Devouring December: top food events this month

The barrage of this month’s food and drink events has given us whiplash. So many tastings, wine dinners, chef multicourse events. So much to eat and drink. And that’s not including the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, which kicks off Thursday night.

December, won’t you stay a little longer?

James Beard Award winning chef Mark Militello. (Photo: The Buzz Agency)
James Beard Award winning chef Mark Militello. (Photo: The Buzz Agency)

Tradition, an Italian Wine Dinner

Thursday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m.

James Beard Award-winning chef Mark Militello, who played a pivotal role in South Florida’s culinary rise, cooks a four-course, wine-pairing dinner at Josie’s Ristorante in Boynton Beach. A consulting chef at the restaurant, Militello will be joined in the kitchen by Josie’s chef Sebastiano Setticasi. On the menu: passed hors d’oeuvres, Maine lobster salad, goats milk ravioli, spice rubbed roasted beef tenderloin and buttermilk panna cotta, all paired with wines from family estate vineyards in Italy.

Cost: $85 per person, plus tax and tip. To reserve, call 561-364-9601

Josie’s Ristorante: 1602 S. Federal Hwy, Boynton Beach

Truffled lobster mac and cheese at Maison Carlos. (Palm Beach Post file)
Truffled lobster mac and cheese at Maison Carlos. (Palm Beach Post file)

Maison Carlos’ 15th anniversary

Thursday, Dec. 15 through Dec. 30

A neighborhood favorite on South Dixie Highway, Maison Carlos celebrates its 15th year by offering 15 days of savings. Dine at the restaurant from Dec. 15 through Dec. 30 and receive 15 percent off your entire dinner check. Owners Carlos and Lanie Farias say it’s their way of saying thanks.

“We could not have done this without the loyal support of our clients and friends. We are a family-owned, Mom-and-Pop… We take pride in daily shopping for the freshest ingredients. We love our customers and want to make sure everyone has an optimal experience,” the couple said in an email.

Reservations are strongly suggested.

Maison Carlos: 3010 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-659-6524

Manor's executive chef, Miguel Santiago, at the grill. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)
Manor’s executive chef, Miguel Santiago, at the grill. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)

Five-course wine dinner at Hilton West Palm Beach

Thursday, Dec. 15, at 6:30 p.m.

Chef Matthew Byrne is not only the hotshot chef at Kitchen, the popular restaurant on Belvedere Road and South Dixie Highway – he’s also consulting chef at the Hilton West Palm Beach. In that capacity, he’ll team up with the hotel’s chef Miguel Santiago in creating a five-course, wine-pairing dinner that features master sommelier Gordon Sullivan. The dinner takes place at Manor, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant.

Cost: $150 per person, plus tax and tip. Reserve a spot at HiltonWestPalmBeach.EventBrite.com or by calling 561-249-2281.

Hilton West Palm Beach: 600 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

Puerto Rican treat: coconut tembleque (panna cotta) by Chef Christian Quinones. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Puerto Rican treat: coconut tembleque (panna cotta) by Chef Christian Quinones. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

Puerto Rican garden party at Bistro Ten Zero One

Sunday, Dec. 18, from 5 to 7 p.m.

What a treat it is when Bistro chef Christian Quiñones cooks the dishes of his native Puerto Rico. He’s doing just that on Dec. 18 when Bistro Ten Zero One hosts what has become an annual holiday feast, Boricua-style. On the menu: guinenito (banana) salad with onion escovitch, sancocho stew, orange adobo roasted suckling pig, arroz con gandules (pigeon peas and rice), coconut tembleque and many other dishes.

Cost: $35 per person, plus tax and tip. To reserve a spot, visit the event site or call 561-833-1234 or 305-929-3463.

Bistro Ten Zero One: at the Marriott, 1001 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

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)

‘Swank Table’ kicks off

Sunday, Dec. 18, at 4 p.m.

The popular Swank Farm supper series kicks off on Dec. 18 with a multicourse feast titled “Big flavors, Open Skies: A Night with Seminole Hard Rock and Coconut Creek.”

Cooking at the Loxahatchee Groves boutique farm that day are Alex Q. Becker, executive chef at Kuro Japanese restaurant at Hard Rock Hollywood and the restaurant’s pastry chef, Ross Evans. Joining them are chefs from Council Oaks Steaks & Seafood and Coconut Creek’s NYY Steak.

Farmers Darrin and Jodi Swank will host nine “Swank Table” dinners during the 2016-2017 harvest season. To reserve a spot, visit SwankSpecialtyProduce.com.

