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UptownKevin's Profile

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Top Chef NOLA - Ep. #2 - 10/09/13 (Spoilers)

Am I the only one who finds it ridiculous that we have a show that revolves around "rebuilding New Orleans?" Katrina happened 8 years ago. Get over it. Can we please quit re-hashing tragedy so we can make a drama filled show full of clueless privileged do-gooders?

Sorry, but this season sucks. We're no longer focused on food, but how many crappy stereotypes we can place on a host city. Swamps? Katrina? Getting ridiculous. Probably time I stop watching. And yes, I find it offensive.

Oct 10, 2013
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

The Shed, new programming on Food Network

Watched a couple of minutes of their show last night. I truly feel sorry for them. I have heard great things about the restaurant but they're definitely not skilled in the acting department and they're really made to look like goofballs on TV. Sad.

Aug 05, 2013
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

Question about home fried taco shells...

You can easily fry them up to a week in advance. Just put them in a container with a paper towel and seal it well with plastic wrap. We do them a lot, but I have a commercial food business and we can fry them quickly and we have taco shell baskets for the fryers.

Another viewpoint. Why not buy them already made? IMHO, anyone who eats them already has a preconceived notion of what they are going to eat. Sometimes it's the nostalgia factor. I am a professional chef and a taco fanatic, but sometimes I just crave those Old El Paso taco shells with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese and salsa, like I used to eat when I was a kid.

The purists will eat the soft corn tortillas. So don't stress about the fried shells. 100 people is a lot of food to produce from a home kitchen. Don't sweat the small stuff.

Jul 15, 2013
UptownKevin in Home Cooking
2

El Noa Noa - Mexican Grocery (Armenia Ave., Tampa)

Not sure of the hours, but I always go there for lunch. When I pass by in the morning, they are not open, so no breakfast. Thinking it might be a lunch only place.

I speak very little Spanish but I eat a lot of Mexican food. Because I am a stereotypical Gringo, I get offered lettuce and cheese, like a taco bell taco. So if you get offered, just make sure to correct them for the good stuff. They also put grilled green onions on their tacos and have really good salsas. Tacos are $2. Still working my way through the menu.

Jul 02, 2013
UptownKevin in Florida

El Noa Noa - Mexican Grocery (Armenia Ave., Tampa)

Thanks for sharing! It's right down the street from my new location so I am slowly but surely exploring these few blocks.

If you want great tacos, there is a little truck called Taqueria La Costena, on the same side of Armenia, a little bit south of MLK. Good stuff.

Jul 02, 2013
UptownKevin in Florida

Great seafood recommendations in Tampa or nearby places?

You may want to call ahead and ask about stone crab claws. They are in short supply right now and tough to get anywhere. A lot of the seafood companies are working hard to import them from other places, so the ones you get might not even be local.

Dec 26, 2012
UptownKevin in Florida

New 'Menu Items That Need to Be Retired", 2012 edition...

Pork Belly - Can't figure out why eating a chunk of fat is good. Not good to me.

"Gourmet" Burger Joints serving $20 burgers. It's been mentioned above and I +1

"Locavore" cuisine. If eating local was so great, then why do we always want things that are "foreign" or not available locally?

And anything from a damn food truck. What is with the food truck fad? I get it. Food trucks are a somewhat inexpensive way for a lesser known chef to showcase his or her talents and own a business. Now, the food trucks are such a fad that a shiny new truck (or a fleet) along with a marketing budget and website costs way more than opening a small restaurant. It's now a corporate and foodie fad...

-Kevin

Feb 28, 2012
UptownKevin in General Topics

Top Chef Really Important Things To Do Before You Start the Show

Yea, it was my attempt at humor. I thought it was witty. And that was the big quote from Fabio that season.

Dec 27, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

Top Chef Really Important Things To Do Before You Start the Show

Not sure why you would even bring up scallops. After all, it's called Top Chef, not "Top Scallops."

Dec 26, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

Tasso and Andouille in Tampa

As noted above, you can get tasso at Land and Sea Market along with Andouille. Tasso seems to go a long way, so I buy a block, cut it into pieces and freeze it.

You can get a really good Andouille at Publix, made by Aidell's. Check it out. Also, you didn't ask, but a local Tampa company called Uncle John's Pride makes some fantastic smoked sausage (probably the best I have found) and they also sell ham hocks. I use their sausage in my Jambalaya and the ham hocks in red beans.

