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The Best of Food 2013


Sean Murphy is one of the premier restaurateurs in Florida and his award-winning Beach Bistro and eat here restaurants are among the most well regarded in the local area. In this installment of his semi-regular column, Murphy tells us about all of the wonderful food-related discoveries he made in 2013. From the best way to cook lobster, to a great sport ot get a good Philly cheese steak, Murphy has the local low-down on all of the gastro-goodness!

I spend way too much time thinking about food. Apparently this qualifies me to write about some of the best food stuff I discovered in 2013.


The exceptional tacos and burritos at Poppo's on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. The great Philly sandwiches at South Philly on 43rd street by IMG … already discovered by Nick Bollitieri who hangs there. George O’Connor’s clam, lobster and shrimp boil - a New England classic perfectly served by a kid from Buffalo. Coming soon to an Eat Here table top near you.

That the top city for food in America is now Seattle. It has cruised past New York and San Francisco because of the relative ease of opening an eatery. You don’t need two million dollars, four lawyers to handle the permitting, and permission from the Mafia.

Seattle has an abundance of fresh, cold fish, fresh local produce year round, emerging and accomplished wineries and breweries, and a gazillion young people with cash to spend.

The best way to cook Lobster.

Lobster and Grits at eat here!

I have something of a lobster fixation. This is not surprising. Nova Scotians think they know more about lobsters than anybody. There are fights in bars late at night about the best way to cook a lobster. Prevailing theology requires committing the lobster to an excruciating death in boiling water and then keeping it there until most of the flavor leaves and goes into the water.

We have been obsessed with finding a method for cooking a whole lobster that keeps the richness in the lobster meat and leaves it succulent and tender. This year we resolved that removing the meat from an entire uncooked lobster is a treacherously slow process but poaching that meat slowly in butter yields lobster that is just about perfect. Problem solved in 2013.

The best way to cook Duckling.

Serving duckling is tough, literally. Ducks are tougher than chickens because they actually fly around. If you cook the little beggars until the breast is done then the leg is tough and dry.

In 2013 we resolved that if you confit the whole duck, drain and dry it, then crisp it with a blow torch you get just-about-perfect-duck ... crispy, but with meat that is moist, tender and delicious.

And there were rediscoveries in 2013:

  • The burger at Council's in downtown Bradenton across from the courthouse - cooked on an ancient flat top.
  • John’s hot dog stand for late night on Main Street in Bradenton. Get the sausage with peppers and onions. Get two of them.
  • Wasabi Thai on Manatee Avenue. Probably the best Thai I have had outside of Thailand and warm and friendly people.
  • The Pulled Pork Platter at Jose's. Plan on a nap after lunch.
  • And finally, and possibly the very best and most sublime flavor for me this year was Jim Copening's Lavender Cauliflower Vichyssoise served at his excellent little Bradenton restaurant "Arts and Eats" in the Village of the Arts.

And my first New Year’s resolution is to get the recipe.

Sean Murphy is the owner of the Beach Bistro and the "eat here" restaurants. Comments can be directed to him at seanmurphybistro@gmail.com.


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