Explore the latest in fall fashion, foodie adventures and fun activities, from the best beaches to the best bruschetta. Learn to make jerky, see what the South Florida Museum has in store and hear what people are saying about their four-legged friends. Find out the secret to fidget spinners and why Longboat Key seems to be tapping the talent from nearby communities. Snorkel in the sun and roast s’mores in the
moonlight. It’s season in Sarasota
- Bradenton and time to get moving. Written by Phil Lederer, Jacob Ogles, Gabrielle Holliday and Shelby Schartz. Photography by Wyatt Kostygan.


Crackling fires, starry skies and poorly pitched tents all describe your childhood camping trips. But they wouldn’t be complete without dozens of burnt marshmallows smashed between two graham crackers with a piece of Hershey’s chocolate percolating out the sides and down your fingers. S’mores are an American tradition that invoke feelings of nostalgia and family, while also spurring debates between marshmallow lovers alike. On one side of the campfire we have the traditionalists who believe that marshmallows should be burnt with the insides oozing out, i.e. the correct way. Then there are those who believe that they should be lightly toasted while keeping their shape and consistency . . . heathens. And in this time of political division, President of the National Marshmallow Roasters Institute Jerry Grinstead reminds us, “It doesn’t matter whether we are from a blue or red state, what our race, religion or gender identity is, or whether we are young or old. When we roast marshmallows together and share gooey s’mores, we pursue happiness by participating in a truly American tradition.” – G. Holliday

S’mores Mason Jar Mini. Served in a four-ounce mason jar with a roasted marshmallow on top and a house-made graham cracker bottom, this easy-to-eat dessert feels down home like the rest of the menu. Adding a sweet finish to a savory meal, this perfectly sized finisher is sure to please. Brick’s Smoked Meats

S’mores Cupcake and Whoopie Pie. Taking two spins on the s’more, Heavenly Cupcakes takes a chocolate cake and either tops or fills it with  chocolate buttercream and marshmallow fluff. Graham crackers and mini Hershey’s bars are added to the top, making for a photo finish.  Heavenly Cupcakes.

S’mores Fondue. A luscious pot of melted milk chocolate with swirls of marshmallow mixed in, adding a touch of creaminess. Graham cracker pieces sprinkled over the top add a crunch while balancing out the sweetness of the chocolate. Coming with a variety of dipping choices, this fondue takes s’mores creativity to a new height.The Melting Pot

S’mores Cake. A graham cracker cake layered with homemade marshmallow fluff and chocolate ganache, this made-to-order cake is great for family reunions, bringing up old family memories of camping trips, without the actual outdoors part. Sift Bakehouse


In 1897, H.G. Wells warned of the tripods, relentless machines that would wage war on the human race and test the endurance of the species. In 1938, Orson Welles gave voice to the words, sending the people of London into a panic. Today, 120 years later, the tripods have arrived and conquered the people of Earth without firing a shot. From the classroom to the boardroom, fidget spinners have replaced pogs, pokemon and even pens and pencils in the hands of students, employees, administrators and CEOs. Menace, medicine or harmless toy? No clear answer exists and the tripods are evolving. What began in the mid-90s (in Florida, no less) as a therapeutic invention for the treatment of muscle weakness, the original spinner was perhaps too niche (or too useful) to catch on. A simple machine of three arms and a ball bearing, the patent languished for twenty years, until, coasting on memories of the Rubik’s Cube, the fidget cube appeared on Kickstarter. Featuring six sides with buttons and toggles and other fidget-friendly Sisyphean exercises, the cube brought fidgeting to the forefront, but could also be kept discreetly in one’s pocket.

Not so the fidget spinner. Re-emerging more powerful than before, the fidget spinners hypnotized with flashing LED lights and mesmerized with dreams of perpetual motion borne by the smooth whirr of the spin. The tripods transcended, folding fashion into function and becoming the catch-all contraption for the new year—and planting themselves firmly in the humans’ world.Toy, therapy or tripod invader? “Where’s the line?” asks Tim Holliday, co-owner of Children’s World and former board member of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association. He’s seen businessmen in suits pick up unobtrusive spinners for the office and he’s seen kids blow months’ worth of allowance and birthday money buying up stacks of spinners with different graphics and lights and decals. On YouTube, videos of spinner tricks skyrocket and followings and contests emerge. But will it last? Have the humans fallen to the tripods? Were Wells and Welles, well, right?

