By Jeff Stolowitz
40 Years of Dining History, I kept wondering why I had never been here.
The Daytona Shores, notorious for the Police Pulling everyone over for any reason. Maybe that was the answer but in reality it was my bias regarding Pizza in Florida. That was about to change. Porto Fino is a throwback to another era. Where Joe Pesci might meet Ray Liota or Deniro to discuss who sleeps with the fishes.
With era appropo music playing "Staying Alive" by the Bee Gees.
This place has stayed alive in an era where foams moleculer gastronomy, and hand crafted everything this place slays you with great straight forward standard favorites.
This is good food. I could tell as the aroma wafted from the kitchen into the dining room.
Our appetizers were simple the Fresh Fried Zuccini sprinkled with Parm Cheese and a House Salad with a house made Italian Vinagrette perfection in every bite.
The main courses were even better. House Speciall Marsala and Stuffed Shells.
As I sat starry eyed after tasting the Marsala,
I remembered being taught how to make this dish and the velvety taste of the wine that deglazed the pan and reduced with the mushrooms, magic!!! No not magic mushrooms but I was in a euphoric state.
To finish the meal Cappucino, Espresso and the last sips of our Ruffino Chianti Classico.
This my first visit it certainly will not be my last.
To another 40 years I say, "Vine Vide Vici"
3124 South Atlantic Ave
Daytona Beach, Florida 32118
By Jeff Stolowitz
Each year the line grows for our Dinner said Main Street Station owner Phaedra Lee.
This year was special as we recalled the fund raising events this year. From the Battle of the Babes to The Shriners to the Freedom 100 Ride.
Customers helped raise over $10,000 for various causes and charities from Kids to Vets in 2018.
The dinner is just another way to give back, this time to those who give or in many cases just need a meal on the Holidays.
With the sounds of Penta killing it on the stage with versions of Pink Floyd that were simply as close as you will get the Pot Luck was rolled out. "If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?" Deviled Eggs, Baked Ziti, Meatballs,
Roasted Red Potatoes, Vegetable fresh Herb Medly, Smithfield Ham, Pies, Cookies, Fudge and more.
All smiles and full bellies at the end of the day said it all.
By Jeff Stolowitz
Photos By Jeff Stolowitz
On any other night Wednesdays around here is Bike Night with hundreds of Riders going back and forth to end up at Main Street Station or Bam Bam's but this week we were once again lucky to be invited to the Wine Dinner Series at The Shores Resort and Spa.
Something a little magical occurred this night as the dinner featured a duet called Memory Lane playing.
in that duet is a guitarist who plays with the Band Miss Intent one of the most popular bands now in our area.
With St Francis wines as the headliner having Memory Lane was the touch that caused the dinner to be the most interactive dinner since we started attending them, about 30 attendees were treated to a fabulous 4 course extravaganza.
With the first course arriving the wine began swirling, a 2015 Chardonnay, Buttery and balanced, the wine had the perfect nose of peach and burnt oak. It paired with Chef Patrick Ransom's Sassafras infused White Lafourche Shrimp Gumbo. A shining example of what working with fresh ingredients can mean.
Next up was the ORA KING a farm raised fatty Salmon from New Zealand bred to be just that fatty and flavorful this paired with my favorite wine of the evening the 2015 Pinot Noir a shining example of a 100% Pinot Noir with clarity and visuals that leave you shaking your head. I asked for another glass. lest not forget the Golden Beets that added an earthy undertone that made this dish an experience.
We chatted a bit with food blogger for the West Volusia Beacon
Ryan Rougeux and I both agreed this was a special meal and then the third course arrived.
Ox Tail Osso Bucco, yes it was and not since my days eating a Blue Ribbon Restaurant in NYC delving in Bone Marrow with Oxtail Marmalade have I melted into a dish so eagerly.
For me this was the highlight of everything great they have done this year. Of course it was paired with a Cabernet Blend 2014 it needs that tannin to cut through the delicious cartilage, marrow meet and fat that made me want more.
