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Best Roast Chicken Methods & Recipes

A la Thomas Keller. SO simple.

Pat chicken completely dry with paper towels. Do not rub skin with any extra oil or fat. S***&P inside and out. Roast @ 450 to temp. Convection oven a plus.

*** I use garlic salt.

Feb 26, 2012
sparkalina in Home Cooking

Weird/Bad Food Related Dates

Hilarious thread!

I was once set up with a friend of a friend who wanted to take me out for a drink and then dinner. We met at a local club for the drink and he let me order first. I had a beer, and then he ordered a soda. Um. ok. I thought we were going for a 'drink' but no big deal.

Then on to dinner. I have been to most of the great restaurants in town and he was from a small town about 45min away... so I said he could choose. We pulled into a plaza that had 3 options. McD's, Chili's and Perkins. At this point I was actually praying for McD's because I knew it would at least be fast.

As we are seated at Perkins in the lovely flourescent light, again, he lets me order first. I wanted to make the best of it so I ordered breakfast for dinner. He says to the waitress... and let me quote... "I'll just have a glass of water. I am having some major stomach issues and I don't want to have a problem here, ya know?"

PS. He clearly had not brushed his teeth before he left his house to meet me.

Sep 21, 2011
sparkalina in Not About Food

Naples, Bleu Provence

Love Love Love Bleu Provence!!!!!! Their mussels will change your world - and the duck leg confit..... simply heaven on a plate. Oh - I have never had a piece of fish cooked SO PERFECTLY as their Loup de Mer. Funny - I have never had dessert there because I am always so full.

There are reasonably priced wines on the wine list too. Early bird specials till 6, Sunday is a Steak Frites special, and Tuesday is the mussel special.

My hubby & I go for just mussels and wine sometimes and sit at the bar.

Bleu Provence
1234 8th St S, Naples, FL 34102

Apr 13, 2011
sparkalina in Florida

English Menu offered to you when dining...

If I am at a restaurant that I know what to expect - Spanish only is fine. When I am afraid that I will be missing out on something great I always ask for one in English and one in Spanish. A place like La Finca de Susana in Madrid comes to mind. I have a limited Spanish vocabulary - but I know my food words! Sometimes I understand the main ingredients, but the preparation style eludes me. That's where the English version helps.

It is interesting and even comical to compare the two. A lot of time something that I know to be delicious will have the most horrible sounding English translation.

Apr 06, 2011
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal

Need rec for last night outside Madrid

Have you already left??? I just saw your post. I once stayed in Alcala de Henares, which is 25+/-km NE of Madrid. I still remember the wonderful dinner I had at the Parador
My dad made me check out the men's room before we left :-) It has a very uniqe twist on a urinal!

Mar 31, 2011
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal

Cava Tasting in Sant Sadurni

It was 10+/- years ago, but I went to Freixinet
for a great tour. My favorite that we tried is one I can't get in the states (Brut Nature) and I look forward to tasting it on each return trip to Spain.

Then we had THE MOST FANTASTIC lunch at Mirador de les Caves
I can still tase the foie gras if I close my eyes. I hope the quality there is still the same - maybe someone who has been there a little more recently can vouch for it.

Have fun!

Mar 31, 2011
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal

Give me your beef short rib recipes

This is from Campiellos, a restaurant in Naples, FL. By far the best I have ever had. I made them for my family....and it was confirmed that this is the exact restaurant version. It is a LOT of work!!! But worth every bite. You can make everything ahead of time and 'assemble' later or the next day. The serve it with pasta, I prefer mashed potatoes.

6 pcs beef shortribs, 2 bone cut 2.5" thick)
1 med yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, coarsley chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 pkg fresh rosemary
1 pkg fresh thyme
1.5-2 bottles white wine
1 Tbls black pepper
2 Tbls kosher salt(1.5-2 tsp/pc)
olive oil for browning

Balsamic Glaze
6 garlic bulbs, split horizontally
1/2 cup brown sugar
5 sprigs of rosemary
4 cups balsamic vinegar
7 cups chicken stock (low or no sodium)
4 cups veal or beef stock low sodium (veal stock will give it more body)
1 stick butter