“If I knew the answer to that, I’d be a whole lot richer,” laughs Holliday. Two years ago, it was silly bands, and retailers imagined that trend evolving as well. “Now you don’t find anybody wearing them,” he says. But he has hopes for fidget spinners, due in no small part to the difficulty in nailing down its function. Both toy and therapy, the bubble will last as long as there’s need for either and the spinner fits it. Holliday hopes so. “Because I still have a whole pile of inventory.”– P. Lederer

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Macaron bakeries hit the US in a big way in the 2010s, with Le Macaron right at the front, opening the doors on its first location in St. Armands Circle eight years ago, calling the macaron “the jewel of the pastry world.” The shop took off, with co-owner Didier Guillem in the bakery all day long, making thousands of macarons each shift. And for the folks at C’est la Vie, open since 1997 and serving up an amazing array of macarons every day since, it may have seemed like a little friendly competition.

But Sarasota’s newest macaron master, Autumn Fuller of A La Mode Macaron, makes it a three-way battle. With no formal training but a penchant for pastries, Fuller took to macarons with gusto. Starting with a cart operating out of Gulf Gate, Fuller recently relocated to PERQ, where she serves up homemade macarons beside cold brew and caffeine-hungry consumers. “Everything from scratch,” she says, and that includes not just the macarons, but the homemade ice cream and buttercream fillings that accompany the cookies. Fuller makes three flavors of ice cream a week, sometimes a standard like chocolate or vanilla, but more often something like baklava ice cream or honey lavender, and plans to offer 10 macaron flavors a week as well, in addition to her multi-layered macaron tower cakes. –P. Lederer


From a terrestrial perspective, Sarasota’s beautiful and vibrant waterways glimmer gradients of blue and sparkle patches of green. However, when diving below the surface an entirely new world unfolds. The transition unveils a diverse ecosystem of aquatic flora and fauna proving that snorkeling in the turquoise waters is a must-have adventure. But where are the best places to explore? Captain Chet Zoltak of Island Time Charters has divulged two of his favorite snorkeling spots, sharing what makes them special and the best times of the year and day to go. 

Off the northern tip of Siesta Key, Point of Rocks, a 30,000-year-old outcropping comes as a top recommendation on Captain Zoltak’s list. If traveling on four wheels, parking at beach access 12 near Crescent Beach, Siesta Key, is best. Once on the beach, turn left and walk about 100 yards to get to Point of Rocks. If transportation means cruising down the water, leaving from the 10th Street dock and boat ramp in downtown Sarasota makes for the best launching point and is only 20 minutes away from the outcropping. Point of Rocks serves as a great vantage point for spotting diverse marine life and colorful corals. “Anchored in 5-7 feet, snorkelers can see many species of fish, such as rays, mangrove snapper and more as they float over rocks and grass,” says Captain Zoltak. “Sea urchins and bright orange corals are also features of Point of Rocks.” In addition to this extraordinary location, the water often goes unimpeded by murkiness but there are certain factors to keep in mind when planning the excursion. “The water clarity is good most times of the year, but after storms it could be a bit cloudy,” says Captain Zoltak. “Viewing is best when the sun is high in the sky and the tide is high, around 11-2pm.” 

Beer Can Key is located on the northern end of Longboat Key and makes for another exceptional snorkeling destination. Inside the Longboat Key Pass Bridge, a sandbar, highly frequented by and only accessible to boaters, serves as the perfect platform for diving into the water. Considering the spot cannot be driven to, Captain Zoltak recommends launching from a boat ramp in downtown Sarasota. The scenic ride only takes 30 minutes and shows off some of Sarasota’s beautiful waterways. Once on the sand bar platform, snorkelers fully immerse in the water and watch an aquatic world emerge as fish, big and small, swim by, showcasing a diverse marine ecosystem, different even from that observed at Point of Rocks. “Snorkeling in 305 feet over sand and grass reveals numerous schools of bait fish and their larger predators,” he says. Much like Point of Rocks, visibility hinges on the weather, as storms often displace sediment, resulting in cloudy water. Waiting two days after a storm is recommended, as debris should be calm by then, improving overall clarity in the water. –S. Schwartz


Our region’s leaders hold no immunity from the affection of a pet. We spoke with some prominent animal lovers about what the furry friends bring to their lives. 

