- Lori Brown
- Oct 14, 2016
- 5 min read
On October 4th, I published breaking Foodies news regarding the changing of hands at El Gallo Grande to Louie Spetrini and his partners Erin & Rocco Rinaldi. Officially the new name, happy hour and menu won’t change until November 1st, however, I am EXTREMELY happy to report that all of the new staff are currently in place including Chef Paul…and after our visit last night…I am even happier to report that he is a Mexican food magician! Don’t wait to try Nueva Cantina just because the name is still officially El Gallo Grande…it is hands down one of the best Mexican restaurants in town now. If you love Mexican food, get yourself there this weekend! You will not regret it! (And if you were ever lucky enough to go to Cocina Aqui, when Louie still owned it, you know what I am talking about.)
At the end of this article, I will also post some upcoming changes to their happy hour as of November 1st, so keep reading because it is incredible…
WARNING: I am about to post extreme Mexican food porn photography. Stop here now if you will be offended!
We started with a sampling of amazing craft cocktail margaritas…the Blackberry Sage Margarita, the House Margarita and the Blueberry Margarita. Quite honestly, I was worried that the Blackberry and the Blueberry would be too sweet, and I don’t do sweet, but they were not AT ALL! And in the Blueberry, the addition of mint makes it the most refreshing Margarita I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Kevin was in total agreement. The House Margarita at $20/pitcher is a bargain, as well, and tasted like top shelf to me!
While sampling these delicious concoctions, we also had the housemade Salsa, Queso & Fresh Guacamole (which will be made and served table side after Nov. 1st, but is still made just as fresh now). Anyone who knows me well, knows my distaste for Cilantro…however, the salsa was tolerable (and delicious) because I was able to get most of it out and when mixed with the Queso (which I love to do and turned Kevin into a fan of last night) was absolutely tantalizing. We had to force ourselves to stop eating so we could sample more. Kevin LOVED the Guacamole, and he managed to dig out a cilantro free bite for me that was sensational! Everything can be made cilantro free, except the salsa, when I remember to specify in the future.
Next up were the Flautas which are tortillas stuffed with pulled chicken with Oaxaca cheese and refried beans and fried served with this amazing red sauce that included guajillo and ancho peppers. Kevin said it was like an enchilada sauce and could not stop raving!
Now, for me anyway, came the Piece de Resistance, the Cuban Chimichanga (Pulled pork, Oaxaca cheese, brown mustard, Pickles, smoked ham, black bean hummus)…imagine the best cuban sandwich that you have ever had deep fried as a Chimichanga. There are no words to describe the flavor explosion in my mouth! It was absolutely one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life…and that says a lot! I promise you will not be disappointed! Just wow!
And for our entree we shared the Pollo Mole which is Chicken Breast Marinated and topped with a savory mole sauce served with Mexican rice and Vegetables. This was Kevin’s five star pick of the evening. The Mole Sauce is perfectly balanced, not too sweet, not too much of a bite. It was scrumptious! Yes, we shared all of this and took a huge bag of food home. Don’t worry, we can still fit in our clothes. Wait until I post what I make with these leftovers.
Dessert…we rarely eat dessert. But when we heard there was a deep fried Brownie Chimichanga dessert with salted Caramel ice cream on top…we were in. We could only eat a couple of bites, but they were worth it! As a teaser, one of their signature desserts will be Fried Tortilla chips dusted with cinnamon sugar, melted marshmallows, Hershey’s Chocolate syrup, cinnamon ice cream topped with raspberry puree and caramel sauce. We did have this at Cocina Aqui when they were open – sinful!
Bottom line…don’t wait until November 1st. Ownership and all staff has changed, therefore the food has already changed! Get there now while you can still get a table without waiting!
Oh and in case you forgot, they are building an outside patio which will feature a full bar as well. It is currently under construction. See below this photo for the upcoming new happy hour and brunch specials coming after November 1st.
Check out these happy hour specials starting November 1st, 2016:
Happy Hour Daily Monday – Friday 2:00PM – 6:00PM
$3.00 well drinks, $3.00 house wines, $3.00 draft beers & $3.00 Margaritas.
Selection of Street Tacos served at Happy Hour only $4.00.
