Ocala Style August '21

Page 1

AUG ‘21

Game Hunter’s French Country Estate

Classic Southern Elegance

1,968+/- private acres with shared ownership of private Lake Ledwith. Custom designed home combines the best of elegance, style, craftsmanship and offers gorgeous, expansive views of the surrounding Granddaddy Live Oaks and grounds. Home offers 7,918+/- SF of living area. $19,900,000

Modern ranch style 3 BR, 2.5 BA home with stunning custom features. Equestrians will enjoy the 12-stall barn with tack room, feed room plus bath. 150’x 250’ riding arena, 5 large paddocks, lush green rolling hills completes this package. $1,847,350

Country Club of Ocala

Waterfront home on Lake Andrew

Views to the 15th hole. Estate sits on 2.26 acres & boasts 7,779+/-SF of living area with 5 BR, 5.2 BA, 3,096 +/-SF guestpool home, perfect for entertaining. Infinity pool & spa totally private from land viewers. $3,995,000

7,000+ SF home on 21+ acres with incredible views. Built to the highest standards with 5 BR, 6 full and 2 half BA. 3-stall stable, plus covered equipment building. Fully fenced and graced with majestic Oaks. $1,999,900

Let Joan Pletcher, Realtor list and/or sell your property Sold in 2021 - $82,376,300 Pending Sales - $18,356,500 For these and other properties, visit JoanPletcher.com for information, videos and photos. Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com Due to the privacy and at the discretion of my clients, there are additional training centers, estates and land available that are not advertised.

Income Producing Property - Close to WEC

Thunder Ranch

39.67 +/- Acres with two 3/2 mobile homes, stable with 10-stalls, office, restroom, fenced paddocks with lush green pastures and run-in sheds. Frontage on Hwy 326. Located about 10 minutes from WEC. Close to HITS. $2,200,000

Incredible, state of the art training and rehabilitation center features cold-water spa, expansive swim circle under roof, 3 barns with 120 stalls, 3/4 +/- mile track, and equipment building. Main residence, pool house, plus 2 managers residences. $4,750,000

Gentleman’s Farm - Minutes to WEC

10 +/- Cedar Creek Hilltop Estate

2-Story home with wrap around porch. 5-BR/3-BA, great room with wood-burning fireplace. Spacious owner’s suite with custom bath. Lit arena, 4-Stall barn, 4 paddocks and 3- car covered carport. Just minutes to the World Equestrian Center. $795,000

Private 10 +/- Acres. 5 BR, 5BA home with spacious living and family rooms with views of the outdoors. Extra-large Chef ’s kitchen with center island plus breakfast nook. Office, bonus room, 4 car garage, plus pool and summer kitchen. $ 1,297,500

If you’re considering buying or selling, give us a call today! List your property with Joan Pletcher... Our results speak for themselves.

Hunt Murty Publisher | Jennifer jennifer@magnoliamediaco.com

Magnolia Media Company, LLC (352) 732-0073

1515 NE 22nd Avenue, Ocala, FL 34470

Art Editorial

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Brooke Pace brooke@magnoliamediaco.com PHOTOGRAPHERS Bruce Ackerman Becky Collazo Eighteenth Hour Photography Meagan Gumpert John Jernigan Lyn Larson Dave Miller Charles Palmer R. Weber Photo Alan Youngblood ILLUSTRATOR David Vallejo


DIRECTOR OF SALES & MARKETING Andrew Hinkle andrew@magnoliamediaco.com CLIENT SERVICES GURU Cheryl Specht cheryl@magnoliamediaco.com


Distribution Rick Shaw

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EDITOR IN CHIEF Nick Steele nick@magnoliamediaco.com SENIOR EDITOR Susan Smiley-Height susan@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Lisa McGinnes lisa@magnoliamediaco.com DIGITAL EDITOR Emily Papa emily@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS JoAnn Guidry Scott Mitchell David Moore Jill Paglia Marian Rizzo Dave Schlenker Leah Taylor Beth Whitehead Nick Wineriter


ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Evelyn Anderson evelyn@magnoliamediaco.com Sarah Belyeu sarah@magnoliamediaco.com Ralph Grandizio ralph@magnoliamediaco.com Lee Kerr lee@magnoliamediaco.com





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Publisher’s Note

hat a year it has been for food and drink industries! This past week I visited one of my all-time favorite chef-owned restaurants and savored every bite. As my meal ended and I caught up with the chef, I could not help myself from blurting, “I’m glad you made it!” Instead of attributing their survival to any special business acumen, she humbly admitted it was all due to federal assistance in the way of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, part of the CARES Act relief that was initiated at the start of the pandemic. The restaurant industry is very challenging under normal circumstances and those who do it best are a proud bunch. They are proud not only of the artistry they plate, but also the work ethic it takes to deliver an exceptional meal. Thank goodness our country’s leadership moved fast to protect industries like restaurants when the pandemic hit, because to lose them entirely would have been a devasting blow not just to our economy, but also our culture. The wine, beer and spirits industries fared a whole lot better, which may speak to the fortitude we needed to weather the past two years. Which leads me to a story in this issue that I am particularly excited about because it combines two passions of mine—bourbon whiskey and Ocala history. My fellow Ocala whiskey aficionados owe Nick Steele a debt of gratitude for chasing down the twisty history connecting one of Kentucky’s most respected whiskey men to Ocala and the interesting local distillers who paved the way for the father and son team at J2B Distillers, who are also profiled in this issue. We also visited some talented bakers and sampled their homemade treats, got the scoop on some new foodie offerings and explored what we can learn from the diets of our ancestors. I hope this issue whets your appetite and inspires you to make a foodie field trip to some of our amazing local eateries.

Jennifer Hunt Murty Publisher

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contents 28



insid e r







fe a tu r e s



In prehistoric Florida, finding food was more a matter of survival than enjoying a meal.






Dave dishes about Flavor Flav, TV chefs and being a Zombie Snacker.

Learn how a hot dog vendor is turning tips into charitable donations and read the touching story of a rescued kitten.

GO WITH THE GLOW A bioluminescence kayak tour in the Indian River Lagoon can be an illuminating experience.


vow s



Get a glimpse into the most special days of our local brides and grooms.


Meet the stylish leading men and their team of talented professionals offering a wide range of cuisines at Ocala’s chic new equestrian destination. Here’s a roundup of some of our area’s newest and most notable food and beverage offerings. With a storied history and a passion for handcrafted liquors, this enterprising family is upholding a proud tradition and keeping an eye on the future.


h e a l th





New diagnostic tools and therapies may be good news for those at risk for skin cancer. Hospice of Marion County is offering the community a virtual experience that simulates the struggles of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

We uncover a mysterious death, old debts and reversal of fortune in our quest to learn more about our local whiskey history.

o n th e c o ve r


Photo by Meagan Gumpert.

Chef Rick Alabaugh pays Jill a visit and cooks up some of her favorite dishes.

Clockwise from top: Photo by Meagan Gumpert, fashion provided by Dillard’s; photo by Brooke Pace; photo by Bruce Ackerman


1740 SE 18th St., Suite 1102, Ocala (352) 512-0092 | www.midstateskin.com

A Breakthrough Treatment for Incontinence Photography by John Jernigan


f you’re tired of that got-to-go feeling, the BTL Emsella Chair is revolutionizing men’s & women’s intimate health and wellness by providing those suffering from urinary incontinence with a convenient and completely noninvasive option. This cutting-edge treatment is a great option for people of any age who desire a solution and to improve their overall quality of life. Urinary incontinence often results from weakened pelvic floor muscles. Our body’s natural aging process can lead to deconditioning of these muscles. For women, childbirth and menopause can be contributing factors. This deconditioning contributes to both “stress incontinence” (that little leak accompanying a sneeze or laugh) and “urge incontinence” (those frequent and urgent trips to the restroom). BTL Emsella works on the combination of both stress and urge incontinence by using high-frequency electromagnetic energy to stimulate and gently contract the muscles of the pelvic floor thousands of times each minute—each session producing 11,000 supramaximal contractions. This helps retrain your muscles

without any effort on your part. In fact, one session delivers the same benefit as thousands of Kegel-like contractions, which leads to muscle strengthening. The best part is that the treatment is noninvasive and is administered without the patient needing to undress, so you can pop in on your lunch break or before you pick up the kids. You simply sit comfortably, with your back straight and feet on the floor, while you allow the BTL Emsella to work. Scientific research has shown that 95 percent of those treated with the FDA-cleared BTL Emsella Chair have reported significant improvement in their quality of life in as few as six 28-minute sessions— performed twice a

week for just three weeks. The team at MidState Skin want you to find relief from those sudden urges and sprints to the bathroom, the freedom to laugh, to exercise, to restore intimacy and even to sneeze with greater security. Many female patients have even dubbed the treatment “The ‘new’ Mommy Makeover.” “I sneeze. I can jump rope. I run…. I can just do all kinds of exercise and competitions, and I can now do them with a lot more confidence than I could before,” one patient shares. “It’s freeing, very freeing, to be able to just do what you want to do again.” A consultation with BTL Emsella specialist Lacy is necessary before starting treatment. Call for additional details and to see if this cuttingedge solution is right for you.

A Breeze Through

Fertile Gardens:

Paintings and Drawings by Andrew M. Grant On view through Nov. 7 Appleton Museum, Artspace and Store Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, noon-5 p.m. 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd. | AppletonMuseum.org


-an equal opportunity college-


Social Dr. Sheni Meghani led guests in a multisensory immersive experience into Indian culture on July 1st. Photo by Bruce Ackerman


Dr. Steven Bucy, Janine Privett

Fabiana Novillo Diaz

Jessica McCune, Dr. Sheni Meghani, Cain Davis, Mary Baggs

Seeing Peacocks Through My Eyes BRICK CITY CENTER FOR THE ARTS Photography by Bruce Ackerman


he opening reception for the July 1st-10th Marion Cultural Alliance exhibit included art, dance, storytelling and culinary samplings as part of an immersive experience led by Dr. Sheni Meghani.

Raquel Vallejo, Eleanor Blair

Meet the Artist Vernissage LA CUISINE RESTAURANT Photography by Bruce Ackerman

F Peacock Blues

Mukda Bhat, Minal Bhatt

abiana Novillo Díaz, artist and owner of Gallery 118, and the gallery’s curator Raquel Vallejo hosted a festive preview of works by Florida landscape artist Eleanor Blair, as part of their new ongoing collaboration with La Cuisine to highlight artists and works of fine art alongside the restaurant’s culinary arts.

Elodie Perron



Real People, Real S tories, Real O cala

Juneteenth Freedom Day SHOWCASE EVENT CENTER Photography by Becky Collazo


he celebration on June 19th, hosted by Barbara Brooks, was a fundraiser for R.A.M.A.L. Educational and Social Services, Inc. The gala included dinner, dancing, DJ Josh Hampton and a live performance by Tommy “O” Odom and his wife Estee.

Rosazline, Christine

Tanesha Mills, Latoya Rush, Wanda Fulton, Nicole Thornton

Darnitha Gaskin, Larry Johnson, Cynthia Graham, Stephanie Walker, Abdul Kader Oka

Estee Odom, Tommy Odom

Lawanda Wiggins

Business After Hours PADDOCK MALL Photography by Bruce Ackerman

T Sarai Marie Lopez, Casana Fink

David Tillman, Greg Steen, Lori Dennis

he Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership’s business networking event on May 20th included plenty of opportunities to meet people and share information while also learning more about one of Ocala’s premier retail destinations.

Chinni McIntosh, Erin Santangelo, Kim Gramman, Erin Jones, Krista Ingrilli

Bill Foote, Scott Jacob

Ashley Wheeler-Gerds, Ryan Gerds

Aug ust ‘21


On the Scene A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events


Ocala NSBA Summer Horse Show Series


Western Dressage


Quarterly Book Sale

Creature Feature


Steeln’ Peaches


Marion County Community Cleanup


Summer Sunset Polo

World Equestrian Center August 1-15 | 8am Wednesday-Sunday WEC hosts 10 weeks of hunter/jumper competitions with a weekly $50,000 Grand Prix on Saturdays. Spectators are welcome. Visit wec.net for more information.

