Sunday, September 27, 2015

Florida Grown Cherries & More

West Palm Beach, Fla.--"The Connoisseur Garden Tour," by Mounts Botanical Garden is a great way to find new fruit. Several private owners across Palm Beach County opened their gardens to the public for a Mother's Day weekend tour. The cost is $25 per person for a two days exploration and some nibbling from gardens with edible fruit trees and plants.

Florida grown Strawberry Tree berry, Cummings Garden, West Palm Beach
Fla., Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
One such garden was The Cummings Garden owned by Michael Cummings and Lisa Goss. The land was purchased in 1987 but work on its present form didn't start until 1997 when Cummings got together with Goss.

Florida grown Grumichama Cherry, Cummings Garden, West
Palm Beach, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
The standouts of edible fruit at this garden were the different varieties of cherries and berries. The most interesting was the Grumichama Cherry (a.k.a. Brazil Cherry). "It is the closest to the Bing cherry, " said Goss, handing me a small, slightly soft, dark purple skinned fruit. It was very juicy with slight cherry flavor followed by a spruce needle aftertaste.

Florida grown Barbados Cherry, Cummings Garden, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
Another delicious cherry was the Barbados cherry, which was growing in a bush on the side of the house. It tasted similar to a rose hip with a touch of salt but the flesh was juicier than a rose hip.

There was also a remarkable fruit tree named a Strawberry Tree (pictured at the top of the article). It had bright red cherry-like fruit that tasted faintly like cotton candy.

There were many more plants and gardens on the tour. To find out about the 2016 Connoisseur Garden Tour go to Mounts website.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Soursop (Guanabana), Excalibur Fruit Trees, Lake Worth, Fla.

Lake Worth, Fla.—Soursop (Guanabana) fruit grows in south Florida and tastes delicious. This tropical fruit, with origins in northern South America and the West Indies, tastes like a sweet and sour fruit salad. And Excalibur Fruit Trees in Lake Worth sells Florida grown soursop from their tree.

Florida grown Soursop (Guanabana), Excalibur Fruit Trees, Lake Worth, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
This past June, I visited Excalibur for a tour and came across a bin of fresh soursop selling for $5/pound. Earlier in the year, I saw and imported version of this fruit selling for $9/pound at Robert Is Here Inc.'s fruit stand in Homestead, Fla.

It is a highly sought after fruit for both culinary and medicinal reasons. 

I have eaten frozen, preserved, and lightly pasteurized styles of soursop but never fresh. I thought it was tasty but I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

Soursop (Guanabana) in baskets for $5/lb. at Excalibur
Fruit Trees, Lake Worth, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
So, I bought a slightly soft, green, prickly skinned, two-pound fruit to take home. The flesh inside was pure white in color, dense in texture and juicy. There were also a few hard, black, shiny inedible seeds.

And then came the taste…wow. My taste buds screamed in delight as the floral tart flavor was followed by an almost honey like sweetness.

It was the most balanced sweet and sour fruit I had ever tasted. In that moment I realized why my friends from the islands would go to any length to get fresh soursop.

I went back to the stand and bought more for my friends and myself. 

Unfortunately, the 2015 season is now over so I'll have to wait until next June to get more soursop at Excalibur’s.

Excalibur Fruit Trees nursery has a fruit stand that is open Monday to Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. They sell fruit picked from their trees, mostly by the pound. They do not accept credit cards for payment so bring lots of cash or a check.

You can also purchase a soursop tree from Excalibur to grow your own fruit. 

But beware, this is a tropical fruit tree and very sensitive to the cold. Excalibur's staff is very helpful and knowledgeable and will help you with growing instructions.

They are located at 5200 Fearnley, Rd., Lake Worth, FL 33467
Phone (561) 969-6988

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Cold Mocha Cocktail, Crush Wine Bar, Stuart, Fla.

Stuart, Fla.,--If you've never had an iced, hard, mocha then you are missing out. Bartender Patrick Trischitli at Crush Wine Bar in Stuart, Florida, makes a delicious iced, hard mocha.

Iced, hard, mocha cocktail made with Florida ingredients and more, Crush
Wine Bar, Stuart, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by Helen A Lockey
This past January, I got to try one while attending a joint event between Castronovo Chocolate Factory and Crush Wine Bar that featured the single origin chocolates paired with wine.

The mocha came at the end of the wine & chocolate tasting event. It included local mint, strawberries and Castronovo chocolate, along with Borghetti Caffe Espresso Liqueur and Bittermens-Xocolatl Mole Bitters.

"I do old style cocktails with a new style twist," said Trischitle.  It took five different tries to get the recipe right for this cocktail. "I make everything from scratch," added Trischitli with a smile.

Crush Wine Bar is closed Sunday and Monday. Tuesday to Saturday they are open from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m.

They serve wine, beer, cocktails and some food. And they have very club feel later into the evening hours.

They are located at 100 South Dixie Highway, Stuart, FL 34994
Phone (772) 600-5836

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Naples Beach Brewery, LLC, Naples, Fla.

Naples Beach Brewery makes very drinkable beers. Owned by Chicago native Will Lawsen, the brewery has been open for three years. It is not located on the beach but instead in an industrial area near the airport.

Naples Beach Brewery LLC, delicious micro-brewery on west coast of Florida,
Naples, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by R.T James
We got there the first night the new tasting was open to the public. To get a nine, four ounce glass beer flight we had to pay $15 dollars for nine tickets.

In 2007, Lawson, who had a degree in Turf Management Practices, enrolled fulltime in a brewing curriculum at Siebel Institute of Chicago. His Diploma course was taught in both Chicago and Munich. After he graduated he worked in a brewery in Ann Arbor before moving to Naples in 2011 with the goal of opening his own brewery.

I am a stout and porter drinker and do not often drink anything above 30 IBU (International Bitterness Scale, a measurement system for bitterness of beer going from low numbers to high) but at Naples Beach Brewery I tried higher IBU beers and liked them.

Owner/brewer Will Lawsen of Naples Beach Brewery LLC
Naples, Fla.
Copyright 2015 by R.T. James
I complimented Lawsen on his high IBU beers being drinkable. Lawsen said he didn’t believe that high IBU beers should be bitter. He believes in mellow beers.

I tasted Naples Classic—Golden Ale (5.2% ABV, 26 IBU), Farmhouse Ale—2 Belgian yeast (5.5% ABV), Paddleboard Pale (5.2% ABV, 35 IBU), Latitude Adjustment (7.2% ABV, 70 IBU) Triple C—Coconut Coffee Cream Stout (5.8% ABV, 28 IBU), Line Dropper-Fruit beer with mango & ginger (9% ABV, 24 IBU), Imperial Pub Ale—English IPA (8% ABV, 55 IBU), and Short & Skirty—Scotch Ale (6.8% ABV, 24 IBU).

The Naples Beach Brewery is open a very limited amount of days for a limited amount of hours, while they are under construction. Call for hours.

There was no food truck when we went but they did say we could purchase food from local restaurants and get it delivered.

4110 Enterprise Ave, Naples, FL 34104

Phone 239-304-8795