Worth the Cardio Workout
Once a month, I gather a group of friends together and head out for a, ‘Road Trip For Food,’ a time to schmooze and nosh while, briefly, escaping our day-to-day responsibilities. The past months have focused on restaurants in Miami, but I was consistently getting feedback that a closer location would be preferred.
Delray Beach, Florida is about a 35-minute drive so I decided that was far enough away for folks to drive in the middle of the day and feel like they are still on a road trip. My problem was that I’m not terribly familiar with most of the restaurants down there.
My criteria for picking a restaurant is simple: the food has to be delicious and the desserts must be prepared on site. A mass produced dessert is not what I am looking for. I decided to post something on facebook, asking for Delray Beach restaurant suggestions.
The first response back was Joseph’s Wine Bar, not at all familiar to me. So, I posted a request for feedback on Joseph’s. Everyone raved about it. I learned that it has been in business for five years, thereby making my selection easy.
Joseph’s is a quaint family restaurant with 20 seats inside and 20 outside. Joseph and his son Elie are busy in the restaurant, ensuring that the diners are completely satisfied. My girlfriend, Michelle, asked Joseph if he had a simple sugar to put into her ice tea. Joseph said that they did not, but went into the kitchen and had one made. Elie, who graduated college with an engineering degree, took all nine of our orders without writing anything down. Did I mention that we rarely order straight off the menu without tweaking things a bit? Think, ‘When Sally Met Harry,’ and that’s who we are.
It is Margaret, Joseph’s wife, who ultimately gets the credit for our love of the restaurant. Margaret is the chef and baker of everything that comes out of the kitchen and she nailed all nine of our meals. Whether it was the hummus and eggplant appetizers or the wraps and salads with shrimp or salmon, each dish was prepared perfectly.
Yet, as we all know, I am always about desserts. Joseph’s does not have a dessert menu as it changes based upon what Margaret makes that day. This day, Margaret prepared four incredible desserts: Tiramisu, Chocolate Layer Cake, an assortment of Baklava and Lemon Cake with White Chocolate Frosting.
I wish I could say one dessert stood out above the rest, but I can’t. They were all outstanding and I was only sorry that proper manners forbade me from licking the plates. The tiramisu was prepared just the way I love it. The ladyfingers were the right texture and the creaminess of the mascarpone topping was perfect. As far as the chocolate cake was concerned, it had to be one of the moistest cakes I have ever eaten. A really deep, rich chocolate taste with a ganache frosting that complemented the cake beautifully.
As a general rule, I tend to pass on baklava. I find it either too sweet or filled with too much clove and/or cardamom. This did not happen at Joseph’s. Actually, quite the opposite happened and I found I could not stop eating them. There were pistachio baklava, cashew baklava and walnut baklava. Some were rolled like miniature cigars, others were bird’s nest baklava prepared with shredded phyllo dough and some were the traditionally sliced ones. I finally realized that I could not decide which I loved the most, so I kept eating them until they were all gone.
The last dessert was the lemon cake with white chocolate frosting. When Joseph told us this was one of the desserts, in my own mind I was, secretly, thinking that this was the least appealing. White chocolate is not usually my favorite ingredient and whereas I do love lemon, I have to confess my expectations were pretty low. In this case, I loved being proved wrong.
Margaret’s lemon cake was the moistest lemon cake I have ever tried. It had the ideal amount of tartness to it; not so much that I had to pucker up to eat it, but enough so that I did not doubt for a moment what I was eating. Best of all, the white chocolate frosting was subtle and delicious. The cake sat on a plate of lime and raspberry drizzle, which added a bonus of flavors to an already wonderful treat.
I wonder if the 35-minute drive is the same as a 35-minute cardio workout? I am really hoping so because I know I am going back to Joseph’s. The appetizers and main course will make me happy, but it is the delectable talent of Margaret’s baking that will force me to exercise prior to going.