Archive | December, 2010

Lunch at Palm Beach’s legendary Ta-boo

31 Dec

The interior at Ta-boo has an Old Florida, monkey jungle kind of look. They are located in the heart of Worth Avenue, which is Palm Beach’s version of Rodeo Drive. Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Tiffany … they are all here. So you would expect the clientele at Ta-boo to be more than a little bit snobby. But that isn’t necessarily the case. Lots of tourists flock here to tap into the magical vibe created by folks like JFK, Frank Sinatra, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. They have all dined here. Further, the prices are not out of this world high — a pleasant surprise!

The Black Currant iced tea (above) is a good beverage choice to get your meal started. They will also bring you some good bread and butter. The menu is pretty extensive with lots of salads and fresh seafood choices. The Atlantic Ocean is just a few blocks to the east of Ta-boo’s front door.

I opted for the Pistachio Encrusted Salmon (seen above). My family was encouraging me to order a dish called the Crab Stack, but I locked in on the salmon dish. Guess I will have to try the Crab Stack (a mountain of freshly picked lump crab meat with accompanying sauces) when I visit again next year. I was very pleased with the choice I made. The salmon was cooked perfectly and the nutty pistachio crust was right down my alley.

Eileen really loved this shrimp and pasta entree (above). She remarked that it was not as heavy as many similar dishes she has ordered in other restaurants. The shrimp were plump and fresh and the sauce was olive oil & parmesan based rather than the typical goopy, white alfredo mixture.

A look at the interior dining area at Ta-b00.

The swanky bar at Ta-boo.

The entire meal for 2 with the icea teas ran about $40 dollars. That we could easily afford. The $600 woman’s sandals we spotted later at Neiman Marcus? Well, that’s a completely different story.

Little Moir’s Food Shack – Jupiter, Florida

31 Dec

Little Moir’s Food Shack is found in an unassuming strip mall in Jupiter, FL (just north of West Palm Beach). You wouldn’t think it would be the place everyone (including the NY Times) is raving about, but their reputation has been solidly built by serving fresh, quirky island fare at reasonable prices. It’s a fairly small dining room, so arrive early or expect to wait a few minutes. Don’t let that scare you away. They now have a comfortable indoor waiting area and there are a few interesting shops nearby (including a very cool, if pricey, surf shop).

The Fried Oyster appetizer at Food Shack (above) — my Dad swears by it. He has never ordered anything else and he has dined here about 20 times! It looked great and, well, I kind of wish I had ordered that. Same old story … shouldn’t taken Dad’s advice. When will I learn? Not that my dish was altogether bad. But the oysters looked really crisp and tasty. We had visited Apalachicola (Florida’s Oyster Capital) just a few days earlier and I had devoured my fill of oysters for a while.

Our son Austin ordered some Island Chicken Wings adorned with grated coconut. I snatched one and they were quite good (hot but not too hot). The Food Shack has a casual, beachy atmosphere and music by the likes of Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffett, and Jack Johnson can frequently be heard in the background. I’m told they make a killer macaroni and cheese here, although I might find it hard to order that when presented with all the other fresh seafood options.

I ordered Beer Battered Shrimp with a Jerk Seasoned Steak & Spicy Fruit Salad. The shrimp were good, but could have benefited from a dipping sauce, which was mysteriously not provided with this entree. I enjoyed the bed of coconut rice and the spicy fruit salad is always good (but not for the faint of heart — it delivers a potent jerk). I’m guessing that jalapenos or scotch bonnets figure into the mix somehow. The steak, I must admit, was a bit of a disaster. It was a fatty, stringy little piece of beef and it was overcooked to the texture of a rubber flip-flop. The Caribbean jerk seasoning couldn’t revive it and I spent the next 10 minutes or so sawing away at the steak and shaking our dining table rather violently. Lesson learned — don’t order steak here again. Ever.

I trust this review will not cause you to avoid the Food Shack. It is a great little joint and this was the first somewhat negative experience I have had here (this was our 4th visit). Stick to the seafood offerings and you should have yourself a terrific meal. They have recently opened up a second restaurant called Leftovers. I hope that is not where all the untouched steaks end up.