Florida Horse Park All day All horse breeds compete in a variety of Western dressage classes. Visit westerndressageassociation.org for more information.

Ocala Public Library August 6, 12-5:30pm | August 7, 10am-3pm The Friends of the Ocala Public Library group is holding its first book sale of the year, with hardcover books priced at 50 cents and paperbacks for 25 cents. Proceeds from the sale support library programs. Visit friendsoftheocalalibrary.org for more information.


Brick City Center for the Arts August 6-28 | 10am-5pm Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm Saturdays A new exhibit of animal art by Marion Cultural Alliance member artists captures how and why animals—from house pets to mythical creatures—excite the human imagination. The opening reception will be August 6th at 5pm. Visit mcaocala.org for more information.

Marion Theatre 8pm Brought together by the mantra “Music plus friends equals family,” this six-piece band plays tribute to the Allman Brothers Band with flawlessly executed favorites and new interpretations of deep cuts by the founding fathers of Southern rock. Visit mariontheatre.org for tickets.

West State Road 40 9am-12pm Volunteers are invited to help clean up our community by picking up litter. In addition to bags, gloves and vests, water and snacks will be provided. Visit fb.com/ keepmarionbeautiful for more information.

Florida Horse Park August 7, 14, 21 & 28 | 6pm Spectators are invited to tailgate and bring chairs and a picnic for a family experience watching equine athletes playing the sport of kings. Visit teamresolutepolo.com for details.

Photo by Bruce Ackerman



m t s i a r s h P C a a r l a a de c O presents the 2021 Grand Marshal

Ben Marciano Each year, the Friends of the Ocala Christmas Parade consider nominations for the Grand Marshal who will lead the parade. This honor goes to an exemplary small business person who leads in our community by giving their time, talent and treasure back to organizations that make Ocala/Marion County a better place to live. Ben Marciano, owner of Zone Health & Fitness, is passionate about promoting good health among local residents. Both as a volunteer and through Zone’s charitable giving programs, he has supported organizations including Arnette House, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Club, Kimberly’s Center, The Centers and United Way. Please join us in congratulating Ben!

65th Annual Ocala Christmas Parade

A Heroes’ Christmas

Saturday, December 11 at 5:30pm

Sponsored by Stan & Martha Hanson Applications to participate are now available online • www.ocalachristmasparade.org

14 North Central Florida Outdoor Expo

World Equestrian Center 9am-3pm More than 100 vendors plus community organizations will offer products, information and giveaways for outdoorsy, adventure-seeking nature lovers. Free admission with a suggested $1 donation to 10 CAN, the Christian Adventure Network, which serves military and first responder families. Visit 937kcountry.com/events/ ncfoutdoorexpo for details.

14 Southeast Baroque Horse Show

Florida Horse Park All day A dressage and working equitation show for all breeds. Visit southeastbaroque.com for more information.

of the World: A Carpenters 14 Top Tribute

Circle Square Cultural Center 7pm Backed by a seven-piece band of top musicians who recreate Richard Carpenter’s complex musical arrangements, singer Debbie Taylor authentically captures Karen Carpenter’s rangy, melodic vocals on all their greatest hits. Visit csculturalcenter. com for tickets.

18 She Swims With Alligators

26 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

21 Ocala Summer Horse Trials

27 Summer Dressage Show

Live Oak Hall 1pm Brave or crazed? Florida author Diana K. Kanoy lets you decide. In her book, she uses prose, poetry and photography to share true tales of living on a lake. Books will be available for purchase and signing after her talk. Visit masterthepossibilities.org to register. Florida Horse Park All day A 3-day competition with dressage, show jumping and eventing. Visit flhorsepark.com for more information.

21 Elvis Tribute Artist Concerts

Orange Blossom Opry August 21-22 | 7pm World champion Elvis tribute artist Cote Deonath performs two themed concerts, Elvis! Movies to 1970 on Friday, followed by A Night With Elvis: Walk in his Shoes on Saturday, both backed by the Double Trouble Show Band. Visit obopry.com for tickets.



Ocala Civic Theatre August 26-September 19 | 2 & 7:30pm The Broadway musical adaption of the classic film starring Michael Caine and Steve Martin delivers all the hilarious hijinks and clever capers in a jazzy musical romp along the Riviera. Visit ocalacivictheatre.com for tickets and showtimes.

World Equestrian Center August 27-29 | 8am This dressage competition is open to spectators. Admission and parking are free and leashed dogs are permitted. Visit wec. net for more information.

28 Partners of the Park Schooling Show

Florida Horse Park August 28-29 | 8am Equestrians will compete in dressage, stadium jumping and cross-country events to raise funds for the Florida Horse Park. Visit fb.com/partnersoftheparkpop for more information.


Tonight, There Will be Pizza. By Dave Schlenker | Illustration by David Vallejo


oon after these words are written, we will take out frozen pizza boxes hand selected from the finest freezers in Publix. In the throes of culinary intensity, we will choose between baking or microwaving. I am feeling fancy. Crank that oven to 425 degrees, baby, and chop up the toppings with the best sell-by date. We will eat while marveling at majestic meals designed for two working parents who complete each other’s sentences at 4pm each day: “So, what are we doing for…” “Dinner? No clue.” After we pop that pie in the oven, we will prop our feet up and watch videos about healthy food starring cuisine guru Flavor Flav. Wait. I screwed that up. Flavor Flav is a rapper who wears a Viking helmet and bellows “Yeah, boyeeee.” The culinary guy is Bobby Parrish, who hosts FlavCity, which–because I am not paying attention–I call Bobby Flav, who does not rap or wear wall clocks as jewelry. As far as I know. Point is, my wife loves Bobby’s FlavCity shows, which prompt us to eat better and read labels and know the difference between “added sugars” and “carbs of the wicked.” Parrish is a funny, smart and practical nutrition expert who knows the difference between healthy food and processed products, better known as stuff that actually tastes good. His internet videos are wildly popular. I have adjusted shopping lists based on his advice and sometimes wonder, “What would Bobby Flav think of my cheese-lard butter crackers?”

Before I continue, some caveats: On most occasions, we prepare healthy meals. My wife, Amy, is an amazing cook. And I have been known to make things that are not condemned by the surgeon general. As God is my witness, there are avocados in our refrigerator. They are near the carrots, which may or may not have age sprouts festering like acne. We eat healthy. We read labels, grouse about sugar and picture our brittle innards being pickled by sodium. But life gets in the way. I am a Zombie Snacker; I wake up in the wee hours, amble to the kitchen and shovel sacks of poly-something-saturated sodium into my piehole. There is no good judgment at 2am, no Bobby Flav on my shoulder whispering, “The acne carrot is still edible.” With all that said, I offer the following pearls of wisdom: • Watch FlavCity on the web. Good stuff. Entertaining and informative. • If you are a Zombie Snacker, hire a goon to thwack you upside the head during 2am pantry raids. • Don’t sweat pizza nights. We are humans with schedules and kids and barking dogs. The heart wants what the heart wants. I have antioxidants on my mind and peanut butter on my breath. I have very little to offer other than listen to smart people, shop carefully and embrace pizza night. With that, our pizza is now ready. Yeah, boyeeee!! Aug ust ‘21



Prehistoric Florida Foods By Scott Mitchell



while kayaking as opposed to hiking through the forest). Secondly, people pretty much ate anything they could catch. So large villages were often built near rivers, lakes or wetlands. This provided not only fresh water but also a primitive “grocery store” for the inhabitants to visit. All of this boils down to a couple of key points: There is a big difference between eating for pleasure (think ice cream) and eating for survival (I’ve read that grasshoppers are actually quite nutritious). We should incorporate more fresh, locally sourced foods into our diets like our predecessors here did, as we modern folk can afford to make healthier choices. We also need to do whatever we can to protect our wetlands. They are vital to healthy ecosystems and fresh drinking water—and are still a great place to catch meal if you need to. Scott Mitchell is the director of the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center. He has worked as a field archaeologist, scientific illustrator and museum professional for the last 25 years. The Silver River Museum is located at 1445 Northeast 58th Avenue and is open SaturdaySunday 10am-4pm. Visit silverrivermuseum.com or call (352) 236-5401 for more information.

Illustration courtesy of Florida State Archives


n Florida’s pioneer days, food was somewhat similar to today, but healthier overall. One could expect to find more natural offerings, such as local vegetables, fruit, freerange beef and pork, wild game, seafood and edible wild plants. Travel back in time even further to prehistoric Florida and the menu of a local Timucuan family would be dramatically different. With limited agriculture and no refrigeration, meals were less about a culinary experience and more about basic survival. Imagine yourself standing in the woods along the bank of the Ocklawaha River 1,000 years ago. What would you eat? The answer—whatever you could find. People become far less picky when hungry. Because prehistoric people often dumped their trash in heaps near their homes, we can learn a lot from the excavation of these miniature landfills (called “middens”). They are treasure troves for archaeologists and can reveal much about the eating habits of those who once made their home here. The remains come in the form of bones and teeth from the animals, such as deer, rabbit, raccoon, birds, snakes, frogs, sirens (eel-like creatures), fish, aquatic snails, turtles, alligator and, often, rodents. Patterns of bone breakage suggest brains and marrow were consumed along with the choice cuts. Evidence of charred plant remains, including nuts and seeds, provides further insight into their diets. Like a culinary crime scene investigation, identifying these animal and plant remains can tell us where the food was collected, the season in which it was harvested and also can provide clues about which ecosystems were relied on for survival. Two patterns often appear: First, prehistoric people relied heavily on wetlands for food (think of all the wildlife you see


Helping With Hot Dogs This food cart vendor is turning tips into charitable donations. By Lisa McGinnes | Photography by Bruce Ackerman


ow much can a hot dog help? That was one of the first questions Christy and Ken Post asked themselves when setting up KC Hot Dogs (formerly Kenz Hot Dogs). Because their busy schedules don’t allow them to volunteer a lot of time to charity, when the Ocala couple first set up shop outside the Lowe’s on Southwest 90th Street in the spring of 2019 they made the decision to donate all their tips to local nonprofit organizations. They first tried out their new business on the weekends. A month later, they had to shut down amid pandemic restrictions. But Christy already had the hot dog bug. “I was like, I like this. I want to do this,” she remembers. So, while the hot dog cart was on hiatus for a year, she got her business license, stayed in touch with the company that contracts vendors for Lowe’s to make sure they kept their spot, and researched organizations that support Marion County people and animals in need.



Christy, a marketing representative, quit her job so she could run the hot dog stand full-time when they opened back up in mid-April. Ken, an environmental safety manager, helps her on weekends. The couple kept the same recipe for success Ken had used when he owned hot dog carts in Anchorage, Alaska more than a decade ago: “A couple good sausage dogs with a good reindeer hot dog,” Christy says. “We kind of brought Alaska here with the reindeer—it’s something different; you don’t see it here. But when you go to Alaska, it’s very popular there. We actually got the exclusivity from the company so we’re the only one in Florida who’s going to sell it.” In their first full month of operation, KC Hot Dogs’ tip jar took in $1,011, which the animal lovers donated to Voices of Change Animal League (VOCAL). “We knew a lady who worked there and a couple times we were going to foster, but with the animals we have it wasn’t going to work,” Christy explains. Their second month, the couple was able to donate $1,004 to Hospice of Marion County. Their third month, tips were earmarked for the Marion County Sheriff ’s Office Foundation K-9 fund. And in mid-August, tips collected from the previous month will be donated to a cause very close to their hearts, The Pittie Party of Central Florida. “We got our puppy, Camden, from them and he’ll be a year old in August,” Christy reveals, explaining that the organization rescues, fosters and rehomes pit bulls. “It’s just amazing. They do great things.” The same can surely be said about this compassionate grill master. KC Hot Dogs is located at 7575 SW 90th Street outside the Lowe’s store entrance and is open Monday through Saturday (rain or shine) from 10:30am to 3pm.


