Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lentils with Roasted Tomatoes, Red Onion & Cilantro

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe for Castelluccio Lentils with Tomatoes and Gorgonzola from his award-winning cookbook 'Plenty,' I created this modified version of his inspired masterpiece, while still retaining the spirit and exceptional flavour of the original dish, but eliminating some of the needless extra calories. Instead of adding soft and sinful morsels of high-fat Italian gorgonzola cheese, a generous dollop of thick and creamy low-fat plain Greek yogurt crowns the salad in its place. Still, flavour reigns supreme with a magnificent marriage of sweet oven roasted cherry tomatoes, marinated sliced red onions, fresh chopped cilantro and heart-healthy low calorie lentils, all dressed with a fragrant dressing of garlic, cumin and olive oil. Simple and delicious, this dish tastes as healthy and sensational as it looks.

Lentil Salad with Roasted Tomatoes, Red Onion & Cilantro
Serves 6

1 19 oz can lentils, rinsed
Juice of 1/2 lime and 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 red onion, thinly sliced into rings
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
12-16 cherry tomatoes, halved and roasted
1/8 cup olive oil
1 cup Greek yogurt, as garnish

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the tomatoes together in a large bowl with 1/8 cup of olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, in one layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft and lightly caramelized. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. This can be done a day before. 

Mix the lemon and lime juice, vinegar and a pinch of salt in a small bowl, then add the sliced onion rings and toss to coat. After 10-15 minutes the onions will soften and turn pinkish. Whisk in the oil, cumin and garlic to the onions, then add the lentils, cilantro and roasted tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and combine the salad well. Serve in a decorative bowl and top with a crown of plain Greek yogurt and garnish of chopped cilantro.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Turkey Zucchini Kofta with Spring Onion & Cumin

Inspired by a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's cookbook Jerusalem, where they explore the recipes and flavours of their home city, I was drawn to their Turkey Zucchini Kofta with spring onion, fresh mint, cilantro and cumin. Bringing together their unique cross cultural perspectives – the Arab east and Jewish west — Ottolenghi and Tamimi bring to life the intensity and vibrancy of dishes they grew up with, such as these delicious kofta or meatballs. A dish that transcends cultures, kofta seem to have originated with the Persians, who passed it to the Arabs. According to The Oxford Companion to Food, kofta appears in some of the earliest Arabic cookbooks, where it consisted of ground lamb rolled into orange-sized balls and glazed with egg yolk and saffron. They likely traveled from the Arab world along trade routes to Greece, North Africa, and Spain. Nearly every major culture has its own version of the meatball: Spanish albondigas, Dutch bitterballen, Italian polpettes, Chinese lion’s heads, and South African skilpedjies. Kofte, too, are cooked everywhere from India to Morocco. Light and flavourful, these Turkey Zucchini Kofta are a delicious new addition to the culinary pantheon of luscious bite size morsels.

The turkey-zucchini mixture is formed into small balls and fried in a little oil until golden brown

Once browned on both sides, the kofta go into the oven for 5-7 minutes until cooked through

Turkey Zucchini Kofta with Spring Onion & Cumin

Makes 12-16 kofta
Recipe courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi

1 lb ground turkey

2 cups coarsely grated zucchini, about 1 large zucchini
5 green onions, thinly sliced, about 40 g
1 large egg
2 tbsp chopped mint
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
6 tbsp vegetable oil

Sumac Sauce:
3 1/2 oz sour cream
5 oz Greek yoghurt
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sumac
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce in a bowl and stir well to combine, then cover and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine all of the ingredients except for the oil in a large bowl, and mix thoroughly with your hands. Once evenly mixed, shape into small flat meatballs about 2 oz each, being sure to  press the mixture together to ensure the kofta keep their shape. 

