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Nancy’s Brings Real Deal BBQ to the Sarasota/Bradenton Area

28 May

Nancy’s Bar-B-Q arrived on the Sarasota dining scene not long after we moved out of the area. Too bad for us because Nancy’s is pretty darn good. Sure, it has a few minor flaws. Yet it has clearly set the gold standard for real BBQ in the Sarasota/Bradenton marketplace.  

The eatery’s design is modern and appealing. Part of this operation is financed by the Caragiulo family (some might call them the first family of Italian cuisine in Sarasota). It’s a beautiful place — and well thought-out. A nice blend of retro and modern.  

This tractor (parked permanently outside) provides some rustic charm.

The replica Sinclair Gasoline billboard further adds to the old school vibe.

Cooking BBQ with real wood??? What an amazing concept!

“This little piggy went to market …” and apparently didn’t come home.

The pulled BBQ pork (cooked for 12 hours) and the locally-made link sausage were outstanding. Owner and founder Nancy Krohngold obviously devotes a lot of time to her sauces too. There are several to choose from and all of them were right on point. Or should I say right on Q??? Be sure to take some home with you.

The side dishes (above) we sampled were just OK, but not great.

The link sausage had a nice kick to it. This was a highlight in my mind.

Follow this “Q” (above) on the sidewalk to Nancy’s Bar-B-Q. Stick to the meats and house-made BBQ sauces and you will surely not be disappointed. This is  real deal BBQ, friends — and Sarasota is quite lucky to have them in town.

Nancy’s Bar-B-Q – 301 South Pineapple Street, Sarasota, FL

www.facebook.com/pages/Nancys-Bar-B

(941) 955-3400

Lunch at Aunt B’s Country Kitchen

16 Apr

We sometimes joke about places being “out in the boondocks.” Sometimes it’s just a loosely used expression. But there are other times when the description fits perfectly. The latter is the case with Aunt B’s Country Kitchen. They are technically in Theodore, Alabama (a Mobile suburb – and I use the term suburb very loosely here).

The exterior of Aunt B’s place looks like someone’s home. And I guess that is the point. The owners want you to feel comfortable. The estate is a restored 1901 farmhouse. It’s pretty hard not to feel relaxed in settings such as this. Only the small, circular Coca Cola sign above the front screen doors tip you off that this might actually be a real place of business.

The period dinner bell at Aunt B’s is a nice feature — not sure how much use it actually gets. I would imagine youngsters would give the rope a strong tug whenever they visit with their families. There are a few wooden picnic tables in the front yard. Not a bad place to eat out if the weather is conducive.

Aunt B’s front porch is a peaceful place, for sure. I was almost expecting Sheriff Andy Taylor to grab a seat and begin strumming his six-string. The stacks of soft drink bottles almost gives the joint a general store feel.

Once inside the dining room, you’ll discover that Aunt B’s is slightly more uptown than you originally thought. The shelves a plum full of gourmet food products — sauces, jams, jellies, pickles and mixes. It’s all top quality stuff and the variety offered is impressive. But don’t look for any bargains here. Prices are comparable to most kitchen specialty/gourmet stores across the USA.

I found a seat at a quiet 2-top near the back of the restaurant. An old cast iron stove beckoned beneath a massive flat screen TV. Quite the juxtaposition, wouldn’t you say? I was happy to find that the tube was tuned to Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on the Travel Channel. Tony was in Chicago and it looked like fun. But I was quite content to be dining with Aunt B’s near the Alabama coastline. I gazed out the back window at the sprawling green pastures and tall pecan trees that had obviously been here for a very long time.   

I placed my order for the Cajun shrimp stuffed pork tenderloin lunch special. It was in front of me in a flash. Now that is sometimes a good thing and sometimes a not so good thing. It appeared freshly sliced and the stuffing looked (and smelled) amazing.

It tasted just as good — although I must add that the large pork medallions were not exactly piping hot. That aside, the dish was a smashing success – thanks in great measure to the stuffing. I’m not sure exactly was in it. I asked but didn’t exactly get a detailed answer. Shrimp, Cajun spices, some chopped veggies – that’s about all the manager was willing to share with me. I could have sworn I tasted some tasso or andouille, but I was told I was off base on that guess.     