Generously salt & pepper meat, heat olive oil in a large pan to nearly smoking & add ribs. Turn heat down slightly & carefully brown meat on both sides (avoid scorching). Remove meat & place in a pan large enough to hold meat & vegetables. After the ribs are cooked, deglaze pan w/ white wine & reduce, scraping brown bits (if pan is too dark or scorched, skip this step). Pour deglazing liquid in braising pan w/ ribs. Cover ribs w/ chopped vegetables & herbs. Sprinkle a little more salt over ribs & mirepoix. Cover tightly w/ foil. Place in 350 F oven & bake for 3 hours until meat is fork tender. Start checking ribs after 2 hours, make sure you haven't lost too much liquid, if so add chick stock so it doesn't dry out. Remove & cool. Strain liquid, discard vegetables; skim fat & reserved braising liquid.

While ribs are cooking, begin making glaze. In a large sauce pan, over med-high heat, melt butter. When it begins to foam add sugar & spread out over entire pan surface, then place garlic cut side down on top of sugar, add rosemary. Cook until sugar begins to caramelize, about 10-12 min. Once garlic & sugar have browned nicely add balsalmic vinegar, increase heat & reduce by 80% (the fumes will be a little much). After vinegar has reduced add chicken stock, reduce by 1/2; then add veal or beef stock, reduce by 70% or until sauce is starting to tighten up a bit.

To Finish
In a large sauce pan, add ribs, 1 ladle of reserved braising liquid, 2 ladles of reduced glaze, 2 sprigs of rosemary; & reduced liquid around ribs until nicely glazed. Check for seasoning. Optional: swirl a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter to add richness.

Oops 2 photos. Sorry I can't figure out how to undo.

Feb 04, 2011
sparkalina in Home Cooking

I NEED to know WHERE I can find the BEST STEAK in NAPLES, Florida!

Are you vacationing or do you have a kitchen/grill to cook it yourself?

If you can cook it, Jimmy P's sells a Wagyu (kobe?) strip #7 or #8 that will make you drop to your knees and praise the person who first thought of putting fire to a piece of raw cow. $60+/- per lb, but well worth it if you want the best.

I have heard that the chef from Sea Salt buys his specialty strip from there, but can't promise. It would be worth checking into if you don't have access to a kitchen.

I had a fantastic porterhouse for 2 at the Strip House around Christmas 09, but the service the night I was there was so god-awful that I have not yet returned.

Other than that I don't order beef too often when I go out, because I would rather save my money for the Jimmy P's at home. I now compare all beef to his and usually end up disappointed.

May 11, 2010
sparkalina in Florida

Need the BEST Mexican Restaurant in Naples Fl???

I have been there a few times (El Rincon). I always have tacos al pastor and they are good. Plenty of chips and good salsa. Lunch specials are cheap ($6+/-) and you get 2 tacos, rice & beans.

Taqueria San Julian aso has a location on Bayshore Rd in Naples that is good. They have 5 or 6 tables for lunch and make their own salsas so you never know what kind they will have on the table.

My favorite is Tortelleria la Rancherita on Rattlesnake though. I just wish they had a few tables because I often over look it when going for lunch with a friend for that reason.

I am not a fan of LaBamba, though.

May 04, 2010
sparkalina in Florida

Barcelona and Madrid in May - please help narrow down my choices!

I have eaten at Mueso del vino in Madrid every visit (10+/- times) and it never dissapoints!
Get there early during the week because it is packed with businessmen. I follow 'suits and ties' around 2pm to find the best restaurants!

Also, there is a little place in the basement of the basque cultural center that is cheap good food. There is no menu, either eat or don't eat are your choices. t
This is not the expensive restaurant upstairs, just walk to the basement and ask for a table. A little intimidating the first time you go in there, but just do it!

Also, i like Finca de Susana. The chiparones ala plancha are REALLY good. I may have spelled that dish wrong.

Apr 11, 2010
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal

Best Fried Shrimp I've Had in a Long Time -- Pincher's Crab Shack in N. Fort Myers

I go to the Naples Pincher's at Tin City a lot. Try the crab cakes next time. They are some of the best I have ever had. The fries in Naples are really great, btw.

