The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 11 No. 16 - January 19, 2011


Mermaid features Gulf Coast regional food

ANNA MARIA – For a delightful and delicious culinary journey around the Gulf Coast, try visiting the Sign of the Mermaid on Wednesdays.

Chefs Andrea and Ed Spring are offering Gulf Coast regional dinners every Wednesday for the next four weeks. On Jan. 19, you can sample the cuisine of Key West, on Jan. 26 travel to the deep south low country, on Feb. 2 kick up your heels with Texas coastal and on Feb. 9 New Orleans beckons.

"I started traveling for the raisin board and went to a lot of places – San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Las Angeles, Andrea explained. "I got to tune in to what's going on in the food scene.

"Here, we get buried in our own little world, and it's hard to keep up with things. We watch food shows on television and read the magazines, but it's not like being there."

Last spring, Andrea won the Crisco American Pie Council National Pie Championship with her chocolate raisin walnut pie. That led to her becoming a representative for the California Raisin Marketing Board and the trips across the country.

"The marketing board takes you to all the best restaurants, and they're all geared to local produce, meats, dairy products," Andrea continued. "I was inspired to come do it here.

"We wanted to pay attention to what we could get locally and make it good out of what it is. It's world's above what we were getting with a food service."

Andrea said they decided to feature the cuisine of the Gulf Coast, and the first dinner, served last week, was New Orleans style, which will be repeated in February. It included crabmeat St. Francis, sweet and sour cucumber pecan salad, a blackened filet and a giant scallop with Commander's Palace smashed potatoes and bread pudding baked Alaska.

"In New Orleans they have very solid food traditions and a certain way of doing things," Andrea said. "They take the time to create deep intense flavors."

This week's Key West dinner will include some of the many influences on the island including Southern, Caribbean and Florida. The menu includes sweet rum shrimp appetizer, spicy crab cake with papaya slaw, snapper Rangoon with orange molasses glazed pork tenderloin and key lime ambrosia tart.

The low country dinner will center on Alabama and Georgia with foods such as shrimp and grits and seafood boils.

"With the Texas coastal dinner we'll bring in Tex-Mex flavors combined with Gulf Coast seafood," Andrea explained. "We have two cooks, Olga and Nubia, who are from Mexico and have introduced me to wonderful foods.

"They make everything by hand – tortillas, dumplings – people don't do that any more. It should be different and fun."

Dinners are $39 per person and each includes an appetizer, a salad or soup, an entrée and a dessert. Reservations are recommended by calling 778-9399.

Sign of the Mermaid

9707 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, 941-778-9399

Breakfast and lunch:
Wednesday through Sunday,
7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

2010 - Looking for balance

Investment Corner

From the January 12, 2011 issue


In my final article of 2010 I suggested a few resolutions to consider implementing in your portfolio planning. An important part of the investment process is reviewing what has worked and not worked for you, and the beginning of a new year is a traditional and appropriate time to do this.

Your review should be done in the context of determining if the fluctuation in market prices forced your portfolio out of the balanced allocation you desire for your personal objectives and risk tolerance. In other words, if equities did really well and bonds performed poorly, your allocation to the bond portion of the portfolio may now be underweight compared to your target for the overall plan. The process of reducing overweight portfolio segments and buying more of those which are under-weight is called rebalancing.

Rebalancing is shown by virtually all studies to add somewhere between 0.5 and 1 percent to a portfolio's performance over time when completed on a regular basis. I recommend an annual rebalance, or perhaps more often, if dramatic price changes have caused an out of balance condition.

Most major asset classes performed at average to above average rates in 2010, continuing 2009's recovery from the severe financial crisis and recession we experienced. The notable exception to this performance picture is the asset class known as cash and cash equivalents. Cash type investments have a characteristic of not fluctuating in price due to their short maturities and generally high quality (or outright guarantee). Treasury bills, money market funds and certificates of deposit are the most commonly used vehicles in this class.

Due to the Federal Reserve's current policy of holding its Federal Funds Rate target at 0 to 0.25 percent, all short-term interest rates have been very low for over two years now. While we don't expect cash investments to be top-performers, except when recessions and financial crisis hit, during a period of large gains by other asset classes, such as in 2009 and 2010, it is possible your cash equivalents may now represent a smaller piece of your portfolio than you desire (unless you took a very conservative stance following the financial crisis of 2008-2009).

Rebalancing at the present time may well involve taking some profits in the equity, bond and REIT sections of the portfolio, which have performed well in the last two years, and placing the proceeds of these sales in the cash section of the portfolio. Yes, I understand that the money you move to cash will hardly earn any return at the moment, but it is also unlikely to lose any value when the next stock market correction takes place. We don't know when this will take place, but when it does, this rebalancing exercise will be the opposite – taking money that was safe from decline in cash and buying additional equities, which have now shrunk in proportion to the overall plan.

Note how rebalancing is a forced buy low, sell high strategy, which if applied in a disciplined manner will prevent your portfolio from ending up overweighted in the most over-valued assets and susceptible to the inevitable correction which strikes all overvalued market segments eventually.

The target allocation you rebalance to should be personalized for your objectives and will perhaps vary widely from the best allocation for your friends or relatives. In my next article on the 26th, we'll discuss some of the ways to determine an appropriate allocation strategy.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing. Visit


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