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eG Foodblog: FL Heat - It's the humidity. . .

FL Heat

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Good morning, EGulleters!

Food before introductions. . .

TJ's breakfast:


That's Kashi Good Friends CinnaRaisin crunch and Pepperidge Farm Whole Wheat English Muffins with peanut butter.

My breakfast:


That's. . .yeah, you can probably read the labels.

Nice to meet you. I'm Diana, 31, living with TJ (the boyfriend) for just over 5 years now. A couple of years ago, we bought a house in St Petersburg, Florida, USA, which is in the Tampa Bay area. All the foodstuffs this week will come from the Bay area, and I hope you enjoy the trip. Goodness knows some of you could use a glimpse of sunshine & warmth right about now.

Today's going to be a little busier than usual. . .we've been looking for an excuse to fire up the smoker, and thank goodness the blog opportunity came along. Tomorrow (Saturday) we'll be smoking a brisket and a pork shoulder, so I have to go to the meat market today to get the brisket. Before that, I need to turn a bowl of cookie dough into cookies, and meet TJ & friends for lunch at a great Cuban place over in Tampa.

I feel like this requires full disclosure: I love shopping for foodstuffs almost as much as I enjoy cooking & eating it. So this week, I plan to take you all to the Saturday Morning Market here in St Pete (it's like a farmer's market & crafter's market all together); the Italian import shop; and Publix. I think the only place you'll miss this week is Costco, since that's not an every week shopping trip.

Grab some flip flops and sunscreen and enjoy a trip to the (near) tropics in the middle of winter!


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You know what I love about Diet Mountain Dew Code Red? The name! I mean it was probably the winner in the "how long can you make a soda name" contest up until "Dr. Pepper's Fountain Classics Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper". :biggrin:

Yes, please, fire up the smoker!

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Dr. Pepper's Fountain Classics Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper

That sounds good. . . .*makes a note*

Hi Susan!

Cookies (chocolate chip a la Alton Brown's chewy recipe) are done & on the cooling racks, about to head out to lunch. Yesterday I made some little gingerbread-like crispy bite-sized cookies, and I hope to have time to make snickerdoodles this afternoon. People, when they come over for barbecue, expect a certain level of cuisine. And I can't help but think that ever since I let a couple of the regulars taste the snickerdoodles, everyone will be disappointed if they aren't offered.

Hopefully not everyone will get the same thing at lunch so I'll have more than one picture to post. But the roast pork, rice, and beans is just SO good. . .


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Don't you hate when you get all excited about going someplace and drive up and it's CLOSED?

The little Cuban place we wanted for lunch was closed, so we went to Louis Pappa's instead. It's a smaller version (in South Tampa) of a bigger restaurant in Tarpon Springs, at the sponge docks. (According to one of the "Foods of the World" books, the reason so many Greek restaurants are in Tarpon Springs is because back when they started harvesting sponges, which was already being done in Greece, a lot of the skilled sponge-gatherers moved to this area to get work.)


I had a chicken souvlaki thing on flatbread. . .though I'll admit to only eating one piece of the chicken and then eating the tomatoes, onion, and tzatziki that was on the bread. That's Greek potato salad on the plate with it, and TJ decided he should put his side salad into the picture as well. He had the same thing I did.


Carlos had a gyro, but had inhaled it before I got to snap a picture. Don had a wrap of something, but I can't remember what. Dave had a Cuban sandwich (yeah, I know, but I think every place down here has Cuban sandwiches on the menu). . .


The place was pretty empty when we got there, about 11:30, and when we left a little after noon, there was hardly a place left to sit.

Then I made the drive up to Land and Sea Market. . .it's a bit of a haul (in my opinion, anyway, for some people it's a normal commute). The people there are really nice, and the prices are phenomenal for the quality of food available. Got a 9 1/2 lb brisket (fat cap on!), and resisted the urge to purchase lots of cheese, since I'm going to the Italian market next week and cheese is one of those things I like to get there. Have to spread the love around. . . .






Sounds like we're going somewhere for happy hour(s) this evening, the current vote leans toward BayWalk. The other votes lean toward a bowling alley. I'm just along for the ride (and the liquor). . . .


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Dinner tonight was at Dan Marino's Town Tavern. And, true to most places named after someone famous who isn't a chef, it was. . .okay.

