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Front Burner: New restaurants, Beaujolais Fete, Thanksgiving help and more

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BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU FETE
Maison Blanche (2605 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, 383-8088, maisonblancherestaurants.com) will kick off the Beaujolais Nouveau season with a “Fete du Beaujolais” on Thursday night. Chef Jose Martinez will prepare his modern French cuisine to go with the unveiling of this year’s crop of Beaujolais from manufacturers like Drouhin and Jadot. Passed appetizers will lead into a call to Paris at 6 p.m. (midnight, in France), when the guests will break into the pyramid of wines and sample the 2011 Nouveau.

The Fete will also feature an auction (including items like a meal from Chef Martinez in your home) and all proceeds from the event will benefit the new James Beard Foundation’s culinary scholarships. The Fete is $65 per person (including tax and gratuity) and runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Christina Daidone, owners Fran and Mara Daidone, and Lucille Milano cut the ribbon at the Village Gourmet.

SIESTA VILLAGE GOURMET OPENS
Siesta Key Village has a new eatery, thanks to brother/sister team Fran and Mara Daidone. The Long Island transplants have opened Siesta Village Gourmet (5263 Ocean Blvd., Siesta Key, 349-7651), a combination restaurant and prepared foods grocer serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The selection of meals changes daily and patrons can either take the meal to go or stay and use the WiFi on the patio. There’s also a breakfast buffet Thursday through Saturday, along with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options daily.

VIKING CULINARY CENTER OPENS
Sarasota construction company Paradise Homes will celebrate the opening of its new Viking Culinary Center (8130 Main St., Lakewood Ranch, 366-2665, lwrviking.com) on Sunday from 6-8 p.m. The center plans to host cooking classes taught by local chefs in a demonstration kitchen featuring stadium seating, as well as room for special dinners and events, all using a wide range of high-end kitchen products from Viking. There is also an outdoor grilling area, a bar featuring select wine and beer, and a retail showroom where shoppers can browse smaller appliances, cutlery, cookware and culinary tools.

TASTE OF SICILY TO OPEN
Taste of Sicily (3664 Webber St., Sarasota, 894-6077), a new café opening soon at the Southeast corner of Webber Street and Beneva Road, boasts authentically house-made pastas, Italian breads and a vast array of tasty Sicilian dishes. It’s a nice addition to the global restaurant scene.

Chef/proprietor Anthony La Franca, who owned and operated a successful Italian restaurant in Pennsylvania for over 14 years, has renovated the small space with tables seating 40 diners, earth colors, rustic tile floors and burnt orange walls.
Open for lunch and dinner, Taste of Sicily offers a wide variety of subs on the crusty hand-made bread or an eight-ounce Godfather Angus burger. There are also salads – including a mozzarella caprese, Sicilian tomato and Caesar – as well as a daily soup choice.

Appetizers include two antipastos (the traditional Italian with veggies and cheeses and a rustico style with carponata, sharp Italian cheeses, roasted peppers and sopressata), calamari and mussels marinara.

Personal gourmet pizzas will be offered along with such entrees as freshly made pasta dishes, a wide array of chicken and veal preparations, as well as a variety of fresh seafood selections. The involtini Siciliani – pork rolls with eggplant, prosciutto, pine nuts, raisins and mozzarella. For dessert, there is cannoli and assorted Italian delicacies created in the kitchen. Beer and wine will soon be available. — Lee McCall

SIMI WINE DINNER AT HARRY’S
Harry’s Continental Kitchens (5600 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, 383-0777, harryskitchen.com) will host Simi Winery’s head winemaker Susan Luker for a dinner on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The price is $100 per person (all proceeds benefit Women’s Resource Center of Manatee), which will get you four courses of Harry’s cuisine paired with Simi’s Sonoma County wines. And check out Harry’s new – and much-improved – website at harryskitchen.com.

NEW MENU AT MICHAEL’S
Michael’s On East (1212 East Ave. S., Sarasota, 366-0007, michaelsoneast.com) chef Jamil Pineda has debuted new menu items, including a range of “City Lite” options like Roasted Beet Salad and Thai Salmon; new fall-themed entrees including Duck Two-Ways and 24-Hour Braised Short Ribs; and new desserts like Granny Smith Apple Crisp and Pumpkin Cheese Cake.

The Haye Loft.

TAPAS AT THE HAYE LOFT
Euphemia Haye’s Haye Loft (5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key, 383-3633, euphemiahaye.com) – long a dessert destination – has debuted a new tapas menu featuring small savory dishes available from 6-10 p.m. nightly. The new menu has items like marinated white anchovies, tomato bread, slices of Iberian ham, grilled vegetable romesco and more. The menu is available now, but there will also be a kick-off party on Tuesday, Nov. 29 from 5-7:30 p.m. where guests can sample the menu items and taste Spanish wines for $20.

FEED THE HUNGRY AT THE FARMERS’ MARKET
The Sarasota Farmers’ Market (sarasotafarmersmarket.org) will host the Mayor’s Feed the Hungry Program this Saturday, featuring a raffle for gift baskets donated by market vendors. Check out the booth set up on Main Street and Lemon Avenue from 8 a.m.-noon for details.

THANKSGIVING FEASTS
Check out this list to find many local restaurants who will cook your big meal for you, either to eat in or take out.

THANKSGIVING HOTLINES
Faced with a holiday cooking conundrum? Ask for help!
Crisco Pie Hotline: (877) 367-7438
Butterball Turkey: (800) 288-8372
King Arthur Flour: (802) 649-3717
Perdue: (800) 473-7383
USDA Meat & Poultry: (888) 674-6854
Food Network star Rachael Ray
Thanksgiving hotline (noon-6 p.m. on
Tuesday, Nov. 15.): (888) 908-1216
— Associated Press

Last modified: November 23, 2011
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