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  1. Z28Racer

    Worst Beer Ever Tasted

    YES!!! Someone else has tried Cool Colt. It was similarly test marketed in central Illinois in 1992 (Illinois class of '93 here). I thought it tasted like cool mint Listerine. I do seem to remember the liquor stores having a promotional poster of Tone-Loc hoisting a 40. My roommates and I would drink it as a more of a goof than anything else. There was a local supermarket chain called County Market that had 40 oz. malt liquor (all brands!) for 99 cents, and 64s for $1.50. A cheap, if poisonous, drunk was two 64s of Colt .45 followed by a 40 of Cool Colt, liberally seasoned with smoke from Swisher Sweets. Champaign/Urbana was far from what anyone would call "urban," but there is truth in the old saw about "if it will play in Peoria..." All sorts of weird food items would come and go. To this day, I can't convince anyone there actually was a Hostess "Nutty Ho Ho" snack cake...
  2. Most of southwest Florida closes at 9. About the only place with any activity is "downtown" Ft. Myers, and that just the club scene. Finding a good place to eat after 10 is nigh impossible. I went to the "Santiva" Lazy Flamingo about three weeks ago on a spur-of-the-moment thing. The, um, decor maintains its genteel dilapidation, but the food's not what it was. The conch fritters and chowder used to be stuffed with conch. The menu's also about half the length and twice the price of what it was in its heyday. Lots of folks talk about places the "locals" go as being a mark of authenticity. Since Sanibel is mostly over-moneyed part-time residents, that doesn't really obtain. The best places were where the hotel employees went after work, as those usually were good values. Real estate being as valuable as it is on Sanibel now, they've just about all vanished. I'm really glad you found this on your own. I was hesitant to recommend it as there's sometimes overwhelming negativity towards chains on this board. I took my folks there (at their request) on my father's birthday and was very pleased. The shrimp-BLT is also excellent, should you return. I also like the fact that the bartender didn't treat mixed drinks as an excuse to brain you with alcohol, and that balance is key.
  3. The Bubble Room isn't what it used to be food-wise. That used to be my special-occasion place, but there are others on which I would rather spend my money. If one's never been, though, it's probably worth the trip. The Red Velvet cake is still as good as ever, though. That's the Green Flash, which I understand is a pretty good seafood place as well. I can't quite warm up to it, as it sat on the site of Timmy's Nook, which was a total dump on the outside, but quite a memorable place otherwise. When it was demolished, old-island people were in mourning.
  4. Hmmm...I'm cheered to hear the Lazy Flamingo outposts on Sanibel are still good. About five years back, they opened three more locations, one in Cape Coral (where I live) which, food-wise, was even better than the Sanibel locations. I'd been swept out of there along with the more valuable debris on many a Friday night. In the past year, it went quickly downhill, closing about a month ago. I'd heard the original owners sold out. With the Sanibel Causeway suffering advancing decreptiude and horrific traffic, I didn't want to hike out there to be disappointed. I'll have to make the trip. If you do go, I strongly recommend the one at the northern tip of Sanibel, just before the Blind Pass bridge. It's a true hole-in-the-wall, which to me substantially enhances the experience. Be sure to try your hand at the "island game" after having a few Adult Beverages.
  5. Head for Ristorante Fabio, on Hancock Bridge Pkwy at Orange Grove Blvd. in North Ft. Myers. It's a little place in a fast-fading shopping center, stuck between a Big Lots and a mini-storage. The Italian food is stellar, and demolishes anything else in town. Edmondo, the chef, runs the place with his wife and children. It's the kind of place where most of the customers are regulars, and everyone knows them by name. The regular menu is interesting, but the specials are usually what's worth ordering. If there's gnocchi, don't consider anything else. They're so light that they practically float off the plate. They don't take credit cards, so plan on $30 or so a person if you have something from the very modest wine list. For southern food, there's the Dixie Moon Cafe on Old 41 in Bonita Springs, about 1/2 mile north of Bonita Beach Rd. on the east side of the street. The fried chicken is a true standout, and they have the best rendition I've ever tried of the venerable grouper sandwich. For barbeque, there's the Hickory BBQ, at the intersection of San Carlos Blvd. and McGregor, on the way to Sanibel. It's a little hard to find, and you'll be best to cut through the bingo hall parking lot to get there. It's a big barn of a place, and the waitresses have been on the job since about 4 A.D. They build a mean hickory fire, though. It's basically dry style, and the sauce is think and vinegar based and I've been tempted to drink it by the glass sometimes. The sliced pork and beef sandwiches, and the half-chickens are the best items, thought the ribs are also good. The corn comes floating in about a half-stick of butter, and is usually good even when not in season locally. This place is also cash only, but you can stuff yourself for under $10. If you want great Thai food (at least to local devotees of same), there's Siam Hut on Del Prado Blvd. in Cape Coral. It's been here about 25 years, which is positively prehistoric by local standards. For sushi, I highly recommend Mr. Mee's, across from Page Field in the Sam's Club Plaza on US 41 in Ft. Myers. They also have an excellent Korean and Japanese menu. For Mexican, there's Jalapeno's on College Pkwy west of US 41. I like this place because in addition to the usual Tex-Mex items, you'll find some of the lesser-known "peasant" items like menudo (tripe stew). I can't help you as much with Naples, and I don't get down there all that often, but the food critic in the Naples Daily News (www.naplesnews.com) is reliable. That should get you started...
