Monday, February 21, 2011

Fun Playing With Food in Delray Beach Fl

We are returned from our annual Florida vacation. This year's journey first took us from Cleveland to Delray Beach Fl via Baltimore on Southwest Airlines. I haven't flown Southwest in about six years, and was pleased with the improvements they've made to their airline experience. Most important, they no longer force you to stand in line for hours like a cow at a feedlot (moo!) to get a decent place in line for the unreserved seating - all you have to do is check in online the day before and receive a number in line.

I was not expecting more than a bag of peanuts for food - but was pleasantly surprised by a variety of dry snacks we were offered on the longer flight leg. And who would have expected to actually get to play with food in coach in this day and age:

"Plain" airplane shaped crackers, whimsically named. We were off to a good start.

Upon fetching us from the Delray Beach airport, my parent decided to bring us here:

Ellie's Diner 2410 North Federal Highway, Delray Beach, Florida 33483,(561) 276-7716

In addition to the eats, a great treat included time with both my sister Chaya, Delray Beach's most amazing Yoga and Ayurvedic Consultant and Kirtan chanter, and my brother Jeff, in town to close on a condo acquisition. I'd been struggling with a bit of bronchitis before I left Cleveland, so this house-made chicken soup was most welcome:

Though initially served a bit cold, once re-warmed, it was most delicious.

I immediately jumped to the first fish meal of the trip, ordering this "dolphin" sandwich (Mahi).

Lovely house-made coleslaw, though a bit more celery seed than I care for.

First Fresh Fish Meal Accomplished!

Our first morning featured produce, bagels and smoked  salmon from The Boys of Delray. I didn't get to take any photos in our rush, but this was a "fun playing with food" type of place; click the  above link to see Paul's Travel Pictures site with lots of great shots. Crazy parking lot, crowded market - not for everyone, but my kinda place! The housemade guacamole was simply fabulous as part of our Superbowl Sunday spread, and the tomatoes, strawberries and oranges were local.

My sister has only been in her current digs for a few months - it was our first time visiting her there. In addition to the mentioned staples - bagels, cream cheese, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs - she made the following lovely in a special piece of porcelain that originated with our grandma:

Blueberry Crumble

Our second evening in Delray was Superbowl Sunday. We put together a delightful spread at my parents' place, including a local meatball-topped pizza worthy of the "New York" style name, Caprese salad made with our local tomatoes and basil, hummus, chips, and The Boys guacamole. And what a great game!

Monday breakfast was eaten from items at my parents' place, and for dinner, still inspired by the Superbowl I suppose, my dad took us to a local installment of Duffy's Sports Grille. I give our server props for truthfully answering my questions about the fish and seafood (all of which was off of the Sysco truck). Bob had his only burger of the trip here, and my dinner was neither memorable nor photogenic. Great service, though.

As we consumed that dinner, I became determined to lunch at the Upperdeck at Boston's the next day, for what I remembered as a fabulous fish sandwich. In 2008, we enjoyed delicious grilled and blackened sandwiches with the tasty view. In 2009, we enjoyed this lovely fried fish sandwich, for about $12:

2009 Fish Sandwich at Boston's  

As you can see - the perfectly cooked fillet was too large for the bun! This year, after waiting over an hour for a table on the patio (and it was well after the lunch hour), we were somewhat disappointed to receive a sandwich half the size of the previous offering, and not nearly so pristine for our $12:

Bob had his blackened

Big, big difference in the portion size and overall quality of the meal - Bob's fries were limp and my coleslaw unimpressive. Bummer.

Meanwhile, Dad had caught on to my disappointment with Duffy's, and for our next dinner brought us to Henry's of Boca Raton (located in Delray just a short drive from my folks' place).  My folks had eaten there before, and Henry's was also a Chowhound recommendation.

We were seated near the open kitchen, and I couldn't wait to taste the yummies!

Bread Service - Lovely

Flatbread App - Local Shrimp, Avocado.

That first bite of pristine seafood is always so special, if a little out of focus in this photo. Yums. And they left the blackening off the shrimp as requested, so my spice-averse mom could enjoy it.

Fish Special - Grilled Swordfish

This was one of the best pieces of fish I had on our trip - a huge hunk of fresh and perfectly cooked fish, served with a rice and quinoa side and greens.

