Rosemary Beach’s Eliason encourages wine enthusiasts to shop bottle labels
ROSEMARY BEACH – Local chef and beverage professional, Sydney Eliason, announced the publication of her new book, Wine Label Shopping: Buy More Than Just a Pretty Label, encouraging wine enthusiasts to select wines based on their labels. Focusing on certain clues on a wine label, Eliason posits that everyone should label shop, contrary to conventional thinking.
“Every label has four things in common: a region, a grape varietal, an age, and an alcohol by volume. All of these impact a wine’s flavor,” Eliason says. “Some of these things – such as the region in reference to a grape’s varietal and climate – require some research. This guide provides a quick and memorable primer to assist the wine-tasting consumer.”
Once one understands how to read a wine label, one will have a better understanding of the product.
“This book is like the CliffsNotes of wine. You may not appreciate every nuance as you would if you read an entire book, but you’ll understand and be conversant about what’s going on in your glass in a very short amount of time,” Eliason says.
About the author
A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Eliason worked with some of the best chefs and beverage professionals in Minneapolis prior to relocating to Florida. Based in Rosemary Beach, she launched The Somm Chef, a boutique business offering private chef events and wine classes. Eliason originally wrote Wine Label Shopping as a reference guide for clients but realized that others might benefit from its practical tasting guidance.
For the people of Spain, food is an important part of the culture. They savor it, celebrate it, and linger over it. It’s a point of passion, and that passion is evident in its bold flavors. Naturally, Spanish cuisine is inspirational to a great many chefs who have come away from its kitchens forever in the thrall of its charms, bringing with them dishes that capture its unique essence.
It was with that vision in mind that La Crema Tapas & Chocolate originally opened in Rosemary Beach in 2009. Building on the concept of tapas and chocolate shops that have become such a popular part of the food scene in Barcelona and Madrid, the menu features an array of small plates, decadent chocolate desserts and drinks, as well as a carefully curated selection of fine wines.
Under the talent of chefs Eric Bartholomew, Alex Gomez, and Ricky Voelz, the kitchen at La Crema creates beautiful dishes that honor the spirit and traditions of Spanish cuisine, taking their guests on an epicurean journey with every item on the menu. A chef for 17 years, Chef Eric serves as a consultant at La Crema while also holding the title of executive chef at La Cocina.
The lead position, however, it taken by Chef Alex, whose five years at the restaurant have proven his chops and his ability to run point. Possessing a keen eye for detail, he ensures that everyone is set up for a successful service and checks each dish before it leaves the kitchen. Chef Ricky is a more recent addition, having joined the team two years ago; but his drive and determined work ethic have made him invaluable.
Together, the three execute the menus designed by Chef Eric and regularly create entrée and dessert features using fresh seasonal ingredients.
“Their leadership and experience keep the kitchen running smoothly, even on the busiest summer nights,” said Christy Spell-Terry, who co-owns the restaurant with her father, Rick Terry, under the Spell Restaurant Group.
Sweets and savories
The reason for those busy summer nights is, of course, the food being created by those three talented minds. Featuring yellowfin tuna, hibiscus, fresh avocado, and serrano pepper marinated in citrus, the Ceviche may well be considered Chef Eric’s signature dish and has been an incredibly popular part of the menu. The fresh spin on the Peruvian classic is a “must try” dish and is in good company with some of their other guest favorites – among them, the Brussels Sprouts, Serrano Wrapped Figs, Enfuego Chicken, Chocolate Fondue, Classic Cookies served with milk, and Hot Chocolate Molten Cake. Unlike many restaurants, they put as much emphasis on creating magic with their sweets as they do with their savories.
Naturally, that translates into success – as does their use of the best ingredients available.
“Serving small plates means that there is no room to hide mistakes. Each plate must come out perfect!” – Christy Spell-Terry, co-owner
“All of our dishes are made from scratch, using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible,” said Spell-Terry. “Serving small plates means that there is no room to hide mistakes. Each plate must come out perfect!”