Kevin Cooper + Stanley

Though he never owned a pet growing up, Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Cooper says he can’t imagine his life now without them. He adopted Stanley, his first pet ever, about 10 years ago, and became amazed how central the pup became in his life. “When I recall when I had kids, when I got married or when I held certain jobs, the dogs are as big a part of it as anything else,” he says. Named Stanley and Chief, both puggles (half pug, half beagle), Cooper considers them family. (shown below)

David Verinder + Murphy & ‘Stella

Sarasota Memorial Health System’s CEO David Verinder says his two pups help make life a better refuge from the challenges of the medical field. “They complete our family and add instant stress relief to difficult days,” Verinder says. Verinder adopted Murphy, a Goldendoodle (poodle-golden retriever mix), when the dog was around four or five, and later got Stella, a standard poodle, after falling in love with the breed. Today, he says the animals feel more like additional children than mere pets.

Shelley Thayer + T.T. & Jasmine

Growing up, Shelley Thayer always loved animals and volunteered for rescue groups, but it was during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that she devoted her life to saving cats. “I went to LA for two weeks, stayed five months, and was hooked,” she recalls. In New Orleans, she ended up adopting T.T., a tabby who survived the storm. She would later adopt Jasmine, one of 700 cats confiscated from an abusive situation in Nevada, and also would bring Simba, a cat previously living on the streets of Sarasota, into her own home.

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A breakdown of the city’s inventive twists on bruschetta. – G. Holliday

Mattison’s City Grille 

This traditionalist bruschetta adds pesto goat cheese for an inventive spin on the classic. Basil olive oil and balsamic vinegar are drizzled over the cheese and tomatoes on top of a piece of grilled rustic bread. 

Social on First

This light bite packs a punch of flavor, offered in three versions in each serving: fig and brie; gorgonzola, prosciutto and honey; and tomatoes, red onion and capers. All served on a small toasted piece of french bread. 


Making a meal of it, this heartier version comes on a large piece of bread with shrimp scampi, artichokes and roasted tomatoes on top. A creamy garlic sauce is poured over the top, which means you’ll need a knife and fork.

Cafe Baci

A lightly toasted, chewy piece of ciabatta holds a mixture of tomatoes, goat cheese, basil and onions.
A balsamic glaze is drizzled over the mixture to add a slightly sweet and tangy finish. 


Throwing in a scattering of garlic and served on herby focaccia, this bruschetta has a robust flair to it. The tomatoes and basil add a juicy acidity that balances out the earth tones, leading to a medley in each bite. 

Chianti Ristorante Italiano

Using mozzarella fresca as the base for the tomatoes and pesto, this bruschetta is cheesier than the others, perfect for the cheese lovers of the world. Crusty ciabatta holds it all together.

Il Panificio

Perfect for D.I.Y. fanatics, this build your own bruschetta comes in bite-size form. Olive oil crustinis are placed alongside a conglomeration of tomatoes, red onion and basil. Try the sides of goat cheese and balsamic glaze.

Patrick’s 1481

Taking the ultimate handheld approach, Patricks turns bruschetta into a flatbread by adding spinach and caramelized onions to this classic dish. Featuring mozzarella, feta and leafy greens. 


Everyone has a jar of it somewhere, but most don’t know where that jar came from. But with the emergence of local honey companies, many of them could be from just down the road. In the past few years, beekeeping has grown as both hobby and business, and many have opened farms to sell fresh honey, along with other byproducts of the hives, such as bee pollen, which has become a health craze and, as such, a popular smoothie ingredient. Others start apiaries to “save the bees,” amidst continued reports of declining bee colonies. In Sarasota, entrepreneurial beekeepers such as Sulcata Grove and Sarasota Honey Company have small shops downtown, as well as stalls at the farmers market. Refraining from the use of chemicals, these local beekeepers emphasize environmental and social consciousness, along with doing everything to guarantee that that spoonful of honey on one’s toast is the best possible product they could have produced. All of the bees are so happy, they’re asking, “Ya like jazz?””–G. Holliday

Sarasota Honey Company

Chemical-free and unpasteurized, Sarasota Honey Company remains equally committed to providing the pure honey experience, minus pesticides, herbicides and other artificial additives. Also committed to giving back to the community, all honey at Sarasota Honey Company is harvested, bottled and labeled by people with special needs. Sarasota Honey Company also covers tuition to the University of Florida’s Bee College, as well as being a sponsor of the Annual Special Needs Prom.

