as the chef does most of the cooking himself. Consider the lag a chance to have a glass of wine and an invitation to be treated like family.

Table 427: 427 Northwood Rd., West Palm Beach; 561-506-8211; Table427.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

Dining review: Follow the buzz to Brule Bistro, Delray Beach

Brule Bistro's chef de cuisine is Jason Binder. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)
Brule Bistro’s chef de cuisine is Jason Binder. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)

Welcome to the liveliest bistro in Pineapple Grove, a spot where happy hours can easily segue into supper. Clearly it’s a place loved by locals, as they belly up to the stylish bar on weeknights, secure sidewalk tables for alfresco bites and help keep the buzz alive at Brule Bistro.

The buzz factor proved a tad noisy on my first visit to the Delray Beach eatery, which serves a good mix of inspired small plates and heartier American bistro-style fare. As the early evening hum intensified (dramatically so), my tablemates and I had to shout at one another. We loved the food, but couldn’t talk about it until we left the restaurant.

For that reason, I had stayed away from the place. But one can stay away from good grub only for so long.

Brule's braised beef short rib with creamy mascarpone polenta and sauteed spinach in a red wine reduction. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)
Brule’s braised beef short rib with creamy mascarpone polenta and sauteed spinach in a red wine reduction. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)

I returned recently for a weeknight dinner, on a slower, more quiet night. On such a night, the urban charms of the bistro reveal themselves, detail by detail – the warm welcomes, the attentiveness at the bar, the smiling locals, the interesting mingling of flavors.

Those flavors rise from fresh, seasonal ingredients, as the menu shifts and transitions. That means what you may have enjoyed on one visit may be gone the next time you visit. But what remains is Chef Jason Binder’s artful touch on the plate.

Where some pub chefs might include the obligatory flatbread on the menu, Binder offers a crispy pork cheek “pizza” ($13), a crispy, tostada-sized round crowned with slow-braised pork cheek, Asiago cheese, arugula, pickled red onions and oven-dried tomato, served upon a board with droplets of fried rosemary aioli.

Chef Binder's crispy Duroc pork belly is served with rustic sweet potato, a fried organic quail egg in a lemongrass-game reduction with pistachio crumbs. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chef Binder’s crispy Duroc pork belly is served with rustic sweet potato, a fried organic quail egg in a lemongrass-game reduction with pistachio crumbs. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)

His take on the classic Caprese salad, the Fried Cheese Caprese ($14), involves slices of lightly fried mozzarella layered with marinated local tomato slices, organic greens and pesto aioli, all neatly stacked beneath a drizzle of aged balsamic.

His Day Boat Fish Tacos ($12) – recently replaced on the menu by Crispy Shrimp Tacos – are tucked in pickled cabbage slaw, cilantro and Serrano chile aioli for a bite full of flavor and textural contrasts.

On the night of my most recent visit, we enjoyed a nightly special of large, plump Crispy Coconut Shrimp ($14) served atop a ginger-pepper rice pilaf with a touch of soy glaze and chipotle aioli, plus micro cilantro for grassy punctuation.

The heftier dishes are equally delicious here. In fact, Chef Binder’s seared diver scallops ($29) dish, served with roasted local corn and young peas in an arugula fumet (reduction) cream with pasta, is a thing of beauty. But this convivial spot almost begs for the shared plates or small-plates route.

You may find, as we did, that there’s a nicely shareable cheese board on the nightly special menu. Our board ($16) boasted Belton Farm Cheddar, Dolce Gorgonzola, Drunken Goat cheese, Brule Brie and fig jam.

Before the rush: Brule Bistro's bar. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)
Before the happy hour rush: Brule Bistro’s bar. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)

Such a combo invites a glass of wine or beer, both of which Brule Bistro offers well curated selections. The wine list travels from Oregon’s Willamette Valley (Van Duzer pinot noir) to Argentina’s Mendoza region (Tapiz Malbec) to Burgundy, France (Bachelet-Monnot Chassagne-Montrachet). Beers range from the Old World Belgian and Trappist to local craft brews.

There are some menu mainstays worth noting, such as the ginger chicken meatballs ($10), served in a bit of coconut broth with bok choy and chili oil. The seared ahi tuna poke ($15), with pops of cilantro, Serrano chiles, avocado, basil oil and toasted macadamia nuts, is also one of those favorites.

Also worth noting: Brule now offers a “peasant brunch” at lunchtime each day. Highlights include a fried egg and short rib hash with cumin potatoes and roasted tomato salsa ($12), fried eggs and curried lentils with toasted curry oil ($10) and a B.L.T.E. sandwich (apple wood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and farm egg) on multigrain with a smear of tarragon aioli ($10).

If you savor your brunch into the mid-afternoon, you may find yourself tempted to stay for happy hour, which starts at 3 p.m. (great bites, all for under 9 bucks). You can blame this charming little bistro for extra calories incurred.

R E V I E W

Brule Bistro

FOOD: B+

SERVICE: A-

ADDRESS: 200 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach

TELEPHONE: 561-274-2046

WEBSITE: BruleBistro.com

PRICE RANGE: Moderate

FULL BAR: Yes, with separate bar area.

NOISE LEVEL: Lively, often noisy inside when the bistro is packed.

HOURS: Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to close (often till 2 a.m.), Sunday from 5 p.m. to close.

CREDIT CARDS: Major cards accepted

RESERVATIONS: Walk-ins welcome; no reservations taken

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:

A — Excellent

B — Good

C — Average

D — Poor

F — Don’t bother

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda