Johnson & Wales Edible Pathway : Farm to Plate Sustainability being taught locally

Go ahead, pick me: Edible Landscape at Johnson & Wales

Johnson & Wales University North Miami campus just got a whole lot greener with the introduction of their edible pathway. This unique concept surrounds pathways that span the entire circumference of the main campus buildings with herbs, fruit, and vegetables. Students, faculty, and visitors are encouraged to pick and taste test any of the abundant vegetation, (talk about eating on the run!). Future plans to grow this concept include the addition of new plants and a greenhouse. According to Bruce Ozga, Dean of Culinary Arts Education, “This initiative for an edible landscape began to stress the importance of local farming, the value of the “farm to plate” process and the impact that freshness has on taste and quality when cooking.”  Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts students are receiving a hands-on education in sustainability complete with learning vital information about the different plants and vegetation, how they are nourished, grow, and how to transform them into masterful dishes in the kitchen.

Speaking of transformation… Here are a few dishes from the Johnson & Wales kitchen, provided by Chef Ruch, utilizing the bounty from their very own campus.

Vegetable Gazpacho
(Click here to download the recipe)

Roasted Corn Succotash Scallops in a Lemongrass Sauce with Peruvian Potatoes 
(Click here to download the recipe)
 
Gruyere Cheese Souffle with Port Wine Sauce and Macadamia Nuts
(Click here to download the recipe)

 Johnson & Wales University
1701 NE 127th Street
North Miami, Florida 33181
1-800-DIAL-JWU

Farmer’s Market to Suburban Garden: Eating through Southwestern, PA

Ligonier Farmer's Market

Last weekend I took a short trip to my hometown in Pennsylvania to visit with friends and family and indulge in my favorite comfort foods. There really is nothing that compares to a home cooked family meal. Knowing all of the ingredients were helping to support local farmers and grown without pesticides or hormones was an added bonus. Click here for my farm to table photo tour.

Where is your favorite farmer’s market?

What is a must have item you always pick up? 

Restore : The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples

The tri-level world class Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples is an elegant oasis, designed to relax your mind, revitalize your spirit, and restore your soul in a welcoming environs surrounded with (and pampered by) nature. The Spa facilities include locker rooms (stocked with fluffy robes, towels, sandals, and every grooming item imaginable, just in case), aqua lounges, an outdoor mineral pool, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and relaxation areas (stocked with water – sparkling or flavored still, coffee, teas – both hot & iced, and small snacks including nuts). Offering treatments including massage, facials, micro-dermabrasion, eyebrow shaping, reflexology, yoga, reiki, body wraps, personal training, and more.

Mineral Pool at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples

We checked into the Spa early to change into our robes and enjoy a soak in the warm whirlpool within the aqua lounge before heading to the salon for our scheduled services. The aqua lounge also houses hot and cold plunge pools, a steam room and sauna in addition to the whirlpool, which offers an inviting bowl of iced cucumbers to soothe your eyelids, if you so desire. Just prior to your appointment, a host will find and escort you to the proper treatment area, so you won’t have to worry about a thing, including time.

Our time arrived and we were escorted to the salon for our services: one Ritz-Carlton Signature Manicure and one seasonal Citrus Summer Manicure and Pedicure Combo

The salon personnel were very welcoming (and accommodating) as we mulled over which polishes to choose, desired nail length and shape. After choosing our lacquers, we were seated in plush manicure stations beside one another.

Completed manicures, modeling Danialli Rings, available in The Gallery

One FOTF opted for the Ritz-Carlton Signature Manicure which includes exfoliation, a deep therapy mask applied then hands encased in warm mitts, completed with a nourishing moisturizer. After perusing the polish options she chose the vibrant Big Apple Red from OPI.