Sulcata Grove 

Treating bees as pets as well as pollinators for their two-acre assorted tropical fruit farm, which features mangos, starfruit and passion fruit among others, Sulcata Grove allows for the bees to care for themselves, while the beekeepers maintain the hive space and ensure that there is no swarming. The bees feed on a variety of flowers including bananas, passion flower, lychee, avocado, mango and Brazilian pepper. The honey is never heated or filtered, ensuring that one is getting the purest and least contaminated honey possible. They recently had the honey tested for hundreds of different contaminants and it contained no traces of any pesticides.


Civility is a hard thing to demand, but in an era of violent protests, local leaders say the need for reasoned discourse is as great as ever. Even with divisive issues confronting all levels of government, Gulf Coast politicians say they are hopeful differences can be addressed with conversation devolving. “In our local elected officials and groups, there is civility for the most part,” says state Rep. Joe Gruters, R-Sarasota. “It seems the higher you go in politics, the less of it there is.” But even while the Florida Legislature entered hot negotiations over incentives and tourism marketing this year—including the governor visiting districts for representatives opposed to his budget and calling them out by name at public events—all parties could still come together at the same table. 

On the municipal level, new Sarasota City Commissioner Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, fresh off a contentious campaign season, believes voters called for civil governance at city hall, and she believes that’s happening. “I’ve learned once you become a commissioner, you start over,” she says. “You suddenly hear from everybody, not just those who supported your campaign.” Commissioners have to take all that data and process it together with one another to make the right decisions for the city. Kevin Cooper, president of the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Sarasota County Planning Commission, says its important decisions get made based on the facts, not personal issues. “There is a fallacious thing in how we approach certain things, and people who would rather focus on some personal critique of somebody involved in the discussion,” he says. “That undermines a healthy community conversation.” He hopes leaders can look past much of that noise. –J. Ogles


Though Snooty’s absence looms large, the staff at South Florida Museum hasn’t missed a step when it comes to providing quality programming to the community, and the institution looks forward to bringing new reasons for families to visit the Bradenton attraction this season. – J.Ogles

Passport to the Universe

The beloved astral show has been re-mastered and will play once again at the Parker Manatee Aquarium before year’s end.  Developed by the American Museum of Natural History in collaboration with NASA, the Tom Hanks-narrated show takes visitors on a galactic voyage of the Milky Way, flying past Saturn’s rings and into the heart of the Orion Nebula.

More Manatee

While Snooty may no longer be around to greet visitors, the museum still houses three other manatees: Randall, Gale and Baca. All three were rescued from injuries as part of a state program, with staff at South Florida Museum helping the sea cows rehabilitate. Museum spokeswoman Jessica Schubick says Randall should return to the wild sometime in the fall, Gale and Baca will stay in-house until at least this winter.

National Geographic

The “50 Greatest Photographs” in the history of the celebrated magazine, including Steve McCurry’s cover shot of an Afghan girl and an iconic picture of Jane Goodall with a chimpanzee, will go on display alongside behind-the-scenes stories of how the image was captured in frame. “For some images, visitors will be able to see the ‘near frames’ taken by the photographer: the sequence of images made in the field before and after the perfect shot,” says Schubick. September 22-January 18

Museum Day Live

A celebration of curiosity hosted by Smithsonian magazine, the museum will allow two guests in if they bring a Museum Day Live! Pass from the publication. Sept. 23, 10am-5pm

Mosaic Backyard Universe

Ground will break in October on a 6,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor educational space on the north end of the South Florida Museum campus, complete with windmills, tree forts, butterfly houses and a tinkering shed. The area, designed to let children simultaneously play and learn, will also include a grassy nook for parents to rest and look on with wonder. 