The evening finished with a dessert few would endeavor to attempt a 10 layer Crepe Cake, Chocolate & Raspberry yummy goodness and the tenacious Chef Ransom pulls another Rabbit out of the hat and completes the meal with a 2015 Old Vine Zin reminiscent of what you'd expect roots, earth, bittersweet chocolate the perfect touch to a perfect meal.
The Shore Resort & Spa
2637 S Atlantic Ave (32.41 mi)
Daytona Beach Shores, Florida 32118
By Jeff Stolowitz
Daytona Beach Shores
Friday nights around here have changed and the upscale dining scene begins to grow in the Daytona Beach area.
Once again I attended another wine dinner and pairing at The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Shores.
The wine dinner this evening featured wines from Foley Vineyards presented by Kim Braddock. The meal was prepared by the great team now run by Executive Chef Devin Gainor and Sous Chef Patrick Ransom.
The evening began with a first course of a play on Oysters Rockefeller. It featured a delicate Lemon crumb topping, Goat Cheese and a Kale Pesto.
This went perfectly alongside the Roth Sonoma Sauvignon Blanc... 100% of the varietal. The traditional notes of Grapefruit were balanced by hints of Green Melon. A smooth starter for the rest of the dinner.
Our second course arrived as the sounds of a duo playing live acoustic music began to drift through the room. My table facing the ocean I was treated to an incredibly executed Sea Scallop with a Smoky Corn and Calabrian Chili sauce that had just the right combo of sweet, smoke and spice.
Our server Natalie poured the Chardonnay by Foley Johnson. It was perfect reminding one of summertime in a Peach Farm.
Next up was an interesting dish a Porchetta.
A pork roll with a bark like spiced candy and a fermented Salsa Verde.
This was a sauce the venerable Mark Miller of Southwestern Cuisine fame would deem worthy of his restaurant Coyote Café.
Then the surprise of the night a Pinot Noir. No I mean a real Pinot Noir. The nose the color the balance, pepper and spice and everything nice by Banshee. Yes this Pinot Noir screamed Pinot Noir and maybe the name is just apropos.
Our main course was here.
Skirt Steak with a Red Chimichurri they flirted with each other like two fiery lovers.
Swooning already I reached for my Dessert a Glass of Chalk Hill Sonoma Red Blend. 6 varietals blended together to wash down the greatest meal all summer long.
As always outstanding results are achieved by those who break the mold and the culinary staff at The Shores Resort and Spa does just that each and every time.
2637 S Atlantic Ave (32.43 mi)
Daytona Beach Shores, Florida 32118
By Jeff Stolowitz
The wine series at Azure in 2018 is off to an incredible start and it featured the decades old Cakebread Cellars. That says a lot as Cakebread Cellars is an original Napa Valley Winery and is one of the most recognized Vineyards in the wine world. From the time Jack Cakebread and his wife Dolores planted their first vines in 1972 to their first release in 1974 to the present day the Winery continues to shine.
I knew we were in for a treat as I looked at the pairing menu.
Chef Patrick Ransom the talented young chef that isn't afraid to take chances and go outside the box. Five wines, 5 courses and a spectacular view of Daytona was on tap and he nailed it.
I was seated with Dan and Kathy Cusumano.
Dan is representative of Bar Harbor Seafood and Kathy is a Licensed Realtor with Gaff’s Realty Company, foodies by any rights. They have attended many of these dinners and we all agreed we were in for a great evening.
Our first course was Grilled Prawns with a Rock Melon, Radish and Mustard Green medley that was accented by the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. The dish was crisp as was the wine. The rock melon a bit bitter was sweetened and highlighted by a slight honeydew nose and finish from the wine.
Our second course arrives and I was stunned that anyone would do this. Cold smoked lobster. Smoking Lobster??? Chef Ransom explained his play on a lobster roll as the Brioche he created for this was done to enhance the Chardonnay. In one word. This dish and the wine were “Butter”
Easy to eat as it disappeared from my plate.
The vintage a 2016 is a classic Cakebread creation.
Next up was the Giant Lollichop.
Purple Peruvian Potatoes and a spicy Chipotle and Currant mix was delicious and left me wanting more.
Then I looked over and there was our waitress was pouring the 2016 Pinot Noir, pepper and spice currants and everything nice.
