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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Snapper? I didn't even know her!

Whole Snapper.  What a wonderful thing it is.  Oh yes.

So, a while ago, we went to this great Italian market - Laurenzo's.  Well, it's an Italian run market with international foodstuffs.  I just wanted to use the word foodstuffs.  Anyway, I mentioned the place in the last blog.  So, we were looking for something for dinner.  We found the seafood counter.

Now, I've looked at a lot of seafood counters and passed them over, wanting to hold my nose.  But no need to be dramatic like that.  Have you ever been to Seafood City in National City?  They have a massive selection of whole fish and other seafood and stuff.  But the fish never looked fresh when I went there.  Maybe it was the wrong day or wrong time of the day, or it was just a Filipino place, and we don't like to waste stuff.  If it doesn't look as fresh, Filipinos will just cook it longer.  Even then, some will still leave it out on the kitchen table all day.

Another bigtime offender of non fresh fish was the Albertson's on University in North Park in San Diego.  I smelled the ammonia before I ever even saw the seafood counter.  Me with my impaired sense of smell.  The people behind the fish counter must have no sense of smell whatsoever.

Anywoo, getting back to the seafood counter at Laurenzo's.  It did not smell.  All the fish were neatly lined up.  It looked clean.  And the fish's eyes were clear, the skin and scales did not look slimy.  So, we got a snapper.

And the FP was supposed to cook it.  He had this whole meal planned.  Then something happened.  I'm not sure if he was drunk, disinterested, bored, recording music or what.  But somehow I ended up cooking the meal.

So, I think the FP had wanted to make an Indian curry.  Since I was cooking, I did it my way.  I made red Thai curried tomato and okra stew.  We had some snow peas in the fridge, so I threw those in too.



Then I seasoned the fish, and I coated the inside with some curry paste.  I seared it on one side, flipped it, then put it in the oven.  Don't ask how long.  it was a while.  I took it out once, and it wasn't done, so I left it in for several more minutes.  then it was perfect.



I know.  The photos are getting shittier and shittier.  I really need a new camera.  Or I need a smartphone which has a way better camera than my camera.


Anyway, here's the finished fish dish.  Yum.  Snapper.



So, yesterday, was the FP's birthday.  So, he had been feeling under the weather the day before, so he wanted to take it "easy".  So, we went to this bar and restaurant on the intracoastal waterway that we had been talking about going to since we first saw it.




Okay.  I have to interrupt my blog to vent my annoyance at this TV show.  Extreme Couponing.  So this woman is 28, she has lots of cool tattoos that look like they all probably came from children's books or something.  And her family is vegan.  So, she coupons, but she says that she only buys healthy vegan food.  So, what did her stockpile show.  Canned beans.  I use canned food kind of a lot.  But they have preservatives and also have parabens - so the healthiness is questionable.  Jars of Ragu or Prego.  Not so healthy.  Ok, I don't know which kind of sauce she got, but some Ragu seems to have cheese cultures - I assume she doesn't get that one.  But both Ragu and Prego have sugar in them.  Tomato sauce does not need sugar, and regular refined sugar is not technically vegan because it is processed with animal bone char.  I guess some people don't mind it.  Also, she got some kind of Mahatma rice that looked like one of the seasoned ones.  I felt like picking at the vegan, because I was hoping she would show how one could really use extreme couponing to really support a truly healthy vegan lifestyle.  I guess I expected too much.   It's my bad, not hers.  She's just trying to coupon for her family so she can still afford tattoos.  Who am I to persecute her.  And being a vegan, I'm sure she reads labels, right?


Getting back to yesterday.  So we went to Joe's Tiki Bar & Sushi.  That's what it was called.  Big tiki hut, which like a dumbass I forgot to take a picture of the outside of the hut.  Here's the pictures I did take of the place.





So, we had a little lunch.  The FP got the conch chowder.  Surprise, surprise.  It was pretty good.  Kind of standard with the big chunks of stewed veggies in a tomato base.



He also ordered the medium crab claw appetizer.  Yummy as usual, but the arm meat is really better than the claw meat, and there's more claw meat.  It came with the typical mustard sauce.


The menu had a lot of stuff I wouldn't want, so the clear choice to me was the.... whole snapper!  The bonus was, that they threw it in the fryer (not literally, I suppose, that could be dangerous) to cook it.  It was so crispy on the outside, tender, moist, yet flaky and flavorful on the inside.  The collar meat was the best, of course.  But we pretty much killed the whole fish, except for a little end of the tail.  The tostones were really good, big crunchy seasoned yumminess.  The black beans, while still somewhat seasoned, were the worst black beans I've had here in South Florida.  On saying that, they were way better than loads of black beans I've had at other restaurants through the years.  I basically ate the tostones and didn't eat much of the beans and rice.  We were so busy picking at the snapper anyway...