Despite sharing the sand and surf, each of Sarasota’s beaches offers something different. Whether perfect for the whole family, hanging out with friends or even for a solo day of relaxation, there is a beach that caters to all who want to soak up the sun. It’s just a matter of finding which oasis to visit. –S.Schwartz

Siesta Beach  Known for talcum powder sand and twinkling turquoise water, Siesta Key’s beauty attests to its honorary title of “number one beach in America.” When walking to the shore, parasails catch the eye, sprinkling the horizon line and creating points of blues, greens and yellows, making a spectacle of intrigue for any thrill-seeking beachgoer. If heights aren’t particularly enticing and staying close to the ground preferred, Siesta’s Drum Circle shouldn’t be missed. Every Sunday night, as the sun kisses the Gulf, a beating of drums sets in and a wave of rhythm and dance takes over the beach. Local performers gather around the main pavilion an hour before sunset, playing and moving in the midst of the evening’s orange glow.

Venice Beach  Open wide at Venice Beach—the “shark tooth capital of the world.” When walking the shore, beachgoers play tooth fairy, scouring the sand for these triangular treasures, hoping to come away with a sizable collection. Keeping one eye to the ground for shark’s teeth and another to the sky for kites, Venice beach also makes for a flyer’s paradise. With breezes gliding off the Gulf, kites easily ascend, pulling upward and mingling with others who have made a similar journey. Diving and soaring, the kites create an interpretive dance with each gust of wind.

Casperson Beach When in search for a quiet spot to bathe in the sun and wriggle toes in the sand, Venice’s Caspersen Beach serves as a relaxation paradise. With quietness only interrupted by intermittent seagulls and crashing waves, Caspersen is an optimal place to lie back in a lounge chair and get lost in the pages of a good book. And when in-between chapters, seashell hunting proves as a must. Dotting this strip of sand, seashells of all colors, shapes and sizes can be found nestled in the surf or sun-bathing further up shore, making a scavenger out of anyone who can’t help but pick up at least one. 

Nokomis Beach   Perfect for a family outing and making sand castles, this tropical oasis proves as a great way to spend the weekend. Laughs and shouts fill the air as teens hop on boogie boards and bask in the sun’s warm rays. With shovels in hand, kids can be found scooping mounds of sand, placing them in buckets and dredging moats for the safety of their grainy kingdoms. One tower, two towers, sometimes three, the structures can grow into Versailles-like creations, tightly packed and occasionally visited by small crabs and birds.

Lido Beach“Location, location, location” should ring as Lido Beach’s motto due to picturesque sunsets and close proximity to the restaurants and shops of St. Armands Circle. As the sun descends, a beaming orb of yellows and reds radiating throughout the sky, casting a warm glow on the sand, surf and all who have gathered to watch. Shortly after the sun sets, beachgoers pack up and take a short walk down to the nightlife of St. Armands. When exploring The Circle, venture into shops, such as Shore and Island Pursuit for a new bathing suit, grab a bite at local restaurants, including Columbia and Daiquiri Deck, or stop for an ice cream cone at one of several sweet spots along the way, delicious favorites being Kilwins and Settimi’s Gelato.

Ted Sperling Park on Lido  At the tip of South Lido Beach, Ted Sperling Park stands as a hidden gem. With lush foliage, close proximity to the water and wooden tables scattered throughout, this park makes for a perfect picnic spot. The tree density creates a canopy of shade while a Gulf breeze wafts from the beachfront, cooling off the park even on the hottest summer day. While unpacking a lunch at one of the tables, bird watching becomes a favorite past time. Herons and egrets strut by, twisting their long necks into palms and bushes as pelicans acrobatically dive into the water. Occasionally, a picnicker can get lucky and even catch a glimpse of a raccoon scurrying into the trash or scaling one of the trees.



The lure of Longboat Key draws more than snapper.  In early July, Sarasota County Administrator Tom Harmer announced that he would leave the top post for the county’s largest jurisdiction to head up town hall for the county’s smallest municipality. He will start as Longboat Key town manager in December. “It has been an honor to serve you for the past five years,” he told county commissioners. It may seem an odd move for one of the region’s most prominent government leaders, but Harmer’s hardly the first public official to flee the mainland. Over time, the county has lured fire officials and clerks out of Sarasota County, and in 2012 hired a building official away from Manatee County to lead a department on the island. The late Al Hogle served as a Sarasota city commissioner and Bradenton police chief before spending his final years as police chief for Longboat Key.

