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The Heat Lightning: Food

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Let's Go Shopping: Black Friday Sweet, Sweet Treats

Sweeeeeet

I’ve been drooling over these etsy edibles for weeks now. Please, make them mine! If you’re going to shop on Black Friday, why not make it a purchase you know you will consume, and consume quickly?

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Sunday is (officially) National Pickle Day!
However, I celebrate it daily.

This is a day that means more to me than Christmas: National Pickle Day, ya’ll!
Pickles go beyond an obsession for me. If I could fulfill all my nutritional needs with pickles I would eat nothing else. I can literally eat an entire jar in one sitting and then possibly sip the juice (disgusting, I know, although, pickle juice cocktails are all the rage right now). This is the way I’ve always been and this is how I shall remain. If you, too, are a pickle fiend, look below for your necessary pickle miscellany and edible deliciousness.

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Yelp and Honesty

There is no such thing as “perfect.” There is “wow” and “pretty damn good” but “perfect” does not exist. So with this in mind, how does anything anywhere ever get rated 5 stars out of 5? What, in the context of a larger experience, does a rating mean anyway? This is the problem I face every time I write a Yelp review.

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Clickable

I learned a new word this week: Floribbean. It sounds so tropical, doesn’t it? Tropical, touristy and terrible, like food you’d eat because you lacked any other choice.

I learned this phrase from an article tangentially describing food in the Fort Lauderdale Airport. To the best of my knowledge I have only had this type of food in terrible places that tourists are forced into, such as airports, rest stops and the entire town of Stuart, Florida. A quick survey of turnpike rest stops shows that they no longer have any place that serves mango chutney anymore, which is somehow sad but still relieving.

by John Spain, posted Nov 12, 03:29 PM · Comment

Clickable

Man leaves band, gets into cooking because he wanted to play with knives/is “always hungry.” Starts restaurant, gets interviewed and whines about Yelp being filled with “bored, jobless layabouts with not many friends.” Paper then prints and mocks the inevitable angry Yelp responses until about page 2 when the Yelpers turn on the paper for blatantly trying to foment controversy that they themselves created. First lesson: if your restaurant averages 4 star reviews on Yelp yet you still complain, you’re not only a jerk but a poor businessman. Second lesson: Denver is boring. Third lesson: many (but not all) people on Yelp are crazy – thoughts on this forthcoming.

by John Spain, posted Nov 10, 05:04 PM · Comment [1]

Spain's Weekly Booze: Spiked Hot Cocoa

After a long hiatus we’re back with another drink recipe for the colder months. This time around we’re doing a very basic recipe: Spiked Hot Cocoa. Despite this recipe’s simplicity, I keep being surprised at how few people have ever made hot cocoa from scratch much less never thought to add booze to it?

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Let's spend some money: Happy National Scrapple Day!

That's a lotta pig offal...

It’s National Scrapple Day today, didn’t you know? Mark this day in your calendar and treasure it forever. I wasn’t even aware of the existence of scrapple until a few years ago when my roommate from Philly introduced it to me. I’m from Minnesota where Spam is king, to each their own. Scrapple is like Spam, but doesn’t typically come in a can and it’s grayer in color.

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4 Sentence Review: Taberna Giralda

Taberna Giralda

I’ve been to this charming tapas place five times and I’ve yet to eat anything less than delicious, including the Pulpo al Gallega which I tried solely because I was told they make it correctly. My first visit, the waiter talked me out of a more expensive chicken dish in favor of the Berenjenas Fritas con Miel, a must-have dish of fried eggplant and honey. Excellent service is tough to find in Miami, but that’s the kind of treatment you can expect to receive here. If you don’t believe they serve the best sangria in Miami, then belly up and prove me wrong (and bring a Spanish-speaking friend if you don’t speak the language, and don’t like to point).

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4 Sentence Review: Delicias de España

Delicias

It’s Spanish and delicious.  If you like traditional tortillas, amazing pastries, and Spanish sausage you NEED to go.  Once you’re done eating you can go to the attached grocery and buy that paella pan you’ve been meaning to get.  In closing: It’s not great for vegetarians or for any meal after 4 PM but it’s terrific for everything and everyone else. 

Corner of Red and Bird, tucked behind Allen’s Drugs. Do NOT park at 1909 – they will tow you.

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Beefeater 24 is a great drink for anorexics and colonic fanatics

mr toilet

THL is pretty fancy. By fancy, I mean, we rolled five deep to the upscale and supremely overpriced Florida Room at the Delano on South Beach for free booze at 9 p.m. last night. The free drinks were fancy, too. And strong. The event was hosted by Beefeater London Dry Gin, showcasing their newest recipe. Beefeater 24 isn’t your regular old gin, it is infused with or has extract of grapefruit and green tea.

The guy who created the newest brew was even there with his queer British accent and the sort of touching tale of a successful career. I don’t remember much of what was said, but there were really tasty hors d‘œuvres and an all white guy band playing brass instruments and what looked like a clear plastic piano.

I thought the most interesting thing about Beefeater 24 was what happens the next day after you drink a few glasses of the tasty stuff. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say it works better than food poisoning. It is the perfect addition to the cocktail for the girl or gay with an eating disorder, or maybe laxative addiction. I believe I lost that five pounds I recently packed on, and I’m thanking the green tea and old lispy Brit that made it.

Cheers!

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Travel, day 2: eating and drinking in Austin is still tops
meat porn edition

salt lick

Many years ago, I had a few friends in Austin, and my best friend had a strong desire to ride a horse on a ranch, so we decided to meet there. She flew from New York during one of the first of those blackouts, and after meeting in Dallas, we drove down through Hill Country to San Antonio and back in five days. We were 23, so it was doable. I fell in love with Hill Country and Austin. Central Texas is arid and hilly, covered with short green trees. Hidden in those green trees are cool, luscious springs. Ahh… I’m jumping ahead of myself though, this is the the food porn edition, so let’s look at some meat.

