Category Archives: Other

Super Perros

photo 1According to their website , Super Perros was started by two Colombians selling hotdogs and hamburgers out of a street cart. Though they’ve stayed true to those roots, they also serve up some genuine Colombian cuisine. Their menu (make sure to have your volume all the way up for maximum enjoyment) is extensive, offering a full line of hamburgers and hotdogs, as well as ceviche, parilladas, churrasco and vegetarian options.

photo 2I don’t think any restaurant has a better location than Super Perros. At the corner of W. Tennessee and Ocala, it has better visibility than Doak-Campbell. Flanked by two heavily shaded patios, the inside can best be described as garage sale chic meets latino cafe. They’ve got a couple monitors rotating through different menu options, as well as a TV playing what I assume was Colombian soccer. The cooler has beer and a full line of South American soft drinks.

Bandeja paisa

Bandeja paisa

I ordered the bandeja paisa, which must mean “meat plate” in Spanish. Get a look at it. Chorizo sausage, thin-sliced rib eye, deep fried pork belly (chicharon), egg over easy, iceberg salad, fried plantains, rice and beans. Our server said it was the most authentic Colombian dish, but that was probably by virtue of it having the most Colombian food in a single plate.

Arepa with cheese and beans.

Arepa with cheese and beans.

Sara ordered a spinach empanada to start. She also got an arepa, which is some kind of ground corn flat bread. We finished our meal with a breaded, fried cheese stick filled with guava nectar.

We’ll be headed back to Super Perros in the future, definitely for some food and probably some cheap beers ($4.00 for a pitcher of Miller Light) on the patio.

Super Perros on Urbanspoon

Tienda Mexicana

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I’ve always had great experiences at restaurants operating out of abandoned gas stations.

We haven’t been able to find any taqueria-style mexican eateries since coming to Tallahassee. That changed today.  Tienda Mexicana has been serving lunch at the corner of Blountstown Highway and Capital Circle SW for about three months. It’s probably one of the best kept secrets in town, known only to latinos, construction workers on the Cap, and a growing cadre of hungry college students. 

Don't be afraid.

Don’t be afraid.

To say the building is nondescript isn’t doing the word justice. The woman running the place, Eva, said they’ve been working to get signage up but it’s been raining too much lately. Neon sign holdovers in the windows allude to a convenience mart, but don’t be fooled: they serve food! The menu is fantastic. The corn tortilla shells are hand made as are the tamales, which is no small feat.

Always trust a restaurant when their menu is on a white board.

The Friday menu.

Tacos with rice and beans.

Tacos with rice and beans.

I got the 3 Tacos Special. Taqueria style tacos generally include just onion and cilantro with lime on the side, but Tienda Mexicana also offered tomato and lettuce for gringos. Besides chorizo and al pastor, I got tongue on one of the three tacos. All three were delicious. On a not-so-hot day, I would have gone for menudo or caldo de rez, two traditional Mexican soups. Eva said they make tamales fresh on Saturday and another weekday. She said they always run out, which you’ll know to be true if you’ve ever had homemade tamales that only cost $1.50.

Las cocineras

Las cocineras

The cooks were happy to see I licked my plate clean. Eva and the girls are definitely working an under-served market. I believe they are just open for lunch but she said they were considering a breakfast buffet Saturday mornings. They’re on Yelp! and Urbanspoon, so make sure to write a review when you go!

Tienda Mexicana and Taqueria on Urbanspoon

Spring Creek Restaurant

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The outside of the restaurant. If you have trouble finding it, you won’t be the first or last.

Nestled deep in southern Wakulla county is a little gem called Spring Creek Restaurant. Our food comrades Chuck and Bill suggested checking it out this past weekend. They said it was reminiscent of the southern country dining they grew up on (Bill actually grew up in New Jersey, but let’s not let the truth get in the way of a good story). In fact, going there IS like going back in time.

Murals never go out of style.

Murals never go out of style.

Though actually part of Crawfordville, Spring Creek is a gulf town just north of Oyster Bay. It has maybe ten streets and twice as many houses. According to their menu, Spring Creek Restaurant has been doing business since 1977. The place has a huge limestone fireplace, wood paneled walls, and an all-around country motif . On each table sits a jar of croutons, imitation bacon bits, and ranch salad dressing in a wine bottle. The words “modern” or “fashionable” will not come to mind, but therein lies its charm.

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Tomato pie with grilled shrimp and a baked potato.