Harmer takes over from Town Manager Dave Bullock, who will retire in January. Bullock himself left the job of deputy county administrator six years ago to take over at the small municipality and understands the appeal. “It’s the best job in the state,” he says. “You are working in an affluent community of extremely well-educated people who place value in their community and understand that investment in it is important to quality of life.” And while that also means high expectations for public service, dialogue, however fierce, remains civil and enlightening. “On Longboat Key, you are never the smartest person in the room,” Bullock says, “which is pretty cool.” As for mainland jurisdictions? With Harmer’s departure, county commissioners in Sarasota wished the outgoing administrator well while openly plotting revenge. “If we come up with diabolical schemes to punish Longboat Key,” joked County Commissioner Al Maio, “he (Harmer) will have to figure a way out for them.” –J. Ogles


Craft fairs no longer provide the only marketplace for artisans to sell wares. These local artists opened shops on Etsy and found worldwide success for work produced on the Gulf Coast. –J. Ogles

Rachael Varga

This Bradenton pottery artist sells mugs and cups at her online store, TurtleRok. Varga recalls her first ceramics class at age 11. “I fell in love with the wheel,” she says. While she stepped away from the hobby for some time, she heard the clay calling two years ago and started spinning out handcrafted mugs, bowls and other works. She sells some items playing off pop culture, with “Mother of Dragons” mugs and “Bazinga” glasses alongside completely original designs. She’s working now on some special glasses to sell at the Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival this year, and has produced over 2,000 units using a wheel and two kilns in her studio. On Etsy, she’s found an excited market. “I love being able to interact with people who find pottery itself as an amazing art,” she says. 

Kayla Atmore

The Sarasota seamstress opened the Etsy shop Hello, Ellie in 2015, selling hand-made children’s clothes. She got into the craft making clothes for her first child, daughter Ellie, and “soon realized there are only so many things I can sew for one human being.” She turned to the arts and crafts marketplace she’d loved as a consumer since 2011 and starting selling goods. You can find modern outfits including pom-pom shorts and swan-print rompers, and even some fashionable burp cloths for the couture mama.

Linda Annelli

Producing a series of “fun, folk art,” painter Linda Anelli kept open her Etsy shop, ANELLIARTalacarte, as she moved from New England to the Gulf Coast two years ago. Painting buildings with scenery that bleeds into the framing, she’s offered up entirely new takes of such iconic structures as the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall or the Circus City Architectural Salvage building. “I only moved here a little over two years ago and am slowly trying to dip my toe in to the very deep art waters of SRQ,” Anelli says. The artist also conducts solo shows, and unveiled some Sarasota-centric artwork at a Plymouth Harbor show this summer. The Vermont transplant says her “accidental” style was self-taught but has found an audience on Etsy, where she will also produce commissioned work.

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Earlier this summer, Australian millionaire Tim Gurner went toe-to-toe with millennials over their brunching habits, specifically avocado toast. The aesthetically pleasing item allegedly leads to young people being unable to afford to buying a home, but millennials were out for blood. Avocado toast has been around for years, but due to Gwyneth Paltrow’s inclusion of it in her 2013 cookbook, It’s All Good, as well as being featured on many prominent Manhattan restaurants menus, popularity has skyrocketed. It’s popularity in SRQ has grown as well, popping up on menus up and down the coast. Each place takes their own spin on the brunch item, allowing for it to go from a casual side to the main event, with toppings like feta or goat cheese, poached or fried eggs, smoked salmon, bacon, tomatoes and arugula.—G. Holliday

Traditionalist Tahini

Baker and Wife uses simplicity to their advantage by only adding a few other ingredients and really letting the avocado shine, blended with Tahini and placed on top of the toast along with a poached egg. The egg yolk, when popped, adds another dimension of flavor and texture to the popular item

Salt-Free Splendor

The Sun Garden Cafe takes the egg route with two poached eggs on the side of whole-grain toast covered in smashed avocado. Canadian bacon and tomato slices add to this hearty entree and round out the flavor profiles. Rather than a sprinkling of sea salt on the top, the Canadian bacon adds that extra bit of saltiness. 

