The food abides…

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Super Bowl Penne…

Enjoy your greasy wings and clumpy nachos while you watch the Super Bowl. I’ll be over here eating my girlfriend’s incredible Parmesan Mascarpone Shrimp and Penne….

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Happy New Year from the Tampa Food Dude!

Currently enjoying a little New Year’s Day charcuterie and an Einstock Icelandic Dopplebock. Nice, malty, holiday brew and I’m digging the viking bottle art with the reindeer antlers and red nose. Hope everyone is enjoying the last bit of the holidays before we all go back to the grind…


Turkey Sausage and Kale Italian Wedding Soup!

When you send your girlfriend’s mother home with the turkey carcass and she returns a week later with an incredible homemade Turkey Sausage and Kale Italian Wedding Soup…

Incidentally, this paired incredibly well with the aforementioned Triple-Smoked Gouda Beer Bread.


Post-Turkey Day Triple-Smoked Gouda Beer Bread!

I’ve mentioned my attempts at Alton Brown’s Cheddar Dill Beer Bread before. Decided to whip up a couple of loaves for my friends’ Post Turkey Day Bash again. However for my second loaf I experimented a little and came up with a something new.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Triple-Smoked Gouda Beer Bread. Basically the same format as the Cheddar Dill Beer Bread with three changes.

First, instead of a Pale Ale I used a Smoked Roggenbier. Any smoked beer will do but this is what I was able to get my hands on. Second I substituted a Smoked Gouda for the sharp cheddar. This added a warm and creamy depth to the bread. And last, instead of the dill weed, I just added a few drops of liquid smoke just to kick that smokey flavor up a notch.

I was really impressed by how this came out. That smokey undertone was present but not overpowering and when you toast this up and just add a little butter, it’s makes for a great breakfast. It’s also the perfect compliment to a hearty meal like a soup or a chili.

Have a favorite beer-bread recipe? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides…


Thanksgiving 2018!!!

This year we played host for the Thanksgiving feast. First time we’ve done Thanksgiving together and cooking for eight was a fun challenge but it turned out to be a hell of a meal.

 

My girlfriend cooked an amazing turkey this year using a compound butter with sage and thyme. It was an incredibly juicy bird and she really outdid herself.

I also tried my hand at carving the roast beast for the first time ever. I think I did a pretty good job with it, but I’d like to practice a little bit more for next year. Presentation is everything and a better carving job makes for a better look on the plate.

As if her turkey wasn’t enough, she made a decadent Asiago and Garlic Mashed Potato Bake. These may be the best mashed taters I’ve ever eaten.

We left our guests in charge of the veggies and they showed up with some sauteed Green Beans with Garlic and Toasted Almonds. I know green bean casserole is the tradition this time of year. However I’ve never been fond of such a rich veggie dish when everything else is as heavy as it is. Needless to say, I really appreciated these.

Another veggie, the baked Sweet Potatoes and Butternut Squash were simple and a perfect side dish for our meal.

Of course it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without my Sage Turkey Sausage and Cranberry Stuffing. It’s a staple this time of year and I even froze a couple bags of cranberries in case I want to make it again over the holidays.

This is what I love. No frills, no weird tofurky substitutions and no wacky global sides. Just a simple, traditional Thanksgiving meal with great people.

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This has been a truly great year and I’m glad I got to set aside a day to show some gratitude for that. I hope everyone had plenty to be thankful for and is ready to enjoy the holiday season.

And remember… the food abides…


Road Trip!!! – Connecticut 2018

So I took a trip up to Connecticut with my girlfriend this month. Not only did I get to introduce her to my family but I also was afforded the chance to introduce her to some of the rather impressive food and beer that the state I grew up in currently has to offer.

The first morning after we arrived, my parents took a special trip to Gaetano’s Deli and brought back some stuffed breads. Here we have both their pepperoni and their eggplant. Biting into these is like a warm hug from an Italian grandmother.