Equal attention is paid to the wine selection, offering guests an impressive list that has been chosen to pair perfectly with the flavors on the menu.
“The wine and the chocolate would probably tie for what people love most,” said Spell-Terry. “However, none of it would be possible without the attentive service our staff provides. The goal of everyone in the restaurant, both front- and back-of-house, is to make each guest’s meal memorable.”
La Crema Tapas & Chocolate is located at 38 Main Street, Rosemary Beach. Open daily 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; no reservations accepted. For more information, call 850-534-3004 or visit www.lacrematapas.com.
ROSEMARY BEACH – Edward’s Fine Food & Wine has always been a go-to hotspot for dinner along 30A, but co-owners Christy Spell-Terry and Rick Spell realized they were missing out on the chance to offer their fare to the daytime crowd. The Rosemary Beach eatery is now serving lunch Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., in addition to the daily dinner service. Guests are invited to try the likes of the crispy Brussels sprouts appetizer, the seared yellow fin tuna salad, a grilled salmon and wakame wrap with house-made fries, or the simply grilled grouper entree with haricot vests and lemon – to name a few.
Grilled salmon and wakame wrap
The grilled salmon and wakame wrap is served in a spinach herb wrap with wakame-Napa cabbage slaw, red bell pepper, jalapeño, and spicy mayo.
The pergola-covered courtyard offers outdoor space protected from the sun, with an added fan.
Jumbo lump crab cake salad
The jumbo lump crab cake salad is accented with mango, orange, toasted almond, radish, and honey citrus vinaigrette.
Shrimp and grits
From the lunch entree menu, the shrimp and grits incorporates Gulf shrimp, stone-ground grits, andouille sausage, lemon butter, capers, and arugula.
ROSEMARY BEACH – Havana Beach Bar & Grill is hosting a special Valentine’s Day dinner Sunday, Feb. 14 from 6 to 10 p.m. Toast to your special someone with a three-course, prix-fixe menu and live piano entertainment. $125 per person; sales tax and gratuity not included. Reservations are required at 850-588-2882.
ROSEMARY BEACH – The Courtyard at Pescado is taking reservations for an intimate dinner on Valentine’s Day, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2021. The special menu is available from 5 to 9 p.m. and is $130 per person (plus tax and gratuity). Dinner is by reservation only and seating will be very limited. Reservations can be made by emailing [email protected]
The Courtyard at Pescado, a garden courtyard and lounge, offers small bites, craft cocktails and an extensive wine list. Located under Pescado Seafood Grill and Rooftop Bar in Rosemary Beach, Pescado offers an eclectic menu by Chef Ken Duenas. For more information, visit rooftop30a.com or www.facebook.com/events/2487745828187622
ROSEMARY BEACH – Edward’s Fine Food and Wine is saying goodbye to 2020 with a five-course dinner on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, 2020. Chef Josh Smith has put together a special menu for the occasion, featuring Tuna Tartar, Blue Crab Bisque, Lobster Ravioli and Black Grouper – to name a few.
There are three seatings at 5, 7, and 9 p.m. Reservations are required for this event and can be made by calling 850-231-8550.To learn more, visit edwards30a.com.
Edward’s Fine Food and Wine is located at 66 Main St., Rosemary Beach.
Pescado’s lunch menu features thoughtfully prepared dishes by Chef Ken Duenas. Guests can enjoy items such as an Italian Duck Breast Cobb Salad, Maryland Crabcake, Chef’s Duck and Oyster Gumbo, a Lobster Roll and much more.
Take in the sweeping rooftop views of the Gulf of Mexico while sipping on Pescado’s famed craft cocktails from the bar. Reservations are strongly encouraged and may be made by calling 850-213-4600. Walk-ins will be accepted based on availability. Menu and additional info at Rooftop30A.com.