Laidback Lunch  

Shore takes a healthy, laidback approach, using a thick and crusty multi-grain bread as a base. Avocado is then smashed on the toast and topped with juicy tomato slices and crumbled ricotta cheese. Then extra-virgin olive oil is drizzled over the top, as well as a liberal dusting of sea salt. 

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Becoming a sushi chef isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes immense skill passed down from senior sushi chef to junior sushi chef in order to create the perfect roll, and the correct balance of portions with seafood, veggies, seaweed and sauce is of utmost importance—one misstep can throw off the entire roll. With years of rigorous training and the need for precise measurements, each budding sushi chef has a long road ahead off them before they even get to touch a roll. Every restaurant has its own secret blend of rice vinegar, salt and rice that must be learned and mastered before one can proceed. Only after mastering the rice can a young chef move up to mastering simple rolls, before finally advancing up to cutting the fish and creating the more complex rolls that grace Instagram feeds each day. Sashimi, being the most difficult type to prepare, takes the coveted spot at the top due to the one long stroke chefs have to make when cutting the fish. Becoming a sushi chef takes patience, fortitude and a steady hand with the blade and the roll, but each adds their own particular flair to the Sarasota sushi palate.—G.Holliday (rolls shown below left to right).

Playing off of its close proximity to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Pacific Rim’s 911 roll packs a spicy punch to one’s stomach. Yellow tail, jalapeños, scallions and cucumber are wrapped in seaweed and topped with yellow tail, green masago and Sriracha sauce; ensuring that the wasabi isn’t the hottest thing on the plate. The spice adds to the flavor of the yellowtail, while the cucumber’s juiciness adds a bit of cool relief before the Sriracha adds the second punch of heat. Pacific Rim.  

With a name just as inventive as the roll itself, The Drunken Poet’s Sexy Man roll is a dream come true for many sushi eaters. The combination of flavors between tuna, avocado and tempura eel melds with the saltiness of the seaweed, while the subtle sweetness of its sexy sauce wraps up this flavor combination like a present to one’s taste buds. The Drunken Poet Café

Pretty in pink, the Cherry Blossom roll takes crabmeat, shrimp tempura, avocado, asparagus and cilantro on a flavor journey, neatly wrapping them up in pink soy paper and finishing with a drizzle of spicy mayo. The mayo adds a note of spiciness to balance out the sweetness of the soy paper, adding to one’s experience. A common alternative to seaweed, soy paper adds a note of sweetness rather than the traditional hint of salt, adding more complex flavors to an already creative roll. Kazu’s 2.0.

A fan favorite, the K Roll takes shrimp tempura, cream cheese and its crab special and rolls it up with seaweed into delectable bites that Bradenton can’t seem to get enough of. Then topped with its special sauce, scallions and tobiko—flying fish roe—for an added crunch, the intricate flavors meld with the cream cheese to create a luscious bite and a combination of textures. Sam-Oh-Jung.

Taking one’s mouth on a vacation, the Aloha roll is on the sweeter side of the spectrum. Shrimp tempura, cream cheese, mango and coconut create island vibes, while the mango adds a distinct texture to break up the crunchy shrimp and soft cream cheese. The saltiness of the rice adds a balance to the sweetness, as well as the seaweed, ensuring that this roll doesn’t fall into the dessert category.JPan


No one likes traffic, but do fears of congestion force rushes to judgment? Chris Gallagher, a member of the City of Sarasota’s Planning Board, wants some fresh attention on the particulars of movement within the city limits. The business leader, working with the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, would like to see a new series of classes, Sarasota Transportation 101, enlighten community dialogue. “People on both sides of the equation would like more information,” Gallagher says. Traffic studies, of course, become prominent sources of discourse around major development decisions like the recent debates about a recycling plant at Celery Fields or the redevelopment of the Quay site in Sarasota. But the subject comes up constantly around other issues like siting schools, planning affordable housing or routing trails as well. Classes in the transportation series will explore such matters as “traffic diets,” road grids and the impact of car-sharing services like Uber and Lyft. The first takes place at The Francis the evening of September 25. Gallagher wants to see weekly classes bring in national experts to discuss traffic as a broader matter and also its specific state on the Gulf Coast. He hopes it could generate creative ideas and solutions, addressing questions such as how traffic could be impacted by charging a toll on the Ringling Causeway or one of the bridges to Siesta Key. Could the millions raised pay for ferries or other alternative transportation? Might work. Might not. But if the best minds in business and neighborhood planning come together, at the least the details could be further explored. —J.Ogles