Above: Before; photo by Brooke Pace

It takes a village

Loving Louie A tiny kitten gets help from a “village” of good souls, including volunteers with W.A.G.S. Animal Rescue. By Lisa McGinnes | Photography by Bruce Ackerman


t night, Louie likes to sleep snuggled up on the bed next to his owner, Kelly Owen McCall. According to McCall, the soft yellow cat with the bright green eyes is a bundle of energy—just like a 5-month old kitty should be. “Louie’s a little hyper until he falls out,” she says with a smile. “He likes balls; he loves to play. Then he’ll fall asleep on you and he’s pretty snuggly.” On a night, not so long ago, I found Louie, shivering and hungry, sick and covered with fleas. I wasn’t even sure he would make it through the night. It was actually my cat, Fiona, who discovered him. I couldn’t sleep and was working in my home office at around 2am one night in April when Fiona growled at something outside the window. I couldn’t believe what I saw. A tiny kitten was curled up on the outside window sill. I slipped out the back door and the poor creature let me pick him up. He was small enough to fit in one hand. I held him next to my heart and spoke softly to him as I brought him inside. His eyes were weepy and barely open. His fur was matted and he looked awfully skinny. He gobbled up a generous portion of canned cat food and settled into the soft towel I placed in the cat carrier. As I closed the door to my home office, separating him from my two nosy adult cats, I silently hoped he would make it until morning.

As it turned out, taking the kitten to the Style office the next morning, while waiting for the shelters to open, was the best thing I could have done. While he snoozed in the carrier on my desk, my coworker Cheryl Specht reached out to an acquaintance, Jeani Derrough, the president of W.A.G.S. Animal Rescue, to see if they could help. The speed and efficiency with which they mobilized their team of volunteers to save one tiny kitten was amazing. By noon, dedicated volunteer Sherri Kirkland was there to transport him to the Ocala Square Animal Clinic, where Dr. Albano diagnosed an upper respiratory infection and treated him with antibiotics and eye ointment. He had so many fleas that he was anemic. Kirkland took him as a foster while they searched for an adoptive home. The very next day, Kirkland sent me a picture of a much healthier looking “orange floof ” with this message: “Thank you for saving his life.” Just a few days later he was loving life at his forever home with McCall. According to Derrough, who cofounded W.A.G.S. four years ago, their all-volunteer network has as many as 100 animals in 30 foster homes at a time. The need is great. Even with cooperative care through nonprofit clinics including VOCAL and Sheltering Hands, they constantly struggle to pay vet bills. Nearly every day, they are contacted about an animal they simply don’t have the resources to help. “We get really excited when it all falls into place,” Derrough says. “Louie is pretty much a perfect example of how we want it to work.” Right now, W.A.G.S.’ critical needs are more foster homes and monetary donations to help with vet bills. Adoptable animals, a PayPal donation link and Amazon wish list are online at wagsanimalrescue.org. Event information and updates are posted at fb.com/wagsanimalrescue Aug ust ‘21


Go With the Glow A bioluminescence kayak tour in the Indian River Lagoon can be an illuminating experience. By Susan Smiley-Height

Left: Photo courtesy of Fin Expeditions. Right: Kayaking photo supplied by Florida’s Space Coast Office of Tourism.

ust a couple of hours from Ocala, in Brevard County, visitors can watch as rockets hurl humans and satellites into outer space or board a cruise ship bound for an exotic port of call. They can learn to surf or reel in catches in the Atlantic Ocean, see alligators up close on airboat tours in the St. Johns River and birdwatch in protected sanctuaries. But one of the major draws on Florida’s Space Coast is an activity that involves some of the tiniest–yet flashiest–organisms on the planet. Taking a nighttime bioluminescence kayak tour in the Indian River Lagoon, made up of the Indian and Banana rivers and Mosquito Lagoon, which runs from New Smyrna Beach through Titusville and Melbourne, gives you a glimpse into a world that shimmers and shines. The lagoon is full of comb jellies, which are ancient

organisms that have inhabited the world’s seas for more than 500 million years. The gelatinous animals are named for plates of cilia, or combs, that form eight rows in their body. The combs propel the organism through the water and can produce a rainbow effect. The lagoon, which is one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America, also is home to phytoplankton, or microalgae, which are similar to terrestrial plants as they contain chlorophyll and require sunlight. It is these two living things that create the “magic” of bioluminescence. Recent tour guest Mary Racaniello, formerly of New York, says she moved to the area two years ago and has seen instances of bioluminescence while boating in the area’s massive Indian River and Banana River channels, which are part of the lagoon. “I’ve seen it from a big boat,” she offers, “but I’ve never been on a kayak actually looking right down intimately into the water. So, I’m excited for that.” Fin Expeditions offers bioluminescence kayak tours from a launch site at the Cocoa Beach Country Club, which is on the Banana River. Tour guide Jessica McNeil says the comb jellies are in the lagoon waters year-round but the phytoplankton prefers a warm environment and will die off in the winter. That’s why the bioluminescence tours are seasonal. “It can begin as early as March, but the full peak experience is a summer experience,” McNeil

Aug ust ‘21




As the guests paddle away from the launch area under moonlight, she guides them along a shoreline studded with mangroves. Any dip of a paddle in the water instantly causes a light show as millions of phytoplankton react to the motion. Slicing one’s paddle sideways through the water creates a dazzling light show. Merely trailing a hand or foot in the water creates a ghostly aura that is both eerie and fun. Using a dip net, a kayaker can easily bring up glowing blobs of comb jellies. Holding one of the jellies in your hand is like trying to juggle Jell-O that lights up at your touch. As McNeil brings the tour around one corner of the waterway, she announces that she expects to find “Mullet City.” In the shallow areas of the lagoon, mullet gather to feed and spawn. At night, as they travel through the phytoplankton, their bodies are illuminated and they appear to be flashing as they zoom beneath your kayak or leap into the air. McNeil urges her charges to listen for the sounds of dolphins and manatees, and to watch for fast moving stingrays, all of which will be glowing with bioluminescence. Tours begin at about 9:30pm and last approximately two hours. They also offer daytime and sunset tours. To learn more, go to finexpeditions.com

Photo courtesy of VISIT FLORIDA

explains. “We start getting our peak light bio the end of May, beginning of June, and it just gets brighter and brighter. The top weeks are the last two in July, first two in August, and then the phytoplankton will slowly die off into maybe late October.” “Just to put it into perspective,” McNeil outlines for Racaniello and other guests, “what you’re seeing out there, there have to be at least about a million of the phytoplankton in a liter of water for them to show up with any significance. This is one of the five or six places in the entire world where it shows up like this with any regularity. And it changes from night to night. We never know what we’ll find until we get out there.” McNeil explains to tour guests that the comb jellies and phytoplankton “both light up to scare away any fish that wants to eat them or to call in a bigger predator that would eat the fish that are going to eat them, like a dolphin, for instance. “The comb jellies are not jellyfish,” she adds. “They do not sting. You can catch them and hold them.” McNeil says their tour groups are limited to 10 or 12 guests for a more intimate experience, which she describes as “very relaxing, kind of chill.” “We don’t have to go far, everything we want is right here,” she offers with a sweep of her arm around a steadily darkening cove at the launch site. “We get out there and start seeing this magic in the water every time you stroke your paddle, every time a fish swims below you.”

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To celebrate Ocala’s newest brides and grooms, get a glimpse into their most special of days and hear firsthand about the memories that will always hold a place in their hearts. Pictured: Cortney & David Dunston Photographed by Eighteenth Hour Photography


CORTNEY & DAVID DUNSTON September 26th, 2020 Venue: Bride’s grandparents’ farm Photography by: Eighteenth Hour Photography Wedding Planner: Making It Matthews Florist: The Graceful Gardener Their favorite memory: Prior to our ceremony, we were bummed that COVID had “taken away” our large wedding plans—however, we ended up being sincerely grateful for how intimate and special our celebration was. We gave Making It Matthews free rein over the event, which allowed us to be hands off and stress free. It was everything and more we had ever hoped for and we loved the ability to truly soak in every moment.


DAKOTA & DANIEL LOPEZ JR. February 28th, 2021 Venue: The Country Club of Ocala Photography by: R. Weber Photography Wedding planner: Sarah Beatovich Florist: Brenda Diaz His favorite memory: Besides getting married, sharing my excitement with all my friends (best man, groomsmen) and family before the ceremony. Her favorite memory: Seeing Daniel’s reaction while I was walking down the aisle with my dad. We hadn’t seen each other that whole day leading up to the ceremony, so it was really special seeing him.

Meet the stylish leading men and their team of talented professionals offering a wide range of cuisines to please any palate at Ocala’s chic new equestrian destination.

Written and Styled by Nick Steele Photography by Meagan Gumpert Fashion Assistant: Daniel Easterday Makeup and Grooming: Nicole “Nicci” Orio, Pretty ‘n Pinned


he Roberts family’s passion for horses and luxury housing projects is well known, but their newest venture, lovingly curated by matriarch Mary Roberts, is expanding the boundaries of Marion County’s dining scene. The World Equestrian Center Ocala (WEC) is the largest equestrian complex in the United States, offering world-class equestrian action, hosting great events and offering engaging entertainment in a family-friendly environment. And, with a bevy of distinct restaurants, a stylish gastro lounge offering delicious pub fare, an elegant European-inspired patisserie and a gourmet sweets shop, you can eat and drink to your heart’s content. Now that the eagerly awaited Equestrian

Chef Ryker Brown wears a ROWM shirt, Perry Ellis jacket, Polo Ralph Lauren jeans and shoes by Flag LTD. Chef Yohann Le Bescond wears a Perry Ellis shirt, Roundtree & Yorke shirt, Murano vest, Calvin Klein jeans and Cremieux silk pocket scarf, worn as a cravat, all from Dillard’s at Heath Brook.

Hotel, with its 248 rooms and suites, is open, WEC Ocala is making its mark as a modern destination resort with a culinary profile sure to satisfy the most discerning foodie and leave them hungry for more. With more than 200 professionals on the food and beverage team, each day a monumental effort is undertaken to provide memorable experiences for travelers and locals alike. Leading this massive endeavor is Executive Chef Ryker Brown, an awardwinning and Forbes-rated culinarian who earned his degree from the famous Le Cordon Bleu school. His previous posts have included leading roles at such noted destinations as Waldorf Astoria Park City, the Sundance Mountain Resort and as hotel executive chef for Omni Hotels & Resorts in Nashville. “Our group of chefs is the secret to the success of WEC,” Brown shares. “In my 25 years of cooking, I don’t think I’ve ever been so fortunate to work with a group of amazing culinarians who are truly committed to their craft.” But Brown says it comes down to more than just the chefs. In order to shine, they needed the best hospitality team possible. “We could not have accomplished as much as we have, and will yet do, without the support of those who work for us and the support of who we work for. I am proud to work with my team every day and hope to have a positive impact on their lives.” He says what makes WEC’s extensive culinary offerings so special is the diversity of the experiences that are available. “We have such a variety of cuisines, from chef-driven, 30


fast casual concepts to a garden pub or a luxury Southern-inspired steakhouse,” he explains. “I wanted to make sure that, regardless of the concept and service style, we are committed to using the best quality ingredients that we can get, whether it be using Italian Caputo f lour for our pizza dough at Viola & Dot’s, prime beef for our Carne Asada at Filo’s Mexican Cantina or homemade pretzels with beer cheese at Yellow Pony. Stirrups has an amazing USDA Prime steak program, along with great Southerninspired dishes such as Deviled Eggs, Shrimp & Grits, and Southern Fried Organic Chicken. Everything we do is ingredient driven.” Brown shares that even the butter used to create their croissants, pain au chocolate and certain pastries for Emma’s Patisserie is imported from France. He describes the shop as an “amazing French bakery with a variety of desserts and sweets, including French macarons, homemade croissants, danish and even homemade donuts.” The creative force behind these delectable sweets is Executive Pastry Chef Yohann Le Bescond. He is not only the driving force behind Emma’s and Miss Tilly’s Lollipops sweets shop, but he oversees the creation of the dessert menus and execution of those creations for all the other eateries. Born and raised in France, Le Bescond began his formal training at the tender age of 15, which included several professional internships. After completing his training with honors, he traveled to Vienna, Austria for further study. There he honed his craft, learning about sugar sculpture from an acclaimed pastry chef and adding additional certifications in candy and ice cream making. After relocating to the United States, Le Bescond made a name for himself after assuming the role of executive chef at Le Macaron, a top macaron and pastry shop in Miami. He led and designed dessert experiences for the SLS Hotel in Miami Beach, the JW Marriott

Le Bescond in a Southern Tide shirt, Murano vest and trousers from Dillard’s Heath Brook.