Just a awsome delicioush dish.
Just when I think it can't get any better in comes the Main Course a Faux Filet.
Explained as a dry Aged NY Strip trimmed to the center and marinated in a secretive lard.
The resulting finish has a thin bark and the texture of filet. It didn't hurt that the chef as and his team also added grilled asparagus, Couscous and Quinoa for the wow factor.
This was purposely paired with the 2014 Cakebread Cabernet Sauvignon.
A classic tasting vintage that should age well in the bottle for years to come. It retails for a bargain price of $891.00 a case.
The night finished with a Brownie Trifle
I giggled like a kid as I tore through this dessert like it was the last time I would eat.
They paired this with a 2014 Merlot
While not my favorite grape this paired well as the Cherry notes cut through the deep chocolate and peanut flavors.
Once again just one incredible event to attend.
By Jeff Stolowitz
Karen Romano Adams
One of the best things about Daytona Beach is that it is the World's Most Famous Beach and recently it has been absolutely living up to its reputation with the openings of Millie's Restaurant and Catering in the Daytona Shores and Off the Hook at Inlet Harbor in Ponce Inlet followed by the grand openings of Cocina 214 and the Landshark Bar & Grill on Beachside and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
It sure has been chilly this winter but things heated up this week call meeting with the ribbon cutting at both places VIP events on Wednesday night and Thursday showcased incredible food that both places have to offer and the hospitality that will be shown guests as they come to these places Fresh Tortillas freshly made margaritas and LandShark beer that Jimmy Buffett made famous are but just a few of the things that people can try while visiting these places featuring outdoor bars, fire pits an outdoor stage, shopping and access to the beach.
For vision this new Daytona Beach look is striking with it's Ocean Backdrop. It took guts to pull this off in a short 6 Month period. We have an album of photos showing various phases of construction xxxx Insert Gallery.
It is also certain that the music scene already booming with places like Main Street Station, Sunsetters Riverfront Bar and Grill, and now Burgey's Tiki Hut.
Will no doubt bring new talent and offer local musicians new places to entertain. Event Promotion and planning are on the rise and so it goes.
With the Mayor Derrick Henry, The Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, Executives from Tomoka Consolidated, County Executives, Owners, friends and families from both locations, a full staff and a crowd of about 200 people cheering, the ribbons were cut and Restaurant History was made Behind Daytona
Make your reservations now!!!
FULL PHOTO ALBUM By Stknthe80's Photography
By Jeff Stolowitz
Chef Patrick Ransom outdid himself last week at Azure’s California wine dinner featuring Twomey and Silver Oak Cellars.
With a big step up to the Culinary plate, Ransom hit it out of the park.
He put out an outstanding menu and the creative execution was flawless.
4 courses 5 different wines.
Twomey Sauvignon Blanc 2016 a deceptive wine that is reminiscent of a Sancerre.
Twomey Russian River Pinot Noir 2015 a wine which the delicate grapes are hand sorted.
Twomey Merlot, Miles said “If anyone's drinking Merlot I'm leaving” he obviously never had this vintage from 2013
Silver Oak Cellars Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, outstanding, deep garnet color, tannic not but it's there and a smooth transition to finish leaves you languishing for another glass.
Silver Oak Cellars Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 the cult wine continues it's run and remains one of my favorite wines to put in my glass. Stunning vintage that just is everything you want. From the nose to the finish this wine is a collectors dream.
The wine dinners are well attended and Jeffrey Flood our presenter knows his stuff and the results from working with Chef Ransom getting the pairings right was evident as the first course arrives.
Michael Bartscher the Food and Beverage Director is always present and makes his way around the room and always oversees the final presentation. They have a method and it works.
Sitting next to another frequent guest of the dinners Gregory Dean made for great company and conversation until the Collosal Shrimp and Risotto arrived. We all went silent. Absolutely delicious as I ate everything, all that was left was the tail fin.
The second course was presented an Herb Crusted Lamb Chop it was highlighted by carmelized plums. As I heartily ate this what remained were the naked bones of the chops.
