Sunday, December 27, 2015

Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate

Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate makes delicious, sustainable, exotic flavored chocolate. This socially and environmentally responsible company, owned by Santiago Peralta and Carla Barboto, buys only certified organic beans directly from small-scale Ecuadorian cacao growers that have been raising their trees for hundreds of years.

Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate, 19th Americas Food And Beverage Show,
Miami Convention Center, Miami, Fal
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
They were the first company, starting in 2002, to craft single-origin organic chocolate made entirely in Ecuador. I interviewed them at this year’s 19th Americas Food And Beverage Show in Miami Beach, Fla.

Pacari, a Quechua word for “Nature,” pays farmers premium, over market, prices for their cacao beans so they can continue to grow their crop using environmentally friendly sustainable methods such as biodynamic practices.

The result is rich, delicious chocolate made with unique ingredients like this year’s standout bar made with Andean Lemon Verbena creating a spicy, lemony tasting bar. I also enjoyed the gorgeous rose scented chocolate bar made with Andean Rose Geranium.

You can find Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Chocolate at Trader Joe stores at the Fairchild Botanic Tropical Garden’s Gift Shop in Coral Gables, Fla.

Or you can go directly to Pacari’s website and learn more about them like their raw bars and spirulina bars. You can also learn more about their biodynamic practices.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Delicious Edible Bugs, Hotlix® Inc.

Bugs are delicious to eat. They are full of protein and fats and are tasty alternatives to empty nutrient snack foods. If you’ve thought about tasting some then a good place to start is with some from California based Hotlix® Inc.

Edible bugs for dinner?
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey

I bought some a few years ago at the South Florida Fair. This year I bought flavored Larvets in BBQ flavor and Crick-ettes in Salt N’ Vinegar flavor.

The larvets were crunchy with a mild BBQ popcorn flavor. I have not tried the crickets yet but from past experiences of eating chocolate covered crickets I’m sure these salt n’ vinegar ones will be just as good.

You can buy these bugs and others online at Hotlix® Inc.  or at many novelty events and stores around the country.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Blanc De Fleur, Sparkling Florida Wine, San Sebastian Winery

St. Augustine, Fla.—San Sebastian Winery is making sparkling wine. But what sets their sparkling wine—Blanc de Fleur—apart from the competitor is that it is a Florida, made-by-hand muscadine sparkling wine created using methode champenoise. This means the tiny bubbles occur naturally after two in-bottle fermentations.

Blanc De Fleur, Florida sparkling wine, San sebastian Winery,
St. Augustine, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey

I recently got to try Blanc De Fleur at a San Sebastian Winery cocktail hour put on for loyalty customers and the Press.

Bland De Fleur is an award winning wine. It has taken home two gold metals and two silver metals this year.

The reason for these awards is most likely because of the complexity of flavors created by winemaker Jeanne Burges, who has honed her craft, over the past 26 years, in the art of delicious wine making.

Blanc De Fleur has a light, slightly sweet, drinkable, delicate bubbly style with distinct muscadine fruitiness. It would go very well with duck or on its own for a toast.

If you want to get your bottle of this high anti-oxidant (muscadine grapes have higher anti-oxidants than other wine grapes) sparkling wine then go to

Or visit them at 157 King Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084,

Phone 1-888-352-9463

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Spent Mash Cookies, Brew Five Points, Jacksonville, Fla.

Jacksonville, Fla.--Intuition Ale Works gives their spent mash to a coffee house instead of a farm. The coffee house in question is known as Brew Five Point. Owned by Jack Twachtman and Jason Fisher this fusion spot which is both a craft beer and coffee bar is located in trendy, Historic Five Points community of Jacksonville.

Brew Five Points' Oatmeal cookie made with Intuition Ale Works spent
mash, Brew Five Points, Jacksonville, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey

I went in for a glass of brew and ordered a porter. Then I realized after two sips this beast of deliciousness was going to knock me over if I didn't have something to eat. I asked the barkeep what they had for sale and he directed me to the cookie made with Intuition Ale Works spent mash for $2.25.

It was delicious and went very well with my beer.

