Powel Crosley Hosts Afternoon Tea During Month of February
I've discovered a pleasant way to idle away a Sarasota afternoon in February--get up a little party and have a lavish tea in the historic Powel Crosley mansion on the bayfront served by Simply Gourmet. Hats are not required and I saw hardly any when my friend Rosemary and I went. But I did spy plenty of good jewelry. The experience was less Downton Abbey-ish than Sarasota casually elegant.
Servers (some British) poured orange pekoe tea from Brown Betty' pots (ugly, but they keep the tea hot) and then laid the impeccable tables with petite sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, cakes, cookies, brownies, all meticulously staged for optimal eye appeal. My favorite was a round silver tray upon which were flat seeded biscuits stuffed with thin slivers of cured salmon. These divine biscuits are a signature pastry that Chef Larry Barrett makes daily. He has a secret for keeping the biscuits from rising that makes these buttery little coins of rich deliciousness look the way they do. Honestly, Downton's Mrs. Patmore couldn't do better.
Chef is also a culinary historian and has fashioned this tea after a big public tea party that Queen Elizabeth hosts every spring for 8,000 people in the garden at Buckingham Palace. There were only 100 at my tea party. (More exclusive, don't you know.) Tables were set up in various rooms and terraces on the upper floor of the 1929 house, and either before or after eating, guests could take a self-guided tour of the glamorous Flapper-era estate. Tea is served every Tuesday and Wednesday of this month. Always at 2 p.m. Always just for 100 guests. $35, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Crosley Foundation. Eat all the salmon biscuits they'll give you.
SARASOTA - In its sixth year running, the Royal Tea Service at the Powel Crosley Estate is a recreation of the Queen's Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
Tea was served to ninety-five guests in the living area of the estate that overlooks Sarasota Bay. Twelve gallons of Ceylon tea were brewed for the event.
A portion of the proceeds benefits the Powel Crosley Foundation. The Royal Tea Service will be served through March. For reservations or more information,
call 941- 225-9122 or visit: www.simplygourmetcaterers.com.
With Norah Jones Holiday playing softly in the background, the perfectly rehearsed lunchtime routine played out like a graceful ballet: Each independent 4-year-old at Church of the Palms set her or his place in anticipation of what homemade meal would be unveiled.
And in an age of rushing, texting, and busyness galore, there was simplicity, love, and thoughtfulness in Miss Ali's classroom as each child paused to be thankful. Thankful for the sun, for their families, for sharks (of course), and for their food. Food that was prepared fresh, mere hours before, by Sous-Chef Will in the kitchen of Simply Gourmet Catering. Carrying out a passion that was passed down to him from his grandmother, whom he revered as the best Eastern European cook I've ever known, Chef Larry declares that perfect food is our passion. Simply Gourmet Catering specializes in corporate events and special occasions, drawing on Chef Larry's 25-plus years of culinary creativity and with wife Jamie's professional, easygoing presence and expertise guiding the way. In between mouthwatering details of savory sauces, Chef Larry explains, We think of each event as a show my wife is the producer, I'm the director and the food the props.
As Chef Larry chats about the visually stimulating pairing of red and gold and a stunning crudit's platter with a feta cheese he likes from Greece, Sous-Chef Will thickens a roux that will complete the festive-looking lunch he is preparing for the preschool just up the road. With obvious respect for the youngest patrons in our community, Chef Larry enthusiastically shows me the nutritious lunch menu he had created, which sustains more than 80 children daily.
With such offerings as Chicken ala King, Meatball Stroganoff, and Vegetable Sauté Pasta, he explains how kids enjoy learning about and trying new foods, especially in a group setting. Then, focusing on his evening menu, he passionately covers topics from the aromatic goodness of his goat-cheese pillows with raw shallots thrown in for a pleasant surprise crunch, to his inventive tequila spray offered right before guests pop Caribbean shrimp in their mouths. His love of food knows no bounds.