ROSEMARY BEACH – With an exceptional menu prepared by noted Chef Ken Duenas and a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico, Pescado Seafood Grill & Rooftop Bar offers a dining experience like no other.
The Rosemary Beach restaurant welcomes a dinner crowd of 18 and older with seafood entrees (Pescado is the Spanish word for fish), as well as a wide variety of other unique dishes. Duenas – who is also one of the restaurant’s owners – grew up learning to cook from his grandmother, then expanded his skills by working in kitchens all over the world. He enjoys creating new and exciting entrees for daily and weekly specials, but also keeps “guest favorites” on the menu year-round. One of the most popular is his Whole Cantonese Lobster.
“It’s a 2.5-, 3-pound Maine lobster deep-fried and served with Yakisoba noodles and Asian vegetables,” he explained. “It’s one of our best-selling shareables.”
His Chef’s Feast also has guests coming back again and again.
“This comes from something my grandmother cooked when I was a kid,” he recalled. “It’s four or five dinners combined into one. You start with red rice underneath, then whole-grilled fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, shrimp fritters, Chorizo sausage.”
In addition to those shareable dishes for the table, his menu offers a wide range of individual options.
“We also have small plates. I try to keep everything on the menu from lamb to short ribs to pork belly to scallops, octopus, and more,” he said.
Duenas works closely with Sommelier Doruk Gurunlu to pair each dish with the perfect wine. Pescado is the only restaurant in the area with a full-time sommelier. This allows guests to consult with an expert on what to drink with dinner.
“I’ll make a dish and Doruk makes suggestions at the table,” he explained. “For example, a lot of Asian food goes better with sweeter wine and a lot of people don’t understand that. They’ll try the sweeter wine with the food and find they complement each other very well.”
Gurunlu travels all over the U.S. and to France, Spain, and elsewhere to seek out new wines and add to Pescado’s extensive wine list.
“Most people tend to drink American wines,” Gurunlu said. “They like them and are often more familiar with them. I enjoy traveling to the different wine regions and getting the chance to bring back and introduce European wines here.”
He also creates wine flights to try with some of the restaurant’s specialty desserts. Pescado goes beyond what most restaurants offer when it comes to pairing wine with dessert, adding yet another level to making sure guests have a unique dining experience.
“If I can make someone’s night memorable, that’s a good night,” Gurunlu said.
Making sure each guest has a memorable dining experience is a top priority for everyone at Pescado. Duenas also checks in with guests at the table to make sure they’re enjoying themselves.
“From the minute you get off the elevator and see that view, we want you to enjoy the experience. Then when you sit down and start drinking and having a good time with your friends and family, then begin eating, we want the experience to get better and better,” he said.
While Pescado caters to the over-18 crowd for dinner, it does welcome people of all ages for Sunday brunch. Those hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round. And while the Raw Bar is also available during dinner, on Sundays, guests can enjoy it from 1 to 4 p.m. (between brunch and dinner).
Pescado is located at 74 Town Hall Road, Suite 4B, Rosemary Beach. During the season, the restaurant is open daily from 4 to 10:30 p.m.; the bar is open daily from 4 to 11 p.m. (11:30 on Friday and Saturday). Reach them by phone at 850-213-4600 or call 850-250-3806 to make reservations – which are highly recommended. Pescado is online at www.rooftop30a.com.
First, the kitchen will serve as a prep kitchen for sister restaurant Pescado to ease the burden of the very popular Gulf view restaurant.
Second, the kitchen will also be used as a catering kitchen for the group’s catering and special events.
Third, the dining space will be used as a private event space for rehearsal dinners, wine tastings and private dining. They believe this will be this best use of the space moving forward.
Owners Joe Freer, Greg Wakeham, John Freer, Steven Sapp, and Ken Duenas said they are saddened to close Southside Slice, but thrilled about the possibilities in the near and distant future. They will also be opening Fluke Oyster Bar in Inlet Beach within the next year or so.
