Weekly Wine Tasting at The Waterfront Restaurant

This week we have Jennifer Hoffman of Constellation Wines/Southern Wine and Spirits with us tasting us on 6 great wines of California. We will be sampling the offerings of Simi Winery of Sonoma and comparing them with the wines of Wild Horse Vineyards from Santa Barbara farther to the south. Entertainment and hors-d’oeuvres will be provided as well.

Mark Nodeen: Sustainable Design Revolutionary

Chances are, if you’ve spent dined out lately in Sarasota, Bradenton, or on Anna Maria Island, you’re familiar with Mark Nodeen’s work even if you don’t yet know his name. Nodeen has built a thriving business from, of all things, chalkboards. His A-frame chalkboard signs are made entirely from repurposed materials, from plywood to trim to screen doors to table legs. For miles around, restaurants proudly emblazon their specials on Nodeen’s one-of-a-kind signs: he is, in fact, so inextricably linked with the local restaurant industry that Edible Sarasota magazine featured him in a recent issue. Image Source: Facebook.com/390Design But Nodeen is far from being just “the chalkboard guy”. He is also the founder and operator of 390 Design, a sustainable business that specializes in saving old furniture and scrap wood from landfills and repurposing them into stylish and chic home décor items that he describes as “postmodern shabby”. His grandfather was a woodworker, so Nodeen grew up seeing the magical transformation that occurs when a skilled artist works with a piece of wood. It informs his aesthetic to this day. Image Source: Facebook.com/390Design Furniture made from salvaged materials is not entirely new concept, but Nodeen brings his own spin to business. He has developed his own sanding technique and works in a bold color palette, so that his pieces have a unique edge. He sells many of his pieces at Circus City Architectural Salvage (one of our favorite sustainable shopping destinations) where they sell to an established, discerning crowd of art lovers as well as a younger demographic who are discovering perhaps for the first time that furniture can be fashionable yet affordable while still leaving a reduced carbon footprint. Image Source: Facebook.com/390Design Nodeen’s furniture is exceptional not only in its style, but in its attention to detail. Whenever he builds a new piece or revamps an older piece, he makes sure every part of it is pristinely done, even if it’s something no one will ever see. The back and interior of a dresser will be just as carefully painted and preserved as the most visible parts. This level of perfection paired with real woodworking talent and an eye for style means the sky is the limit for this independent artisan. He has some high-profile projects in the works: from now until November he will be hard at work designing and building the outside bar at Eat Here Sarasota while simultaneously perfecting some exciting new product lines that will debut at the Atomic Holiday Bazaar in December. Image Source: Facebook.com/390Design Mark Nodeen is a forward-thinking and talented designer whose uses salvage materials to create affordable and accessible furniture that is eco-friendly with an inimitable sense of style. Over the next few months, we’ll be watching with interest as his business continues to flourish and take exciting twists and turns. You should be watching too, and he makes it easy for you to do. He’ll be live-blogging his progress on the Eat Here project on his website, and he’s consistently giving sneak peeks of his work on the 390 Design Facebook page. Like we said, chances are you’ve seen Mark Nodeen’s work and not even known it. Now that you know his name, be sure to keep paying attention: in the upcoming months his unbelievably cool designs will just keep getting bigger and better.  Image Source: Facebook.com/390Design

Share A Meal, Share The Love, Share The Holiday Spirit

Christmas is a time for giving, and there is no better feeling than sharing the warmth of the season, especially to those who need it most. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our favorite food-related local and national charities. If you’re in a position to give back to those who need help this year, these charities are all top-rated: donations don’t go to inflated salaries or over-the-top administrative fees, but instead to the people who really need it. You might find you have the merriest Christmas of all when you spread some holiday cheer with your donations. Image Source: Ditchdesign.com All Faiths Food Bank For years, All Faiths Food Bank in Sarasota has been providing foods to more than 195 local agencies, pantries, churches, community centers and programs, serving more than 85,000 meals each week. They have a wide variety of programs, designed to reach out to all segments of the population who are afflicted by poverty. Initiatives like Cooking Matters, BackPack Kids Program, Growing Healthy Kids, Kids Café, and Hunger 101 are geared to help hungry kids in Sarasota, Manatee, and DeSoto counties. They also have outreach programs dedicated to providing assistance to veterans, to the elderly, and to people with health problems. Plus, thanks to their incredible group of volunteers, they’re able to keep administrative costs so low that 91% of donated dollars go to helping the hungry. Image Source: Foodforthepoor.org Food For The Poor You might assume that the largest international relief and development organization the United States would be located in New York, or Boston or another large city. It is, in fact, located less than 250 miles from us, in the beautiful town of Coconut Creek, Florida. Food For The Poor serves the poorest of the poor in countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition to feeding millions of people, the organization provides clean water, medicine, educational materials, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, and support for the orphaned and elderly who struggle most in harsh conditions. Because they have long had a presence in Haiti, they were able to quickly rally emergency aid in the wake of the 2010 earthquake that decimated the island and again in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaac in 2012. Over 96% of the funds raised go directly to programs that serve the poor. Image Source: Oxfamamericaunwrapped.com Oxfam America Unwrapped Many organizations that donate food to the hungry are merely putting a band-aid on a major wound: while distributing food is critical, providing long-term solutions to ending hunger and poverty should be the long-term goals. All Faiths Food Bank and Food For The Poor each have initiatives to address this need, but Oxfam America Unwrapped is unparalleled in their efforts to provide lasting food sources and economic opportunities for impoverished families. A small donation can buy anything from a pack of seeds, to a fruit tree, to a cow, to a pair of goats, to a dozen baby chicks. These are all gifts that keep on giving: families can use the eggs, milk, crops and fruit to feed themselves and their neighbors, or they can even sell or barter the byproducts. Plus, how great is it to say that you bought a stranger an alpaca meadow for just $75.00?