Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Trip to Candy Land

Back in 1925, when Flapper dresses were the rage, Riddell Angell and Cora Phelps opened a chocolate shop in Daytona Beach. Sure, they sold salt water taffy, but their focus was on homemade chocolates. And three generations later the family continues making candy the same way, in fact, they still use some of the same copper kettles. 

"The key to our success," says owner Chuck Smith,  "is producing small batches daily. Maintaining the correct temperature is vital when working with chocolate, as is no humidity." You'd expect high quality ingredients and Angell & Phelps demands the best.  

The shop is located on Beach Street easily identified by a red and white awning over the front door. Complimentary 20-30 minute in-house tours acquaint guests with details about their carefully controlled production. The factory is quite small and large cottage windows give visitors a clear view of the operations.  Guests also learn the history of chocolate, how it is cultivated and the process necessary to make it edible. 

At Angell & Phelps, candy making begins with the mixing of the fillings, such as caramel or butter cream, and roasting the nuts. Then the fillings or fruit and nuts are coated in tempered chocolate. Each piece is inspected by hand before it is packaged.  
My favorite part of the tour was watching the finished chocolates move down a belt to a worker who selects, inspects and boxes them. The scene looked exactly like the episode of I Love Lucy when Ethel and Lucy worked  in a chocolate factory. I, too, got to taste a piece right off the belt.  Splain that one, Lucy Debi!

Well, I was able to enter the kitchen with a group being given a special behind-the-scenes tour. I was literally  a kid in a candy shop. The chocolate caramel tasted outrageous, almost sinful, an indulgence that gave me a chewy chocolate high and a good laugh.

Regular tours don't enter the kitchen, but always include chocolate tastings. Perhaps the heavenly taste has something to do with that angel in the name. I suspect Angell & Phelps chocolates will remain in business at least three more generations.A yummy place.
If you go:
Angell & Phellps Chocolates

154 S. Beach Street
Daytona Beach, FL
1 800 969 2634

Tours are given Monday through Friday mornings at 10 am, 11 am and in the afternoon at 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm and 4 pm.  There are no tour given on Saturdays.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

St. Simon's King and Prince Resort 75th Anniversary Celebration

Legendary and inspirational sums up the 75th anniversary dinner at the King and Prince Beach and Golf Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia. The seven course meal was designed to showcase southern coastal cuisine over the past seven decades.

Each course was paired with a wine and presented with finesse and southern charm. The crabcakes simply dissolved in my mouth, enlivened by a juicy burst of heat. The escargot, tender and moist, hid like gold nuggets deep within the pastry. The heavenly Grouper, adorned with savory cream, was a gift from the sea,while the Jambalaya popped a spicy punch. At the end of the evening, Chef Gomez demonstrated Bananas Foster preparation with fiery flare. Bliss and certainly worth the calories. Of course, I ate and drank too much, but who wouldn't?  The food was seductive and the full moon evening unforgettable.

Thank you King and Prince, especially Chef Robyn Gomez and the entire culinary staff.

7 Decades of Southern Coastal Cuisine

First Course - 1940's
Poached Salmon Louis
Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio

The Forties were a time of making do with less. In the middle of World War II, people all over the world were suffering under war rations and trying to survive. Victory gardens flourished in most backyards, and people of the coast were lucky in the astonishing array of seafood available to them.  Please enjoy Poached Salmon Louis, inspired by those long bygone gardens and the sea.

Second Course - 1950's
Mini Crabcake with Traditional Remoulade
Shrimp Cake with Chili Lime Cream
Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling

In the years after the way, everyone let out a sign of relief. Rationing was over, and it was time to party. Swanky cocktail parties were the rage, and one would think the cuisine of the coastal South was made for just such occasions. Please enjoy an hors d"oeuvre presentation of our Mini Crabcake with Traditional Remoulade and Shrimp Cake with Chili Lime Cream.

Third Course - 1960's
Escargot wrapped in Flaky, Buttery Puff Pastry
Ferrari-Carano Reserve Fume Blanc

Julia Child's The French Chef created an interest in all food French in the Sixties. Americans began to fancy themselves gourmets, creating showy, complicated food with just a touch of the exotic. In the coastal South, this trend blended well - as most trends do - with the rich diversity of seafood found just off the shore. In the spirit of this blending, please enjoy Escargot Wrapped in Flaky, Buttery Puff Pastry.

