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Whole Enchilada – Best Fish Taco Ever

This is not an unsupported claim. It is not an outrageous assertion. The Whole Enchilada on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale makes THE best fish taco. period. This acclaim is not bestowed upon it for one reason but for a number of reasons. It is the combination of several things that make this fish taco so good. First, the fish is fresh and grilled or fried to perfection. My understanding is that the fish is fresh Mahi Mahi likely plucked from sea nearby. As a side note, this taco works almost as well with shrimp… but to start, go with the fish. Next, the Whole Enchilada uses one of the crispiest flakiest taco shells Ive ever had. Its not a taco bell shell. Its thick and crisp but also flakes perfectly with every bite. The fish is cooked in a cilantro sauce with which is fragrant and not overpowering. They add sliced cabbage, tomato, avocado crema, sliced avocado and topped with shredded cheese before handing this beauty over to you. But you’re not done yet..make your way over to the salsa bar and add mango salsa and a squeeze of fresh lime to the top of your taco and thank me later.

The place is very casual and one step above fast food. You order your food at the counter, have a seat and one of the friendly staff will bring it to you. There’s a tv in the dining room often playing an obscure oddball movie.  If you need the bathroom, its located outside.

Incidentally, this will be the quietest meal you’ll ever eat. Whenever I have eaten here with friends, its so good that no one talks. No one. Its all about the eatin… so go and check it out. Remember – get the crispy shell, it makes the meal.

4.5 Forks out of 5.

The Whole Enchilada, 4115 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale 33308 ( A new location is in the works on Federal just north of Broward Boulevard).

twefreshmex.com

The Whole Enchilada on Urbanspoon

Blue Moon Fish Company – Lauderdale by the Sea

It’s been a while my friends. Life has been busy and got off track. The blog was not merely a shiny a new toy I lost interest in, as I knew I’d come back to it. Ive been doing my homework…I just needed a small kick up my bum to make me sit down and start writing again – a rainy day was that kick.

About a month or so ago I jumped on a Groupon for Blue Moon Fish Company. I had eaten there several times – a brunch here and there, an office Christmas party to watch the Boat Parade but it had been a really long time since  I went just for dinner on a non-holiday themed night. I forgot a few things about Blue Moon – one, it has a really lovely menu from appetizers to the mains to the dessert. I liked everything I saw and it has something for everyone. Second, there are few nice places right on the intracoastal. Apart from Houston’s, there really isnt much else. Sometimes you need to just stop and smell the salt water – or er, roses.

With my mum in town, I decided to use the Groupon with her and we had a fantastic meal (and time) from start to finish. On this particular Tuesday night, the dining room and spacious waterside seating was pleasantly full and happening. It seems everyone who bought a Groupon couldn’t wait to turn their voucher in.

We started off with two (very strong) pomegranate martinis which our very attentive waiter suggested. I dont know if it had just been a while since I’d had a martini but they were very strong and turned us both into two giddy school girls. (But did I mention how strong they were?) One  would have been enough for me and one was definitely enough for my mother – so we ordered a second one of course.

We decided to forgo main plates in favor of sharing the impressive seafood tower and a delicious gooey Baked Brie appetizer served with fruit and crackers, with dessert to follow. Because we wanted the souffle (raspberry chocolate and Grand Marnier – why not get all 3?) we ordered it at the start of the meal otherwise you’re SOL – it takes 45 minutes to bake. The meal started with some soft warm bread and roasted garlic that spread like butter (what a slutty description). There was more bread than this in the basket – I just forgot to take the picture first…shocking.

The baked brie. Prosciutto wrapped brie with sundried tomato, walnuts, green apple relish and Jamaican Rum butter. I dont think much more needs to be said… great combination of flavors, very savory and easy to finish.

The seafood tower… lobster, oysters (we ordered extra), shrimp, clams, tuna tartare, ceviche… you get the drift. Fresh, light and delightful…it paved the way for our decadent dessert which was brought out five minutes after we finished the tower and well after our buzz was firmly under way…

I’m glad I bought the Groupon and could kick myself for not getting a second one. That will not prevent me from going back though as we thoroughly enjoyed this meal and I saw a few main fish plates that beg for my return.

3.5 Forks out of 5

Blue Moon Fish Company, Commercial Boulevard, Lauderdale by the Sea

http://www.bluemoonfishco.com/home.html

Blue Moon Fish Co. on Urbanspoon

Hot Hot Hot Chipoltle Marinade – panty dropping, baby inducing goodness.