Shrimp, mullet, oysters, soft shell crab, and even Florida stone crab claws were all available when we went (check out the menu here). For starters, we got a salad that came out as half of a head of lettuce with whole vegetables in a stainless steel bowl that you get to prepare yourself. Don’t like green onions? No worries, just don’t put them in. Sara ordered the tomato pie and shrimp. If you’ve never had tomato pie, it’s a real treat. Imagine pie crust filled with the ripest tomato,  fresh basil, onion and cheese that’s baked ’til piping hot. Without a doubt, it was the highlight of our meal. I ordered the All You Can Eat Quail or Catfish, because why not? The idea of unlimited quail and catfish struck me as very funny since neither is particularly easy to come by. They brought me two. Of each. To start.

Sunset in Spring Creek.

Sunset in Spring Creek.

After dinner, we took a leisurely walk around the town. Near what was possibly a general store we found a boat launch that we walked down to catch sunset by the water. Chickens, dogs and cats all approached to greet us. A dog licked a cat on the head. It’s that kind of place.

Spring Creek Restaurant on Urbanspoon

What Beer Styles Do We Like? A Bayesian Approach.

I love the internet.  Speaking as an old man who remembers The Dark Times, I can say that never has so much information been so readily accessible.  In the days before free and easy information we would just argue over stuff.  Was it Kurt Russell or Patrick Swayze in Road House? Which movie was better? Rocky I or Rocky II?  Did Mikey really die from eating pop rocks and drinking soda at the same time?  Without having any means of answering these questions (other than going to a public library – yea, right. Good luck with that) there was no way to resolve these questions other than to argue. I mean, just imagine trying to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon without access to the internet?  It would be impossible.  But today, most arguments are avoided completely by simply googling the answer.

But in addition to answering trivia questions, the internet also exists for us to express our opinions.  Nowhere are our opinions more important than the internet, where our well-thought out and reasoned opinions are joined by thousands more to create a large caterwauling mess.  Which brings me to the topic of this blog post.  In addition to loving beer, I also enjoy going to some beer websites and reading reviews about beers that others have tried.  There are two great websites for this :  Ratebeer.com, and Beeradvocate.com.  Both of these websites allow people to rate the beers that they have tried, as well as write reviews about them.  I tend to favor BeerAdvocate.com mostly because it also provides information about the styles of beers that are being rated.  Both websites have cool features that allow you to sort the beers based upon the ratings.   At Beeradvocate.com, they rank their beers (on a 1 to 5 scale) based upon a “WR (weighted rank) [which is] a Bayesian estimate that pulls data from millions of user reviews and normalizes scores based on the number of reviews for each beer or place. The WR represents the beer or place’s score against all others.”.  As a statistics aficionado,  I had to stop for a moment an appreciate the use of Bayesian estimates, which tend to pull the a ranking closer to a mean value, especially when the reviews are few in number.   But their statement also generated a number of follow-up questions, such as whether the Bayesian estimate was pulling the rating toward the grand mean or the style mean?  Did they treat raters as being nested within beer?  What about the multiple rater problem???  Luckily the beer aficionado in me told the stats person in me to STFU.

So I was browsing Beeradvocate.com and I wondered – what beer styles are rated the highest?  Sadly, this answer was not readily available from the pull-down menus (not the first time I’ve been disappointed by a pull-down menu).   So I decided to get this information manually.  I created refreshable web queries in Excel for each of 84 beer styles listed and populated an Excel spreadsheet with the top 50 beers of each style (along with their ratings).  Then I graphed the results. What did I learn (other than apparently I have too much free time)?   I learned that the most highly rated beers are angry beers that are high in alcohol (see graph).  The bar graph contains all the beers that had an average score of 4 or above.  Looking at the graph, it seems like there are 4 styles that stand above the rest of the best – Double or Imperial Stouts, Imperial Russian Stouts, Double or Imperial IPAs, and American Wild Ales.  The stouts and IPA’s at the top of the list didn’t surprise me.  But the American Wild Ales?  These are beers that have an additional strain of “wild yeast”  or bacteria added to the wort that can leave a sometimes earthy, sometimes sour taste to the beer.  The only American Wild Ale I have seen in these parts of the country are from Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown NY.  Further research seems to indicate that most of the best American Wild Ales are brewed on the West Coast, and they don’t seem to make it this far east.  That’s too bad – I would love to give these Wild Ales a good tasting.  Another surprise in the top 10 were the Saisons.   These beers also have an earthy/sour flavor to them that I didn’t think many people would find pleasing – or rate that highly.  Overall, the beer styles that made the top of the list are typically high in alcohol and complex in flavor.  They have a lot going on.