So, after lunch, we decided to move from the waterfront table to the bar.  A musician was playing the standard tiki bar music - Jimmy Buffet, Neil Young, Neil Diamond, Cat Stevens.  But instead of being cheesy and uninspired, this guy was really good.  Great voice, his guitar sounded great, he played really well.  We really enjoyed listening to him.  Especially with our after lunch margarita:

In all fairness, I asked for the "rocking rita" which was made with Carlos Santana organic tequila (I didn't know he made tequila) and Salerno liqueur - which I didn't know what kind of orange liqueur it was, and it turns out it was blood orange, which I would have liked to try.  Instead, the bartender made the "tiki rita"  which was with 1800 silver and as you can tell blue curacao.  It looked like it was going to be... too much... tart and sweet.  But actually it was delicious, even though it wasn't the drink I had wanted.  Anyway, the FP liked it so much, he had two!

During the break in the set, the musician came by and told us we were too young to know all those songs.  As audiences can loose interest, the crowd clapped loudly for the first song, and then after that, they kind of only clapped for songs they really liked.  So we clapped for every song, but more enthusiastically for songs we really liked.  Anyway, when the guy said the thing about us being too young, it was a perfect opportunity for the FP to tell him that actually it was his 40th birthday.  That caused a ruckus.  All the staff came and joined in the conversation to say they didn't believe him.  So he pulled out his ID to prove it.

So, when the musician went back up for another set, he sang Happy Birthday to the FP, and then the bartender gave him a birthday cake shot complete with whipped cream, sprinkles and a candle.  It was sweet, and it made the FP feel good, as everyone was not blowing smoke up his ass, but really thought he looked younger.

So, the moral of Joe's is that you can't always judge a tiki bar by it's tiki hut.  This place looked like a total tourist trap place.  And while a lot of the menu was standard tourist trap food, there were some great stuff on the menu, and they offered great cocktails with more than just premix shit (at quite a price, of course).

Laurenzo's Italian Center
16385 W Dixie Hwy
N Miami Beach, FL 33160


Joe's Tiki Bar Grill & Sushi
1318 N Ocean Dr.
Hollywood, FL 33019

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Lookie Lookie I Love Cookies!

So, it has been 15 days since the last PPP post.  Thank fuck I don't have to apologize anymore, or make excuses about why I didn't post sooner.  It's so...so...hm.  Now, I have to come up with other stuff to write about here where I would be normally spinning an elaborate apology and telling a colorful tale of my exciting busy life that prevented me from writing.  Okay, maybe not.  So, let's just get on with the blog.

It's about cookies.  I love cookies.  I love sweets.  I have all sweet teeth, and well, it shows.  Well, it's like I stopped maturing mentally, physically and emotionally in my teens.  I like sweets.  I like junk food in general.  I like bright colors.  When shopping for home furnishings, I often find myself looking at all the kids' and teens' stuff, because they always have better colors, and more soft fuzzy furry stuff.

You know what though, I'm not really embarrassed.  It's just part of who I am.  I mean, look at Papi.  Papi (Le Batard) is Dan Le Batard's dad, and they have a show on ESPN called "Dan Le Batard is Highly Questionable".  It's a great low budget way to make sports news fun.  Anyway, Papi is the star of the show, funny old cuban guy.  He loves cookies too.  So there.

Getting on with the cookies.  So, I've been sick.  And I suspect I have a systematic invasion of the candida yeast.  Now, I'm only going on my internet research, but it kind of makes sense.  Systemic candida infection goes along with not enough probiotics in one's system, because the candida hogs up all the space in one's digestive system.

Anyway, getting back to my deal with sweets.  One of the symptoms of candida infection is craving for all things bad, especially sugars and starches - which yeast loves.  I love love love sugars and starches.  I crave this stuff.  When I worked (LOL) I used to need a sugar fix every day sometime during the day.  It was like, I didn't feel right on days I didn't have something sweet.  I've cut down a lot, which some people would say is still too much.  But you know, sometimes, I just have the urge and for whatever reason, I let myself be suckered into it by my candida and by my emotional need for sweets as well.