In addition, they specialize in Green Weddings, promoting that you can celebrate your dream day without leaving a major footprint on our environment. Vowing to keep the simplicity of flavor and committed to always evolving and constantly trying to improve, Chef Larry explains how he is always coming up with food formulas. Catch him dishing out his secrets the second Tuesday of the month with Chef Judi on ABC. Be it garlic crostini complemented with a martini or, for the younger set, chicken fried rice with Asian spice, Simply Gourmet has set the stage for its motto: When you love what you do, it shows.
Simply Gourmet: 4783 Swift Rd, Sarasota; 941-929-0066; simplygourmetcaterers.com
I love serving something a little fruity for Christmas. This dish screams celebration. It's economical, delicious and memorable. After cutting the pork into medallions, I flatten them slightly with my fist. This dish is a great starting point for all pork tenderloin dishes. Depending on when you are preparing the dish, feel free to substitute any seasonal fruit~peaches, plums or apricots. Serve with spiced roasted sweet potatoes. This will be a dish you revisit year round.
1 pound Pork Tenderloin, Trimmed and Cut Crosswise Into 8 Pieces - (Flattened Slightly With Your Fist)
2 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil
2 Tablespoons Butter
3 Cups Thinly Sliced Unpeeled Granny Smith and Golden Delicious Apples
Half Cup Thinly Sliced Shallots
Salt/Pepper to Taste
Half Cup Apple Cider
1 Tbsp. Apple Jelly
1 Tsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Tbsp. Chopped Parsley
Add 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil to a sauté pan and heat to high. Season the pork tenderloin steaks/cutlets with the salt/pepper. Sear the steaks for two minutes on each side. When done place on plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Empty the pan of any oil.
Using the same sauté pan, add 1 Tbsp. of the butter and 1 Tbsp. of the vegetable oil and let melt on medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the apples and sauté until wilted (two minutes at the most)~they should still have a snap. Add the apple cider and thyme leaves~reduce until slightly dry. Add a tablespoon of butter and swirl the pan to incorporate. Taste and add salt/pepper and a Tbsp. of apple jelly. Place the pork steaks on a platter and cover with the apple mixture. Garnish with the chopped parsley.
With the holidays approaching, I'm throwing caution to the wind. I use this corn recipe often as the base for some great dishes~very few things are as satisfying as pan seared scallops on top of creamed corn and bacon. It's a real American favorite~corn from the native Americans, a great American cheese and the bacon (goes without saying). This simple dish will change your Thanksgiving table forever. Enjoy.
5 Ears of Fresh Corn
2 Ounces Bacon Lardons (Small Cubes Cut From Slab Bacon)
1 Chopped Shallot
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tbsp. Butter
Half Cup Cream
halfCup Chicken Stock
2 Tbsp. Roux (For Thickening)
Half Tsp. Fresh Thyme
Half Cup Vermont White Cheddar Cheese
Salt/Pepper to Taste
Two Scallions Sliced
Cut the kernels from 3 ears of corn and place in a mixing bowl. Scrape the cobs with a spoon to get all the milky corn pulp. Take the remaining two ears of corn and grate on a box grater over the mixing bowl.
Cook the bacon in a skillet until brown~drain. Remove all but a tablespoon of bacon fat from the skillet. Add the butter to the pan, add the shallot and cook on medium heat until translucent (don't brown). Add the garlic and cook for a few seconds (until you get the nice aroma of the garlic). Add the corn, thyme and cook slowly until the corn is tender (about 5 minutes). Add the cream, chicken stock and cayenne and cook for a minute or two. Add the cheese, salt/pepper (if necessary). Thicken with the roux. If the mixture is too thick add a little more chicken stock, too thin add a little more roux. Cook on a low heat for a minute or two. Place on a serving dish and garnish with the bacon lardons and then scallions.