I chose the Citrus Summer Manicure and Pedicure Combo, a softening treatment for the hands and feet using citrus scrubs, available as a seasonal special. Starting with the manicure, my nails were expertly unpolished, shaped, filed, and buffed to a glossy sheen. Then my cuticles were fixed, the scrub applied, and my skin softened and repaired from oils of the Kukui coconut. I chose a traditional french manicure with polish in a soft pink hue by essie. Once my nails were completed, picture perfect and sealed with a quick dry shellac, I was whisked off to the pedicure area. Their pedicure stations are complete with state-of-the-art massage chairs by True Touch with a multitude of options, ranging from zones, pressure, style, and speed. My feet experienced the same expert treatment as my hands, while I played with the options on my chair, and were topped off with a coat of Midnight in Moscow, a deep purple hue by OPI.

While waiting for the polishes to fully set we headed upstairs to the mineral pool to soak up some Vitamin D before lunch. Unfortunately, the weather was uncooperative and we had just settled in when the sky opened up to a torrential downpour. Heading inside for cover, we decided it was time to taste test the Spa restaurant =H20+.

=H20+ offers an array of healthy, creative all natural items for a light lunch, including: made -to-order salads, sandwiches, wraps, and smoothies. We chose to modify the House Smokey Turkey  Salad and Spinach Salad.

Upon being seated you are served a crispy crackle bread and assorted sauces including hummus, and a roasted red pepper in addition to a diced vegetable. Until we sat down to eat, I didn’t realize what a hunger I had amassed. I noshed on the cracker-like bread until our fresh heaping salads arrived.

Turkey Salad at =h20+

The House Smokey Turkey  Salad we modified contained a mix of candied squash, dried cranberries, walnuts, large pieces of smoked turkey and broccoli, atop arugula and paired with a maple vinaigrette. This robust salad balanced the smoky flavor of the turkey against the sweetness of the candied squash and vinaigrette. The walnuts imparted a distinct crunch, while the cranberries were slightly chewy resulting in an array of different textures to delight the mouth.

Spinach Salad at =h20+

The Spinach Salad we modified to include diced tomatoes, roasted pears, and marcona almonds atop fresh spinach leaves, paired with a honey mustard vinaigrette. This salad satisfied our sweet tooth while also introducing a copious amount of nutrients. The roasted pears were yielding and decadent, a nice accompaniment to the crisp marcona almonds. The dressing on this, house-made honey mustard was the perfect consistency and just sweet enough, but not too much so. After we headed home, I ended up wishing I had asked if it was available for purchase.

This small restaurant fills up quickly, especially in the rain, but their service is quick and efficient. On better (non-monsoon) days outdoor dining is also an option.

Finishing up our meal we headed downstairs to spend time in the relaxation area before heading back to the aqua lounge where we blissfully reclined until closing time. The Spa was tranquil with a handful of other patrons cycling through throughout the day, as it is only available to guests and members of the Ritz-Carlton. If you are in search of a elegant private oasis, look no further.
_______________________________________________________________________________________

The Ritz-Carlton is now offering a summer Spa-Cation package until September 30,2011. You are invited to relax and restore your senses with their unparalleled service coupled with rejuvenating treatments at the Spa.

The package includes: Overnight accommodations in a coastal view room, a $200 Spa Credit per night, and Lunch for Two in the Spa’s new =H20+ wellness eatery (per night).

Click here for information on the Ritz-Carlton, Naples Spa-Cation deal.

Click here for the previous post about Resort Activities at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

The Ritz-Carlton Naples
280 Vanderbilt Beach Rd.,
Naples, FL 34108 USA
Phone:  (239) 598-3300
www.ritzcarlton.com

Tapas to Die(t) For: Bites at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples

Ta·pas  -noun   light snacks or appetizers, usually eaten with drinks.

