Great new Tex-Mex in Naples: Blue Agave

Strange Name. Great food.  Shimmy on over to Blue Agave in East Naples for traditional Mexican fare and the ever popular Tex-Mex for an evening of great food and tequila baby!  So, once I discovered what exactly Blue Agave is, it all made perfect sense to name this Tequila Bar and Grill this unforgettable name, which is a Mexican plant that is used as the base for tequila.  Every now and then, you come across a restaurant that hits it “out-of-the-ballpark” and I think this is going to be one of those that will be hanging around for a while.  The interior is a well planned open space with half walls in the front areas for privacy, warm lighting with wood ceilings in the main area, sparkling dark ceiling tile in the front of the urban kitchen and dining area with picture windows and just an overall warm atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re stepping into a friend’s home.  The wait staff is very knowledgeable and friendly, without being pushy, and can navigate you through the well selected menu.  I can’t even tell you how many selections of tequila they have but if you’re a fan this is one place you’ve got to put on your list.  Everything from an appetizer of salmon & shrimp ceviche marinated in fresh lime juice and cilantro, to daily made guacamole, to mini tostada loca, there’s something for everyone to start your dining experience, not to mention the low-heat salsa & warm chips served upon seating.  My mother-in-law ordered the chicken chimichanga, and yes I did sample it and it was truly a gift from the heavens.  I rarely eat anything that is deep fried but felt I needed to sample it if I was going to talk about it.  My husband had the traditional beef tacos and I was served the Tex-Mex version of red-sauced chicken enchiladas.  The serving size of the entrée on all three, plus those that were eating around us, were all very ample and generous sized with the refried beans and rice just the perfectly sized duo meant to accompany, not overpower.  Next time, I think I’ll try their signature Blue Agave Salad with cactus, pinto beans and avocado tossed with blue cheese in a balsamic vinegar dressing.  This menu challenges you to actually pick just one entrée.  I’d suggest dining with friends that you don’t mind sharing with and enjoy their great selections because with a menu like this, you’ll need to go back weekly to sample everything.  All in all, it was a great dining experience and I just hope the owners, Judy Barney and Arturo Perez will stick around for a long time.  They seem to have the recipe for success at the Marco Island fav, Arturo’s Italian Restaurant, which has been around for 15 years.  Let’s hope word spreads on Blue Agave that’s only been open since mid-December.  I heard about it from a friend, who heard about it from a friend, who heard about it from a friend.  And so the story goes.  When you need a break from dining, let’s look at some homes for sale. For further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

Bleu Provence, Naples, Florida

Bleu Provence, Naples, Florida © Rick BethemWhen you’re in Naples searching for real estate and you crave authentic French cuisine, in an atmosphere that will make you want to come back time after time, do drop in to Bleu Provence, but in season (December – May) you’ve got to make reservations.  My 20 year old niece, Audrey, just came back from a trip to France and England a few days ago and after talking about her experiences in Paris, and reminiscing about the wonderful food, it prompted me to talk a little bit about a tasty French morsel we have here in Naples.   Saturday night, Rick and I dined at Bleu Provence at Crayton Cove at the end of 8th St. S.   The owners, Jacques and Lysielle Cariot, retired here from Provence, France in the late a 1990’s and opened this sweet, country French dining experience far enough away from the touristy area of 5th Ave S. and 3rd St.  Anyone with a taste for well prepared, authentic French cuisine know all too well how easy it could be to copy recipes from the masters, but Lysielle, the master chef that she is, is as creative in her selections as one would expect.  I started with the cheese plate that consisted of a wedge of a triple crème cheese, a roguefort and one more that the name escapes me at this point, dotted with the teeniest, tiniest figs I have ever seen and were just the perfect size, along with wild blueberries and walnuts with warm french bread and a glass of Domaine de Reuilly Sauvignon Blanc “Pierres Plates” 2009.  Followed by the seared Ahi Tuna “au Poivre” with Sauce Vierge and an apricot risotta that literally danced around my tongue like a well rehearsed minuet waltz!  Yikes!  And I mean that in only the best way.  I am a huge fan of risotto but usually I go for the wild mushroom blend.  Never would I have imagined the most delicate of taste of the apricot in itsy-bitsy sizes blended so delicately with the nutty cheese which just totally complimented the tuna.  If I ate it 5 times a week I still wouldn’t tire of it.  I just can’t remember when, in recent history, had I enjoyed ahi tuna more than I did at Bleu Provence.  Finishing it with the warm chocolate cake served with a mocha ice cream finished the evening on a truly decadent note.  So, enough about me.  Rick started with the traditional french onion soup and as such was exactly as expected, followed by the appetizer crab cake, which he seeks out at almost every restaurant.  He said the crab was good but could have easily done without the melody of chopped veggies on top.  Following that his entrée was the Filet-Frites.  A generous 8 oz Prime Filet Mignon Served with French Fries.  The man always enjoys ketchup on his fries but he said he felt oddly strange about ordering it and it wasn’t offered to him so he muddled through it.  The steak itself was tasty and a bit rarer than what he described to the server, however, he didn’t send it back and ended up leaving the cooler interior on the plate.  With every chef having their own idea about what medium to medium-well is, it always surprises me when it’s cut into and the blood still oozes out.  Maybe because I don’t eat red meat it’s more annoying to me than it is to him.  He enjoyed it for what it was and that he said, was a tasty cut of beef.  He ended his dinner with the black and white chocolate mousse, which he thoroughly enjoyed.  Rick and I were married on the beach in Naples on New Year’s in 1984 & had our reception at the French restaurant that is now occupied by Joe’s Crab Shack on 5th Ave on the Gordon River.  For the life of me I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but it was absolutely gorgeous inside and provided the perfect background for photographs.  We both still talk about the Grand Marnier mousse!  Rick proposed to me at the Jefferson Memorial in D.C. and after the shock of it wore off, we then traveled to what had become one of our favorite spots in Great Falls, Va:  L’Auberge Chez Francois, another fine country french restaurant.  They create a salmon mousse that would make a grown man cry.  Well, that ends my tour of one of our favorites here in Naples.  Please keep me in mind for information and questions regarding Naples real estate.  You can contact me at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.