Pour enough oil into a large frying pan to get a thin layer at the bottom. When hot, sear the kofta in batches on medium heat from all sides. Cook them for about 4 minutes, adding oil as needed, until golden brown. Carefully transfer the seared kofta into an oven tray lined with parchment paper and place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until just cooked through. Serve warm or at room temperature, with the sauce spooned over or on the side.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Banana Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Rich, moist and delicious, this Banana Layer Cake with fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting is one of my favourite desserts, a delicious culinary creation that envelops luscious layers of cake with an indulgent creamy frosting. A sweet symbol of celebration, you don't need a special occasion to make this simply divine dessert. Layered with cream cheese frosting and slices of fresh banana, this recipe is what happens when banana bread goes to the dark side. It's also an excellent way to use up over ripe bananas — the browner they are, the better. The same recipe can be used to make banana bread and muffins, but the delicate cream cheese frosting and layers of fresh sliced bananas, make this dessert simply irresistible.

Banana Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves 8-10

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature, plus more for pan
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1 whole banana, cut into thin slices
5 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz cream cheese
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9" round cake pan and set aside. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, and beat to incorporate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Add bananas, buttermilk, and vanilla; mix to combine. Stir in nuts, and pour into the cake pan.

Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30-40 minutes. Let rest in pan for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool. Using a long knife, slice the cake in half though the middle, making 2 layers. Remove one half and set aside.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese until smooth; then add the sugar and vanilla, and mix until light and fluffy. To assemble the cake, place one layer of cake on a serving platter and spread with cream cheese frosting. Arrange one layer of banana slices over top, then cover with the second layer, and frost the top and sides of the cake. Garnish the sides or top with chopped nuts; slice and serve.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cassoulet Castelnaudray: A Culinary Labour of Love

A slow-simmered mix of beans, pork sausages, pork shoulder, pancetta, and duck, cassoulet takes its name from the earthenware 'cassol' in which it was traditionally made. The Castelnaudary version is the most rustic and is based largely on pork and pork rind, sausage, and sometimes goose; the Carcassonne variety contains leg of mutton and occasionally partridge; and the cassoulet of Toulouse includes fresh lard, mutton, local Toulouse sausage, and duck or goose. No matter which cassoulet you make, it's important to follow one important rule: use only the very best ingredients. This famous bean stew — and 'bean stew' hardly conveys the complexity of its flavours — is subject to much debate about what actually constitutes a 'true' cassoulet, for there is likely a different recipe in every kitchen. But Cassoulet is what slow food is all about, and it takes time to prepare. This recipe is one my husband makes each winter, and is his adaptation of Cassoulet Castelnaudray, a rich, authentic, full-bodied feast which he feels is best served around two in the afternoon on a cold snowy weekend and enjoyed with your best friends and a couple bottles of good French red wine. He starts by making his own duck confit a few days before, and uses Toulouse sausage, unsmoked ham hock, pork shoulder, pork belly, pancetta and thick meaty beef short ribs in lieu of lamb, for his outstanding 2017 Cassoulet Castelnaudray. Made only once a year, it's his labour of love, and we love him for it — Cheers Guy!

Cassoulet Castelnaudray à la Guy
Serves 12 

2 lb un-smoked ham hock
1 cup coarse salt 
4 cups dried Great Northern white beans, soaked in water to cover overnight
1/2 lb pork belly
1/4 lb pancetta 
1 lb fresh pork skin 
1/2 cup duck fat from the confit
1 1/2 lb Toulouse sausage
1 3/4 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into smaller pieces
1 1/2 lb beef short ribs, trimmed of fat and cut into smaller pieces 
2 medium-size onions, peeled, and each studded with 2 cloves 
1 large carrot, sliced into rounds
1 lb ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
3 tbsp tomato paste
10 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
Bouquet garni, tied: 10 sprigs fresh parsley, thyme and 2 bay leaves
1 litre bottled spring water, such as Evian
1 litre dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups fresh bread crumbs, made from a French baguette in a food processor

Duck Confit:
2 lb frozen whole duck, defrosted
2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
3 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves, broken
6 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups rendered duck fat, purchased in tubs

Making Homemade Duck Confit: 2 Days Before
Carve the duck into pieces, separating the legs, breasts, wings and remaining carcass, then place in a large dish or pan. Mix together the salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves and garlic, and rub thoroughly into the duck meat. Cover and refrigerate for 48 hours. 

