We’re back from a week in Naples, Florida where I am always thrilled to have access to so much fresh seafood and tropical produce. I ate fish every night but one that we were there. We also had a fishing adventure where we went out 11 miles on a fishing charter. Dude Martha hooked a 200 lb Goliath grouper, which unsurprisingly broke the line. I hooked a 60 lb cobia but that also broke the line. We saw barracudas in the water as well, but unfortunately brought nothing into the boat to take home.
One reason I enjoy Florida is because of the grocery stores. Here in Buffalo, we have two main choices: Wegmans and Tops, and while I am a Wegmans girl for sure, I get tired of seeing the same old, same old. On this trip to Florida, I explored 4 different supermarkets and was in heaven the whole time.
First off is Publix, which is similar to Wegmans. Your basic needs grocery store. There’s not a lot there that thrills me, but I can buy the basics we need. My kids like their sweet tea and I’ve been so often I know where everything is.
Next stop, Fresh Market. We’ve been going to Fresh Market down there for a few years. We got sucked in by their cinnamon rolls, which I am sorry to say have gone downhill in recent years, but their chocolate croissants are still to die for. I love going there because first you walk through a hallway of fresh and live flowers. It smells and looks wonderful and has such a luxurious feel to it! They have a small but decent produce section, with some organics. I don’t even look at meat in Florida, so I have no comments on the meat department. We love their baked goods and buy far too many cookies, croissants, and cheese rolls. I am also addicted to their prepared foods. When I’m in Florida, it’s all about making my life easy, so I happily buy prepared salads and soups. I like their lobster bisque and am obsessed with their cole slaw and macaroni salad. I like to walk around their aisles and poke around and see what they have. I stumbled upon dark chocolate covered praline almonds next to the register. I smuggled a bag home in my luggage.
Next stop, Whole Foods. Or Whole Paycheck, as I’ve heard it called. This one
opened a couple of years ago down there and I like their produce. They have a bigger selection of most things than Fresh Market and I also like their baked goods, which includes vegan, gluten free, and whole grain options. I adore their buffet style prepared foods though. We almost always end up there before lunch and I load up on multi-grain salads (taboulleh, spelt, and other great ingredients) and Mr. MarthaAndMe likes to buy the Chinese food.
This year Trader Joe’s opened so of course I had to make a pilgrimage there. I know lots of folks swear by TJ, but I was underwhelmed. Tiny store with not a lot to choose from. We did buy some TJ brand items and I was not excited by them at all, at least those I tasted. I need to go back next year and try again, but I’m not yet a convert.
Two fun new trends have hit SW FL: donuts and cupcakes. There are now several different cupcakeries, and I tried a few, but was not impressed. They are always gorgeous, but are always pretty dry. Nothing to write home about there. We did stop by a cute little place called Peace, Love, and Little Donuts, where they sell mini donuts with different toppings. They were fun and tasty, but would have been better if the donuts themselves actually came in different flavors instead of just having different toppings. I would definitely go back there however. The benefit of little donuts is that you can eat a few!
My favorite dish of all while eating out was at Roy’s where I had butterfish with a beurre blanc over jasmine rice. I am a sucker for butterfish, which you cannot get in my area.
I spend a lot of time at the seafood market, where I am dazzled by grouper, snapper, and big scallops and shrimp. This year I was pleased to find some sole, so I put together a tropical sole and shrimp dish. Serve this with jasmine rice.
Tropical Sole and Shrimp
12 medium shrimp, shells on
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
2 sole fillets
1/2 a mango peeled and chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp orange juice
1/4 cup cream
1/8 tsp dill
Peel the shrimp and place the peels in a pan with the butter, salt to taste, water and milk. Cover and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and the shells. Add shrimp, mango, lemon juice, orange juice, cream, dill and pepper to taste. Cook down to a thickened sauce and until the shrimp are cooked through.
Prepare sole by dredging in Wondra and salt and pepper to taste. Cook in a pan with 1 tbsp melted butter. It will cook quickly, so keep an eye on it and flip halfway through. Serve with mango sauce poured over it.