On the other end of the continuum, I also graphed out the least favorite styles. Please forgive me, but the vertical axes of the two graphs are not on the same scale. Do note, however, that the top of the scale for the worst beer styles (4.0) is the lowest average rating from the graph above. It’s pretty clear that the worst of the worst are the beers that most Americans drink.  Light beers, American Adjunct Lagers (fancy name for the buds and millers of the world) and Malt Liquor.  Colt 45 does not work everytime with people who rate beer on the internet.  Two styles that made the list that I found interesting were the American Wheat beers and the American Dark Wheat beers.  I’m going to take a guess as to why they are down here.  Compared to the German Wheats, the American Wheats are too highly hopped.  Wheat beers have a certain creaminess to them, and that gets ruined with the addition of hops.  Much in the same way no one wants bitter ice cream, no one wants to taste bitter when they are expecting creamy.  Another common theme in the bottom list is that almost all of these beers are fairly low in alcohol content and are fairly simple in flavor.  Apparently people who love beer love to get buzzed fast.  Who knew?

So if you’re interested in knowing more about beer or styles of beer, I urge you to check out beeradvocate.com or ratebeer.com.  They really have a wealth of information about craft beers.  It can even make going into a craft beer store more fun.  Check out some different styles of beer and see which ones you like the best.

I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t leave you

Man, it’s been too long. I really can’t believe how long it’s been since I last posted! I am teaching this semester, and my normal evening blogging (and eating out?) time was completely overtaken by my class.

Anyways, I have plenty of excuses (did I mention I was travelling a lot too?).

But I’m back! The semester isn’t quite done yet, but today something very important started. Tally restaurant week. In Columbus, Abe and I had experienced many a restaurant week, and had been flirting with the idea of getting on together here in Tally. But then Natural Tallahassee, a branch of Visit Tallahassee, beat us to it. Less work for us. But we had some excited local foodies on board with us, and I’m a little sad that it didn’t happen our way. Why? Well, I’m not going to lie, I’m a little concerned about the lack of excitement I’ve been seeing (you know, on twitter and facebook) around town about it. So, wanting to support this worthy event our local restaurants are participating in, here I am, back from my blogging exile.

So what is a restaurant week you ask? Well, here in Tally it’s 25 restaurants who have put together special fixed price (Prix fixe if you will) menus. These special menus are for the most part 3 courses for $25. Or some have lunch deals for $15. An exciting part is for many the menu items are not on their regular menu, so you tend to get some more chef creativity (and seasonality) going on. And best of all? It’s a great deal! And a great way for some of our amazing local restaurants to get new people in the door!

Like you (*finger pointing your way*).

Go! To as many as you can! Abe and I are planning on hitting many, including some we have never been to before (hopefully finally getting to A La Provence). Tomorrow it’s Mozaik for lunch. Their amazing tuna poke app to start, fried green tomato BLT, and a little cake. Yes Please!

The more formally named “Capital Cuisine Restaurant Week” goes for 10 days (April 10-22). That’s two weekends and plenty of weekday lunch opportunities to try out a new place, or support a local favourite. Check out the menus, although I can’t help it if that leads you to want to try too many.

Part 3 of some things I love about Tallahassee!

I love finding great service in eateries you are not expecting it at.

In general, this city does serve up some great food customer service (can it be even a bad pun when the same root word is used?!).  But I have really been blown away recently by two different places that I would have not expected the above and beyond.  They deserve a shout out!

1. Tomahawk Sports Bar and Grill.  By chance I went there with some work friends for happy hour.  I was blown away, and would happily make it a regular place to grab a beer and burger.

This is no normal sports bar folks!  First, they have a great beer selection, with many rotating drafts of microbreweries from around the country.  Who would have thunk?!  Second, their burgers are very good, full of great options for toppings, many of which are unique.

But really, we had amazing service from our bartender, who knew his beers, and was passionate about them.  He was excited to sample beers for us (bacon beer, whaaaaa?), and to just plain talk beer.  And you know what, if you just wanted a bud light and that was it, he could shoot the shit with you about sports.  There were no pretenses here.

