Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Froggin' With Jack

One of my all time favorite foods is frog. I love those tasty legs fried or sauteed; French style, Southern style, and especially the Thai style I had the other night at Rouen Thai. I have a dandy recipe for deep fried frog legs cooked at home whenever I can find those tasty treats at the grocery.

Many, many years ago I tried gigging for frogs. If memory serves, I didn't have much luck stabbing those little hoppers with a spear at the end of a long pole.

But wait!

I just discovered a better way of acquiring frog thanks to my bride, the Belle of Ballast Point and her morning email. She is just so good to me!

I'll be heading out to the pond right after a quick stop at the local ABC Liquor emporium.

Actually, if the heavy downpours we are experiencing here in Tampa today don't let up soon, I can just wait at the door for the pond to come to me. And, if it doesn't; well, I'll have my buddy Jack to console me.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I'll Have My Eggcorn Sunnyside Up, Please

I was reading a restaurant review the other day, if you can call an insipid two-paragraph description of a cheap sandwich a review, when I came across this: "...an in prompt to lunch meeting.” My first thought was the writer is an idiot, but out of a sense of boredom and curiosity, I decided to investigate this odd phrase.

Could it be, I wondered, an eggcorn? There is such a thing. From Wikipedia, "...an eggcorn is [the] ...substitution of a word or phrase for a word or words that sound similar or identical in the speaker's dialect."

The caveat here is that the new phrase, while different in meaning from the original, must be plausible in the same context, such as "old-timers' disease" for "Alzheimer's disease". If the new phrase does not meet this requirement then it is not an eggcorn. Instead, it is a malapropism, which is the use of an incorrect word in place of a word with a similar sound, resulting in a nonsensical utterance.

It would seem then, that "in prompt to" is a malapropism, and a phrase with no meaning that cannot stand as a substitute for the word impromptu. I have to conclude that my first thought was correct. The writer is a grammatical dolt.

While there can be much humor in malapropisms, or as Mrs.Malaprop once said, "Sure, if I reprehend any thing [sic] in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!", it still saddens me to see the abuse of our beautiful English language accepted as the norm in today's society. This may prove to be disastrous and can lead to our eventual downfall or fall down.

“Ill-fitting grammar are [sic] like ill-fitting shoes. You can get used to it for a bit, but then one day your toes fall off and you can't walk to the bathroom.” ― Jasper Fforde, One of Our Thursdays Is Missing

Take that, and may it serve you well! As the great Winston Churchill once said, “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.” That quote has nothing to do with eggcorns or malapropisms. It just amused me greatly.

Friday, April 26, 2013

He Stopped Loving Her Today

George Jones, the definitive country singer of the last half-century, died today at a hospital in Nashville. He was 81. 

As a country music DJ back in the 1960s at WSCM in Panama City Beach, hits such as White Lightning, She Thinks I Still Care, and The Race is On by Mr. Jones were some of our station's most requested songs. I left radio in 1968 to join the Army, but always remained a loyal George Jones fan.

Country music and the world has lost a great talent.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Hidden Gem In Pass-A-Grille

Editor's Update: The Black Palm has moved to a new location - 1700 Park St N. St Petersburg, FL 33710
Phone: 727.360.5000

Pen and ink drawing - JLR 2013

For years we have been going to the beach at Pass-A-Grille. We have dined at the usual beach bars and tourist magnets unaware of a gastronomic gem located a mere block away from the beach road.

An epicurean delight, the Black Palm Restaurant located at 109 8th Avenue demanded our presence. After drooling over their on-line menu, we were helpless to resist.

We called ahead to make dinner reservations for yesterday evening, so when we arrived we were promptly seated and attended to by not one, but two servers.

Jim and Kevin provided us with excellent service - speedy delivery of adult beverages to get the juices flowing, and recommendations that enhanced our evening.

My date for the evening and for life, the Belle of Ballast Point, started with a glass of Bodini Chardonnay from Argentina - a light refreshing beverage.

