"Hey y'all!!" The unmistakeable voice of Paula Deen announced her arrival at the Baer's furniture store in North Palm Beach Sunday. She was addressing a long line of people who had purchased her latest book, "Paula Deen Cuts the Fat: 250 Recipes All Lightened Up." Her entourage also included husband, Michael Groover.
Not only did everyone in line get an autograph and a photo (the proof is above, by the way), but Paula and Michael spent extra time with each person, chatting just like we were sitting in her kitchen, watching her cook. Michael told me his favorite recipe from the book is on pages 22 and 23 -- "Pickled Shrimp." Paula pointed me toward pages 330-331 and the "Flourless Chocolate Fudge Cake."
Fans of the celebrity chef can find more of her recipes, podcasts and live cooking classes at the Paula Deen Club. It's everything Paula in one place.
And the best news about her lighter fare cookbook? She told me she didn't have to leave out the butter. -- Gerry
Even though Pam couldn't be there, Paula and Michael sent best wishes:
After eight months of work, North Palm Beach residents got the see the initial findings of the new 10-year Master Plan initiative. On Saturday, Jan. 30., people gathered in the Conservatory School cafeteria on Anchorage Dr. to view a presentation led by Dana Little, Urban Design Director for the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council. Little summed up the project's objective: "Improve mobility, quality of life and economic vitality of the Village."
After Little's opening presentation, residents gathered around 12 tables with Planning Council experts to tackle what changes should be considered to insure the Village's continued growth into the future. Each table then presented their suggestions to the group during the afternoon session.
Little and his team will be working on the plan and inviting public feedback all week at the Village council chambers. You can see the complete schedule here.
Related: Read more about the Master Plan
Big news! The North Palm Beach location of Doris Italian Market and Bakery is officially OPEN as of today, Jan. 29. The big crowds and sparse parking places at the Shoppes at City Center prove it. Inside the store we found long rows of beautiful produce, a meat counter boasting "the finest meats in town," a bakery (everything is prepared on site), a gourmet deli, hundreds of wines and more than you can see in just one visit. Here are some photos. -- Gerry and Pam
A series of public hearings on the Village of North Palm Beach's Master Plan kicks off Saturday, Jan. 30 with a Public Design Workshop, set for 9 am - 3 pm at The Conservatory School cafeteria, 401 Anchorage Dr. in North Palm Beach. Complete details on all the hearings can be found here. Village Manager Jim Kelly talks about the Master Plan in this interview with North Palm Life. -- Gerry
The queen of Southern cuisine, Paula Deen, will be doing a book signing Sunday, Jan. 31, at Baer's Furniture, 910 N US Highway 1, from noon to 2 p.m. She'll be autographing her latest book, "Paula Deen Cuts the Fat," featuring 250 recipes for cooking on the lighter side. We hope they still include the butter. -- Gerry
Thursday we took a trip to the Caribbean, without leaving North Palm Beach. How? Just by attending "Island Night" at Sandpiper's Cove Restaurant and Bar. Our "travel agent" was steel drum entertainer Wilson Jean-Baptiste, who gave a distinctive Caribbean vibe to classics like "Across the Sea" and "Layla." His rhythms moved several couples in the jam-packed bar area to dance. Sandpiper's also featured a special island dinner menu to go with the steel drum music. Get a sample of the evening in the video. We love an island getaway -- and no passports required, mon. -- Gerry and Pam
Shopping at Costco on a Monday can go many ways, but it seems I do learn something new with every crossing of the warehouse threshold.
Could be something as mundane as searching for Shepard's Pie, only to discover the epicurean concoction has a season. That is correct. Shepard's Pie is only available during, Shepard's Pie Season. Translation: the Fall of the year.
Sometimes you must deal with long check-out lines (even the self-serve), and crowded aisles filled with people overly eager to snatch-and-grab great deals on as assortment of must-have items.
On the other hand, it is possible to sail through the place, happily filling your cart with true goodies, and check out in the flashiest-of-flashes.
But, one quick note...never, ever, try to help the cart-wranglers as they wrestle those things back into the chute. Gerry tried to help the 80 pound juvenile, who was pushing and tugging on a long line of rowdy carts (they were going everywhere even though a long strap encircled them). The kid curtly told Gerry to "Let them go."
So much for being a good Samaritan at the Costco entrance.
This week, what did I discover?
Costco has a Sommelier.
Everyone, except me, is probably well aware of this Customer Service bonus. Personally, I had no idea.
Therefore, while perusing the aisle of bubbling libations, I was taken off-guard when a stately looking gentleman asked if I needed assistance. I thanked him, but declined his offer.
Pushing through the aisle, Gerry and I were discussing the merits of one Prosecco in particular, and were quickly told, from SG (stately gentleman) who was still hanging nearby, we were about to buy utter-swill. He offered his opinion on one labeled Valdobbiadene. Actually, he did not use anything close to the word swill.
He did claim he drank the brand himself, said he mixed it with pomegranate juice and it was divine.
When we still hesitated, he claimed it was their top seller.
When a persistent guy stands beside you looking like he should be serving 100-year-old wines to Queen E, and her chums, at Buckingham Palace, ultimately, you heed his words.
The juice is chilling, but we are still amazed that Costco has a distinguished and extremely well-dressed looking guy lurking around the cheap vino, offering his two-cents.
Was it a fluke?
Was it the Universe sending us a nice gesture to make-up for the rude kid at the entrance?
Was he simply a random customer, filled to the brim with wine factoids just pretending to be a part of the Costco inner-circle?
He did refer to Costco in a way that seemed close to his heart, so we are going to accept him as an authority on cheap, sparking wine.
We don't buy much wine at Costco, but we may now. I want to ask his opinion on a few more labels. -- Pam
It's time to start planning your Super Bowl party! Here's a great start -- Chocolate Covered Football Strawberries, offered up by Executive Pastry Chef Brittani Szczecina at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa.
Yields 12 pieces
· 12 each fresh strawberries
· 1 package white chocolate
· 1 package dark chocolate
· In a microwave safe bowl melt dark chocolate
· Holding by the stem, dip strawberry in chocolate, shake off excess and place on parchment paper
· Let the chocolate pool onto the paper and then pick strawberry back up and place in new spot. This helps to avoid little "feet" to form. Continue with remaining strawberries and let harden.
· Melt the white chocolate. Fill a piping bag and cut a very small hole. Pipe a vertical line down the entire length of the strawberry. Let harden.
· Once hardened, pipe five horizontal lines to form the threading on the football and let dry.
Beachgoers, take heed. We spied the dreaded Portuguese man 'o war which had washed up on the sands of the Jupiter dog beach. It looks like a jellyfish, but in fact is something called a siphonophorae. Whatever you call, stay away. Its long tentacles can inflict painful stings in the water or just lying on the beach. Not how you want your day at the beach to go. -- Gerry
Exploring what to see and do in North Palm Beach and the South Florida area. Your hosts are Pam and Gerry Barker.
Listen to Chapter One of "Panama Palmer"