After much controversial debate, surrounding the best bbq in town, Farrah took charge and decided that we would drive about 45 minutes away from downtown Austin to eat at Salt Lick. Look at that meat. LOOK AT IT!

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Travel, day 1: eating and drinking in Austin is tops

tacoba ceviche

Often when I’m going on and on about how radical Austin is, people sneer and snicker. This is because they’ve never been to Austin. And that’s either because they don’t have the cash or because they don’t love delicious food, friendly nature, and outdoor beauty.

Some young people don’t remember, but what Portland, Oregon is today is what Austin, Texas kind of was less than ten years ago. It was a really cool place everyone wanted to visit. On this, my third trip to this capital city, I really outdid myself eating some of the yummiest food I’ve had in a LOOOONG time. I learned that, like Portland, Austin has a budding food cart scene more than definitely worth a munch.

Possibly my favorite thing about the city and Hill Country is the food. Oh, sweet Jesus, I love Mexican, BBQ, and German food. This trip kept me mostly eating within Austin’s city limits, so no Fredericksburg sour kraut for me this time, but what was in Austin was more than satisfying and so freaking cheap. SO CHEAP!!!

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Yelp's Miami Summer Night's Dream fed me well

photobooth yelp

I had been looking forward to Miami Summer Night’s Dream, which catered to avid yelpers and internet writers, for weeks. But when I parked my car in front of Swampspace, I realized I had forgotten my camera, which sucks, because I’m like a Red Bull-fueled, snap-crazed Asian tourist with my baby G9. Luckily, I was with my friend Kylee who brought out the iphone for THL, and, bien sûr, Jipsy was there to take the good photos.

Once we arrived, we realized we had entered a den of gluttony and I thought, “I’m home!” and then “feed me!” Not only were there like 20 restaurants that really don’t suck, but there were free libations in abundance. Kylee thought it was the best of such a free event-type that she has been to Miami. I have to say, foodwise, definitely. This is a big thing coming from me, because I am a heavy eater and a picky, haterish one at that. I loved the venison ravioli at the Maitardi table and the bbq chicken sandwich from some other place I didn’t catch, and the chocolate mousse the Sweetness guys were pushing.

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Carrot cake cupcakes: commentary and a recipe

carrot cupcake 1

Jennifer Bernstein is a Brooklyn-based blogger (Local Appetite) and maker of some really good-looking food.

I’m sick of cupcakes. Sick of pastel frosting decoratively piped on top of little cakes. Sick of the buzz of the newest cupcake bakery or the requisite oohs and awws when they show up at your birthday party. So, why did I spend Saturday morning carefully decorating the tops of a batch of carrot cake cupcakes I baked the night before? Because, whether I like it or not, people like their birthday cake in cupcake form these days, and there’s nothing more I like better than hearing squeals of joy over my food.

I was a late-comer to the allure of carrot cake. As a child, I thought people were loco to put vegetables in their cake. When I got over that, I was happy to learn it doesn’t taste a thing like raw carrots, but more like a subtle spice cake. It is moist and dense, with a texture half-way between your basic yellow cake and a slice of pound cake. I’m not a nutrionist, but I’d also like to think that all those carrots add some hidden health benefits, so feel free to consider this part of a balanced diet. It was this healthy image that had me volunteer to bake a carrot cake for my nephew’s first birthday picnic. But, of course, times being what they are, cupcakes were requested. I obliged, because if nothing else, cupcakes are easier to serve at a picnic.

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Spain's Weekly Booze - hop on the Coconut Bus

Coconut water is, by itself, kind of gross – neither sweet nor savory. The fact that it’s being marketed as a natural sports drink is unsurprising as it reminds me a little of what fresh sweat* smells like. One would think it would be a good mixer. One would be very wrong.

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A drink for an outdoor evening movie screening

“Come see a movie and picnic with us tomorrow night! It’s on the roof of the rec center and it’s free!!”

Why not, I thought.

But what to bring? Despite having 30 good ideas for this week’s cocktail provided by many friends, I thought a balmy summer evening needed a taste of the South – where the evenings are as balmy as the tea is sweet and the ice cubes disappear so fast you wonder why you bothered putting them in your bourbon.

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On Infusing Liquor

In order to make up for not posting a drink recipe last week, I present a primer on how to infuse your own liquor.

spiced vodka, machete cameo

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What's up with Red Lobster's broccoli?

I feel like a bit of a jerk for not having photographed it, but boy is Red Lobster serving some lame, limp-ass broccoli these days. Totally unsubstiantiated(!), but here is my best guess at how their broccoli got to my table:

  1. Roundup-resistant* broccoli planted and harvested sometime during the administration of George W. Bush.
  2. Frozen, shipped by boat to the USA.
  3. Thawed out a few months later, pressure-steam cooked on a conveyer belt contraption.
  4. Re-frozen.
  5. Cross-country road trip, delivery to S. Fla Red Lobster.
  6. Re-thawed, allowed to sit in fridge for a minimum of 72 hours.
  7. Microwaved for 20 seconds, served.

There is no solution. In the future I shall endevor to eat elsewhere, or order the mashed potatoes.

* Do you know how farming is done these days? My favorite picturesque detail is that vegetables are genetically modified to be resistant to Round-up, which normally kills all plant matter dead. The fields can then be liberally doused with the stuff, which proceeds to kill everything but the thing you’re about to eat. Presumably there is also a water rinse involved later in the process. Yum!

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