At the Table newsletter: Global Palm Beach flavors are calling your name – Palm Beach Post

I spotted a new, Argentinian-owned empanada place called The Gringo in Delray Beach on social media this week. My heart did a little dance. I am forever in search of a good empanada, be it a generously filled Argentinian or Uruguayan empanada, an oversized Peruvian empanada, a juicy Colombian empanada made with cornmeal dough, or a crispy fried Cuban empanadita. Empanadas, like puppy videos, always capture my attention. You can taste a region’s flavor stories in a savory, handheld pie.
Those flavors are revealing themselves in new eateries across increasingly global Palm Beach County. When a friend recently mentioned she was in the mood for authentic Haitian food, visions of epis, the mighty green flavor base that’s the foundation of so many dishes and the reason they pop so beautifully, came to mind. I dreamed of spicy pikliz, the brightly pickled slaw that revs up fried dishes. 
Days later, we were sitting at a window-side table at Yolle Tropical Restaurant in Lake Worth Beach, lunching on fried pork (griot) and chicken, rice and beans (diri ak pwa), bannann peze (tostones) and, yes, blazingly spicy pikliz. 
The menu is straightforward, the dining room and counter smartly set, the owners, Odney and Yolie Joseph, welcoming. When I asked if I could have a fruit juice without added sugar, Odney made me a most delicious passion fruit juice, adding a touch of almond essence on a whim to make it special.    
In recent days, my meals have featured some of my global Palm Beach favorites, from kitchens cooking with heart and inspiration: Middle Eastern hummus and tabbouleh from the Mediterranean Market in downtown West Palm, Indian butter chicken from Stage in Palm Beach Gardens, Salvadoran pupusas from the Zipitios stand at the Grandview food hall, Colombian chicken ajiaco (soup) from El Sabor Latino in the Gardens, Italian style culatello ham at Jamón Jamón in Delray Beach, glorious Greek keftedes and authentic salad at Mana Greek Fusion in Jupiter and lemony shrimp scampi from one of my new favorite spots, Pescatore Italian restaurant near Northwood. 
But cooking isn’t always that sunny, lighthearted experience one sees in super-styled Instagram videos. Sometimes we cook because we’re utterly heartbroken. I was reminded of this on the morning I met chef Mila Nesterenco at Mama Bella Gourmet Market in downtown West Palm Beach, where she has been creating the comfort dishes of her native Ukraine. Her eyes were reddish from sleepless nights and too many tears shed for loved ones living under siege back home as Russian forces batter her homeland. From her pain emerged a heartfelt menu of childhood dishes – she and Mama Bella’s owner hoped they would help stir interest in the Ukrainian cause and donations for their chosen charity.
Mila spoke to me in Ukrainian as her daughter, Yulia, translated her words. Even without a translation, her heartache was clear. Her story lingered in my thoughts as I dined on the Ukrainian stuffed cabbage rolls I had bought at the market that day. As with her other comfort dishes, Mila had learned to make the rolls from her grandmother and mother, a recipe lovingly passed on and gratefully inherited. Fortified by generations, it’s a recipe as strong as her family ties, as her memories and her love of Ukraine. The strength of these things cannot be broken by war because they live within her. 
Saturday. Headed to the Palm Beach Book Festival at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton Saturday? If you’re looking for a place to dine in the area, check out the seafood-centric Corvina restaurant just three miles away. 
Sunday. Hoping to check out jazz singer Nicole Henry at the Arts Garage in downtown Delray Sunday? For drinks and apps, it’s a quick walk to Rose’s Daughter, one of my favorite spots in Pineapple Grove. 
Tuesday. Off to see smooth-jazz trumpeter Chris Botti at the Kravis Tuesday? How about dinner just steps away at The Regional Kitchen before the show or cozy drinks at the restaurant’s new Mockingbird bar after the show to keep the jazzy mood going?
Have a delicious weekend!
Liz Balmaseda


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