It has been awhile since I’ve had the opportunity to tour considering the pandemic and all the restrictions. I’d also been meaning to get out to Florida for a while in order to accomplish a few things including visiting my folks who are in the West Palm Beach area. Quite frankly, I’ve been putting off the trip simply because my workload has been uber packed – so impulsively… I finally forced myself to carve out the time and book it! Thankfully I did as the timing couldn’t have been better. Literally days after I scheduled, my father wound up suffering a TIA (which in short is a mini-stroke). Thankfully, he is doing very well and was back to normal days after the incident; however it was still a scare and after losing my mother without any real closure – I didn’t want to take any chances G-d-forbid anything further happened. So since I was heading into town… anyone who knows me, knows I need to have a full schedule! Therefore a fully packed schedule is what I had. My son Dylan (For those who don’t know, we just announced our new TV series filming NOW – Food Hound: Home Edition) drove me to LaGuardia at the literal ass-crack of dawn to catch my flight. As I have TSA-Pre Check, normally I don’t need to get to the airport hours early as I don’t have to wait on the
long TSA lines. However – I caught a quick snafu and apparently my KTN (Known Traveler Number) was not correct on my account (which was a quick and easy fix once I found out what the issue turned out to be). I usually fly Southwest for many reasons; but the guy who was at the counter was less than helpful – rather than waste my time, had he been educated in his position… he would have referred me to the site to look up the proper number (You can figure out yours HERE if you ever forget yours). Long story longer, I wound up having to go through TSA and waiting on the line (which honestly annoyed the hell out of me); but was finally able to find the proper number – just too late for this leg of the flight. To further kick a dead horse – I found out that one of my oldest and closest friends, Chris Hostile suffered a Heart Attack – NOT how I wanted to start my trip. Thankfully – he is also ok and healing (Click HERE if you’d like to hear about his experience). Everything moving forward – smooth sailing and good times!
I arrived in the Sunshine State early Tuesday morning and my father picked me up from Palm Beach International. Felt good seeing him as we can sometimes go a full year between seeing each other. The first thing we did was take a drive out to Boca Raton to visit his favorite jeweler Gary Shanyn who owns Jewelry By Gary. I’d had the idea of having diamonds put into the eyes of my rings for quite some time and my dad was insistent that his guy could do anything! So being that I am not comfortable with shipping my jewelry (especially because each piece has a different meaning for me), I had to be present in order to make this decision. I opted to go for it and I can honestly say that I’m happy with the way they came out! I wanted something different and unique that fits my personality and thankfully – they came out better than I’d expected. We headed back to my parent’s house where I was able to unwind from the trip in and spend quality time with my step-mom and dad. Wednesday started my busy schedule – I started the day with an early LIVE episode of Truly Inconsequential with my GHR brother, Mr. Greer. Then I headed out to meet with my friends from the Sober Exposure Podcast who showed me around a little and guided me over to my first FOODIE stop of the trip, Kapow! Noodle Bar!!!
Now I had heard a LOT about Kapow! Noodle Bar before coming into town and actually reached out to them in order to learn more about who they are and what they were all about. One of the things I enjoy most about touring and visiting different homegrown, mom and pop restaurants and establishments is learning the story – the tidbits of info that tell the tale of where they came from! I visited the West Palm Beach location (they have a location in Boca as well) and when arriving – I was asked if I’d like to sit outdoors as it was a beautiful day; however I opted to dine indoors as to soak in the incredible ambiance of the restaurant while perusing and sampling their mouthwatering menu! Legit Food Hounds… every dish on the menu reads like a flavor parade that should be making its way down Taste-bud Lane, down Gullet Highway – and into My Belly Row! Back to the setting – this place is the closest thing you’re going to get to a pop culture, anime style restaurant with waves of Asian culture throughout – the walls had cool, trendy painted murals and the tables
