Cork and Bottle Shop on St. Armands Circle have decided to close, following the path of Longevity (which I never did think had a long life from the start) and a few more rumored to be emptying their refrigerator shelves by the end of the month. I was sad to see the Bottle Shop and Cork go. First, because they originally started with a culinary dream team: Mac DeCarl (Beach Bistro chef consultant) and Jeremy Hammond-Chambers (Innovative Dining owner, whom I consider to be Chef of the Year for catering).
While I never could quite figure out the layout and design of the building, the opening menus and management team built a strong following. Things change, people leave, and unfortunately, this last group just did not seem to have the years of experience to keep the standards of its founding fathers. I will miss the soufflés, so someone in Sarasota please let me know when you put a Grand Marnier or lemon soufflé on the menu—I’ll take two, please.
A new generation of grill masters.
We just came back from a wonderful family wedding in Providence, R.I. The weather was gorgeous (as was the bride and all the festivities), but I really spent time reflecting and eating my way through the thoughts of summer. Our weekend started with a family barbecue, something that is a tradition in my family. The newer generation took over the grill and did a masterful job of serving rib eyes with bleu cheese butter, along with my sister-in-law’s outstanding beet and orange salad and of course, grilled corn on the cob. We even snuck in a lunch at Legal Seafood of steamers, fried clams, chowder and lobster rolls. Then it hit me: Does Sarasota really have summertime cuisine? Sure, we have the buy-one-get-one entrée deals, but do we have the quintessential summertime foods that we former Northerners dream of?
Heck, we eat strawberry shortcake in March and juice our oranges through May. Okra is in now; but seriously, unless it is the dehydrated okra at Fresh Market that tastes like potato chips, I am not dreaming of okra picnics anytime soon. Or do I just have a case of culinary nostalgia?
Well, Georgia peaches are coming in, so maybe there is a good old peach pie coming (nah, not when it’s 92 degrees and humid). I’ll just keep dreaming for now.
Don’t forget this week starts Savor Sarasota. So many restaurants have special menus during this two-week period (some extend for the whole month) that offer multi-course lunches for $15 and dinners for $25. So, after you check out the delicious deals, enter the contest to be your own food critic: You vs. Food. More details on sarasotamagazine.com. Hmmm, should I beware of my own job? There are some budding critics ready to raise a fork. And maybe I will even make some new summertime culinary memories.