Ta·pas to di·et for  -FOTF phrase  any/all of the shared plates at Bites. So incredibly delicious, may influence other dining options before and after to counteract consumption of one too many plates.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Ritz-Carlton, Naples Lounge featuring Bites

Bites, the newest addition to the culinary options at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples offers globally styled tapas in the elegantly updated Lobby Lounge. The Bites concept is centered around shared experiences in a luxurious setting with the unparalleled Ritz-Carlton service. Diners have options from seven categories including: meat, poultry, fish, seafood, vegetables, breads and desserts, to taste while relaxing in comfortable club chairs and listening to a range of Latin American and contemporary scores (Lady Gaga!) played on the nearby piano.

Bread Box Offerings at Bites

Each Bites experience starts with a gourmet breadbox. The contents vary as they are baked fresh daily. Ours included a sliced rye bread baguette, blue cheese and caramelized onion muffins, and prosciutto parmesan breadsticks. The rye baguette had a mild flavor and paired well with the olive tapenade spread. Served warm, the muffin was my favorite out of the box. Sharp blue cheese offset the sweetness of the caramelized onion achieving a delicious balance. The breadstick was crunchy and savory with a blend of prosciutto, parmesan, and a hint of rosemary.

Veal Cheek Pizza at Bites

Our first three offerings were chosen by Chef Caleb Lara, from the award-winning Ritz-Carlton, Naples culinary team. Beginning with a guest favorite, the Veal Cheek Pizza, a crispy flatbread topped with tender pieces of peppery veal cheeks, fresh arugula, white truffle oil, shaved parmesan (aged one year to bring out its caramelized notes), and a few diced tomatoes. FOTF agree, this pizza is a must-order item.

Cider Quail Breast at Bites

Next we were presented with the Cider Quail Breast and fresh green apple salad with crunchy pancetta. The quail was moist, delicate, and sweet. The accompanying apple was refreshing with a nice contrast of crunch to the tender breast. This small plate had us tweeting, “The Cider Quail Breast was so good, we want to hunt down the rest of the bird!”. Seriously, if we weren’t trying to tackle as many plates as we could this evening, we would’ve ordered another. The flavors, texture, and presentation was simply perfection.

Pork Belly at Bites

Our final blind selection included the Pork Belly with grilled peaches and frisée salad. Pork belly, with a 92% fat content, isn’t a cut of meat this foodie would typically order, but since it was one of the chef’s top three I picked up my skewer and joined in the experience. The bite had a thin crispy layer on top, then alternating layers of meat and fat. The grilled peaches were sweet with a faint smoky flavor; the contrasting textures on this dish were ideal.

Marinated Artichokes at Bites

The first of our selections were the Marinated Artichokes. These delicate artichoke hearts were topped with a creamy lemon aioli and diced herbs. A perfect accompaniment to the previous dishes and a light start to round two.

Polenta "Fries" at Bites

Next we have another small plate from the vegetable section, the Polenta “Fries”, and another FOTF favorite. These upscale “fries” are free to accompany my humble burger any day. Reminiscent of a cheese stick, (in appearance and pairing with the tomato compote) these are created from a thick slab of cornmeal, aka polenta. Warning: Even though these are meant to be shared, you may want to get your own order.

Curried Chicken Meatballs at Bites

Then came the Curried Chicken Meatballs with peanut sauce, an ode to India. These moist ground chicken meatballs were lightly seasoned with hints of turmeric, cumin, and coriander and soaked in a creamy peanut sauce crowned with crumbled nuts. This dish was sweet, spicy, and satisfying.

Gyro Satay at Bites

Just as we were quickly realizing we were becoming quite full, the last of our entree plates the “Gyro” Satay arrived. The presentation, a beautifully deconstructed gyro with grilled chicken satay skewers atop a greek salad, with small pita rounds and a tzatziki side sauce, encouraged us to keep sampling. This modified Greek dish is a light bite perfect for anyone seeking a healthier option.