Chicago Finally Returns the Favor to Mississippi

9 Dec

A mass migration from Mississippi once brought the Blues to Chicago. All these years later, the Windy City has at last repaid the Magnolia State by giving them Lil’ Italy. Lil’ Italy, serving authentic Chicago Italian food, is located just off I-10 in Ocean Springs, MS. My good friend Lloyd Hebert lives nearby and has been raving about the place for several months now.

It was a cold, blustery Chicago-style day along the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Lil’ Italy does not offer any kind of inside, temperature controlled seating. But Lloyd and I have both spent a good bit of time in Illinois and we were not to be denied this day.

The traditional Chicago Italian Beef sandwich is obviously the star of the show at Lil’ Italy. The warm, slightly spicy sliced beef was a perfect foil for the winter chill. The hot green peppers also added a fiery kick in the pants. The accompanying fries weren’t bad — but the beef was without question the first order of business.   

Chicago-style Hot Dog (above) — fully dressed with neon green relish. It’s a unique flavor combo of wiener, chopped onion, mustard, sliced tomato, dill pickle slices and, of course, the poppy seed bun. It’s probably a good thing we weren’t being drug tested on this day. Cholesterol too, right?

“Gyro Gyro Gyro!” They make a good one at Lil’ Italy. Tony, the friendly owner, brought one out for us to try — on the house. What a guy! It was very tasty. The meat was fresh and appropriately seasoned. The yogurt-based sauce just right.

www.lilitaly.netDrop by and tell Tony that DixieDining sent you!

Lloyd also took time to run me over to another of his favorite haunts. Burger Burger may be redundant, but this place is legendary in these parts. The historic joint changed it’s location about a decade back, yet it still retains the ambiance and warmth you woud expect.

The entry at Burger Burger has an old school, neighborhood tavern feel.

I still had enough room in my belly for a nice slice of Apple-Raisin pie. Lloyd had some dessert too. A burger was out of the question after our all-out assault at Lil’ Italy. My pie was an excellent choice. It was served warm and I didn’t even have to ask. Gotta love that. The crust was flaky and the pie’s interior was an ideal blend of chunky apples and fat, juicy raisins. It tasted of home and the holidays.

The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi is a hot new tourist draw. We took a break from all the eating and spent an hour or so checking out the museum’s latest exhibits. George Ohr was widely known as “The Mad Potter of Biloxi” and his works receive due reverance here.

This image of George Ohr (above) is almost as iconic as his pottery works.

The museum was featuring a colorful collection of Warhol lithographs. Subjects included the likes of Geronimo, Howdy Doody, Mick Jagger and John Wayne. How’s that for a foursome? Lloyd tells me the new museum — a very costly project — has drawn a great deal of criticism from many locals. Especially in light of the recent economic woes driven by Katrina and the BP oil mess.

Talk about someone having a big head!

The steps that lead to — nowhere. Well, it’s fun to look at! Lloyd snapped this image of me as we climbed this eye-catching stairwell. We anticipated it leading to another art exhibit, but it just led us to an small, open-air terrace and an elevator to take us back down to earth. Strange, yes, but the terrace does offer some sweeping views of the Gulf of Mexico.

This out building on the museum grounds was decidedly less contemporary.

Admission is $10 for adults. Discounts are offered for seniors, vets and children.

7-Eleven Wines? Really???

8 Dec

7-Eleven®’s First ‘World-Wine’ Release
Convenience Retailer Introduces Yosemite Road Wines on Both Sides of the Globe

DALLAS (Nov. 4, 2009) – In its first foray into global merchandising, 7-Eleven, Inc. (SEI) in the U.S. and Seven-Eleven Japan (SEJ) are jointly introducing two proprietary wines – a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon – today under the Yosemite Road label.  These are California wines produced by The Wine Group exclusively for 7-Eleven® stores and its parent company, Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd. of Tokyo.

Also participating in the launch and carrying the new beverages are Ito-Yokado super- and hyper-markets, York Benimaru supermarkets in northern Japan, Shell Garden upscale grocery stores, Denny’s family restaurants, Seibu and Sogo department stores, retail outlets that, along with SEI and SEJ, are subsidiaries of Seven & i, a $57.6 billion corporation.  Seven & i has annual wines sales of $127 million, and SEI’s yearly wine sales are $46 million.