Last, I recently came across a fantastic andouille by Leidy's. Not sure where they sell it locally but I buy it at Restaurant Depot. It's one of my new favorites.
http://www.alderfermeats.com/leidys-s...

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Restaurant Depot
810 N 50th St, Tampa, FL 33619

Oct 23, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

Crazy Cajun in Tampa

Ok, I hate to be critical of any small business (especially a food based business), but I will warn you that the food at the Crazy Cajun is pretty bad. My wife and I went for lunch one day just out of curiosity, as I am a Louisiana native and there was a coupon in the Creative Loafing. Long story short, it was mediocre at best.

We didn't order crawfish, but saw a few people eating them. I assume they are Chinese crawfish, as they're out of season for domestic production. Doesn't mean they are bad (if you boil them right, they should be good), but they were all pre-packaged in clear plastic bags when they came out. I have never seen that before and am not sure how they were cooking/heating them (microwave)? Gumbo was pretty mediocre and I believe it was a pre-made gumbo from a food service company (Sysco?). Had a pretty strange flavor. Gator bites were chewy and didn't come with any sort of sauce. We asked for something and received cocktail sauce. Not a good match. We ordered a shrimp po-boy because I figured it was the safest bet for fried seafood. Big sandwich (lot of bread) with eight (or was it six?) fried shrimp. We split it and ended up with mostly bread.

If you go, do it at your own risk. I think the place is kind of a joke and they really give the Cajun food a bad name. I would hate for anyone to think that it is even remotely authentic. Instead, head to Ricky P's or Cajun Cafe on the Bayou. I believe the owners claim to have roots in Louisiana. That doesn't mean they can cook. My sister is also from Louisiana but can barely boil water (just cuz you're from there doesn't mean you can cook the food).

Alright, end of story. If you are interested, then at least give it a try, especially if you can get a Groupon. Make your own decision and the most you'll spend if $15-$20.

Oct 01, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

Bar Rescue

I have actually been watching it from the beginning. Pretty cool show and fairly accurate about the bar business. As a former bar manager, I like it.

Aug 08, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

Masterchef tonight [spoilers]

If you saw what really happens in most restaurant kitchens, you'd probably never dine out! That being said, I also think it's a huge turnoff. I wouldn't want to eat that...

Jul 15, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

Another Yummy House coming to Tampa

Hate to pile on, but I felt the same way about the criticism. Not sure what kind of people run quickly to a brand new restaurant on a Friday night and expect everything to be perfect. Amateur night; but I guess everyone wants to be a food critic.

Jul 05, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

Has anyone toured the Abita Brewery?

I believe they are changing the rules as they learn to deal with the crowds. Back in the day, you could get to the tour early, hang out and drink beer, take the tour and then hang out and drink beer, all for free. Last time I went was about 6-8 months ago. I hear now they are so crowded that they have to limit the time that people spend in the tasting room. The tour is pretty lame. The fact that you can pour your own beer and hang out is legendary. Been going on the tours for at least 7-8 years and it has always been a riot.

Jun 07, 2011
UptownKevin in New Orleans

Food Network Star - Episode 1 (formerly "The Next Food Network Star") [spoilers]

Vic Vegas has a pretty good chance at making it to the end, as he was obviously selected by the producers and asked to be on the show. I've seen him on at least two of the cooking competition shows and he's always done really well. He didn't just pop out of nowhere, he was pre-selected.

Jun 07, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

wedding near Tampa at Clearwater Beach

Yea, but I think she wanted something on the beach (Clearwater beach), hence the title of the post ;-)

I will have to email you to find out who your wife is. Good chance I know her, since she is in the industry here.

-Kevin

May 25, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

wedding near Tampa at Clearwater Beach

Check out Island Way Grill, which is right off of Clearwater beach (2 minutes). They do quite a few wedding receptions and private parties and the food is pretty damn good.
http://www.islandwaygrill.com/

I own a catering company and can tell you that a party for 30 on the beach would cost almost the same as a party for 100. It's nearly the same amount of work involved.

So for the cost and size of your party, a restaurant would definitely give you the most bang for your buck. Hope this helps.

-Kevin

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Island Way Grill
20 Island Way, Clearwater, FL 33767

May 24, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

Next Great Restaurant No Spoilers

You might be correct, as I believe Indian food is the next concept ripe for the fast food craze.

