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

Advertisements

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.