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It’s Nuts How Sweet Life Can Be

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This is the end…my only friend…the end.  The Doors’ words could not be more applicable to this post as it is the final chapter in the Florida food saga on Mastication Monologues.  I’ll be finishing with a sweet flourish in the form of Kilwin’s Chocolates and Ice Cream in Delray Beach, Florida.

My parents and I had taken many constitutionals up and down Delray Beach’s ever popular Atlantic Avenue, but Kilwin’s always seemed to be doing a booming business no matter what time of the day.  In fact, I could liken it almost to a Willy Wonka-esque level of excitement as lines perpetually streamed out the door.IMG_2987  I had never heard of this company before, but I vowed to see what all of the hubbub was.IMG_2986  I wasn’t that hungry after a very messy lunch, so it was a perfect time to check out the mysterious candy and ice cream shop.  As we moved through the clumps of old timers and kids wacked out on sugar, we finally stepped foot in this hallowed institution of addictive foodstuffs. IMG_2976 Everywhere we turned there were decadent delights in every shade of caramel yellow, coco-butter brown, and devilishly dark chocolate.  Kilwin’s provides the public with handmade caramel-coated apples and a few varieties of popcorn. IMG_2975 IMG_2973 I personally came for some of the brown stuff, ze chocolate.  While I was tempted to sample their ice cream, none of the flavors really grabbed me by the taste buds.IMG_2978  What was on display in the cases as we filed past the line for the ice cream left me slipping on my own slobber.  I’ll just let the pictures do the talking.  IMG_2985 IMG_2984 IMG_2983 IMG_2981 IMG_2980 IMG_2979 IMG_2977After looking about, the pecan turtle krispie was my date for the night ($5.50). IMG_2982 She was all gussied up with pecans, dark chocolate drizzles, and a caramel dress over a Rice Krispie body that just wouldn’t quit.  After I paid for it, we sat down on a bench outside to soak up the atmosphere our home away from home for a week had to offer.  As I took a longing glance towards my companion in my hand, I knew that we were meant to be when I subsequently took that first bite. IMG_2988IMG_2994 While you would think that a dessert item like this would be diabetes-inducingly sweet, it was quite balanced.IMG_2995  The crunchy pecans provided a buttery richness to the bittersweet dark chocolate and sticky caramel.  People were watching with a mix of curiosity and possible disgust as I shoveled this over-the-top snack into my food hole.  No regrets whatsoever.  It was a delicious end to a wonderful vacation.

So if you’re looking for a sweet local piece of Delray Beach, Florida that will stick in your mind and possibly your teeth forever, roll on down to Kilwin’s Chocolates and Ice Cream.

Kilwins Chocolates & Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

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Man’s Stomach’s Best Friend

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Today’s entry on Mastication Monologues is a short one and the penultimate in my Florida food chronicle.  My final lunch on vacation took place in an eatery called Dune Dog Cafe located at 775 N. Alt A1A  Jupiter, Florida.  I didn’t know what really to expect in terms of food, but my parents were raving about it.

So when we arrived, it was a small, tropical shack of sorts that was all open air dining which once again made me wonder what they did when the winds and rain picked up as they always seemed to do in the afternoon in Florida?IMG_2972IMG_2968IMG_2737  Pondering aside, it looked like the natives were quite restless as a line streamed out the front of the hut as we attempted to find a spot in their meager parking lot.  After about 45 minutes of leaning up against our rental car, baking in the noon sun, and watching crowds of urchins wrestle with each other as their mothers attempted to corral them, our reservation name was called.  We made our way around to the back part of the restaurant.  It was more relaxing since we didn’t have hordes of hungry diners giving us the evil eye for not eating quickly enough.  After looking over the menu that had mainly American food like burgers, salads, hot dogs, and chicken wings, I went for the last option.  Ten wings with half barbecue sauce and half sesame sauce.  The prices were very reasonable (5-12 dollars for a meal.  Apparently, one of the waiter’s mom’s worked with my mom’s friend who we were eating with, so we got a free appetizer called “Yankee nachos”.IMG_2969  Being Yankees ourselves, we found it interesting that they see us as people who only eat potatoes instead of tortilla chips.  Regional differences aside, this was one tasty platter.  It consisted of waffle fries piled high with all the classic nacho toppings like two types of cheddar, olives, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos.  Once we all polished that off, my wings came out, and they looked like a smaller version of Hooter’s wings that I am ever so fond of. IMG_2970 As for the taste, I was greatly satisfied.  Not only was there plenty of meat, but the crisp batter, smoky barbecue sauce, and slightly aromatic sesame sauce really made me think that something this great for the cheap price was fowl.  Actually, the only thing that ruffled my feathers was the bleu cheese dressing that seemed oddly acidic.  Nevertheless, as I wiped the sticky saucy aftermath from my fingers and mouth, I could see that Dune Dog truly did live up to the hype.