The excess at the Superbowl doesn’t stop with endzone dances. Law enforcement will tell you the largest sex trafficking event of the year happens around the major sporting event. And when Houston police officers decided to take the problem on, they looked to Sarasota-based Selah Freedom for an audible. “Houston law enforcement came here to get trained in what we do,” recalls Elizabeth Fisher, Selah’s founder. Since opening in 2010, the organization both provided traditional sanctuaries and housing for ex-trafficking victims while also pioneering new ways for fighting pimps, like working with judges and prosecutors to create the nation’s first prostitution court diversion program. “Gangs used to run drugs; now they run girls,” Fisher says. “We need girls to realize you don’t belong to a gang, you are being trafficked.”

Going into schools to educate youngsters about the grooming and recruiting techniques used to lure girls into a seemingly glamorous but realistically exploitative underworld, Selah Freedom has been recruited to run facilities and programs in Florida, Wisconsin and Missouri, with more programs on the way, Fisher says. And recently, US Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, hosted Fisher in Washington, DC to testify to the state’s Congressional delegation about the growing problem of prostitution in the Sunshine State and the need for federal dollars to combat conditions. “Florida is a hub for human trafficking and that’s why our delegation needs to work together,” said Buchanan. US Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fort Lauderdale, echoes the concern. “Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery, and the United States is one of the top destinations in the world for trafficked victims,” he says. Recent state studies by the Department of Children and Families show the Gulf Coast still has a higher percentage of children at risk of recruitment into the sex trade than any other part of the Florida. But Fisher remains hopeful efforts here can curb crime and protect kids.—J.Ogles


No one knows how jerky is made. Ok, not literally no one, but nobody in the immediate vicinity when the question was raised. Jerky just appears, sealed in its little pouches, dangling overpriced in convenience stores, and no one knows how it got there. Drop a steak on the floor and leave it for a week. It doesn’t turn into jerky. Put a pork chop in the car and sit on it for a month. No jerky. Options exhausted and the internet down, SRQ sought out Pier 22 Executive Chef Greg Campbell, who makes his own jerky, to see how it’s done. “It’s not rocket science,” says Campbell, and it’s something he’ll say time and again. Because making jerky looks a lot like playing with jerky (the times aren’t exact, neither are the temperatures and any meat or marinade will do) and fussing too much about the details spoils the fun. Back in the day, people made jerky using just a sealed container and some harsh sunlight. Today, commercial dehydrators make it easy but cost a pretty penny. Luckily, thanks to Campbell, all you need is a dead animal, an oven and an appetite for experimentation. First things first: safety. Be sure that the animal is dead. Once confirmed, remove desired meat and proceed. Leaving aside questions of seasoning or marinating (“The fun part!” according to Campbell), the mechanical process of turning meat to jerky turns out to be deceptively simple and essentially a prolonged dehydration. After seasoning or marinating or curing, slice the meat into thin strips (“Not so thin that it turns into bacon,” advises Campbell, “but not so thick that it’s not chewable.”) and throw the strips directly on the rack in the oven, bringing it all up to around 160–165 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes to eliminate any bacteria. Turn off the convection and any fans for zero air movement inside the oven. Then drop the temperature to somewhere between 130 and 140 degrees (“It’s not rocket science.”) and let lie for anywhere between six and eight hours. The times and temperatures will vary a bit for fish as opposed to the venison and beef and bison that Campbell typically works with, but the same principles apply. Even ground meats can turn into jerky, he says, just bake in a loaf pan and slice it thin. But the process will soon become second nature to the true jerky junkie, says Campbell, and the fun comes in creating new flavors and crazy combinations. “You can flavor jerky with whatever you want,” he says, and those store-bought options like teriyaki and black pepper represent the mere tip of the iceberg. For venison jerky, he whips up a mean strawberry-rhubarb marinade with touches of cayenne, paprika, honey and salt, but to each their own. “You really can do just about anything,” says Campbell. “You just have to play with it.” —P. Lederer