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over moderate heat and brown the duck pieces thoroughly, skin side down first, then all over. Once done, place all of the duck into an oven-proof pot in which they fit snuggly as possible, adding the seasonings and enough rendered fat to cover, or almost cover, the meat. We melted 2 two-cup purchased tubs of rendered duck fat to add to the fat from the duck, so that we had enough to cover the meat. Then cook in a low 300°F oven for 2 hours, turning the pieces if duck once or twice during the cooking time. Remove from the oven, cover and leave to cool. Once safe to handle, pour the fat from the confit, tear the duck from the bone and chill both separately in plastic containers until needed.

Curing the Ham Hocks & Soaking the Beans: 2 Days Before
Roll the ham hocks in coarse salt and arrange in a glass or ceramic bowl, then cover and refrigerate for 48 hours, being sure to wash the salt off before adding to the cassoulet. Soak the beans in water to cover overnight. 

Blanching the Beans: 1 Day Before
Drain the beans and bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Add the beans, pancetta and pork belly and blanch for 10 minutes, then take off the heat and allow to sit for an a hour. Drain into a colander, removing the pancetta and pork belly from the beans, and dice into smaller pieces; cover and chill overnight. Place the beans in a large bowl; cover and chill overnight. 

Cooking the Meat: Early Morning of Cassoulet Day
Melt 5 tablespoons of duck fat from the confit in a large pot over a medium heat. Pierce the Toulouse sausages with a toothpick (so they don't burst while cooking) and brown for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove the sausages and set aside. Brown the pork shoulder cubes in the same casserole, for 8 to 10 minutes, then remove and set aside. Brown the ham hock in the casserole, about 5 minutes, remove and set aside. Brown the beef short ribs, about 8 to 10 minutes, remove and set aside. 

Preparing the Cassoulet: 
Add the clove-studded onions and sliced carrot to the casserole and cook until the onions turn colour, 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic, bouquet garni, bottled water, wine and some salt and pepper, to taste. Return all the meats, including the shredded duck to the pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the meats are tender, about 2 hours.

Remove the ham hock, salt pork, Toulouse sausage, pork shoulder, beef ribs and duck, and using your hands, pull all of the good meat from the bones and reserve in a large bowl. Discard the bones and excess fat from the meat, and slice the sausage into thick rounds. Strain the broth through a colander, discarding the vegetables but saving the broth.

Baking the Cassoulet: 
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Line the bottom of a large 6 to 8-quart casserole, with the flap of pork skin, fat side down. Pour in half of the beans, then top with the meat from the pork shoulder, ham hock, beef ribs, duck confit, pork belly, pancetta and sausages. Cover with the remaining beans. Pour enough of the reserved broth into the casserole until it just reaches the top of the beans. Sprinkle with the bread crumbs and dot with the remaining 3 tablespoons of duck fat. Bake, uncovered for 4 hours, until the crust is golden brown, breaking the crust seven times by pushing down slightly with the back of a ladle. Serve immediately with a couple of bottles of red wines from the Languedoc — because you deserve it!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mercatto on Toronto Street: Modern Italian Fare

Every neighbourhood has their own local Italian restaurant. A place that serves a little taste of Tuscany and a decent bottle of wine without breaking the bank. Living downtown, there are many places to choose from, but only a few that are just around the corner, which for us is Mercatto, nestled away on Toronto Street between King and Adelaide. One of five locations in the city, this restaurant was the original, and I believe the best. Warm and inviting with a smaller more intimate feel, the food is simple and delicious, and the staff consistently excellent. Regional Italian fare made with fresh seasonal ingredients and complimented by Mercatto's award-winning wine list from Italy’s diverse wine regions, makes dining at Mercatto a real pleasure. 

