Naples, Fla. (Vocus) February 18, 2009
As Americans grow increasingly conscious of their ecological responsibilities and consume more locally-grown produce, wild seafood, dairy, and meats, Naples, Marco Island and Everglades City restaurants serve up mouth-watering fare with ingredients found less than 150 miles away.
Florida stone crab, which begins its season October 15 and runs through May 15 each year, is a typical ingredient chefs are using locally. These delectable claws find their way to area restaurants and also are shipped to other Florida and national locations. One claw is harvested from each crab, and the crab is then placed alive back in the Gulf of Mexico. Stone crabs typically regenerate new claws within one to three years. Favorite places to savor a serving of stone crab claws, served cold with a mustard dipping sauce, include the waterfront seafood markets in Everglades City, known as the Stone Crab Capital of the World. Try unique culinary creations such as the mahi mahi dish with Florida stone crab, papaya and Vidalia onion relish served at Handsome Harry's Third Street Bistro in Naples. Or savor the stone crab ravioli at Naples Tomato, which pairs perfectly with Perrier Jouet champagne.
Tickle your seafood taste buds with the local snapper or grouper de Marco, broiled with shallots, mushrooms and garlic, and topped with toasted breadcrumbs at Café de Marco on Marco Island. Or savor the grouper Julietta, a signature entrée at Noodles Italian Cafe & Sushi Bar in Naples, featuring fresh black Gulf grouper, Gulf shrimp and tomatoes from a local tomato grower. Adventurous types will discover the swordfish with crusted crab meat as well as several types of crudo and carpaccio, showcasing Chef/Owner Fabrizio Aielli's Venetian roots and devotion to local products, at Naples' newest restaurant, Sea Salt.
Thanks to farms in Immokalee located in eastern Collier County, garden-fresh produce makes its way from field to table in the shortest amount of time. Visitors can enjoy the freshest of sweet peppers, zucchini and squash found in the Panzanella Salad at Olio's Restaurant in Naples. Some chefs, like Patrick Fevrier of Escargot 41 in Naples, own their own plot of land and harvest produce. Fevrier grows 40 varieties each of eggplant and basil, plus okra, fennel and cinnamon for his signature dishes. Executive Chef Brian Roland of M Waterfront Grille maintains his own herb garden on the restaurant's terrace. One of his favorite uses of local product on his cutting-edge global menu is a red and yellow watermelon salad with shaved fennel, goat cheese and micro basils.
Local residents and visitors to the Paradise Coast support this trend for local foods and regional cuisine by frequenting members of Naples Originals (naplesoriginals.com) , an association consisting of 46 independent and locally-owned restaurants that each offer innovative recipes using local ingredients - resulting in culinary masterpieces that can only be found in Naples and Collier County. The Naples Originals restaurateurs believe that a vibrant, independent local restaurant community increases a city's culinary and cultural strength. The chefs are committed to delivering unique flavors which infuse local culture, traditions and celebrate the destination's culinary roots.
Visitors staying in suites with kitchens or vacation rental homes or condos may wish to take advantage of the growing number of local farmer's market locations. Shop for fresh produce at the several market locations in downtown Immokalee on daily basis or visit the Third Street Stouth Plaza in downtown Naples on Saturdays and on Marco Island at Mackle Park on Wednesdays in season November through April. There is also a new organic market next door to the organic Food & Thought restaurant at the corner of Tamiami Trail and Golden Gate Parkway near the Coastland Mall in Naples.
For more information on visiting Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades - The Paradise Coast, call 1-800-688-3600 for a free visitors guide or go at the area's official visitor information Web site, ParadiseCoast.com.
JoNell Modys, Naples, Marco Island, Everglades CVB, 239-252-2425
Maria Sabale, BCF, 757-497-4811