I like to start my day with chocolate, and end it with chocolate and local tropical fruits. Hey, it’s one of the five food groups, so why not? I now get to combine the two with the creations of Royal Palm Chocolates- the newest chocolatier in Naples. Chef Philip Fincher left the dry world of estate planning for pastry and Belgian chocolates. Trading legal briefs and family feuds for luscious flavors and very happy customers, he’s never looked back!
Royal Palm chocolates is a local, family business with local and national customers with international quality. Wife Stephanie and two daughters cheerfully taste new creations and help in the artful production. Their chocolates are now showing up at parties and events with their distinctive color coded tops.
In less than a year, Chef Philip’s company has earned large accounts in the South Florida area.
|Key Lime and Lavender Lime|
With over 40 chocolate treats to choose from, buy a couple dozen, share, and compare! My favorites include the plum cognac, apricot, raspberry, apricot, Grand Marnier, cayenne, lavender lime and Key-lime. There are also chocolate bars with almonds, cranberries, pecans…on and on!
1040 Collier Center Way, Naples, 325-8300
Portofino Baking Company has been popular on the East Trail-now they are know throughout SW Florida. I’ve sampled Chef Rolan Richard’s desserts, and they rock! My favorites are the pumpkin cheesecake, crisp sfogliatelle, and I enjoy contrasting the two different cheesecakes, Italian and New York, ricotta and cream cheese based, with their different toppings.
|Owner Rolan Richard, Nikki Wheeler|
|Sfogliatelle- Crisp and tender|
The baked goods are too numerous to name. Every day a fresh batch of pastries, cookies, biscotti, rum babas, lobster tails, specialty and holiday items are baked there in the wee hours of the morning.
8595 Collier Blvd, on the corner of Rattlesnake Hammock Road in East Naples. 774-099
Fresh Point carries truly fresh local produce. Brad Young proudly shows off incredibly vibrant, tasty produce from Fort Myers’ hydroponic Rabbit Run and other fine farmers. Bold lettuces, colorful beans, kaleidoscopic colors of eggplants, carrots-they’ve got it all!
|Rabbit Run Herbs and Tomatoes|
The romanesca is a beautiful vegetable-I call I the “fractal fruit” for its geometric design-it’s really a funky cauliflower with a severe case of envy.
I met farmer Tom O’Brien who grows produce in Bradenton.
I sampled dragon fruit, cherimoyas (imported) rambutans and other tropical fruits. FreshPoint also supplies Buddha’s hand, persimmons, lobster mushrooms and uncommon pears to local restaurants.
|Rambutan and Cherimoya|
Gary’s Seafood & Specialties distributes local seafood-fresh, fresh, fresh! He carries sturgeon raised in Sarasota by Mote Marine Laboratory. Delicious Russin/Iranian Caviar anyone?
|Chef Dirk Rusthoven, Gary Reed, and Sturgeon|
It’s sustainable with the Imperial genetics, and said to be as good as any other fine caviar, at a lesser price, as it’s locally raised, not imported. Chef Dirk Rusthoven had beautifully marbled beef from Meyer Natural Foods.
Sysco has a large assortment of natural and organic produce , fresh seafood, and a wide variety of pre-made salads. I have been enjoying the vegetarian wheatberry salad, Orange Ginger Cous Cous and Tabouli for months- they taste even better warmed! Certified Black Angus beef is a popular favorite in Naples restaurants. Bluefin tuna is as meaty as a very good beef steak, making it a very desirable tuna.
|Seared Bluefin Tuna|
Kayem has wonderful pale ale brats and sweet Italian sausages.
Halpern’s fresh fish, beef and poultry are tops in my book for freshness and taste. Eric Tibcken’s display had a steady line of tasters!
Well, that’s just a sampling of the behind the scenes vendors who supply very fresh produce, seafood and beef to SW Florida restaurants and country clubs. Food quality has greatly increased over the last ten years in restaurants-thank s to top suppliers and chefs.
I would kill to find rambutans here. I found them one time at Publix but never again. We had them in Bali and covet them still.
Years ago I couldn't find good sugar apples (annona squamosa) so I bought two trees. Decent fruit, however they still they do not taste as heavenly as the ones sold on the street in Jamaica and other Caribbean spots...
There's definitely a magic in terroir!
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