I pondered the choices from the cocktail menu and decided on an interesting, yet unusual, Hendrick's Cucumber Mojito - Hendrick's Dry Gin, fresh cucumbers, fresh squeezed lime juice, fresh muddled mint, sugar cane syrup and a splash of club soda.

This was a perfect beverage to calm the nerves and wash away the road dust after a long and arduous journey across the bay from the paradise that is SOG City - South of Gandy in Tampa.

That might have been a touch melodramatic. The journey wasn't that bad, but the mojito was really good.

We decided on a bottle of Tikal "Patriota" (60% Bonarda/40% Malbec), 2010, another Argentinian taste treat, to accompany our dinner selections. While the wine breathed, we agonized over our food choices - should we order just from the tapas menu, or be little piglets and choose a couple of tapas and a couple of large plates from the dinner menu?

All right then, piglets it is! From the tapas menu we requested the Salchichón con Asiago, grilled South American salami, served with Asiago cheese and heavenly white corn cakes.

The sausage was savory and good, but I couldn't keep my bride away from those corn cakes.

She raved over them!

Our other tapas choice was the Lomo Fino Carpaccio - a peppercorn encrusted beef tenderloin seasoned with smoked salt, chimichurri oil and Asiago cheese.

This carpaccio was superb, topped with arugula and highlighted with flavorful tomato and avocado slices.

From the Cenas (dinners) side of the menu, the Belle chose the Café con Carne, an 8 ounce pecan-espresso encrusted filet mignon served with flash fried veggies and tortilla wrap mashed potatoes. This cut of Angus beef was perfectly prepared to the requested temperature and just melted on the tongue. Muy delicioso!

I was torn between the pan-seared lollipop lamb chops and the aquatic fowl. Jim said he could heartily recommend both, but the Pato Apasionado, an orange passion fruit glazed crispy duck breast with sofrito cream rice and grilled zucchini, was a personal favorite. Generally, if the server says it's good, then I defer to their judgement.

Jim did not lead me astray. This was a dish bursting with flavor cooked to a perfect medium rare as requested, and apparently as the chef prefers. The only difficulty I had with my dinner was keeping my bride away from the sofrito cream rice. She swooned over that rice. Swooned, I tell you!

Not that either of us really needed a dessert, but since women are blessed with a dessert stomach, she decided on the Cheesecake de Guava with a almond-butter crust. I'm not much for sweets, but the bite that I was allowed was very good.

It is always a highlight of any dining experience to meet the chef, and on this night we were honored to meet the young gentleman responsible for our outstanding dinner at the Black Palm - Matt Smith, the Chef de Cocina.

The Black Palm has been around since 2005 and we cannot believe we have only just discovered for ourselves this hidden gem. There is everything from food, beverage, and staff to recommend the Black Palm.

For all that we consumed and enjoyed, our total for the evening came to a very reasonable $158.36, plus an additional 20% for superior service.

I don't believe I mentioned that Black Palm has a full bar.

Black Palm Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Black Palm Restaurant on Foodio54

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Food Blogger Convergence

I should state right up front that these two foodies are not our usual blogger convergence dining partners, but they were entertaining - not particularly loquacious or eloquent, but entertaining.

Sometimes, you just have to make do.

We are looking forward to reading their restaurant review, though. They promised us one or two simplistic paragraphs rife with spelling errors, grammatical faux pas, and run-on sentences.

Be still, my beating heart!

Back To The Greek Islands

Not all that long ago the Belle of Ballast Point and I enjoyed an idyllic week in the Greek Cyclades. We stayed at a cliff side villa near Fira on the island of Santorini.

This was one of the best experiences ever - the food, the wine, the friendly people, and of course the spectacular views overlooking the caldera.

Every so often we try to relive our Greek adventure by driving over to Tarpon Springs and dining at one of the restaurants near the sponge docks. For years our favorite was Santorini's, even after the name change to Dimitri's. Sadly, over the last several visits the quality of the food has slid down into the caldera, so on this trip we decided to dine at another island-named venue, Mykonos at 628 Dodecanese.