We could not have accomplished as much as we have, and will yet do, without the support of those who work for us and the support of who we work for. - Chef Ryker Brown

Aug ust ‘21


Marquis in Miami and the American Airlines Arena (now FTX Arena), to name a few, while leading the team at Le Macaron. After 10 years perfecting his craft, he became the first hire at WEC Ocala. “I am very proud to be leading the Pastry Department, which includes two kitchens and about 15 chefs and cooks. All desserts throughout the property have been designed and created by me and the two talented pastry sous chefs,” he explains. “All our desserts are handmade daily, for every single restaurant on the property; from the rich chocolate cake at Ralph’s, the tiramisu at Viola’s, the tres leches at Filo’s and every other confection in Emma’s, Miss Tilly’s, the Yellow Pony and Stirrups.” Le Bescond, whose creations are as delicious as they are striking, had a special challenge when it came to Emma’s, which was named in honor of Mrs. Roberts’ grandmother, who loved baking. “Mrs. Roberts wanted to bring a piece of France to the Equestrian Hotel, so I went back to the first years of my apprenticeship in France and created a menu that would mix a large range of confections that would reflect her vision,” he recalls. “The signature and most unusual items from Emma’s Patisserie are the entremets and petit gâteau. This particular part of the menu allows me to play with textures, shapes and colors. It requires a certain amount of precision by scaling the ingredients as well as respecting very precise temperatures of mixing and glazing; the pastry team is well trained to follow those procedures and the result is a ‘jewel-like’ dessert that, from our guests’ feedback, is ‘too pretty to eat.’” One of Le Bescond’s other inspirations is drawn from our region. “The Florida citrus stays one of my all-time favorites, from the techniques being used as well as the flavors,” he shares. One of those inspired confections looks like a whole lemon but holds a delicious surprise. After pouring 32


mousse into a lemon-shaped mold, a grapefruit gelée is inserted. After the mousse sets, it is dipped into a mixture of ingredients that includes colored white chocolate that, once crystallized, looks like the lemon’s peel. It is then sprayed with glitter to mimic the skin’s texture. The result is convincing and completely charming. “It is a fun and whimsical dessert that brings freshness, design and precision to the table,” Le Bescond declares. “From glazing to spraying, layering to dipping; the techniques I use are made to be fun—for me and the guest.”

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Vincent Cani, the resort executive sous chef, offers that his favorite part of his job is “working alongside so many incredibly talented culinarians and fostering a culture

that is extremely special and unique to our property.” He says he hopes guests to WEC Ocala will experience “genuine hospitality, which comes from all of the hardworking individuals who love what they do and emulate our positive culture.” Kari Howard, the pastry sous chef for the whimsical Miss Tilly’s Lollipops, echo’s Cani’s sentiment. “I want guests to experience a fun and light atmosphere where they can come in to enjoy a sweet treat,” she enthuses. Le Bescond believes that this level of care for the customer experience is because of the passion each member has for their job. “It is really unique to be surrounded by so many talented people that all bring something to WEC and make it what it is,” he asserts. “Never in my career have I been able to learn so much in such a short amount of time. Chef Brown has succeeded in gathering so many talents together, which I get to learn from daily. It is very humbling to

be seeing all the chefs working together and bringing his and the Roberts’ vision to life.” Isai S. Coca, the chef de cuisine for the hotel, derives great satisfaction from being able to mentor other colleagues while creating great experiences for guests. “One of the best parts of my job is to help others with their development—to be that chef who is constantly investing in the new generation of cooks or potential chefs and see them achieving their goals,” Coca offers. “All of our chefs are united in creating the best experience for our guests and our associates,” Brown adds. “My hope is to build something that our community can be proud of, that our associates will enjoy being a part of and that our guests will enjoy coming to.”

Pictured, left to right: Alex Gordon, Yellow Pony Chef de Cuisine Kari Howard, Miss Tilly’s Pastry Chef Vincent Cani, Resort Executive Sous Chef Yohann Le Bescond, Executive Pastry Chef Ryker Brown, Resort Executive Chef Jenny Polo, Yellow Pony Sous Chef Isai Coca, Stirrups Chef de Cuisine Alberto Febo, Executive Pastry Sous Chef

To learn about everything WEC has to offer, visit worldequestriancenter.com/ ocala-fl or find them on Facebook. Aug ust ‘21


Ffidie Guide Here’s an update on some of our area’s newest and most notable food and beverage offerings. By Susan Smiley Height Photography by Bruce Ackerman

Ffidie Guide

Sweet Dreamers As the old adage goes, you can never have too much of a good thing and our area is home to an abundance of talented bakers creating custom confections and handmade goodies. We’ve selected a few standouts whose delicious and delightfully distinctive creations leave us hungry for more.

Just A Cupcake Bakery & Cafe “I have been interested in baking since I was a young girl,” Alexis Duca fondly recalls. “My mom had me sitting on the counter helping cook when I was 2 years old. I was a Girl Scout from age 5 and we did cake decorating at a Camporee. I used to make my friends cupcakes and bring them to school.” She also recalls another sweet memory from her childhood that had a profound impact on her future involving a local bakery named Just A Cupcake. “I would get birthday cupcakes from here every year,” she explains. When the original owners put the eatery up for sale, Duca, now all grown up, couldn’t resist the temptation to put her baking skills to the test. So she went ahead and bought it. Now, she can have cupcakes from there every day. “We have unique flavors of gourmet cupcakes for any occasion,” Duca shares. “I enjoy being creative with custom cakes for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and showers. And our soups are incredibly popular with customers; we make 26 different kinds.” While Duca bakes up delicious sweets, her mom, and the cafe’s manager, Lisa Haselkamp, makes the sought-after soups. The eatery also offers flavorful salads and appetizing sandwiches. Some of the baked goods they “can’t keep in the case” include cannolis, Napoleons, pies, dessert breads and a chocolate ganache covered cheesecake. “But people come for the cupcakes,” Haselkamp boasts. “Alexis has her own recipe for the buttercream frosting. I don’t know that anybody has a better buttercream!” The duo pride themselves on the quality of their ingredients. “We have a lot of people who want to know what’s in each item because they might have a food sensitivity or an allergy. We know what goes into everything,” Haselkamp explains. “We use fresh, whole ingredients.”

352.601.0047 justacupcakebakery.com fb.com/justacupcake IG: @justacupcakebakeryandcafe

Ffidie Guide Sweet Dreamers

216.644.0440 alcartisticbakery.com IG: @alcartisticbakery

ALC Artistic Bakery “Allergic to the world” is how Ariana Caraballo describes her relationship with food. That, in part, was an impetus for her to open ALC Artistic Bakery, which combines her particular food sensitivities with one of her favorite pastimes. In addition to offering a wide range of baked goods, including gluten-free and vegan options for those with similar issues to her own, the 20-year-old self-taught artist includes hand-painted canvasses with large cake orders that her clients can keep as a memento of their celebration. She is also receiving praise for her equally creative local murals. Among her baked offerings, the guava pastries and sugar cookies are top sellers. “A lot of bakeries make guava pastries that are heavy, or they have more guava or a harder shell,” she offers. “I like mine to be soft and fluffy. They have to be the right consistency when you put them in the oven in order to be light when you bite into them. I also add some things to the guava paste to make it my own.” Caraballo also offers specialty items such as flan, tres leches cake and sweet rice with cinnamon. She doesn’t have a set menu and explains that she

can create custom cakes in whatever flavor and theme her clients request. “One recent cake that was pretty fun was a guitar cake,” she notes. “It was pretty cool. It’s definitely science and math when it comes to building a structure like that. I love experimenting with new things and being put to a challenge.” Caraballo also wants to ensure that those who can’t enjoy traditional sweets still have a great experience, which is why she goes the extra mile for her customers. She says her recipe for a gluten-free, vegan, nut-free chocolate cupcake took three tries before she was happy with the texture and taste. “We were in the hospital a lot when she was a kid because of her allergies,” her mother Esmirna Caraballo recalls. “She’d be at birthday parties or weddings and couldn’t enjoy anybody’s cake. She was meeting other people like her and even when she was small, she would say, ‘One day I’m gonna open a bakery so I can eat and everybody that’s like me can eat too.’”

Ffidie Guide Sweet Dreamers

JMarie Brands For the last few years, the baked goods offered by JMarie Brands have been generating buzz and have become an obsession among locals. Sean Lesesne, who is a full-time professional chef, has been creating a variety of cheesecakes, pound cakes and cobblers in his off hours, which have earned him an enthusiastic following. One couple even made the trip from Atlanta to try what they described as “the best handcrafted cheesecake.” Because his baked goods are currently available exclusively at Brown’s Country Market in Oxford or at his weekly pop-ups for those who have placed preorders and where a lucky few early birds can scoop up any extra inventory he has that week, you need to either be following the JMarie Brands Facebook page or take a trip out of town to get in on the action. While he’s been looking for a new base of operations in Ocala, Lesesne typically sets up at Mr. Mobile Solutions in Ocala on Thursday evenings. “I’m a one-man show,” he explains with a smile. “I get home after I leave my job and write down my orders and go to work.”

Lesesne, who trained as a chef at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando, says he never intended to become a baker. But when he needed to make some extra money, he began experimenting with various cheesecake recipes. “It took a year to perfect,” he recalls. “From there, I started to elevate more. I posted on YouTube. I always say God and Google, that’s how I got started.” He explains that the business is named to honor his daughter, Joella Marie, who passed away. “I wanted to name it after her to give some sense of why I do what I do,” he offers. He says he likes to “intrigue” his customers with different offerings each week. Some of his obsession-inducing cheesecake flavors include: cinnamon roll, old-fashioned apple pie, red velvet and peanut butter crunch, as well as peach cobbler crisp, lemon and pineapple upside down pound cake slices. His top seller is the strawberry shortcake cheesecake and his personal favorite is the Key lime. You can order a whole cake or individual slices. He also offers sugar-free, gluten-free and keto versions.

352.229.0514 fb.com/JMariebrands IG: @jmariebrands jmariebrands@gmail.com

Ffidie Guide Sweet Dreamers

Can’t Frost This Cookie Company Kirsten Brookins wasn’t necessarily the most artistic kid in her family and never gave any thought to becoming a baker, but something surprising happened when she and her family were confined to the house during quarantine. “I’d been doing cookies here and there for friends,” she says of her then hobby. “Baking has always been something my family did together, especially at holidays. I loved the big board that we would roll the dough out on. It was my favorite part because mom or grandma would help me and it was fun cutting out all the shapes…getting to pick your colors.” With encouragement from her brother, she began posting her cookie creations on social media and she recalls that soon “it was not just friends ordering, but people I didn’t know.” She also came up with the idea to create a DIY cookie kit. “At that time, a lot of parents were at home with their kids and looking for things to do. I was trying to figure out

352.239.8431 fb.com/cantfrostthis IG: @cant_frost_this

something fun—something kids could do, but also something they could do together,” she offers. “There are six cookies in a kit, three bags of frosting and a little bag of sprinkles.” But Brookins’ real claim to fame are the elaborately decorated butter cookies she creates. “What’s super cool is that I get to be a part of their celebration, whether it be a baby shower, wedding or a child’s birthday. They will sometimes send me inspiration photos and I love when they send me their invitation, so I can create a theme based on those elements.” While she specializes in butter cookies, she also has created a chocolate fudge version, both topped with royal icing (which is commonly used on holiday cookies). Her family, especially her mother Stacey Brookins, has been a tremendous help to her. “When you’ve never done anything like this, there’s a learning curve,” Stacey offers. “Once it took off, she was like it’s all or nothing now! We all wanted to help. It was fun that we got to be a part of it. We’re amazed by how far she’s come.”

