What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Waste Not, Want Not: Rum-Topped Ginger Beer Float! I gotta tell you, there are some fantastic-tasting nonalcoholic ginger beers on the market right now. One of my absolute favorites is made with organic agave and extracts of chili pepper, coriander, cardamom, lime, and orange. Don’t get me wrong, ginger is still the star attraction. These flavors go extremely well in a Mexican Mule with chile pepper-infused tequila. But that’s another story. I went with a much lighter version of ginger beer for a refreshingly light twist on an old favorite. Granted, with a dark rum floater, it definitely has a boozy punch. Obviously, this is an adult beverage and should not be served to anyone under the age of 21.
RUM-TOPPED GINGER BEER FLOAT
3 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
6.8-ounce bottle ginger beer, chilled
1.5 ounce spiced dark rum
Lime wedge, for garnish
Place ice cream in a glass or mason jar. Slowly pour ginger beer over ice cream. Squeeze a touch of lime juice into the glass. Top with a spiced dark rum floater. Garnish with lime wedge. Serve with a spoon. Cheers!
Dining Outside the Home: Bonita Beach Balloon Bar & Grill in Bonita Springs, Florida! On your way back from the beach when you’re feeling as hungry as a shark and parched beyond feeling, make a stop at a friendly bar where open-air dining makes a spirit soar like a hot air balloon, no pun intended. The pub-style grub offers a delicious variety of flavors. It’s family-friendly and sits on the palm-lined main drag on Bonita Beach Road. It’s fairly new, since Covid anyway, but casual enough to feel like a neighborhood hangout. Get the taste of homemade with a southwest Florida twist. Take it from me, the grilled Shrimp Po’ Boy with a tangy Remoulade Sauce, toasted sub roll, fresh lettuce, and salty tomatoes did not disappoint. It’s Shrimpolicious.
Dining Outside the Home: Rusty’s Raw Bar & Grill in Estero, Florida! Just because a restaurant tells you they offer raw seafood doesn’t necessarily mean you have to order it. They do offer American fare that satisfies the burger-and-fries crowd. This cozy sports bar hangout seems to attract the “regulars” for their favorite brew as well as social connections for casual encounters. Face it, people enjoy small talk while viewing a game. It’s relaxing and comfortable. It’s actually fun to watch the bartender create drinks or talk about her current sunburn or newest tattoo. Alcohol can be a perk, and the comfort food is a bonus. Plus, a pause in the day has advantages. Attitude adjustments come free. If you drive by a place and see a row of cars and trucks in the parking lot, odds are it’s probably a pretty decent place and worth checking out. I did.
Dining Outside the Home: The Pub in Naples, Florida! Direct from London is an unique gastropub on the edge of Mercato, a hotspot destination in North Naples. Craving an English beer with a hearty meal? You chose the right place. View the constant flurry of activity on the outdoor patio while nibbling on the award-winning Fish & Chips platter. The Pub’s beer-battered haddock is so crispy you can hear the crunch in every bite. Dredge a chunk of fish through the homemade tartar sauce. It’s so creamy you may find yourself smacking your lips afterward. That’s where a good beer selection comes in handy. The UK-inspired menu offers quite a variety of pub grub, which doesn’t mean the portions are small. In fact, if you walk away hungry, it’s your own fault. Keep Calm and Brunch On.
Dining Outside the Home: British Open Pub in Bonita Springs, Florida! As you stroll past the life-size armored knight statue at the entrance to this British-themed restaurant, expect some hearty dishes paired with a cold pint or two. Inside the cozy little pub, choose a barstool, patio table, or comfy booth for semi-private conversations. The menu offers a nice selection of British favorites for a bit of the unusual including Fish & Chips, Pot Roast Pastie, Liver and Onions, or Banger & Mashed. Decisions, decisions. There’s quite a nice group of English Sandwedges for something a little different, especially if you add an order of Chips & Gravy. On second thought, better plan a return visit. Portions are generous, so chances are your eyes may be bigger than your stomach. Take a nontraditional trip “across the pond” without the expense of a plane ticket.
Dining Outside the Home: Lansdowne Street in Bonita Springs, Florida! Whoever says Time Travel isn’t possible never set foot inside this New England-style pub featuring show stopping sports, gastronomic grub, and bottomless brews. Sure you can still pop in for a cozy table near the fireplace or an open table on the outdoor patio, even if you aren’t a Red Sox fan. It’s all about gathering together for a great meal of Tidbits, Soup, Wicked Huge Salads, Signature Sammies, or whatever the master chef chooses to feature that day. Look around. The memorabilia is as interesting as the patrons. Everyone is talking, laughing, or cheering from one end to the other. Next time you’re up for a lively experience, think Lansdowne Street where everyone seems to be a winner.
Dining Outside the Home: Naples Flatbread Kitchen & Bar in Estero, Florida! Whenever people get the choice to dine outside among potted palms and waterfall fountains, they choose it. The feeling of nature creates a calming atmosphere for casual conversation. Food seems to taste better, too. In essence, it’s almost like a mental vacation to embrace the ambiance. The food choices encompass cravings from Appeteasers to Gourmet Salads to Triple ‘B’ Burgers, Wraps, and Famous Flatbreads. But that’s not all… NFB spotlights a Tap Wall with over 50 domestic and craft beer choices available on a self-serve draft system. You’ll find beers, wines, hard seltzers, ciders, nitro cold brews, meads, and kombuchas. Seriously, if you’re a food and drink enthusiast, it’s time to check this place out. What have you got to lose?
Dining Outside the Home: Off the Rock Tavern in Naples, Florida! The cozy laid back atmosphere of this place makes people feel relaxed, whether outdoors at shaded tables or indoors to watch the games. It’s the classic setting for your favorite alcoholic beverage, a place to engage in conversation, binge on bar bites, and linger over dinner. Guilt-free menu options encourage healthy choices with fresh ingredients. Don’t be shy; try something new. The day of this snapshot, a table was set…front and center…marked by American flags and personalized place cards. Its purpose was to honor the US military killed in a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan. Thirteen bottles of beer sat ghostly untouched as a tribute for the lives of those brave Americans. When a restaurant community of servers come together like this for our military, is it any wonder people gravitate here?
Dining Outside the Home: Griggsby’s Station in Greenfield, Indiana! Located within walking distance from the museum home of Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley, Griggsby’s Station is a farm-to-table gastropub open for homestyle dining at your leisure. It got its peculiar name from one of Whitcomb’s poems by the same title. Outdoor dining encourages a spirit of camaraderie where everyone is either your neighbor or your friend. Check the blackboard for daily specials on gourmet food and spirited drinks. What you see written there promises to be robustly flavored and go well together. On occasion, live music is a treat for the evening, especially as the weather becomes warmer and people like to mingle. Look for the bright lights and the buzz of excitement. It’s right there on Main Street.