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Michelle Lara / October 28, 2014

Local Lovin: A Tasty Way To Experience The Cultural Scene In Boynton Beach And Delray Beach {Part One}

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Taste History Culinary Tours_BoyntonBeach_DelrayBeach_CupcakesCocktailsAndKids_Main I grew up in Brooklyn and one of my favorite things to do over the weekend was take a walk around my neighborhood and inevitably take in the world within a few block radius.

There were influences of Latin Caribbean cuisine, our very own China town, a rich Middle Eastern community and so on. Growing up this way you don’t realize the experience of eating ‘arroz con gandules’ and the richest cannoli you’ve ever had for dessert that very same day is extremely rare. 

Since moving to South Florida I miss weekends like that. There is beauty in the simple things, discovering a great neighborhood, trying new food and meeting new people.

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to do just that. I headed south to The Boynton Beach Mall with my husband and boarded the Taste History Culinary Tours bus.

The tour is the brain child of Lori J. Durante whose love of Florida history was apparent within the first ten minutes of the tour. For every corner we turned there was a story unfolding and history came to life. Lori began researching South Florida history over ten years ago. The tour began as a narrated and walking tour but soon transformed into a culinary experience.  The two prove to be a match made in heaven!

Info: Interested in taking the tour yourself? Head to The Taste History Culinary Tour’s website for dates and times and to purchase  your tickets.

CupcakesCocktailsKids_Sweets_JamaicanCusine_DelrayBeach Our first tasting stop was Sweets Sensational Cuisine & Catering located in Delray Beach. Sweets is tucked away on a corner of a quiet block. If you didn’t know it was there you’d probably miss it. Once you walk in your quickly embraced by the cool low-key island vibe and your greeted by Sweets herself {yes this is her real name, more on that in a bit}.

It’s small, with about four tables and a counter. What it lacks in square footage it happily makes up with the food they serve. The menu has some of the key staples of Jamaican cooking like ackee and salt fish {Jamaica’s national dish} oxtail and jerk chicken.

As the story goes Sweets, who originally is from St. Mary Jamaica was born under a mango tree.  Her mother’s midwife said it only made sense to name a sweet baby born under the sweetest of trees Sweets. The name stuck and her passion for making people smile through her cooking is evident as soon as you walk in to the café.

We sampled Jamaican beef patty, oxtail, chicken and goat curry as well as rice with peas and steamed cabbage. It was all delicious and seasoned to perfection. I’ll be back again soon to order her ackee and salt fish and Fridays host a fish fry and feature live music. ShaffersTeaRoom_GoodWaterTea_DelrayBeach_CupcakesCocktailsAndKids

Our second stop was Shaffers Tea Room (Good Water Tea Room), also located in Delray Beach.  Shaffers offers artisan teas, coffees, homemade sandwiches, salads and soups as well as some pretty amazing desserts. This is feel good food to another level. The water used to brew the teas {and all other beverages they serve} is GOODWATER® – water they bottle themselves that are absent of chemicals and other additives.

I sampled a few teas but by far my favorite was ‘Heaven’. Its bright pink color wasn’t indicative of its flavor. Instead of a bright fruity taste as I expected, the flavors were earthy with a strong hint of almond. It was reminiscent of horchata, yet not as heavy and a lot more refreshing. This is the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a little zen. The space is colorful with great outside seating nooks – perfect for sipping some tea and diving into a good book!

CafeBleau_Delray Beach_CupcakesCocktailsAndKids After leaving Shaffers we walked for a bit and headed to our third eating excursion, Café Bleu. Café Bleu is located on Atlantic Avenue. It’s the perfect stop to get a great cup of coffee, but not just any type of coffee after chatting a bit with the assistant manager James I realized they’re serving some pretty out of this world coffee.

Their house blend for instance {which I sampled} is a blend of Tanzania Peaberry and select Columbian beans. It has a strong yet smooth taste with a little smoky texture. The perfect accompaniment to a bagel or croissant – which is all baked on premises.

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Coffee in hand we continued walking towards Cabana el Ray. I’ve been to the Cabana located in the South Street Seaport in NY {which no longer exists due to Hurricane Sandy} it was a place I always enjoyed going to for celebrations and happy hour.

I had never visited the South Florida locations so I was excited to see what they had to offer. The Delray location is amazing, there is plenty of outdoor seating and the space inside is open and bright. We were greeted and welcomed with Sangrias, which pretty much set the tone for an amazing lunch.

The staff at Cabana el Ray exceeded our expectations! We were served Mariquitas – thinly sliced plantains served crispy alongside a mojo dipping sauce and avocado salsa and their signature paella marinera. The paella was out of this world the seafood was beyond fresh. If you visit allow 25-30 minutes for your paella to be prepared it’s made to order but trust me it’s worth the wait!

The tour was no where near over we still had three other eateries to visit. Please check back later this week for my part two of this delicious history lesson!

 

Info: Interested in taking the tour yourself? Head to The Taste History Culinary Tour’s website for dates and times and to purchase  your tickets.

 

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Full Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary passes to this tour. I’m under no obligation to review the tour or the places visited during the tour. The reviews are 100% my own and I am never compensated for reviews.