The Bee’s Knees: A drink to bug our politicians

The first time I drove in Ireland, I had my son as a co-pilot. He was ten at the time and was already convinced that no one could drive a car better than he could. Age limits for licensing drivers were archaic.

His job in Ireland was to keep me driving on the left hand side of the road.

For two weeks, he diligently yelled me into position on the left hand side of highways, city streets and country lanes.

“Left, Pop, left! Drive on the left!”

We visited Ireland again this summer, only this time, I had to drive without my son. I also made the mistake of renting a car with a manual shift transmission. I had to drive on the left hand side of the road and shift with my left hand. I almost hit the rental car building on the way out of the lot. 

Our bee population is in dangerTo escape the Dublin airport I had to circumnavigate three traffic circles. The traffic circles were terrifying. I repeatedly turned right into two and three lanes of Irish guys driving straight at me. The Irish guys were really ticked off.

It took four harrowing hours to cross Ireland. I was sweating like a turkey at Thanksgiving the whole way. We arrived exhausted but intact at a quiet seaside town west of Galway.

A couple of days later I had recovered my nerve and resolved to visit a nearby town which was hosting its annual “Dog and Pony” show. The Irish have real “Dog and Pony” shows where the dogs and ponies win prizes.

In this country we have dog and pony shows and send the winners to Congress…

Within a half a mile of my departure from our quiet village I had descended once again into driving hell. I was driving at 40 MPH in a 100 KPH world hugging the left lane of a two lane road the width of a bike path. Sheep were wandering across the road in twos and threes and a mad German in a BMW the size of a Panzer was scowling into my rearview mirror and racing his vastly superior engine within inches of my bumper. I was sweating again.

And then, just as all of my meager driving talents were being fully taxed, a bee flew in through the open window and into my open mouth. Really.

I did two things simultaneously. I spit with all my might and smacked myself in the mouth at the same time. The car swerved from shoulder to shoulder and then settled into a rut at the side of the road.

The BMW blasted its horn as it careened past me. I was face to face with a great big sheep. The sheep looked at me like I was stupid.

I have no idea what happened to the bee…

My vital signs returned to normal. I proceeded cautiously to the dog and pony show. I spent the afternoon watching local Irish guys parading dogs, giant stallions and little ponies and snacking on cookies and pastries prepared by a local chef.

I asked him about the marvelous flavors. He told me that he kept bee hives and used their honey to sweeten his confections. He talked about his bees like they were little friends. But his little friends were disappearing. The previous winter, he had lost more than half of his hives.

I told him I may have met one of his little friends.

Bohol Bee Farm beesThe Irish chef’s hive loss experience is not unique. Bees in America and Europe are disappearing at a horrific rate. Hive casualties that used to run at five percent each winter have been climbing steadily to 50 percent or more, and we aren’t sure why. Theories for the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) range from a fungus to a mite to a family of new insecticides called neonicotinoids.

The most popular CCD theory is that it is caused by the long-term impact of a cocktail of causes, with new insecticides being the trigger. This is terrible news for us. Bees pollinate at least 25 percent of our food and 80 percent of our wildflowers. The damage to the California almond crop alone is in the billions.

The only hope for our bees is to get Congress to pass new laws regulating insecticide production. The large chemical companies pay millions to lobbyists to stop these new laws.  We are back to the  American dog and pony show. And it looks hazardous for our bees.

Sean Murphy and Fred Sullivan at the Beach Bistro bar


Honey has been a big deal at the Beach Bistro for a long time. We are committed to the local bounty: American-sourced protein, local produce, and wild-caught seafood.

We have long been the recipient of a truly excellent honey produced by a local island beekeeper.

We often use the local honey or maple syrup instead of sugar. Adding a spoonful to any dish imports an intriguing nuance of wood or flowers to the flavor.

To celebrate beekeepers and our special honey, we are featuring honey in my new favorite cocktail, a revival of a classic from the 1920s called the Bee’s Knees.


From now until December 20th you can make a grand entrance to the Bistro bar, tell Fred or Briana that they run a “honey” of a bar, and you and your “sweetie” will get two Bee’s Knees cocktails for the price of a single.