We began our afternoon Greek dining adventure by ordering a bottle of a white Boutari wine from the island of Santorini. We consumed a fair amount of this light, refreshing wine while on the island both in restaurants and on a tour of the winery.

Nýfi̱ mou (my bride) began her repast with a Tarpon Springs Greek Salad, a bed of romaine with a vinegary potato salad, tomato, pepper, olives, feta, and cucumber. I stress "Tarpon Springs" because a traditional Greek salad, called Horiatiki Salata, is a flavorful combination of olives, tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, feta cheese and sometimes capers. The addition of potato salad is an American invention.

Either way, it was declared nóstima, a delight to the buds of her taste receptor cells.

To round out her dining experience, the Belle also requested a serving of Greek Potato Cakes.

These cakes were simply mashed potatoes coated with a breading and then fried. They were similar to the Cuban beef stuffed potato balls but without the stuffing or Wow! factor.

This was an octopodi kind of day for me. I had two sensational octopus dishes. The first was a Chef's Special with a melt-in-the-mouth tender octopus sauteed with onions in a heavenly broth.

An adjacent table ordered the Charbroiled Octopus that looked so good I just had to have some. They were a bunch of poops and wouldn't share, so I requested an order of my own. This dish tasted even better than it looked, and it did look good.

One of the reasons the Greeks are so long lived has to do with their diet. They eat a lot of vegetation, and one of the must-have daily dishes is the horta - boiled field greens with olive oil and a squirt or two of fresh lemon. I cook something similar at home with collards or mustard greens, but I really prefer the authentic Greek version.

Both of us were extremely pleased with our visit to Mykonos. And, if octopus isn't high on your list of Greek delights, Mykonos has a full menu of delicacies for the less adventurous palate.

Food and wine plus a 20% gratuity came to a tad over $100. Ef̱charistó̱ to Vickie our charming server.

Mykonos on Urbanspoon

Mykonos on Foodio54

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Real Food Of Florida

As life slowly returns to normal, I find myself once again glaring at my computer screen getting caught up on current events. One of those events was a segment on the Cooking Channel blog entitled, Favorite State Foods.

Apparently viewers across the country were asked to weigh in on what foods they felt were most closely associated with the state they were in. I should clarify that this poll referred to the state of the union, not their state of mind or lack thereof. Cheese Puffs after puffing a doobie did not get included. Oh well, maybe on the next Cooking Channel survey.

I was particularly interested in the food most closely associated with Florida. To my surprise and amusement the winning dish was the ubiquitous Key Lime Pie. My first thought was to say, "No way Josey Wales!" On my second thought I had to admit that a Key Lime Pie of varying quality and authenticity can be found from the Florida Keys, up to Jacksonville, over to Pensacola, and at all points between.

That pie would not have been my first choice, but if not the Key Lime Pie, what then? As I pondered this question my mind raced around the state searching for the Florida State Food. It was here that I ran into trouble. I had to ask myself, "What part of the state?" Pausing to ponder some more, I came to the realization that Florida could actually be split into at least five separate states. Well, maybe four states and one independent country.

Dribbling off the phallus of Florida like golden drops of dew on the island nation of Cuba we have the Keys and the Conch Republic of Key West. I suppose it would be fair to say that the pie is closely associated by many with the Keys and Key West, although my first choice would be the Florida Spiny Lobster.

Picking a state food becomes somewhat problematic the farther north you travel. As someone recently stated, "The farther north you go in Florida, the farther south you get," or words to that effect. In Miami, the iconic food is really a food and a beverage: Cafe con leche with buttered and cheesy toasted Cuban bread. Once you get to Central Florida, in Tampa there is but one choice - the Cuban sandwich.

I have no idea what they eat in the Orlando area. That is a whole separate World inhabited by all sorts of alien critters, but when you get north of Gainesville you arrive at the state lines. To the east is the State of South Georgia Annex with Jacksonville as its capital. I think they eat peanuts and pecans.

