Sunday, June 17, 2012

Paris Bistrot at LWR - Delicious as Always

Last night, we enjoyed an excellent meal with good friends at Paris Bistrot (
in Lakewood Ranch. As usual, every course was delicious. I have never been disappointed with their breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

At dinner, the main courses are part of a three-dish prix-fixe menu for $22.95. The three dishes comprise a starter, a main dish, and a side dish.There are also separate salads, and appetizers. The menu is available at 

For our first course, my wife and I both had home made country pâté (pâté de campagne), served with cornichons.

For her main course, my wife chose Chicken Normande - breast of chicken flambéed in Cognac with mushrooms and a white sauce.

I had Beef Bourguignon.

For a side dish, I chose potatoes dauphinois. The other two side choices were rice, or vegetables.

For dessert, my wife had Marmalade Crêpe for $5. I had Crêpe Normandie - Crêpe flambéed in Cognac and filled with pears for $7.20.

For our wine, I chose a Saint Cosme Côtes du Rhône for $31. This is always a reliable choice.

Paris Bistrot has a very nice atmosphere. The owners have two other restaurants - Island Creperie in Bradenton Beach and '62 Bistrot on Hillview St. in Sarasota.

"Bistrot" is an alternative spelling of "Bistro." This type of restaurant originated in Paris and typically served moderately priced, simple meals. (

Pinchers Crab Shack - Delicious Maryland-Style Steamed Crab

For my birthday, my family treated me to a feast of Maryland-style steamed blue crabs at Pinchers Crab Shack ( We shared two dozen of the crabs, which were steamed with Maryland's Old Bay spice. The crabs were delicious, although we would have preferred a bit more Old Bay.

The blue crabs are steamed live. When they are cooked and served, the diners pick the crab meat out of the shell. Small wooden or metal mallets are used to crack the crab claws. Extracting the meat, especially from the body and especially for smaller crabs, can be a slow process for some like me. However, it's worth the effort.

The meat in the main portion of the crab is much tastier than the claw meat. The best meat is jumbo lump meat from large crabs. The crabs we were served were mostly medium sized. I learned later from friends that diners can request larger crabs, which are more expensive.

Steamed crab prices range from $5.99 for a single crab to $89.99 for two dozen. The crabs are obtained locally and are not always available.

We also had a few appetizers like grouper nuggets ($9.99), and hot crab and cheese dip ($8.99). I had a cup of crab and corn chowder ($3.99). All of these items were delicious.

In a return visit to Pinchers in October 2012, my wife and I tried their jumbo lump crab cakes. These were not jumbo lump crab cakes in the Maryland style. In other words, the crab cakes did not have lumps of crab meat. They might have started with jumbo lump meat and then processed it into a mushy patty. The crab cakes did not have much if any filler and they tasted ok, but they were not the sort of great crab cakes you'd find at a restaurant like G&M Restaurant in Linthicum Heights, MD.

The baked beans side I had with the crab cakes was terrific. The cole slaw was fresh, but lacked zip.

Pinchers has a wide range of other seafood dishes and a few non-seafood items.
The menu is available at

Pinchers serves 2 for 1 happy hour drinks the entire time they are open.

Pinchers does not take reservations, even for groups and even for special occasions. They will accept 30-minute call-ahead reservations.

The night we were there, the place was packed. While the noise level was high, it's what you'd expect in a lively eatery like this. The service was excellent.

Pinchers is a chain, with seven locations on Florida's Gulf Coast - from Naples to Lakewood Ranch.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Mozaic in Sarasota - Superb Dining Experience

Several days ago, we joined friends at Mozaic Restaurant ( for a Savor Sarasota dinner ( The meal was delicious and creative. The three-course meal was $25 per person, and pairing with one glass of wine for each course was an additional $14 per person. We did the wine pairing.

The cuisine of chef Dylan Elhajoui emphasizes culinary influences of Morocco, western Italy, southern France, and southern Spain.

Every course of our meal was wonderful.

At the start of the meal, we were all given an amuse-bouche of a cold soup that was called a Maltese gazpacho. It had a small bit of a kick. One of the main spices was cumin. It was accompanied by poppy-seed grissini.

