The Perfect Bite
by Lori Allen, My Wandering Fork
155 Fountains Way
Building 1, Suite 1,
St Johns, FL 32259
So our little area of the world is beginning to boom! More and more restaurants and bars are heading down this way. Every time you take a ride down Nocatee I am sure you will see something new. But for the past year or so Coastal Wine Market & Tasting Room has planted their roots and begun to bloom. A few friends and I decided to check out the wine tasting and small plate selection right before Christmas. We got lucky and they were holding one of their local benefits so if you brought in a toy for needy children you got a free wine tasting! This warm and friendly establishment is always helping out in the community. I had attended a run sponsored by Chemo Noir a few months before and that’s where I heard about Coastal Wine Market, they were there offering free tastings to help the benefit. They really embrace the local spirit!
So when you open the door to this ornate yet not pretentious, quaint Tasting Room you are greeted right away with warm friendly smiles and hellos. You can see all the wonderful wines displayed and a chalkboard listing all the specials. Because it was the holidays my friends and I decided to go with a little sparkling Rose seeing how it was the special of the evening. It was light and somewhat fruity with lots of bubbles, a perfect pairing for some cheese and crackers. We went with just one cheese, a nice sharp Manchego that was served with toasted bread and herbed Pecans. This set the tone right away with every bite complimenting the sparkling wine. Our next wine was a Pinot Noir and we choose some Coastal Wine Potato Wedges or as others would refer to them as loaded potato skins. They were filled with wild boar, Karst Cave Aged Cheddar and were served with a side of Lemon Chive Aioli for dipping. They were not huge, hence the name “small plates” but they were packed with flavor! You could taste the meatiness of the boar and sharpness of the cheese cooled down with the Aioli. Really good. We also tried the Rustic Stuffed Mushrooms and had to fight over who got the last one! These are filled with Italian cheese and crispy prosciutto and of course a nice tangy cabernet reduction. Swipe those thru the reduction and pop them in your mouth for a bite of rich creamy mushroom flavor with just a tad bit of “zing” from the wine. YUM! Our last bite of flavor was their market meatballs. You can order as many as you want because they are priced per piece. They come with what they call “Homemade Jersey Gravy” which is essentially a wonderful garlicky red sauce that the meatballs are simmered in and then they top it off with some fresh Basil Ricotta Cheese. You can’t stop dipping your meatball in that soft creamy cheese!
There are so many wines and some craft beers to choose from and the staff is so helpful, knowledgeable and super friendly so don’t hesitate to ask. They encourage you to tell them what you are looking for or want to try. I am sure that they will be able to find a great wine for any palate. They also have this incredible charcuterie (Cheese/meat boards) to pair with those wines. There are so many different varieties to choose from…goat cheese, soft blue, aged cheddar, spicy Edam to name a few. Then you can add ham, pepperoni, dry salami, even Texas wild boar, along with some seasoned nuts and unusual crackers and maybe even a spread of jam. You won’t be disappointed. And the coolest thing is that they offer these boards TO-GO which comes in a handy portable box so you can take that short drive down to the ocean plop yourself down on a towel with your box of treasures and enjoy a beautiful sunset! Ahhhhh the Florida life!
by Lori Allen
January 10th for lunch and dinner/
Grand Opening Celebration
Friday January 12th & Saturday, January 13th!
Well as promised here are my thoughts on the fare at Fionn Maccool’s Irish pub. We first had to decide on what beer to try because they have so many, 40 in all. I decided to try a flight because this way I get a sampling of 4 of them. You can make up the flights with any choices you want at the pub so if you are one that doesn’t like the super dark beers you can create something lighter. Most people taste a beer flight from the lightest beverage to the darkest brew to warm up their palate for the intense flavors of the darker beers. A flight should also feature a variety of brews and keep in mind when creating one that an ideal beer flight will highlight the difference between your beers. I went ahead and did the traditional flight which included crisp pale ale called Orange blossom along with Dukes, Smithwicks and Guinness. Each one has its own distinct flavor and went great with my meal. An interesting fact is that I always find Guinness pretty smooth; to me it is not as heavy as some people think especially when you mix it with a Larger for what is known as a black and tan. Give it a try sometime.
Next were the appetizers
I wanted to try the Irish Nachos because they were made with potatoes instead of tortillas which sounded interesting but they looked big and plentiful and I was afraid that I would get too full for everything else that I was going to have. So needless to say those are on my list for next time, along with the giant pretzel and sausage rolls YUM! Instead I went for the traditional Scotch egg which is really cool. They take a hard boiled egg, cover it with a sage filled sausage, then roll it in an outer bread crumb coating then deep fry it. This is served with a creamy stone ground mustard sauce. It is super crispy and when dipped into the mustard it adds just the right amount of zing, it was so good!
The next thing we tried was Reuben Spring Rolls who would have thought of such a thing…the Irish of course! They take slow roasted tender corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and stuff it all into light phyllo dough and deep fry it. You get Thousand Island dressing for dipping (You know pickley, mayonannsay, tart goodness) so you feel like you are having a deep fried mini Reuben. They were delicious.
On to the main dishes
Of course we had to try the fish and chips a good pub wouldn’t be the same without them and these didn’t disappoint. The fish was plentiful, rich in flavor and beer battered along with some fries and peas. Throw some salt and malt vinegar on them and you has yourself a tasty traditional Irish meal! To be on the adventurous side we decided to try one of their boxty dishes. They have this funny little saying that goes along with them. “Boxty on the griddle, Boxty in the pan, If you can’t make a boxty, you’ll never get your man.” The word boxty is a Gaelic word “bacstai”, a boxty is a traditional method of grilling a potato pancake over an open fire or griddle. Ours was filled with steak, mushrooms and a thick sauce they called an Irish whisky sauce which was like brown gravy. It was not what we expected but it was pretty tasty. It sort of resembled a grilled tortilla but I am guessing instead of corn they used potato to create the thin pancake like tortilla and they have several tasty options for the “stuffing”.
So one of my friends decided to give the burger a try and went for the double hand-pattied beef burger. Make sure you come good and hungry for this one. The beef patties are hand formed then grilled just the way you want them, piled on top of each other, along with choice of toppings in this case it was onions, mushroom and some of that rich dark gravy. I’m thinking that the Ginormous food guy may need to come down here and check it out. They gave it the good ol’ two handed try but after a few bites this turned out to be a fork and knife kinda burger! It was wonderfully rich, meaty and full of flavor.
Fionn Maccool’s will be opening their second restaurant down here in St Johns (Wednesday, January 10th ...lunch and dinner with a Grand Opening Friday, January 12th & Saturday, January 13th)) so come and visit or head out to the landing, check out the lighting of the tree and stop on in for some great Irish fare! You won’t be disappointed!
St. Johns Mag
Guest blogger and foodies exploring local restaurants.
Lori Allen is a local who moved from the Boston area to attend Flagler College and never left. She is a family person that loves the beach, football, working out and finding new places to try. Her love for food comes from her northern background and her love of cooking as well as meeting new and interesting people. She has never met a stranger nor has she ever been afraid to try an intriguing place. (Check out all her reviews on stjohnsmag.com)
Lori now has her own instagram page -check it out at mywanderingfork
Lori now has her own instagram page -check it out at mywanderingfork
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