My side of stewed squash was really fine too. There just wasn’t enopugh of it. I found myself wishing that Aunt B was a little more generous with her portions this particular afternoon. The squash had been bathed in sweet onion, butter, and herbs and tasted much like the squash I often prepare at home in the Spring and Summer months.

My entree also included a mound of cold macaroni salad. This is one of my favorite picnic foods, especially if it’s nice and cold and not totally drowned in fatty mayo. This side was nicely conceived and quickly scarfed down.

It was now time for dessert and I was ready for some sweet potato pie. The choice was not easy. Aunt B was also offering a Strawberry Shortcake and I was wavering a bit. But I stuck to my guns and I was repaid with a slab of pie that was, well, sticky. And gooey. And not exactly what I was hoping for. It was far too sweet and had a very unpleasant gummy texture. A cross between pie and chewing gum. Should have gone strawberry!

But let’s not finish on a downer. This is a cool place and a welcome addition to the Greater Mobile area dining scene. And it’s actually only about a 20 minute drive from Mobile’s I-65 and I-10 interchange. Aunt B’s is open for lunch only on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday thru Sunday hours are 11 am – 4 pm and 5 pm – 8:30 pm.

Dinner options listed on the take out menu include Baked Chicken and Dressing, Crooks Corner Shrimp n Grits, Pecan Crusted Chicken, Shrimp Creole and Chicken n Dumplings. Sides listed were highlighted by Roasted Butternut Squash, Tomatoes Rockefeller, and Asparagus with Deviled Eggs. Now how can a true Dixie Dining devotee resist all that?

So take a drive out to the country — the Country Kitchen, that is.

Aunt B’s Country Kitchen – 3750 Bay Rd, Theodore, AL

251 623 1868; www.shopauntbs.com

“Who’s Your Coastal Daddy?”

3 Apr

Big Daddy’s Grill isn’t the type of place you just stumble upon. In fact, you might say that it is out in the boondocks. If you haven’t visited before, you’ll need a map (or some very good directions) to get here. Once you arrive, what you see seems totally out of place. A shady, watery wonderland in the heart of Baldwin County’s wide open, sun-blistered farm country. And a whole bunch of nice folks in a remote location where you’d expect absolutely no one to be hanging out.

Big Daddy’s (named for owner Jason Newsom) has a roadhouse sort of look from the outside. A whole bunch of motorcycles were lined up out front. Lots of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks too. Seems like everyone but me had gotten the memo on this place. How, I ask you, did this happen? I needed to get inside and learn more. Pronto!  

This whimsical, rustic fish sign is seen at the entry to Big Daddy’s.

A cluster of young people dressed in tie-dye Big Daddy’s T-shirts greeted me at the outdoor hostess table. There is some indoor seating, but who would even consider that on such a glorious Spring afternoon? I had just had a pretty vigorous workout at the YMCA and I was ready for a good meal. But first things first. A big old glass of sweet tea.

The view from my wooden picnic table seating was mighty fine indeed. I was partially in the sun, partially in the shade. Small boats and other pleasure crafts were docked at the water’s edge. Jet skis occasionally zipped by. Pontoon boats took their own sweet time. Attractive waterfront homes beckoned on the Fish River’s opposite shoreline. Not a bad place to plant yourself for a while.

I spotted this lush, historic home in Big Daddy’s neighborhood.

Ice cold beer at Big Daddy’s Grill is cheap and plentiful!

The Fried Oyster and Shrimp Po-Boy (above) is done right at Big Daddy’s. Good bread, fresh cut tomatoes and shredded lettuce, a tangy dill pickle slice or two. The shrimp were plump, the oysters large and peppery. Strips of freshly sliced sweet onion added a another dimension of flavor.  I reached for a little salt, some house cocktail sauce, and a bottle of Tabasco sauce. A quick squirt of lemon and I was finally ready to dive in.

I thought outside the box and called for — Sweet Tater Fries!

The sweet potato fries turned out to be a pretty good call. Crunchy and slightly salty on the outside, sweet and moist on the inside. I ate slowly — taking in all of nature’s beauty around me. The folks at the adjacent table ordered up a plate of fried soft shell crabs. These crabs are brought in from Crisfield, Maryland – a place that knows a thing or two about good quality seafood. The diners raved about the dish, so I made a mental note to bring my wife along next time. She hails from the Baltimore area and rarely misses a chance to sink her teeth into crispy fried soft shells.

