Tag Archives: concepts

Shoogie Boogies, 1919 Morrill St, Sarasota, FL

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I was lucky enough to have a beautiful bridal shower thrown for me at Shoogie Boogies. It was the most perfect setting I could imagine, and everything was flawless. I found the owner to be extremely patient, detail-oriented, friendly and with seriously awesome taste. I’ve read a bunch of reviews of Shoogie Boogies on various websites and am honestly shocked to read anything that’s less than top notch. I’m guessing that some of the complainers are ‘bridezilla types’ who found some way to make it the restaurant’s fault if it rained, or if the strawberry wasn’t exactly the shade of red that they’d requested.

My guests and I were warmly welcomed into the flower-filled garden area with champagne flutes of elderberry water. Yummm, delightfully refreshing! We sat at a long table under giant white umbrellas, and took in the amazing presentations of tea sandwiches on pedestals, cheese and cracker plates, fresh bread and olive oil, and ginger/pear iced tea. The touches on each table setting were adorable, from napkin rings with fresh flowers, to lovely floral arrangements and quirky fairy-tale touches everywhere. You really have to see this place to believe just how girly/romantic/charming the setting is. It’s really a dream.

Soon, wonderful salads were brought out, and we all enjoyed the excellent quality cheeses and fresh fruits and veggies. When the owner noticed dark clouds overhead, she thoughtfully prepared one of the inside rooms for us, and invited us to move under cover for desserts and gift-opening. We took her up on her offer, not wanting to get soaked any more than her staff did, and moved inside to another beautiful setting. Her portrait photography on the walls is exquisite, and everyone enjoyed looking at each one in what felt like a private dining room at a gallery.

Our iced teas were refilled and dessert platters were brought out to share. Each of the sample-sized cakes were delicious, but the total amount for 12 sugar-loving women was a little on the skimpy side. That alone is seriously the only fault I can find in this beautiful day, and really not enough of one to even bother with. I do have to be honest though, and if everything I wrote was gushy, you wouldn’t believe it anyway 🙂

I can’t possibly recommend Shoogie Boogies any higher. If you have a ladies lunch, a girls outing, a bridal or baby shower or even a wedding, it’s a perfect choice. I can’t wait to go back, so please feel free to invite me!

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Chez Carey! Healthy Pad Thai recipe

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pad thai 1

I believe I have come up with a TOTAL winner. I LOVE Pad Thai, but the calories and fat in a normal serving make it very hard for me to justify- especially with an upcoming wedding and a commitment to stay on track with Weight Watchers allowances.

I’m a BIG fan of PB2 by Bell Plantations http://www.bellplantation.com/. It’s basically powdered peanut butter than you can reconstitute with water. It removes all of the oils and fats and you’re left with very peanut buttery tasting yumminess for very few calories. I have used it in as regular peanut butter, but haven’t really done a lot of cooking or experimenting with it yet, except for mixing it in with frozen bananas to make pb/banana ice cream, or making awesome smoothies with it. I had been looking at recipes on their website for inspiration and after reading a few of their Thai Noodles recipes, decided to take that idea and run with it….and my experiment was a major success. It will definitely be repeated soon. As always, my recipes are just loose guidelines since I don’t really measure anything out…Interpret and adjust it however you’d like.

Here’s the concept!

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

PB2 (about 6 Tablespoons)

Sesame Oil

Sriracha sauce

Hot water

Brown rice vinegar

Ginger

Garlic

Cilantro

Bragg’s Amino Acids (or light soy sauce if you don’t have Bragg’s)

Honey

Mix all of that up in a bowl or measuring cup and keep adding hot water in tiny bits until you get to the consistency you want. It should be semi-thick so it will coat the noodles.

Meanwhile, stir fry the following in a wok with a little coconut oil. (I julienned all of the veggies, but you don’t really have to. It just looks prettier that way.)

Carrots

Baby Corn

Scallions

red peppers

Shiitake mushrooms

Shrimp

And then throw in a bag of WELL- RINSED and lightly boiled (for 1 minute) kelp noodles like these: http://www.kelpnoodles.com/

or miracle noodles like these: http://www.miraclenoodle.com/

I can’t stress enough how important it is to rinse either of those noodles before cooking them.

Toss everything together and then pour the sauce over the top and mix well.