  6. I think it depends on the growth in the given area's market. Publix, mentioned by plax and Rail Paul, is basically carpet-bombing southwest Florida (Ft. Myers area). They are locking up sites at the entrance to every new subdivision of any size. There are many of those hereabouts. Since there is a net increase in population, they're being directed to a new store rather than an existing one. It might seem that Publix is taking on the overhead of an additional store, but I'd be willing to bet people will shop more, and more often, if the store is at their doorstep, rather than 15 or 20 minutes away. Publix has been very savvy with their growth, as has done well in beating back Super Wal-Mart. The conventional wisdom predicted that Publix would take it on the chin, but by maintaining some aspects of a full-service grocery, having better quality products, and many locations, their growth has outpaced Wal-Mart locally. They also tailor their stores to the given site; they can range from just 40,000 to over 125,000 square feet. With flexible sizing, they can locate on a larger range of sites. Wal-Mart, at least here, has a fixed floor plan of about 200,000 square feet, sites for which are getting very difficult to find.
  7. Is the text of the law online somewhere?
  8. Looking further, I think you'll be better served by the Naples Daily News dining section: http://www.naplesnews.com/sections/diningarchive/. I don't get to Naples that much, so I can't vouch as fully for the News's critic as well as our own LeBoeuf, but looking at some of the reviews, they correspond well to what I've heard of the various places. One I'll add: The Dixie Moon Cafe in Bonita Springs (about 10 miles north of Naples) for stick-to-your-ribs Southern food. They have outstanding fried chicken and the obligatory fried green tomatoes. Most of the places I know are in Ft. Myers, which although it's only about 30 miles, is over an hour drive this time of year. If you're interested, I can offer some suggestions.
  9. I am very familiar with the old Danbury Fair. I managed to browbeat my dad into taking me to the stock car races a few times, back when I was a wee one. I lived right off of Route 7, and fair traffic was a nightmare. On weekends, the traffic was backed up down towards Wilton, I distinctly remember driving south to Branchville, then up into the town center, then up 35 or some other back road, and then back south. That tended to dim the folks' enthusiasm for taking yrs. trly. to the Fair. In fact, they much preferred going to the Duchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, where I remember some truly excellent Manhattan clam chowder...
  10. The immigration - changing demographics, gentrification, what-have-you. If "dump" is too strong of a term, then how about "terminally moribund"? I lived in Ridgefield from birth through age 14 (left in 1985). Things were pretty dreary back then. Union Carbide moved in but everyone else moved out. I think one could count the decent restaurants on one hand, and they were Italian and Chinese places. The El Torito that was in Bethel was "exotic".
  11. Do you have any on-line references that discuss this in more detail? Not that I doubt you, but I used to live in Ridgefield (until 1985) and back then, Danbury was a total dump.
  12. Ivan is the best! He waited on my party when I went there in January 2002, and remembered us when we went back two months later. I'm guessing there were a few thousand tables served in between? He also said one of the more memorable lines I've ever heard from a waiter. When serving our dessert and coffee, he asked if we wanted cream for the coffee or wanted to use schlag. I asked for cream, and he paused dramatically, and said in a mock-sinister-Nazi tone, "schlag isst better!"
  13. Where in Sarasota is Il Panifico? I live in Cape Coral, so I can definitely try this place. Pizza, besides homemade, is fairly dreary hereabouts.
  14. A question for those that buy the large packages of non-food items at Costco: do you find yourselves buying them because Costco has everything-under-the-sun and it's convenient, or are they just that much cheaper?
  15. Z28Racer

    All About Osso Buco

    I was unable to lay hands on either of the Marcella Hazan books, so I went with the Battali/Food TV recipe. I did take some tips suggested here: I floured the shanks before browning, and rather than add salt to the pot, I added a few anchovies. I let everything simmer for about 3 hours and it yielded amazingly tender shanks and a suitably rich sauce. Dad was doing handsprings. I was considering polenta for a side dish, but was a little pressed for time and utensils, so I opted for risotto. Speaking of polenta, does anyone ever fry theirs? The last time I made it, I let it cool, cut it into sections, and fried it in about 1/2" of olive oil until the outside was crisp. Yowza. Forgot to add: for the gremolata, I used orange and lemon zest. My neighbor has several citrus trees, and I can pick from them any time...
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