Seaside pours over 120 wines, sells out 28th annual festival
By Michelle Farnham
A sudden autumn chill sent 2018 Seeing Red Wine Festival attendees clambering for cozy scarves and the warming effects of a luscious Pinot Noir. There were plenty of Cabs, Sirahs, Merlots, and a few Zins and Chardonnays thrown in for good measure, as well.
Dressed in their fall finest, wine-tasters had their pick of more than 120 bottles from 29 tents during the Nov. 10 grand tasting, pausing to refuel on the culinary offerings of 16 Seaside food purveyors.
Barefoot BBQ, the long-time Seaside Airstream Row tenant, made its debut at the festival, serving up hearty plates of nachos.
“Barbecue nachos are the perfect carry-around food,” explained Pitmaster Murphy. “When I was deciding what to do, I said, ‘We’re doing it all. Pork, chicken, brisket: my three top proteins.’”
Holly Brennan of Santa Rosa Beach hosted a group of ladies from Houston, Dallas, and Mobile, all sporting handmade fall harvest headbands. When asked why her crew wanted to come back to Seeing Red for their fourth year, she laughed while gesturing around her, “Isn’t it obvious?”
Five Daughters Bakery – which recently opened a second location in Rosemary Beach – ventured just steps from the Seaside Square Airstream to participate in its second festival. The table was filled with a trio of uniquely textured tempting treats, including the molasses pecan pie, the huckleberry almond with white chocolate and coconut, and the triple chocolate-dipped cone with sea salt.
“It’s 100 layers of croissant dough, so it’s a mix between a croissant and a donut. It’s a 4-day make process,” explained General Manager Chamiyyah Jones as she handed out charming mini donuts. “The molasses pecan pie has probably been the most popular.”
Across the aisle, Richard Park spoke with patrons from the Three Wine Company table. He poured – among others – the 2017 Old Wines Field Blend and the 2015 Napa Valley Chardonnay Stanly Ranch.
“A lot of zins taste like vanilla and 2x4s, but this one does not,” he said of his 2014 Zinfandel, earning a laugh from the crowd.
Shrimp salad sliders were the order of the day from The Shrimp Shack table, featuring steamed Gulf shrimp tossed in homemade remoulade sauce with onion celery, salt, and pepper.
“We are here right in Seaside, so we always want to participate in the events like this and be part of the community,” said Shrimp Shack General Manager George Eller, as he sauced up another slider.
Seaside newcomers Crepes du Soleil passed out two types of warm crepes, including the poulet (chicken, mushroom, sherried onions and gruyere cheese), and the bananas Foster, with caramelized bananas and Nutella. The sippable frosés – frozen rosé wine blended with honey – were also popular and provided something a little different.
Each year the staff at Bud & Alley’s Taco Bar comes up with a special new dish to serve at Seeing Red. Last year they made brisket enchiladas, but for 2018, it was the Mexican lasagna, featuring layers of corn tortilla, chicken, cheese, red bell pepper, white onion and jalapeño, with a spicy sour cream.
Chef Jim Shirley, a festival sponsor, had both of his Seaside Square restaurants well-represented under the paella tent. After perusing the Porsche sedan on display, one could grab a dish of paella from 45 Central, or Grits à Ya Ya compliments of Great Southern Café.
Other culinary partners included Amavida Coffee & Tea, Wild Bill’s Beach Dogs, Pickle’s Burgers & Shakes, Raw & Juicy, Seaside Farmers Market and Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co.
The festival, in its 28th year, spanned four days and also included the Bud & Alley’s Vintner Dinner featuring J. Lohr, a Gulf Coast-to-Table dinner with Chefs Jim Shirley and Zachary Keaton at Ruskin Place, and Sunday’s Celebration of Bubbles Brunch.
Photos courtesy of Michelle Farnham. For additional photos from the 2018 Seeing Red Wine Festival, be sure and visit us on Facebook.