What a nice surprise Big Daddy’s turned out to be! Didn’t know what to expect when I got in the Jeep this sunny early April afternoon. My expectations took a dip during my longer than anticipated drive into the outer reaches of Alabama’s gigantic Baldwin County. “Does this place even exist?” But then my spirits (and appetite) soared when I first laid eyes on Big Daddy’s oasis of sunshine, seafood and suds.

My server was mega-cheerful and made me feel right like a regular. I actually lost count after the “Hon”ometer hit six or seven. It’s that kind of place. Tasty, filling sandwiches and bountiful fried seafood baskets. Shiny metal buckets holding silverware, napkins and condiments. “Red, yellow and pink wines are available,” so check your big city attitude at the door. Big Daddy’s is not the least expensive place around (po-boy plates run in the $10-$12 range). But you won’t feel cheated at all once you experience their generous portions and the quality of the seafood served. For a unique treat, ask your server for a basket of fried pickles or fried okra.   

So when you’re in need of a little pick me up, don’t forget about Big Daddy’s Grill located somewhere off County Road 32 in a remote corner of Fairhope, Alabama. It’ll fill your belly, warm your soul, and lift your spirits. So c’mon … who’s your Daddy???

Big Daddy’s Grill

16542 Ferry Road
Fairhope, AL 36532-6617
(251) 990-8555

www.bigdaddysgrill.net

Gulf Coast Foodways Organziation is Officially Unveiled

24 Mar

 

Gulf Coast Foodways is a new community of foodies on a mission to preserve and promote the rich culinary culture along the US Gulf Coast through education, events, documentaries, seminars and more. Gulf Coast Foodways will be a member driven organization and we’re currently looking for charter members and sponsors.

How exactly are we going to do all of this, you ask?  Through the development of thematic maps and tours, we can drive food tourism to our region. Through video documentation, we can capture and show off the unique culinary culture of our coast.  Cookbooks and published compilations of local food writings and treasured family recipes will draw attention to the traditional foodways of our area. 

We plan to hold periodic meetings for members to make connections and network. These events will include guest speakers on local topics and you can always count on a good meal or two along the way. Our annual symposium weekend is now in the initial planning stage.  Hotel and restaurant industry members will always benefit from the trails, meetings, and symposiums.

We’d like for you to play a key role in the creation of this tasty “gumbo.” 

 Your annual membership or sponsorship will:

 *Help finance research projects

*Promote food-related businesses along the Gulf Coast

*Document local traditions & businesses preserving them

*Promote and grow food tourism along the Gulf Coast

*Underwrite any necessary administrative costs

 In return, your benefits will include:

 *Bi-annual e-newsletter

*Profile feature on the Gulf Coast Foodways blog: www.gulfcoastfoodways.wordpress.com 

*10% off all Gulf Coast Foodways event registration

*Priority registration for events

*Discounts at participating restaurants/shops

 We urge you to join this worthy cause today.

Contact Eileen or Gary Saunders at gulfcoastfoodways@yahoo.com.

***Pass this note along to your friends and LIKE us on FACEBOOK.

Daphne’s Moe’s Original BBQ will Slap You Silly with Flavor

20 Feb

 I am a bit of a BBQ snob. I have consumed a good bit of smoked piggy meat in my time. Some really good, most of it just OK, a lot of it pretty gross. So like a Hollywood hunk who has had his pick of the starlets, I am not easily excited or impressed when it comes to trying out a new Q joint. This leads me to my first encounter with Moe’s Original BBQ …  

Moe’s BBQ has a total of 9 locations. Three of them are in Colorado, the balance in Alabama. I know, it sounds a bit odd. Not sure how it shook out that way. I guess that’s potential fodder for a future blog. Anyhoo, my first taste of Moe’s did not occur at any of their 9 locations. It happened inside a hospitality tent at the Under Armour Senior Bowl football game in Mobile. I must say it was good — I mean really good. So much so that I made a mental note to make a visit to their Daphne, AL location at my earliest convenience.

The rustic menu board is just my style — & the variety ain’t bad either!

Folksy artwork (above) inside Moe’s dining area. Elvis and JB — nice!

