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Eating and Cooking are the real keys to a great life. I have created this Food Blog to share with you the places I go. Some may be in your backyard, or mine. If I am eating out, or cooking at home, I will share pictures and thoughts about everything from service and lighting to recipes and vegetable sales. Please join me in this never ending love for food. Find me on facebook! www.facebook.com/SouthernGrub

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Home Cooked like Grandmas...

Last night, July 28th, I made a meal that you get at your Grandmother's when you visit. My last trip to the grocery store I found all of the fresh vegetables to be on an extraordinary sale. I made zipper Peas with smoked neck-bone, served with corn relish on top; mashed turnip roots with cream and butter; brussel sprouts in garlic sauce; greens with smoked neck-bone, and fresh talapia, soaked in a buttermilk/egg mix and fried in a Cajun flour mix. Not pictured, for dessert we had fresh peaches. The GA peaches being shipped around right now are mouth watering. They are the sweetest and juiciest of the year!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Green Boiled Peanuts!

North Florida Green Boiled Peanuts
Written by my father; Jim Arnold
If you haven’t noticed, we are pretty serious about peanuts in our family!

Start by checking all local produce markets for the freshest raw green peanuts you can find. This is an art that can take 50 years or more to develop so pay close attention. NEVER, NEVER buy raw peanuts without carefully inspecting them in a see-through bag. You need to check for a light yellowish color and they need to be moist to the touch. Sprouts coming from too many in the bag or lots of cracked open peanuts means they have been out of the field far too long. Keep looking for fresher ones because it’s worth the wait!
Now, the best peanuts are the little ones that you can eat without even shelling them with your teeth. That’s right! Eat the whole thing, shell and all. Of course proper manners dictate that you shell your nuts in your mouth so as to get all the salt off the shell. It also was helpful growing up in the south to be able to drink a beer, drive a stick shift, change radio channels all while have one arm around your gal without having a wreck or slowing down the fun of eating the best snack in the whole world!!
Back to the basics. Next, start nibbling on the raw peanuts on the way home to see if you made a good decision on the quality of your purchase. I usually leave about 75% of the nuts to boil when I finally get home. Next get a large pot of water and pour about 4 seconds worth of salt from the large containers into your water and add peanuts. Turn the heat on high and get a cold beer. Try very hard not to revisit the kitchen for at least 5-10 minutes so the nuts can at least be warm before you start devouring them. Of course you can make an exception if you need another beer or two.
As soon as you begin to smell the rich aroma of the best smell in the world, you’ll know you’re getting close. Don’t resist the temptation to start eating early, because you never know who may show up to help you eat “your” peanuts. It is always- not really – so embarrassing when you’re caught hiding hot peanuts from your friends or worst, your family, so as not to share too many of your special treasures.
Finally, eat as many as you possibly can before they are fully cooked. The Big Secret of perfect peanuts is now out of the bag! Never wait until they’re done to eat em. Then they’re really overcooked.
P.S. If you can’t possible eat all you have cooked, it is best to refrigerate over night or at least until you get home if going out for the night. When coming home after the movies or whatever, there’s nothing better than a coke and chilled peanuts in the bed while watching late night TV. I would caution you to make sure the shells fall away from your spouse as you doze off for the night. Many good relationships have been soured by a bed full of shells. Good Luck!!!

Salt Life... Jax Beach

All the stickers you see on cars all over town...Salt Life... has now opened a restaurant/bar in Jacksonville Beach. A surfer atmosphere inside with young servers hopping all around. The televisions blast fishing and surfing videos much like in small surf towns in Central America. The menu reflects small towns in other countries that I have visited/lived in and it gives you a good feeling! Like at home but on vacation. Pura Vida! I ordered Calicheis Poke Bowl ($14.99) and it was served just as is says. The way it is at Wishbone in Playa Jaco, Costa Rica. I have had the Poke Bowl at Wishbones a few times, but was a little surprised that Salt Life would go for a Costa Rican Poke style over Hawaiian. Don't get me wrong, the Poke was good, but it's consumed much much more in Hawaii. We also had the Seared Ahi Tuna Salad ($10.99) and it was fresh and flavorful. The Tuna was seared lightly (which it should be) and the dressing was amazing. Soft Shell Crab BLT ($7.99) was also on our table and looked good. We also had pretty good Chicken Quesadillas and I can't wait to go back for the Ceviche. If you're in the area, or even if you're not, go check out Salt Life Food Shack and let me know what you think. You can leave comments on my blog below or on my facebook page. www.facebook.com/southerngrub
Salt Life Food Shack is at 1018 Third Street North... JACKSONVILLE, FL 32250.
904-372-4456. Open for Lunch and Dinner!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Mitchell's Fish Market.. Town Center