Jan 05, 2010
sparkalina in Florida

Your latest 'addiction'?

add some cilantro! a local grocer sells that combo.

I like it over chopped tomatoes and canned tuna.

Jun 18, 2009
sparkalina in General Topics

Should Some Restaurants Be Child-Free?

So...what to do when you are in a restaurant and the kid at the next table is

-peering over the booth
-kicking the back of your chair with their feet
-making screeching 'happy' noises that are music to the ears of the parents but make that hair on the back of my neck stand up?

The the manager, or tell the parent? IMO, neither get a very welcome response. The manager usually says something like, yes, it is a little loud but .... blah blah blah.
The parent usually ends up shouting at me.

Jun 17, 2009
sparkalina in Not About Food

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

smartfood white cheddar cheese popcorn (in the black bag) while drinking cherry 7-up.

Jun 17, 2009
sparkalina in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

salt on figs!

Jun 17, 2009
sparkalina in General Topics

Strange Pairings that Taste Uncommonly Good

add a squirt of lime juice! And I find tabasco to have an odd flavor, so I use Cholula, but same concept.

Jun 17, 2009
sparkalina in General Topics

Anything Good in Ft Myers OR Sanibel

I just went to Doc Ford's on Sanibel - it was good. I had the fish tacos with mango salsa. My husband declared his grouper sandwich to be the best he's ever eaten and in his 20+/- years in Naples he has eaten a lot of them. Food, service and atmosphere were all good at the sanibel location. I would go back if it weren't such a looooong drive from Naples!

Jun 17, 2009
sparkalina in Florida


Stay far, far away from Restaurant Zacharias. The gregarious owner (who will stand on the street and pull people in) has totally sold out to commercialism. He would rather you buy his cookbooks and DVD's than produce a quality meal. Out of (only) 4 tables at lunch, 3 sent food back. My veal was so tough I could not cut it.

Jun 15, 2009
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal

Naples off season, discounts?

i know...too bad. the food was good. It is very sad to see so many restaurants come and go. Or, in reality, just go. Not too many new places around.

On the oppisite side of the spectrum - it can still (JUNE????) be difficult to get a table at a decent hour at Trulucks. They are in like an 'economy bubble'. Unaffected.

Jun 15, 2009
sparkalina in Florida

Naples off season, discounts?

Oops one more I forgot. I had not seen it advertised anywhere but we went to Bice Restaurant on saturday and they have a 3 course for $29 ($19 if you are an early bird!)

I had salad with goat cheese, and penne ala vodka w/ lots of veggies in it, and gelato. It was really good.

And Gina's cafe on 7th has a "$20 off your total of $50 or more" coupon on their website...but as we were the only diners at 7:15 pm, we just had drinks and wound up at Bice. Last time I ate there it was great, but I don't like to be the only table in a restaurant.

Jun 12, 2009
sparkalina in Florida

Naples off season, discounts?


Altin's Cafe 2 dinners w/ salad & bread and a bottle of wine $29.95
Cafe Luna 2 dinners and a bottle of wine $29.95
Mangrove Cafe 2 dinners (choose from the whole menu) and a bottle of wine $25

Also, see it you can get your hands on a Wednesday (Neapolitan sect) or Friday (Showcase sect) edition of the naples daily news, because a lot of restos advertise their specials in it.

A LOT of places are offering 3 courses for $20-$25, and there are some BOGO coupons in the paper for the Dock restaurant, Fujiyama, the Clock, Bha! Bha!, Pate's, Anthony's, Panevino, ...many more that's all I have off the top of my head.

There are some "50% off the entire check" coupons too.

And...because it is Naples....I can't even begin to list how many early bird specials we have if you are in to that. If you like to eat at 5PM it is cheaper to go to a restaurant than to cook at home!

Jun 12, 2009
sparkalina in Florida

Garlic Scapes

In Spain they are called ajetes and are commonly found chopped scrambled with eggs and you can add green asparagus and/or shrimp. YUM!

Jun 12, 2009
sparkalina in General Topics

Cheap in Naples?