Fun, sun and sand snowman on the Paradise Coast, Florida

As we are gearing up for another great season in sunny Naples, Florida, there’s an abundance of activities I wanted to share with you.  So, get your calendars out and ready, set, GO!

Paradise Coast Naples Marco Island Everglades

Plan an Affordable Cool Season Getaway to Florida’s Paradise Coast

Great values, fantastic shopping and festive holiday celebrations entice travelers to visit Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades

Naples, Fla.– (November 22, 2010) –Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades –the Paradise Coast – turns up the heat with exciting events, beautiful beaches, wonderful wildlife, fine dining, shopping and culture during the area’s value season. Through December, visitors can find exceptional deals on hotel accommodations with rates as low as one third to one half of what they are in the peak winter season of January through April. In addition, travelers can take advantage of lower greens fees, mild fall weather and some of the smallest crowds of the year. Plan your next Paradise Coast getaway with the following offers and activities.

For additional savings, pick up the Paradise Coast V.I.P. – Values in Paradise card now through December 15, 2010. The program, typically offered between May and December, has been so popular that it is being upgraded and expanded to become a year round promotion starting in January 2011.  It offers visitors thousands of dollars in savings at participating restaurants, attractions, tours, shops and more.  Some of the savings for 2010 include attraction discounts, buy-one-get-one-free or half-off offers and other great discounts and deals.  The V.I.P. card is free to all visitors, can be used immediately upon arrival and is easily found at area visitor center locations: the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center (relocating in December to the corner of Fifth Avenue South and Tamiami Trail in the heart of downtown Naples), the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, the Greater Eastern Collier County Visitor Center in Immokalee and the Everglades Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.

DECEMBER HAPPENINGS

Resort Hotel Milestone

The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, which helped transform Naples into a major destination for luxury, family and business travel, is celebrating its 25th birthday on Dec. 4. To mark this great milestone and silver anniversary, The Ritz-Carlton, Naples is launching an exclusive “25 Silver Rooms” offer through its online and phone booking channels. For 25 nights beginning Nov. 28 and ending Dec. 22, 25 coastal view guest rooms at the beach resort will be available at a very special rate of $125/night. In addition, the Ritz-Carlton, Naples will host a holiday concert on Dec. 4 featuring Grammy®-nominated musician, TV personality and radio show host John Tesh, who will perform holiday classics, his own collection of original tunes and will certainly entertain the crowd with useful “intelligence,” in the beach resort’s grand Vanderbilt Ballroom. Concert doors open at 7:15 p.m. and show time is at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets to John Tesh in Concert at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, call the resort’s Leisure Reservations line directly at (239) 598-6644. Concert packages do not include resort accommodations; however special anniversary pricing is available, starting at $225/night.

Signature Events and Openings:

Spending the Holidays on the Paradise Coast:
Gaze at festive boats as they cruise along Naples Bay during the 2010 Marine Industries Christmas Boat Parade on Dec. 11 from 6 – 8 p.m. Awards will be given out to the boat with the best sail, best power vessel and best commercial vessel. This event is free to the public.