After researching the most frequently purchased products at their stores, the merchandising counterparts under the Seven & i umbrella selected wine to inaugurate its global product development and procurement plan.  Value-priced wines, those under $5, have been gaining in popularity and enjoying double-digit sales growth at 7-Eleven stores as consumers continue to search for value in their purchasing decisions.

Available in the companies’ collective 15,000 convenience, department and grocery stores, the introduction of the two California wines is the culmination of a collaborative, global merchandising effort for the world’s largest convenience retailer.  The same-day launch marks the first global product designed and developed exclusively for Seven & i stores.  Taking their experience and knowledge of product development to a new level, the companies’ international plan reduces provides a very reasonable sales tag for the consumer.  Suggested retail price for a standard 750 milliliter bottle is $3.99 in the U.S. ($4.99 in Florida because of state taxes) and 598 yen in Japan.

“The development and production of Yosemite Road wines was a global team effort and is just the beginning,” said Kevin Elliott, 7-Eleven senior vice president of merchandising and logistics.  “By using our collective purchasing power to negotiate product exclusivity and pricing, we can meet customer demand for quality and value, as well as differentiate our brand from the competition.”

The around-the-world venture began in earnest this year with a series of video conferences followed by multiple trips to California’s wine country.   Leveraging its sheer scale and sourcing capabilities, 7-Eleven approached The Wine Group, the world’s third-largest wine producer, with the mission to craft two quality, affordably priced varietal wnes.  

Experienced, award-winning wine-makers John Willumson and Jim McDonald were tapped for the task.  The winning vintners created a Chardonnay, described as fresh and zesty with notes of apricot, peach and honey, and a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon with juicy plum overtones.  Both are well balanced, offered at an affordable price and can be enjoyed anytime of the year.  

Yosemite Road is currently a limited-edition wine that will be available while supplies last.

About 7-Eleven, Inc. 
7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience retailing industry. Based in Dallas, Texas,7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses some 7,850 7-Eleven® stores in North America. Globally, 7-Eleven operates, franchises or licenses more than 36,600 stores in 15 countries. During 2008, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $53.7 billion.  7-Eleven has been honored by a number of companies and organizations recently.  Accolades include:  #3 in Forbes magazine’s Top 20 Franchises to Start, #3 among Top 100 Global Franchises by Franchise Direct, #3 in Store Growth by Convenience Store News, #2 in Franchise Times Top 200 Franchise Companies and #29 among Top 100 Chains in Food Service.  In addition, Hispanic Magazine’s named 7-Eleven in its Hispanic Corporate Top 100 Companies that provide the most opportunities to Hispanics.  7-Eleven is franchising its stores in the U.S., and is expanding through organic growth, acquisitions, and its Business Conversion Program. Find out more online at

Jammin’ with Sallie’s Greatest Hits

3 Dec

Sallie’s Greatest Jams are really good — and really unique. I mean, how often have you tried flavor combinations such as Peach Mint, Blueberry Lime, Peach Pepper Ginger, Blueberry Lavender, and Strawberry Basil? Here’s the back story on founder Sallie Dent Porth (“Canner in Chief”) and her fabulous small batch creations …

After more than twenty years of living the corporate life on planes, trains and automobiles, including an escape from NYC on 9/11/01, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back home living the good life in Calhoun County in rural South Carolina. In 2004, I returned to my roots and found myself living in the middle of a huge field with a garden-loving husband in my hometown of Cameron, SC, where farming is a mainstay. One perk of my time in corporate America was an expense account which afforded me the opportunity to experience fine dining across the country, cultivating my knowledge of unique food and flavor combinations. This interest in flavor pairings combined with my creative nature and life in the field led to the creation of Sallie’s Greatest.

Thanks to my partnership with local farmer Monty Rast of Longview Acres, my specialty line of herbal fruit jams is made with the freshest produce possible – straight from the field to the jar! In addition to our line of jarred projects, we’re also developing a cookbook, Party in a Jar, giving cooks on all levels the tools needed to turn an everyday meal into an extraordinary dining experience with the simple twist of a lid. For years, my friends and family have raved over my creations. I feel that it’s just plain selfish to keep this secret in my inner circle…and being selfish isn’t being Southern!

“Love Thy Farmer”

Order yours today at or call (803) 823 – 9075

Email Sallie at — tell her Dixie Dining sent ya!