I cant vouch for the baby inducing part just yet. Nor the panty dropping part…but trust me this marinade (or sauce) is so divine, so full of flavor and heat you’ll wonder where its been all your life. And its hot. Really hot.After I first tasted it, I had to temper it down with something sweet and while waiting for sensation to return to the bottom part of my face, I managed to find something that accomplished that. They say when pregnant women are close to their due date spicy food may speed up the process. Since everyone’s getting really anxious for Baby Max’s arrival, I’m going to pass thing sauce along to my friend who’s due any day now and see if we can get that little squatter out before she’s forced to start charging him rent.

I read about this marinade on a blog I follow. Chrissy Tegan is a model and happens to be the girlfriend of singer John Legend. (Dont judge me. You probably watch at least one show with a Kardashian in it.) Chrissy is rather pretty (see her in the recent Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue), very witty and home girl loves to eat. I mean, loves to eat – and I’m not talking about lettuce, but I’m talking about ribs, pork, noodles… the works. I dont know how she stays so skinny given her indulgent ways and if you want to see what I’m talking about check her out on http://www.sodelushious.com. Anyway, she has raved about this marinade a few times and posted it a few times. She sleeps, drinks and bathes in it (I’m paraphrasing). So I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about.

It lives up to its hype. It just does. Its so smokey and spicy and garlicy… and different in a great way. I tried it the night I made it by tossing it in a pan with shrimp over rice but you really need to let this sauce sit for a day or two. I would do what Chrissy instructed her readers to do – pour it over some chicken legs or thighs over night (not breasts…they’re so useless and tasteless for the most part) or maybe throw it over some pork in a slow cooker. That way, you’ll get the full impact of all of the flavors going on in this sauce. – the chipoltles, the garlic and citrus. They meld together so well and the fragrance fills your kitchen especially when its heated up and cooking.

I suggest you make a lot of it because you’ll want to freeze it and share it (like I did). Put some in little baggies and pop it out of the freezer when needed and into your meat or whatever you want to use. Make wings in this sauce for your next bbq or football party. Your guests will kiss your feet.

Ingredients: (and add whatever else you think will go nicely with this)

2 small cans of Goya Chipoltles in adobo sauce (they have it in Publix)

6- 8 garlic cloves

1 lime – juice and some pulp

2 rings of pineapple from a tin

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 teaspoons of ketchup

1 teaspoon of olive oil

A few pours of vodka or tequila

It couldn’t be easier – add the ingredients to a food processor and blend it all. Taste as you go along. As I said, it was so hot when I first tasted it that, after I finished crying, I added more brown sugar and ketchup. I still needed something else. In the end, I had a tin of pineapple in my cupboard – I added two pineapple rings and a touch of juice and that worked perfectly. I heated up the remaining pineapple rings in the left over sauce once I took the shrimp out of the pan and had that along with the shrimp and rice. I’m a big fan of sweet with savory and the grilled pineapple offset the heat of the dish.

If baby Max makes his appearance this week, I will attribute it to this sauce and suggest you deliver a warning whenever you serve it to a friend with child.

On a totally unrelated subject, this is what happens whenever I try and type anything. If shes not under my feet when I’m cooking it, she staring at me while I’m eating it, if she’s not staring at me, she’s laying all over me while writing about it… sigh. Nola.

;

Rendez-Vous Bakery – parles vous breakfast?

I dont know about you but breakfast is my most favorite meal of the day. In addition to the being the most important meal of the day,  its also the meal I love more than any other. Some would say I like them all and to them I say: shut it. I simply love breakfast….and not weekday, just before work type of breakfast where you eat a container of Greek yoghurt and a banana. That doesn’t count. I’m talking about the weekend breakfast… the one you eat around 10:00 a.m. after you’ve slept in an extra hour or two (or until 8:30 a.m. which is the extent of my sleeping in these days). Breakfast on the weekend is an event in and of itself. Where to go? There are so many choices. Who am I going with? What type of breakfast do I want… do I want to catch up with my girlfriends and discuss the events of the night or week before? Do I want to go with someone else who not only enjoys a good breakfast but also wants to  read the newspaper without the need for conversation? or who perhaps slept over the night before? Or do I just want to go alone before I set off to start a million errands that  day… decisions decisions.