Mitchell's goes for an old Boston Oyster house feel. I love that they give the option of sitting at a raw bar. Not many places around do that. I've been in them around New Orleans, Boston, New York, or other cities that have large crowds or are close to oysters or clam suppliers. Many do not know about different types of oysters or clams and the extremely different flavors and sizes they have depending on the time of year and the location they come from. Cherrystones or Littleneck Clams are my favorite and I prefer oysters not too large and extra salty. If you ask your Raw-Bartender they will be able to tell you about what they have that day. Mitchell's has fresh ingredients flown in twice a day and prints different menus at that time. We dined at Mitchell's over the weekend for a Birthday, which they also kindly printed on our menu for a little personal touch. Different things to taste... The Kung Pao Fried Calamari ($9.95) had chopped peanuts with a zesty dipping sauce. The slices of calamari were very large but still very tender. Peppers (not too spicy) are mixed in as well. It's good. The Pan Roasted Wild Blue Mussels ($8.95) are in a white wine, butter, garlic sauce with fresh tomatoes diced. In previous blogs I have tried this at several places. This order is good, the sauce is thinner than Bonefish and BlueFish but the Mussles are much larger with a better taste. I still have to say BlueFish was the best, then here, then Bonefish. All three places, still good mussles. The Char-Broiled Oysters ($11.95) is a New Orleans delicacy and features 8 oysters smothered and broiled with bayou cajon butter, parmesan cheese, and a baguette for dipping. I usually prefer oysters raw or Lightly steamed but this was very good. Here at Mitchell's they offered a Birthday dessert on the house not only for the Birthday man but for myself as well for it still being my Birthday Week!!! I chose the Creme Brulee of course. The custard was much thicker than the one I had days earlier at Bonefish. Delicious. Check out Mitchell's Fish Market and let me know what you ordered and how it was in the comment below. You can also leave comments on my Southern Grub Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SouthernGrub
You can also find a Mitchell's near you at www.MitchellsFishMarket.com

Friday, July 16, 2010

Bonefish Grill.... San Jose Blvd.

Well, the place I once loved now is no longer. Maybe with the new hot spots opening at the TownCenter the Bonefish Grill just won't hang on. The inside felt old and run down to me. I knew of some favorites on the menu that were still great, but everything else wasn't up to par. Our server was not nice or welcoming, which sucked since it was friends and family night out for my 25 Birthday!!! We ordered the Bang Bang Shrimp ($7.9) which is always good. The Singapore Calamari ($6.9) which was good but not the best ever. The Cajun Chicken Egg Roll ($5.9) was HORRIBLE. The Mussels Josephine ($8.8)was amazing. The sauce around the mussels was even better for dipping bread. These muscles are good if you are here, but if you're looking for the same idea but great try BlueFish in Riverside, next door to The Brick. For entrees two people ordered the Bang Bang Tacos ($8.9) which won't disappoint because the shrimp are good. I had the Wild Grouper ($19.9)it was cooked, that's all I'll say about it. The Fontina Chop (13.9) wasn't good. Another guest ordered a steak Medium+ and it came out dripping blood. They took it back to the kitchen and 20 minutes later it came out again. The guest wasn't happy about it. Some meals were great, some were just edible, almost. Maybe we caught an off night, but that isn't fun on your Birthday. Dessert was better with Creme Brulee ($5.5) yummy and the most amazing Bourbon Coconut dessert that isn't on the menu.
Check out my facebook for extra photos and more info. Leave comments to let me know how your experience was at Bonefish Grill!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

III FORKS... Southside Blvd.

This was my second time visiting III Forks here in Jacksonville. The first time the food was good, but our server wasn't so great. Ironically, this time I think we had the same server, he was much better. We started with Dirty Martinis, mine with blue cheese stuffed olives. Our server made a small glass of another martini to fill our glasses because they were not full when they arrived to our table. We had 4 total over the course of dinner and they came to around $50. We started with the Shrimp Cocktail, it comes with 4 large shrimp, the cocktail sauce they make isn't very spicy, but the flavor is great. We ordered two different entrees: Tenderloin Tips with mashed potatoes and the Seared Scallops. Both were great choices. The Tenderloin Tips were around $20 and the Scallops around $30. Most sides are ala carte and we decided on Asparagus and Mushrooms. I highly recommend ordering both of these!!! When your meal arrives they offer you a fresh tomato slice and a green onion. Go for the tomato, it's super fresh. III Forks is a young vibe at the tables around the bar and a more sophisticated seating in the other areas. The wine displays are neat and they have an all glass private room in the middle of everything. Check out III Forks and leave comments about your visit below.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cantina Laredo, Town Center