The wine flight was something to behold, though. $8.95 for 3 "samples", which were full glasses for me, so if I run on or don't make a lot of sense, blame it on:

Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio

Frei Brothers Pinot Noir

Brancott Sauvignon Blanc (this one I'll buy, I really enjoyed it)

I'm just starting to learn about wines, and you pick your own for the flight, so I went by the descriptions and picked things I thought I might like.

As well, blame the above for any fuzziness in photography. Actually, it was dark & I was trying to be inconspicuous, since the tables were a little close together.

Four of us went to dinner, each had something different. I took notes and pictures. . .those who've mentioned in other blogs you feel like a food critic, you're right!

TJ had a burger. According to him, it was good, the beef was good, but it lacked kick. And when he asked for spicy mustard, alas, there was none to be had. And there was great mourning in the land of TJ. He always asks for his fries "crispy", and these he said didn't come out nearly as crispy as he likes.


Don (the same Don from lunch) had the baked tortellini. Per him (and his girlfriend, who sampled), it was too dry and needed more sauce. The topping was nice, but soaked up all the juice.


Laura (Don's girlfriend) had a tomato/mozzarella/basil salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The tomatoes were HUGE. . .but pink enough that it was kinda obvious they were winter tomatoes. The dressing was good, but not super special, and the basil leaves were awfully big. I guess if I were running a place, I might not feature a plate where the tomatoes were so important unless they were deliciously in season.


I had one of the specials, "Tilapia Napoleon". Per the description, pan-roasted tilapia with sauteed portobello mushrooms, spinach, & asparagus; on a bed of rice pilaf with a citrus butter sauce. The citrus butter sauce was great. It gave most of the flavor to the dish; though to their credit, the fish wasn't dry or overcooked, it was very moist & tender. The portobello, while good, was a little bit burned, and there were only three pieces of asparagus! I was hoping for more.


That's all for tonight. Tomorrow we're going to the Saturday Morning Market, then to a golf lesson, and then back home to get ready for the barbecue. See ya then!


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As we're about to be inundated with snow, it'll be nice to see someplace warm. I would have been tempted to buy some of those stone crab claws I see on special at Land and Sea.

TJ had a burger.  According to him, it was good, the beef was good, but it lacked kick.  And when he asked for spicy mustard, alas, there was none to be had.  And there was great mourning in the land of TJ.  He always asks for his fries "crispy", and these he said didn't come out nearly as crispy as he likes.


Instead of ordering them "crispy" tell TJ to ask for "well done fries" -- I find I get them much more browned and crunchy that way, ditto for hash browns.

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There is a Dan Marino's in Ft. Lauderdale at the Las Olas Riverfront and we used to walk over from the office and have lunch there sometimes and I was never really impressed. I never saw Dan nor his Isotoners there either!

Great story.. can't wait to hear more!


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Hi Diana,

Great blog so far, love the pictures, especially of the market. I'm another one of those people who enjoy the shopping as much as the cooking. I could get into a lot of trouble in a market like this.

I'll also enjoy picturing warm sunny Florida this week, as we head into another deep freeze, and a serious Nor'Easter that isn't supposed to start until 3 this afternoon, but it's already lightly snowing out.

I lived in Tampa many years ago, and am trying to remember why I ever left!

:rolleyes: Pam

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Oh how I LOVE pictures of shops that sell food. Those shops are to me what museums or cathedrals are to others.. can't get enough of them!

Well put!!

I am enjoying this, too, and looking forward to the whole week. It's great getting a glimpse of Florida life on the "other coast."

Diana, the Brancott Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite white wines that are readily available here.

Blog on!

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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Dinner tonight was at Dan Marino's Town Tavern.  And, true to most places named after someone famous who isn't a chef, it was. . .okay.

What is the deal with NFLers and restaurants in Florida? Does every single player have one?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I'm glad you all are enjoying it, we're having a lot of fun ourselves! :)

Got up about 7:30 (I did, anyway, TJ was up earlier), tried really hard not to eat anything, because there are places that sell breakfasty and lunchy kind of foods at the Saturday Morning Market. It was a little overcast, but definitely not cold (ignore the people you see in the pictures who are bundled up. . .they obviously read the wrong weather report). Picked up a few things we need for the week, and then some things we need for today, and I tried to snap lots of pictures for those of you longing for some warmth & sun.

