Monday, January 8, 2018

The Waterfront: Sustainable Cuisine on Anna Maria

With a reputation as being one of the most eco-friendly destinations in the world, The Waterfront Restaurant on Anna Maria Island has also quietly been embracing green initiatives for over a decade. Praised by locals and out-of-town visitors alike for its inspired New American style of cuisine and impeccably curated beer and wine list, the expansive kitchen of this beloved restaurant also allows plenty of room to accommodate culinary creativity in a collaborative atmosphere. Local seafood vendors stop by to deliver their freshest catch, while produce vendors come by frequently with an array of fresh, seasonal produce. Not only does this sourcing system help support the local economy and ensure that customers are getting the freshest and tastiest foods available, it serves as an inspiration for the Waterfront’s kitchen team. As a result, the daily specials are often whimsical and creative in their interpretation of sustainable cuisine. The restaurant is also very friendly to vegetarians also provides extensive options for people who require a gluten-free diet. The eco-conscious endeavors aren’t confined to the kitchen. Owners Jason and Leah Suzor are constantly looking for other ways to reduce the restaurant’s environmental impact, recycling recycle everything they can, from the paper on your table, to the bottle your wine was poured from, to the cooking oils in the kitchen. Arriving for dinner with good friends over the holidays, we enjoyed chef Hibberts excellent cuisine and extensive wine list. The Waterfront Restaurant doesn’t just provide a great view and a warm community atmosphere, it also serves some of the finest sustainable cuisine that Florida has to offer, which is hard to beat.

Fish hanging over the bar sporting a cheeky Christmas hat

Glass of French Crément de Limoux at the Waterfront Bar

Craft Margherita

Glass of Leese Fitch Melot from California 

A warm wood interior, elegant wine bar, and lovely open air patio with views of the emerald green waters of Tampa Bay provide the perfect atmosphere for enjoying the island charm of Anna Maria

All the bread is homemade

From the oven to the table, lovely warm bread

Classic Caesar Salad with crisp romaine hearts, homemade croutons and freshly-shaved Parmesan-Reggiano tossed in their signature Caesar dressing

Chef Justin Hibberts in kitchen

Risotto Jullienne with braised beef simmered in rich beef gravy and nestled atop creamy parmesan risotto with spring peas and a fried onion haystack

Chargrilled Apricot Glazed Pork Tenderloin with a gingered apricot orange glaze, then sliced and served with mashed potato

Frutti di Mare with white shrimp, scallops, mussels and clams with garlic, diced roma tomatoes and basil chiffonade sautéed in olive oil and tossed with linguini 

Banana Crème Brûlée

Shrimp & Grits
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of chef Justin Hibberts

4 Andouille sausage links, cooked fully and cut into strips 
24 16/20 shrimp, skinned and deveined
2 large red bell peppers, fire-roasted and diced small
3 lemons juiced
12 oz white wine such as Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio 
16 oz vegetable or chicken stock
4 cups heavy cream
2 cups grated Parmesan
2 scallions, sliced thinly on a diagonal for garnish

Grit cakes:
1 cup whole milk
1 1/3 cups of grits
2 cups chicken stock
4 ounces butter
2 tbsp hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Start by preparing the grit cakes by bringing the stock and milk to a slow boil. Whisk in the grits slowly, and keep whisking for two to three minutes to create a smooth texture. Allow the grits to fully set, then add butter and hot sauce. Pour the grits into a greased 9-inch-by-7-inch pan, and refrigerate to cool and set, then portion into desired shapes, such as 2-inch squares. Batter and deep fry until golden brown, for a creamy inside and crispy crust. This recipes yields about 9 to 10 grit cakes.

Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes. Swirl enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the peppers, wine, lemon juice and chicken stock. Reduce to al sec, add the cream and then reduce by half. Whisk in the Parmesan as the cream is cooling, until it is melted and viscous.

Heat a large sauté pan on medium-high for 1 to 2 minutes. Swirl enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the sausage and render until it starts to crisp. Then add the shrimp. When the shrimp start to turn pink, add the red peppers, lemon juice, wine and stock. At this point, pull the shrimp from the pan to prevent overcooking. Let the sauce reduce until less than 4 ounces of liquid is left. Add the cream, bring to a boil, and reduce by half. Whisk in the parmesan as the cream is cooling, until it has melted and becomes viscous, then place the shrimp back into the pan to warm. To serve, place a grit cake or two into each of 4 warmed dinner bowls, then pour the shrimp and andouille mixture overtop and garnish with chopped fresh scallions to taste.

Chef Justin's Scallops Trovalo

Serves 4-6
Recipe courtesy of chef Justin Hibberts

1 1/2 lb jumbo sea scallops
2 oz vegetable oil
1 lb mixed wild mushrooms, sliced
2 sprigs fresh thyme, picked and minced
15 leaves fresh oregano, minced
8 leaves fresh rosemary, minced
2 tbsp roasted garlic purée
1 lemon, freshly juiced
3 oz white wine
1/4 lb butter, cubed

Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Season the pan with 2 oz vegetable oil. When the oil reaches its smoking point, add all of the scallops individually, making sure to only fill the pan half full so that the pan doesn’t cool too much, which will produce nice crowns on the scallops. Once the pan comes back to temperature, add half of the cubed butter and all the wild mushrooms. Once the butter starts to brown around the edges, give the pan a good shake. Season with salt and pepper, then add the roasted garlic and fresh herbs. Once the herbs become fragrant deglaze with lemon juice, white wine and the remainder of the butter. Let simmer until the butter and roasted garlic leaves a velvety consistency. Serve with your favourite rice and grain blend, alongside fresh greens.

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