8 Tbsp. All Purpose Flour
Melt butter in small pan, add flour and cook on low heat for 2/3 minutes~keep stirring or whisking. Do not let the roux brown. We want a white or blonde roux for this recipe.
During his 40 years in the food/hospitality industry, Larry Barrett, owner of Simply Gourmet catering in Sarasota, has provided creative fare for Hollywood celebrities such as Michael Douglas, Danny Devito, Phyllis Diller and Patricia Heaton, plus numerous others. Though his inventive and elegant culinary wedding preparations and re-creations of famous presidential dinners are well-known, the chef says few things give him as much personal pleasure as supplying lunch daily for pre-school children at Church of the Palms Education Center in Sarasota.
Barrett has catered to the taste buds of tots for close to 15 years and though he doesn't earn a fortune from this endeavor, he would never give it up.
"Just about every day I learn something new from these kids," he said. "There is nothing in the world like the excitement and adulation you get from these youngsters when they come running out to the truck screaming, 'what's for lunch?' And, of course, there's no more honest food critic than a young child. I've found they are pretty willing to try anything, especially in a group setting with their peers, but if they're not happy with it, they let you know immediately and dramatically."
Larry Barrett, the owner of Simply Gourmet catering in Sarasota, has crafted gourmet food for Hollywood stars and New York's theatre elite during his years in the food/hospitality industry. His creative and elegant wedding dishes and re-creations of famous presidential dinners are renowned. But, the chef says few things give him as much personal pleasure as supplying lunch everyday for a local pre-school.
This recipe is incredibly simple ~ just use the finest ingredients possible. Serves Six.
Two Ripe Mashed Avocados
Two Tablespoons Fresh Lime Juice
One Clove Chopped Fresh Garlic
Salt/Pepper to Taste
Combine all ingredients.
Two Large Seeded Tomatoes/Finely Diced
Two Tablespoons Finely Diced Red Onion
Two Tablespoons Finely Chopped Chives
One Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt/Pepper to Taste
Combine all ingredients and toss lightly.
One Tablespoon Fresh Grapefruit Juice
One Tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice
Two Tablespoons Fresh Orange Juice
One Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt/Pepper to Taste
Twelve Ounces Lump Blue Claw Crab
3 Cups of Mixed Baby Greens
Six Tulip (Wide) Champagne Glasses
Divide all components into six equal portions. Place the avocado mousse in the base of the champagne glass. Place the tomato salad on top of the avocado. Place the crab on top of the tomato salad.
Preparing the vinaigrette right on the greens makes for a delicious, light dressing. Place salad greens in a bowl and drizzle citrus vinaigrette ingredients on lettuces. Start with salt/pepper, then add citrus juices, then add olive oil. If you add the olive oil first, it will coat the greens and not combine well with the juices. Toss lightly with your hand (to keep the lettuces from bruising). Form into small mounds and place on top of crab.
Crosley Estate's Royal Tea: Simply wonderful from Simply Gourmet
This month, the Crosley Estate in Sarasota, Florida, hosted Royal Afternoon Teas, catered and created by Chef Larry Barrett of Simply Gourmet. Held on the second floor of the 1920's bayfront mansion, Simply Gourmet provided a delicious and elegant afternoon tea worthy of the estate's rich decor and spectacular ocean views when we visited last week.
Barrett and his wife, Jamie, own and manage Simply Gourmet, but catering isn't their only talent. Prior to moving to Florida 19 years ago, both enjoyed careers in the performing arts in Chicago and New York. Their artistic touch is evident in every detail of the afternoon tea from sweet and savory presentations to tablescapes with fresh flowers, linens and fine china, the latter of which comes from Barrett's own collection.
The "scene" doesn't disappear when the sun comes up. Sometimes I find there's nothing more pleasant than to swap the dance floor, bar or after-hours bash for some laid-back daytime socializing. A Tuesday afternoon last week was a blank canvas, and I decided to paint it ultra-classy. I busted out the real pearls and took myself to high tea at the Powel Crosley Estate.
