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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fabulous Find: Chef Clay Conley's Buccan in Palm Beach!

Smoked Salmon Carpaccio
I was very reluctant to write this post in the same way I am reluctant to give out the name of my favorite hairdresser...simply because when word gets out about something fabulous, everybody wants to try it! Such is the case with Palm Beach's newest dining option, Buccan (boo-kahn). This "progressive American grill" has only been open a few short months but, I am happy to report, it is nothing short of fabulous and at a (relatively) reasonable price point!

Buccan is the concept of gastronomically gifted Chef Clay Conley, formerly of Azul at Miami's posh Mandarin Oriental, who also worked under the tutelage of Todd English for over a decade, becoming Culinary Director for all 18 restaurants at the age of 29. Conley has finally stepped out on his own with Buccan which is a native South American and Caribbean name for a wooden framework on which meat was roasted or smoked, similar to a barbecue. The concept is a refreshing change to the Palm Beach culinary scene with its relaxed yet sophisticated Hamptons-esque decor that includes a vibrant bar scene, cozy "living room" lounge area, communal dining table and dining room complete with Chef's tables adjacent to the kitchen. 

Moi & Chef Clay Conley
The focus of the menu is its mouth watering small plates, served tapas style under headings such as "Raw," ""Crispy," "Flour and Water" (pasta), and "Wood-Fire Roasted" but there is a section of "Large Plates" as well if you're so inclined. Favorites included the Mushroom flatbread with Marsala-glazed onions, gruyere & black truffle vinaigrette; Shortrib empanadas with salsa criolla and aji amarillo; Spring pea risotto with seared bay scallops, mushroom vinaigrette & truffle; and Bacon wrapped tuna with sherry gastric, fava beans & grilled baby Vidalia onions. Believe me, I could go on!

Bacon Wrapped Tuna & Baby Vidalias
The menu is printed daily to reflect any changes Chef Conley deems necessary and the restaurant supports local farmers and  "sustainability efforts." The "By the Glass" wine list also has a lovely selection of both Old and New World offerings (maybe a few too many Chardonnays but who's counting) and some creative specialty cocktails including the Chez Suzette (elderflower liqueur, lemon and sparkling rose) as well as the Buccan T (vodka, black tea, cranberry, citrus, basil and agave nectar).

Buccan is located at 350 S. County Road on the corner of Australian Avenue in the space formerly occupied by Beach Bistro and Galaxy Grille. Next time you are headed up to Palm Beach, pack your appetite in your Louis Vuitton handbag and give it a try - I'd love to hear what you think!


Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Official: The Glamorous Gourmet is a Certified Sommelier!

You may have noticed I have been delinquent in my posting lately and I have missed you all very much! I had a very good reason though, I have been studying for my Certified Sommelier Exam which was Tuesday, April 19th. While a decidedly grueling day that I would never want to repeat, I am happy to report - I passed! After the events of the past 6 months (hip surgery, ongoing recovery, losing my 15 year old dachshund, Katie) it is a very welcome accomplishment.

After completing the first level of this certification in 2008, I finally decided to tackle the second level (out of four) of this widely respected organization whose credentials are recognized worldwide. The Court of Master Sommeliers was originally established to encourage high standards of beverage knowledge and service in hotels and restaurants with education as their primary goal. The first Master Sommelier examination was held in the United Kingdom in 1969 and by April 1977, the Court was established as the premier international examining body. Over the four decades since the first examination, only 180 candidates have earned the Master Sommelier Diploma - the fourth and ultimate level. There are 112 Master Sommeliers in North America, of those, just 17 are women.

Sylvie Gervais, Cary Combine & I - Certified Sommeliers!
The Certified Sommelier exam consisted of three parts: a blind tasting, a written theory exam and a practical service demonstration. With only a 45% pass rate, it holds examinees to a very high standard in each area. While the primary focus of the exam was wine, emphasis was also placed on liquors, cocktails and food and wine pairings. I have to say, I had no idea there were THAT many cocktail recipes in existence, although my husband Steve was quick to confirm it!  Being primarily a wine drinker, prior to studying I didn't really know a Pimm's Cup from a Harvey Wallbanger. Now, I am happy to report, I definitely know my Gibson from my Rob Roy! While preparing for the exam, I was fortunate to have attended study sessions with two amazing Master Sommeliers, Virginia Philip and Juan Gomez of The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach where the exam was given. They were extremely encouraging not to mention infinitely knowledgeable (seriously, they are awe-inspiring)! All in all, it was a wonderful, albeit intense learning opportunity I am grateful for having experienced. I am also grateful for good friends, two of whom took the exam the same day. I am happy to report they also passed - Congratulations, Cary and Sylvie!