Actually, there is already an Indian fast food concept here in Tampa and it is about to explode. My only comment about the Tiffin guy is that the name just doesn't seem recognizable. I mean, I know what is is, but that is only because I have seen them on TV. Never actually seen one in real life. Good concept though.

Mar 20, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

Top Chef All-Stars - Ep. #11 - 02/23/11 (Spoilers)

Gotta agree with you on that one. Maybe it is a Georgia thing? Crawfish, you suck the heads. Never seen or heard of anyone sucking shrimp heads.

Feb 24, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

South Tampa - Monstah Lobstah, Restaurant BT

Thanks for the review. Would love to try it and even enjoyed the recent review in the paper. I guess it was the fact that $30 for a duck breast kind of turned me off. Seriously, a little place on MacDill has prices comparable to the Slanted Door. But hey, when in South Tampa, right? It's on the list of places I need to go.

And if anyone knows the owner, would you please mention to her that her website is tough to navigate? Or perhaps it is all part of the show?

Feb 18, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

The Refinery (Tampa)

Geez, well even Applebee's probably has a one hour wait on a weekend night. Not sure why you'd even go out on a Friday or Saturday. Do the restaurants a favor and dine out on weekdays.

Here's a little defensive dining tip - go on a Wednesday night. Since the menu changes on Thursday, they've had a week to fine tune the program and get everything right. Plus, the amateurs are home having pizza, chomping at the bit until the weekend.

Feb 18, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

TAMPA Looking for creative cuisine with fresh local ingredients

I have to add that the unpredictability is what makes it interesting. It's definitely not a restaurant for everyone, but instead of the same old chains in Tampa, we have people taking local ingredients and doing some cool things with them. It's a lot different than many other places and probably along the lines of a place found in Portland, OR.

Dine at your own risk, but at least take the risk (once, anyway). The OP mentioned "high quality ingredients" and "creatively," so the Refinery came to mind. I do agree that Mise and Pane Rustica are great restaurants.

-Kevin

Feb 09, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

As seen on late-night TV --- Robo stir

Done it several times. Works great.

You'll just have to trust me on this one. Or you can spend the 45 cents on some flour and oil and try it yourself. Choice is yours.

Isn't it pronounced New Or-Leens? Kidding. My name is UptownKevin. Where do you think I am from?

Feb 08, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

TAMPA Looking for creative cuisine with fresh local ingredients

I agree.

Feb 07, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

TAMPA Looking for creative cuisine with fresh local ingredients

Check out The Refinery. Menu changes weekly. Good place, but it is for those willing to take a risk with their food. http://www.thetamparefinery.com/

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The Refinery
5173 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33603

Feb 06, 2011
UptownKevin in Florida

The decline and demise of professional food writing?

Well, it looks like we've hit rock bottom here now. This latest one cracks me up. It's in the online version now but will likely be in print very soon.

Looks like she copied and pasted an article via twitter from a Ohio housewife and even managed to get in a link advertisement to an online culinary school.

I think the worst part is that it is such a generic article and out of the 5 San Francisco restaurants she listed, 2 of them are not even located in San Francisco (they're in Napa).

Did my best to not name any names, but this is getting to be entertaining....

http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/dail...

Feb 01, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

The decline and demise of professional food writing?

Is it me, or are professional food writers rapidly being replaced with bloggers and amateurs in publications that were once legitimate? In my local weekly (free) paper, the whole food section is being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator of food "journalists." I laughed at a couple of the articles that I found online, only to see them appear in the printed paper.

Don't get me wrong, I think there is a place and purpose for food bloggers. I did it for years before I decided to "retire." But it seems now that the local weekly papers have figured out a way to get plenty of free or cheap content and parade it around as "writing." I fear to give links or specific examples because I truly feel sorry for the professional editors that do this for a living. I assume they would be embarrassed with the content, right?

-Kevin

Jan 24, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

As seen on late-night TV --- Robo stir

Or you could just make a roux in the microwave while you prep other things. ;-) And don't shoot the messenger. I didn't invent microwaves. -Kevin

Jan 20, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News

Top Chef All-Stars - Ep. #6 - 01/12/11 (Spoilers)

I know that bottle anywhere ;-) It was Sapphire

Jan 13, 2011
UptownKevin in Food Media & News