Thinly slice some cucumbers and chop some peanuts to top each dish with and VIOLA! Low fat, low cal, AMAZING tasting Pad Thai. Enjoy! You’re welcome!

I should really open a cafe one of these days 🙂

Tandoori Indian Restaurant: 3440 Clark rd. Sarasota, FL HAS MOVED TO 8453 Cooper Creek Blvd

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mango lassipappadum and 3 sauces, tamarind etcchickpea potatoes patties appnaanrotieggplant entreesaag paneerbasmati rice

I feel like I’ve said this a lot more times than I ever expected to, but WOW, great ethnic food in Sarasota?!?! Amazing! Who knew?

Gabriel and I bought a coupon deal to go to Tandoori Indian Restaurant based on a recommendation from my boss. We decided to go a few nights ago when I had a serious craving for Sag Paneer. (Fresh homemade cottage cheese cubes cooked in fresh creamy spinach gravy, very delicately spiced.) This is one of those dishes that I get intense cravings for every so often, and since I’ve recently cut meat out of my diet and am finding less options on most menus, I am so happy to say that this favorite of mine is still a-okay.

When we arrived, it was a fairly empty restaurant but we noticed quickly that a lot of their business seems to be in take-out. Quite a few people came to pick up their ‘to go’ orders while we ate. The waitress came over and brought menus and water and made some suggestions at our request. She also brought out the delicious, creamy, sweet, mango lassis we ordered, as well as some crisp popadom with the 3 classic sauces: tamarind, mint chutney and onion. My favorite is always tamarind and I always ask for extra to use on the rice and entrees as well.

We decided to try the Ragda Patties (crispy fried potato patties topped with chick peas cooked in onion & tomato paste spiced with ground spices and finished off with our house yogurt and tamarind & mint chutney) as our appetizer. It wasn’t exactly what I expected, but it WAS really delicious. It was mainly chick peas, spiced with really interesting flavors, and the patties it sat atop were decadent, creamy, potatoes. They didn’t really seem crispy to me- as described in the menu, but they were very flavorful and the texture contrast with the chickpeas was interesting.

For our entrees, we shared the Sag Paneer, which was perfect, and the Baingan Bharta (roasted, de-skinned and pureed eggplant, cooked with turmeric, onions and tomatoes, seasoned with herbs & lightly flavored with a hint of freshly ground fried spices) which was also really wonderful. The basmati rice that came with it and the Tandoori Naan and Roti we ordered were the perfect platforms for the complex flavors of our entrees.

Overall, I am really happy to have had a chance to try Tandoori and will definitely be back. The owner came out to chat with us to tell us that they will soon be moving to a new location in Coopers Creek off of University Drive- and we are glad to know they will be in an area that we frequent. As a New Yorker who used to think that Jackson Heights, Queens is really the best place outside of India (not that I’ve actually been there) to eat Indian food, I am VERY pleasantly surprised to find awesome, authentic, Indian cuisine right here in Sarasota, Florida. Bravo Tandoori!

 

UPDATE: Tandoori Grill has moved to 8453 Cooper Creek Blvd and is STILL awesome. Gabriel and I had dinner there last week and the food was FANTASTIC. YAY!! It’s so close to where I live now and the $9.99 buffet still has tons of vegetarian options.

Chez Carey! Carrot/coconut/dill soup

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I cannot believe I forgot to take a picture of this soup but it was SO good that I thought I’d add my recipe…well, it’s really just a ‘concept’.  As many of you know, I really don’t write recipes. I don’t like to measure. I don’t like to do things the same way twice. I like to do things by taste, feel, mood and sense.

 

The carrot/coconut/dill soup:
Saute some garlic, shallots and onions in a little olive oil in the bottom of a stock pot.
Add a pound or so of carrots (I used baby carrots, but you can use chopped, peeled regular ones instead)
Add about 5 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
simmer for an hour or so.
add a handful of fresh dill and some salt and fresh pepper.
Use an immersion blender to blend it all up.
Add a cup or so of coconut milk
add some more chopped dill if you’re like me and can’t get enough of it. (but don’t blend too much of it in with the immersion blender or it will turn the soup into an ugly color)
Serve each bowl with a spoonful of plain greek yogurt, chopped chives and a sprig of dill.