We  celebrated with a bottle of Champagne at the Breaker's beautifully appointed Tapestry Bar and then proceeded to Delray Beach for more bubbly and other wines including a 2003 J. Moreau & Fils Chablis Grand Cru "Le Clos," 2007 Flowers Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, 2001 Caymus Special Selection and a 2005 Château de Pez Saint-Estéphe Bordeaux. I guess I should mention we had some help polishing off all that great wine! I'm looking forward to some more great bottles this weekend and I hope everyone has a lovely and blessed Easter!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Announcing the Winner of the Atlas Party Rental Easter Celebration Giveaway!

It is with great pleasure that I announce the winner of my Easter Celebration Giveaway but first let me thank everyone so much for participating! Is was fun reading all of your fabulous entertaining tips as well as reflections on what you love most about Spring - I think it is definitely my favorite season of the year!

Also, a big thank you to Atlas Party Rental for donating the generous package which included a beautiful, custom table for ten. Someone is going to have one beautiful table on their hands on Easter Sunday! Did I mention the winner also had to invite me over? Ok, just kidding!

So, without further ado, the winner of the Atlas Party Rental Giveaway selected at random is:
Barbara at Moveable Feasts

Congratulations, Barbara! I hope you enjoy working with Atlas to create a gorgeous table and have a wonderful Easter Sunday. Barbara happens to be the author of one of my favorite blogs, "Moveable Feasts" so please check her out if you haven't already. Barbara, I will be in touch with you regarding contact information for Atlas. Thanks again, everyone and I hope you have a lovely and blessed Easter!


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Last Chance to Enter Easter Celebration Atlas Party Rental Giveaway!!!

There are less than 24 hours left in the Easter Celebration Giveaway! The winner of the giveaway will receive a fabulous table for 10 (includes beautiful linens, flatware, glassware, etc) for their Easter Celebration from Atlas Party Rental, a local leader in festive tabletop fashion. The lucky winner can select one of the looks shown (see original post) or design their own table - whichever they prefer! We have been using them for years to create lovely looks for our holiday gatherings and, most recently, for the Boca Bacchanal & Auction.  The room could not have looked more fabulous!

Simply click this link for the original post or scroll down to the previous post to read the contestant criteria and leave a comment stating one of your favorite entertaining tips or your favorite thing about Spring - or both! The contest closes tomorrow at noon and the winner will be randomly drawn and announced tomorrow evening. Best of luck and please spread the word. Thank you so much for your participation!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Love Entertaining? Win a Fabulous Spring Table for your Easter Celebration!

Spring is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. Birds are chirping, bright colors are back and the weather is just perfect here in South Florida! Along those lines, I'm very happy to announce my latest blog giveaway. Atlas Party Rental, a local leader in festive tabletop fashion, has agreed to provide the winner of this giveaway with a gorgeous table for your Easter celebration!

The lucky winner will get to choose from one of the fabulous, festive looks included in this post or work with an Atlas representative to create their own unique look. The package is valued at $250 which would make a lovely table for ten including glassware, flatware, chargers, linens and dinner plates - imagine the possibilities!

To enter the giveaway, simply leave your favorite entertaining tip OR your favorite thing about Spring in the comment section below. If you would like to enter for two chances to win, you can leave both - but please do so as separate comments. Additionally, if you mention this giveaway on your blog or "share" this post on your Facebook page you get an additional chance to win (please let me know you have done so!). 

To be eligible to win, you must live in South Florida since the items cannot be shipped. Of course, if you feel like leaving a comment even if you don't live in Florida, it would be greatly appreciated, but remember, you won't be eligible to win (sorry!). The contest will run from today until Sunday, April 17th when a winner will be randomly selected and contacted so they can begin designing their beautiful holiday table!
Be sure to check out all the fabulous looks and I look forward to your comments. Thanks in advance for your participation and best of luck!


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