If you want to try one of these cookies you can find them at 1024 Park Street, Jacksonville, 32204 Phone: (904)374-5789

Brew Five Points is open most days at 7:30 a.m. except on Sat and Sun when they open the doors at 9 a.m. Closing times vary depending on the day so check with them about their hours.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Ft. Myers Brewing Company, Ft. Myers, Fla.

Ft. Myers, Fla.—Ft. Myers Brewing Company knows how to make tasty beers. They are located about an hours drive south of Tampa, on the West coast of Florida. And in keeping with the sustainable model of all breweries in Florida, they give their spent mash to a local farm, Circle C Farm, for an animal feeding treat.

A $6 flight from Ft. Myers Brewing Company, Ft. Myers, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
Also in keeping with many breweries in Florida their tasting room and brewery is located in an industrial park located in the gateway area of Ft. Myers near RSW airport. The entrance doors look out onto a parking lot and grassy field.

I visited them back in August just as they were remodeling their tasting room.

I ordered a flight of beers, for $6, served in plastic cups. The styles I got were Saison (6.9 ABV), Tamiami Tan (5.8 ABV), Hefeweizen (5.7 ABV), and City Of Palms Pils (4.2 ABV).

Before I review the beers, I have to mention that what is mildly bitter to most people is very bitter to me.

The saison, a Belgian Farmhouse ale, had a sweet caramelized hop flavor that gradually transformed to sour and finished bitter.

The Tamiami Tan, a brown ale, had an interesting smell that reminded me the delicious aroma of sweet, black sticky rice. The scent also had hints of caramelized hops. The flavor matched the smell except it ended with bitter bite.

The Hefeweizen, a wheat style ale, was a lighter beer than the Tan but still had some great flavors of toasted coconut and floral hop.

The City of Palms Pils was the lightest of my pick. It started out slightly sweet and ended slightly bitter but overall was the best refresher for the heat of the day.

Ft. Myers Brewing Company tasting board in August 2015,
Ft. Myers, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
I plan to go back to this brewery next time I am in town and try some more beers.

If you want to try some Ft.Myers Brewing Company beers then you’ll have to visit them at: 12811 Commerce Lakes Dr. #28, Fort Myers, FL 33913

Phone (230) 313-6576

Note: They are a dog friendly brewery.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hyppo Beer Pop, Intuition Ale Works, Jacksonville, Fla.

Jacksonville, Fla.--Every consider dipping your frozen pop into a glass of beer. It makes a delicious dessert. At Intuition Ale Works they've taken the idea one step further by including their beer in a pop.

Intuition Ale Works And Hyppo beer pop collaboration, Jacksonville, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
Intuition sells The Hyppo Artisan Ice Pops (A St. Augustine based company that locally sources ingredients) that have combination of local fruit and their beer.

The idea costs you $4 for a frozen pop and a free, taster glass of the same beer in the pop if it's available on tap.

I bought the Pear Honey Badger ice pop and got a taster glass of Honey Badger Imperial, Belgian-style saison made with local honey.

Micro-brew dipping glass for Hyppo Beer ice pop,
Intuition Ale Works, Jacksonville, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
I unwrapped my pop, dipped it into the freshly poured glass of micro-brew, and slid the dripping dessert into my mouth with a slurp. Mmm, the combination of flavors and textures was delicious, incredible and amazing.

If you want to get in on this action then you'll need to get your body to Intuition Ale Works at 720 King Street, Jacksonville, FL 32204 Phone (904) 683-7720

They're open five days a week and closed on Sunday and Monday.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Red Roc Cravings Food Truck, Cape Coral, Fla.

Cape Coral, Fla.--Red Roc Cravings food truck uses locally sourced ingredients as much as possible. Owner Chef Hector Cordero, Ft. Lauderdale Arts Institute trained, has two restaurants in Toledo, Ohio and one Tex-Mex style food truck in Cape Coral where he says he is semi-retired.

Red Roc Cravings' Chef Mexi burger with cilantro and salsa, Cape Coral, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
I got introduced to Chef Cordero's food outside of the Ft. Myers Brewing Company. He told me he sources from Cape Coral farmers Market in the growing season and believes strongly in using as many local ingredients as possible.

