Pork Butt, Bom chicka wow wow

Pork Butt, Bom chicka wow wow

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Pardon My Absence For The Last 4 Years.....

Wow! I saw that I posted 1 time on the Unnecessary Supplement blog last year.  I vaguely remember that post....

Some things have happened since we opened in 2013. Kind of a lot.  The restaurant that we own, Hot & Soul, had lots of ups & downs.  We made it onto the Cooking Channel show Road Trip With G Garvin, which was exciting, but it didn't create the tidal wave of customers that an appearance on Diners, Drive Ins & Dives might have created.

We got an overwhelming amount of support from the local media with articles.  We also got nominated Best Brunch in 2014 from Broward New Times. We stopped brunch several months after that though, because it was just easier that way.  Then we got nominated Best Restaurant in 2016 from Broward New Times.  We also got mentioned in this article from Gold Coast Magazine which was one of the articles that means the most to us.

Our past 2 years were actually the hardest.... our sous chef moved to Asheville - as a lot of Fort Lauderdale natives seem to head to the hippie hills.  The hole that she left was difficult to fill, so the work load that the sous chef usually did became split up between me, TFP, and our one cook that had been with us from day one.  Eventually, our old prep cook came back to make gnocchi & dulce de leche custards 2 times a week, which was a huge help for us.  The awesome thing was that our old prep cook was executive sous chef at another restaurant, Market 17, and eventually she became chef, but she still kept coming in twice a week, for the most part. But even so, I had to take on more prep & I did less paperwork.  The restaurant got a little more dirty & dingy, more divey.

Of course, our busiest time came when we were the most short staffed.  In 2017, we got reviewed on the local show Check, Please! South Florida.  This show, this was the game changer.  Right when it aired - new shows were played 3 times in the week they ran - we were busier than we had ever been.  And every time this show had a rerun, we would get another pop.  The only problem with this windfall of business was that it was a lot of work.  I mean emotionally.  The thing is, pre Check, Please, we weren't always crazy busy, but about 70% of our guests were regulars.  They knew what to expect, they anticipated the specials to the point that if I didn't post the specials on Instagram right at 6pm when they were supposed to be ready, they would call and ask for the specials to be posted.

With this new influx of customers, they didn't get it.  They studied the show, and asked for the Shepards pie.  Which had been a special on the night one of the reviewers had come in for dinner.  And in the scheme of specials, it was definitely not one of the best specials.  It was shepards pie.

So, the regular menu had about 13 items, and the specials menu would have between 8 items (on a slower night) and 15 items.  And it was always changing.  But, the, ahem, the demographic of the viewership, they latched onto the idea of Shepards pie, and that's what they wanted.  One lady who had never heard of Hot & Soul until the show aired, asked almost every day if we were going to have Shepards pie.  It was a big deal that we have it in order for us to be granted her patronage.  She was coming from far away, Hollywood, Plantation, or maybe Boca Raton, so she had to know ahead of time what she was going to have for dinner.  Anyway, we relented and put shepards pie on the menu after like 5 straight days of her asking.  And we called her & left a message to say that yes we would have Shepards pie tonight.  But I think we had already pissed her off at that point & she never came in.

Anyway, through all these years, we never got rich or squirreled away our extra earnings for early retirement.  Sure, we took a week long vacation every year.  But sometimes we had to take out a loan to be able to afford it & pay the bills.  A lot of people would say "congratulations on your success!" as I would be struggling to fend off the 2 headed snake (when payroll & rent would fall on the same week).  I know financial success is different than notoriety, or professional capital, or even being minor local celebrities.  But as far as bills are concerned, financial success is all that matters.  And people would think we had it all, we worked together, and were married, and we just seemed like the happiest couple who had their shit together.  I don't know how many people saw me cry in that restaurant, or saw the remnants of dried up tears on my face.  Any job is not easy when you pour your heart, soul, & body into it as far as you can go.  And you're not always going to get along with your coworkers under all that constant stress & pressure.

About a year & a half ago, we decided we weren't going to renew our lease at our current space.  We were going to sell the restaurant & pack up the gang & move back to New Orleans, reestablish ourselves & open a restaurant there.  TFP had to go back.  So we got a broker.  And the buyers came in.  And we answered the same questions over & over.  And a year went by.  Finally some guys were interested.  They were younger & optimistic. But, they didn't have good enough credit scores or enough money in the bank.  So we kept going.