My wife's first course was Velouté of Green Asparagus accompanied by a goat cheese crostini. The wine that was supposed to accompany it was a Sauvignon Blanc. However, my wife requested and received a wine that went with another first course. It was a Nonvintage Gruet New Mexico Blanc Des Noirs sparkling wine.

My first course was a crab and clam bisque with oysters and roasted corn. I was mistakenly served the Sauvignon Blanc rather than the Gruet sparkling wine. The waiter quickly brought the Gruet, but left the Sauvignon Blanc for me to drink. This was first wine I've had from New Mexico. The wine was decent, but I probably would not buy it.

Our second course was Sautéed Ruby Trout with Chive Buttermilk Aioli accompanied by curried fingerling apple salad. The paired wine was a 2010 Chateau Peynaud white Bordeaux.

Our third course was Moroccan lamb kefta and vegetable kebab with a harissa andalouse sauce. For $3, I added lamb merguez sausage. The paired wine was a 2009 Temptations Alexander Valley Zinfandel from Sonoma County.

My wife had an espresso for $2.50, and I had a double espresso for $2.95.

The atmosphere was very nice, and our waiter, Jeff, was outstanding.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Mostly Japanese Meal - Sunomono and Okonomiyaki

Last Monday, I prepared a mostly Japanese meal, with help from my wife and my sister. The objective of this meal was to introduce a couple of Japanese dishes to my niece who will be moving to Japan with her husband for a tour with the U.S. Navy. We had three Japanese dishes and American desserts.

The main course was Okonomiyaki. It was accompanied by Miso Soup and Sunomono. The dessert was a non-Japanese combination of mango kiwi tart and cookies.

Okonomiyaki ( is a wonderful dish that means something like "what you like - cooked." It is a sort of dinner pancake that can have a wide mix of ingredients - things like pork, shrimp, corn, bacon, potatoes, etc., etc.

There are at least two styles - one from the Osaka area and one from the Hiroshima area. The Hiroshima style adds a layer of noodles. I have never had the Hiroshima style. My wife, my daughter, and I have enjoyed Okonomiyaki many times when we lived in Japan.

Although my wife normally makes this dish at home, I tried making it on this occasion. It is very straightforward and relatively easy to make. We use a modified version of a recipe from a book entitled, "Japanese-Style Family Recipes" by Hiroko Urakami and published by Kodansha in 1992. The book was a gift from our daughter.

We modified the recipe by adding corn, omitting pork strips, using frozen salad shrimp rather than dried shrimp, and omitting dried bonito flakes/seaweed. (These modifications would all be fine in Japan.)

We also increased the amount of ingredients by to serve more people. The version below contains 25% less of all the ingredients than the version I made. The version below would probably serve six-eight diners.

There are many other recipes on various Internet sites.


3/4 cup all-purpose flour
12 eggs
1/2 head of cabbage
one 8 oz. package of small salad shrimp
one 11 oz. can of Del Monte Summer Crisp corn
12 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce
12 tablespoons of ketchup


Cut cabbage in half with core side down. Turn one half on its side and cut thin slices. Then cut the slices cross wise.

Mix the flour, eggs, cabbage, corn (drained), shrimp, and a couple of pinches of salt in a large bowl until they are well blended.

Mix the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce.

You can cook the mixture in a frying pan or on a hot plate.

Heat the hot plate of frying pan over medium low heat and spray some Pam or put some vegetable oil on the cooking surface.

Ladle a good sized scoop of the batter onto the cooking surface for each okonomiyaki pancake. We could do about 4 pancakes at once in a large frying pan.

Cook each pancake about 5 minutes on the first side. Then flip over and cook for another 2 minutes. You can tell when each side is done because it will brown.

Brush one side of each pancake with the ketchup-Worcestershire Sauce mix.

Keep the cooked pancakes warm in an over heated to about 200 degrees until all the pancakes are cooked.

Serve the pancakes hot.

Fill a dish with mayonnaise for those who want to top their pancakes with mayonnaise. (Most diners like this topping.)


This dish is tasty, healthy, and incredibly easy to make. I found the recipe at


- 2 large cucumbers, peeled
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 4 teaspoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger root


1. Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out any large seeds. Slice crosswise into very thin slices.

2. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, salt and ginger. Mix well. Place cucumbers in the bowl and stir well so that cucumbers are coated with the mixture. Refrigerate the bowl of cucumbers for at least one hour before serving.

