Friday, April 22, 2016
Good Eats by the Sea
All of the properties I explored in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea featured one-bedroom apartments or studios with well-equipped kitchens. Since I was bouncing around from one property to the next each day, I didn’t provision for groceries, even though cooking is my passion.
I’ll confess that I indulged in a pizza or two just out of sheer laziness – every avid cook needs a break -- which is something I never do when I’m in command of my own kitchen at home. Many of the restaurants in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea use Delivery Boys to send food to your door.
One night, I ordered a custom small pizza from Carina’s.
I’m not sure if it’s something in the water or just the sunny disposition of people in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, but I could almost see the owner of the restaurant smiling on the other end of the phone when I placed a very picky request for specific toppings on a small pizza. “We can do that for you,” he said. His tone of voice was so friendly, happy to oblige. Face-to-face smiles were also the rule, not the exception, in hospitality service here, even at restaurants that weren’t part of my press trip.
This Isn't Lunch, It's a Feast
The real foodie experience, however, came on the first Friday of my sojourn, when I spent two and a half hours with the delightful Christine Ferris of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Food Tours. Christine is a local who genuinely loves coastal Broward (she also leads food tours in nearby Pompano).
Christine is the kind of woman you end up calling “sunshine” after spending some time with her, enjoying all manner of delicious foods while talking about the destination. She’s knowledgeable and fun. It was a pleasure to break bread with her. And what bread! If you do this tour – and I hope you do – be prepared to eat and eat well. Let’s just say you’ll have your cake and eat it, too.
Our Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Lunches tour – all of which was done by foot over very a short distance -- began late morning at La Cucina Italian Market and Pizzeria, where we enjoyed a fresh salad with homemade burrata and a hearty carbonara with homemade pasta. Could there be more? Yes. We then walked to Alexsandra’s Caribbean Café Island Cuisine, where we sampled perfectly seasoned Jamaican-style jerk chicken, oxtail and Caribbean-style red beans and rice. (I’m pescetarian, but I did try everything.)
Get Reel Ceviche Taquería followed the island fare with a fresh mahi taco served with handmade chips and a roasted poblano, garlic, lime and cilantro sauce. A refreshing strawberry wine margarita quenched our thirst.
Something sweet was in order. The health nut in me fell in love with Dr. Juice, the first raw organic juice bar in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. We enjoyed a vibrant and colorful acai bowl with fresh fruit called Almond Na Tigela.
And last but not least, I fell hard in love like a kid at a candy store at an actual candy store: Jan’s Homemade Candies serves up handmade chocolates in a quaint storefront that once garnered a mention in Paula Deen Magazine.
Every single restaurant on this tour was family owned and run. Each morsel of food was made with love. I could taste it. Love is just as important an ingredient as salt and pepper. Food made without love is bland in character, no matter how well seasoned it sits on the plate.
These restaurants were delightfully un-corporate and that’s precisely what inspired Christine. “I wanted to support small, locally owned businesses,” she said. “Keep people local, support the little guys, including myself.”
During the tour, we stopped by several colorful metal sculptures by Mexico-based artist Laura Fisher Huck. Each sculpture pays homage to marine life and displays an educational plaque on its platform.
The tour concluded with a stop at Coast Boutique, which asks customers to “be inspired” by its wares made by local artists. The boutique, which sells handcrafted gifts, home accessories and jewelry, is heaven for a gal like me who loves coastal-inspired design. As tour guests, we enjoyed complimentary rum punch and left with the gift of a souvenir -- The Coast Pendant -- a short, delicate silver-toned chain necklace featuring a sand dollar design on a pendant. The design is actually the store’s logo.
Coast Boutique also sells t-shirts by Stoked on Salt! (SOS). A portion of the proceeds from the sale of SOS apparel supports SOS’ mission to preserve and protect living coral reef systems and create public awareness. SOS is based in Fort Lauderdale.
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea Lunches is just one of Christine’s offerings. She also hosts a dinner at one of her choice restaurants once a month as well as other food experiences. At this writing, the Lunches costs $49.99 per adult and includes all five plentiful tastings, one craft adult beverage and incentives for return visits to some of the restaurants. Service during the tour is faster than usual because of the nature of the experience. Expect slower service when you dine on your own. (If you’re rushing through a meal in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, however, you’re doing it wrong.)
Visit South Florida Food Tours for more information.
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Disclosure: this travel experience was supported by The Lodging Association of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. All opinions my own.