So, during Christmas, when we went to Whole Foods, I felt like I should get some kind of dessert type thing.  I looked at all the cakes and pies and stuff, and the in house baked cookies.  And things were either too expensive or not that great looking and too expensive.  So then I saw these packaged florentines that looked really good:



The pictures don't do them justice.  These are crispy gooey lace cookie sandwiches with milk chocolate filling and toasty caramely macadamia nuts.  Oh man, they were so good.  On Christmas night, everyone else had one, I had two.  Later on, I believe over the course of a week, I finished the rest of them.  So, so effing good!

So, then, a week or so ago, we went to this great Italian market in North Miami Beach.  Laurenzo's.  Well, it's an Italian market,  but it has all kinds of products from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia too.  So, it's kind of perfect for us.  And of course they had a great bakery.  There were stacks and stacks of cookies and pastries and cakes.  I was getting visual sugar overload, so I could not leave there without getting something!  So I got a small box of cookies.


So, I got wedding cookies, and chocolate and vanilla florentines.  They were all delicious.

Wedding cookies have always been a special treat for me.  When I was a kid, every once in a while we would get Stella D'oro wedding cookies, and I always had to resist the urge to polish them all off.  Of course, these were fresh made right in the bakery.  And they were perfect size so that I didn't have to feel quite as guilty for eating several cookies at a time!

Between the two florentines, I can't choose one I liked better than the others.  I just can't.  The best, really was to eat one of each cookie.  I ate 3/4s of the box.  Over the course of maybe a week though.  Even though every time I ate them, I could picture my systematic yeast monster gorging on the cookies and multiplying and enlarging all inside me.

So, I had been cookie free for a few days.  Oh wait, I lie.  We had gone to this other Italian market a while ago, and I had gotten pizzelles there.  They were packaged, and not nearly as good as the ones my mom's patient would give us every Christmas, so I didn't really eat them.

Until I had polished off the bakery cookies and I was craving more cookies late at night.  Sad.  Yes, I am.  Apparently there is a new category of eating disorder though, called Night Eating Syndrome, or midnight hunger.  Yes, that's what I have!  Well, okay, the thing is that I definitely get more lonely, sad, feelings of despair when it's late at night and I'm the only one awake.  And a midnight snack always helps me feel better.  It really does, even if I feel guilty for eating unhealthy shit.

So, I was ready to shed this cookie addiction.  Really.  I was.  until we went to Publix today, and what evil people were out front?  You guessed it!  GIRL SCOUTS!  dun dun dun!!!!  So, how the fuck was I supposed to walk in, make groceries, and walk out past them and not support the cause?  That would just be wrong, right?  So, I did restrain myself though.  I only bought one box.

Oh, I could eat any and all of the Girl Scout brand cookies.  The FP doesn't like the tagalongs, but other than those, I could buy any of them.  But I just got the one.  When I was a kid, I hated things with shredded coconut in them.  Because usually, the shredded coconut was tasteless and it was like chewing grass.  I think I was spoiled by the times my dad would crack open a fresh coconut and we would either just eat it in chunks, or he would shred it for my mom's suman.  Yum.  More sweets on my mind!  Anyway, I got Samoas.  And I'm probably going to break the first sleeve open tonight!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Christmas Weekend

Yeah, I know, Christmas is old news.  All you fancy on your toes bloggers who posted on Christmas Day or Boxing Day, good for you.  I like to take my time and do a proposal, then an outline, then a rough draft, then another rough draft, then a final for final revision, then I enter it into the computer and edit it again, and then I publish!  Naaaht!

Anyway, going forward concerning the future of this blog, my resolution is to absolutely never apologize anymore for not blogging enough and to never say that I will try better.  Because I'm probably not going to especially when I impose these rules on myself without another higher authority.  Not like God would bother to read this little old blog!

So, Christmas Eve, my sis and my bro in law drove down to visit.  In a red convertible mustang.  Gotta love Florida!  Okay, they drove with the top up, but, it gets chilly and windy on the interstate.

We weren't sure what the deal was with Christmas Eve around here, so we just thought we would go to the little strip in "downtown" Hollywood and park and see what was open.  Actually, it was a little early, but it looked like it was going to be busy.  Well, busy compared to when we have been there previously.

So, we looked at almost every restaurant on the strip, then we looped back to Cafe Italia, which was right by where we parked.  We had been there before and had good food, so, at least we knew it wouldn't be shit.  Funnily enough, I looked to try to find the menu online, and on yelp, all I found was 2 horrible horrible reviews of the place!  Well, either they read the reviews or we went on "on" nights.