This (above) is where all the magic begins. I ordered the pulled pork platter, which comes with the diner’s choice of 2 sides and a heaping hunk of cornbread. Side decisions are not easy — they offer quite an impressive number of choices. I recalled from my Senior Bowl experience that the slaw was terrific, so that call was easy. I’m always a sucker for sweet potato casserole, so that was selection #2. Felt pretty doggone confident about my decisions.

My platter of porky goodness is pictured above in glorious, living color. It was all soooo good — every last bit of it. The pork was lean and smoky, while the sauce was warm (as in temperature) and tangy. The total package reminded a great deal of King’s BBQ in Petersburg, VA (a longtime Saunders’ family favorite). If you know me, you know that this is high praise indeed!

The chunky cornbread had a nice char on the exterior … I’m guessing they warm it up a bit on the grill before serving. The sublime marinated slaw was vinegar-based with a hint of celery seed and sugar. It also was laced with chopped green pepper and red onion. Wonderful! The sweet potato casserole was also slammin’, thanks to a crispy, cinnamon/sugar cereal flake topping and a pleasing texture (not too baby food smooth) that was reminiscent of homemade.

Moe’s pulled pork & slaw are superb — the best we’ve had in Baldwin County.

You can dine in or dine out (patio pictured above), but just dine here already!

I love the 3 Stooges and I never thought there’d be another Moe in my life.

Guess I was wrong, huh?

www.moesoriginalbbq.com

The Original Don’s Seafood & Steakhouse in Downtown Lafayette, LA

17 Nov

Don’s Seafood is a longtime fixture on the Lafayette dining scene.

You gotta love the vintage neon, right?

The Italian salad dressing at Don’s was not your typical Wishbone variety.

The gator bites were fried up to crispy, crunchy perfection. Chomp! 

My son Austin ordered the fried catfish bites. I couldn’t resist either!

Don’s famous crawfish bisque was chock full of briny surprises.

Sweet tater fries are always welcome — these especially so.

www.donsdowntown.com

Granny Hester’s Alabama Sweet Potato Biscuits are made with L-O-V-E

27 Oct

These babies are simply amazing — chunks of real sweet potatoes in every bite. Try them with butter and some Steen’s 100% Cane Syrup for a real treat! We were thrilled to find these at our local farmers market and urge all of you to seek them out. It’s a true taste of days gone by.

Granny Hester’s Homemade Sweet Potato Biscuits have been a Southern original since 1943. Always a family and friend favorite, Granny handed down her biscuit recipe to her granddaughter, Tracy Johnson. Tracy began filling orders for friends in 2005, and as the biscuits became more and more popular, Tracy used a friend’s coffee shop to bake and sell them. Tracy and a partner opened Granny Hester’s Fine Foods, LLC in 2008, on Gault Avenue in Fort Payne, Alabama—the exact location her grandparents owned and  operated the Fort Payne Bakery until 1971.

At one time they were only available around her dinner table in Alabama; now, Granny Hester’s biscuits bring southern hospitality to mealtime all over America. After being passed down from generation to generation, the recipe remains the same and folks all over still crave Granny Hester’s Sweet Potato Biscuits.

You can find these delicious homemade biscuits at several farm markets in the great state of Alabama — or order some straight from Granny’s kitchen in Ft. Payne, Alabama!

www.grannyhesters.com

————————————

Apple Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuit Crust 

1 can apple pie filling

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoon sugar

6 Granny Hester’s Sweet Potato Biscuits    

Mix pie filling, cinnamon, and brown sugar and put them into a 9-inch pan. 

Thaw frozen biscuits until they can be split open.  

Place biscuits on top of apples and top with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.  

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes until done.

UGA Press publishes “The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook”

5 Oct

The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge
Foreword by Alton Brown

“Local recipes from the worldly South”

“Each page herein delivers a strong sense of community; the contributions are from real people with real names; the collection is democratic, but with nary a sign of culinary chaos; and the food is just plain good. And here’s the best part, as far as I’m concerned: Regardless of whether it looks back into the past or ahead into the future, this book looks ever Southward.”
—Alton Brown, from the foreword

Everybody has one in their collection. You know—one of those old, spiral- or plastic-tooth-bound cookbooks sold to support a high school marching band, a church, or the local chapter of the Junior League. These recipe collections reflect, with unimpeachable authenticity, the dishes that define communities: chicken and dumplings, macaroni and cheese, chess pie. When the Southern Foodways Alliance began curating a cookbook, it was to these spiral-bound, sauce-splattered pages that they turned for their model.