AND, on top of that?  I had checked in on foursquare when I was there, and by that evening I had a tweet from the bar saying thank you for coming and they liked my blog!!  Now that makes this girl happy.  There are many great businesses in this town on twitter (check out the linked website on the right from Goin’ Postal tallahassee who keeps a list of them all!), but I have yet to see that sort of connection by any restaurant in town.

Check them out, this is not your typical bud light sports bar.

The Tomahawk Sports Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

2.  Mardi Gras Snowballs.  Tried this place out today because I wondered what really made it different than typical snow cones like everyone was telling me.  What I got was definitely great.  But the most impressive part? The service.  Our server, if I remember right her name was Christie, took some serious enjoyment in popping my New Orleans style shaved ice cherry.  She expertly guided me towards unusual but great flavours (egg custard? red velvet?) I never would have tried on my own and sampled the heck out of me.  She talked about the process of making the shaved ice, chatted about general life to me, and overall made the experience very fun.  She made sure to tell me her name and gave me a business card with a coupon for an up-charge product when I was leaving.

Again, above and beyond, and just great business.

Mardi Gras Snowballs on Urbanspoon

If you haven’t been to either of these places, try them! Support their efforts to bring unique and wonderful food experiences to Tallahassee!

Some things I love about Tallahassee: Part Deux

On my way to work I drive through neighbourhoods that have some seriously interesting gawking factor.  Crazy things happen at any given time.  I’m still always surprised, which is surprising in itself.  I love it about Tallahassee.

Craziest thing?  On my way home recently, a sort of adult lemonade stand pops up.  A man sets up a table with a grass umbrella, decorated with an island theme, a blender or two (plugged in how, I am not sure), and a pile of real pineapples.  I’m not kidding, he sets up a display of tropical fruit.  Typically, there are always people chilling out in the chairs around his table.   I assume they are drinking the frozen (adult?) beverages he is blending up fresh.

In a parking lot.

Does anyone know what this stand is?  It’s on Lake Bradford close to campus, in the lot next to Bandidos Burritos.

(unrelated, if anyone can tell me why a large line of people forms in an empty lot by the bridge on Orange on Tuesday mornings, I would LOVE to know that too!)

So many questions.

Some of the things I love about Tallahassee: Part 1.

I have decided to write a series of posts highlighting some lesser known (I think?) Tallahassee food finds I have stumbled upon recently.  Which means, hold on to your pants folks, here we go!

We moved here from Columbus, Ohio, which as a great foodie city (don’t make me convince you again, it really is!) has great local farmers markets.  I miss going to our local one on Saturday mornings, which was only a few blocks away.  Here in Tallahassee, the Saturday Market Square market always seems too far away, too full of re-sellers (and not real farmers), and not quite working for my schedule here.   And, the Wednesday market at Lake Ella is when I work :(.  As for the other options,  I have been unimpressed.

So, enter in my recent Tallahassee farmer’s market saviour!    Red Hills Online Farmers Market.  What a cool idea!  Local real farms post their weekly goodies online, and shopping is available from Sunday at 6am to Wednesday at 6am.  Pick up Thursday between 5-7 at Bread & Roses Food Co-Op.  It’s a 10$ fee for the year to offset expenses, but item prices are fair and typical.

Local farms from your couch!

I know, I know.  You are thinking “but Sara, the fun is in the actual market!”.  Well, I totally agree…and I felt that in Columbus.  But I don’t feel that in Tallahassee.  There are only 3 booths I go to at the Market Square market, and that doesn’t provide the shopping experience I want.  So, now I just want to support local farmers and eat great local food, and I want it to be convenient.  I work on campus, so ordering online and picking up on Railroad Square right after work is perfect.

Support Red Hills!  Real local farmers only in one easy to shop experience!  Go food!

Chef Sampler-Thanks Twitter!

My many years of practicing typing on my iPhone culminated in a victory last week in a twitter contest run by @TallyMall.  I was, yes I really was, the fastest respondent to answer who I wanted to see most at the Tallahassee Chef’s Sampler.  My answer = @CravingsTruck.  The Cravings Truck is a local chicken and waffle food truck who is a wonderful addition to the local restaurant scene and a wonderful community member.  Follow them…eat them.

So, I won two tickets to the Chef Sampler!  Thanks again @TallyMall (Alicia is the woman behind the mall). Those who know me well will not be surprised by my winning. But this one was for a “talent”, go figure!

Hello from the Chef's Sampler!