But then some Italian national who was still in Italy feigned interest.  He had his broker send in a lowball offer, which we rejected.  Then, a month later, he put in a reasonable offer, and we were excited.  We were really going to leave all the bad experiences of owning a restaurant behind, & learn from our mistakes & triumphs.  But then we met the guy.  And he was like a character from a bad movie.  And he brought in numerous other Italian characters from a bad movie.  And he was untrustworthy, but our broker never appeared to think this deal might fall through.  But it did.  It dragged on for four or five months.  And it fell through.  After weeks of slow bullshit negotiations between the buyer & the landlord, they finally agreed on terms.  We received this news on a Monday, although we were informed that the buyer had to go back to Italy because his son was sick & his wife had cancer & couldn't deal on her own.  So we scheduled to close on the deal that Friday.  The buyer would e sign, no problem.  So, we posted on social media, & we contacted the local food reporter.  And an outpouring of outrage & despair met our announcement.  We pretty much broke our sales record every night for 3 nights. People waited for one to two and a half hours to get a table!  I mean, before that, some people would walk out if they would have to wait more than ten minutes!  And everyone took a lot of food home, to eat later.  It was insane. It was bittersweet for sure.

But we also realized, that maybe we needed to stay in South Florida where our loyal fans were.  If we moved out of town, we would have to, in a sense, start over.  And either way, we were going to need investors.  A few people were already approaching us about partnering, so we had to look into the possibility.  And we are looking into the possibilities.  We did a few pop ups at local breweries.  The first one was insanely busy, and then after that they tapered off.  Mainly the weather was against us.  Now we are onto beer dinners.  We have a few scheduled.  We are in contract with another group who wants to buy the restaurant.  So... the future is unknown, but we have hope.  We were open 1 month shy of 5 years.  And we did it on our own, our way.  It's something to be proud of, but next time we want to do it better.  We need help with the business side of things.  And the FP can't be chained to the stove cooking all day & night.  And yes, we can use some help with marketing.  Our charming approach to marketing probably isn't the best way to stay engaged with customers & lure new ones.  But, we are still here, and we want to come back bigger (a little bigger) and better.  So... stay tuned.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Poor decision making in management

So, one of the things I so do not like about owning out own restaurant is dealing with guests that have issues. 

Here's my question to you - if a guest orders something and then when the dish comes says they don't want it, is that ok?  

From what I heard, this couple ordered several appetizers with garlic and onions in the dishes.  Then when the adobo arrived with the garlic cloves and onions, the woman said she couldn't eat them and that the chicken was on the bone.

So, anyway, I got busy, and a server plunked their check in front of me and said I needed to take care of it.

So, I went over and asked then what the problem was.  They said she couldn't eat the onions and garlic and that she returned it so they wanted it taken off the check. But I said that they had the other dishes with garlic and onions.  They said they didn't want to argue.  I said I wasn't arguing.  They said I was and that it was not worth arguing over. And they walked out.  After they walked out, I was informed that they had already paid.  Not sure what the deal was then....

Ok, so maybe I was arguing.  But what kind of responsibility do we have in restaurants to inform people of what ingredients are in dishes?  Do you think there should be full disclosure?  Should restaurants have a complete ingredient list on their menus?  After all everyone seems to be allergic or intolerant of some food or another...

Our restaurant isn't great for people with dietary limitations, but still they try to come in.... Damn can't we just dose everyone with Prozac when they walk in? 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy Holidays everyone!!!!

Sorry I never post.  I'm apologizing even when I said I wouldn't apologize... I am very busy.  Very very busy.  I haven't flossed in weeks.

But, here is the restaurant website if you want a glimpse into what I have been doing lately...


Happy Holidays Guys!!!


Friday, December 21, 2012


No, I have not posted, really posted in a really, very long time.

I do not apologize.  But, I will explain, well, a little... it's not quite yet time to explain completely.  And it's late and I need to go to bed too.

But.... anyhoo, for those of you who are not on facebook, CC...and whoever else, we leased a restaurant... oh, about a week ago.  No biggie...

Just kidding.

It's a huge deal.

We are finally after all these years going to be opening our own restaurant.  Which is all we really wanted to do.

So, that's all I will reveal at this time.  I will probably have to go public, because I will have to give you the website for the restaurant when it is set up.  But, who am I kidding, 99% of you already know who I am!

So, anyway, if I thought I didn't have time for this blog now, I really am going to be slacking on it now...my poor baby first born blog.  I feel so sad for this neglected blog.  But, on to new things.  I guess when I need to post bad reviews I can still turn to this blog!

Ciao for now!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Asian Day

So, I had a pan asian day of eating.  I haven't had that in a while.  I went to the tiny Thai store to get some stuff.  I needed soy sauce.

They didn't have any.  Any REAL soy sauce that is.  They had the fake stuff with sugar and caramel color and stuff.  They did have these though:

They were like green pea nori wasabi fries.  They were pretty good.  Not nearly as good as those Calbee snow pea snacks.

The Thai store also sells some packaged prepared foods.  I spied some steamed pork buns, so I bought a pack.  There were four, so I ate two for lunch and saved the other two for dinner.  They had ground pork, mushroom and egg in them.  They were really good and flavorful.