So, I got the pasta alla siciliana.  It's like a puttanesca.  Garlicky.  


My sister got the eggplant parm.  Look at that pool of sauce.


The Food Pimp got the clams alla siciliana.  Like mine, but with clams.


The bro-in-law got the prosciutto ravioli with cream sauce.  My gut just begins to bloat looking at that picture.  I can't imagine the payback my digestive system would try to bring on me if I ate that whole plate!

So, everyone enjoyed their meal, and we went home and had a few beers by the pool.  A quiet, peaceful Christmas Eve.



So, the next day, we took our top down, of the Mustang, that is, and we drove down to South Beach and then drove back up to Hollywood on A1A.  What a drive.  I gotta say, sitting in the back of a convertible, it's way less clausterphobic passing between those high rise condos.  In the Element, it really bothers me.  So, we drove all the way up to Hollywood by the "broadwalk".  We were looking for a place to park, so we could walk around and find a place, when my sister spotted Billy's Stone Crab.  It was open, so we pulled into the parking lot.

Finally, the place we had so wanted to go to on Thanksgiving was open for Christmas.  Although, we weren't going to be having the all you can eat... it's a little.... $$$$$$.  So, we sat in this like swinglike patio chair on the dock.  I am sorry that I didn't take a picture of it.  It was like a surrey, you know, with a canvas awning deal, and the whole seating thing rocked if someone moved.  And it was right on the dock.  Like, we had to wonder if anyone had had to fish their kid out of the intracoastal waterway...

So, the FP had the conch chowder, of course.  If it's on the menu, there's a good chance he's gonna get it.  It had big fat chunks of vegetables that were love you long time, good stuff.

I got the conch fritters.  If they're on the menu, there's a 50% chance I'm gonna end up getting them.  These were, just okay.  I've been chasing the conch fritter ever since that delicious appetizer we had so long ago in Palm Beach Gardens, also on the intracoastal....


The FP and I decided to also get the regular stone crab appetizer.  They weren't the jumbos, but they still were tasty little claws!  These came with mustard, which was good, but I kinda missed the mayo that we had last time....


My sis got the ... snapper? I think they had snapper, grouper, flounder, salmon, or some 4 fish like that.   I think.... when asked how it was, she replied, "not bad!"  So, I think it was good!


Bro-in-low (it rhymes...) got the gator bits and chips.  Although I don't think that's what it was called on the menu.  The gator was chewy.  I have only tasted chewy fried gator, so I don't know if it can not be chewy.  When we all went out to eat the day after the FP and my wedding, my brother in law had gotten blackened gator tail that he said was delicious and tender.  So, this wasn't quite the same... chasing the gator tail....



So, afterward, we went on the beach for a bit.  It was kinda cold to go in the water, so we walked.  And we looked at all the jellyfish lined up on the shore.  There were a lot.  Tiny man o wars and big huge moon jellyfish, and some in between.  The FP thought it was funny to almost step on them and then not.  So every time, it would be like, watch out!  And he would avoid it.  And then he stepped on one.  And then another, and then one he stepped on right in the middle.  Luckily for him, they were the moon jellyfish, which are not really supposed to be toxic, and they were right side up anyway.

After that, we went back, cleaned the pool, and stuck our legs in.  Again, the water was too cold to go all the way in.  But it was nice an peaceful.

So, I needed to go to the apartment to get some stuff, so in the meantime, the FP prepped everything as my little sous chef.  He asked how big I wanted to pork diced, and I said, not too big, not too small.  And he got it right.

So, I decided to try to make pork adobo more like my mom used to make it.  So, I browned the garlic and the peppercorns.  I forgot to get bay leaves, but it was ok.  Then I browned the pork.  Then I took it out of the pan.  Then I sauteed onions, and I added mushrooms, which, while not in my mom's recipe, is pretty standard in mine.  Then I added several cups of vinegar, about a cup of soy, and little less than a cup of brown sugar.  And I put the pork back in and let it stew.  After what seemed like way too short, maybe 2 hours, the pork looked tender.  So, I took the pork out.  I took most of the sauce out, except for the fat, and I heated it up, and then I attempted to fry the pork in it.  The pork was already so soft, that it didn't turn out quite the way I wanted, so I put the sauce back in and let it reduce a bit, and then it was done.  Voila!  And it tasted pretty similar to my mom's, except for there was way more sauce.


The FP also roasted some green beans and artichokes, yum.




We never got a chance to get rice at the asian market, so we got jasmine rice at the grocery store.


