Q: I am wondering if there are places in Naples that sell fresh boiled peanuts? This delicacy seems to be widely available as you venture north in our state (especially from someone that just sells them on the side of the road), but I have yet to find a retailer that sells them here in Naples.
I know you can buy canned boiled peanuts in the grocery store, but it’s just not the same.
— Fred Wass, Naples
A: You’re in luck, Fred. I stumbled across the real thing in Golden Gate Estates.
Estates resident Dan Rickard sells fresh Cajun and regular boiled peanuts, which he calls Gator Nuts, every Saturday afternoon from a brick-paved picnic area outside GC Grocery, the former Farmer Jack Supermarket. It’s in Wilson Plaza at 50 Wilson Blvd. S. on the southeast corner of Wilson and Golden Gate boulevards.
“Nobody had them and I knew there was a market for them,” Rickard said. “We used to drive way over to Lake Okeechobee to get peanuts. It just wasn’t right.”
Basically, boiled peanuts are raw, unroasted peanuts boiled in their shells in salty water for a long time. They are a Southern specialty and a common snack in the Deep South, including northern Florida, according to boiledpeanuts.com.
Boiled peanuts are available locally at some area grocery and convenience stores, but they are not the same as his fresh ones, Rickard said.
“They’re not good at all,” he said about the boiled peanuts available at some gas stations. “They are soggy or uncooked.”
Rickard, nicknamed “Diesel Dan” from when he used to race swamp buggies competitively and had his own diesel shop, gets his handpicked peanuts from Georgia. He uses a 30-year-old recipe and takes 12 to 14 hours to cook them overnight in a large, stainless steel pot. He nurses them, using an alarm clock, and cooks them all night, he said.
“Timing is everything,” Rickard said. “You want peanuts done right. It’s not easy.”
Gator Nuts, served warm in their wet hulls, are $2 for a small cup and $5 for a large one. I found the Cajun boiled peanuts a bit addicting, but not overly spicy.
The texture and taste are different from the more common roasted peanuts, but they are supposed to be healthier. Boiled peanuts have four times the antioxidants of raw or roasted peanuts, according to a study by the Department of Food and Animal Sciences at Alabama A&M University.
I also found boiled peanuts are served at Fancy’s Southern Café, which opened at the end of September in the Bella Villa Shops, 8890 Salrose Lane, off Daniels Parkway in south Fort Myers.
But because Fancy’s specializes in Southern staples with a twist, their goobers are gussied up a bit. Both lunch and dinner menus of the new restaurant feature hot-boiled peanuts with sweet onions and jalapenos for $4.95.
■ Mon“Key” Bread Factory is opening its second location in downtown Naples. The new store is expected to open early next week in Tin City, said Karen Haupt, who co-owns the sweet shop with her husband, Jeff. Their first local shop opened about three years ago in Abbott’s Frozen Custard on Fifth Avenue South.
Mon“Key” Bread Factory creates individual servings of the classic monkey bread — gooey, pull-apart sticky buns with cinnamon and caramel.
“We wanted to do something different. We went back to childhood things we loved and we perfected monkey bread,” Karen Haupt said. “People love it."
In addition to the traditional cinnamon, the more than 10 flavors include banana, coconut, pecan pie, pina colada and maple bacon.
“We actually started the whole idea with tropical flavors,” Haupt said. “We started playing around with key lime. That was our first flavor.”
With the new store comes something new: a full-blown coffee bar with flavored espresso and cappuccino. The French press coffees include flavors such as Macadamia nut and coconut to complement the Mon”Key” Bread, Haupt said.
Also available are chocolate confections, Naples Amazing Applez and Island Gold toffee-glazed puffed corn.
The new store is open daily, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. 239-793-6203.
■ Brunina’s Pizza & Pasta is expected to double in size by the end of the week in East Naples.
The pizzeria at 4330 Thomasson Drive in the Hammock Cove shopping center is expanding into the former bicycle store next door, increasing its restaurant space from 1,200 square feet to 2,400 square feet, said Giuseppe Carvelli. His mother, owner Brunina Carvelli, opened her self-named local restaurant in the spring of 2004.
Although the restaurant will double in size, the dining room will triple in size because the kitchen is not being enlarged, Giuseppe Carvelli said. A beer and wine bar with about a dozen bar stools is part of the addition, he said.
Pizza is Brunina’s top-selling item, but the Italian restaurant has a full menu that includes homemade pasta, chicken, seafood and veal dishes. The eatery is open weekdays for lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and dinner weekends, 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 239-530-0084
■ Fifth Avenue Coffee Company has added the Sixth Street Diner to its business at 599 Fifth Ave. S. in Naples after undergoing a complete renovation, which began in April 2012.
Throughout the renovation, which included knocking out walls and adding a full kitchen, owners Frederik and Karen Overdijking were successful in maintaining the building’s 1950s art deco façade and salvaging the interior floors that were part of the original 1954 building.
“We wanted to keep the Floridian feel of the structure,” Frederik Overdijking said in a news release.
In addition to more space, the restaurant expanded its food options. The local business offers breakfast selections, salads, soups, sandwiches, paninis, wraps, hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, ice cream, milkshakes, and beer and wine.
Fifth Avenue Coffee Company & Sixth Street Diner also has more than 70 seats on its wraparound, outdoor patio. Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 239-261-5757
■ Arbon’s Diner is the new name for Silver Diner, which opened Nov. 5 in the former location of Talk of the Town and Mel’s Diner on U.S. 41 in San Carlos Park. Owner Franke Zulbeari recently renamed his business after his young son.
Zulbeari, who formerly owned Franke’s Family Restaurant in Fort Myers, opened his new diner in the freestanding building in Grand Bay Plaza, 19050 U.S. 41 S. 239-689-1570.
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