From Dec. 8-13, the Tiburón Golf Club at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, will host the Shark Shootout, a special PGA Tour-sanctioned charity tournament hosted by Greg Norman. Come out to watch 12 two-man teams consisting of the top PGA TOUR players. Tickets start at $25 for tournament daily grounds passes to $110 for admission to the week event. Proceeds benefit the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) of Florida.

Celebrate with the animals at the Naples Zoo’s 12 Days of Wild Holiday Fun. From December 13th through 24th Naples Zoo will deliver gifts to the animals. Zoo guests will watch lions claw into beautifully wrapped presents with their favorite foods inside, lemurs nibble treats off a Christmas tree, and see many other animals enjoying delicacies made especially for each of their tastes. Admission to the 12 Days of Wild Holiday Fun is included in ticket price of $19.95.  Be sure to visit http://www.napleszoo.com/ for coupons and remember that gift certificate tickets to the zoo are available at discounted prices.

Enjoy some fun in downtown Naples during Thursdays on Third when the courtyards and plazas of Third Street South come alive with the musical sounds of jazz, rock, folk, or some other style, all with a holiday focus during December. Relax and listen or if the spirit moves ‘as it always does’, dance until you can dance no more. Holiday entertainment continues with Snowfest on Dec. 4, an annual event that turns the Paradise Coast into a winter wonderland. Snowfest features 70 tons of snow, a sled mountain, ice skating rink, full scale carnival, hands-on art & crafts, food, pony rides, petting zoo and pictures with Santa. Admission is $1 per person and free for children 3 and younger.

Join the twinkling procession of boats as they make their way down Venetian Bay for the Village Boat Parade on Dec. 9. The evening includes live entertainment and an unwrapped gift drive to help spread holiday cheer. All toys donated benefit The Guadalupe Center of Immokalee’s Holiday Gift Shop.

Get into the holiday spirit a couple of weeks early, and on Dec. 11 come and see the Naples Bay Christmas Boat Parade from 6-8 p.m. Watch the annual holiday lighted boat parade from Naples City Dock or the waterfront restaurants lining the Naples Waterfront area around Naples Bay.

Watch the clear night sky light up with the New Year’s Eve Fireworks. Find a spot anywhere along Naples Beach for the annual fireworks display, blasting off from Naples Pier. This event is free.

It’s not too late to start planning for January and February’s top events –

Make a resolution to start the New Year with something beautiful around your wrist, on your wall and upon your table, purchased from one of the 260 national artists at the 15th Annual Downtown Naples New Year’s Art Show Jan. 1 -2. This free, juried holiday show, held in the heart of Downtown Naples, offers upscale shops and restaurants to enjoy before and after visiting the artists’ booths.

Connect with wildlife during the Southwest Florida Nature Festival, Jan. 14-16. This three-day festival celebrates the local coastal environment through more than 30 guided field trips to over 20 wildlife hot spots around Southwest Florida, on-the-water adventures plus on-site activities at the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center. Admission is $15 for a weekend pass ($10 per day, $5 for 12 & under).

Tantalize your taste buds at the Everglades Seafood Festival on Feb. 4-6 offering three days of live music, carnival rides, arts, crafts, and incredible food! The Everglades Seafood Festival offers something for all tastes and fun for all ages. Over 100 vendors offer a wide variety of great seafood, refreshments, midway, and hand-made arts and crafts. This event is free.

Immerse yourself into art and culture at the Naples National Art Show,Feb. 26-27. Ranked as the ninth best art festival in the nation by Sunshine Artist magazine, this juried show features 275 national artists drawing around 25,000 visitors. Festival activities will include musical performances on the park’s band shell, and numerous food vendors. Admission is $5 to benefit youth art education programs.

YEAR ROUND

Clean Beaches on the Paradise Coast

Beaches in Naples, Marco Island and the Gulf Coast Everglades are clean and pristine and were not EVER impacted by the Gulf oil spill. No oil ever reached Southwest Florida and none was ever forecast to come close to this area. See conditions for yourself via live Web cams on the Paradise Coast Beach Conditions Web page, along with detailed information about area beaches, weather and more.  Also check out the Web video page for an episode of the new video series Adventures in Paradise, featuring local chef Fabrizio Aielli of Sea Salt Naples using clear and clean Gulf of Mexico seawater to cook a delicious linguine and Florida blue crab sauce dish.

For more information on visiting Naples, Marco Island and the Everglades – The Paradise Coast and a free visitors guide, call 1-800-688-3600 or visit the area’s official visitor information Web site at www.paradisecoast.com.

For further information or  questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

Why Imperial? Why Now?