Right after the Market, we had a golf lesson, and then hurried home to get the brisket & pork shoulder ready and into the smoker. Pictures of that will come later.

In the meantime, I bought 2 quarts of fresh strawberries. I'm allergic to strawberries, so I don't really know what to do with them other than make shortcake. . . . .so any ideas submitted before 4pm EST would be appreciated! If I can serve them to the folks coming over, super. . .if not, I know TJ won't mind them being in his lunch this week.


Plant City is named after. . .Mr Plant (I can't remember his first name), who built a neat hotel in Tampa that is now part of the University of Tampa. Anyway, they grow lots of strawberries there, and the annual Strawberry Festival is there.

The Saturday Morning Market in St Pete runs from. . November to April, I believe. One block of downtown is closed off (downtown is right on the water, those are boat masts you see in the background):


There's always funky entertainment of some sort or another. . .we've seen jazz bands, musicians playing renaissancey-type music, pianists, violinists. . . this week was a sorta-jazzy, sorta-honky-tonk group, nice soulful music:


There are two stands that sell bread. One of them is usually crowded and kinda pricey. The other is two really friendly retirees who bring the bread in from their bakery in Tampa. We bought two loaves of potato bread for anyone who might want a brisket or pulled pork sandwich tonight.


Of course there's a fishmonger (the selection is limited and changes week to week):


And the best prices around on peelable sunshine:


Pretty obvious what this stand sells. . .and nearby is a stand that sells fresh-cut flowers. Other vendors sell tropical plants like plumerias, orchids, and bromeliads.


Oh, look! It's winter in Florida!


This is the area we get a lot of the produce in, I like their quality, the labeling, and the prices.


What did we have for breakfast? Funny you should ask. . .

Even funnier, because the picture of the breakfast pizza has disappeared into the ether. Anyway, it's the size of those personal pan pizzas, but a relatively thin crust, plenty of garlic, with cheese, bacon, sausage, and tomatoes. The toppings vary from week to week. TJ & I split one of those, then we each had a smoothie. The guy lets you pick the fruit, then fires up the blender & makes it for you:


That's real fruit in the picture, not fake stuff. He really picks it up off the table, chops, and blends. We had pineapple banana, because I'm allergic to strawberries.


The place I like to buy corn, sweet potatoes, and green beans from also has this beautiful display:


Mmmmm....turkey legs. TJ decided he was still hungry, so he got a beef sausage off their grill.


He let me taste it, and then said I had to quote myself. So here goes.

Me: "Is it good?"

Him: "Here, taste it."

Me: "Hot damn, that IS good sausage!"

There you go, our Saturday Morning Market and fun shopping adventure!

Be back later with an update on the smoker's progress.


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What is in that dish to the left of your smoothies? (which look fab, btw, I love the skewered fruit garnish)

It was empty this time, just has a neat pattern, but when the market is jumping (we were there about 9AM, when it opened, but after 11 it's a madhouse), they keep ready-to-go skewers of fruit, so after making a smoothie, he throws a skewer in.


Edited by FL Heat (log)
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Thanks for blogging, and thanks for the "warmer-upper" for those of us where is it not warm. You prompted me to pull out my Birkies to shovel the snow. I am happy for the reminder that yes, once again, later this year, we too will have a farmer's market, and that we will again have tomatoes, strawberries and greens.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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So glad you're blogging, Diana, but I'm extremely jealous of the weather. Please update us on any new and wonderful places in St. Pete/Tampa -- the SO and I will be down visiting family next month. What was the name of the Cuban place you were going to go to yesterday? And where?

The Saturday market looks exactly as it did when we were down last year. My family often goes downtown for the first Monday (I think??) of the month celebrations....sorry it had slipped my mind.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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Whew. I'm beat.

Not long after we got home this morning, we had to start the prep work.

We have two rubs that we keep on hand, a "sweet" rub and a "Texas" rub. Both are based on recipes from Steven Raichlen's "Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades". We use the "Texas" rub (it's spicy!) on the brisket, and the sweet rub on the pork.

Brisket (why, yes, those ARE my hands, and I AM doing the dirty work!)