Enjoy!

Mozaic: 1377 Main St. Sarasota, FL

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It’s pretty awesome that Groupon/Living Social type deals are not something we left behind in NYC as I’d guessed we would. They are actually pretty common around Sarasota and you can bet that Gabriel and I jump on them as often as we can. We had a $40 for $20 deal to Mozaic, which I had heard from multiple people was excellent. After spending the afternoon hunting around for wedding venues, we found ourselves very hungry so we gave them a call to see if they’d be able to seat us with short notice. We were told that they had a small table in the bar area for us and off we went to grab it.

We arrived soon after and were seated at a table for 2 that was perfectly comfortable. It’s a trendy, bold, colorful restaurant, and the decor and menu choices definitely had a hip/modern feel. Our friendly and highly knowledgeable waiter Jeff went over the specials and his personal favorites (at my request) and we took a few minutes to decide. It happened to be an evening with an offer of a $22 deal for an app and an entree ($27 if you are combining the deal with the Living Social coupon) and after we compared those numbers to the ‘regular’ menu, we decided it was definitely the way to go. We made our choices and ordered, and a lovely, little, refreshing, gazpacho amuse-bouche was brought out for each of us. We also quickly devoured the wonderful, warm, fresh rolls served with olive oil and balsamic. The waiter tempted us with another one for each of us and we couldn’t say no. There is just something about fresh-baked bread that is relatively impossible to refuse.

Our appetizers were next and we’d decided to share. I started with the butternut squash soup which was creamy, savory, and beautiful with it’s topping of sage pesto and walnut date crumble. I ate my half and then traded with Gabriel for his escargot with fingerling potatoes- which ended up being the only dish of the evening that neither of us were impressed by. The snails were not the chewy consistency that makes them such a fun and different delicacy. I’m not sure if they were overcooked or just not as fresh as they could have been, but they were on the mushy side and really lacking flavor in general. The potatoes were flavored with tarragon and dijon mustard, but considering that fact, they were still pretty lifeless and boring. Oh well, they can’t all be fabulous and in reality, everything else was.

Our entrees arrived soon after they cleared our appetizer plates and the presentation was very appealing. I’ve read some other reviews complaining about the sides that come with entrees all being the same, but I really have no problem with that as long as they compliment the dishes well, which they did. I had the delicious snapper served with carrot-ginger coulis and various roasted vegetables – the roasted beets and tomatoes were the standouts, fresh and cooked perfectly. Gabriel had the roast hen which was also cooked beautifully without tons of flavors covering up the meat unnecessarily. Both of our dishes were outstanding and we completely cleaned our plates.

When Jeff arrived again to tell us the desserts, we asked if he had any strong suggestions. He asked what our preferences were and I told him that we pretty much love everything. With that comment, he took our menus away with flair and asked us to trust the chef to make us something special. How exciting! I loved that and couldn’t wait to see what would be brought out for us to try. A short while passed and Gabriel’s port wine and my yummy, foamy, cappuccino came out along with a gorgeous dessert plate for us! We had mentioned that we were newly engaged, but did NOT expect such an incredible special treat with compliments of the chef. The chocolate lava molten cake was one of the best ones I’ve ever had, topped with a light berry sorbet. It was somehow light and rich at the same time. Next to it was a complex pear and walnut cake with vanilla ice cream on top. Decorating the dish were adorable chocolate hearts with centers of mango and strawberry (or maybe raspberry) coulis and a ‘congratulations’ written beautifully in chocolate. As ANOTHER treat afterwards, 2 small but incredible pieces of homemade rosewater chocolate were brought out to melt decadently in our mouths as the perfect completion to an outstanding meal.

Our evening at Mozaic was quite a special one. Everything from the last minute accommodation, to the superior service, to the exquisite food and thoughtful desserts made it a wonderful evening for both of us. I would strongly recommend a visit for a special occasion. Enjoy!