So if you want to check out a great family restaurant that has a beach vibe far from any sandy shore, hit up Dune Dog Cafe.

Dune Dog Cafe on Urbanspoon

The Cradle of Deliciocracy

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Tikanis, people?  That’s “what’s up?” in Greek which is the language spoken at today’s reviewed eatery in, you guessed it if you’ve been reading my latest entries, Delray Beach, Florida.  If you haven’t been reading through, some highlights include me taking down a giant chicken sandwich, eating a breakfast jammed in a burger, and a sexually titled sushi platter.  So, after having Italian the previous day, I wanted to continue the Mediterranean theme with a proper Greek dinner or maybe I just had a hankering for some good Feta cheese.

After a bit of sleuthing through the online food directories, I found Zorba’s Taverna that had a lot of great reviews where people raved about the tasty eats at reasonable prices.  Perfect.  It didn’t look like much from the outside as it was located in a strip mall, and coming from Chicago, I’m normally used to them looking like the white-washed buildings in Santorini.IMG_2957  The sign on the door, on the other hand, already provided me with a taste of the Greek hospitality to come (thankfully sans broken plates). IMG_2956 The place was moderately busy, but the seats quickly were occupied as we managed to beat the crowd rushing the doors trying to get out of the rain.  Our waiter slowly sauntered over, and he seemed slightly off for some reason I couldn’t put my finger on.  Nevertheless, he was amiable.  Inside, Zorba’s Taverna was the Greek diner I was expecting complete with a classic Hellenic blue and white motif everywhere along with a fitting tribute to the Anthony Quinn film that serves as inspiration for the restaurant’s name.IMG_2951 IMG_2950 IMG_2949  After looking over the menu that had all of the classic Greek dishes that they’ve served since antiquity like spanokopita, souvlaki, and baklava along with a couple newer Greek innovations like saganaki that was reinvented right in Greektown in my hometown of Chicago.  My mom got an order of the saganaki ($8.95) for us to share to start off.  For those who have never had the pleasure of trying saganaki, the name describes how the cheese, in this case vlahotyri, is melted in a frying pan since saganaki is the diminutive of sagani or a “frying pan with two handles”.  The cheese is then eaten with a spritz of lemon and maybe a sprinkling of pepper.  Once Greek immigrants came to America, they served this gooey cheese dish to diners, but as I mentioned before, the Greeks in Chicago added a bit more showmanship to this humble dish.  What can add panache to any sort of performance art like preparing and serving food?  Fire!  If you visit most Greek restaurants in the Chicagoland area, you can experience something like this.  Strangely, in Florida they didn’t set the cheese ablaze but rather placed it on our table with a whimper along with a free plate of pita triangles and hummus.  The saganaki sans flames was still delicious with a salty and citrusy flair to each forkful.  As for the hummus and pita,  I don’t know if they do this for every patron or if we were the 100th customers, but it was a great perk to our visit. IMG_2947 The pita was warm and fresh, and the hummus was creamy and evenly spiced with a liberal splash of olive oil.IMG_2948  We then ordered our food where my dad got the tzatziki platter ($4.95), my mom got chicken souvlaki platter ($12.95), and I got a side of dolmathakia ($7.95) and the roasted Greek chicken ($14.95).  Eventually, our food came out, and it all looked great.  My dad’s tzatziki or cucumber sauce was thicker than I was used to compared to back home in Chicago but didn’t affect the overall quality.  My mom informed me the chicken souvlaki or shish kabob was very dry.  On my plates, on the other hand, I found nothing but mouth-watering choices. IMG_2953 The dolmathakia consisted of cooked grape leaves that encased fluffy grains of rice with spices and just the right amount of dill that was further enhanced by the translucent dill broth that these mini-grape loves were stewing in.IMG_2954  I got a free Greek salad on the side which was verdant and scrumptious along with the creamy pieces of Feta that scratched my itch for cheese like the big rat I am.IMG_2952  As for my chicken, although it couldn’t hold an oil lamp to some of my Greek friends’ mommas’ cooking, it was alright for Delray Beach.  The chicken was so well prepared that it literally fell apart as soon as I touched it with my fork. IMG_2955 From the oregano coated skin to the juicy white meat interior, I was in a state of apotheosis as a foodie during this meal.  Unfortunately, then it went downhill from the average green beans to the less than noteworthy potatoes on the side that were quite bland and hard.  The tumble from the top of the Mount Olympus of food ended with a definite thud.