Ffidie Guide Sweet Dreamers

Steph’s Sweets Boutique Stephanie Cudnik started baking at age 16, making cupcakes, and then began to create cakes and macarons. She also became known for her elaborately decorated sugar cookies. “I’m from West Palm Beach. I moved to Ocala in 2008, where I met my wonderful husband. We have two boys and twin girls,” she shares. “Baking was a hobby until I became a stay-athome mom.” That’s when she took her hobby as a baker to a new level of artistry. She experimented with using an airbrush to apply edible paint to some of her popular cookies and macarons. The resulting “canvasses” were not only

Left to right: Sawyer, Kairi, Kenny, Kennedy, Stephanie and Kristian Cudnik

stephssweetsboutique.com stephaniecudnik@stephssweetsboutique.com fb.com/stephssweetsboutique IG: @stephssweetsboutique

beautiful and delicate works of art, they were decidedly delicious. Her macarons are a customer favorite, and rightly so, with flavors such as orange, lemon, white chocolate, peach Melba, rainbow sherbet and rocky road. “I make French macarons, with almond flour and egg whites,” she notes, “not to be confused with macaroons, which are the coconut ones.” She also creates scrumptious buttercream frosted cupcakes made from scratch, using fresh and local ingredients. Cudnik also has been experimenting with fantastical decorations for her custom cupcakes, incorporating such touches as edible rice paper “sails” and funfetti sprinkles that shimmer and shine atop brightly colored buttercream frosting designs. She enjoys dreaming up whimsical themes, such as her “taco” and “burger” macarons for Father’s Day. The holidays are “just insane” for her, with Christmas and Valentine’s Day being especially busy with orders. So book early, as this inventive baker books up fast.

Ffidie Guide

New & Noteworthy There’s nothing quite as exciting as discovering something new—and when you add great food and drinks to the mix, you’re in for a treat. Here are a few popular new concepts and recent developments that are generating lots of buzz. 352.509.4006 fb.com/thejunipergeneralstore IG: @thejunipergeneralstore

Left to right: Meredith Richard, Travis Arenburg, Polly Benson, Dick Olsen

The Juniper General Store Husband and wife Meredith Richard and Travis Arenburg drew inspiration for their carefully curated new country store and watering hole from their travels. They wanted to create a welcoming place where people can relax for a bit, enjoy a drink or a coffee and peruse a selection of locally made products, home accents and giftable items. In collaboration with another couple, who are longtime friends, Polly Benson and Dick Olsen, “We started putting our ideas together and proceeded to build it,” Arenburg says of The Juniper General Store, which opened in late spring in the Golden

Besi Guay

Hills Centre in northwest Ocala. Although they don’t offer prepared foods, in addition to beer and wine, guests can enjoy coffee drinks from the espresso bar and can create their own charcuterie board, with fresh cheese and salami, on the spot. “We also let people bring in food, especially remote workers,” Richard notes. “And we have things you’d expect to see in a general store, like jams and jellies and pickles.” In another thoughtful nod to those in search of an alternative workspace with an endless supply of caffeinated beverages, the store was designed with an abundance of plugs and outlets. “As people transition throughout the day, we want them to be able to work, have business meetings or socialize,” Arenburg offers. Richard shares that she and her husband came to this area because of their love of horses and that Benson and Olsen are thoroughbred breeders. In stocking their general store, the foursome made sure to include a wide array of crafts and art items from local makers and artists, including paintings of horses and finely handcrafted leatherworks.

Ffidie Guide

New & Noteworthy

Brick & Iron Cafe Karen Dreaver was already serving up healthy and delicious smoothies at the Brick & Iron Cafe, which she owns with her husband Ted, as well as the adjacent Cross Fit Iron Legion Gym, when she discovered acai bowls. Since March, her chilled smoothie bowls, with bases such as acai, jack fruit, dragon fruit or berries, have become one of the hottest items on the menu. Whether opting for a bowl or a smoothie, customers can select from a wide range of fruits, proteins and toppings. There are four “drizzles” to choose from, including housemade almond and cashew butters. Once finished, the bowls look like colorful works of art. “I start with almond milk and a little bit of sweetener and then the base fruit,” Karen offers, as she prepares a bowl for a customer. “This one’s got acai in it and some mixed

berries. The toppings she picked are granola, fresh fruit and coconut.” The cafe is an authorized dealer for Black Rifle coffee and sells a variety of health and wellness supplements as well as fresh or frozen Muscle Meals 2 Go. The Dreaver’s daughter, Kiera, was born with Down syndrome and the couple annually hosts a Down for Donuts event that includes fitness competitions and a silent auction to help raise awareness and funds for the GiGi’s Playhouse Down Syndrome Achievement Centers in Gainesville. As the gym is conveniently next door, Karen says a lot of people take a class then stop by the cafe for a refreshment. “And we have a lot of kids with their families coming out of sports and camps,” she shares. “My favorite part is that a lot of our repeat customers are kids. That’s when you know you have a good product, when the parents are okay with them coming and the kids are wanting to come.”

352.820.0878 brickandironcafe.com fb.com/brickandironcafe IG: @brickironcafe

Ffidie Guide

New & Noteworthy

Sweet Baby Cheeses “That brisket just melts in your mouth!” enthuses a customer visiting the Sweet Baby Cheeses food truck one recent afternoon, speaking about owner Jay Cowart’s signature Brisket Mac and Cheese. “Everybody loves the brisket,” Cowart offers. “It takes about 14 to 16 hours to process the brisket. I’ve had people at some of the area horse shows say, ‘This is the best I’ve had, and I live in Texas, or Kansas City.’” Cowart previously operated the Farmer In The Deli food trailer, but says he wanted a driveable truck instead. The name Sweet Baby Cheeses was selected through an online poll. He and his wife Tammy are partners in the endeavor and Rhonda Platt helps on site. The Cowarts moved to Citra from Tampa and Jay explains that influences of the coastal region and from south Florida can be found on his menu, which includes several decadent sandwiches, tantalizing salads and tasty side dishes. “We put a different twist on our food,” he reveals. “We call it Caribbean

fb.com/SweetBabyCheesesOcala Cracker because of a lot of roots from Tampa, as well as a lot of Caribbean folks in the Miami and Tampa area, throughout our life. We mix a little bit of that in there and we do some Spanish-style food.” A prime example is their birria sauce. “It is a Spanish style. Instead of tomato soup, we use birria to dip the grilled cheese sandwiches in,” Cowart notes. He says his favorite creation is his scrumptious spinach and artichoke mixture, which can be served as a side dish or as a grilled sandwich. Customers rave about the oven-baked meatloaf and also the brisket with mac and cheese, or “cowboy candy” as it’s affectionately called by some. You can find Sweet Baby Cheeses at the Ocala Downtown Market on Fridays from 11am to 2pm and Saturdays from 9am to 2pm. The truck also makes stops at events and by invitation, including in some gated communities. “It’s funny,” Cowart says with a grin, “even when I pull up at a gas station, people invariably will say, “Can I get a sandwich?”

Farm Fresh An enterprising family with deep roots in the community is flourishing with a small local market that is big on tradition. By Lisa McGinnes Photography by Becky Collazo or as long as anyone can remember, the corner where County Roads 475 and 475A intersect in Summerfield has been a place to find fresh produce, thanks to the O’Steen family. “His grandfather sat out here and sold produce,” shares Corissa O’Steen of her husband Levi’s family. “His grandma sold eggs. She would sell the pecans—there were a lot of pecan trees on the property. His great—grandparents had sold produce on this corner. Even Levi, at one point during the recession, got laid off from electrical work and sat out there and sold produce.” So when she got the idea to open a produce market five years ago, it seemed like the natural way to carry on a family tradition. “Why don’t we try it with a little building?” Corissa asked Levi. A stayat-home mom taking care of preschooler


Gunnar and her little niece, she figured it was something to do to make “a little bit of extra income—something that wouldn’t take up a lot of time.” The couple set up shop in a 12 by 30 foot metal shed just steps from their 1910 Cracker home, originally occupied by Levi’s great-grandmother. They began selling eggs from their own free range chickens and sourcing fresh vegetables from local growers. Corissa made jam and pickles. “When we first started this,” she says, “it was, ‘I’m going to open up a cute little market and sell my jams and jellies. I’m going to get tomatoes.’” “That was her dream,” Levi says. “She dreams it; I make it happen.” Within months, Corissa remembers, the business, which they named O’ Steen’s Market, “exploded.” “I think there’s a great need,” she explains. “People are looking for local. They want to know their eggs came from within 10 miles of where they’re buying them. We tried to source as locally as possible from the start. When things are seasonal, it’s all local.” Soon Levi had to quit his job to join Corissa in running the store full-time. By spring 2020, their little shed-turned-shop was bursting at the seams. Levi, with the help of family members, constructed a much larger building, which serves as the current store. It opened in May 2020.

Cleaner Food Although some shoppers come in looking for produce labeled “organic,” Levi and Corissa are quick to explain that they know where the fruits

and vegetables they sell come from, and they are grown by family farmers who don’t spray their crops with chemicals. “We’ve always thought quality over quantity,” Levi explains. “If I’m feeding my family, I’m going to give them the best I can possibly give them. We think a lot of our customers are the same way. That’s why we get the produce from the smaller farmers. More often than not, they’re eating the produce they’re growing as well. And if you’re going to eat it, you’re going to want it to be as clean as you can get it.” These small operation farmers, Corissa explains, “are going to get out there and work. He’s going to be pulling weeds. He’s not going to be spraying tons of pesticide. Instead, a small farmer is going to plant cover crops—till it in and it feeds the soil. So, their farming practices are just much better on a small farm. There’s a big difference.” Besides knowing where it comes from and how it was grown, Levi and Corissa point out that the majority of their produce comes directly from farm to market, often picked the same day. “It’s a mutually beneficial relationship—a farmer and a market,” says their friend and supplier Nelson Brooks, who grows squash, collard greens, peas and other crops at his Brooks Farm in Wildwood. “They’re going to be one of the largest produce markets in the tri-county area. They are actually the people who can keep the farmers in business.” Corissa remembers meeting Brooks not long after they opened in 2016. “He showed up here with his truck full of

Aug ust ‘21


collard greens and said, ‘Would you like to buy some collard greens?’ And I said, ‘Yes, Sir, I would.’ And the relationship just bloomed.” Wild-caught shrimp comes to the store direct from Mayport and, once a month, O’Steen’s hosts HM Cattle Company from Webster, which sells grass-fed beef. Customer favorite items that aren’t grown in large quantities around here, such as South Carolina peaches and Georgia pecans, still come direct from family farms. They also sell a wide variety of jarred goods, from jam and pickles to salad dressings, salsas and sauces. As demand quickly grew far beyond what Corissa could make, they sourced their O’Steen’s labeled products to the one community they knew would use only the same wholesome ingredients they would use themselves—the Amish. “There’s a huge Amish community in Sarasota,” Corissa notes. “I’ve always loved Amish places. They make everything in small batches. It’s good stuff. Their ingredients are the exact same as what we were using. Their strawberry jam is strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. That’s the great part about the Amish stuff.” O’Steen’s also provides an outlet for local brands to sell their small batch products. A few customer favorites include Honey Girl honey from Crystal River, pure cane syrup produced by the Raines family in Brooksville, and Granny Nichols Bar-B-Q Sauce, which, they point out, is made “just 3 miles down the road.”