Night Photo of Imperial Country Club in Naples, Florida © Rick Bethem Photography. All Rights Reserved.
Imperial Country Club, Naples, Florida

Thinking of purchasing real estate in Naples? Be sure to put a significant amount of time in exploring the sweetest community in Southwest Florida: Imperial Golf Estates. Located in North Naples this is a “must see” part of your real estate tour. Why? Location, Location, Location, oh, and Value. With a combination of product from affordable condominiums and villas to spacious estate homes, this little darling of a community is situated perfectly on the east side of US 41. Where do I begin to tell all of you that haven’t been to Naples or those that are here but have forgotten about it because it’s tucked away so neatly into it’s expansive quadrant of land, about life in Imperial? Well, let’s start with the location: Conveniently located on the east side of US 41 (Tamiami Trail) and flanked by neighbors such as Collier’s Reserve and LaPlaya Golf Course, you are a short 7-8 min drive to the beach at Delnoir-Wiggins State Park to the south and about 10-12 min to the beach at the county park of Barefoot Beach. Got golf? You bet, 36 holes for your playing pleasure. Two pristine conditioned courses with an incredible clubhouse as the signature centerpiece to the community and is membership-based play with a list of impressive reciprocals during off-season. Need to sweat but want to have fun while doing it? No problem, again, within this community is the Imperial Tennis & Racquet Club as a separate membership. You say you want culture? Drive about 10 min. south to the Naples Philharmonic and the Naples Museum of Art. Boutique and designer shopping? Right behind the Phil is Waterside, a chic shopping area developed on a water feature with dancing waterfalls. Have a desire for in-town entertainment such as outdoor concerts and plush theatre seating featuring restaurants with alfresco dining, check out the Mercato, again, about 7-8 min from Imperial. Need a quick exit to the airport, we got it, only a 15 min. drive to Interstate 75. Now, let’s look at value: Currently, there are 28 homes for sale in Imperial from $299,000 for a pool home of 23oo+ s.f. to $1,049,000 for an estate size home of 3600 s.f. Lot sizes generally average about 115 ft for frontage with a few homes set on reduced lots averaging about 85 ft for frontage and many lots having depths of 100 ft+ providing ample privacy for each and every homeowner. Now, here’s the icing for the cake: Imperial residents are benefiting from years of planning by their Board of Directors with the fruition of a second back entrance that will allow residents to be on Livingston Rd through an access road currently under construction saving them travel time to all points Naples. This is a huge time-saving endeavor and the residents are so excited that, not only will it save them travel time but will also provide quicker emergency services and an alternative hurricane route. One last point, and this is significant: Imperial Golf Estates is the only community in North Naples on US 41 that can provide homeowners with these great benefits, location and value. There currently is only one home on the market in another golf community along the US 41 corridor, Audubon, that is listed at $500,000. There are currently 15 homes in Imperial Golf Estates at $500,000 or under. If that doesn’t build excitement for you, I’m just not too sure what will. For a quick peek, click this link to see homes for sale in Imperial Golf Estate or for further information or any questions on Naples real estate please contact Ruth Bethem at Ruth@RuthBethem.com or call direct at 239-777-7007 or toll free 877-777-7545.

Aurelios – Best Pizza in Naples, Florida

So, what’s your favorite style pizza?  There’s a lot to be said for true Italian, paper thin crust, you know, the kind that you can fold in half and let the melted cheese slide down your throat.  And there’s a place in a lot of people’s hearts for deep dish too.  However, if you like both and wished they’d married and had a baby that was a great cross-breed, well, look no further.  Aurelios of Naples is simply the best pizza in town, bar none!  Ok, so I’m a little bit passionate about my pizza, but am I truly alone?  I think not.  I’ve lived in so many areas of this country from the northeast to the midwest to the pacific northwest region and for thirteen blissful years, here in beautiful southwest Florida and there’s a certain respect one must give to the personal taste of Americans and their choice of pizza.  Some think it’s not a pizza if you put “all that stuff on it” while others think that “without all that stuff” what’s the point?  Well, that little cross-breed I mentioned earlier, it’s alive and well here in Naples.  The dough is just perfect, a bit crusty and crunchy on the edges but yet kinda gooey and chewey “on the inside.”  My hips almost regretted the day when I introduced them to this masterpiece, but there’s just some things in life you can’t live without:  God, Family and Aurelios.  But that’s just my personal view of the world.  Check out their website and if you’re here visiting, know that this is where you’ll experience one of the country’s best pizzerias.   When our family is in town, this is a “have to stop” even our newest granddaughter, Addison, thinks so too…she has impeccable taste don’t you think?http://www.aureliosofnaples.com/