I’ve lived in the northern eastern part of Broward County for about two years now. It took a little time to find my favorite breakfast spots. I had known about Egg n You, a diner on Federal Highway and 26th street for years  having gone there frequently with an ex before moving out this way. Its an old greasy spoon that’s been around since the 50’s. I’m not kidding when I say some of the waitresses (or wait staff? whats the pc name these days?) have worked there longer than I’ve been alive. As such, they could navigate the place with their eyes shut.  I like Egg  n You for its simplicity. They poach an egg really well, and since I like things cooked well done, they always deliver perfectly well done bacon and hash browns upon request.  Incidentally, they do a phenomenal BLT which is taken to whole new level when you ask for a fried egg on it (and then its called a BELT. Get it?). Its cheap and delicious and everything a diner should be.

I then discovered the wonder that is Cypress Nook. At the time I moved to the area, New Times had crowned the Nook (to those in the know) as the best place to eat breakfast in Broward County. And for a while I agreed. Its not that I dont agree anymore or that the quality has gone down, its still a fantastic place for breakfast, its just Ive discovered other places I like just as much. Cypress Nook is owned by a German woman named Elsie and shes present every time Ive eaten there, overseeing each  meal that leaves the kitchen. The Nook is set up in a little house off of McNab Road in Pompano Beach. Its cute and quaint and everyone dines in a small room where at times you feel like you’re literally eating on top of each other. Yet its never that suffocating. Elsie serves traditional breakfast as well as a lot of German fare (think German sausages). Her cooks also know how to make a perfect poached egg and her hash browns are to die for. The eggs benedict is among one of the best I’ve ever had and on occasion I’ll order one (yes a singular) banana pancake as a treat. There are real slices of banana in the pancake and its light and fluffy and one is more than enough. The Nook is as good  as breakfast gets.

A few minutes away from the Nook is Michael’s Cafe. Located off of Federal highway and cypress Creek Road (in some shopping center), Michael’s Cafe is a small cafe serving breakfast and lunch only. Its a French American cafe and on the weekends they have any number of specials on the blackboard behind the counter… Blue Crab Benedict, various omelets and fritatas. All served with a complimentary mimosa. They have standard breakfast specials as well but there are two things I love from Michael’s. One, their spinach omelet, with a mixture of spinach, tomato and sauteed onions. Its a large omelet and if you were inclined to share or take it home you’d be happy ordering this. The sauteed veggies in this omelet are to die for – Popeye would shed a tear. The other thing they do really well, and on the opposite end of the health spectrum is their “banana bread”. I put it in quotes because there’s nothing bread like about it. Its banana and chocolate and lets face it – its a cake. A delicious cake. Served warm with a scoop of whip cream on top… Oh my groceries (as my gym instructor likes to say) is it fabulous. Clearly, its more of a dessert and thus only to be ordered on very special occasions . I highly suggest you get you some one day.

So, given all these amazing options I have, you probably think there’s no room for a new breakkie place in my life. Au contraire mes aimes. For I have discovered  a new love – its French and hunky like my new favorite actor (Guillaume Cadet in “Last night” go watch and ladies I dare you not to fall in love with him and those dimples…) Ok so its not hunky but its French and fabuleux. Ive passed it countless times and after reading a glowing review, my friends and I set off to try Rendez Vous. Located on east Oakland Park Boulevard and15th Avenue  its a little cottage like building that serves as a restaurant and bakery. Open for only breakfast and lunch, 7 days a week, it closes around 3:00 p.m. While it had a decent lunch menu (think moules (mussels) and frites (fries. duh.), caprese salad, French Dip, Quiches to name a few), it is breakfast that shines here.

If you want just plain eggs and toast, go to a diner or Denny’s. If you want something more…then hit this place up. Upon opening the menu my eyes were immediately drawn to Eggs Forestiere – two poached eggs in a wild mushroom sauce. Creamy and full of sliced mushrooms this tastes like a creamy marsala. But better. Ask for your eggs poached well, unless you like them runny (ick).  This is served with fresh french bread. Our was served cold. Ask them to toast the bread and then dip it in your creamy bowl of heaven.

Also noteworthy are these dishes:

Quicke Aux Onions. Puffed pastry quiche with egg batter baked inside with onion marmalade and Swiss cheese. The crust was perfectly crusty and crunchy with a soft interior full of this delicious onion marmalade. We cut it before we took the photo… oops.

Crepes with fresh strawberries and Nutella. It has the magic word – Nutella aka the nectar of Gods. Nuff said. I would eat an old tire if it had Nutella on it. Dont even bother arguing with me on this for I will ignore you and delete your comments.