Our third course was a Buffalo Beef Wellington with a traditional Duxelle which the chef used some of the Silver Oak both in the Duxelle and Demi in the creation of this dish Chef Ransom shows his technical skills understanding the nature of Buffalo and adds in his rendered fat to just make the dish delectable.
The 4th and final course was EVERYTHING it was perfect. Like Nadia Comăneci a perfect 10
Soa Tomé Cake, spun Chocolate, Currants, the edges properly charred to that bitter Chocolate crunch that just went peacefully over your tongue while a Chantilly and Hoisin sauce plays trumpets with your taste buds.
Azure Restaurant is located in the Daytona Shores Resort and Spa. The restaurant's monthly wine dinner finishes off it's 2017 season in December, word has it that it will feature Champagne. Please visit Azure's Facebook Page to find the event when it's posted at https://www.facebook.com/AzureatTheShores/
Hope to see you there Behind Daytona
By Jeff Stolowitz
I attended the Monthly Wine Dinner at Azure. An Italian experience consisting of 5 courses paired with Villa Banfi Wines. I was invited by the Executive Chef Michael Bartscher and upon arriving a happy surprise, he was actually promoted to Food and Beverage Director.
Villa Banfi meets Chef Patrick Ransom. Patrick has been the second in command as the Chef De Cuisine and was responsible for creating what was to be a unforgettable dining experience. This in a setting to die for, overlooking the churning Atlantic Ocean
With the promotion of Executive Chef Michael Bartscher to the Food and Beverage Manager of the Daytona Shores Resort and Spa he has implemented a monthly Wine Dinner which is heartily attended.
As I look around at least one notable Restaurateur, Ross Wylie from the Corkscrew Bar and Grill in New Smyrna Beach. To make things even better another Nick Antalek a knowledgeable manager that has been part of the foodie scene appears. I met Nick while briefly working at the now closed SW Grill. He has a firm grasp on the hospitality industry and wine in general.
The wine is poured by our hosts and the first course arrives, it is a wonderful pairing and start.
A San Angelo Pinot Grigio along side a Antipasto of Compressed Cantelope and Honeydew, Duck Prosciutto on a Mozzarella crisp drizzled with White Balsamic Vinegar. A crispness in the wine simple and bright notes of minerality was the perfect match
The atmosphere is relaxed and easy going as the representative from Banfi gave us a history. Did you remember “Riunite on Ice”? she asked. With Mr. Bartscher putting on a personal touch sitting with guests. The dinner is off to a great start and I think Wine has come a long way since those days of Riunite and Mateus
Our next course arrives it is Wood Roasted Pheasant and it is paired with an exquisite Amarone. This wine was the highlight for me. It was Supple, Tannic, Spicey but not to bold and finished with Cherry notes and of course Chef Ransom highlights this by using dark soaked cherry along side and white Carrot puree for the Pheasant. I asked the server Denise if she could pour a little more a she graciously did. This wine gets a 93 rating by me. If I actually rated wines like Robert Parker.
Pausing for a minute, I remind myself how lucky I am to be sitting here and can only imagine how hard it will be for Napa and Sonoma to recover from the recent Fire Storms.
Damaged or destroyed we're many wineries including Stags Leap. We send our condolences to those who lost their lives.
A small quiet toast at our table is made.
The third course Lobster Ravioli with Grilled Shrimp. Wait just wait. You know that feeling you get when you bite into the most perfectly cooked bite of food yes that's what happened.
This dish highlighted Chef Ransom's skill and technical ability. Everything completely from scratch because the chef cares about what he's doing no I mean really completely from scratch even the guy who caught the lobster was at the dinner so we know where the lobster came from.
Our Main Course arrives it is a Roasted Pork Loin stuffed with Prosciutto and Crusted with Herbs de Provence. They served the 2012 Banfi Brunello di Montalcino. A red wine that will continue to age extremely well but is incredibly deep and intense already.
Then a surprising finish to the meal a Butterscotch Budino it reminds one of a deconstructed Creme Anglais Creme Brulee. Infused with dark berries.
The whole experience was well worth it 4 Incredible Wines and 5 spectacular courses.
The next event is in November.
We can't wait.
Located in: The Shores Resort & Spa
Address: 2637 S Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118
Phone: (386) 767-7356