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Briefs: Olive oil spill

Published June 22, 2005

Olives are everywhere at Sarasota Olive Oil Company. Owner Kelly Kary has olives in bulk plus 67 olive oils from around the world, including four signature blends poured directly into customers' own bottles. If olive oil doesn't put enough zing in your cooking, try the sea salts - the store stocks 10, all available for tasting - and other hard-to-find cooking ingredients. The store, in the rehabbed Ace Theatre just north of downtown, doubles as a coffee bar and neighborhood hangout for the historic Rosemary District (1419 Fifth St., Sarasota; (941) 366-2008).


For the most refined chocoholics, the place of origin is as precious and fussed over as it is with fine wine. The Italian Amedei chocolatiers of Tuscany have hunted down chocolate from specific regions, plantations and beans. One, for instance, is from Chuao, a premiere Venezuelan plantation sought out by the finest French firms. For those just exploring the chocolate, Amedei has a top-dollar world tour of chocolate from Ecuador, Grenada, Madagascar and other exotic ports.

Amedei can be found at Gianpiero's Pick of the Vine 2506 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813 831-1117) and Mazzaro's Italian Market (2909 22nd Ave. N, St. Petersburg; (727) 321-2400). Look for it, and many other chocolates, online at


One way chocolate could be better is to add nuts and make snap-crackle toffee, say milk chocolate and almonds or dark chocolate and pecans. Those are among the flavors offered by boutique candymakers Lisa and Jim Schalk at Toffee to Go. They sell by mail-order, toll-free 1-866-863-3332, and at their Tampa shop (4318 W El Prado Blvd.; (813) 831-6247). Price is $12 for a half pound.


Emeril, the chef, the TV show, the restaurants, the spices and the cookware line, is now Emeril the produce section. Move over, Frieda, MarJon and Sanwa. Emeril Lagasse's specialty produce includes fingerling potatoes plus a variety of fancy greens with attitude such as hot Asian with wasabi leaves and a Mardi Gras mix of sweeter greens with edible flowers. First spotted at Castellano and Pisso in Tampa (4200 Henderson Blvd.; (813) 289-5275).


The Brass Monkey has taken the place of Bertoni, the Italian restaurant overlooking the beach at Pass-a-Grille, with a Maryland-accented menu of crab cakes, burgers, steaks and seafood, $5 to $22.95. (Eighth Avenue and Gulf Way; (727) 367-7620).

Also now open at Pass-a-Grille is Black Palm (109 Eighth Ave.; (727) 360-5000), which brings nuevo Latino to the site of the old Lighted Tree. Lui Arango and Tony Infante serve a wide range of ceviches and tapas for $3 to $9, entrees of chops, steaks and seafood with South American sauces, $18 to $30.

New owners have taken over the Plaza building spot in downtown St. Petersburg last held by Mattison's Bistro. John Deeks and Kai Cox have renamed it Bistro 111 (111 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg; (727) 895-2200) and named Demetrius Mitchell, formerly of Julian's and Stone & Pritchard, their chef. Lunch menu runs from sandwiches and salads to duck chili; dinner entrees of steaks, sea bass and paprikash start at $19.95. Chef Paul Mattison has returned to his enterprises in Sarasota.

- CHRIS SHERMAN, Times food critic

[Last modified June 21, 2005, 09:38:28]

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