Spinach Pochette. A puff pastry filled with spinach, garlic and onions. The flakey outside was fantastic and despite the fact it was filled with spinach and we knew it was filled with spinach, all of the spinach was a bit overpowering. This dish is great but probably better shared. Oh and its served with a side of that delicious mushroom sauce.

Last but not least – the Eggs Benedict. It was just okay… I think the problem with it was their failure to toast the English muffin. Or maybe it just pales in comparison to some of the other standouts on the menu. I mean look at that plate…I feel sad for it.

Rendez Vous gets moderately packed for brunch on the weekends. The menu says they stop serving breakfast at 11:30 a.m. but you can still order it if you get there around noon…and ask nicely.  Also try their fresh squeezed OJ. Also one last little thing – a complaint – the service is a bit slow. We had to wait a loooong time for our server to bring the check on a few occasions. Anyway, on that note, Bon Appetit.

3.5  out of 5 forks

Rendez-Vous Bakery, 1576 E. Oakland Park Blvd., Oakland Park

http://rendezvousbakery.com/

Rendez-Vous French Bakery & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Egg & You on Urbanspoon

Cypress Nook Restaurant on Urbanspoon

oh baby…

Posted on

Despite the cloud of concern and uncertainty that hangs over my friends and I as our dear friend still fights for his life,  we’d been planning the baby shower of another dear friend for months and knew the show had to go on. Knowing that Jon would want us all to celebrate and that he’d have been there with us had fate not taking the turn that it did, we held the shower and enjoyed the day. More importantly, we enjoyed each other. With the shower falling on Cinco De Mayo, that all important American holiday, the shower had a festive colorful theme and as the baby’s name will be Max – it was deemed to be Cinco De Maxo. A collaborative effort of many, the shower, I’m pleased to say went off without a hitch.

Cousins Kitchens, a catering company here in Fort Lauderdale provided the appetizers and food. Thanks to Amber for finding them. From fish tacos, fresh ceviche, meatballs, to a taco and fajita bar with all the trimmings, shrimp tostones and corn masa… the entire meal was fresh, from scratch and delicious. Liza who owns the catering company was punctual, professional and so  pleasant to work with. Her prices are also very reasonable. Consider her for your next party… having her there meant we could all enjoy the party and not spend it in the kitchen preparing and cooking, away from guests.

Find them at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/CousinsKitchen

My lovely friend Pia, a fabulous baker, made several varieties of cupcakes for the dessert table including banana nutella, chocolate cayenne chili, margarita  and coconut almond cupcakes. She should open up her own bakery. We also ordered a variety of Brazilian empenadas from Casa de Pastel in Deerfield Beach – cheese, beef and chicken/cheese, as well as dulce de leche, banana and chocolate empenadas for the dessert table. A chocolate fountain with skewers of fruit (and pretzels and marshmallows)  completed the table which was colorful and sweet, if I say so myself.

The decorations were a blast to find and put together. The tables and decorations were my doing (frustrated party planner that I am) but  everyone helped to put the whole vision into place…even the baby daddy who returned later with all of the guys to polish off all the food and liquor, pitched in to help hanging the decorations. Hand painted margarita glasses (thanks Elena), a onesie stations (with too many inappropriate onesies), day of the dead fabric runners, and baby  games (thanks Sam) were just some of the fun touches… Our mom to be had a great time… we all did and it was much needed. The day was a total success… except for the  3 cell phones that ended up in the pool later on that night… sigh…

Life…

I apologise for not keeping up with the blog this week. Work and life often get in the way…but its not an excuse.  I  planned on catching up on some reviews and posts this weekend and just as life can deliver unexpected sweet surprises, life can also present  you with news that stops you in your track and makes you examine life,  love, friends, family, things that are important and things (and often people) who are not.

A friend from back home, a lovely sweet dear man was involved in a horrific accident this weekend. Hit as he crossed the street after a day of celebrating with good friends, the as yet uncaught perpetrator, left the scene in order to spare his own life, his own freedom, with no regard for the life he left behind. Our friend Jon, who I and most of my friends have known since childhood, is currently fighting for his life and if I may say so, doing a damn good job of it.

As I watched his family and friends spring into action upon hearing the news and show up to the hospital in minutes and hours Sunday morning, and as I saw the tremendous outpouring of love, support and well wishes from back home, overseas, I’m moved by how one person can mean so much to so many and how good people can be. As I look around at all these faces,  I know I will see all of these faces this weekend when we celebrate life another way  – with the arrival of a baby – the first baby in the group. And out of this tragedy, I can only see how wonderful life is.