The click of my heels echoed off the stone-tiled lobby, empty save for a table where Jamie Barrett was flashing her winning smile and checking in arrivals. I could hear the clatter of serving trays upstairs, where her husband, Chef Larry Barrett, was surely bustling through the kitchen and double-checking that every detail of the tea would make guests feel like royalty.
During the month of March, several traditional Royal English teas will be given at the historic Powel Crosley Estate, 8374 N. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. Chef Larry and Jamie Barrett of Simply Gourmet Caterers are in charge of creating these six extraordinary events, and they promise to be memorable.
Each event will be a remarkable step back in time, a kind of culinary theater. Tea will be served in the exclusive upstairs living area of the Crosley mansion overlooking Sarasota Bay, where guests will be magically transported back to the 1930's. These Royal English Teas will be given at 2 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons: March 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, and 28. Tickets are $32, and a portion of the proceeds benefits the Crosley Foundation. To reserve, call 941-225-9122.
I'll be the first to say it: my laugh sounds like the lovechild of a hyena and a donkey. I certainly made that fact public knowledge the other week up at the Crosley Theatre.
If you haven't heard the news, Chef Larry Barrett, the culinary history buff behind Simply Gourmet, doesn't keep his talent locked away in the kitchen all the time. He's also quite the thespian. He has donned his director's hat for the first-ever theatrical reproduction of The Firesign Theatre, a cult comedy troupe that started cracking folks up with their oddball radio shows back in the 60s and 70s. Barrett even got an official nod of approval from members of the original cast!
Currant scones with preserves and Devonshire cream are stacked elegantly on a cloth-covered table, as a steaming hot Darjeeling blend trickles into a China cup.
It's 2 p.m. on a Tuesday at the Powel Crosley Estate (in Sarasota, yes) and we're having tea. United Kingdom reminiscent, this may be the most indulgent way to while away an afternoon.
Simply Gourmet Caterers conceived the grand idea of offering the royal English tea service throughout February. For $30 a seat, the experience includes a tour of the Crosley grounds at 8374 N. Tamiami Trail, and a to-die-for menu of tarragon chicken salad profiteroles, Tuscan bruschetta, Alastian tarts, almond-dusted raspberry sandwiches, and French apple tartlets, to name just a few of the finger foods. The February dates have sold out, but more tea events have been scheduled for March 1, 2, 8, 9, 16, and 22.
Dining With Danger Delivers A Whole New Take On Dinner Theater
SARASOTA For a limited time, locals can travel back to the ritzy era of Delmonico's, America's original fine-dining restaurant, and experience a unique and innovative theater production in what amounts to a full night of exquisite cuisine and top-shelf entertainment. Simply Gourmet's theatrical adaptation of The Firesign Theatre's comedy album, Nick Danger Third Eye, or their culinary interpretation of a cultural icon would each be a splendid way to spend an evening. But put them together and throw in the magnificent charm of Seagate and you have the best night out of the year.
Chef Larry Barrett, co-owner of the Sarasota-based catering company, Simply Gourmet, secured the exclusive rights to produce The Firesign Theatre's classic comedy album for a series of performances at the Powel Crosley Estate in the first theatrical presentation of the troupe's brilliantly hilarious parody of vintage detective noir radio shows.
To Larry Barrett, cooking is an extension of theater. Food is a prop. The kitchen is a stage, and the people seated at your table are an audience.
The philosophy explains a lot about the former soap-opera actor's current vocation owner and chef of Simply Gourmet, a Sarasota catering business with a flair for drama.
In the 1980s, Barrett appeared on several daytime soap operas, including 'All My Children,' 'Another World' and 'Days of Our Lives.' Although he claims to have bailed on acting, he still dabbles in live theater.
