Saturday, April 14, 2012

Florida | Eating & Drinking

Lobster | ABC Seafood Restaurant, St. Petersburg, FL

I really love this place. The lobster was freshly cooked from the tank. Chopped up and cooked, shell still on.

Trust me -- just order seafood or something challenging. Don't go boring and order chicken with black bean sauce. You'll be uninspired and say bad things about this place. Try a whole fish. Yep, it's by the pound and might be a little expensive, but split it with everyone.

Eel | Before And After

Another suggestion at ABC -- the Salt And Pepper Eel with fried backbone included. The crunch of that fried backbone is just fantastic. The eel comes with a ton of hot peppers and scallions. You'll be scooping up that good stuff all evening long.

Grilled Octopus | Mykonos, Tarpon Springs, FL

While shopping at B-21, one of the best wine shops in the Tampa Bay Area, we asked around for some local recommendations. They suggested Mykonos in the touristy section of Tarpon Springs.

The grilled octopus and shrimp were very well executed. The octopus was the perfect combination of charred, crispy and soft. The souvlaki was pretty messy and not subtle - I much prefer the simplicity of the souvlaki at Souvlaki GR in NYC.

Greek Coffee | Hellas Restaurant

I took my coffee exactly the way she suggested -- black, a little sugar, and gritty. That grit was coffee grounds and it was just as it should be. Strong and sweet. For a more local feel bakery with no seats and no coffee, but excellent pastries, walk around the corner to National Bakery on Athens Street.

Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish | St. Petersburg, FL

Try the local mullet or the mackerel. There are other fish, such as salmon, but why go obvious, when you can go local and traditional. They were out of the mackerel, so we ordered the mullet. This ain't no dainty piece of pan fried fish, this is a whole smoked mullet. And it's just brilliant. Really smokey, a little boney, juicy, fatty in parts. Pick through it and sip your beer.

The other must-order item is the smoked fish spread. But be warned, it's so good you'll devour the saltines and the spread -- save room for that mullet.

Apparently, the burger is worth a shout-out too, but when you are eating at a place called Famous Smoked Fish, I have a problem ordering the burger.

Baked Farm Egg | Prato, Winter Park, FL

The baked egg with Delta asparagus, house coppa, parmesan was pretty spot on, as was most of the food at Prato. It's a fun, busy spot with a casual atmosphere. We also tried the Funghi pizza with roasted mushroom, radicchio, charred onion, balsamico which was really great fresh out of the wood-fired ovens, but not as good as left-overs.

It's definitely worth a stop if you are around Winter Park. And the town has an old charm about it. Work off you lunch by walking down the block and then picking up a gelato!

Boondocks | Port Orange (Daytona Beach), FL

On the water, seafood focused, totally casual and chill. Get some oysters and a pound of the spicy steamed shrimp, drink a cold beer and you won't be disappointed.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Old Wine | Getting In Touch With The Past

Chateau Latour 1973

Sometimes you drink a bottle of wine for the name, the producer, the vintage. But sometimes it's about a memory -- remembering the person that bought the bottle back in the day.

This was one of those bottles, with no expectations as to storage or vintage or how it was going to taste. The cork crumbled to tiny bits. I poured the wine through whatever hole I could create in the cork and decanted it through a strainer.

The nose was sublime -- just how you'd expect a Bordeaux from a well-known producer to taste -- cedar, cigar box, woodsy, graphite -- all the classic notes. And it wasn't half bad at all; it had held up well considering what it could have tasted like. And the vintage -- not good at all, which would explain the high acidity and minimal fruit.

But it wasn't about the wine. It was about remembering the person that purchased the bottle. Talking about them. Smiling. Reminiscing. Sometimes that's what wine is about.