Restaurant Review: PJ’s Seagrille, Boca Grande, FL

PJs_Seafood_02Restaurant: PJ’s Seagrille!
Location: 321 Park Avenue, Boca Grande, FL
Cuisine: Innovative Island Cuisine
Price Per Plate: Lunch – around $15 – $20; Dinner – around $50
Reviewer: Sarah Rapp; owner of BeachVacation4Me
Verdict: Yummmmmy!

Have you ever had a meal where you are thinking the next day, “if I could only have one more bite?”   Last week I had the opportunity to dine at PJ’s Seagrille for lunch while visiting Boca Grande.  My two guests and I had a delightful time.   We sat in what I would call the Florida room – a glassed encased room with views of the gulf.  It was bright and cheery.

We started our meal with one of their starter dishes, the Oasis Plate.  Oh my, it was absolutely delicious.   The Oasis Plate included humus and baba ganouj served with marinated olives, roasted peppers, cut vegetables and warm flat bread.   This portion size was very generous and everything was so fresh.  It was absolutely delicious.

For our lunch one of my guests had the Pita Chicken Sandwich.   Our extremely helpful and pleasant waiter had shared this was one of their most popular dishes.  The pita sandwich included grilled julienne chicken lightly blackened.   This was then topped with grilled onions, tomato and pesto mayonnaise served on fresh baked pita bread.  The sandwich came with the side of your choice as well.   “It was scrumptious” proclaimed my friend.

My daughter, who has gluten intolerance, was delighted with her sweet potato soup.  Our waiter was very attentive to making sure the dish did not include gluten.  I did have a wondering spoon and tried this.  It was just yummy, just like “Thanksgiving in a bowl”.

I decided to try the fresh seafood of the day which was grouper.  The grouper was lightly blackened and served with a unique caper tarter sauce.   It was so fresh it melted in my mouth.

Everyone at the table gave PJ’s Seagrille the thumbs up.  When you’re in Boca Grande, I highly recommend this spectacular restaurant.

Guest Blog – Loggerhead Turtles of North Captiva Island

On my most recent trip to North Captiva Island, I had the opportunity to go on a turtle walk with a conservationist volunteer who is responsible for reporting on sea turtle nests. It was a fascinating fact finding experience. We started before sunrise and walked for approximately 3 hours investigating turtle nests and crawls. This is what I learned.

Each summer from May through August, something wondrous happens along our beaches: An ancient mariner, the loggerhead sea turtle, leaves the water during the night and crawls ashore in North Captiva Island to lay her eggs in a sandy nest.

The task of excavating a nest may take her over an hour to accomplish. The turtle – weighing several hundred pounds – laboriously digs a nest cavity with her rear flippers.

turtle1

Turtle nest

She then deposits approximately 100 pliable ping-pong ball sized eggs into the chamber, covers them with sand and returns to the sea.

After roughly a two-month incubation period, a cluster of tiny hatchlings emerges from the sand and scrambles to the Gulf. Unfortunately, their sea-finding ability can be disrupted by lights from buildings and streets. Confused, the hatchlings wander inland and are crushed by vehicles or die from heat exhaustion in the sunlight.

 

 

 

 

Loggerhead Turtle Facts:

  • Loggerheads are air-breathing reptiles, scientific name Caretta caretta
  • The common name refers to the turtle?s large head
  • Loggerheads are the most common sea turtles in Florida.
  • Weighing 250 – 400 pounds, adults can grow to more than three feet in length.
  • Hatchlings are two inches long.
  • Nesting occurs from May through August. Hatching may extend through October.
  • The nest cavity is 18 – 22 inches in depth.
  • Incubation period of the eggs in their sandy nest is 55 – 65 days.

 

turtle tracks

turtle tracks

Danger of Extingtion
Most adult loggerhead turtles nest every other year or every third year, laying several clutches of eggs during a nesting season. Only a small percentage of hatchlings survive to maturity! Loggerhead turtles have existed on Earth for millions of years with little serious threat to their survival – until recently. Pollution, lighted beaches, loss of nesting habitat, drowning in shrimp nets and other fishing gear have contributed to the drastic decline of these and other sea turtles.

Guest Blog – Pass-Crabbing in Florida

Pass Crab Fishing, Boca Grande, Florida

Pass Crab Fishing, Boca Grande, Florida

On my most recent trip to North Captiva Island, I had the opportunity to go “pass – crabbing” with my friends Captain Dennis and Captain Gretchen. I must say it was a blast! While Dennis and my husband were fishing for the “big fish,” Gretchen and I had our nets out for the pass crabs. Crabs are great bait for many species in Florida waters.

Pass Crabs are almost identical to Blue Crabs in shape, but they only grow to approximately four to five inches in width. You can catch Pass Crabs in south Florida during the outgoing tide on the surface, usually floating along with grass as it flows toward the Gulf.

Tarpon Tales Beach House Vacation Rental, Boca Grande, Florida

Tarpon Tales Beach House Vacation Rental, Boca Grande, Florida

You simply take a long handled net and dip them out of the water. There are a few bait shops in south Florida that sell them, but they are few and far between. The primary use for pass crabs is for tarpon in the Boca Grande area, but they are just as good, maybe better, than blue crabs for a variety of fish. Hook them in the same way as blue crabs – through the back leg hole and out the top shell.