Miso Soup

We took the easy way out on this dish. We used Kikkoman instant Tofu-Spinach Miso Soup, which we purchased at an oriental store in the Gulf Gate area of Sarasota. Each package of this soup contains three individual packets of soup. For one serving, you put the ingredients of a packet into a small bowl and pour in hot water. It tastes very good if you like Miso Soup, which we do.


My wife purchased the wonderful mango-kiwi tart and the cookies at Floribbean Flo's tropical bakery -

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Roessler's in Sarasota - Terrific Meal

Tonight, my wife and I and four friends enjoyed a terrific meal at Roessler's restaurant (, which was founded in 1978 and established at its current location in 1985. It is still operated by the Roessler family, and the chef, Klaus Roessler, is the son of the founder, Klaus A. Roessler, who immigrated to the U.S. from Germany.

Roessler's participates in the Savor Sarasota program which lasts from June 1 to June 14 and which offers three-course meals for $25 ( &

My wife and I and three of our friends started with the crispy fried Maine lobster tail with jicama slaw and chipotle dipping sauce. It was faaaantastic!!!!

My wife's main course was veal piccata. She loved it.

My main course was bouillabaisse with jumbo lump crab, scallops, mussels, shrimp, and fish with garlic toast. It was mouth-wateringly delicious.

Several of our friends had the Hawaiian butterfish with lemon white wine butter sauce, fresh herbs, and toasted almonds. They said it was wonderful. The menu stated that the fish was "fresh from Hawaii via FedEx."

For dessert, my wife had Parfait Roessler - vanilla ice cream rolled in almond brittle with orange liqueur. She really enjoyed it.

I had a wonderful lemon tart with mascarpone honey cream, blueberry coulis, and a pine nut crust.

Our wine was Numanthia Termes, a Spanish red wine which I love. It was a very reasonable $45.

We finished our meal with a nice, strong espresso.

Timmy, our waiter, was excellent.

The only negative to the restaurant was the acoustics. It was very difficult for the six of us to carry on a conversation.

Roessler's has a superb wine list. The choices are nice and the prices very reasonable. For the past six years, Wine Spectator has awarded the list the magazine's second highest ranking.

See my posting from November, 2011 ( for a description of another delicious meal at Roessler's.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Original Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe - Tasty and Easy

Tonight, I made the original version of Fettuccine Alfredo, a tasty and simple recipe that was developed by Alfredo di Lelio at his restaurant in Rome in 1914. (

 Unlike many American versions of this dish, the original recipe does not include cream. The only ingredients are fettuccine, butter, and parmesan cheese. (I used Italian-made parmegiano reggiano cheese and fresh fettuccine pasta.)

In Italy, this dish is known as Fettuccine al Burro (Fettuccine with Butter). I found the recipe at (

The only thing that took a bit of time was grating the parmesan cheese.

The side dish I made to accompany the pasta was asparagus with pancetta and garlic. (

The recipe from is as follows:

- 1 lb fresh very thin fettuccine
- 6 ounces of unsalted butter
- 6 ounces parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated (aged 24months). (The cheese I used was aged 18 months.)


1. Cook the fettuccine noodles in 1 gallon of salted boiling water for 3 minutes

2. At the same time, mix the butter at room temperature in a bowl with the grated cheese until the cheese almost dissolves, forming a smooth cream. If using a mixer, this should not take more than 3 minutes, at which time the noodles will be ready.

3. Strain the pasta, leaving just a small amount of water, and toss the noodles with the Alfredo sauce. Plate the preparation.

4. Cheese lovers may want to sprinkle additional grated cheese on top.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Easy & Delicious Shrimp Salad

One of the dishes I made on Mother's Day is a dilled shrimp salad that is tasty and very easy to make. This recipe produces 8 - 10 servings. I found it on - (

- 3 pounds of cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 stalks of celery, chopped
- 3 green onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- ground black pepper to taste

- Chop cooked shrimp into small pieces and place in a large bowl.
- Squeeze lemon and lime juice over the shrimp
- Add chopped celery, green onions, dill, mayonnaise, and pepper. Mix well
- Refrigerate for 2 hours to allow flavors to combine.
- Bring to room temperature for 15 minutes before serving