Lots of people love to eat cookie dough, even though ingesting raw eggs isn’t a good idea. Many companies have added cookie dough flavor to things such as ice cream, to give consumers what they want without the raw eggs. But one place has taken the concept just a bit further: Cookie Dough Bliss. Yep. This North Carolina chain is centered around cookie dough. Twenty different flavors, in all kinds of formats–ice cream sandwiches topped with cookie dough, in the form of a pie, in the form of cake pops, or mixed up in a milkshake with chocolate or vanilla ice cream. They are set to open this summer at The Shoppes at Village Walk at 7643 Gate Parkway Suite 107, which is not far from the St. Johns Town Center/JTB/295.
Speaking of dessert, we’ve got something a little more locally-based opening up in Springfield, Blue Chocolat. It’s set to open in mid-July at the location of the former Three Layers Cafe at 1602 Walnut St. The concept comes from Chef Erika Cane, who has come back to Jacksonville from the Caribbean. While dessert is central to the concept, with a coffee and chocolate bar onsite (they expect that the seven-layer chocolate cake from Chef Roderick Smith will sell out on a regular basis), there will be dinner and lunch offerings as well. Food will be “Floribbean” with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients; beverages will be coffee (Martin Coffee), natural sugar cola, wine and local craft beer. Cane’s resume includes six years as a pastry chef for the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. She also opened up two different eateries and one cafe in the Caribbean–one sharing the name and concept of the one opening in Springfield (Blue Chocolat), another called De Loose Mongoose, and a church cafe. Hurricanes Irma and Marie have devastated all three of the restaurants on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. Her husband is staying behind to rebuild, while she launches the Jacksonville restaurant.
While we all look forward to eating out, the simple pleasure of cooking requires time spent at the market. Ideally, we’d like to shop locally or sign up for a farm bag with some place like Front Porch Pickings or Local Fare, or pick up fresh produce for the week at the Jacksonville Farmers Market, the Riverside Arts Market, or the Beaches Green Market. But as this isn’t always possible, we end up in the supermarket, and we do have some news about that– Winn-Dixie is stepping up their game by remodeling various stores, such as the one at the intersection of Old Kings Road and Baymeadows. They’ve definitely got competition. In Jacksonville, the center of supermarkets seems to be Mandarin, as there is an insane variety of markets in that neighborhood, mostly along San Jose. Just recently, a Trader Joe’s opened up there, as well as an Earth Fare. That stretch is also already home to a Publix with a full cooking studio for cooking classes, a Fresh Market, a Whole Foods, and, of course, Winn-Dixie. It’s not the only area getting new markets–Lucky’s will be opening at Oakleaf Station (near Orange Park), you’ll probably see more Aldis in Jacksonville, and an Arizona-based store called Sprouts Farmers Market is currently scouting locations in the Northeast Florida region.
A lot of folks ask about where to eat in St. Augustine, as plenty of Jacksons take day trips and weekends there. Check out Prohibition Kitchen. They’ve just launched a stellar summer menu. Try their crispy brussel sprouts in Caesar dressing, citrus shrimp cocktail, or their seasonal deviled eggs. The family also has their own Florida-made rum, so you can drink a lovely Madagascar vanilla-infused Madi Rum in everything from milkshakes to their summery, fruity Coral Kiss, featuring Passoa Passion Fruit liqueur, orgeat, pineapple juice, bitters, and, of course, Madi Rum.
Stubbee’s Honey just launched a small-batch bourbon infused honey to be found at Grassroots Natural Market, Southern Roots Filling Station, Vintage Arts Inc., Cultivate Jax, and other retailers around Jax at $22 for a 12-ounce bottle.
There’s going to be more development and dining options at the bustling Tinseltown Plaza, with two 7,000 square foot buildings to be built in the parking lot through Triforce Development, which is owned by brothers Paul and Louis Sleiman. We’ll keep you updated as it’s built and leases are signed, but so far we’re excited about the Kazu Sushi Burrito (the seventh to open in the Jax area), and Soupa Saiyan–a noodle bar owned by Bento which will have a “Dragon Ball Z” anime theme.
Last month saw Southern Grounds opening a coffee shop in San Marco at 1671 Atlantic Boulevard. The original locale is in Neptune Beach, but this one is more spacious. In San Marco they offer a larger menu and wine list.
These days social media can really make or break a restaurant, and in the past month we’ve seen two stories of interest that might never have been reported on without it. The first is Gusto Italian Restaurant, which claimed on Facebook that they had closed their doors because of a lighting strike. But local media caught them out–the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation inspection report showed that they were really closed because of a roach problem. When approached by Action News Jax, the owner claimed that it was a mistake, and they simply hadn’t updated social media.
In a second incident, a customer of Caribbean Sunrise Bakery & Restaurant posted a video of her to-go order. As soon as she cut into it, maggots crawled out. The Facebook video post was shared some 2,000 times. Health inspectors did visit, found flies in the kitchen and food kept at higher temperatures than allowable in the walk-in. The owner, Denise Daley in a First Coast News interview responded by saying that “if” it did happen, it was an isolated incident and that procedures followed there should prevent such a thing from happening, even cutting into the food on camera and eating it herself.