We will also have an iPad available so you can message politicians at the big dog and pony show in Washington. Tell them that you are concerned about our bees. We can drink and bug politicians at the same time. Bistro fun.

Maybe that kamikaze bee in Ireland was trying to deliver a message…

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The Beach Bistro’s beachfront location, on the beautiful white-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island, overlooking the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico has earned Bon Appétit’s acclaim for being one of Florida’s “Most Romantic Restaurants”.Food and Wine magazine acclaimed the Bistro’s waterfront perch as “almost like being at sea”.

The Beach Bistro’s commitment to providing the very best locally sourced farm products, Prime American beef, domestic lamb and fresh, line-caught seafood is complemented by one of the best chef teams in the country. 

photo credit: supafly via photopin cc

14th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade

197237_10150118865779190_73012374189_6245585_5196321_nFourteen years ago, Sean Murphy loaded up his kids and their neighborhood friends into an old green lawn trailer and, armed with a permit and a boom box, drove the be-greened trailer down the middle of Gulf Drive to the amusement and consternation of fellow Islanders who had no idea they were witnessing what became the First Annual Anna Maria St Patrick’s Day Parade. Within a few years, the parade grew to encompass bands, floats, abundant greenery and thousands of onlookers.

Today, Sean boasts, “The parade is now the largest St. Paddy’s Day Parade South and East of Savannah. It may also be the only St. Paddy’s Day Parade South and East of Savannah.”

On Sunday, March 17, the Beach Bistro will again proudly host the Beach Bistro’s 14th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Anna Maria Island. The parade is scheduled to start at 4 p.m., beginning at Holmes Beach City Hall, 5801 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach, and ending on North Palm Drive and 78th Street. Parade participants should assemble at 2 p.m. at City Hall.stpaddysday

In addition to the support of the Murphy family, Beach Bistro and Eat Here, this year’s parade will benefit from sponsorship by Darcie Duncan Real Estate, the Pittsburgh Pirates, The Islander newspaper, Frank and Melissa Williams of SteamDesigns, Shawn Kaleta and his family and a local parade enthusiast who wishes to remain anonymous.

The Anna Maria Community Center will be sponsoring a Sham Rockin’ Festival in the field adjacent to city hall with booths offering food and crafts from 11 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day.

The parade is free and open to the public, and Anna Maria Island residents (Irish or otherwise) are invited to participate. The slow-strolling parade attracts upwards of fifteen-thousand celebrants each year and features area marching bands, pipe bands, musicians and colorful floats as well as charming wee folk dressed as leprechauns. Parade Marshalls will be World War Two veterans Mr. Sam Castelli and Mr. Jim Gabaree.

As ever, this year’s favorite participant is Judy the Parade Elephant led by her companion of over forty years, Mr. Bones. Her sometimes co-star is Omar the camel. Omar’s appearance is, as ever, a little iffy …  moody animals, camels.

Participants and Parade fans can get more information by calling the Bistro at 941-778-6444.

Warre’s Late Bottle Vintage Port

It has been said that port has been the only good thing to come out of war. Had the British not boycotted French wines in the 17th century in favor of wines from Portugal, port – as we know it – may have never existed. Among the pioneers in the world of port, Warre’s has a legacy spanning nearly four centuries. It was established as the first British Port House in 1670.

The Beach Bistro is now featuring Warre’s vintage ruby and tawny ports on its wine list and bar lists. And, with a departure from the usual, is also serving it as a special treat with its offerings of the Bistro’s exceptional Domestic Ranchlands’ Lamb preparations.

Bistro presentations generally “center stage” one of the world’s starring grasslands or ocean harvest products and then provide that star with a supporting cast of interesting accent flavors and special products. Warre’s will be joining the Bistro cast of characters as a fascinating “extra” for the Bistro’s World-Class Rack of Lamb and Ruby-Rich Braised Lamb Shank and Succulent Lamb Chop.

Ode to Kale

Local, Manatee County farms have brought their winter harvest to the Beach Bistro. Included in the bounty is fresh kale. The Bistro will be offering Sautéed Kale and Roasted Kale as Clever Asides and presentation accompaniments.

