Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Palm Beach Florida Eats- The Dune Deck Cafe

Just returned from a trip down to Palm Beach County in South Florida. Holy moley, it was freakin’ hot there!!! What was I thinking??? Who in the world travels to Florida in the middle of the summer?? My sister, Linda, my sister-in-law Marlene and I - that’s who. How could we say no to the trip? All three of us had the time, we had the use of a nice house with its own private pool, and doggone it – we lucked into some pretty darn good sale prices on Southwest. We couldn't resist. Goodbye BWI, hello PBI!

First up – Dune Deck Café in Lantana. Right on the ocean with all of the requisite amenities you would expect at a beach front venue: casual atmosphere, palm trees, beach views, lots of seafood, and a cool breeze (oh, we visualized the breeze wafting over us from the ocean – but in reality, the breezes were courtesy of the very plentiful fans positioned strategically around the dining area).

The Dune Deck is a hoppin’ breakfast spot – they have great traditional morning fare like eggs benedict, French toast , blueberry pancakes, and a very tasty homemade yogurt and fresh fruit platter.

But today, it was to be our lunch stop after collecting Marlene at the airport. Having just arrived from New England where she had endured two months of wet, soggy weather - she was anxious for some salty sea air. The Dune Deck obliged.

Hmmm, decisions, decisions…Virtuous or indulgent??? Souvlaki or gazpacho? Fries or fuit? Hard to believe, but surprisingly, virtuous actually won this time. Poor old Virtuous hasn’t made many appearances in the victory circle for awhile. However, since I was eating with my sis who just lost 20 pounds on weight watchers, I decided to suck it up and have a more delicate dining experience. A side note – did you know that if you stick to Weight Watchers it actually works? It’s true. Linda stuck with the plan and looks amazing. I, however, am weak. I “think” about WW a lot. And I think I was actually following the guidelines for a couple of days. But then I strayed. I was more of a Fake Watcher than a Weight Watcher. Which possibly explains how I have been on the plan for 3 months and gained 5 pounds. Stupid, flawed program.

Anyway, back to the Dune Deck and my virtuous selection. Oh snap!! I was rewarded with some pretty darn good eatin’. A huge platter of mixed greens topped with gently poached and lightly marinated seafood (calamari, scallops, shrimp & mussels). Mmmm…I could taste the wine in which the succulent little crustaceans and bivalves were bathed.

Plus, there was plenty to eat. You know how sometimes you go out and the salad looks HUGE but it turns out it’s pretty much all lettuce and the actual seafood part of the salad is meager? Not this time. Lots of shrimp and mussels and scallops. And there was more squid than I could possibly swallow. The soft and sweet ring part and the purplish tentacle part, too. (I know there was a lot of the purple part because I happen not to like it at all and made a nice little pyramid of purple on the side of my plate. )

Marlene’s grilled mahi-mahi sandwich had 2 hefty filets - it really would have been enough for a dinner entrée on its own. It was so pretty – seared to showcase those beautiful grill marks we all love, and cooked just till done but still tender…

And my sis, the WW queen? Well, for some reason, she decided to eat her standard kasha with flax seed breakfast 30 minutes before we made it to lunch. Consequently the skinny thing wasn’t hungry . Instead of food – she had an adult beverage. I must say that although she now shuns fat, she has certainly embraced frou-frou drinks! Today was no exception and she was soon enjoying a sweet and frothy watermelon mojito. Light and refreshing and a perfect choice at this charming oceanfront café.

100 N Ocean Blvd
Lantana Beach, Florida. 33462
Tel: (561) 582-0472 Fax: (561) 582-8579


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dining Diva Dissed in Frederick News Post

Oh, the Dining Diva has been dissed!

In my very own local paper, the arts and entertainment editor wrote a column weakly defending the tepid, lukewarm restaurant write-ups she publishes each week. About halfway through the excuses, I saw a reference to yours truly. I was shocked! I, your very own Dining Diva, was chastised for my posting delinquency. Alas, I was portrayed as a blog slacker . Which of course, I am.

In the 30 minutes that have elapsed since I read her words, I have engaged in deep soul-searching and thoughtful meditation to determine why I have been so derelict in my blogging duties. Over time, the answer was carefully and slowly revealed. I am busy. Also, lazy. In addition, I had no idea anybody was actually reading what I wrote!

Anyway…now that I have been publicly hand-slapped, I feel compelled to post!

Where to start, where to start. I have eaten out far too many times in the past year. My waistline certainly provides ample (!) evidence of my pursuit of the next meal. Whether I’m served beautifully at amazing fine dining establishments, or I’m grabbing my food from the waiter/cook/chef/dishwasher at the counter – I’m always looking for the perfect bite. I’m less concerned with ambience and more tuned in to the ultimate reward - great flavor.

Anyway …just to get back into the blogging groove, I figure I’ll just mention a few of the newer places I’ve tried in the past few months.

The Dungeon at Dutch’s Daughter – What I loved – outdoor seating, attentive service, fresh salads and dressings, warm bread and honey butter, unlimited iced tea refills with a smile, beautiful carved bar, decent sized portions. What I didn’t love (OK, hated) – SMOKING!!! Why are smokers allowed to leave the bar area, congregate in the outdoor dining courtyard and pollute the air. Seems that the smoking area could be relegated away from our tables….I'm not a big fan of Dutch's Daughter in general. The food is ok, but kind of boring. So - the dungeon is actually a bright spot! Go figure...

Taco Michoacán – can you say yummy? What I loved – the charming woman who single-handedly cranks out all the food for the diners. All kinds of meat tacos served in double-stacked warm, soft corn tortillas. I particularly like the tacos al pastor (even though it’s not real pastor like in Mexico, cooked on a spit and served with pineapple). Nonetheless, the flavors are good. Also quite tasty are their tortas (which are sandwiches) and the decadent Pollo con crema. All dishes served with fresh lime wedges, salsa, and all the cilantro you care to request. …. What I didn’t like – it gets pretty hot in the eating area. They have a portable AC machine – but it definitely struggles to keep up. Oh well – makes me feel like I’m actually in Mexico. In the summer.….This small strip center restaurant is a little hard to find – it’s in that shopping center on the southside of 40 just before you get to the ALT-40 split. I think there’s a Burger King in the parking lot and a diner and an International Market. It’s at 1450 W Patrick St Frederick, MD 21702. (a note - the taco picture wasn't taken by me...but they look very similar to what I was served at taco micoachan - so I kind of, scraplifted it)

Dairy Delite – Yes, the one that’s been around forever out on 40. But now, in addition to a nice soft-serve, you can go in and get some tasty homemade pupusas! Tons of variety and made one by one. If you go, be prepared for a bit of a wait. But you can call ahead so that they are ready when you get there…

Volt – Wow. Phenomenal food and impeccable service. Haven’t been there enough times to thoroughly review. Just enough to know I want to go back!! Plus - the owner/chef, Bryan Voltaggio is one of the cheftestants on the upcoming season of Top Chef...Can't wait to see him and keeping fingers crossed that he makes it to the finale!