Caribbean Choice Restaurant & Bakery
More than 300,000 South Floridians describe their primary ancestry as non-Hispanic Caribbean or West Indian. That's a good thing, because it means there are plenty of places to get really good West Indian food. Heck, you could throw a rock almost anywhere within Broward and Palm Beach counties and it would probably fly through the window of a Caribbean restaurant. Well, wind up, Dontrelle, and cast your stone toward Caribbean Choice Restaurant and Bakery in West Palm Beach. Owner Don Smith brings his island flavor from Jamaica via the Bronx and serves up Caribbean favorites such as beef patties, jerked chicken and pork, and roti. And if you're in the mood for fish, escovitched snapper and steamed kingfish are on the menu as well. Add pigeon peas and rice and you've got good times. Whether dining in for a quick sitdown meal or eating on the run, every wanga gut (big eater) this side of Kingston can get his or her fill.
Put on a shirt with buttons and walk with your head upright. The doormen have no idea you drove up in a hoopty with a broken taillight. This place is a palace, a straight-up, steel-and-glass, 998-room hotel palace, with a lobby full of palm trees and waterfalls and a piece of $7 pie on the restaurant menu. It comes with a slice of lime on top, nestled into a puff of whipped cream, and smells like lime cologne. Walk out the back, past the pristine swimming pool and the fragrance of chlorine, past the fat-bottomed girls in bikinis and the pale men with gold chains alligator-wrestling their small children, to the second-story deck overlooking the beachless edge of that petulant, churning, blue-versus-green Atlantic expanse. Plop down into the deck chairs more comfortable than a mother's hug, recline, savor the cool shadow of the massive hotel and the breeze and the crish-splash sound of the ocean and the crumbly sweet crust and kids' laughter and the moist filling and the distance of it all and even the last juicy crumbs, and take just a second to realize that this is some pretty goddamned good pie.

Siciliano's Frozen Custard
Should we stop?

We're gonna be right there.

It's been, like, what? Three weeks?

Yeah, something like that.

Should we stop?

I dunno. What about the carbs?

C'mon, it's been three weeks.

Think it's still open?

The light's still on.

What about the carbs, though?

What about the chocolate/vanilla swirl? With Heath pieces? A small one is only $2.65.

What about the carbs?

Oh, fuck the carbs. We're stopping.

Pity poor Haiti, wracked by poverty and continual political unrest. Judging by Pollo Kreyol, these put-upon islanders must take great solace in the zesty fare they've concocted through the years. Housed in a defunct fast-food joint, this eatery is a magnet for Creole speakers and offers handy drive-through service as well as sitdown. You won't find any menus, billboards, or placards explaining the food, however; you'll have to ask if you're unfamiliar with this cuisine. The three or four meat dishes are lined up cafeteria-style, and for the set price of $5, you get a massive mound of your choice of meat, rice, beans, and plantains. If the gods are favorable, you'll happen in when that day's offering is pig feet stewed with okra. If you need a little time to build up courage for the hooved end of pork, there's always beef, deep-fried pork, chicken, and goat main dishes, delicately curried with green peppers, potatoes, and onions. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays.

Sonny's Gelato Cafe
It's Sunday afternoon and you've got some room to spare after a medium-sized lunch. You're in the mood for dessert but don't know whether to have something cold and creamy or crisp and flaky. In this case, the simplest solution is to head over to Sonny's Gelato Café and let them choose for you. Sonny's offers roughly 40 flavors of Italian ice cream in cups and cones. For a single serving, prices range from $2.75 to $4.75. For larger, take-home orders, there are pints, quarts, and tubs (ten gallons). If you prefer something a little warmer, there's an assortment of baked goods as well, including cheese cake (New York, cranapple, or ricotta for $2.75 to $3.75 a slice), tiramisu ($3.75 per square), cannoli ($1.95), and biscotti (cinnamon hazelnut, chocolate chip, and almond, $8 per pound). And to keep your tongue warm, Sonny's has plenty of espresso and cappuccino that you can sip while relaxing in the piazza-like outdoor patio. Sonny's Gelato Café opens at 10:30 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Duck confit, a specialty of southwestern France, is one of the world's oldest preserved foods and, because of the technique involved in its preparation, serves as the ultimate litmus test for judging the skills of a French kitchen. First, the duck gets dry-rubbed in herbs, spices, and coarse salt. Next, it is soaked in brine, drained, dried, cooked slowly in fat, covered in fat, packed tightly in a jar, and tucked away in a cool dry place. Finally, the duck gets removed from storage and placed in a hot pan until the skin is crisped and the meat warmed (don't worry about this being bad for your diet -- no carbohydrates!). Chef-owner Claude Pottier's duck leg confit is, quite simply, the finest around. But those who want to duck the confit can find equal comfort in duck pâté, escargots drenched in garlic butter, and all manner of fresh seafood. Cafe Claude also boasts a heady wine selection, friendly service, moderate prices, and a dessert cart so complete that it resembles a patisserie on wheels. Last, and least, Claude's early-bird special is Deerfield Beach's finest.
Hoffman's Chocolates
More than 30 years after Hoffman's Chocolates started in a dinky Lake Worth storefront, the place is now one of the country's premier candy makers. Sure, it's long been a favorite of Palm Beach County sweet tooths. They've flocked to Hoffman's for years, if simply for the coconut cashew crunch, a heavenly sweet and sugary concoction that goes for $6.95 a pound. But now the secret's out. Bon Appetit magazine has named Hoffman's one of the country's best chocolate makers, and the Wall Street Journal has claimed it has the best Easter baskets anywhere. The $75 wicker basket comes stuffed with toys and candy, including a six-ounce bunny and an eight-ounce fudge egg. Working out of a one-acre headquarters in Greenacres, Hoffman's employees claim the secret is in the chocolate recipe, made from a blend of beans, mostly from Africa, that are specifically roasted for the company. Hoffman's claims to have a cocoa powder and cocoa butter content that rivals any of the big-name candy makers. That's the secret, apparently, to the well-known chocolate-covered strawberries; Hoffman's are cell-phone sized and covered in so much dark, white, and milk chocolate that it pools beneath them. They're available only on Friday for $19.95 a pound. There's talk at the company of expanding outside Palm Beach County, but with five stores and an airport location, you won't need to make a long drive for some of the country's best chocolate.