Turning to the west takes you to L.A. No, not the one in California. I'm referring to Lower Alabama with its capital in Tallahassee or Sopchoppy. I can never remember which. In these parts, the iconic food has to be Apalachicola oysters, shucked all the way from Perry to the outskirts of Pensacola.

Texas may have its brisket, Georgia its peaches, Vermont its apples, and Minnesota its hotdish (pronouned hoddish), but Florida is too diverse to have just one iconic food because there are at least five separate and distinct parts of the state.

There are even more if you break the state down into sub-regions, and sub-sub-regions. Then of course there is Yeehaw Junction where I have heard they eat their young. That's just a nasty, unconfirmed rumor...I bet.

So there Cooking Channel! There is the real "Food of Florida." We refuse to be pigeon holed, or holed in any other manner.

And, you are welcome.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Oracle On Hiatus

We are taking some time off from blogging and restaurant reviewing. The Belle of Ballast Point, my bride Lydia, lost her mother earlier today. We have more important things to attend to for now.

Edith Wireman of Lima, Ohio succumbed to a combination cancer and old age. She was a feisty lady who fought to the bitter end.

Lydia and her Mom - circa 1955
Obituary and guest book may be accessed HERE.

Lydia and I thank those who have left comments with kind words of sympathy and support.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Smokin' At The Shack

The Belle of Ballast Point and I apparently live very sheltered lives. I say this because neither of us had ever frequented a food truck. We know they are around and we have seen them on the food and travel channels on the teevee, but we had never patronized one - until last evening.

Sitting right there next to The Garden of Eat'n at 3401 South West Shore Boulevard in Tampa is The Smoke Shack "serving the finest quality competition grade smoked meats, a wide array of delicious homemade gourmet side dishes and a full line of signature barbecue sauces."

Well, says I, we'll just have to see about that. In the meantime we'll just sit here in these dandy rockers whilst we peruse the menu. Also, in the interest of accurate reporting, the Smoke Shack is more like a wagon than a truck in as much as there was no engine and driver's seat. I am not here to pick nits, so let's press onward.

I'll have to say that The Smoke Shack did show us a thing or three. The smoked meats were cooked to perfection and the sides were divine. The young lady who catered to our every whim was simply charming. Lea even invited me into their kitchen on wheels to have a look around since I admitted this was my first time.

My lovely bride is an aficionado of pulled pork and Mac 'n' Cheese, so it was a given that she would have the Pulled Pork plate that comes with two sides. For the Belle the sides were Truffle Mac 'n' Cheese and Cole Slaw. She also got a serving cup of Carolina BBQ sauce to adorn her pork.

The pork was perfection, the cole slaw was tasty, and the mac 'n' cheese was delicious. I tried a little of each and enjoyed them all. The "truffle" did not shine through for me, though. It was very understated. The Carolina BBQ sauce was a superb adornment to the pork.

Even with the prospect of being, shall we say, entertaining later in the evening I just had to have the collard greens and baked beans as my two sides to accompany my chopped Brisket plate.


The brisket with the addition of a zesty chipotle sauce was sublime. The beans and greens were excellent. The greens even more so after I got home and added a couple of dashes of my homemade vinegar pepper sauce.

Both the pulled pork and chopped brisket plates were loaded with meat and probably would have made two sandwiches per plate had we chosen to go that route. We cleaned our plates and were stuffed.

In addition to the pulled pork and brisket, The Smoke Shack features Smoked Sausage by the link or pound, Memphis Style Baby Back Ribs, and Brunswick Stew by the cup, pint, or quart.

This was a positive dining experience, and I didn't have to cook - woo hoo!

The Smoke Shack on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Our Road Trip To Parts Of Paris

"Mon dieu monsieur, Paris is such a big city, tell us what parts of Paris?" you query. Certainement, the Belle of Ballast Point and I went to Parts of Paris Bistro at 146 4th Avenue North in Safety Harbor, Florida yesterday evening.

Parts of Paris is a homey place situated on a quiet tree-lined street a few blocks off the main drag, coincidentally enough, called Main Street. We were warmly greeted the moment we entered the outdoor seating area.