So, then, for dinner, I was going to make chicken adobo, and the FP's request.  So, I went to Bravo Supermarket, which is the latino store in the neighborhood.  I got the chicken there - thighs and drumsticks.

I still needed the REAL soy sauce, but of course there wasn't any there.  So, I had to go to Publix.  Just to get soy sauce.  The whitest store of the 3 was the only one that had real soy sauce.  There was even Publix brand soy sauce, but I was a little leery of it, so I just got Kikkoman.

When I got in line in the 10 items or less express land, I noticed I was standing behind a very tall black man with an athletic build.  He had to be an NBA player.  Had to.  I couldn't really see his face, because if I really tried to look at his face, I would be looking straight up at him and it would be obvious.  Anyway, he bought strawberries (or was it strawberry jam?  I only saw the POS screen, not the actual groceries) and wheat bread.

So, anyway, I went home and I started the adobo in a pan on the stove, and then I transferred it to the slow cooker to finish.  It stewed pretty nicely, but I should have cut it off sooner.  The meat all was shredding off the bone.  Which, that is fine, but it's easier to dish up when it's still intact.

Here it is:

I put mushrooms and ginger in it - so don't go telling me how it's not traditional.  That's what my mom would say when I would tell her how I made my adobo.

It was pretty good.  But I still like pork adobo better than chicken, because pork is my favorite meat in the world!  Anyway, the FP enjoyed it, which is most important of all.

So, for dessert, I thought I had bought soursop candies, but they were actually guava.  We used to love the soursop candies at Sab E Lee.  Sometimes, we would get the durian candy, which was a disappointment, but we loved when we got the soursop ones.  Anyway, the guava is pretty close but sweeter and not as tangy.

And that was my asian food day!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Decisions... decisions...

I have a huge back log of posts that I need to do.  But, instead of pushing through this blogger constipation, I need to post about something more pressing... haha.

I had to make a tough decision tonight:

Cake or cookies.

Who the fuck could pick between the two?  I mean, a very good version of both cake and cookies?
You know I can't pick because, well, I'm indecisive.

So, there's a store here called The Fresh Market.  It's like Whole Foods, but smaller, and more of a country store feel.  The bakery department is pretty damn good.  So, for our Thanksgiving dinner, which will be in a later post, oh, say around Christmas, we got a red velvet cake roll for dessert.

So, I admit, that first Thanksgiving night, the FP went to bed before me, so I partook of Thanksgiving red velvet cake roll by myself.  And it was a little too disappointing.  It was too cream cheesy and not red velvet cakey enough.  It had been sitting out all day.  The next time I tasted it after it had been sitting in the fridge, it was way better, not as cream cheesy.  So, there has been this one fat slice left in the fridge, calling my name.  Being like a mom without actually being a mom, I felt compelled to finish this cake, because it is going on a week old now.

But, today I went to The Fresh Market again, and I happened to notice that they had boxes of my favorite cookies that they make.  Heath toffee cookies.

They are delicious and soft and chewy.  Just wonderful.  So, I bought them.  It was so depressing though, because as I put the groceries in the back of the car, I grabbed a cookie.  When I was closing the hatch though, the cookie fell out of my hand onto the ground.  I looked around and thought about picking it up and eating it for a millisecond.  But then I realized... it fell on the ground.

I was so depressed whenever I thought of that wasted cookie.  I had only taken one delicious bite.  RIP delicious heath toffee cookie.  Really it was a travesty.

But thankfully, that cookie had 7 identical octuplet siblings.  So, I ate another to mourn the loss of the first.

Anyway, tonight, I had to make that decision... cookie or cake.

But why?  Why make a decision?  Because there's some one dessert rule?  Fuck that.  I had half the leftover red velvet cake and a cookie.  One of each, bitches!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Old pic

So, I just got an iphone, and before that, I only had an ipod for a few months.  The FP has had an iphone for a couple years now, so I generally know how to use them.  But, the whole photostream, icloud and syncing and stuff is still new to me.  Like, I can transfer photos from the computer onto the ipod or iphone, but I don't know how to do it the opposite way.  So, when I want to blog and use a photo from my ipod or iphone, I either have to email it to myself, or I start a draft of the blog on the ipod or iphone.  Then, I have to publish the blog and open it on the computer to edit it.  If I save as draft on the ipod or iphone, it only saves locally to the device, not on the interwebs.

So, anyway, it's late, and I never try to set aside time to blog anymore.  I can't say that I don't have time, because, one can always find time to do things if they have to or really want to.  But, when I'm at home after work, I like to space out.  I go on facebook or pinterest, check my email and watch TV.  Ok, I also plan to do things.  I make to do lists.  And I plan for the future.  But, nothing worth telling you about just yet....