So if you’re looking for mostly lip-smackingly good Greek food that’ll make you shout Opa! down in Delray Beach, boogie on down to Zorba’s Taverna.

Zorba's Taverna on Urbanspoon

Getting All Sazzed Up

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Today, I’m going to write you a blog post you can’t refuse to read.  If you have a hunger that cannot be satisfied with a typical burger or fried chicken joint, I found Sazio in Delray Beach.  It’s an Italian eatery that truly believes in the idea of abbondanza or abundance as I “quickly” found out.

After working my way through Delray’s various food genres, I was in the mood to mangia some good Italian food.  While I did see that there were various pizzerias up and down the happening Atlantic Avenue, I wanted to see if there was any restaurants that could take on more substantial representatives of the Italian food famiglia.  This is where Sazio came into the picture.  It was a bit further away from the beach, but that didn’t mean that they weren’t doing booming business the night I visited.IMG_2944  They have both indoor and outdoor seating, and I opted for the latter due to Delray’s impeccable weather even at night.  The robotic but seemingly warm hostess told me it would be another 15 minutes for a table, but I saw there was a two-top (two person table in non-restaurantese) open on the patio.  Having worked as a host in a restaurant before, I wasn’t going to hassle her about the table being open since I knew there were other seating arrangements they might use that table for.  So I settled on looking at the menu while I waited.  I could see they had a litany of sandwiches, salads, pastas, pizzas, and entrees.  However, I was sad they didn’t really have any standards from Chicago like chicken saltimbocca or chicken vesuvio.  Eventually, I was seated, but I had to once again wait at least 5 minutes for someone to come to my table similar to Lemongrass Bistro in my previous post.  It seems that service is overall bit slower in the South compared to the North.  Thankfully, I knew I wanted the chicken bruschetta sandwich ($10), so I just had to choose a drink.  I went for a glass of the Ruffino Chianti 2009 that had fruity notes but a definite acidic bite for an aftertaste.  As for my meal, it eventually came out, and it was quite intimidating.  I think they might have sandwiched two full chickens between the fluffy, crustacular ciabatta bun halves.IMG_2941  I slowly unhinged my jaw to take a bite, and after the first chomp I was impressed.  Not only did they have monstrously large pieces of chicken breast in the sandwich but also a tomato relish, slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella, delicate arugula, and a balsamic glaze atop the mountain of greens to add a slight tang to the more mild mannered meal. IMG_2939 The side salad was good but was a mere footnote when compared to the behemoth it shared a plate with.  Sazio managed to reinvent a classic Italian antipasto with real gusto that left me one felice (happy) diner.

So if you’re ever in Delray Beach and are looking for a lot of good food for a reasonable price, check out Sazio on Atlantic Avenue!

Sazio on Urbanspoon

Pork You Can Eat With A Fork

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Buenos dias a todos y bienvenidos a un nuevo capitulo de Mastication Monologues!  Alright, enough with the espanol for all you non-Spanish readers.  I was just welcoming everyone to today’s chapter which features some Caribbean treats in Delray Beach, Florida.  “Florida” is actually a Spanish name given to the peninsula by explorer Ponce de Leon.  It means “Flowery land”, and the culinary landscape of the state is filled with beautiful blooms reflecting the ethnic seeds that were sewn throughout the history of the territory.  From soul food eateries that are remnants of its history as a slave state to the many Cuban restaurants that are a more recent reflection of the politics in the region.  Today’s entry involves Zucra which is a Latin establishment that is a bit hard to find but worth the trek.