Including more than 170 tested recipes, this cookbook is a true reflection of southern foodways and the people, regardless of residence or birthplace, who claim this food as their own. Traditional and adapted, fancy and unapologetically plain, these recipes are powerful expressions of collective identity. There is something from—and something for—everyone. The recipes and the stories that accompany them came from academics, writers, catfish farmers, ham curers, attorneys, toqued chefs, and people who just like to cook—spiritual Southerners of myriad ethnicities, origins, and culinary skill levels.

Edited by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge, written, collaboratively, by Sheri Castle, Timothy C. Davis, April McGreger, Angie Mosier, and Fred Sauceman, the book is divided into chapters that represent the region’s iconic foods: Gravy, Garden Goods, Roots, Greens, Rice, Grist, Yardbird, Pig, The Hook, The Hunt, Put Up, and Cane. Therein you’ll find recipes for pimento cheese, country ham with redeye gravy, tomato pie, oyster stew, gumbo z’herbes, and apple stack cake. You’ll learn traditional ways of preserving green beans, and you’ll come to love refried black-eyed peas.

Are you hungry yet? Place your order now!

http://www.amazon.com/Southern-Foodways-Alliance-Community-Cookbook/dp/0820332755

Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter

15 May

I first learned about this wonderful product in one of my favorite magazines – Garden and Gun. We had to try it and, thankfully, the folks at Cunningham Farms were nice enough to send along a sample jar. I slathered some on my toast yesterday and I can tell you this jar will not last us long. The first word that comes to mind when describing this Sweet Potato Butter is “fresh.”

Hand crafted in small batches in Hancock County, Tennessee, Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter is made with only the finest natural ingredients. Organic sweet potatoes, apple cider, and organic spices all play a major part in this tasteful blend. The spread is not exceptionally thick and murky, I’m guessing because it contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Preservatives? Hah! You may even polish off the whole jar in the first day!  

You can definitely taste the ground clove in each jar. The overall flavor profile is sort of a cross between a really fine homemade apple butter and sweet potato pie. Spread it on biscuits, bagels or English muffins in the morning. It can also be used as a glaze for pork and chicken. No matter how you plan on using it, just use it! And did I tell you it’s delicious?

Cunningham Farms provides a gourmet version of an old favorite-Sweet Potato Butter. Our product is handmade in small batches using organic sweet potatoes and locally made apple cider; yielding the highest quality gourmet Sweet Potato Butter. Hints of organic cinnamon and clove and the full flavor of the sweet potato couple with fresh apple cider to create a velvety smooth, slightly sweet spread that’s great with a wide range of foods. It’s not too sweet, just rich, warm and invocative of autumn-certainly enjoyable for every meal.

Cunningham Farms gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is perfect on toast or a croissant in the morning, on a ham sandwich, as a glaze for chicken or pork and as a topping for cake or ice cream. Also, one jar of Cunningham Farms gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is the perfect filling for a delicious sweet potato pie.

Besides providing a delicious product, Cunningham Farms is also committed to enriching our community. Our gourmet Sweet Potato Butter is handmade in the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchen, and Cunningham Farms is a member of the Appalachian Spring Cooperative in Hancock County, Tennessee. The Cooperative was created as a microenterprise incubator for entrepreneurs to make and sell value added food products. By producing our Sweet Potato Butter at the Clinch-Powell Community Kitchen we are creating jobs in one of the poorest counties in the nation. Cunningham Farms’ goal is to grow so that we can continue to help the people of our community.

Sweet Potato Butter & Cream Cheese Appetizer

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp Cunningham Farms Sweet Potato Butter
  • 8 oz block of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 Tbsp very crisp bacon pieces
  • 2 Tbsp pecan pieces
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Frost cream cheese with Sweet Potato Butter
  2. Sprinkle with bacon pieces
  3. Sprinkle with pecan pieces
  4. Top with scallions
  5. Serve with crackers. May serve immediately or refridgerate.

Submitted by: Joan Bertaut – Jackson, MS

http://www.cunninghamfarms.com

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