 

Inkanto: 4141 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34231

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When I heard there was a new Peruvian restaurant in Sarasota, I was very excited about it. Longing for my NYC days of frequent meals at Pio Pio, (https://bigforkinmouth.com/2010/04/22/pio-pio-1746-1st-ave-new-york-ny/) I was hoping to find inexpensive prices, plentiful food, amazing roasted chicken, crispy/chewy tostones, solchipapas and delicious, spicy, green sauce. Aside from the solchipapas and spicy green sauce, Inkanto proved to be totally different than my beloved Pio Pio. That said, it’s unfair to go into a restaurant with such high expectations, especially in my hopes to find something to replace what I’d left behind in NY. In all fairness, this experience was still enjoyable, interesting, and seemed to be authentic. The service was excellent, the atmosphere cozy and welcoming, the food creative and tasty, and the prices reasonable for a fancy-ish meal.

When we sat down with our friends, we were given a wine list and menu, and ‘cancha’ (or basically browned, puffed corn). It was kind of like inside-out popcorn- and not too disimilar from what we know as corn nuts. It’s crunchy, salty and you are supposed to mix it up with the spicy Aji sauce (a mix of black mint, jalapenos and debatable other top secret ingredients which I think probably includes mayo, cilantro, olive oil and who knows what else). Yum! What a fun start to the meal, and potentially one that I could eat far too much of.

We decided to share 2 appetizers between the 4 of us. One was (I totally forgot what it was officially called and the website does not have it listed. Sorry!) made of sliced prawns, mashed yellow potatoes, avocados, red peppers, lettuce, topped with a creamy sauce. The combinations of flavors, temperatures, and textures was unusual and interesting and all of the ingredients were fresh and bright. The presentation of the dish was eye-catching and vibrant and we all really enjoyed it. It was just enough for about 2 bites each- perfect for a little taste. We also shared the salchipapas, because whether young or old, who can really resist a place of french fries and chicken hot dog slices? Not me- or apparently anyone else at our young-at-heart table.

For our entrees, Gabriel and I shared their specialty, Lomo Saltado (filet mignon with onions, tomatoes, and peppers) and the Pescado A Lo Macho (mixed seafood in a creamy saffron sauce). We both substituted fried yucca for french fries (since we’d already had plenty of those), and also asked for the other sauces to dip them in that were offered with the yucca appetizer. Our waitress was more than happy to oblige, and although all of them were excellent and each quite different than the one before, I ended up back where I started with the spicy green sauce that I love so much. The seafood dish was my favorite with such a flavorful sauce and a great assortment of fresh calamari, scallops, fish, mussels, and shrimp. The plain, white rice that came with it was the perfect way to mop up all of the extra sauce once we had eaten everything else on it. If they bottled that sauce, I may very well have come home with some.

Overall, the service and presentation here were standouts, and the food was definitely better than average. We spent about $35 each- which included wine, which I felt was slightly more than it should have been. The restaurant has only been open for 2 months so far, and was fairly empty on a Saturday night. Hopefully once the snowbirds return to the area ready to try something new, their business will pick up a bit. For us, it was definitely an enjoyable evening with friends, but we aren’t totally sold on going back. We’ve been to far too many area restaurants with excellent food for closer to $25-$30 per person, and the reality is that we will be more likely to return to those. I am fine with a splurge for a way-above-average experience, but this one was only a ‘very good’ in my book, not a ‘great’. We shall see…

Paisano’s Italian Bakery: 2732 Stickney Point Road, Sarasota, FL

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This was the third and final stop on my father and my Gulf Gate area foodie tour today and the only one that didn’t blow us away. The case of goodies looks simply awesome when you first walk in, but I should have trusted my initial instinct about bakeries who put sprinkles on rainbow cakes. It’s just not right, and usually indicates that they don’t really know what they are doing. Beautiful cakes and cookies are nice, but if they don’t taste as good as they look I won’t be back.

We ordered rainbow cakes, (wrong consistency and flavor of the cake, chocolate that was too thick and kind of weird tasting, and the sprinkles, ugh)  biscotti (totally wrong texture, not hard or crunchy enough), an almond macaron (which was spelled incorrectly as a macaroon, which it definitely was not) and a raspberry linzer tart that was very sub par.

So yes, maybe I’m just a spoiled NYer with parents from Brooklyn who was lucky enough to grow up with access to some of the best cakes and cookies in the world, and maybe I should have turned and left when I saw the sprinkles (which, by the way I DO love on my ice cream but don’t want anywhere near my beloved rainbow cakes) but I didn’t. Oh well. Two out of three ain’t bad.

And yes, I will be eating salad for dinner tonight.