Yeah, I know, why so cryptic?  Because I hate to blab about plans before they are made.  Then when they fall through, I feel like an ass for telling everyone.

That's why.

Anyway, this is supposed to be a food blog, right?  So, where's the food, damnit?

cheesy pasta with arugula and avocado

There's some food.  It's kind of a good story, because I was off work by myself.  Well, I mean, the FP was working, but I was off.  I have trouble trying to figure out what to eat for lunch when the FP is at work.  I mean, we have trouble deciding when we are both off, but it's way harder when it's just me.  So, I kind of was in the mood for mac and cheese.  But, I didn't want to make a big pot of it, which is usually what happens when I make it.  I just wanted a little bit.  And I wanted to try this technique that I saw on... pinterest.  So, I kind of used stuff we had around the house.  We had the pasta, and I think we had some cheese - pecorino, maybe some colby jack, and blue cheese.  I believe I bought some milk, and the avocado.  I hadn't planned on putting avocado in the pasta, but I saw avocados for an ok price, so I bought one.  

Anyhoo, the technique is to boil the pasta until it's al dente.  Then you save a little of the pasta water.  You melt butter, then you add the pasta water and milk and let it cook.  It's supposed to get kind of thick, since there is the starch from the pasta, and it's supposed to combine with the butter to make a roux.  It kinda didn't really get very thick, but when it was boiling, I added the cheese and let it melt into it.  Then I tossed the pasta back into the sauce.  It wasn't as thick and creamy as regular mac and cheese, but it was cheesy enough.  I found the arugula in the refrigerator, so I decided to add that and the avocado into it as well.  

So, I wasn't too thrilled with the consistency of the cheese sauce, but actually, with the blue cheese, the arugula and avocado, it was pretty damn good.  I sat on the couch with my bowl of gas producing comfort food and ate the shit out of it!

Friday, October 26, 2012


So, I recently subscribed to Netflix for the first time ever. That was in order to watch Breaking Bad. But we're down to the last episode of season 4, and 5 isn't available yet.

But did you know there's other things to watch on Netflix? So I think so far I've only watched 2 documentaries. Two totally opposite restaurant owners.

So the first was "Jiro Dreams Of Sushi. It's about this master sushi chef in Tokyo who has been perfecting his craft for like 60 years or something. Hard worker, neat, organized and precise. You have to make reservations, and you don't pick off a menu and they serve nothing but sushi.

Sounds fabulous, no? Not exactly my philosophy, because I do like to enjoy life, but very admirable. Would love to eat there someday.

The other documentary is "I Like Killing Flies". Dirty little mom and pop neighborhood restaurant in Greenwich Village. While the owner is also a workaholic, it's for other reasons. To calm the storm inside. And to feed his "family". His menu has like a ridiculous number of items... Like 200 soups and countless pancakes, etc.

What do both owners have in common?

The drive to work above all else.
The commitment to employing and training their kids.
The inability to compromise - Jiro serves whatever menu he puts together and nothing else. Kenny doesn't serve parties larger than 4 no matter what.
The guts to run their restaurants the way they see fit, whether or not they b may seem like model business plans or not.

Both seemed to run a little too long for my taste, but both were very inspiring.

We need to open our own restaurant, damnit!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Post

I have so much backlog of stuff to post.  But instead, I will post about what I'm cooking today.

I keep seeing delicious things on pinterest involving slow cookers.  So, I finally broke down and bought one.

I was supposed to stew oxtail, for the crock pot's virgin voyage.  But, I went to Bravo and found the oxtail, and I couldn't bring myself to buy any.  I thought about it.  It was $3.99/lb, which is a good price.  But most of it looked old and dried out.  And it wasn't nice round cuts, it was like they took the big pieces and cut those in half.  And then there was the water.  The drip pan and hose were right above the oxtail compartment, and a steady stream of water was bouncing off turkey wings into the oxtail compartment.

I have bought and eaten some sketchy stuff.  But that was too much.  So, I looked in the prewrapped meats section, and I found some nice looking pork butt.

So, pork butt it was.  Even though that is not what I wanted.  It was either that or chicken.  And chicken seemed too boring.

I've never used a slow cooker before.  I don't believe my mom ever used one.  I had no idea how long it would take to cook a pork butt.

This is the pork butt when I first put it in... oh, say at 5ish...  I have checked it a couple times, and it's fairly medium rare or medium.  It is 9:47, and the pork is not done.  And it didn't taste too good.  

Now, I know how to roast pork in an oven, or how to braise it.  But this slow cooker thing is new to me.  I guess, if I had known, I would have gone to the store earlier, and I would have seared the pork first.  Oh, well.  Cook and learn.  My only dilemma is, do I just put it on low and let it go all night?

That's what I was thinking....