themselves are adorned with clippings from pop-anime comics! This is the perfect dining experience for a grouping of friends, a casual date, dining alone; and literally ANY anime-cosplayer who’d have a mental meltdown at the sheer awesomeness of this spot. Now let me tell you about my waiter, Mino – simply incredible. As I always say… the wait staff is essentially the first line of defense for any restaurant – without a knowledgeable and friendly staff, you may as well close the doors and call it a day! But Mino… Mino was awesome, attentive and on it! Everything you’d want in someone who is about to take you on your foodie journey through Flavor Town. I couldn’t choose just one – so I got a little silly with the snacks and small plates! I started with the Pork Belly Lollipops which
were soaked, pressed and cooked with love in a divine sweet and sour cherry sauce (the sauce itself takes FOUR hours to make). I am a HUGE fan of Pork Belly (don’t judge) and this offering was in the TOP THREE that I’ve ever witnessed firsthand (which says a lot)… these generously portioned strips literally melted in my mouth – one by one until they were all gone. I whimpered and considered licking the plate, they were that damn good! WINNING. I moved onto the Shrimp Dynamite Crispy Rice that I describe as little bites of happiness - a beautiful umami burst of flavor with a slight sriracha kick on the back end. I was tempted to do some tacos; but I really didn’t want to overdo it – especially with my
upcoming schedule. I would recommend trying the Spicy Skirt Steak and Ahi Tuna Poke tacos though if you do – as I spoke to a neighboring table who had them and it happens to be their go-to meal there (always trust the locals). I moved into the Dim Sum section and devoured their delectable Pork Potstickers – a slightly moderated flavor profile that blended fantastically flavored pork with sesame and chili that’ll make your mouth POP! Well done. On to the Angry Shrimp Dumplings – LOVED these delightfully spicy pockets of YUM! What packs the power into these babies is the Hong Kong Style Hot Chili Oil which offers a sweet, salty and smoky, rich umami taste that compliments the dish rather than becoming overwhelming. The main course was a Mino suggestion – the BBQ Duck & Ginger Fried Rice… talk about blowing my mind! Well portioned dish with hoisin glazed duck (from Jurgielewicz Farms), mixed with veggies, egg and a ginger fried rice you’d be guaranteed to
write home to mom about! It happens to be one of the most popular dishes at Kapow and for obvious reasons – 100% WIN. Needless to say, I feasted on this mountain of deliciousness until I couldn’t down another bite – I was spent… then I took a few more spoonfuls (Again, don’t judge me). As I sat in my stuffed’ness, I had the honor and privilege of meeting the Executive Chef, Cornelius Singletary who was as exceptional a person as he is a Chef! Enjoyed a very pleasant conversation about the restaurant, where he’d built his kitchen skills and his passion for what he does (which comes across in every dish). I always say, do what you love to do – Chef Singletary clearly knows his place in the world is making people’s taste buds happy with his glorious eats! Before leaving, I decided to try their Pineapple Brulee and I’m SO glad I did… half of a pineapple cut into cubes (still on the rind), bruleed with sugar, then tucked in gently by a toasted coconut blanket, and a lightly crisp ‘fleur de sel’ salt crust – topped with a slight hint of lime. Wonderful display and a fantastic twist to an old simple favorite of mine! Well played. VERY recommended – you won’t be disappointed at this place.
I finished the day off with a couple of impromptu podcast interviews with some local players (watch the SCRIPTURES page to catch them as they are posted), then relaxed for a while back at the house prepping for the following day’s events! Thursday morning… I woke up extra early as it was Veteran’s Day, and since my father is a Vietnam Vet – I wanted to spend a little time with him before heading out. Furthermore, I had the unique opportunity to hang out with him and my step-mom as they were featured on NBC’s, TODAY show segment on, ‘Service Dogs Helping Veterans with PTSD’ (You can READ my BrimBLOG about it and watch the video HERE). I had a full day of content, food and appearances set-up, so I headed out to Melbourne for my first stop. Now, as I was driving – I wound up getting a call from my old friend Cher (Cosenza) about setting me up to do an interview on her show, ‘Speaking Volumes Podcast’ with herself and Skeery Jones (Z100’s Elvis Duran and the Morning Show). I had plenty of time as the drive to Melbourne was supposed to be two hours (note… TWO hours); however around the hour and forty-five minute mark of driving – the GPS bounced up an additional HOUR!!! Obviously this was not a good thing for my first stop – so I confirmed the appearance and hopped off to let my co-hort for the morning content know I was running behind (Turns out the road that would’ve gotten me there quicker was closed off for the Veteran’s Day Parade – So I wasn’t angry anymore! LoL).