The meat was hand shaped, according to Cordero, and deliciously juicy. It was topped with a runny-in-the-center fried egg, house made ketchup, fresh cilantro, onion, fiery salsa and creamy shredded cheese.

Red Roc Cravings Food Truck, Ft. Myers, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
It beautifully accompanied the Ft. Myers Brewing Company beer flight I was drinking.

To find out more about Red Roc Cravings food truck you can go to their FaceBook Page
or call (419)705-9927 to find out where they'll be next.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Delicious Slurps, 19th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.

Miami Beach, Fla.--Delicious drinks were everywhere at this year's Americas Food & Beverage Show. One standout, crafted by Felipe Villanueva, Executive Chef at El Gran Inka Restaurant, took a different spin on a Peruvian Pisco Sour cocktail.

Passionfruit blended pisco sour cocktail by chef Felipe Villanueva, El Gran
Inka Restaurant, 19th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
Traditionally this cocktail is made with pisco (Peruvian grape brandy), lime juice, angostura bitters, simple syrup and whipped pasteurized egg whites.

Glasses of passion fruit and chicha pisco sour cocktails,
created by chef Felipe Villanueva, El Gran Inka Restaurant,
19th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
Chef Villanueva created a passion fruit pisco sour and a chicha pisco sour (made with Peruvian purple corn).

My favorite cocktail by chef Villanueva was the Passion Fruit Pisco sour as it was beautifully tart, sweet, creamy, clean and refreshing. I had trouble just stopping at one glass.

I look forward to trying more creations from this chef at El Gran Inka Restaurant in Key Biscayne, Fla.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Moondance Michelada Mix, Mexican Beer Cocktail

You don't have to travel to Mexico for a Michelada beer cocktail. Instead, you can order a delicious, savory bottled mix, from Moondance Michelada Mix, to add to your beer. This Washington, D.C. based company was at the 19th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Fla. Owned by Laurie Pedersen (CEO), April Pedersen (Chief Marketing Officer), and Margo Gahagan (Sales Associate), came up with the idea after many trips to Mexico.

Moondance Michelada Mix, 19th Americas Food & Beverage Show, Miami, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
"We've been sitting on this idea for years and this year we decided to make it a reality," said April Pedersen.

According to April, this beer cocktail it is sort of like a Bloody Mary but better. "I'm not even a beer drinker and I love this," said April.

Moondance Michelada Mix combines tasty spices like chili pepper and Worcestershire sauce with lime juice into a liquid that can be added to your favorite beer.

Michelada is the official beer cocktail of the Mexican holiday--Day of The Dead (Dias de Muertos), which is usually celebrated between November 1 and 2.

Margo Gahagan and Laurie Pedersen owners of
Moondance Michelada Mix, 19th Americas Food & Beverage
Show, Miami, Fla. Copyright 2015 by Helen A. Lockey
During the Americas Food & Beverage Show, both Laurie Pedersen and Margo Gahagan showed their dedication to their product by wearing black dresses and Day of the Dead face paint. "This is the perfect advertisement because everyone wants to take selfies with them," said April with a broad smile.

As far April Pedersen knows they are the first company selling a Michelada mix in the United States. The reception at the Americas show was good with several South Florida restaurants showed interest.

If you don't want to wait for your favorite restaurant to get this mix, you can go directly to Moondance Michelada Mix's website and order your own bottle. They are also selling savory salt to put on the rim of the Michelada glass.

Or you can contact Laurie Pedersen directly at (559) 666-4585, or email her at

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Norman Van Aken, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, Orlando

Orlando, Fla.--Chef Norman Van Aken won this year's Torch Award. He is known as the founding father of New World Cuisine that celebrates Latin, Caribbean, African, Asian and American Flavors. He has also been honored as one of the, "Founders of New American Cuisine," alongside Alice Waters.
Chef Norman Van Aken receiving inaugural Torch Award, Florida Restaurant
and Lodging Show 2015, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
In 2015, he participated in EXPO Milan's World Fair, where he represented Florida in an event titled, "American Food 2.0, United to Feed the Planet."