They have ample parking which is nice in comparison to most restaurants in downtown Delray Beach.  It’s a very cozy place with indoor and outdoor seating.IMG_2910  They seemed surprised that we wanted to sit outside but indulged us nevertheless.  The view isn’t much to boast about, but we did watch a guy drive a car with the emergency brake on the entire time.  We told him about it as he passed by, and he said, “I don’t care.  It’s only my friend’s car.”  Some friend he was.  Looking over the menu, we could see that they mainly specialized in Cuban cuisine that ranged from sandwiches to soups.IMG_2912 IMG_2911  My meal started off with a step into the unknown with a drink that my waiter couldn’t accurately describe aside from the name, Malta, and that it was good.  Great.  It came out with my parents’ waters, and it simply looked like a glass of Coca Cola.  IMG_2913However, the bottle said otherwise as I tried to decipher what this “Hatuey” ($2.50) truly was.  I could only describe the taste as a semi-flat soda that had hints of some type of cereal and caramel.  Upon looking at the bottle closer and on Wikipedia, it turns out that it is a non-alcoholic drink that is essentially non-fermented beer.IMG_2914  It originated in German as a “Malzbier” or “malt beer” but now is made throughout Latin America and even Africa.  My mom didn’t care for it too much when she tried it, and I agree that it’s an acquired taste that I came to love by the end of the glass.  As for the food, I got the lechon asado or grilled pork ($11.95); my mom got the ropa vieja ($10.95); and my dad got a bowl of the black bean soup ($4.95).  Our meals came out, and they all looked muy sabrosos (tasty). IMG_2915 My grilled pork was tender and succulent which I couldn’t say the same about a lot of other types of grilled pork meals I’ve had.  On the side, I loved the grilled plantains that seemed to be roasted to a crisp, but in reality, they were simply black, soft slices of banana flavored fiesta.  The arroz moros was the only weak point of my platter.  While there were plenty of black beans cooked into the rice, it was on the dry side that didn’t help the blandness that permeated through every grain.  It went down easier when mixed in with my roasted pork.  I tried a bit of my mom’s ropa vieja, literally “old clothes” but really shredded beef, which was amazing from the small forkful I pilfered.IMG_2916  Not only was it melt-in-your mouth good, but it had a spicy ole! that really took the dish to another level.  I didn’t try my dad’s black bean soup since I was stuffed by the end of the meal, but he seemed to be greatly satiated.IMG_2917

So if you want a taste of Cuba without having to rumba on down to Miami or pay a brazo and a pierna at another nearby eatery Cabana, pay a visit to Zucra.

<a href=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/12/1575333/restaurant/Miami/Zucra-Cuban-Cafe-Delray-Beach”><img alt=”Zucra Cuban Cafe on Urbanspoon” src=”http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/link/1575333/biglink.gif&#8221; style=”border:none;width:200px;height:146px” /></a>

Impressive Intragalactic Intercourse

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Welcome one and all to another fantastic chapter in the food epic that is Mastication Monologues!  Today’s entry is going to be a short one, but that doesn’t mean a lack of quality.  If you haven’t been reading, I’ve been reviewing various restaurants I’ve visited throughout my vacation to Delray Beach, Florida.  So far I’ve come mouth to burger, dog, and even mushroom.  However, this post is a definite shift as I move away from foods that might be considered classic Americana to more exotic meals.  So lets start with Lemongrass Asian Bistro, an upper echelon Asian eatery which has branches in other Atlantic coast Floridian cities.

After a filling lunch at Doc’s All American and an afternoon of scuba training, I wanted to have a light dinner that wouldn’t leave me bloated like a beached whale.  So, I decided that sushi would be something that would be rich, filling, yet light.  Lemongrass fit the bill.  The establishment has both indoor and outdoor seating, but I went for the latter since the weather, per usual, was quite pleasant. IMG_2873 I also love outdoor seating because it gives one ample opportunity for people watching as they pass by on the avenue.  While I was enjoying the sights and sounds of Delray Beach, I wasn’t too satisfied with the service.  I had to wait ten minutes for someone to welcome me and ask if I wanted anything to drink.  I know it is hard for the servers and kitchen staff when a restaurant is slammed (“filled to capacity” in customer speak), but Lemongrass at that time would hardly fall into that category.  Eventually I got a menu, and it seemed that they had specialties from mainly Japan with an extensive sushi menu, Thailand with a few satays and curries, and Vietnam with a plethora of stir fried noodle dishes.IMG_2868  However, I was surprised that their drink menu didn’t even offer plain sake given the litany of sushi meals they offer.  After a long time of contemplating between choosing the Vietnamese grilled pork and sushi, I got the Sex on the Moon sushi roll ($13) simply based on the name and spicy pepper next to the moniker.  After another long period of anticipation, my food eventually came out, and it was well worth the wait.  The presentation was interesting to say the least, but I personally think they went a bit overboard with the tempura bits sprinkled about the sushi roll. IMG_3945 It made it look like my food was swimming in sawdust, tasty, scallion-laced sawdust nevertheless. IMG_2869 I’m not quite certain why they call it “Sex on the Moon”, but I was over the moon after tasting it.  On the outside, there was a light sprinkling of the aforementioned tempura flakes, a moderately thick slab of raw tuna, and masago (Capelin fish roe).  The real magic of the meal resided within the snowy white nest of sticky rice where I was quickly introduced to the cordial and spicy family of fried shrimp, asparagus, avocado, eel, and pepper seeds.IMG_2870  While I naturally tasted the buttery shrimp and fiery pepper seeds, the other elements were not as individually impressive.  This meal was more of a team effort as the scallions enhanced the smooth avocado, and the asparagus provided a much needed crunch to balance the more delicate seafood ingredients like the fish eggs.  I spiced it up even further with the hefty dollop of wasabi they provided on the side, and that took it to another flavor galaxy.  By the end of Sex on the Moon, I was proverbially lighting up a smoke and lying back on my pillow with a sigh of satisfaction as I looked up to the stars in the Florida sky.

