The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 48 - September 24, 2014


Food & WIne

Floridians lead the charge

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Bottagra toast is simple
to make and requires few


It's the dog days of summer. By September we have all had enough of the heat. Some years the storms are threatening – knock on wood, so far. There's nothing to speak of coming off our farms right now. Our cover crops are in at Gamble, and our seedlings are coming up in the greenhouse for the start of the fall season. This will be our first fall crop at Gamble Creek Farm. Eric Geraldson, our farmer manager, has been joined by his son, Ryan, and together they have put together a really exciting grow plan for all of our restaurants.

Our local delicacy, grey striped mullet, are starting to fatten up and Captain Anthony Manali is supplying them to all three of our restaurants. If you haven't tried mullet, which is one of the ultimate sustainable fish species that also happens to be super healthy, due in part to its high omega three fat content, then I encourage you to do so.

I'm writing this from the other West Coast in Napa Valley. It's been great to see so many Florida transplants out here. Craig Stoll and his wife, Annie, run some of the best Italian restaurants in San Fran, Locanda and Delfino's. Craig's a Bayshore High grad who stops in to see us with his family a couple of times a year when he is visiting his parents. We were privileged to have dinner at Laconda on this trip. We brought him some of our bottarga from the Anna Maria Fish Company. We were happy to see he already had it on the menu, and the staff was very familiar with it.

Trevor Kunk is another super talented Florida boy who grew up in Sarasota and was the chef de cuisine for seven years with Dan Barber at Blue Hill in New York. I highly recommend Barber's recently published book titled, "The Third Plate." He is a leader of the farm-to-table movement and a huge fan of grey striped mullet. We had a great dinner in St Helena where Trevor is now the Chef at Press. We brought him some fresh mullet and he returned the favor by sending out five great plates highlighted by a gem lettuce with bottarga, and a seared skin on mullet with heirloom tomato and horseradish.

Further north in Napa Valley, we met up with Joe Humphries at the recently opened Farmer and the Fox. Joe was raised in Tallahassee and was the chef for a number of years at the Governors Club there before a seven-year stint as head chef at Meadowood in St Helena. The new restaurant is a European style gastro pub that is getting a lot of attention from the locals and is a part of the new Cairdean winery and food complex.

Speaking of wine, it's another great harvest, the third in a row in California. Seth Cripe, our winemaker and the majority owner of Lola Wines, is picking Pinot Noir tomorrow for our 2014 Lola North Coast vintage. Seth and his family are local treasures. His brother Mic has just finished a stint chefing at Gjelina’s, one the most edgy restaurants on the West \Coast located in Venice, Calif. Mic is now creating great wine dinners at the new Lola House in Calistoga for our friends and distributors, who our part of the wine team that Seth has put together.

We are excited to have Mic coming down to lead our bottarga production this fall, as well as consulting with his mom, Nancy, our team at Gamble Creek Farm and our three restaurants.

It's great see Floridians leading the new trends in food and wine nationwide.

Bottagra Toast



Ciabatta bread

Extra virgin olive oil



One of my favorite was to eat bottarga is incredibly simple. For bottarga toast all you need to do is to slice some ciabatta bread about a quarter of an inch thin. Brush it very lightly with some extra virgin olive oil, and then toast the bread oil side down on a grill so you get a little char on the bread. Then shave some ground bottagra or place bottagra slices on the toasted ciabatta bread in a light layer.

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