Say a little prayer and think a positive thought for my friend Jon…blogs will return next week after we celebrate Michelle and Max, and Jon…

“Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards…therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and in our plate.”
Grimod de la Reynière (1758-1838)

East End Brasserie – a truffle delight.

Have I mentioned I love truffles and truffle oil? Ok well let me take the time to mention it now. Add a hint of truffle oil to potatoes, beef carppaccio or a piece of chocolate (not really) and I’m fairly certain angels start singing and my knees go weak. So on a recent visit to East End Brasserie located inside the Atlantic Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach (in the space that Trina once occupied), me and my weak knees enjoyed a lovely meal while angels sang all around us.
Unfortunately I don’t have any photos as it wasn’t appropriate to bust out my camera during this meal, and I don’t want to steal anyone else’s  photos (except the above photo which I knicked off their facebook page). This is just a quick note to tell you to go and keep it in mind when you’re looking for an intimate delightful meal near the ocean. If you’ve been to the Atlantic Hotel and have seen the restaurant space where Trina used to be, you’ll know its a long stretch of space that faces the beach. Floor to ceiling windows allow for a nice view of the beach. If you’re facing inside the restaurant, you’re looking into a warmly lit dining room with the open kitchen occupying the back wall. The sounds and smells of the busy kitchen are annoying and wont interfere with your experience, rather it adds to warmth to the environment. There are various tables and booths offering all sorts of views, but the main table is a long farmers table smack in the middle of the restaurant. Its so rustic and badass, I want a dinner party at that table for me and my friends – and soon. Its the type of table you envision having a phenomenal meal at for hours with multiple bottles of wine being passed around over terribly inappropriate conversations. On this weekend evening, the dining room was moderately packed and the farm table was empty until 10:00 p.m. or so when a large group came in. If you dont want to sit inside, you can sit outside of course.

The menu is a combination of French and American fare. The decor is rustic, stylish and French bistro-esqe with numerous mis-matched black and white prints of Fleur de Lis and can-can girls on the walls. You know you’re off to a good start when your server brings you a complimentary glass of champers to start. Our server Stephen was knowledgeable, friendly, attentive but not overly pushy throughout the meal. After expertly reciting the specials and offering his personal recommendations, he brought over a basket of warm bread and soft butter with herbs and truffle oil…an knees go weak.

The menu offers a variety of excellent appetizers – tuna tartare, oysters, chicken livers, escargot, French Onion Soup, and the one I tried – butternut squash wontons in a Parmesan herb broth that i suspect also had truffle oil in it. It was hard to tell because Stephen brought out an amuse bouche from the chef just before our appetizer consisting of a pan seared scallop with foie gras, spinach and a touch of herbs and truffle oi. The scallop was large, perfectly seared and paired expertly with the foie gras. It was the perfect foray into a fantastic meal.

For my main, I selected the mustard crusted fresh red snapper. I wouldnt normally order something with mustard in the title but Stephen recommended it. Normally I’d have had the moules frites (mussels – one of my favorite dishes) but I wasn’t in the mood to fiddle around with mussels tonight. Another time. The snapper was one of the best fish dishes Ive had. Perfectly coated and crusted in panko crumbs with a mustard base, the mustard was not overwhelming and perfectly offset the generous serving of snapper that flaked with a flick of my fork. It was served with a side of cannelloni beans and spinach flavored to perfection. My dining companion had a steak but I wasn’t interested in trying a bite of it once I tucked into my fish. In addition to a rib eye and the snapper, the menu also included two pasta dishes, a pork chip main with quail egg on top, lamb and salmon to name a few. Every night they offer a different special, on this night beef wellington was the special. It sounded divine but heavy for this particular night.

The desserts that came out of the kitchen looked beautiful but I passed on dessert opting for more champagne…a liquid dessert. It was a flawless meal, with flawless service. I really cant wait to go back again and hope you all keep it in mind next time you’re on the beach. If you just want drinks, there’s a lovely bar area where it appears expertly mixed martinis and cocktails are made for your drinking pleasure. Maybe you’ll hear an angel or two sing…..

4 (big) forks out of 5.

East End Brasserie, 601 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, Florida
eastendbrasserie.com

East End Brasserie (Atlantic Resort & Spa) on Urbanspoon

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