Fourth Course - 1970's
Signature Kind & Prince Oyster
Möet and Chandon Imperial Champagne

When the topic of food in the Seventies comes up, the discussion can't get far without someone mentioning fondue. A fad that has never quite died, many of our Southern specialties taste even better with melted cheese. In the spirit of fondue and all things involving melted cheese, please enjoy our signature King and Prince Oyster, served on the half shell and topped with jumbo lump crab meat, made complete with a layer of melted Gruyere.

Fifth Course
Creole Florida Black Grouper
Stag's Leap Chardonnay

Nouvelle cuisine- tiny portions of food artfully presented- made a big splash in the Eighties. While this cuisine may have always left you wanting more, it sure does make our coastal Southern specialties look precious and darlin'. Please enjoy this 'tiny portion' of our own Creole Florida Black Grouper, topped with a creamy Cajun crab and shrimp sauce on a bed of sauteed spinach.

Sixth Course - 1990's
Southern Jambalaya
Fransiscan Cabernet

The Nineties was the fusion decade, when chefs began combining a plethora of newly available international foods in innovative and exciting ways. But our local chefs were way ahead of the game, incorporating Caribbean and African flavors into our cuisine long before anyone thought to call it 'fusion'. As a perfect example of this, please enjoy our Southern Jambalaya, made with sauteed chicken, andouille sausage, onions, sweet peppers, and garlic, all stirred into moist white rice.

Seventh Course - 2000's
Chef's Demonstration of Bananas Foster
Dow's Fine Tawny Porto

This century has been a renaissance for those who enjoy the delights of table and hearth. The whole subject of food and the various ways to prepare it enjoy both a status and a popularity never before seen. Created in 1951, this New Orleans specialty spread, well, like wildfire to become an international sensation - perhaps even originating the idea of food as entertainment as realized today. Still a favorite and recognized as one of the most impressive desserts to come out of the South, please enjoy our Chef's Demonstration of Bananas Foster, presented by our own Robyn Gomez.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Dancing Avocado Kitchen, Daytona Beach

Breakfast at the Dancing Avocado Kitchen left me with happy feet. The restaurant swings with attitude and taps a lively beat. I feasted on the house specialty, an avocado, onion and cheddar Jack cheese omelet.  I've never considered adding avocado to eggs, but let me tell you, these two know how to tango. Now, I must also admit, when I tried to duplicate the recipe at home, mine performed a little dip.  Not nearly up to the scorecard taste of the original.

Co-owner Mario Stemberger, a certified chef with the American Culinary Federation, choreographed the concoction. He and his wife, Angela opened their restaurant in 1998. They began offering a menu of vegetarian and vegan cuisine, catering to those who frequent health food stores. 

But customers attracted by Daytona's annual Bike Week and Speedway races demanded, shall we say, some less healthy options.  The Stembergers listened and gave in with a twist. The Kitchen is now known for their mixed dance card- veggie burgers and beef patties.  All ingredients are stamped top quality. They serve honest food, nothing instant, thereby remaining faithful to the original concept. 

Mario said, "We believe everyone eventually decides to eat and care for themselves in a healthier way, some early on and some too late.  In order not to insult the nutritional conscience of many patrons, we offer a range of side dishes instead of chips or French fries, such as corn slaw, pasta, potato, cumber and onion, tabouli or red beans and rice."

The Avocado Kitchen bakes their own fruit pies, muffins, scones and cookies. Fruit smoothies are whipped from real fruit with a full line of nutritional supplements to kick in. To ensure freshness, suppliers make deliveries daily.  The cafe remains one of Daytona's only fresh juice bars; watch as the produce is squeezed in a quickstep. 

I had never tried carrot juice so Mario suggested the carrot and apple blend. I could certainly taste the carrots, but the duo spun with light and delicious flavor, and hey, my eyesight improved immediately. 

Waitress service waltzes food from the kitchen to the table.  You might partner with one of Mario and Angela's children who have now joined the corps. Lunch time customers can select domestic and imported beers, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic brands. Outdoor dining is also available and free parking is found in the rear. If I lived in Daytona, I'd boogie my way over there for an encore.  

110 South Beach
Daytona Beach, Florida
Telephone 386-947-2022
Breakfast 8AM-11AM
Lunch from 11Am to 4 PM
Closed on Sunday