Salumi Board with olives and taralli

Casarecce with lamb ragu, porcini and honey mushrooms, cavalo purée and grated padano

Chitarra alla Carbonara with pancetta, black pepper, egg and pecorino

Orecchiette with Italian Sausage and Rapini
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of chef Doug Neigel

1 bunch rapini, with 2-inches trimmed from bottom of stalks
4 cups dried orecchiette pasta
1/4 cup olive oil
12 oz Italian pork sausage, removed from casing
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 to 1 fresh red chili pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
4 tsp butter
1/4 cup grated Grana Padano cheese
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, bring heavily salted water to a boil. Add the rapini, return to a boil, and simmer for 2 minutes, or until tender. Transfer the rapini to a colander and drain well. When cool enough to handle, chop into 1-inch pieces. Bring the water back to a boil, add the pasta and give a good stir. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook according to package directions. When cooked, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and set aside.

In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cook until browned on all sides. Add the chopped rapini and reduce the heat to medium. Stir in the garlic and chili pepper. Add the white wine and the reserved pasta water which will give some starch and body to the sauce. Add the drained pasta and reduce the heat to low. Add the butter and cheese and combine well. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. To serve, mound the pasta into a large serving dish or divide among individual serving bowls. Grate more cheese overtop, if desired.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Jumbo Shrimp with Homemade Cocktail Sauce

An elegant and low fat appetizer, poached shrimp with cocktail sauce is also one of the most satisfying. For those who adore shrimp, finding a perfect cocktail sauce that is not too sweet or bland, like many store-bought brands, can be a formidable challenge. Thankfully an easy solution is at hand: by simply combining two pantry staples — ketchup and prepared horseradish — one can customize the ideal sauce, perfectly balanced for the most discerning taste buds.

Homemade Cocktail Sauce
Makes1 cup

2/3 cup ketchup
1/3 cup prepared horseradish 

Mix the ingredients together in a small bowl and chill until ready to serve.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Churrasqueira Martins: Traditional Portuguese Cuisine

Famous for their fabulous fresh grilled fish and succulent Barbecue Chicken, Churrasqueira Martins is a neighbourhood gem, tucked away in a quiet plaza near Rogers and Old Weston Road in Toronto. Owned and operated by Carlos and Samantha Martins since 1992, Martins imports their fish twice a week from Portugal which arrives fresh on ice, never frozen, and quite possibly serves the best grilled fish and seafood in the city. Simply prepared, cooked to perfection and flavoured with love, the Grilled Squid, C
lams and succulent Grilled Tiger Shrimp are truly outstanding. Relaxed and informal with a fabulous menu of classic Portuguese dishes and extensive wine list including their own brand of red and white wines, Martins sensational cuisine is only matched by their warm, friendly and gracious service. Enjoying a long leisurely lunch on a cold winter afternoon, we had a lovely chat with owner Carlos Martins who travels back to Portugal every February to buy wine for his restaurant and take some quality time to visit family and enjoy the warmth of his country's beautiful Porto region. A gesture of his warm hospitality, he graciously sent over two glasses of Ginja, a traditional Portuguese sweet cherry liqueur, at the end of our meal. Obrigado.

The warm and inviting interior of Martins

Spiced Portuguese black olives

Portuguese corn bread, whole wheat and warm garlic toasts

Martins house white wine, a 2016 Mingora Terras D'Uva Alentejano

Lovely, light and dry with light fruity notes and light straw colour, Martins house wines are a popular choice for their grilled seafood

Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato | Clams in White Wine and Cilantro Butter

Lula Grelhada | Grilled Squid with Parsley Infused Olive Oil

Gambas Grelhada | Grilled Tiger Shrimp

Feijoada, a traditional Portuguese bean stew with pork, chourica sausage and cabbage