Good Neighbors Levi, who still lives on the property where he grew up surrounded by family, one of “13 kids running around the farm,” hopes Gunnar, now 9, can experience a childhood as idyllic as the one he fondly remembers. Their family of three lives in the 1910 house Levi remodeled and moved into when he was 18 years old. Levi and his siblings and cousins all inherited plats of their grandfather’s 21-acre farm when he passed away two years ago. His sister and a cousin both recently built new homes next door, so Gunnar has plenty of cousins to play with, just like his dad did. Corissa also has family roots that run deep in the area; her family has been in northern Marion County for more than 100 years. She remembers passing by what’s now her home many, many times as a teenager and young adult when her mom would bring her to the U-pick tomato fields that stretched from Pedro to Oxford. “Everybody came down here to pick tomatoes,” she recalls. “It’s just what you did around here.” “She never dreamed she’d live in the house she

drove by all the time,” Levi says, smiling at his wife of 10 years. These days, running the store is a full-time job for Corissa and Levi. Gunnar enjoys helping carry boxes and stocking shelves, with plenty of breaks to play with his pet rabbit, Tin Tin. “He’s the store icon,” Corissa says. “People love Tin Tin. He’s a very friendly bunny.” Operating a local produce market is how the O’Steens’ contribute to the community they love. Selling goat milk is a way to support FFA students from Belleview High School. Donating to Shepherd’s LightHouse, which supports homeless families in Belleview, is one way they give back to those who need help. And bartering goods with customers carries on the family tradition of being good neighbors. “We’ll buy from someone who comes in here and grew six peppers,” Corissa says. “We’ll barter and trade those. One guy comes in with two or three squash and thinks it’s the greatest thing. He loves it and it adds to the fun.” “That’s the way it used to be,” Levi adds. “One person can’t grow everything for them to eat, so they focus on one thing and then they trade with other people who grew the other stuff. And we do the same thing. It’s good for us, good for you, and good for the people we’re selling to.” For more information, visit osteensmarket.com or connect with them on Facebook. Aug ust ‘21


The Family Business With a storied history and a passion for handcrafted liquors, this enterprising family team is upholding a proud tradition and keeping an eye on the future. By Nick Wineriter | Photography by Dave Miller


he road to being a distillery owner is often the road less traveled. It never occurred to Paul James, the owner of James Two Brothers Distillers, to announce to his fifth-grade classmates on Career Day that he wanted to become a distillery owner. But that he did become. After he became an architect. James Two Brothers Distillers in southwest Ocala, also known as J2B, was the brainchild of Paul and his brother Timothy “Tim” James. Their co-owned business was conceived in Lakeland, Florida, on June 18th, 2012. The plans and dreams were discussed and solidified. The official birth was July 10th, 2017, when the licenses were obtained. Originally from Kansas, Paul attended Wichita State University and studied there for two years. He then moved to Bradenton and commuted to Clearwater Technical Institute. He did work in architecture and design, “but it was not a direct



route,” Paul explains, “because I never licensed. Without a license, you always have to work for someone else.” “I worked in architecture and design for 40 years,” Paul adds. “In 2007, the architecture industry as a whole took a dive. The first housing bubble really affected everything, not just housing but the whole construction industry. And at that time, I was reaching the age where I thought I should be able to retire early after working diligently in the industry. So, it came as a bit of a blow.” However, it was his experiences in that field, which included designing facilities for brewers and distillers, including Bacardi, that pointed him in the direction of his next chapter. “I thought that would be something I’d like to do when I retire,” he recalls. Before retiring from architecture, Paul spent time in Boca Raton and Lakeland, and then came to Ocala in 2014. Tim was a seminary student at

Asbury College, a Christian liberal arts school in central Kentucky. He graduated in 1982 with a master’s degree in theology. “The way he chose to make a living ultimately was counseling and in psychology,” Paul notes. Although Tim was Paul’s business partner, “he never really took a keen interest in the business aspect of J2B. And he never had the required passion for any segment of the business which was profit-driven. But this did not diminish Timothy’s love of the distilling craft,” Paul offers. Sadly, Tim passed away in May of 2018, from complications due to COPD. During the planning and setting up of J2B, Paul’s son Taylor, who was just entering the workforce, took a deep interest in the distillery. “It seemed that the craft was in our blood,” Paul observes. And, indeed it was. The James family was originally from England and there were distillers among their ancestors. Christoph de Graffenried, a businessman from Switzerland, connected with the Jameses in the early 1700s in order to charter ships out of England to the colonies. In the summer of 1711, after coming to America, de Graffenried, with his family’s fortune, took a trip up the

Neuse River in North Carolina, with plans of starting a vineyard and winery. His method was to crossbreed European grapes with wild, native grapes. But the indigenous tribes put a stop to it by killing his guide. The venture failed and a broke de Graffenreid returned to Switzerland. But the Jameses and some of the de Graffenreid family stayed, going into farming and distilling. Although there were ongoing working relationships between the families, no marriages were celebrated for more than a hundred years. Mary Francis de Graffenreid married William F. James in 1853 and together they produced seven children. Family research indicates that numerous subsequent generations were also distillers who settled in the south central regions of Kentucky up to the Civil War era. Paul’s grandfather and greatgrandfather were also involved in winemaking for a period of time.

The Next Generation

After his brother’s passing, the business became more of a father and son team. “Taylor began stepping in more,” Paul notes. They worked together on everything from selecting grains and cane to bottling, licensing, accounting, marketing and examining potential new opportunities. And, Paul adds, J2B has received “tremendous support” from his wife Stella. “She helps run the business.” “It genuinely started with the family, and is continuing with the family,” Paul states. “But if Taylor wasn’t interested, I probably wouldn’t be doing it. That’s why it’s genuinely a family business.” But for Taylor, it is more than just an interest. “You need to want to do it,” Taylor asserts. “You do it because you love it.” Taylor solidified his professional path after a brief stint at Polk State College. “I quickly found it wasn’t for me,” admits Taylor. “I was going to go into an artistic kind of thing,” he recalls. “But, obviously, that wasn’t going to pay any bills.” He started spending more time at the distillery, while thinking about his future. It would eventually become his calling. “You have to wear a lot of hats here,” Taylor explains, “but I guess you could say I’m the brewmaster, the master distiller.” When Paul eventually retires, Taylor rth James,

Robert Wo mas James, his father, es. randfather, George Tho to courtesy of Paul Jam Pho From left: Paul’s great-g es. Jam tin Aus ndfather, Roy and at far right, his gra

Aug ust ‘21


will take over the entire operation at J2B. “That’s the end goal,” Taylor offers. “Obviously, we don’t want that to happen anytime soon.” However, even if Paul does choose to step away, there’s a strong feeling he will keep his foot in the door as an advisor and consultant. “If he wants me around!” Paul jokes. “I’ll just wander around and bother people!” “If you ask me, I don’t think he’s ever going to want to quit,” Taylor responds. “He tried to retire before and he gets a little stir crazy.”

The Craft

“When I first got into this, I was barely of the age to be drinking at all and had no experience,” Taylor admits. “I actually had to go around and sample the mainstream stuff and compare it to ours to actually know the difference.” He made it his mission to educate himself about craft liquors similar to what J2B produces and study them in comparison to the massproduced brands. “I had to acquire that taste in order to distinguish the differences between them. Now I wouldn’t be able to drink the mainstream stuff.” J2B makes three kinds of rum and three types of whiskey. “We have a bourbon, a smoked rye and a single malt,” Taylor states. The single malt is a scotch, but legally cannot be called that. To be labeled scotch, it would have to be distilled in Scotland. “It’s the same recipe,” Taylor offers, “It’s scotch, without being labeled scotch.” “Our label says single malt whiskey,” Paul adds. The two are also proud to say that J2B starts with higher quality ingredients than other brands. “Even without any aging or before flavoring, our brands are top-shelf from the start,” Taylor declares. And Paul stipulates (with tongue-in-cheek) that “C2H6O, the molecular structure of alcohol, which 50


is two parts carbon, six parts hydrogen, and one part oxygen, is the therapeutic potion for all!”

A Helping Hand

In fact, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, J2B shifted their focus to provide supplies of an essential product that did more than soothe the soul. Like other distillers across the country, J2B was called upon to create and supply desperately needed hand sanitizer to many, including local first responders. Since high grade alcohol is an essential component of sanitizers and with supplies disappearing due to an overwhelming demand, Paul and Taylor set out to help. It didn’t take long for them to exhaust every drop of their reserves, which had been aging to use for their spirits production. “We did it because we depend on our community, and we believe they should be able to depend on us.” Taylor stated at the time. “Then the economy began to falter, and our reserves were gone, so we saw no choice for us but to run our equipment 24/7 to produce more alcohol.” Both men felt it was their duty. “Like people in this country have always done, we pull together,” Paul offered in a Facebook post. Now that sanitizer supplies have returned to normal, they have been able to shift their focus back to creating the products they love and taking their growing family business into the future. They offer tours the second Saturday of every month to educate visitors about their craft and their company, where you can witness firsthand how their family ties, as well as two parts carbon, six parts hydrogen and one part oxygen, run deep. J2B products can be enjoyed at several local venues and are offered for purchase on site at the distillery. For more information call (352) 291-0585 or visit james2bros.com


Magical Morevino


ocated downtown on Ocala’s historic square, Morevino has drawn rave reviews for their menu of flavorful handcrafted dishes, delectable desserts, festive craft cocktails and their extensive wine menu, featuring more than 150 bottles of wine and two dozen wines by the glass. Chef and sommelier Brian Morey, who, with his wife Deanna, owns and operates this stylish but delightfully unpretentious eatery, explains that they want to provide the best possible overall experience. “Everybody’s got to eat, so you ought to make it feel

great,” Brian offers. He also believes that choosing the right complement to your meal should be equally enjoyable. “Wine should not be any more mysterious or esoteric than good food,” he asserts. A highly knowledgeable wine sommelier, having studied wine for two decades, Brian uses his time away from the kitchen to meet guests and help them choose the right wine to accompany their meal. He developed a love of cooking at a young age, which eventually led to him leading several kitchens in South Florida and operating a cafe in Boca Raton.

11 East Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala (352) 304-5100 www.morevinowine.com

“In college, wine was my hobby and food became my passion,” Brian recalls. “The goal was always to get back in the kitchen,” where he lovingly prepares every order from scratch. When he and Deanna opened their family-operated restaurant last year, they wanted to ensure the menu included dishes inspired by her Italian heritage and the flavorful steaks that were a part of his Midwestern upbringing. They then layered in classic comfort foods with some delightfully creative dishes like their popular China Town Nachos. The result is a wonderful mix of culinary influences. Brian grows his own herbs on the restaurant’s back patio and sources as many fresh, local ingredients as possible. He sources the beef for their ribeyes and New York Strip steaks, as well as several cheeses and a variety of soft fruits, from local farms. He also visits the Ocala Downtown Market every Saturday and is always on the lookout for more local items to incorporate into his recipes. Friday and Saturday nights are the busiest, so reservations are recommended. You can also reserve a spot at one of Morevino’s monthly full course seasonal wine and food pairing dinners. They have a private room available for large family gatherings, parties and business meetings.

Historic Whiskey Men In searching the past for facts about the prominent players in the local whiskey trade and one famous figure whose involvement was something of a mystery—until now— we uncovered a mysterious death, old debts and a surprising reversal of fortunes. By Nick Steele


he Ocala/Marion County area has a long history when it comes to hooch. At one time, moonshine was a booming industry that supported many other local small businesses, according to local historian and genealogist Celeste Godwin Viale. One story that was passed down to her was about a “shine” distiller who received word that some folks in New Jersey wanted to place an order for some aged whiskey. Legend goes that he reached in his pocket, pulled out a tin of Prince Albert ground tobacco—a mahogany-colored variety with subtle notes of cocoa, vanilla and molasses—sprinkled a bit into a bottle of moonshine, shook it up and then shipped out his Cracker “whiskey” to some very satisfied folks up north. A tale that involves actual whiskey, that has had some curious locals buzzing for years, is not exactly a “straight” story. In a county full of historians and enthusiasts, it is somewhat intimidating to try to unwind it. The bit of history



in question revolves around William LaRue Weller. For those of you who know your whiskey, the name probably brings to mind the award-winning Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. This uncut and unfiltered, hand-bottled bourbon, from Buffalo Trace Distillery, is thought to be the best in the category by many aficionados. Born in 1825, Weller was the grandson of German immigrants who moved to Central Kentucky in 1794. His grandparents settled in LaRue County in 1800. Like many farmers at the time, William’s grandfather was also a small-scale distiller who taught the young man his trade. William’s mother, Phoebe LaRue Weller, was the daughter of John P. LaRue, an early settler in the region and the man for whom LaRue County is named. As young adults, William and his younger brother, Charles, opened a trading company in Louisville and began selling their own bourbon brand, William Larue Weller & Brother.