Bob's Entree - Fresh Seafood with Pasta and Local Tomato  Special - perfection in a bowl!

A Ring of Fresh Calamari (Squid) -  the only fresh squid we'd taste this trip, and so delicious!

Trout Almondine - Mom's Entree

Henry's did  a nice job with this dish and put the lemon-chive pan sauce on the side as Mom requested. My photo of Dad's Liver and Onions is too blurry for publication, but his empty plate indicated a dish well made.

Mom's Cappucino

Mom loved both her biscotti and the cappuccino.

Key Lime Pie = Delicious!

Lip smackingly tart and freshly prepared - the four of us shared this sweet ending to a perfectly executed dinner.

Our next food foray was around lunch time the next day. Mom wanted to show us Glick's, a kosher food emporium right across the street from her place.

House Made Knishes From Glick's Kosher Market

Clockwise from the top: noodle knish (I'd never heard of that one before!), corned beef knish and kasha knish.

Corned Beef Knish

Kasha Knish

And finally - the Lokshen Kugel Knish:

Lokshen Kugel Knish (Noodle Pudding)

Yes, that is actual noodle pudding wrapped in knish dough and baked!

Rye Bread

"Boiled" Salmon Salad

The owner wanted us to try this in lieu of my mom's usual baked salmon salad - as he said, it was a little lighter (and less salty). Fresh and delicious!

House Made Cole Slaw

House Made Potato Salad

We loved our lunch from Glick's! Jewish Soul Food to go!

Our final Delray dinner was one we had eagerly awaited - Donald and Beverly's Bamboo Fire! The Chowhounders have been raving about this little 20 seat space since it opened in 2009, and it is definitely worth the trip. We were the only customers in the house that Wednesday night, and Donald and Beverly treated us like family.

Jerk Meatballs

My usually-spice-averse parents both enjoyed these complimentary treats.

Roasted Eggplant Dip

Not your momma's babaganoush - this place had gentle but unique Caribbean spice flair.

Tostones (Fried Plantains) With Garlic Sauce

We loved the plantains and the garlicky dip!

My folks had a lot of questions about the menu - specifically the conch. Thus, while our entrees were cooking, Beverly decided that we needed to sample her Conch Fritters.

Conch Fritters

Puffy conch perfection was matched by a habanero-laced dipping sauce that Bob and I devoured.

Fried Conch (Mom and Dad ordered the same entree)

Loved my bite of this.

Fish in Banana Leaf Roasted in Foil (mine)

I forgot which fish variety this was - I loved the seasonings and peppers in the wrapper, and had a choice of side sauces to spice things up with.

Jerked Fish (Bob's)

I believe this was tilapia. Spiced and cooked to perfection.

The sides are served family style:

Okra Fried Rice

Fried Plantains

Creamy Spinach

We loved them all. Mom got a box of leftovers to take home for her Thursday lunch, and we all enjoyed playing with the cozy goodness delivered by Bamboo Fire.

There were two other food excursions during the Delray Beach segment of our trip, which I failed to photograph. First was our strawberry picking adventure at The Girls Strawberry U-Pick. The website gives you a good idea of what to expect - rows and rows of hydroponically grown strawberries ready (or not quite) for the picking. Tomatoes are also available in the same manner. The citrus offered is not grown on premises, but lacked artificial color or other distractions, so we bought some. Yum.

Our last meal in Delray, after my bag (and camera) were already packed away, was at The Bagel Tree, 6580 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, fl 33446-1617, Phone: (561) 498-9758. We enjoyed more Jewish Soul Food treats - cheese blintzes made from scratch for me, bagel and lox (ok, it was Nova) for Bob, Matzoh Brei for Dad and oatmeal and a bagel for Mom. The entire time we were there, this place had a crowd at the door and full tables - always a good sign. Service was brisk, food was delicious. And the atmosphere is just plain fun, in a long-gone-Catskills-Mountains-Hotel kind of way. I promise that next time there will be pictures!

Sated with fun food, our parents delivered us to Budget Rent a Car in Boca Raton, where the next leg of our journey would commence. Even with an 11 hour drive ahead of us, we found ways to play with our food - more to come!

Henry's on Urbanspoon
Bamboo Fire Cafe on Urbanspoon


  1. East Coast for a change, eh? Sounds like a great family gathering! Sounds as if you really enjoyed it.

  2. I'm eagerly awaiting part two.