Portuguese Carrot Rice | Arroz de Cenouras

Ginja, a traditional Portuguese sweet cherry liqueur

Monday, January 22, 2018

Homemade Tzatziki: A Taste of the Aegean

Inspired by the outstanding homemade Tzatziki that we enjoyed in Tarpon Springs a few weeks ago, with its perfect ratio of coarsely grated cucumber, thick Greek yogurt, fresh squeezed lemon juice and generous lashings of pungent pressed garlic, I relished the promise of perfecting my own tzatziki recipe. And it was, as my stepson says, "easy-peasey lemon squeezy". Excellent at the first 'go', allowing the tatziki to chill for a few hours or even overnight, makes the flavours more robust, however we did manage to finish off a whole bowl straight away with some lovely Grilled Mahi Mahi, for a true taste of the Aegean in the midst of Toronto's coldest winter on record. 

Homemade Tzatziki
Makes 1 cup 

1/2 English cucumber, seeded and grated with skin on
1 cup plain strained Greek yogurt
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, pressed 
1/4 tsp Maldon salt

Slice the cucumber in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Grate the remaining cucumber, spread it out over a large tea towel and wrap it tight, leaving it at least 30 minutes until the grated cucumber is quite dry. 

In the meantime, peel and finely crush the garlic, then combine with the oil in a small bowl and allow to marinate for 10-15 minutes. Combine the cucumber with the garlic mixture, then stir through the yoghurt until evenly distributed along with a squeeze of lemon juice. Season with salt to taste. Serve with warm pita or alongside a Greek salad and grilled meats. Leftover tzatziki keeps well, chilled, for about 4 days.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Charles' Florida Key Lime Pie

My dear friend Charles makes the finest Key Lime Pie. He came across his culinary ability honestly. His mother was a great cook, and Charles with a prodigious sweet tooth, mastered desserts. Born in the American south, his homemade Pralines, Southern Fried Chicken and Pink Elephants are equally irresistible as his Florida Key Lime Pie. Served after a long leisurely lunch in Naples a few weeks ago, he obliged me with his secret recipe. Named after the small Key limes that are naturalized throughout the Florida Keys, I was surprised when his secret ingredient was Nellie & Joe's Key West Lime Juice, which Charles swears gives his pies more pizzazz. At 91, who are we to argue with that?

Charles' Florida Key Lime Pie

Serves 6-8
Recipe courtesy of Nellie & Joe's 

2 300ml cans of sweetened condensed milk

6 egg yolks - whites not used but could make a meringue top if desired
1 cup Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice
2 fresh limes, zest only

Thick Pie Crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter 
1/3 cup sugar

In a large bowl, combine the pie crust ingredients thoroughly for a deep dish 9-inch pie plate or springform pan. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Press the crumbs firmly over the bottom and up sides of the pie plate, then chill for an hour before filling. For the filling, combine the condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice, zest and blend until smooth. Pour the filling into the graham cracker pie crust and bake at 350ºF for 18-20 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating. Just before serving, top with freshly whipped cream or meringue, and garnish with sliced lime.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Florida Maritime Museum in Historic Cortez Village

The Spanish conquistadors came to Sarasota seeking fortune, fame, and adventure. They were awed by the beauty of Florida’s Gulf Coast but were more interested in finding wealth than creating a permanent settlement. If Hernando Cortez were to see his namesake fishing village nestled on a picturesque point in Manatee County across from Anna Maria Island, he might be astounded to discover that the wealth of the area was not in gold, but in fish. Nestled in a 1912 Schoolhouse on almost 4 acres of land in the historic fishing village of Cortez, The Florida Maritime Museum preserves and shares Florida’s rich Maritime heritage. Founded on the importance of the local commercial fishing industry, the museum includes a research library with a variety of books, plans, logs, diaries, letters, records and archival material about maritime subjects, with special emphasis on Florida’s Gulf Coast, in addition to exhibits of boat models, tools, instruments, historic photographs and a large collection of shells from the Gulf of Mexico. 