Lots of 5th ave restos have summer specials
Altins cafe - 2 dinners (soup or salad, entree and bread) and a bottle of wine for $29.95. We had salmon & filet mignon
Cafe Luna - 2 dinners and a bottle of wine $29.99 with bread, and $3.99 add on-apps. We had spaghetti & meatballs, and ravioli. Their marinara is eally fresh tasting!
The Dock - buy one get one free entree. Find a coupon in the local paper.

CHeck the Naples Daily News wednesdays and fridays for resto coupons. A lot of places are offering 3 courses for around $20-25 pp.

Also try for up to the minute specials for locally owned and operated places.

Jun 08, 2009
sparkalina in Florida

Newer Asian Delights in Naples, Fl

Dang! I went to Fuji on friday and was waffling between the thai and japanese and went for the sushi. It was really good, but red curry is my fav! Oh well - next time. I like red curry best at Thai Basil.

I have not been to IM Tapas yet, but went to Cafe Barcelona last week. My husband (who has never been to spain) and I had the Pa amb tumaca, Pinchos morunos (they do lamb instead of the traditional pork) grilled scallops with roasted red pepper sauce, Mushrooms ajillo and galacian style clams. Pardon any bad spelling.

all was good except the clams which were so small inside a normal sized shell that they practically disintegrated when we attemted to get them out. They would have been better off telling us they were out of clams than to serve that quality. To make up for it, they graciously took 1 dollar off the bill and we said that was not acceptable, so they took the whole amount off. The lamb, bread and the scallops werre REALLY good, the rest just OK. It was 7:15 on a wednesday night and other than 1 couple that was finishing up, we were the only people there (which I hate) and it was really hot and stuffy - like no A/C. I can't see going back there but am anxious to try IM Tapas after reading your reviews.

I have been to spain 12 times but that was my first visit to a tapas resto in the US. I think I am afraid of being dissappointed.

Jun 08, 2009
sparkalina in Florida

Newer Asian Delights in Naples, Fl

Looking forward to the Blue Fish blog report. (And living in naples I enjoy your website!)

Jun 05, 2009
sparkalina in Florida

Madrid--Roast Suckling Pig

Try the Museo del Vino on c/ Cruz 14. Just ate there last week. FANTASTIC. The skin was so crunchy when I cut into it it was like breaking glass! I had the Sopa de MAriscos for a starter (awesome) and my dad had the Langostinos (chilled with a creamy rose sauce) delicious and only 19 Euros each.

May 26, 2009
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal

Madrid cooking class / markets / foodie things to do

The Mercado de la paz was the only one that is authentic - but when I was there only about half of the stalls were open. We bought some cherries, figs, and seed packets (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant) to take home- don't tell! Then we had a cafe cortado at a stall with a really nice lady.

Mercado se San Miguel was a total disappointment!!!!! I was there 'back in the day' but after the remodel - it is totally renovated and modern and not at ALL like a "REAL" Mercado that you are thinking of. Only 1 place for fruit, 1 for bread...etc. Good for pictures, though but go to La PAz for atmosphere!

May 26, 2009
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal

Cooking Class - San Sebastian or Madrid

I just got back and did not get the opportunity to try any. There was a brochure in my hotel in SanSe and as soon as I unpack and organize my stuff I will try to find it. I could point out the corner it is on...but don't know the name right now. Will get back to you on this!

May 26, 2009
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal

Trying to pack - need suggestions on attire

My dad usually wears slacks, dress shirt, and brings a sport coat. Do not be afraid of color as the spanish are very stylish and hip! Think orange and white striped shirt, with orange polka dot tie. All very neat, pressed, high end but somehow they pull off color combos that I would never put together.

As for women, look at Zara or El Corte Ingles website for inspiration. No white tennis shoes, but trendy sporty sneakers would be OK for day. Jeans are ok as long as the top half is business casual.

Spanish women are so stylish and beautiful that I always feel like a frump when I am there no matter what I pack!

May 01, 2009
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal

FINALLY going to Spain- need a list of must eats

Oh - the melon that looks like a green football w/ white flesh. Wow is that one good. And the giant grapes! Don't forget you can buy a cheap knife at a hardward store as soon as you get into town if you don't want to pack one. Leave it in the hotel room when you leave - it will get put to good use.

Apr 30, 2009
sparkalina in Spain/Portugal