So, here was the finished product.  I think it was a pretty damn good meal, if I do say so myself!

Great Christmas, Christmas of 2011!


Cafe Italia
2025 Hollywood Blvd  Hollywood, FL 33020
(954) 925-8815



Billy Stone Crabs
400 N Ocean Dr  Hollywood, FL 33019
(954) 923-2300


Monday, January 2, 2012

Senor Cafe

So, have you ever driven by a place and thought it wasn't worth your time because of where it was or how it looked?  That's what I thought of Senor Cafe.  But then when I looked it up on the internets it had really good reviews.  Oh, and a good price point.

So, we went there.  It was kind of late, so we seemed to have avoided the lunch rush.  Which was a good thing, because service was very slow, as is expected in ethnic restaurants.  I swear, yelpers go into McDonald's and expect the same service they would get at the French Laundry or something.

So, I had originally wanted a Cuban sandwich.  That's what they say is good there, but, once I looked at the menu... I just couldn't have a cuban sandwich.  There was so much more yummy looking stuff on the menu!

Like fried pork chunks.  Yum!  And to anyone who thinks that sounds fatty and unhealthy and appalling, why are you even reading this blog then?  It's called The Pork Porn Pages.

Anyway, I got congri and tostones with my fried pork chunks.  The congri was yummy, well seasoned.  The tostones were HUGE, but they were perfectly smashed and fried.  Just really some of the best tostones I have ever had.  And the pork with the onions... well, do I really have to say anything more about it?  Fuckin fatty delicious, fried pork.  Crispy outside, tender juicy inside.  Some chunks were pure fat!!! That's a good thing, btw, no, it's a great thing!  So, effing good!  And with a squeeze of the lime, that would be my last meal on death row, maybe.


Oh yeah, here's the warm buttery bread that we got while we were waiting for our food.  We don't generally eat the waiting for food bread, but I'm a sucker for nicely warmed sliced baguette, or rather, cuban bread, right, since it's in a cuban restaurant?


This was the FP's light lunch.  Whaaat?  Oxtail for like $10.99?  For realsies.  For true.  No jokes bro, no jokes.  Really really nicely cooked.  Tender, delish, and look at all that sauce!  You could have a facial with it!


And here's his beans and rice.  Also good.  We still haven't had bad beans and rice here.



So, a couple days later, we were still so high on Senor Cafe that we went again.  The FP got the same oxtail dish.  It was salty.  Like really salty.  You had to eat it with rice to make it edible.  Which was a shame.  Such a waste of good primo oxtail.  Don't get me wrong, the FP didn't return it or complain, he ate a lot of it.  We figured, whoever reheated it put salt in it without tasting, so it was double salted.  It was Monday.  Sadly, Monday is often the B team shift...

Here's another picture of beans and rice.  I guess I didn't feel the need to take a picture of the oxtail again.




So, this time, I decided to get a cuban sandwich.  I wanted a "lighter" lunch.  LOL.  Anyway, it was  okay.  It wasn't quite as pressed as I sometimes like them, but that's not a complaint, more of an observation.  There were only 3 measly pickle slices for the whole sandwich, so that was a bummer.  I like pickle in every bite.  That's me though.  I like to overdo everything.  Really we wonder if the super pressing of cuban sandwiches is an americanized thing.  Probably.  who knows.



So, there's a latino supermarket next to Senor Cafe.  So we went in to check it out.  I have been on the lookout for a grocery store halfway as cheap and plentiful as Pancho Villas, but haven't found it.  We did pick up a couple things though and Presidente Supermarket, though.


So they had this FOUR milk, quatros leches, cake.  They had the option of three or four, but who would pick three?  Anyway, this one had dulce de leche.


Here's the blurry picture of it.  Anyway, it was sweet.  Way sweet.  Super sweet.  I can maybe see why one might opt for the tres leches instead.  Don't get me wrong.  The FP had one or two bites.  I ate half of it one night, and I finished it the second night.  On the third night, the FP asked if there was any left, and I just laughed at him.  As if.


Super jumbo can of Bustelo.  It's like 3 times the size of the regular can.  It was just a little cheaper per ounce, but the comfort of knowing we wouldn't have to buy coffee every week is nice.  Love Bustelo. We still haven't ventured to Little Havana for a cuban coffee though.  I'm not sure why.


Senor Cafe
1520 Federal Hwy
Hollywood, FL 33020
954-929-6218

Presidente Supermarket
1510 Federal Hwy
Hollywood, FL 33020
954-929-0131