Happy hours, power lunches, and extravagant sit-down dinners have long been the fast-paced standards for business meetings and social gatherings, but in today's market, such choices are often not economically feasible. As a less-expensive, low-key option, Chef Larry Barrett of Simply Gourmet Caterers offers his offsite Royal Tea, a version of British High Tea, a service he says is the most called for by his clients in Sarasota, Florida. But what separates Barrett's high tea from others is his approach, involving a little bit of theater.
How did October arrive so swiftly? The time for
party planning is upon us whether it be a holiday
open house, cocktail party or other special event. To
assist in that process, we called upon three of our
area's top caterers to share their expertise and give
us a glance at the latest culinary trends.
Jaymie Klauber of Fete Catering, Jeremy Hammond
Chambers of Innovative Dining and Larry
Barrett of Simply Gourmet have their fingers on the
pulse of what catering clients are expecting when
they entertain friends and associates.
In 1837, the original Delmonico's in New York City set a stratospheric standard for luxury dining. Although the physicists are still working the bugs out of time travel, chef Larry Barrett of Simply Gourmet Caterers offers the next best thing with his Meal of a Lifetime. A fan of edible historical recreations, Barrett will replicate Delmonico's menu from the early 1920s think Boardwalk Empire at Sarasota's historic Powel Crosley Estate, built in 1929.
It's a tradition that began in 1860 with Queen Victoria, when women slipped on their finest hats and gloves, men donned suits or military uniforms, and everyone gathered around a 500-foot buffet table, sipping tea as they devoured a feast.
About a year-and-a-half ago, Chef Larry Barrett, of Simply Gourmet Caterers, noticed a trend - women were calling to inquire about tea parties.
"They all had an idea of the tea they wanted to do, but they were all a little bit different, and that sent me into an interesting area of learning about tea and finding what would go well with it." Barrett said...
In this part of Florida, August is the ideal time to organize and host a picnic supper on the beach at twilight. Spread a blanket on the sand, unpack the cooler and invite the flavors of late summer to mingle with the sound of gently lapping waves and the sight of a plump orange sun lazily sinking beyond the horizon.
Because August is National Sandwich Month and the average American eats about 200 a year, putting a muffaletta sandwich on your picnic menu would be appropriate, says chef Larry Barrett, owner of Simply Gourmet catering in Sarasota.
"If you didn't contribute a couple of tons of money to either side this election year, it's a good bet that dinner at the White House isn't in the cards for you anytime soon. Here's the next best thing: A clever caterer in Sarasota, Florida, is throwing presidential dinners faster than President George W. Bush can say "no wet fish."
You choose the president, and Larry Barrett and his wife and business partner, Jamie, of Simply Gourmet Caterers, will handle everything from soup to nuts. (Make that peanuts if you request a Jimmy Carter presidential dinner - Carter replaced the mixed nuts served at cocktail receptions with goobers almost immediately after checking in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.)..."
Larry Barrett, who has owned Simply Gourmet for 14 years in Sarasota and for five years in Los Angeles before that, is constantly working on presentation, whether he is serving 15 (his home-party minimum) or 1,000 for a gala served supper. For the season he is doing a lot of high-low, old-new, and he is mining exotic lands for fusion meals with a classical twist.
"What's old is new again," he said, "and the lowly potato is coming up in the cuisine world. It's part of the comfort-food movement, which is still going strong. I'm paying a lot of attention to the potato this season. A meal I know will please is a three-inch-round potato pancake that I lay on a plate. On top I put a piece of steak and to the side a mound of creamed spinach. It's colorful while it combines crunchy, chewy and creamy, and it's definitely delicious, familiar food you want to eat..."
"Mixing food and theater comes naturally to Barrett, a former actor and producer, who also happens to be a walking encyclopedia of gourmet presidential trivia. Who was the first presidential couple to plate food? The Clintons. Was Richard Nixon into fine wines? Mais, oui. Was Andrew Jackson's Inaugural dinner a sumptuous affair? No, it was a riot. But Barrett will recreate it for you, so long as you don't break the china or bring firearms..."