Cost: $160, which partially benefits a youth charity, FLIPANY.

Swank Farm: 14311 North Road, Loxahatchee Groves

 

 

PB Post Dinner Series celebrates flavors of Montreal in Palm Beach

We traveled to Montreal without leaving the island of Palm Beach. Sure, there were palm fronds nearby somewhere as we dined on Québécois flavors, but our imagination was transported during The Post’s Dinner Series feast at Chez l’Epicier Tuesday night.

Montreal munchies: A server offers minced salmon bites.
Montreal munchies: A server offers minced salmon bites. (Liz Balmaseda/The Palm Beach Post)

Chef Laurent Godbout created a lavish, three-course dinner that kicked off with a series of passed bites and sips of a decidedly Canadian welcome cocktail: sparkling apple cider laced with blueberry-maple syrup. Starters continued with a composition of the chef’s favorite appetizer bites: a modernized poutine croquette (filled with a puff of cheese curd and gravy), a rich avocado tartare, a refreshing gazpacho and a boldly flavored baked oyster crowned in maple-Dijon and cheddar.

Related: Full dining review of Chez l’Epicier

For main course, he prepared a traditional Montreal winter dish of fork-tender beef cheek, corn relish and potato foam presented as a Shepherd’s Pie.

A welcome cocktail to kick off our Evening in Montreal. (Liz Balmaseda/The Palm Beach Post)
A welcome cocktail to kick off our Evening in Montreal. (Liz Balmaseda/The Palm Beach Post)

The meal’s sweet finale proved downright decadent, a classic apple and maple chomeur (or “poor man’s pudding”) served oven-warm with house-made vanilla ice cream. The chef chose this most authentic note to end the meal, as maple syrup is part of the Québécois DNA. The flavors bring him back to Montreal’s “sugar shacks,” where maple sap is boiled, transformed into treats and celebrated.

(In fact, he has plans to bring the sugar-shack theme to the restaurant’s brunch menu closer to spring.)

Veronique Deneault, co-owner of Chez l'Epicier, zips through the restaurant as guests begin to arrive. (Julio Poletti/ Thye Palm Beach Post)
Veronique Deneault zips through the restaurant as guests arrive. (Julio Poletti/The Palm Beach Post)

The restaurant’s chic farmhouse look added a layer of chill to the night, as co-owner Veronique Deneault (who is married to Chef Laurent) warmly greeted guests, who departed well-fed and toting goody bags of freshly made vanilla marshmallows.

It was a sweet night, indeed. Our journey yielded no frequent-flier miles, but it did earn us some worth-it Canadian calories.

Goody bags: homemade marshmallows for 'Evening in Montreal' guests. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)
Goody bags: homemade marshmallows for ‘Montreal’ guests. (Julio Poletti/The Palm Beach Post)

Stay tuned for our next installment of The Palm Beach Post’s Dinner Series, coming in early 2017. Follow us on Facebook for updates on foodie events and dining news.  

Chez l’Epicier: 288 S. County Rd., Palm Beach; 561-508-7030; ChezlEpicier.com

PB Food & Wine Festival: ticket sales strong, Coolio out, new stars join

Coolio, rapper and unexpected foodie, will not appear at December’s Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival after all, thanks to his recent arrest in Los Angeles on gun charges, organizers say. The 90s star also known as Artis Leon Ivey Jr. was charged with felony firearm possession after a gun was found in his backpack during a security check at Los Angeles International Airport last month.

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.

Star chefs Marc Murphy (left) and Jeff Mauro, beneath the Palm Beach sun. (LILA PHOTO)
Star chefs Marc Murphy (left) and Jeff Mauro, beneath the Palm Beach sun. (LILA PHOTO)

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.)

Before the Insta-rant: Adam Richman on set in 2008. (Cox Newspapers photo)
Before the Insta-rant: Adam Richman on set in 2008. (Cox Newspapers photo)

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.

Refined bites at the festival's "Sustain" event in 2015. (LILA PHOTO)
Refined bites at the festival’s “Sustain” event in 2015. (LILA PHOTO)

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.”

Snack + snap: A Four Seasons Resort cook prepares party food at the fest. (LILA PHOTO)
Snack + snap: A Four Seasons Resort cook prepares party food at the fest. (LILA PHOTO)

Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival

The festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary, runs from Dec. 8 through 11. For information and tickets, visit PBFoodWineFest.com.

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.