Chocolate Cupcake at Bites

Of course you know by now, the FOTF girls cannot pass up dessert. No. Matter. What. Care to take a guess what was on the dessert menu? Chocolate Cupcakes!, one of our all-time favorite foods. Serendipitous. Three moist mini chocolate cupcakes topped with chocolate buttercream and gilded chocolate pieces arrived on an elegant serving dish (<— sadly, only one made it to photo time) alongside our cappuccinos. But wait, there’s more! They were joined by three mini ice cream cones filled with velvety smooth dark chocolate raspberry ice cream. Our shared love (and respect) of chocolate awakened our dormant appetites and we completed this course, with pleasure.

2 Foodies on the Fly, 9 small plates plus bread box, and not a crumb left. These truly are Tapas to Die(t) For.

Check back here tomorrow for the final post of our Spa-Cation weekend, including The Spa and =H20+

Click here for the previous post about Resort Activities at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

Click here for information on the Ritz-Carlton, Naples Spa-Cation deal.

Click here for information on Afternoon Tea at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples

The Ritz-Carlton Naples
280 Vanderbilt Beach Rd.,
Naples, FL 34108 USA
Phone:  (239) 598-3300
www.ritzcarlton.com

We’ve arrived: Ritz-Carlton, Naples FL

Welcome to the Ritz-Carlton

We’ve arrived at the iconic Ritz-Carlton, Naples beach resort. First opening their doors 25 years ago and accumulating awards ever since, including; AAA Five Diamond, Forbes Five-Star, (both for 22 consecutive years), named #9 among the top 50 Resorts in US and Canada on Travel + Leisure‘s 2011 “World’s Best List” and #70 in the World, Gold List of the World’s Best Hotels, Resorts, and Cruise Lines, 2011 in Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, amongst others. We excitedly stepped out of the valet circle and into one of the consistently highest ranked resorts in the world.

Warmly greeted by Jorian Weiner, Public Relations Manager, we checked into the resort, offloaded our bags and began a guided tour of the expansive property. The Ritz-Carlton experience offers many options, we wanted to be sure we didn’t miss a thing! In addition to enjoying the beautiful southwest Florida coastline, 2 heated outdoor pool areas (one family friendly, one with VIP section), and magnificent Spa, what else does the Ritz-Carlton, Naples have to offer?

Options at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples

FOR THE GOLFER: The Ritz-Carlton, Naples offers free shuttle service to its sister resort, the Ritz-Carlton, Naples Golf Resort. This award winning Greg Norman-designed Tiburón Golf Course offers complimentary TaylorMade golf club rentals and sleeves of golf balls. Golfers under the age of 18 can tee off for free, one with each paying adult.

FOR THE GOURMET: There are seven dining options available ranging from the health-concious =H20+ located in the Spa, Caribbean-inspired cuisine at Gumbo Limbo on the Boardwalk, tapas at Bites in the Lobby lounge, casual dining at the Poolside Cafè, Italian cuisine at The Terrace, traditional Japanese at The Sushi Bar, and fine dining steakhouse at The Grill. There is also the Gourmet Shop, stocked with fine chocolates, coffees, and gelato for those times when you need just a little sugar or caffeine jolt. If you wish to explore contemporary Mediterranean or global bar foods, hop on the shuttle to the Golf Resort and explore their five dining options as well.

Nature's Wonders Laboratory

FOR CHILDREN (OF ALL AGES): The resort offers Nature’s Wonders, an eco-friendly environmentally focused program that connects guest with nature. The program, led by Master Naturalists at the resort,  includes: nature walks, dolphin, sea-turtle and manatee watches, aquarium feedings, a mini laboratory where small guests can use child-sized microscopes, slides & Petri dishes, a hands-on workshop and Nature Vision Theater that streams National Geographic specials. During our tour we learned that an adult female sea turtle will migrate back to her beach of birth to lay her eggs. The Naples beach currently is home to a handful of sea turtle nests which should hatch in upcoming weeks.

vue lounge

vue, the ultimate entertainment lounge, with a chic interior is a mecca for children, teens, and adults. Equipped with Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii systems hooked up to 40″ LCD TVs, 2 private lounge areas with 19′ flat screen TVs, DVD players and iPod docking station, and a massive 63″ LCT TV with Blu-ray play connected to a Bang and Olufsen surround system. There is also a Mac station with iMacs for use. We are told that although originally created to cater to the teen crowd, when major sporting events are televised the demographic skews older. Looking for an unconventional space for your next meeting or event? You may have found it.