So if you’re willing to put up with slower than average service to experience some out of this world sushi, moonwalk on over the Lemongrass Asian Bistro.
Lemongrass Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Just What the Doc Ordered

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Welcome to another edition of Mastication Monologues!  If this is your first time coming to my food blog, you are in for a treat today, and if it isn’t, then you will know I will be bringing you a fair and accurate assessment of a local eatery.  Today is part three in my Florida travel chronicle which will entail the popular, but controversial, Doc’s All American located at 10 N Swinton AveDelray Beach 33444, Florida.IMG_3942

I woke up to another lovely day as the Sunshine State was living up to its name.  The main plan was to meet up with some family friends and see Lion Country Safari.  After seeing plenty of African and Asian creatures sunning themselves in the southern heat and finally feeding a giraffe, we decided to grab lunch at Doc’s All American. IMG_3944 It’s a relatively simple establishment that is created to evoke a simpler time in America’s history when gas was reasonably priced, cars were still made out of metal, and childhood obesity was virtually unheard of.  Although the prices weren’t that low, they focused mainly on American favorites like hot dogs, hamburgers, fries, and shakes.  I got a foot long hot dog,  a side of onion rings, and a salted caramel shake.  Now, if you remember from the first paragraph, I mentioned that there is a bit of controversy surrounding Doc’s.  I did some research of what other diners thought of the restaurant, and they mentioned terrible service, low quality food, and a backward’s cash only policy.  While I did find the cash-only policy to be a bit of a relic in a now credit driven society, they did have an ATM on the premises to help patrons.  As for the other aspects people have complained about, I did not experience either aside from a possibly slow delivery of my family’s beverages.  There was only outdoor seating on the wrap-around patio which made me wonder what they did during Florida’s seemingly daily rainstorms?IMG_2855  Anyway, my hotdog and onion rings came out with my salted caramel shake soon thereafter, and it all looked great.

No Viagara needed.

No Viagra needed.

The only downside was having to apply my own mustard and relish to the tube steak that seemed like it would fit in more in one of Ron Jeremy’s flicks.  After a minute or two, I gave it a proper Chicago treatment with a spritz of mustard, a coating of relish, and a couple sprigs of white onion.IMG_2858  No ketchup for me since I’m not a heathen.  From the first bite to the last, I was pleased with the charred dog that was different from the boiled links I’m used to back in Chicago.  As for the onion rings, they were expertly made complete with a light and smooth exterior that was crunchy and sans bread crumbs that other onion ring recipes utilize.  I also liked that the onions were securely fastened within their golden shelters, and only slipped out on occasion as I munched through each one.  The salted caramel shake was average as they mainly added a hint of caramel flavoring to a vanilla shake, but the salt element was certainly unique as I found they filled the bottom of the cup with peanuts.  Definitely never had a shake as nuts as this one.

I don’t know if lunchtime is the ideal time to go to Doc’s, but I would recommend it as we did not experience any of the terrible happenings that people have described on the various online review sites like Yelp, Urbanspoon, etc.  While I’m sure one could find cheaper hot dogs and burgers elsewhere,  I’d still recommend trying Doc’s All American.  It is an experience to try a local institution that has been open and serving the same quality fare since 1951.IMG_2860
Doc's All American Classic Burgers & Shakes on Urbanspoon

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