Saturday my husband Steve and I enjoyed another Taste History Culinary Tour led by guide extraordinaire Lori Durante.
I am not sure whether this was our third or fourth tour but I can assure you that each one has been completely different from the others. This time we took the Lake Worth/West Palm Beach tour and got to visit 4 local eateries in Lake Worth and two galleries, one in Lake Worth and the other in West Palm Beach. I had the privilege of writing about the other tours for Around Wellington Magazine but this time I wanted to share our experience with a larger audience because I can’t say enough about how wonderful these tours are.
The first reason that these tours are so fabulous is Lori Durante. She is not only a great guide and host but the whole idea is her baby! On the drive between destinations Lori paints a vivid picture of the history of each area in Palm Beach county that you will visit. This part is so informative as you not only learn how the community came to be developed and named but you get to taste the culinary connection to the past as well. All of the tours are a combination of history, culture, art and cuisine.
As always, we started the tour by meeting our bus in front of Macy’s at the Boynton Beach Mall at 10:45am. Once everyone has boarded Lori begins our destination’s history lesson as we drive to our first stop. On Saturday that first stop was downtown Lake Worth. Now I have been a South Florida resident for 35 years and I never knew that the Lake Worth arts district was referred to as LuLa which stands for Lucerne/Lake Worth! Our first tasting of the day was at Java Juice Bar for a yummy sampling of fresh tuna wraps and refreshing strawberry banana smoothies. Both really hit the spot on a steamy summer morning. What was also delightful was meeting the owner, Commissioner Andy Amoroso who welcomed us with open arms. The Java Juice Bar is Lake Worth’s only organic juice bar, and serves fresh smoothies, wraps, soups, salads…and juices! Their specialty is wheatgrass & lemon ginger shots, and our walk-up window is always open!
From Java Juice Bar we took a short walk to Artisans on the Ave, a wonderful art and craft gallery run by Linda Manganaro and Betty Wilson where local artists get to show their work. It was especially wonderful to see the work of some of the very talented artist members of the Wellington Art Society represented there. (I just finished my second term as President of the Wellington Art Society and I am very proud of my organization!) Can’t wait to return to Artisans on the Ave for their next show on Friday, July 21.
From there we walked across the street to Brogue’s Down Under for a taste of Ireland, Australia and New Zealand offered to us by owner Rod Regan. When you step inside you are transported to an Irish Pub complete with dark wood paneling and antique furniture imported from the old sod. We we treated to an aromatic Chicken Curry which was actually good enough to convert Steve to a curry fan. The chicken was tender and succulent under its blanket of slightly spicy curry sauce; while asparagus, peas and rice rounded out the plate. But the real star of the show was the Strawberry Pavlova Pie made by Rod’s wife as a special treat just for us. It was perfect. Not too sweet. Just right with loads of fresh juicy strawberries and a drizzle of deep, dark chocolate sauce thrown in for good measure. Steve and I can’t wait to return for an Irish breakfast and also for dinner so we can enjoy more of Brogue’s Down Under’s delicious menu.
Our next destination on the tour was a tiny spot on Dixie Highway in Lake Worth. Mama Gizzi’s Gourmet Pasta was worth the ticket price all on its own. The owners Leah “Mama” Gizzi and John Storch welcomed us like we were old friends coming to their home to visit. Mama Gizzi is a hoot and a half! She is such fun to be around that you want to stay forever. But it is her food that tells the real story. Everything we tasted from the freshly made bucatini to the gravy (if you are not Italian – that’s sauce) to the crisp pizzelles was made with love that you could taste in every bite. And every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night they host 12 for dinner at Mama’s Underground Suppah Club! For $35 a person tax included you get to have a dinner party with at least 5 course, at someone else’s and be entertained by Mama herself. Planning ours as we speak.
Our last tasting took us to Don Ramon Restaurant and Social Club for Floribbean cuisine. I had always thought of Don Ramon as a Cuban restaurant but soon learned that their food combines the flavors of the Caribbean with those of Florida; hence the name Floribbean. We were seated in the charming dining room that made us feel like we were in Cuba listening to the sounds of mambo in the 1950s. Our server asked if any of us would like to try a Mojito and a couple of us took her up on it. Steve and I shared a refreshing, sweet, minty rum drink while we nibbled on sampling of appetizers which included Cuban Tamale, Ham Croquetas, Masa De Puerco Fritas, Papas Rellenas and Chicharritas. The entire two tiered appetizer assortment was so flavorful that we all just ate until we got down to the naked plates. But that was not all that we had. Following our Appetizer Fiesta we each enjoy a plate of Churrasco. Churrasco rules. The mojo marinated flap meat (skirt steak) was so tender that it melted in your mouth as did the garlic shrimp that crowned the steak. The mojo gave the meat a garlicky, citrusy tang that made you want more. And the accompaniments of chimichurri, white rice and sweet plantains gave you a little party in your mouth. Yet another fabulous restaurant to add to my list for when friends ask “Where’s a good place for dinner?”.
Our last stop of the tour was at The Box Gallery owned by Rolando Chang Barrero who owns a few galleries in the area. Besides being wonderfully warm and amazingly talented, Rolando has given many emerging and established artists a place to showcase their art when no one else would. I so admire him for having this vision! The Box Gallery just celebrated its first anniversary but I know it will be feting many more. Steve and I are looking forward to the next show there, Kitsch and Kulture, which opens this Saturday, July 15 with a reception at 7pm and runs through August 30.
Filled with tons of history, wonderful art and a heap of delicious food the tour bus took us back to Macy’s.
Taste History Culinary Tours
Lori J. Durante Director
Tours are Saturdays beginning at 10:45am
For tickets: 561-683-8277
Java Juice Bar
600 Lake Avenue
Lake Worth, FL 33460
Fax: 561 533-5994
Artisans on the Ave
630 Lake Avenue
Lake Worth, Fl. 33460
Brogue’s Down Under
621 Lake Avenue
Lake Worth Florida, 33460
Mama Gizzi’s Gourmet Pasta
2212 N Dixie Hwy
Lake Worth, FL, 33460
7101 S Dixie Hwy.
West Palm Beach, FL 33405
The Box Gallery
811B Belvedere Road
West Palm Beach, FL