At the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show, he recieved the first Torch Award. It was created to recognize a group of individuals or just one individual whose achievements have enhanced the restaurant and food service industry. 

He is also the only Floridian inducted into the James Beard Foundation's list of "Who's Who in American Food and Beverage."

The first time Aken read the James Beard book he said, "It was like coming into a cave that was illuminated," smiling he added, "The cave was my brain."

Chef James Beard, born in 1903, was the one of America's first foodies. He got passion for food and using local ingredients came from both his mother and summer trips to Oregon where his family would catch and gather ingredients for their meals. 

Aken's passion for food comes across with in the following sentence. "You are dealing with a living thing when you're working with food," he said.

You can taste Aken's food at his restaurant titled Norman's located in the Ritz Carlton, Orlando, Grande Lakes, Fla. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Wine, Fla. Rest. & Lodging Show, Orlando, Updated

Orlando, Fla.--Florida wines are liked by chefs. The standouts, at this year's Florida Restaurant And Lodging Show, were from San Sebastian Winery and Lakeridge Vineyard.  These sister wineries, run under the umbrella of the parent company Seavin, Inc., have been making wine in Florida for 32 years.

Lakeridge Vineyard & San Sebastian Winery staff, Florida Restaurant &
Lodging Show, Orlando, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
"People are really surprised we are local and they are surprised how well the wines go with food," said Cassidie Corwin, Public Reactions/Loyalty Manager for both companies.

There was a surprisingly good response to the sweeter Florida grown muscadine grape wines. According to Corwin more people drink sweet wine.

Show favorite San Sebastian Port Ruby made with muscadine
grapes and aged in oak six months, Florida Restaurant &
Lodging Show, Orlando, Fla. Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey

The most popular wines at the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show were the Lakeridge Southern Red, a flavorful muscadine table wine, and the San Sebastian Port Ruby, a complex, rich port made with 100 percent muscadine grapes and aged in oak for six months.

Chefs, who visited the booth, were excited about working with the wines to make reductions and other things according to Corwin.

"The whole craft beer and spirits industry has helped us. We've been doing this for over 30 years," said Mark Shapiro, Director Wholesale Operations.

To taste and buy these wines for yourself, you can visit both companies for tours and tastings.

Lakeridge Winery & Vineyard is located at 19239 U.S. 27 North, Clermont, FL 34715
Phone: 1-800-768-WINE

San Sebastian Winery is located at 157 King Street, St. Augustine, FL 32084
Phone: 1-888-352-9463 OR 904-826-1594

You can also buy these wines at Total Wines & More stores.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Hillbilly Apple Butter, Sebastian, Fla.

Sebastian, Fla.—Homemade, old timey, apple butter tastes the best. It is especially good if the apples are just a week old and the Buttering (slow cooking process that includes spicing and sweetening) is done in a copper kettle. This is the way Carl and Nellie Treadway make their apple butter.

Hillbilly Apple Butter making, at Treadway Family homestead, Sebastian, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
For the past three years or so, according to Florida born Nellie, they have been driving to Virginia to buy apples from a local farmer. “If we bought the apples here it would be too expensive to sell,” said Nellie about her apple butter.

They bought 40 bushels of apples this year to make sure they had enough to meet demand and to adjust for spoilage. A family friend helped with the peeling and coring of the apples. “We was two days peeling them apples,” said West Virginia born Carl.

Canning hot apple butter, Treadway Family Homestead,
Sebastian, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
The next day they invited friends and acquaintances over for a day of cooking and canning. “It took eight hours and a half for the boiling process,” said Carl. And it took several more hours to get the hot, aromatic, applesauce like mixture into sterilized glass jars.

They don’t make a lot of money selling their products, actually they make just enough to go back to Virginia each year for more apples.

So why do they do it, you may ask?

Nellie and Carl Treadway, Treadway Family homestead, Sebastian, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
They do it to preserve culinary history. “There is so much of that stuff that has been forgotten," said Nellie about her apple butter cooking.

You can buy their Hillbilly Apple Butter for $6 a pint at LaPorte Farms' Build A Scarecrow day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 11th. They are located at 7700 129th St., Sebastian, FL.

Or you can call the Treadway’s directly at (772) 589-4922