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Heading south? Be safe and eat well

Quick Bites includes notes on spring break eating, a new cafe in Elkhart, Easter and other upcoming events.
Posted on March 24, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on March 24, 2013 at 8:39 a.m.

Spring break starts this week for many Elkhart County students and their families.

If you stay in Elkhart County for the week, it feels like everyone else has gone to Florida.

But not everyone is going south. I know some people are heading to Las Vegas. If I was heading to Las Vegas, I’d head to a restaurant owned by Tom Colicchio, Bobby Flay or another noted chef.

Some acquaintances already asked for recommendations in Sarasota. If you go to Florida, you should eat fresh seafood such as Gulf oysters or shrimp, or perhaps grouper, though that has been overfished, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

I had a lot of fun fixing a piece of red grouper from Ward’s Seafood Market during a brief stint in Florida to visit family. But I also had lots of fun eating at one of Sarasota’s hottest restaurants.

Darwin’s on 4thopened a few months ago at 1525 Fourth St., Sarasota. Chef Darwin Santa Maria has gotten a lot of acclaim and attention. From what I tasted, there’s good reason.

He took over a defunct brewery and added Peruvian food that he calls “evolutionary” and I call fusion. He mixes in flavors of Italian and Asian cuisines.

The menu says the spring rolls have “creamy shrimp.” A review in Sarasota Magazine says it includes condensed milk and crushed oyster crackers.

The Yuzu-Butter Poached Lobster Taco had waves of flavor from black bean puree with truffle and miso, avocado and that flavorful lobster.

The plate called Tuna Tiradito had fresh tuna layered with cubes of watermelon with some sauces, including “leche de tigre,” the juice from one of the restaurant’s popular ceviches.

My short ribs braised in malbec wine were very nice, but more flavorful was a plate of skirt steak served with sweet, fried plantains, chimichurri, beet relish and sweet chili sauce.

The beers were rich and full-flavored and the pairings suggested on the menu were pretty good. The SummaDayze IPA just was named Florida’s third-best beer in a contest.

This is a place I’d visit if I were looking for a nice, higher-end meal in Sarasota. The restaurant allows kids, but it’s more for adults. Looking at the happy hour menu, I see a lot of small dishes that would be a great way to check out the restaurant.

This place is generating a lot of buzz in Sarasota. The food is very good and prices are similar to what you’d find at many higher-end restaurants.

If you have other recommendations for where to eat in Florida, let me know and I’ll post them on the Dining A La King blog this week.

Ÿ Pumperknickel’s Bakery & Sandwich Shop, 500 S. Main St., Elkhart, will open Monday, March 25, according to owner Dave Ullery. A draft of the menu includes several salads, about six sandwiches, soup and several types of fresh-baked pretzels and sauces. “The concept’s going to be fun,” Ullery said. “I’m excited.”

Ÿ The Moringa Cafe will open soon, tentatively next week, at 300 E. Jackson Blvd., Elkhart. Jenny Rusnell and Andy Weaver have been getting the former Heavenly Brew Cafe ready to open as a health food cafe and store. Rusnell said she wants to teach customers how to be healthier by using food. You can read more details on the Dining A La King blog.

Ÿ Crimaldi’s will be closed Saturday night due to a benefit for owner Mike Crimaldi’s daughter. Kelly Crimaldi, 20, is a student at Manchester College who got a brain cancer diagnosis in November. The daughter of Mike Crimaldi and Marilyn McClure is undergoing treatment. A benefit from 6 p.m. to midnight will help raise money for expenses. Tickets are available at Crimaldi’s, 117 W. Jackson Blvd., Elkhart.

Ÿ Between the Buns in Granger closed Friday due to poor business, according to Tania Arthur, director of operations for the chain. She believes that customers in the area had to work around construction and formed new habits that didn’t involve the sports bar. The location was open five years. Business is “pretty strong” at the South Bend, Elkhart and Osceola Buns locations and Curve Cafe in Mishawaka, she said.

Ÿ Easter is Sunday. If you’re not having a meal at home with your family, it can be tricky to find an Easter brunch in Elkhart County, but both McCarthy’s on the Riverwalk and Amish Acres are taking reservations for their events.

Ÿ The 11th annual Ivy Tech Culinary Arts Dinner will be at 6 p.m. Friday, April 12, at the Palais Royale in downtown South Bend. The meal is $125 per person. This year’s theme is “Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler! (Let the good times roll)” with food from New Orleans. Sean Kelley, executive chef of Temper Grill, will work with the students. Information: 289-7001, ext. 6364.

Ÿ I made an error in the Quick Bites that appeared March 11. Pizzeria Venturi has been open since January 2011, making it 27 months, not 15 months.

Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columnist for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at mking@etruth.com, 574-296-5805, on Twitter or Instagram @hungrymarshallDining A La King Facebook page;[URL].[/URL]




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