Abe and I went, with a friend from work (hi Tara!) who came along to experience the fun too.  Now, Abe and I went to a similar event in Columbus so we thought we knew what we were in for.  The mall being full of people, a band, and food after hours was not what we were expecting (and I was warned!).  It was the craziest thing, and way too much fun.  Lots of local restaurants gave out samplers of food, there was wine and beer flowing, and even one place had tequila (Cabo’s, big shout out for that).  I also have now pieced together why the Sampler is not on a Friday/Saturday night.  With all the booze floating around, it would have been a little bananas.

 

Tara and I, with our Earth Fare bananas

Favourite stands of the three of us…

Another Broken Egg, you rocked that lightly seared tuna salad.  Dressing was great, probably best single dish all night!

Barnacle Bill’s, shut the front door with your raw oysters shucked by some very busy men right in front of us, and a smoked salmon spread/salad. You go.

 

They had margs too!

Angelette’s Cajun Kitchen.  We love you because you are our neighbour.  We’ve been meaning to write a post about you for a while for a while.  But we loved your grit cakes topped with Andouille and crawfish cream sauce!  Tasty 🙂

That's Tara getting her first Cravings Truck!

Cravings Truck…how can I not love your red velvet waffles? I don’t even like red velvet, and I love your waffle.  Super happy to see you at the Sampler! And you won me the tickets 🙂

Craving's Truck serving it up!

Carrie Ann & Co., Inc, your desserts were great!  A buckeye? In Florida? Oh yeah.  Abe went nuts for the carrot cake.

Bite of Your Life , you were a happy little cupcake stand, with FANTASTIC chocolate espresso cupcakes with an insane frosting.  You made me very happy.

Finally, the prize for the best overall experience at a stand goes to Honey Baked Ham.  I’ll be honest, I was too full to even eat, but Abe and Tara did and were impressed with the Ham Salad.  The best part though was the man in the turkey costume.  Mr. Turkey needs a raise Honey Baked Ham!

 

Yes, a man in a turkey costume. At a Honey Baked Ham stand.

In the end, honourable mentions go to a great gumbo at Harry’s (with great staff workin’ the table!!!),  we heard wonderful things about Earth Fare but the line was always too long (other than the banana’s we cut in for…), and to the others we enjoyed!

It all started and ended with a banana.

Something a little different

My new favourite past time, twitter, provided to me a link to a NYT article that really struck a cord with me.  The writing is passionate and seems to speak to my future self.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/magazine/20Food-t-000.html (the comments are good too, if you have time).

I worry about this.  As you may have noticed from our blog, Abe and I are into food.  If you have ever spent a day, a meal or even just a moment with us, we probably talked about food.  It’s sort of become “our thing” pretty ‘organically’ (ha).

In our relationship, we have shifted from me doing most of the cooking to abe doing most of the cooking.  No bait and switch here though!  A move and changing jobs resulted in a harmonious switch which has come from the very practical solution of “who ever is less busy, cooks”.   Before, I came home from work at about 8, cooked and it was ready for abe at 9 (we worked late, but I was more flexible).  Now, Abe is at home a lot and can cook, and we eat at whenever we do based on when I get out of work, traffic and what I had for lunch and therefore how hungry I am.

And we seem to have settled into distinctive cooking styles.  I’m more of the experimenter, “fancy” cook who picks recipes (which I hardly stick to in the end) that take hours.  I don’t make a shopping list for regular cooking, I cook based on my imagination and what we have and looked good at the store.  On the other hand, Abe is great at mixing it up and being creative for week night meals, and follows recipes pretty closely.  But he needs the weekly meals laid out prior to shopping.  Meal tonight?  Currywurst with chicken sausage on quinoa with asparagus.  Random but tasty.

We eat when we eat.  We eat whatever we want or can think of.  We grocery shop like it’s our second job (a regular outing is three stores).   And we need a second job to pay for our eating habits.

What would we do if we had a picky kid?  Will we not have a picky kid because the home we will provide will not foster that?  What about timing the meals to get the kid to bed at a decent time that is on a schedule, which is good for said future kid?  Will abe and I be able to trade off cooking duty if we are equally as busy with our jobs? Can grocery shopping be a 3 hour, 3 store affair with kids?  Will abe and I meld our distinctive cooking styles to get out a meal, any meal (healthy?).  Can you feed your child just bread and cheese like abe and I are known to have?

So, in case you didn’t read or comment on the NYT article before now (anyone?), what are your thoughts?  What is a couple, who will have kids at some point in the future-ish but loves food now, to do?