Results from a recent government survey on diet and health show that the average person gained three pounds from just perusing the menu at European Deli & Restaurant. A breakdown of the numbers reveals that those who read only the menu sections regarding Friday and Saturday specials put on only a pound; these include Wiener schnitzel, schnitzel à la Holstein (with egg, capers, and anchovies), sauerbraten (marinated beef in sweet and sour gravy), and roulden (beef rolled around bacon, onions, and pickles). A glimpse at the descriptions of homemade smoked kielbasa, stuffed cabbage with boiled potato, fried leberkase, and pig knuckle with sauerkraut added a pound and a half. The final half-pound was tacked on by combining the knowledge that all dinners come with dumplings or spaetzle and the understanding that you can't really eat here without indulging in at least one tall, iced pilsener glass of Erdinger draft. The conclusions of this survey didn't take into account the European Deli's numerous imports or prepared foods, and further experiments are under way to gauge the possible poundage put on by reading about the numerous thick and succulent sausages. The wurst is yet to come!

Americans will consume more than 3 billion pounds of fish this year, but some of us know so little of piscine matters that we buy our seafood at the supermarket, where "catch of the day" should more accurately be referred to as "catch of the week." At Delray Seafood, the creatures are delivered to the back door daily, and fishmongers clean them so quickly that, to paraphrase Satchel Paige, they can put a knife to a snapper as you turn out the light and there'll be two clean filets on the table before the bulb goes off. Freshness is the whole game when it comes to seafood, but variety is still the spice of life, and Delray hauls in lesser-known species such as Spanish mackerel, butterfish, sea trout, and mullet -- all shining atop glittery crushed ice. Prices generally range from $4.95 a pound (flounder) to $13.95 a pound (Chilean sea bass), which is slightly higher than the supermarket, but the difference in quality is quantifiable. Delray Seafood has taken pride in its products since 1960, when Nicholas and Nellie Griek opened the shop. Their son and his family run things now and are knowledgeable enough ichthyophiles that they can help you choose wisely for dinner and perhaps also tell you what piscine and ichthyophile mean. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

No matter how amazing Charlize Theron might be in her next role, it's money in the bank that she won't win another Oscar in 2005. Why not? Same reason that Mark's Las Olas hasn't copped a New Times Best Of restaurant award since 1999: Panels don't like to repeat themselves. Still, Mark Militello remains one of Broward's very elite chefs, and though his South Beach, Mizner Park, and City Place restaurants have their strengths, after ten years, this Las Olas branch remains the true Mark of excellence. Cozy booths, luxuriously rich mahogany tables, and a bustling open kitchen set the stage for Militello's cutting-edge cuisine, a magical mix of classical cooking techniques, the freshest of ingredients, and a menu that changes daily to accommodate what's in season. Whether it be the simple pairing of chilled Washington state Kumomoto oysters with green apple mignonette, the inspired glazing of duck with mango honey, or the hearty, homestyle plating of pork tenderloin with braised cabbage, chestnuts, and apple jus spiked with Southern Comfort, Militello hits the mark every time. Desserts such as Dutch Forreli pear and blueberry caramel tart with made-on-the-premises white chocolate almond-crush ice cream, seriously attentive service, and a faultless wine list seal the deal for Militello's flagship establishment. Enjoy this accolade, Mark -- like Charlize, next year you'll likely relinquish the crown. Readers' Choice: Chez Laurent

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