FOR THE SHOPPER: There are eight on property shops including everything from Zegna suits for the gentleman at John Craig, swimsuits and sunscreen at The Pool Shoppe, beautiful fine jewelry and artwork at The Gallery, Prada sunglasses at The Signature Shop, face creams, masks, and other products used in the Spa at The Spa Boutique, tennis apparel, footwear, and racquets at The Tennis Shop, Ritz-Carlton signature apparel at The Boutique, and anything small you may have forgotten to pack at The Sundry Gift Shop.

After touring the resort, and spying a sliver of sunshine remaining, we hurried upstairs to our guest room to change into swimwear for a quick visit to the pool area before dinner at Bites. We opened the door and entered our luxurious room, greeted with an amazing coastline view and this incredible, completely edible chocolate sculpture. OMGoodness we have arrived.

Incredible Chocolate Sculpture from The Ritz-Carlton, Naples

Check back here tomorrow for the continuation of our Spa-Cation weekend and our review of Bites in the Lobby Lounge (now live).

Click here for information on the Ritz-Carlton, Naples Spa-Cation deal.

Click here for our day at the Ritz-Carlton Spa, Naples. 

Click here for our 5th Avenue, Naples Distractions along the way. 

Distractions on the Road

“Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” – Greg Anderson

Foodies on the Fly headed across the alley last weekend (Alligator Alley for non-locals, aka 175 – the 2 lane stretch of road connecting the east coast to west coast of Florida) in eager anticipation of our weekend of relaxation: A Spa-Cation at the Ritz-Carlton, Naples.

Brambles English Tea Room - Naples, FL

We arrived in Naples early to stock up on essentials on 5th Ave prior to check-in. First, we brunched at the quaint Brambles English Tea Room, a hidden gem just off of 5th Ave., run by British couple, Chris & Heather. The decor is shabby chic: floral wallpaper, pink tablecloths, and beautifully eclectic china.

We ordered two pots of tea to share: The Royal Wedding (We had to, it was created just for Kate & Wills!), a blend of China black tea flavored with raspberry, strawberry, kiwi, and a hint of mango and the Caribbean Voodoo, China black tea flavored with cornflowers, mango, coconut, passion fruit, and more (Mysterious and apparently addicting, I order this one every time I visit!).

Brambles Brunch Spread

We started our meal, as any proper tea should with freshly baked scones, strawberries and clotted cream. If you visit Brambles, these crumbly semisweet breads are a must. Then our entrees arrived, Roger’s Salad Nicoise (which wasn’t because we modified and subbed shrimp) and a freshly baked Quiche Lorraine, a signature item adorned with homemade Mango Chutney. The salad nicoise was light, crisp, and perfect for the foodie on a diet (not this one). My quiche was fluffy with a thin crust and full of large pieces of ham and cheddar. The quiche is paired with a side salad and honey mustard vinaigrette, so I received a serving of veggies as well.

The food is wonderful here, but what will lure you back is the ambiance. The owners are exceedingly polite, and the room warm and welcoming. Not surprisingly, it is best to make your reservations in advance as this tea room tends to fill up quickly. (Note: Plan to arrive at 11:00AM, as we did, and enjoy their scones fresh from the oven!) After brunching we perused their gift shop and purchased loose tea (Voodoo, told you I was addicted!) to accompany us home. They also carry a variety of fine English china, Royal Wedding souvenirs, handmade chocolates, and tea accessories.