Founded in the 1880s, the historic commercial fishing village of Cortez is on the National Register of Historic Places, highlighting its importance as one of the few remaining working commercial fishing communities in Florida. Although commercial fishing and agriculture where once the pillars of the local economy, urbanization, habitat loss, and competition with recreational fishing interests led to contraction of the fishing industry. The last fish house still working is A.P. Bell, founded in 1940 by Aaron Bell, a noted area rogue who realized that he did better on his own than with partners. The house is now run by Karen Bell. Although she left Cortez to go to college and because her father wanted her to have an easier life, she missed the area and felt a responsibility to the community. In 1986 she returned and eventually bought the Star Fish Market, turning it into a thriving waterfront restaurant, and is also the day-to-day manager of the A.P. Bell Fish House. In the winter season A.P. Bell employs 50 people and services at least 100 boats, and ships fish around the globe. Karen is very conscious that Cortez is a “working” village. She participates with FISH, the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage, an organization dedicated to preserving, maintaining, and promoting public awareness and protection for the traditional maritime culture and facilities in Cortez and elsewhere, and so the unique spirit of Cortez continues. 

Propeller from the 1892 steamboat Mistletoe' which began its run in the late 1800s and was Sarasota’s first reliable and regular connection to cities and counties nearby

Interior of the Florida Maritime Museum in the historic village of Cortez

Beautiful shell collected by fishermen, who treasured the beauty as well as the bounty of the sea

Small replica of the 'Glenda Fay' fishing trawler with local sponges

Diorama of Fogarty Boatworks based in Bradenton Florida 

Nestled in a 1912 Schoolhouse on almost 4 acres of land in the historic fishing village of Cortez, the Florida Maritime Museum preserves and shares Florida’s rich Maritime heritage

Collection of marine code flags

Museum library collection of rare navigation books and old photographs

Paddle wheel steamboats were the primary means of transportation in Florida, 
particularly along the lakes and rivers found in the Panhandle near Tallahassee

Net fishing used to be common sight in Cortez until a net ban in 1994 prohibited their use

Outdoor waterfall and pond beside the museum

Secret garden window into the private courtyard of the museum

Built by local landscape designer Alan Garner in the 1980’s, the fountain was recently restored

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Bridge Tender Inn: Dockside Tiki Bar on the Beach

Located on historic Bridge Street on Anna Maria Island, the Bridge Tender Inn captures what island life is all about with friendly people, fresh seafood, cold drinks and beautiful views overlooking beautiful Sarasota Bay. Established in 1991, the Bridge Tender Inn and Dockside Bar is a favourite among locals and 'snowbirds' alike. Known for its 'old Florida' charm, casual beachside fare and popular evening entertainment, the waterfront tiki bar features lighter fare including fresh local seafood, a great selection of appetizers, tasty salads, array of sandwiches, and selection of creative cocktails such as Scottie's Afternoon Delight, Shan's Rum Runner and Beckie's Bikini Babe. Arrive by boat or walk up from Bradenton Beach, and enjoy Florida seafood on the sandy shore of sunny Sarasota Bay. 

Bridge Tender dock decorated with Christmas lights

Yeungling beer from America's oldest brewery

Smoked Mahi Mahi fish paté with crackers, pickles and crudités

Basket of lightly fried Basa Bites served with tartar sauce and fresh lemon

Classic Grilled Reuben Sandwich made with thin y sliced corned beef, sauerkraut and melted swiss cheese with thousand island dressing, served on rye bread

Grilled Reuben
Serves 4

2 tbsp butter 
8 slices rye bread 
8 slices deli sliced corned beef 
8 slices Swiss cheese 
1 cup sauerkraut, drained 
1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing

Preheat a large skillet or griddle on medium heat. Lightly butter one side of bread slices, and spread the non-buttered sides with Thousand Island dressing. On 4 bread slices, layer a slice Swiss cheese, two slices of corned beef, 1/4 cup of sauerkraut and a second slice of Swiss cheese. Top with the remaining bread slices, buttered sides out. Grill the sandwiches until both sides are golden brown, about 15 minutes per side. Serve immediately.