The Belle and I arrived a little past the start of five o'clock dinner service, so we had our choice of indoor or outdoor seating. We chose to dine indoors even though the weather was perfect for patio dining.

Main dining room looking back toward the POP Wine Bar.
Paris looked empty upon our early arrival, but it did not stay that way for long, and reservations are de rigueur.

Chris was our server and chef-in-training for the evening, offering excellent advice on menu choices for food and wine, and giving us a little background on Parts of Paris. For instance, the chef de cuisine, sous chef, and most of the kitchen staff are under 25 years of age. As the evening progressed we continued to be amazed that these people could perfect their craft at such an young age.

While perusing the food menu, my bride and I decided to start our evening with two glasses of Pierre Chainier, Brut, a sparkling wine from France with notes of fruit, floral and elegance.

The appetizer menu was a challenge for me - which delectable delight do I choose? I finally homed in on the pork belly...or, maybe the frog legs. I love both! Chris said both were excellent, but the Poitrine de Porc, pork belly, cured egg yolk, apple mostarda, with braised greens was his favorite.

All I could think when that crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside belly hit my tongue, was heaven on a plate. That, and I could have saved myself a trip to Atlanta last week where I had a similar dish at the South City Kitchen. Which was better? It's a close call, but Safety Harbor is a lot closer than Atlanta. The pork with greens and apple mustard was divine.

My bride also experienced a conundrum when deciding on an appetizer, but finally chose the Steak Tartare Classique, a melt in the mouth chopped tenderloin with the classic condiments, and the cutest little quail egg. C'est magnifique!

After devouring our appetizers, it was time to face more difficult decisions. Should we order the Ribeye, Steak au Poivre, Boeuf Bourguignon, Lamb Racks, Pan-Seared Duck Breast, or the Bouillabaisse. Any one of those would give our taste buds a tingle, but Chris suggested two of his favorites. He had yet to steer us in the wrong direction.

I still salivate over my Ribeye with roasted mushrooms, blue cheese, butter braised turnips, and  savory jus. Chris said medium would be the perfect temperature for this steak and he was correct - tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor.

My dining partner achieved gastronomic nirvana with her Steak au Poivre, a filet mignon served with creamy green peppercorn sauce, pommes frites and sugar snaps.

I still have to question French fries at a high end restaurant, but 'when in Paris'.

To accompany our entrées we enjoyed a bottle of Chilean Mont Gras Reserve, a smooth, velvety, Cabernet Saivignon with hints of blackberry cassis, and chocolate.

Speaking of chocolate - dessert was a light and flavorful Mousse au Chocolat which paired quite well with the last of our Mont Gras.

Food, wine, and service were all outstanding at Parts of Paris which makes a return visit a part of our future.

Our total bill came to a very reasonable $153.01. Chris deserved the 20% gratuity we added to that total.

Parts of Paris Bistro on Urbanspoon

Parts of Paris Bistro on Foodio54

Editor's note: The Oracle dines anonymously and we do not trade glorious reviews for free food and booze.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Oh, Kale Yeah!

Okay health food freaks, you went out and bought a big wad of fresh kale to whiz up in your new Whiz-Bang Bullet. Then you realize that the bullet only requires a handful at a time and this miracle green is going to go bad before you can use it all. Now what?

Before I tell you what's what, I have to say that this bullet thingy is a real treasure. I have been able to whiz up some really healthful stuff, and everybody who is anybody in the nutritional world says we don't eat enough good stuff like raw fruits and veggies.

The Bullet provides a way to cram all sorts of vitamin and fiber packed cra...er, nutritious food into our fat selves. Just follow the directions by adding a wad of fresh raw veg, some fruit, maybe some nuts, and top off with water.

You probably wouldn't think of taking a bite out of that handful of kale, but whizzing it with fruit and nuts makes it palatable, and oh so good for you.