I arrived at my first spot an hour later than expected, with an exceptionally hungry stomach – which wound up being a GOOD thing!!! I was meeting up with my pal Halim Urban from Village Food Tours to experience a feast made for a Brisket King over at Crydermans Barbeque (Melbourne location). If you aren’t familiar with Halim, I consider him the treasure hunter – as he’s the key to finding the quality, foodie-friendly gems in the Historic area of Melbourne and beyond! If you’re heading into the area – consider looking him up to be your guide for a memorable food-based adventure. That being said, we were set to collaborate on some content and since I know my barbeque… he knew Crydermans would stand up to its hype! We met up with Nick DeNardis, the Marketing Manager who took
the time to explain the humble beginnings of the business. One of the coolest things to learn, was that the owners literally learned how to smoke meats and master the grill by watching YouTube videos as well as a TON of trial and error! Now, the Crydermans have two massively popular and successful restaurants (Cocoa Beach and Melbourne) – talk about fulfilling your dreams! I unfortunately didn’t get to meet the owners; but for good reason as they were away celebrating their Anniversary! So ‘Happy Anniversary’ guys!!! Let’s move right along… you smell the smoker smoking their baked beans as you’re within a quarter mile from the restaurant. It is literally salivation city before you even walk in the door. The set-up is simple – get on line and watch as the staff designs your platter in front of your very hungry eyes. Nick prepared what
they call the ‘Feast Your Soul’ platter; but made it XXXL for Halim and yours truly. Now, I don’t want to give everything away here – simply because I would love for everyone to watch the video when it comes out. I will give you some highlights though! I’m going to say that the Brisket – proudly stands in my Top Ten Nationwide. The simplicity is key in the cook here – I’ll let you watch the video for details; however the bark itself was SO full of flavorful delight, that it woke every one of my tongue’s thousands of taste buds! Quite simply, the brisket brought the party and the other meats were its esteemed special guests. It didn’t need it; but pair the brisket with the Swisha Sweet sauce – it enhances the meat to another level; but again – it doesn’t need it. The St. Luis Spare Ribs were tasty; but the Billion Dollar Baby Back Ribs were priceless… WIN. Meaty Central Texas Style ribs doused in a mind-blowing sweet and sour blended sauce that literally tickles your lips on the way in… teasing
your mouth with the epicness that is about to explode in it! My other big winner here was the homemade Sausage – super snapping casing that reminded me of a ‘Dirty Water Dog’ (New Yorkers know what I mean – It’s a compliment); not the flavor… the SNAP! The taste was insanely good, heavy, stuffed and smoked to perfection – I’d recommend pairing it with their Mean Mr. Mustard (their take on a Honey Mustard; but with a unique pop). Pulled Pork was delicious and I enjoyed pairing it with the Swisha Heat sauce – very good pork! I’m not a Turkey guy – never have been; but the turkey was moist and flavorful as well… just a common theme at Crydermans. As per the sides - the Smoked Out Beans blew me away, the mac ‘n cheese was tasty with a slight kick, and we ended the ultimate display of deliciousness with a Smokey Walnut and Chocolate Chunk BIG A$$ Cookie! Don’t sleep on those cookies… SO YUM!!! Completely enjoyed my experience and highly recommend a visit.
My next stop was to Lumberjack’s Axe House – I was UBER excited to do this; but also ridiculously nervous as I didn’t want to embarrass myself! I walked in to the friendliest faces of Tami and Terry O’Grady as well as their partner Steve (Who is responsible for the carpentry build out of the Axe House as well as their other locations including: The Backyard in Palm Shores, and array of Escape Rooms!) and his son (Who was AWESOME at throwing). Strangely enough, axe throwing wasn’t initially on the menu; but it more or less was brought to them and has since become the Belle of the Ball! Well, as Belle as a Lumberjack can get I guess? The lowdown on the area is that as big an
area as Melbourne is – it’s loaded with different restaurants and shops; but lacked many activities. That means… that this hot spot is a MUST SEE while in the area – especially with family, friends, business associates looking for team building, etc. I learned SO much in such a short time. The O’Grady’s assured me that I’d be sticking the axes within ten throws – which I doubted; but they were right!!! Terry was a phenomenal instructor and really took the time to make sure I was not only educated; but safe! I learned about the specific wood that they use for the targets (Cottonwood) which happens to be more expensive; but as a softer wood – it sticks better and makes for a better experience! All around fantastic time, and I absolutely love not only the place itself; but the amazing people behind it! If you’re in the area – check out their leagues too!
My final stop for the night was for my appearance at the Raintree Mercantile in Melbourne! We’d set up a last minute pop-up… a FREE in store signing to help promote and support small business! The only requirement was to pick-up a bottle of my Torched Stone Thai which I’d sign. On top of the coolness that is Raintree – we were joined by Hurricane Creek Saloon, who’s owner Randy Bennett supplied us with a whole bunch of chicken wings for people to sample the sauce on… SoOoOooo delicious! We had a really nice turnout and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people, tell fun stories and
spend quality time with owners Melanie and Chris Ryba! In terms of the store itself… it is an absolutely intriguing location, filled to the brim (pun intended) with the most diverse display of products anyone could ask for. Simply put, it lives up to the title of ‘Most Eclectic Shop in Melbourne.’ Trendy art, killer clothes, hot sauces and seasoning, toys (for kids and adults), and the list goes on! Highly recommended – Make sure to support them and other small businesses going into the holiday season! They work hard and deserve the love. I thoroughly enjoyed the time spent after hours with Chris, Melanie, my buddy Alfie Silva Eckert (who dropped by), as well as a few others – to all of you… I know I talk too much; but I hope you at least enjoyed the tales I told! What a great day filled with fun and new friends.