Photos courtesy of The Mark Hammer Collection

William then established himself as a true distilling pioneer when, in 1849, he switched the second grain in his bourbon mash from rye to wheat and invented wheated bourbon, which possesses a considerably richer and smoother flavor. Sadly, Charles was murdered in 1862 while trying to collect on a business debt in Franklin, Tennessee. Following Charles’ death and with his sons coming of age, William changed the company’s name to W. L. Weller & Sons in 1887. In 1893, William hired Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle as a traveling salesman. A few years later, when he retired, his brother John and eldest son George took over the business. Eventually, William’s namesake company merged with Pappy Van Winkle’s A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery to form the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. It became renowned for such brands as W.L. Weller, Old Fitzgerald, Rebel Yell and Cabin Still. Since 2002, the Van Winkle and Weller brands have been distilled and bottled by the Sazerac Company at the Buffalo Trace Distillery as a joint venture with the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery company. If you’re wondering where all this is leading— and why wouldn’t you—the fact is William LaRue Weller died right here in Ocala on March 23rd, 1899 at the age of 73. Yes, that grand old Kentucky boy spent his last days and punched his ticket in Marion County. This has generated much speculation over the years as to how exactly he wound up here. Some believe he settled locally after he retired, while others thought he had family ties to the area. As a matter of fact, Mr. Weller had not relocated to the area nor did he intend to. And we could find no evidence of his family line among our citizenry. But he sure did like to visit. On March 24th, 1899, The Ocala Evening Star carried a story called “Death of a Winter Resident,” that said Weller had passed away the night before

from heart failure. It revealed that for the previous 10 years he and his wife had spent several months a year in Ocala. The Louisville Courier-Journal explained that he began his sojourns here because of his asthma which he had for many years. His winter home during those visits was the Ocala House hotel, considered a top resort of the day. Owned by hotelier and railroad mogul Henry Plant, it was widely marketed as one of the finest semi-tropical resorts in the world. Newspaper advertisements boasted that it was “reached by fast trains from all points of the compass.” These ads, many of which appeared in Kentucky papers, billed the Ocala House and other local hotels as “The Famous West Coast Hotels.” In a column called “Ocala House Notes” in The Ocala Evening Star, that appeared during the same time period, a notation that is not identified as either editorial or advertising reads, “The climate of Ocala is beginning to be understood as the driest and most invigorating for all persons suffering from pulmonary troubles.”

From One Whiskey Family to Another

George Carmichael arrived in Ocala from Alabama in the early 1880s with his family and quickly established himself as an enterprising businessman. With the help of his teenage son Columbus “Ed” Carmichael, he opened a combined saloon, wholesale whiskey business and grocery store. George was also an alderman, who for more than a quarter of the century was a member of the city council. Ed not only inherited his father’s business acumen, but also his sense of community service, serving for many years as one of the first chiefs of Ocala’s volunteer fire department In December of 1896, The Ocala Evening Star reported that the Carmichaels erected a threestory frame building in the rear of their saloon. The building was the largest in north Ocala. In 2012, a beloved local historian, the late David Cook, wrote about the Carmichaels and the 1890s campaign to make Marion County a dry one. “The anti-alcohol faction in Ocala was moving Aug ust ‘21


closer to another of those wet-dry referendums that roiled the county periodically,” Cook stated. He explained that those pushing for prohibition were up against “more politically powerful saloon keepers and liquor manufacturers. Naturally, the king of Marion County’s distillers, George Carmichael, was the head of the wet faction,” he asserted, noting that the younger Carmichael was held in high esteem. “The fact that Ed Carmichael, George’s son and partner in the legal whiskeymaking business, was among the most popular young men in Ocala showed he had earned considerable political influence.” Cook states that in addition to the whiskey distillery on North Magnolia Carmichael & Son’s second location (possibly Ocala’s at N. Magnolia and NW. 6th Street first), which was located next to the Florida Peninsular Railroad station, the Carmichaels owned a group of saloons located all around Ocala. “Carmichael and his group were told they could continue to make and sell alcoholic beverages until a final court decision came down,” Cook detailed. However, he offered that “the prohibitionists already had won somewhat of a victory over the saloon keepers. The dry crowd had browbeat the city council into adopting an ordinance that required the saloons to remove curtains or shades from windows and keep doorways open on Sunday mornings so the public could see who was drinking when they should have been in church.” The battle raged until March of 1899, when the prohibitionists lost their campaign. However, the damage seems to have already been done to the Carmichaels’ decade-old business because, on March 7th of the same year, many of their holdings (including an enormous stock of various alcoholic beverages) was sold off at a public auction for $1,050 to satisfy unpaid debts, by the Marion County sheriff, in front of the county courthouse. The jewel in their crown, the saloon and distillery on the south side of Ocala’s downtown square, on Broadway between Southeast First Avenue and Magnolia Avenue, was among the 11 properties. The man who cast the winning bid was that familiar fellow from the beginning of our story, William LaRue Weller, who was in town for his 54


winter holiday. In an ironic turn, he died just 16 days later. And there is no evidence that he ever officially took possession of the holdings. Several of his children joined his wife in Ocala and transported his body back to Louisville. His eldest son, George, returned to Ocala about a month later, presumably to liquidate the properties. However, based on research conducted by the Marion County Clerk of Court and Comptroller’s office, the only record of any sale of said properties by a member of the Weller family involved the one located on the square, by William’s sons George and John to D. Elmore Davidson on December 20th, 1900. Davidson had joined the Carmichael & Son Company when they had reformed the business in June of 1900 through articles of incorporation. It was described as “conducting a general mercantile business, bottling and handling of soda waters and other drinks, buying and selling real estate.” They were later able to expand the building and operation. During the early 1900s, they were shipping alcoholic beverages all over the Southeast United States, mostly in case lots. Among its numerous products was Fort King whiskey, made in Ocala. But by 1908, local prohibitionists were on the warpath again. George died in 1915, the year Marion County voted to ban all alcohol sales within its boundaries. Carmichael & Son was forced to close and Ed turned his attention to developing Silver Springs into a tourist destination. One outstanding mystery surrounds Ed’s son, who he named…wait for it…Weller LaRue Carmichael. Why he was named after the famous Kentucky whiskey man was a mystery we couldn’t crack. Perhaps it’s one of those obscure facts lost to time or perhaps someone out there knows the answer. They say that the perfect whiskey can transport you to another place. Maybe an interesting tale about whiskey can transport you to another time— full of pioneering men and good hooch.

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille 24 SE 1st Avenue, Ocala

(352) 840-0900 › hookedonharrys.com Mon-Thu 11a-10p › Fri & Sat 11a-11p › Sun 11a-9p Open for dine in, carryout and delivery through Doordash and Bite Squad Located in the heart of downtown Ocala, Harry’s offers traditional

Happy Hour Specials: 2-7p every day $3 Draft Beer $4 House Wine & Premium Cocktails $5 Super Premium & $6 Harry’s Signature Cocktails $7 off bottles of wine

Louisiana favorites like Shrimp and Scallop Orleans, Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Blackened Red Fish, Louisiana Gumbo and Marinated Salmon Salad. Other favorites, like French Baked Scallops and Bourbon Street Salmon, are complemented with grilled steaks, chicken, burgers, po’ boy sandwiches and salads. Their full bar features Harry’s Signature Cocktails, such as the Harry’s Hurricane, Bayou Bloody Mary or the Cool Goose Martini. They also feature wines by the glass and a wide selection of imported, domestic and craft beer.

El Toreo

3790 E Silver Springs Boulevard, Ocala

(352) 694-1401 › 7 days 11a-10p SR 200, Ocala › (352) 291-2121 › 7 days 11a-11p New lunch specials include Taco Salad on Mondays, $5.45; Speedy Gonzalez on Tuesdays, $5.45; Quesadillas on Wednesdays, $7.95; Chimichangas on Thursdays, $6.95; and Burrito Supreme on Fridays, $5.95. New dinner options include Fajita Mondays, $10.95; Chimichanga Tuesdays, $8.95; Alambre Wednesdays, $9.95; and Tacos de Bistec Thursdays, $9.95. Plus $1.95 margaritas on Mondays. On Sunday, kids 12 and under can enjoy $1.95 children’s meals (take-out not included). Wednesday is Special Margarita Day, 99¢ all day. Saturday is 2-for-1 margaritas all day. Happy Hour daily, 3-7pm. Everything is 2-4-1 (exceptions may apply).

Wednesday: 99¢ House Margaritas All Day Thursday: Trivia Night, 7-9pm (Blvd. location) Thursday: Mariachi band at the 200 location, 6-9pm Dine-in now available

REAL PEOPLE REAL STORIES REAL OCALA Subscribe to our digital issue of Ocala Style Magazine to have it delivered monthly to your inbox. OCALASTYLE.COM/ SUBSCRIBE

Aug ust ‘21


Master Class Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club Executive Chef Rick Alabaugh shares some inspired recipes and his culinary expertise. By Jill Paglia | Photography by John Jernigan


love to cook, but I also love to eat out and enjoy experiencing both new dishes and old favorites. I will try to work out the various ingredients and techniques used to create a certain dish before I even leave the restaurant and imagine how I would put my own spin on it. For this issue, I invited a truly masterful chef to join me at my home and share the secrets behind some of my favorite dishes from Raspberry’s at Golden Ocala. The restaurant is only for members and their guests, but by sharing these recipes I hope you’ll be able to enjoy the experience at home. I met Chef Rick many years ago when he first started at Golden Ocala. He instantly made a splash on Ocala’s culinary scene in 2002 with his passion for great food and innovative, fresh, flavorful and visually appealing dishes. He also loves sharing what he knows with others. “These recipes are very easy,” he offers. “Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. It is just food—nine times out of 10 times you can fix it, but if you don’t try you will never know.” Raspberry’s always feels like a big city restaurant to me. I can honestly say that I usually will order a special of the day or one of his amazing seafood dishes. He does a Seafood

Flatbread—yes, flatbread—that he could go up against Bobby Flay with! Among my other favorites is his wonderful Prosciutto di Parma & Sea Scallops entree, for which Chef Rick introduced me to a different technique for sauteing scallops. It’s all about temperature and time, and he warns not to overcook them or they will get tough and rubbery. He also shares that Northwest Seafood in Gainesville is his pick for the best local seafood. While his version is served with mashed potatoes and creamed corn, if I were to put my own spin on it, I’d add a bit of heat with red pepper flakes and serve it over angel hair pasta. Another of my favorites is his delicious Boston Bibb & Belgian Endive Salad with fried goat cheese, watermelon radish, praline pecan, Fuji apple, raspberry vinaigrette and balsamic glaze. “What makes this salad special are the many elements—the earthiness and nuttiness of the lettuce, a sweet yet tangy kick from the raspberry vinaigrette and balsamic glaze, as well as the crunchy and also creamy textures of the fried goat cheese,” Chef Rick explains. He suggests a Stags’ Leap Chardonnay as the perfect complement to this meal. So, be my guest and let’s get cooking!