As the head cook in the SOG City kitchen, that bullet allows me to utilize some fruit and veggie scraps that I trim from dinner prep. Let's say you have no use in tonight's recipe for broccoli stalks or green tops of carrots; let's say you couldn't eat all of that salad or the greens served at the restaurant last night - well, don't toss them out, whiz'em up.

It's good for you, and it better utilizes your food dollars.

What was I going to talk about? Oh yeah, kale.

How propitious that yesterday the bad girl of the Cooking Channel, Nadia G, posted a dandy kale recipe. When I first saw the recipe I thought, "You have got to be kidding!" Then I decided to try Nadia's recipe. I had nothing to lose since I really did have a shit-load (official unit of Southern measurement) of the stuff that was thinking about going bad.

Here, then, is Nadia's recipe for:

Baked Kale Chips with Cider Vinegar

1/4 cup EVOO
1 bunch of kale, stemmed and rinsed, and thoroughly dried
a sprinkle of sea salt, to taste
a spritz of cider vinegar - I used a home made pepper vinegar for a little extra pizzaz

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Add the oil and kale to a plastic bag and distribute the oil as much as possible to coat the kale. Then distribute the kale evenly on a baking sheet and bake until crispy. Give it 10 to 15 minutes, but keep an eye on it toward the end and remove the tray before the kale turns black. You are looking for a real dark green.

Sprinkle with the sea salt and vinegar and you have some really tasty bar food to accompany strips of heavenly baked bacon. You just pick up the kale chips and shkoff'em down like potato chips. What could be more healthful and delicious than baked kale, bacon, and booze?

Well, probably fresh raw fruits and vegetables, but let's not get fanatical about this healthy eating thing.

Food should be fun - and, delicious. That kale was delicious.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A Feast For The Soul

Please do not think less of me, but I watch American Idol. I watch this program because my bride likes it and she watches it, and I like being with her. Besides, for all she does for me, enduring this show is the least I can do for her.

Well, last night the Idol featured one performer who just blew me away. It certainly wasn't one of the contestants. It was the unbelievable guitarist, Orianthi. We only got a small taste of her talent last night.

Today, I am ready for the rest of the meal. Serving a musical feast for my soul - Orianthi...

Note: There is a conversation at the beginning that ends at 40 seconds. Then the feast begins in earnest.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

You Want Italian? I Got Your Italian!

While braving the shopping aisles at Publix the other day, I spied a couple of really nicely marbled rib-eye steaks in the meat department. I had to have them, and they needed to come home with me. The three of us lived happily ever after until last night - I cooked them and my bride and I ate them, and we are glad. Those steaks were so good!

"How good," you ask? I'll leave it to you to decide.

I based my recipe on several Italian dishes I have enjoyed in the past. One was Italian Sunday Gravy, a traditional dish of various meats braised in a marinara gravy (or sauce, if you prefer) for hours on end. Another favorite of mine was a steak pizzaiola that I had years ago at Maria's, a no longer around Italian restaurant on Westshore (now a CDB's).

Since I have carrots growing in the garden out back, I thought I would add some of those à la Bolognese style.

So, here is last nights dinner:
Steak with Pasta and Italian Gravy

Recipe By      : JLR
Serving Size  : 4   
Categories     : Main Dish, Italian
Total time       : 00:45

  4            tablespoons  olive oil
  2            rib-eye steaks -- 6 to 8 ounces each
                salt and pepper -- liberally coating steaks
  2            medium  onions -- cut in half then thinly sliced
  2            medium  carrots -- peeled and thinly sliced
  4            cloves  garlic -- minced
  1            teaspoon  dried oregano
  3/4         cup  dry red wine
  24          ounces  marinara sauce -- bottled
  1            cup  beef broth
  16          ounces  linguine
  3            ounces  Parmesan cheese -- grated

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large frying pan over high heat. Season the steaks with salt and pepper.

Cook the steaks until they are well caramelized but still rare in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the steaks to a plate and set aside to rest.

Reduce heat and add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan. Saute the onions and carrots until the onions are translucent, about 8 minutes.

