Saturday, August 29, 2015

Darwin Brewing Company And Craft Beers, Bradenton, Fla.

This three-year old microbrewery in Bradenton, Florida has adventurous beers. Located next to McKechnie Stadium, Darwin Brewing Company got its name from Darwin Santa Maria owner of the restaurant Darwin’s on 4th . Today however the brewing company is not affiliated with the now closed restaurant in Sarasota.

Beer Flight at with Lychee Madness in front
Darwin Brewing Company, Bradenton, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
The brewery has many beers with Andean-inspired seasonings. But the standout detail of this brewery is a female small-batch brewer called Leslie Shore.

I went in for a flight of beers, back in July, and found there was no set price. Instead, each beer’s price, at a lower glass size, was calculated and factored into a four-glass flight.

I ordered Circa 1926 Tangerine Wheat Ale (@ 5.2 % ABV), Charapa Spiced Porter (@ 7 % ABV), Hispster Alpaca Saison (@ 5.2 % ABV and crafted by Shore) and Lychee Madness Belgian Wheat (@6 % ABV and crafted by Shore).

All the beers came on a wooden board in the shape of a Peruvian bird. My favorite was the Charapa Spiced Porter made with Peruvian peppers, Florida orange blossom honey and Amazonian chocolate. It tasted like a delicious spicy dessert in a glass.

The other brews, while ambitious with ingredients like organic peaches, mint, basil and sorachi ace hops in the Hipster and local Florida lychees in the Lychee Madness, did not wow me in flavor. But my likings may not be the same as yours.

So if you are looking for a brewery with adventurous ingredient brews then Darwin Brewing Company beers are for you.

They are located at 803 17th Ave., West, Bradenton, FL 34205

Phone 941-747-1970

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Siwichi Peruvian Fusion Food Truck, Bradenton, Fla.

Siwichi Peruvian Fusion Food Truck serves delicious Peruvian food. Twenty one year old, Peruvian born, owner/Chef Diego Salazar, formerly of Miami, runs his Peruvian fusion food truck with a passion. His business, less than one year, is located at the front of Darwin Brewing Company near McKechnie Field, in Bradenton, Florida.

Siwichi S3 Burger, Siwichi Peruvian Fusion Food Truck, Bradenton
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
He serves ceviche two ways: the traditional way with chunks of fresh fish tossed in lime juice, and deep fried tempura batter coated way. He also has Peruvian favorites like Tigers Milk and Salchipapas (made with beef sausage, hot dogs and French fries).

Salazar worked at several Miami restaurants like Dr. Limon (in Kendal) and La Mar (in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel), where he learned about sourcing local ingredients, before moving to Sarasota to train under Chef Darwin Santa Maria at Darwin’s on 4th in Sarasota. One month after his arrival Darwin’s on 4th closed.

Salazar transitioned to cooking with Santa Maria for Darwin's Food Truck until Santa Maria left to go on a world culinary tour leaving Salazar deciding what he wanted to do with his life. He liked the idea of raising his family on the west coast and decided to stay and try and make a success of the food truck.

I met him when the food truck was still displaying Darwin's name but the menu bared the name Siwichi (Quechuan for ceviche).

I had his newest creation—Siwichi S3 Burger—made with a hand shaped beef patty, melted provolone cheese, strawberry rocoto aioli, quinoa avocado cream, tomato, lettuce and a S3 pineapple coconut bun. It came with a choice of regular or sweet potato fries. I chose the sweet potatoes. I also got two pieces of bacon added to this delicious creation.

The fries were addictively creamy, crunchy, sweet and salty all at the same time. They went beautifully with the moist, tasty burger. 

I found out the bun came from a local bakery called S3 Sugar Cubed that sources many of its ingredients locally.

If you are in the Bradenton area go and check out Siwichi Food Truck at 803 17th Ave. W, Bradenton, FL  34205
Phone: 786-759-5228

They are open from 4-10 p.m. on Wednesdays & Thursdays, 4-11 p.m. on Fridays, 1 - 11 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12-8 p.m. on Sundays.

If you are lucky you'll arrive on day when they are making food that pairs with the beer from the brewery.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Keel & Curley Winery, Refreshingly Light Blueberry Wine

There are few wines healthier than ones made from blueberries. Florida farmer Joe Keel, founder and owner of Keel & Curley Winery, has been making blueberry wine since 2003. His first 10-gallon experiment came out OK and so he kept trying until he got it right, according to the company webpage.

Florida dry-blueberry wine by Keel & Curley Winery, Plant City, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
 In May, of this year I travelled to their Plant City winery and 25-acre u-pick farm for a taste of their blueberry wine. It was raining by the time I got to the winery and so there were very few people outside in the u-pick fields or covered patio area.

Front Door of Keel & Curley Winery, Plant City, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
But inside Keel & Curley Winery’s massive tasting room and gift shop there were plenty of people to keep me company.

I bought a glass of their dry blueberry wine. It had a dark ruby red color. The description, on their website, said the wine was a full-bodied merlot style wine. But I found it to be more of a lightweight wine.

It was more akin to a light California sipping wine rather than a full bodied European style, meal-accompanying wine. But this was the perfect wine for the end of my steamy, hot, Florida driving day.

Muscadine grape vineyard and outside covered patio,
Keel & Curley Winery, Plant City, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
The company makes over 20,000 cases of wine a year of wine, and has expanded to include Florida blackberry wine along with grape & fruit blended wines.

They are located at: 5210 Thonotosassa Rd., Plant City, FL 33565
Phone: (813) 752-9100

They are open 7-days a week at varying time so check the website for more info:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Wild Edible Violets, N.C. Style

If you like the idea of foraging for your food then look for edible flowers. Wild violets are a great place to start. They are predominantly a springtime flower but can occasionally be found in the colder regions of the northern and southern hemispheres later in the year.

North Carolina wild violets,
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
Most violets grow well in moist soils with a bit of shade. This means you'll mostly find them just within a forest tree line or next to a forest tree line. But some grow in dry, poor quality soil with lots of sun.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service website, there are over 230 listings for violet. All are edible although some taste better than others.

I found some growing, on the side of a forest path, near Charlotte, North Carolina, back in April of this year. They were small in height with big, smooth, heart shaped green leaves and deep purple colored flowers.

They had a lovely, light greens flavor, with a touch of floral essence.