Brambles English Tea Room on Urbanspoon

Florida Olive Oil Company

Next we visited Florida Olive Oil Company, a local shop that sells their own line of infused balsamic vinegars, and you guessed it, olive oils. Throughout the store are tasting stations where you can try each of over 50 varieties, including some with a dash of sea salts or spices. Alongside each bottle is a short description of the flavor and pairing ideas to spark your inner culinary god or goddess. Examples include: savory – Cilantro Garlic balsamic vinegar, or Porcini Mushroom olive oil, sweet – Chocolate balsamic vinegar, French Vanilla olive oil, fruity – Wild Blueberry balsamic vinegar, Persian Lime olive oil, or spicy – Habanero Lime balsamic vinegar, and Roasted Chili olive oil. We took full advantage of their in-store offer, purchase 6 bottles and receive one free and ended up with… 3 olive oils (Rosemary, White Lemon, and Chipolte), 6 balsamic vinegars (2 Black Walnut, 2 Fig, 2 Espresso), one Chipolte barbecue glaze, and 4 spice packets.

The manager was very welcoming and we ended up staying much later than we thought tasting, tweeting, and talking, so our 5th Ave. trip ended with just two visits, but we weren’t dismayed as we packed up our loot and  headed to the Ritz-Carlton for the start of our Spa-Cation.

Ritz-Carlton Naples, FL

To be continued…

Venezuelan Comfort Food: Eats Good 33 – Ft.Lauderdale, FL

Today as I struggled to adequately express myself in my review of the uber-luxurious Ritz-Carlton, Naples Resort (coming soon, I promise!) I turned where I often do in times of stress: comfort food. I stepped away from my desk and into a cozy little restaurant hidden in a row of warehouses off McNab Rd. in Ft.Lauderdale, highly recommended by a fellow foodie. The place, Eats Good 33. Their motto: Tasty, fresh, healthy, and affordable food for you to enjoy. I can work with that.

With an extensive menu spanning breakfast, arepas, soups, burgers, panini, pasta, wraps, salads, side orders, desserts, and daily specials, it can take some time to decide, so I started with a refreshing freshly blended Watermelon Juice while pondering the selections. It was light, refreshing, and naturally sweet.

Eats Good 33: Fresh Watermelon Juice

What I ate: Once I heard the lunch special, Asado Negro, a Venezuelan masterpiece marinated and cooked for 6 hours and topped with brown sugar, I was sold. The incredibly tender rump roast drowning in the sweet sugar sauce accompanied with quinoa and minced veggies arrived quickly despite their conspicuous wall hangings that urge patrons to be patient. (Note: I arrived at 1:30, so I quite possibly missed the rush, or experienced exceptionally good lunchtime karma.) Even if I had to wait 30 minutes for this dish, I gladly would have. It achieved the comfort food status I was looking for this afternoon, and that could not be rushed. If the Asado is on special when you visit, I highly recommend.

Eats Good 33: Asado Negro

Anyone who follows the FOTF Girls on a regular basis knows we can’t pass up dessert. Today was no exception. In theme with comfort food, I ordered the Chocolate Marquesa, a Venezuelan dessert with maria cookies soaked in milk and rum between layers of heavenly dark chocolate. I’ve found a new obsession.The waiter joked that if I couldn’t finish the dessert, he would be happy to pack it up for me to take home. This wasn’t needed, the plate was practically licked clean and I had to restrain myself at that.

Eats Good 33: Chocolate Marquesa

What I thought: The food was ah-maz-ing. The staff is very polite and helpful. There is a warm vibe inside that makes you feel like you are coming home, and regular patrons are welcomed back. Which I most definitely will be. Comfort food with a Venezuelan kick, and only 7 minutes from my desk, this could be trouble…

Eats Good 33
6882 NW 20th Ave
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309
ph. 954.956.4480
orders@eatsgood33.com