Friday morning… I again had an early morning with a busy day upon me! I started off with the interview on the ‘Speaking Volumes Podcast’ as I mentioned earlier with my gal-pal Cher Cosenza and Skeery Jones. Wonderful time with these two, complete with hearty belly laughs! The episode will be released on Monday – so keep your eyes peeled for it (It’ll also go up in my Scriptures Section ICYMI). Next up was this coming week’s episode of the Dirty Little Secrets Club with my co-host Dayna Pereira – and it was a REALLY GOOD ONE!!! Totally set up the framework for another great day here in Florida. I wanted to take my folks out for a nice evening before I was heading out on Sunday – so I set up a couple of special things to experience together! We headed for an early dinner at Amar Mediterranean Bistro in Delray Beach (Special shout out to my pal Destiny Beck for the connect!). If you’re not familiar with Delray Beach – it is an extremely foodie filled area with a plethora of cool and colorful places
to ‘wine and dine’ to your heart’s content. Now with all the choices, I’m grateful to have found Amar Bistro – high quality, freshly prepared Lebanese cuisine right smack in the middle of East Atlantic Avenue! Just a little note: I want to make sure that you all know… if heading into this area, make sure to account for extra-time to compensate for the time it’ll take for parking. Don’t let it frustrate you – just plan for it! At Amar, we were greeted at the door by a smiling owner, Nicholas Kurban who personally escorted us into the restaurant and to our table. At first glance, the ambiance it quaint and very pleasant
– welcoming, yet dimmed and (could be) vastly romantic! Perfect for date night; or to impress a potential client – the location itself is just warm and inviting. Keep in mind, it is a smaller location reminiscent of New York City – so be sure to either get there early; or make advanced reservations… you will NOT be disappointed. I immediately asked Nick to give me some background on the restaurant and the why behind it – he’d literally seen a need to fill a niche and went for it. I was also thrilled to hear that he’d designed the entire menu, which is not only an expansive schooling in exquisite and authentic Mediterranean dishes; but the recipes are all directly from his father’s personal cook book! I love things like
this… when the story is just as delicious as the food itself. Our waitress Allison was incredibly helpful and as sweet as Baklava! She was essential in navigating the menu as it was my folks first time having this type of food. We started with some Labneh – a thick scrumptious yogurt, strained fresh daily with hints of mint; paired with homemade pita chips that were crispy and YUM! We had the Hummus which was extremely flavorful and could quite possibly be the best I’ve ever encountered. Fresh and visually stimulating when placed the table, and complimented by the homemade pita bread (Baked fresh daily at their other location, Amar Bakery & Market in Boynton Beach – and brought over each morning). HUGE WIN is the Arnabeet Mekle which is a dish consisting of fried cauliflower with almonds and raisins that is SO good and SO creamy that it melts in your mouth – the flavor behavior is
exquisite. I had to try the Batata Harra – spicy, crispy potato chunks that offered tasty explosions of garlic in every single munch… the garlic literally slaps every taste bud on the way in. WINNING. Another choice from the Hot Mezze section was the Sambousek – it’s like the Mediterranean version of an empanada… small; but well stuffed meat pastries that have different levels to their flavor profile. Paired with their version of Tzatziki sauce (which is BOSS), it will please your soul. Main courses were superb. My folks were already stuffed (amateurs), so they shared the Lamb Chops – delectable, braised lamb
chop lollipops paired with a tasty mint cilantro pesto (I enjoyed the pesto; but it is very strong), gently placed over a healthy serving of couscous. The presentation was gorgeous and the aroma was intense… well done. My total WIN was my Steak Kabob – big charred chunks of marinated meat served sans skewer (no sword fighting here), accompanied by grilled tomato (YUM), onions and a buttery flavored rice that I enjoyed tremendously. What made this even better was the garlic and oil, blended into a creamy side sauce that literally accentuated the flavor of the steak – whoever developed that sauce needs a medal of honor. Seriously. Overall an extremely pleasant experience and I would certainly recommend.
After dinner, we made our way to the Boca Black Box which is a comedy club in… well, Boca Raton. I’d caught wind earlier in the week that my buddy, the legendary Bobby Collins would be performing and he also happens to be my parent’s favorite comedian! I gave him a call and he did me a solid by leaving us a couple of comps to see the show. Needless to say he absolutely killed it – I enjoyed hearing my folks laugh and have a great time watching him do his thing! After the set, I brought them to meet him personally and it felt great to be able to do that for them. If you have the opportunity to see Bobby while he’s touring – do it! Also, make sure to pick up his Best Selling books, ‘On the Inside’ and ‘On the Outside’ – you’ll love them! That brings us to Saturday – I had the day to reflect on everything I’ve done this week and appreciate the great people that I’ve met as well as how blessed I am to be able to do the things I do… I wanted to write this BrimBLOG sooner rather than later simply because everything was so incredibly perfect that I felt the need to share it as soon as possible. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed living it!
Until next time – Eat Well and Prosper! - Brim