Boston Bibb & Belgian Endive Salad with Fried Goat Cheese and Raspberry Vinaigrette Salad 2 small heads Boston lettuce leaves, washed and dried 2 heads white Belgian endive, washed and dried 1 Fuji apple, thinly sliced 1 watermelon radish, thinly sliced 1/2 cup praline pecans 2 ounces Roland Balsamic Glaze Fried Goat Cheese 1 9-ounce goat cheese log, softened 1 egg 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs 1/3 cup flour 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon milk 1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon salt; to taste 1/4 teaspoon black pepper; to taste In a medium-sized bowl, mix goat cheese, herbs and honey. › Place goat cheese in the center of a piece of wax or parchment paper and roll into a log. › Freeze goat cheese log for 20-30 minutes or refrigerate for at least 2 hours. › Once goat cheese has hardened, cut cheese with sharp knife into 8 medallions. › In 3 separate shallow bowls, add the flour, salt and pepper into the first bowl, whisk the egg and milk in the second bowl and whisk together the panko breadcrumbs and garlic powder in the third bowl. › Dip each goat cheese medallion into the flour mixture, dredge in the egg wash and then coat completely in the breadcrumbs. › Repeat with remaining goat cheese slices. › In a large skillet over medium heat, add 1-2 tablespoons of oil. › Let oil heat up completely and then add 4 goat cheese slices. › Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, or until the coating becomes lightly golden. › Remove from skillet and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. › Repeat with remaining oil and goat cheese slices. Raspberry vinaigrette: 1 1/2 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/4 cup red wine vinegar 3 teaspoons honey 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard Salt and pepper to taste Put all ingredients in a blender and blend for 1 minute. Presentation: In a large bowl, arrange all the ingredients for the salad and top with fried goat cheese. › Drizzle with raspberry vinaigrette and balsamic glaze. 58


Sweet Florida Corn & Cauliflower Cream 3 ears fresh white corn, cut from the cob 2 cups chicken broth 1 head cauliflower, cut into small pieces 2 garlic cloves 1 shallot 2 ounces olive oil 1 tablespoon butter Salt and pepper to taste In a large sauce pot, heat olive oil on medium to high heat. › Sauté the shallot and garlic for 2 minutes. › Add the corn, cauliflower, butter and chicken broth. › Bring to a simmer. › Reduce heat to medium-low. › Cook until corn and cauliflower are tender (about 5 minutes). › Pour the corn and cauliflower mixture into a blender (no more than half full). › Cover and hold lid down. › Pulse a few times, then blend for 30 seconds. › Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yukon Gold Garlic Mashed Potatoes 3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks 4 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and cut into half width 2 ounces cream cheese, softened 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup heavy cream Salt and pepper to taste

Prosciutto di Parma & Sea Scallops

Place the potatoes and garlic in a large sauce pot. › Fill with water to 3 inches above the potatoes. › Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. › Once boiling, reduce the heat slightly. › Boil for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. › Drain in a colander. › Place the potatoes in a large bowl. › Add cream cheese, butter and heavy cream. › Mash with a handheld mixer until desired consistency is achieved. › Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss scallops, canola oil, Old

12 large sea scallops 4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced 2 heads of broccolini 1/2 lemon, juiced 1 tablespoon butter 2 teaspoons canola oil 2 teaspoons white wine 1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning 1/2 ounce basil oil 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Bay and smoked paprika in a bowl until scallops are completely coated. › Heat a large, heavy skillet over high heat until very hot (about 5 minutes). › Cook scallops in hot skillet until browned on one side (about 3 minutes). › Turn and cook on the other side until cooked through (about 3 minutes). › Add broccolini to skillet. › Remove skillet from heat. › Add the white wine, butter and lemon juice. › Set aside.

Presentation: Divide the corn and cauliflower puree onto four large plates. Arrange the scallops around the plate. › Scoop the garlic mashed potatoes into the middle of the plate. › Top mashed potatoes with broccolini. › Top each scallop with a piece of prosciutto. › Drizzle with basil oil. Aug ust ‘21


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Skin Savers New diagnostic tools and therapies may be good news for those at risk for skin cancer. By Susan Smiley-Height



or many people, summer means it’s time to get outside. Our area offers a wide variety of fun-in-the-sun activities, such as horseback riding, hiking or bicycling on Cross Florida Greenway trails, or swimming in local lakes, rivers and springs. There is even joy to be found in working outside, gardening and, if you’re like me, mowing your patch of green. But, given that we live in the Sunshine State, we all need to be cautious about overexposure from the harmful ultraviolet rays that can cause premature aging of the skin or skin cancer, the most common of all cancer types. Dr. Norman H. Anderson, a radiation oncologist and CEO of the Robert Boissoneault Oncology Institute in Ocala, says the most common forms of skin cancer they treat are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant melanoma. “Those with fair skin have an increased risk,” Anderson offers, “and children require protection during extended periods of sun exposure, especially when at the beach.” Anderson recommends covering or shading the skin, and applying topical sunscreens. “Those with a broad-spectrum sun protection factor (SPF) offer increased protection,” he notes. Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells. It occurs most often on skin exposed to the sun but can show up in other areas. Early detection can provide the best chance for successful treatment, which might include freezing, scraping and burning, radiation or surgery. For some, there may be good news coming from physician researchers such as Dr. Abel Torres, chairman of the Department of Dermatology at the University of Florida, Gainesville College of Medicine. His work involves topical immunomodulators in the treatment of skin cancers and noninvasive techniques in detection. He says destroying pre-skin cancers, such as actinic keratoses is another step after sun protection for avoiding skin cancer. These traditionally are treated with liquid nitrogen therapy, curettage (scraping of the skin) or topical therapy, commonly used as a treatment called field therapy. “Many times, when you see actinic keratoses (a rough, scaly spot on the skin caused by years of sun exposure) you may see only one or two but many more are lurking under the surface. It’s like you see weeds that pop up but you don’t see the rest of the



weeds that are ready to pop up. Using field therapy is like using a weed killer to kill those weeds before you see them,” he explains. “One common medication is a chemotherapy agent (5 Flurouracil Cream) used to kill cancer or anything that grows rapidly. That’s why it works well in pre-cancers, because they’re growing rapidly and out of control. Still, it’s a topical chemical you put on the skin to try to kill the bad cells while sparing the good cells. Topical immunotherapy is a concept to use a more natural way to stimulate your immune system to destroy the pre-skin cancer. The topical medication Aldara, or its generic, Imiquimod, is a more natural way to destroy skin cancer without injuring normal tissue.” Topical immunotherapy also can be used to treat some forms of skin cancer, such as basal cell or lentigo maligna, “a type of precursor to melanoma. The latter can be large lesions on the face and can result in surgery that may be disfiguring.” One problem with using topical therapy is deciding when a skin lesion needs treatment or, if it is treated, has it gone away. Thus, there is also a need to be able to non-invasively diagnose skin lesions while minimizing the need to do a skin biopsy, Torres notes. In the area of noninvasive diagnoses, he says a new technique is using imaging that bounces a laser off the skin, similar to ultrasound. “You can see a picture of what’s underneath the skin,” he offers. “At UF we have confocal microscopy, where a patient can get imaging done and we can decide if a skin lesion is something that needs a biopsy.” Another imaging technique that can be helpful in deciding if a skin spot like a mole needs a biopsy is total body imaging where a patient’s entire skin is photographed. This can help in determining such things as if a mole changes appearance in a concerning way or a new mole appears between doctor visits. This technique, when used with computer programming such as artificial intelligence and dermoscopy, a noninvasive type of magnification of skin lesions, he adds, can make it even more accurate in deciding if something is benign or malignant and maybe spare a patient from having a biopsy or surgery.” To learn more, visit ufhealth.org/skin-cancer and rboi.com


Decoding Dementia Hospice of Marion County is offering the community a virtual experience that simulates the struggles of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia. By Lisa McGinnes


o walk in the shoes of someone living with mid-stage dementia is a rare opportunity, but the disorienting experience is an extremely valuable one. Those who experience it call the Virtual Dementia Tour (VDT) “life-changing” and “mindblowing.” Many are moved to tears. All walk away with a better understanding of the challenges so many of our senior citizens face on a daily basis. The evidence-based dementia simulation training developed by Second Wind Dreams is now being offered free to anyone in our community by Hospice of Marion County (HMC). With an estimated 13 percent of Marion County residents 65 and older diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and an unknown number living with other forms of dementia, according to the Department of Elder Affairs, many of us will know someone diagnosed with these diseases, whether our own parents, a loved one or a friend. “Because there’s going to be an ongoing mass influx of people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s, the more people who understand it—whether you’re a server at a restaurant, a doctor or a caregiver—the better you can serve those people living with dementia,” says DJ Ryan, RN, the community education liaison for Hospice of Marion County and a certified VDT facilitator. “Once you have a better understanding, you have a better understanding of how to care for them, how to respond to them and how to better interact with them.”

Photos courtesy of Second Wind Dreams

Walk in Their Shoes

Even after 25 years in nursing, including working in a memory care unit, Ryan says he was “blown away” by his own first experience with the sensitivity training, in which participants are equipped with headphones and specialized glasses, gloves and shoe inserts to simulate the cognitive, auditory, sensory and motor neural symptoms that affect those living with dementia. The virtual experience helps people understand that dementia is much more than a memory problem, Ryan explains, adding that, by mid-stage

dementia, at all times at least two parts of the brain are affected by this progressive, terminal disease. “It’s a total brain malfunction,” he says, explaining that, by mid-stage dementia, a person misses about every fourth word said to them because the brain is struggling to process auditory input. They’re not able to filter out distracting background noises. Their vision is impaired because of a restricted field of vision, they likely struggle with depth perception and their brains require more light to process visual data. And, of course, they have trouble recognizing faces, people and objects. The physical symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia can also be a source of great pain and discomfort, adds Lanie Shirey, the HMC director of marketing and a certified VDT facilitator. Those living with the diseases often suffer sensory deprivation and limited dexterity, which can limit fine motor skills in the fingers and can affect their ability to walk comfortably and safely. “You’ve got auditory input affecting the brain’s functioning. You have visual deficits affecting the brain’s functioning and then you have tactile, sensory, comfort. Your brain tries to make sense of each of them as they occur,” she notes. And, she adds, folks living with dementia often don’t have the ability to verbalize that they’re feeling pain, whether it’s arthritis, sore muscles or a headache, so they’re often suffering silently with distracting discomfort. Aug ust ‘21



“Once you go through this, you’re going to come out with a complete 180 degree of what you perceived Alzheimer’s and dementia to be like,” Ryan says. “You’re going to experience them.”

More Compassionate Care

Over the past year, nearly 400 people have taken part in the VDT through Hospice of Marion County. About half were staff from assisted living, memory care and long-term care facilities and the other half were community residents, many of whom are caring for a loved one living with dementia. “Recently there was a gentleman whose wife is deep in the throes of Alzheimer’s and dementia and, because of this workshop, he burst into tears during the debrief and said, ‘Wow, you have no clue how after today I will be a better caregiver for my wife.’ And that’s priceless to us,” Shirey reveals. “Everyone says that,” Ryan adds. “The ones who attend all say they’re a better caregiver because of it. The other day, someone said, ‘I will never ever be rude to an elderly person ever again. I will have more patience regardless of the circumstances.’ Because you don’t know who has dementia, you don’t know who has early stage. Late stage is pretty obvious. But early to mid-stage, these are folks who are walking, shopping with their loved ones, going to restaurants with their loved ones, participating in life, and you never know where you’re going to run into them.” The VDT is offered as a stand-alone experience and also as part of HMC’s quarterly caregiver workshop, which routinely is filled to capacity with 10 participants. The goal, Shirey says, is eventually to offer the workshop five to six times a month.

Supporting Dementia Education

One HMC volunteer has made it his personal mission to expand dementia education in our 64


community. John Renyhart lost his beloved wife of 55 years, Nancy, in April 2020 after a nine-year struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. As her caregiver, Renyhart calls himself a “grateful recipient of hospice care” because of the medical services they provided for his wife, the caregiver support and respite care they provided to help him and the ongoing grief support they offer. After her passing, Renyhart not only volunteered as a greeter at The Cates House, as a caregiver support facilitator for a group at Ocala Palms Golf & Country Club and as a member of HMC’s philanthropy committee, he also set up The Nancy Renyhart Endowment for Dementia Education. “After my wife’s passing, I wanted to do something to memorialize her,” Renyhart says. “I know how important education was to me and I want to make sure it’s available to other people.” Even with his personal experience, the VDT was “eye-opening,” he says, “because that helps to get people conditioned, to get people to be more empathetic, more understanding, what it’s like when you have an encounter with someone with dementia.” Renyhart’s hope is that the endowment will eventually support a full-time dementia educator. Donors can make tax-deductible gifts to the fund through HMC and Pinnacle Retirement Advisors is sponsoring a golf tournament at Ocala Golf Club on November 5th with a goal of raising $20,000 for the endowment. Both Renyhart and HMC staff look forward to being able to expand dementia education services in Marion County. “As the community hospice, we feel this is our responsibility,” Shirey says. “Every 65 seconds, someone in this country is newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s an honor and a privilege for us to provide this. We can make a significant difference in other people’s lives, and that’s priceless.” To register for the VDT or the caregiver workshop, email DJ Ryan at dryan@hospiceofmarion.com or call (352) 857-7644.

The Virtual Dementia Tour, created by P.K. Beville, is a scientifically proven method of building a greater understanding of dementia through the use of patented sensory tools and instruction. Proceeds from the sale of the Virtual Dementia Tour support the work of Second Wind Dreams, an internationally known nonprofit dedicated to changing the perception of aging through the fulfillment of elders dreams.

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