Add the garlic and oregano, and saute for 1 minute.

Add the wine and simmer for 1 minute.

Add the marinara sauce and broth.

Cover and simmer over medium-low heat to allow the flavors to blend, about 10 minutes.

Season the gravy to taste with salt and pepper if needed.

Meanwhile, trim off any fat from the steaks, then slice the steaks into 2" by 1/4" strips and add to the gravy along with any steak juices. Stir to mix.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine and cook according to package directions. Drain the linguine reserving a cup of the pasta water should the gravy be too thick.

Plate the linguine and top with steak and gravy. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve.

Chef's notes: You can adjust the doneness of the steaks to your liking by adding the strips sooner or later to the gravy.

For the marinara sauce I used Barilla All Natural. That's not necessarily an endorsement. I like this stuff, but use what you want.

Bon appétit, y'all.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cincinnati Chili With A Twist

Nothing seems to warm the body and soul on a damp and chilly Florida winter day like chili, so last night I whipped some up for my bride and me. As I took stock of stuff in the fridge and the pantry I came to the unpleasant realization that I didn't have the necessary ingredients for a great Texas style chili. The same was true for a Cincinnati style unless I chose to limit myself to a two or maybe three way. I didn't choose to do that.

What I did choose to do was put together what I call:

Cincy Chili Tampa Style

Recipe By      : JLR
Serving Size  : 4

  16            ounces  angel hair pasta
  1              tablespoon bacon fat, or olive oil if you must
  1              cup  onion -- coarsely chopped
  1              cup  red pepper -- coarsely chopped
  1              pound  ground chuck
  24            ounces  sofrito -- tomato based
  15            ounces  black beans, canned -- drained
  1/2           cup  water
  4              ounces  green chiles -- chopped and drained
  1              tablespoon  chili powder
  1              tablespoon  unsweetened cocoa powder
  1              teaspoon  cumin
  1              teaspoon  dried oregano
  1/2           cup  Monterey jack cheese -- shredded
  2              tablespoons  fresh cilantro -- chopped
  8              ounces  sour cream

Cook pasta according to package directions and drain, but save a 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and bring to up temperature. Then add onion and red pepper. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender.

Add ground chuck and cook until all pink is gone.

Add remaining ingredients except cheese, cilantro, and sour cream; heat to boiling. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.

To serve, plate the pasta and spoon the sauce on top. Sprinkle with cheese and cilantro, and then a dollop of sour cream to top off the dish.

Cuisine: "Floribbean"
Start to Finish Time: "0:45"

I store all of my recipes in MasterCook, so that is the format you see here. I didn't include nutritional information since I am not convinced that MasterCook is all that accurate. There are other calorie counter applications that seem to give better results, but I'm not one to vouch for them, either.

What I can vouch for is this recipe is really tasty. The Belle of Ballast Point agreed.

Buen provecho, y'all.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Outtakes From Atlanta

We flew up to Atlanta the weekend before last for two nights of feasting at a couple of cutting edge restaurants. The food photos I took have already been posted on my reviews of The Optimist, the South City Kitchen, and Steamhouse Lounge.

I took a few additional shots while in Atlanta, what I refer to as outtakes since they were never intended for the restaurant reviews. It seemed a shame to just delete those pictures, so I took them with me in to my digital darkroom and played with them.

Here are the results (good, bad, or indifferent):

Parking Space - from 12th floor Marriott midtown.
Get Your Legs Done - 14th Street and West Peachtree
Sphere on 14th - midtown Atlanta
The Pyramid on 14th
Looking Up - 14th and Crescent
Tiptoe Through The Atlanta Tulips
Bloomin' Tulip
Happy April first, y'all.

Ooops! Forgot a photo, though this one didn't come from Atlanta. This picture was taken by my bride at the Seabreeze Ybor after she  asked, "How on Earth do you eat frog?"

So, I showed her - you put one little leg over your right ear and the other over your left, and voilà!

Yeah, I should probably be ashamed of myself, but I am just too damned old for such as that.