For the pork shoulder, we put on a paste of plain yellow mustard and the sweeter rub:


TJ had to make his barbecue sauce. I've been sworn to secrecy regarding the recipe, but this is how it looks before it starts cooking:


He got the meat into the smoker. . .the brisket we cut into two pieces to shorten the cooking time, and put them on the top racks, the pork shoulder is on the bottom.


Is there anything more beautiful than a smoker at work?


That was my mom & dad's smoker, but they downsized into an apartment, and for some reason, the management wasn't real thrilled with the idea of a slow-burning fire generating lots of smoke for hours on end. So we got it :biggrin:

Back inside, I was working from my mom's oldest cookbook, making baked beans. I'd never done that before. They were pretty good, but I wanted to show just how well-loved this particular book is. This page isn't where the baked beans recipe came from, but it's just. . .touching to see the stains & wear of time.


So to accompany the pork & brisket, I made cole slaw (from TJ's grandma's recipe, given to me by his mom), the baked beans, and he grilled corn that we bought at the Market this morning. That's 7-year-old Rachel wolfing down a brisket sandwich in the background. She'd never had it before, but by the end of the night, wandered up to the platter, grabbed a piece with her hands, ripped it in half, and wandered off gnawing on it :cool:


The pork shoulder was chopped (look, we were hungry, and it finished late, no time for pulling). . .look at the beautiful smoke ring!


The brisket was sliced. . . .


And after a trio of cookies (gingerbread-type, chocolate chip, and snickerdoodles), this is what the clean up crew found on the previously full brisket platter:


I'm from Texas, my brother & dad went to the University Of Texas (I went to Austin College, which isn't in Austin), and mom & dad send us shirts from UT whenever they visit, hence TJ's "TEXAS SOCCER" shirt in the brisket picture. He wore it special for the photographs :wub:

Tomorrow's football day (American football, anyway), so chances are good some sort of sports bar food will be involved.

Oh, and I ended up putting 1 quart of the strawberries into a salad with some tangeloes and red grapes. Rachel liked the grapes. Assorted other adults picked out the strawberries. So I'm still open for ideas about what to do with a whole 'nother quart of the things.

Y'all have a good night, and dream of brisket!


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What was the name of the Cuban place you were going to go to yesterday?  And where?

The Cuban place was called La Fonda, on S MacDill Ave, near a big pink building called the St Croix Office Complex or somesuch. Down near where Mike's Pies USED to be (they aren't there anymore, either!). . .and a fancy day spa, whose name escapes me at the moment.

As to the new places. . .chances are good we won't be the ones to find them, we're a lil bit behind the power curve on that! But we're planning to go to Dal'Italia sometime this week. . .mom & pop place, I think I told you about it already :wacko:


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Happy Sunday!

Breakfast didn't really exist this morning....lunch was simple. TJ had a leftover roast pork sandwich and some of the leftover fruit salad:


I had an apple walnut chicken salad sandwich on wheat (I buy the wheat bread from the Publix bakery--reasonably priced, and so long as it's kept in the fridge, keeps for the whole week) and some leftover cole slaw.


Dinner was at Beef O'Brady's, a Florida chain of sports-type-restaurants. The buffalo sauce is good, the one near us has plenty of TVs and isn't usually overcrowded, plus TJ says the beer is cold, which makes it plenty good enough for football watching & dinner.


We started off with potato skins. I wondered what they did what the rest of the potato, since this place doesn't serve mashed potatoes. Maybe they're food-service potato skins? I dunno. One of the great mysteries of life.


A little while later, I had a buffalo chicken salad. . .which is romaine with a sliced chicken breast that's made buffalo-style, croutons, parmesan, and either blue cheese, ranch, or oil & vinegar for dressing.


And in his first attempt at food porn, TJ photographed his buffalo wings. (--cue angels singing in the background--)


Don & Laura (from previous entries) joined us, but I think they're kinda over having their food photographed, so I let them slide tonight.

Tomorrow's a normal day, and I hope everyone has a great Monday!


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Ahhh, Beef O'Brady's Buffalo wings are my favorite in this area. Russ says they are second only to mine. :rolleyes: What fun it is to be familiar with some of the places in an eG blog!

Do you have a freeze warning tonight? We do. This afternoon it was beautiful, and pleasant enough to go to an outdoor bar for a Bloody Mary... Then this tonight. We covered our tomato plants, flowering plants, and some of the little palm trees.

Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

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