Sarasota Caterer Recreates Notable White House Dinners
"Politics makes strange bedfellows but contributes to spirited food and wine events, as Sarasota caterer Chef Larry Barrett knows. He is capitalizing on the intense interest in politics this hotly contested primary season by offering his clients re-creations of memorable White House dinners, right down to the invitations, flower arrangements, music, table settings and faithful duplication of the menus.
On a recent night at the Siesta Key home of Robert and Peggy Waxman, Barrett's Simply Gourmet catering staff re-enacted the 1961 dinner party that President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy hosted for Princess Grace (Kelly) and Prince Rainier of Monaco..."
Chef Larry Barrett's Observations From His Study Of White House Dinners
"Nancy Reagan tasted the whole dinner from soup to dessert before she approved a menu for a White House dinner. She loved the color red, and her choice of White House china has a strong red color in it and, I think, is one of the most beautiful in the collection."
"President Bill Clinton loved junk food and comfort foods. Hillary Clinton was more health-conscious, and Chelsea was a vegetarian. When the first lady would leave town for several days, the president would call the kitchen as soon as he saw her car pull away and tell the chef to lay in a supply of steaks and fried onion rings."
Food As Theatre-Brilliant Reproductions Of Historical Dinners
In The Kennedy Style
Excerpt: Simply Gourmet has taken fine cuisine to a whole new level. Chef Larry Barrett begins presenting Gourmet fare as historical theatre. His signature productions will be based on famous gatherings held during the Kennedy and Reagan White House eras and will feature authentic reproductions of the actual meals served.
"....Apparently, if you give me a shot glass, the creative
juices start flowing," said Simply Gourmet caterer
Last summer, he e-mailed me about soup shooters,
2-ounce shots of cold or warm soup that had his
clients amused. Not long after that he created dessert
shooters, layered in 2-ounce glasses and served with
"...Larry Barrett, who runs Simply Gourmet catering
company in Sarasota, was a personal chef in Los
Angeles, where he cooked for Danny DeVito and Michael
Douglas, among other Hollywood stars and producers. He
tried being a personal chef when he moved to Sarasota
but abandoned it in favor of a catering service..."
A Classic Comfort Food Goes Edgy And Sophisticated
"...There's just something comforting and even therapeutic about soup as a first course or as dinner ladled into generous bowls and enjoyed with crusty bread and salad.
We all have favorites -- chicken noodle, velvety tomato, pea soup, vegetable or maybe hearty black bean. But today's international top chefs are experimenting with new soup flavor combinations and they say that serving an unusual soup may be just the thing to spark appetites and lively conversation..."
A Second Act For The Barretts: Running A Catering Business
"...Seated side by side at a small, round, glass-topped table in the cozy dining area of their Simply Gourmet eatery, they have worked their way through a bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water recounting the tale of how an actor from Brooklyn and a dancer from Seattle wound up, well, sharing a bottle of sparkling water in their Sarasota restaurant.
The short version, as Jamie tells it: "So many people don't find a passion. We've found this."
Simply Gourmet Caterers - Sarasota's Off-Premise Catering Experts. Perfect food is our passion. We cater weddings, small parties, business luncheons, brunches, corporate retreats, birthdays, receptions and private affairs. Our award-winning catering is enjoyed at many locations including Selby Gardens, Phillippe Mansion, Ringling Museum, Powell Crosley Estate, Crosley Museum, Chelsea Center, College Hall and The Garden Club. We're extremely familiar with most venues from Sarasota, Long Boat Key, Siesta Key, Bradenton and Ellenton to Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Brandon. Delicious food and extreme attention to detail - that's what sets our catering apart.
Simply Gourmet is officially certified by Sarasota County as a Green Caterer. Please click here to learn more.