Taste the Florida Keys With Chef Michelle Bernstei

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A drive through the picturesque Florida Keys offers a culinary adventure unlike any other. From conch and coconuts to Cuban coffee and the ubiquitous key lime, the delicacies found on this chain of islands are steeped in history and tradition. The tropical climate, geographic isolation from the mainland and creativity of the Keys residents has produced a cuisine that is, just like Keys' culture itself, far from ordinary. In TASTE THE FLORIDA KEYS WITH CHEF MICHELLE BERNSTEIN, the James Beard Award-winning chef and South Florida native explores the Florida Keys in search of the local specialties, historic recipes and culinary characters that define Keys cuisine. She visits a vast array of fine dining restaurants, neighborhood cafes and local businesses that cover every region of the archipelago. Michelle uncovers the origins of Key West's nickname, "The Conch Republic," with a visit to the Conch Blowing Contest. The nickname has little to do with the actual mollusk, which can be found on menus throughout the Keys in the form of salads, chowders and fritters. Then, she stops by the Cracked Conch Cafe to learn how to tenderize and prepare the ubiquitous mollusk in a delectable Marsala sauce. She also learns about the ocean's contribution to Keys cuisine from several local boat captains and chefs who fill her in on their favorite "dock to dish" recipes for fresh snapper, mahi mahi and grouper. Michelle next delves into all things shellfish with a primer on Key West seafood staples - pink shrimp, lobster and stonecrab. And her trip wouldn't be complete with a visit to the popular Lobsterfest and Stone Crab Eating Contest where participants chow down on the delicacies at breakneck speed.

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