Dinner that night with my family was at Ralph-n-Rich’s and I couldn’t resist getting the Zuppa di Pesce; it’s a rarity in Tampa, so if I see it on a menu I will almost always order it. I finished the entire plate.

Day two was one I’d been looking forward to for quite a while. Until I was three years old we grew up five minutes away from Zuppardi’s Apizza and eating their pies for the first time was a seminal experience. I wanted my girlfriend to be able to experience that for herself. And she did.

We started with the Plain Cheese…

Then moved onto the “Special” – Meatball and Onion…

And then a White Tomato…

And finally we finished it all off with my absolute favorite, the White Clam. Sweet fancy Moses, do I miss Zuppardi’s…

Day three was something special. We’ve had a long standing debate on what constitutes a “real” Lobster Roll. I maintained that if it’s hot lobster on a roll with just butter, it’s a Lobster Roll. If it’s cold with mayonnaise and lots of crunchy vegetables, that’s a Lobster Salad Sandwich. As my girlfriend had never experienced the former, we headed to Lenny & Joe’s so she could try one.

Hot lobster, on a roll, with just butter. Ladies and gentlemen, I present you with a “real” Lobster Roll.

And of course, I couldn’t have stopped at Lenny & Joe’s without also getting an order of another New England seafood staple, the Fried Clam Strips.

That evening we met some very old friends for a few drinks and a couple of apps at the Hub and Spoke. First up was the Burrata, which, interestingly enough, I had never tried before.

Second was the Bang-Bang Shrimp. This is not like the stuff you can get at a Bonefish Grill. This was pure fire. In a good way.

On our final day of the trip, my family headed to La Zingara in Bethel, which I maintain is one of the best Italian restaurants in the entire state of Connecticut. Their Lobster Risotto has to be the best version of Risotto I’ve ever tasted.

And of course Connecticut produces some dynamite craft beer. After years of never being up there during the fall, I was ecstatic that I had the opportunity to finally try Two Roads’ fall offerings. I really enjoyed their Ok2berfest Marzen and even though it was a little hoppier than I was expecting, I still found it topping my all-time lists.

My girlfriend opted for the Hanging Hills Brewing Company Dechtoberfest Lager which she really enjoyed.

Washed down that pizza at Zuppardi’s with a Festbier from Counterweight Brewing. This went really well with the pies, especially the White Clam.

While we were at Lenny & Joe’s we ordered the Thimble Island American Ale. This traditional Amber Ale was so off-the-charts amazing that we endevoured to do two things:

First, we made a point of finding Thimble Island’s Brewery which was only a short drive away from the restaurant so we could go in and try a flight. Every beer on the palate was incredible.

Second, we made a point of coming home with at least a sixer of the American Ale so we could enjoy it during the rest of our trip. The sweetness and the malt are just so perfectly balanced, I’m not joking when I say it’s one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

A quick lunch at Southport Brewing Company (which interestingly enough doesn’t brew its own beer) afforded me the change to try to Back East Brewery’s Octoberfest. This was a solid Marzen, and I dug the sweeter notes.

Next on our list was Tribus Beer Company. The offerings from this newer brewery were still summerish in nature but my girlfriend still enjoyed the smoked porter while I was impressed with the cherry sour.

For my final brew, I circled back to Two Roads with their Roadsmary’s Baby Pumpkin Ale. This one also tops my list of as one of the better pumpkin ales I’ve tried. Two Roads is the real deal.

 

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Ultimately it was a great trip and all the food and beer offerings made a simple trip to see my family really feel like a vacation. My girlfriend is already looking forward to the next trip and consequently I’ve started planning some more Connecticut food and beer-ventures in my head.

Been to any of the restaurants or tried any of the beers listed above? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides…


Trader Joe’s Garlic Chicken Pesto w/Cauliflower Gnocchi

Made a run to Trader Joe’s this past weekend and among some other great items (cough, cough… Cookie Butter… cough, cough…) it turns out that their Cauliflower Gnocchi combined with their Garlic Pesto Chicken makes for a pretty badass meal…