Guest Blog – North Captiva’s Historical Ice House

Fish house following hurricane Charlie - It has since been restored

The Calusa Indians, who dominated South Florida for more than a millennium, were skilled sailors and fisherman. Their large canoes of hallowed out cypress logs were capable of reaching Cuba. They thrived through living in harmony with our Southwest Florida environment. Pineland on Pine Island contains some of the most extensive Calusa mound sites and canal works.

The Calusa Indians fished with nets made from Cabbage Palm fibers. After the demise of the Calusas from European conquest and the introduction of diseases like smallpox, new settlers became adept at commercial fishing. Pine Island Sound was peppered with fishing camps and later, ice houses, which eliminated the need to preserve their catch through drying and salting.

One such ice house was built in 1924 by the Punta Gorda Fish Company at the north shore entrance to Safety Harbor at North Captiva Island. One story rests on a wooden platform supported by wood pilings. The Ice House is one of few remaining buildings documenting the system of remote, water-based fish industry ice houses.

The structure was built as an ice house to serve the fishermen and run boats in the loading, unloading and storage of freshly caught fish. The structure is a specialized form designed to function under potentially adverse weather conditions, relative isolation, and the possible requirement to relocate the building to follow the migration of the fish.

Restaurant Review – The Temptation, Boca Grande, FL

Boca Grande Florida Best Little Beach TownRestaurant: The Temptation
Location: 350 Park Avenue, Boca Grande, Florida
Cuisine: Fresh Seafood, etc.
Price Per Plate: Lunch – around $20; Dinner – around $50
Verdict: Thumbs Up!

On our recent trip to Boca Grande, we had the pleasure of enjoying lunch at the Temptation.  Located at 350 Park Avenue, this Boca Grande bistro says welcome the minute you walk in the door.  The staff greeted us like we were family.  They were very courteous and attentive to our needs.

I enjoyed the strawberry chicken salad which was extremely fresh, light and tasty.  Bronzed grouper was my daughter’s selection.  The menu summed this dish up correctly as they stated it was an “Island Sensation.”

Clearly my daughter enjoyed this immensely as she had the first clean plate in the group.  The grouper was prepared on a bed of sautéed Brussell Sprouts With Roasted Garlic, Shallots, Prosciutto, & Parmesan Cheese
Topped with an Orange Beurre Blanc.  My husband enjoyed the fried grouper fingers.  Typically he does not order fried food, but he described this being extremely light and some of the best fish he has ever tasted.

You can read more about the Temptation HERE.

North Captiva – Vacation with the Manatees!

Manatee of the shore of North Captiva Island

Manatee of the shore of North Captiva Island

It is typical during the summer months to see manatee in the water surrounding North Captiva.  Typically I have seen them in the canal near the runway.  I have gathered some information about The manatee for you.

Belonging to the Sirenia order of mammalians, manatees are the common name for a large, gray or black air-breathing water mammal.  Sometimes called a “sea cow,” the manatee looks somewhat like a hippopotamus.  Adult manatees have large bodies averaging ten feet in length and weighing between 440 and 1300 pounds.  Manatees have a small head with a straight snout having a bristly moustache on the upper lip.  Paddle-like forelimbs are used to move through the water.

Key Lime Time Vacation Rental, North Captiva

"Key Lime Time" Vacation Rental, North Captiva

Manatees live in fresh, brackish, or salt water and roam with small herds somewhat like a family.  Six to eight hours a day is spent grazing upon seaweed and other marine plants.  Their slow metabolism reduces the energy requirements, thus they move slowly through the water.  Because of their size, manatees have few natural enemies.

While you are on your vacation in North Captiva, there are many water activities to enjoy including swimming, snorkeling, jet skiing, fishing, taking boat tours and diving, just to name a few.  You may even get to see a manatee!

Guest Blog – North Captiva Island


Mangoes ready for the takingby Sarah Rapp
Resident, North Captiva Island

Did you know that besides Florida, no other states report the production of mangoes? Consequently, Florida is the main United States producer of this fruit. Mango Mania is a festival held at the German American Social Club (2101 S.W. Pine Island Road, Cape Coral during the month of July).

Festival-goers can taste and buy their fill of just-picked mangoes of assorted varieties, many of which are not available in supermarkets. Additionally, they can learn how to grow their own and buy a tree. There’s music, dancing and even some non-mango comestibles for anyone who simply can’t live on mangoes alone.

If you don’t have time to go to the festival, order mangoes from the market, or stop at one of the local fruit stands on the way to the marina. The fruits vary in shape (kidney, round, oblong, oval) and weight ranges from a few ounces to five pounds.  Although the fruit will ripen on the tree, it is usually picked green and will ripen quickly. The fruit is just delicious…so why not celebrate your own mango mania while visiting North Captiva!

 

Mango Salsa
Fresh mango salsa is easy to make and perfect with halibut or salmon or as the salsa in fish tacos.
Ingredients:
1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 Jalapeño chile, minced (include ribs and seeds for a hotter taste if desired)
1 small cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste. Also good with diced red bell pepper
Directions:
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the salsa ends up being a little too hot or acidic for your taste, you can temper it by adding some diced avocado.

Mango Salsa

Fresh mango salsa is easy to make and perfect with halibut or salmon or as the salsa in fish tacos.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Jalapeño chile, minced (include ribs and seeds for a hotter taste if desired)
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste. Also good with diced red bell pepper

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the salsa ends up being a little too hot or acidic for your taste, you can temper it by adding some diced avocado.