In addition to being among nature’s finest savory greens, kale is also one of the healthiest Superfoods on the planet. Kale is rich in vitamin A, C and K, omega-3s, iron, folate, magnesium, lutein, calcium, carotenoids and flavonoids. This means that every time you indulge in a kale-inspired dish, you are boosting your body’s natural immune system, helping lower your cholesterol, providing your heart cardiovascular support, fostering a supercharged metabolism as well as promoting healthy eyes, skin and bones. When served as an accompaniment to soups, salads and main entrees, kale adds a new dimension of depth and vibrancy to that dish, making it as good to eat as it is good for you.


Beach Bistro Named Zagat’s Best Tampa Bay Restaurant 2013

… Including Tampa, Sarasota and Naples 

Once again, the Beach Bistro was named the No. 1 restaurant in Tampa Bay and the Florida Gulf Coast Region in Zagat’s 2013 America’s Top Restaurants Survey. The Bistro received a stunning 28 out of 30 points for cuisine and 27 out of 30 for service.

Zagat, often referred to as the “burgundy Bible” when it comes to restaurant, hotel and entertainment reviews is lauded as one of the most comprehensive and reliable guides available. This year more than 225,000 diners weighed in, covering 46 cities and regions throughout the US, rating thousands of restaurants based on cuisine, décor and service.

“For more than 27 years, the Beach Bistro has been providing the very best locally sourced farm product, prime domestic meats and line-caught seafood.” Bistro owner, Sean Murphy said. “We also have one of the best chef teams in the country, an exceptional staff and loyal patrons who continue to visit us year after year.”

The Bistro’s surfside, waterfront location on the beautiful beaches of Anna Maria Island and the Gulf of Mexico has also earned Bon Appétit’s acclaim for being one of Florida’s “most romantic restaurants” and has been touted by Wine Spector as offering “one of the best wine lists in the world.”

Eat Here Restaurants Win the Golden Spoon

… for “Best New Restaurants in Florida” 

Apparently the Beach Bistro’s Eat Here offspring do not fall far from the award-winning tree. When checking that the Beach Bistro was still enthroned in Florida Trend’s “Golden Spoon Hall of Fame” Sean Murphy was thrilled to discover that his two Eat Here restaurants on Anna Maria Island and in Sarasota were both winners of the “Best New Restaurants in Florida” award.

Sean was profoundly moved by the award. “It was an amazing thrill. It took me back to the Bistro’s first Golden Spoon Award. To be recognized by Florida Trend is particularly gratifying when there are so many online selection processes that are subject to bias and abuse. Florida Trend still has a great deal of authority and culinary integrity. Chris Sherman is one of the few truly passionate and qualified restaurant critics that is still writing.”

The Golden Spoon recognition for Eat Here follows on the recent announcement by ZAGAT that the Beach Bistro was awarded “Best Food” status for the Gulf Coast. The Bistro has consistently garnered some of the highest scores for food and service in Florida and was selected by ZAGAT for inclusion in its small guide to the “Top Restaurants in America”.

Murphy was asked to explain the difference between his Bistro and Eat Here operations: “At the Bistro we are trying to honor your special occasion by giving you one of the best dining experiences that you have ever had. The Eat Here concept is meant to be less sacrosanct and more frolicsome than the Beach Bistro’s. The two Eat Here restaurants on Anna Maria and in Sarasota had won ‘Best New’ kudos by local newspapers and magazines in their neighborhoods, but the statewide Florida Trend recognition was a particular endorsement of all the creative work that the Eat Here service and chef staffs have accomplished over the past year. The ZAGAT and Florida Trend recognition helped bring Christmas early for us.”

A new Eat Here will be opening in Siesta Village on Siesta Key later this month.

The Eat Here restaurants serve more casual and lighter versions of Beach Bistro culinary creations. The Chef staffs are trained by Bistro Chefs. They focus Bistro methods on more accessible products to create dishes at pricing for more casual, every day dining. The Eat Here bars offer classic and creative cocktails  and family crafted beers and wines.

Eat Here AMI is located at 5315 Gulf Dr., Holmes Beach. Ph: 941-778-0411.

Eat Here SRQ is located at 1888 Main St., Sarasota. Ph: 941-365-8700.