Cantina Laredo. Gourmet Mexican. Town Center.
It was ladies night; the Wine and Margaritas were half price! Out for a friend’s birthday we dined in the back of the restaurant in a private room. The restaurant always has a loud and busy vibe, pots and pans, people raising voices after too much tequila. We were in on 7:30 on a Thursday and the wait for walk-ins was two hours. The food is good, but not two-hour wait good. The service was good. We had more guests arrive and they set up an extra table, which was not easy with the venue being at max capacity. Everything was delivered in time, the drinks stayed full, and no big problems came out. This is what you should expect at a place such as Cantina Laredo. On your table should be two different flavors of a play on salsa. Both are delicious. Pictured above, the table started with the Top Shelf Guacamole. ($9.49) Made tableside, to serve two or four, the service of this is what makes it so good. It is extremely fresh, but doesn’t touch the recipe I make fresh in Costa Rica. This price on this appetizer is great because avocados in the grocery store are getting so expensive here in North Florida. The Ceviche ($8.99) was a pretty large portion of Shrimp, Scallops, and Fish marinated in limejuice. I ate enough Ceviche in Peru to probably turn myself into a fish, but this was just as good as Peru. Ceviche is relatively simple to make if your ingredients are extremely fresh. Entrees I have pictures of are the Carne Asada Y Camarones ($23.99) and the Pescado Del Dia ($22.99), which was Sea Bass. The Carne Asada Y Camarones was grilled steak topped with bacon-wrapped shrimp filled with oaxaca cheese and jalapeno. I didn’t try this but heard it was fantastic. The fish of the day, Sea Bass, was my meal. It was perfect. The fish had a great flavor, and was pan-fried to perfection. Melted in your mouth. The vegetables it came with were good, and the rice was just rice. I do think I had the best thing on the table because the fish was so good. If you hear your server offer this again in the specials, try it! For Dessert the Flan ($5.29) was ordered. Flan is custard with real caramel sauce. Another great cook at our table said it wasn’t up to par. Cantina Laredo was a great time. Try it out if you’re at the Town Center. The food is good, and it isn’t as pricey as Mitchell’s or Capital Grill next door.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Home cooked goodness... Seafood Pasta!

Home Made Seafood Pasta!
Last night I made a feast. With 3 lbs of pasta, it really was enough for an army. Upon everyone's arrival we had different flavored cheese, stuffed olives, roasted red peppers, sliced meats, and other anti-pasta flavors that we picked up from a small Italian Store in Jacksonville. (Sammy's Italian Market & Deli 9802 Baymeadows Road) After everyone had a drink I cooked the appetizer. I found fresh squid at Publix for $6.65 lbs and fried it in a simple salt/pepper/flour batter after soaking it in buttermilk. With a little squeeze of lime and marinara dipping sauce, it was amazing and fresh. As an entrée I made Seafood Pasta. Everyone raved about it. I used bowtie pasta and made a sauce that was extra creamy. The sauce was a pink/orange color because of the cream cheese, milk, butter, vodka, and tomato mixture. It had extra garlic, mushrooms, bell peppers, and onions. I rarely use recipes and just go along as I’m cooking, like last night. The seafood in the pasta consisted of: Large Shrimp, Sea Scallops, and Tilapia. I often find that EVERYONE over cooks shrimp. That means they are almost impossible to peal or they become tough. It is better when it is a little undercooked because the heat from your meal will continue to cook the shrimp through. The shrimp I placed into the sauce mixture at the last minute before being served and they were perfect. The scallops and fish I blackened with my own blackening mixture. They both were then pan sautéed in BUTTER. Butter makes everything better. I will never cook with anything but real butter, and nothing I make at home is ever low fat. :) The Sea Scallops were $7.69 lbs and the Tilapia was $14.96 for two lbs. I mixed everything together and placed the Scallops and Fish over the pasta before I through on fresh diced tomatoes and grated cheese. The Seafood Pasta was served with three different bread options. The entire meal cost around $50 for me to make, give or take. We had 15 people over for dinner, which make the cost per plate around $3.50 a person. We still had a ton of leftovers. (Lunch today will be great!!!) My advice for anyone entertaining company, always serve cheese, pasta, bread, and other filling stuff. It isn’t very expensive, goes a looooong way, and keeps people full! On this blog I can only post 5 pictures per blog, I wish I could share more because the company was better looking than the food. Great food and Great friends are the list for a successful life!