Monday: Buy one Fajita get one half price 11:00AM – 10:00PM
Tuesday $3.00 Tacos 11:00AM – 10:00PM
Wednesday $3.00 Margaritas and $12.00 Pitchers 11:00AM – 10:00PM
Friday Entertainment 6:00PM – 9:00PM
Saturday Entertainment 6:00PM – 9:00PM And All Day Happy Hour 11:00AM – 6:00 PM on the patio and Restaurant Bar
Sunday Brunch from 11:00AM – 3:00PM Bottomless Mimosas $12.00 – $5.00 bloody Maria & Bloody Mary Bar
Sunday Night Industry Night 5:00PM – 10:00PM. Industry employees receive a 25% off their check
- Readers Rating
- Rated 5 stars
5 / 5 (2 Reviewers)
- Your Rating
- El Gallo Grande (Nueva Cantina as of November 1st, 2016)
- 1625 4th St S, St Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
Authentic Mexican Food with a flair.
Written by Lori Brown
Founder of St. Petersburg Foodies & The Largest Happy Hour List Ever.
Culinary Institute of America "DISH" Member.
I have lived in the Tampa Bay area for most of my life. But would never want to live anywhere else besides St Petersburg. What an amazing thriving city we have!
I have owned my own businesses, and in my past careers I have set sales records in Pharmaceutical Sales and I'm a top performer in Real Estate.
I am a University of Florida graduate with a degree in Business Finance and love living in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg. I am mom to a son in college (Noah), long-haired female chihuahua (Lola), and a leopard gecko (Leo).... I think he's a boy. (Kevin kind of stole my dog though. He calls her his "Puppy".)
I'm also a foodie that loves to cook, and eat out at great restaurants. Years ago, I even had my own food store (with my friend Lisa) in the location where Jimmy John's currently resides on 4th Street North just south of 9th Avenue North called Weekday Gourmet. I've also been to Napa and Sonoma on wine vacations eight times.
Kevin and I used to go out 4 - 5 nights a week and write reviews on our own timelines. Because of this, I am always asked by people where they should go, what they should order, etc. When we created the group it just seemed natural since we were already doing that. I love to write and take photos, so it just all works.
Life couldn't be better!
View all posts by: Lori Brown
More Foodies News, Reviews & Recipes
- Best Places in St. Petersburg (53)
- Breakfast / Brunch Spots (9)
- Cheap Eats (2)
- Chef Interviews (5)
- Cocktails & Spirits (12)
- Coffee (17)
- Cook & The Book (4)
- Cooking Videos (10)
- Craft Beer (16)
- Desserts & Sweets (19)
- Drink Recipes (1)
- Events (25)
- Food Delivery Services (1)
- Food Stores & Ingredient Suppliers (5)
- Food Trucks (16)
- Foodie Trends (3)
- Foodies Cartoons (94)
- Foodies with Kids (2)
- Guest Chef (1)
- Happy Hour Food and Drink Specials (4)
- Industry (1)
- New Menu Items (7)
- News (125)
- Op / Ed (1)
- Podcast (156)
- Recipes (86)
- Restaurant Menus (12)
- Restaurant Reviews (320)
- Restaurant Spotlight (21)
- Restaurants (133)
- Wine / Wine Bars (4)
- December 5, 2022 Eggplant Parmesan Recipe
If a dish has the word parmesan in the title, it’s almost guaranteed to be wonderful. Eggplant parmesan is certainly no exception. Though it is quite the labor of love, the result is more than worth the effort. To make this process easier, break the recipe down into steps and begin to prepare a day or so before you plan on serving the dish. About 36 hours ahead of time, I make my marinara and I salt/cover my sliced un-cooked eggplant with paper towels. Then on the day of, you can focus on frying your eggplant and assembly. Trust me when I say that following the process this way makes for a much more relaxed experience, especially if you’re preparing this meal for guests. Eggplant is in season currently in Florida so locating a few good ones shouldn’t be an issue. Rollin’ Oats is stocked with eggplant right now, along with everything else that you’ll need to make this recipe. The best part about sourcing ingredients from them is the quality and care they take in providing premium, organic products that are often local. What’s not to love about that? Perhaps the most important yet most simple step of making eggplant parmesan is allowing ample time for it to cool before slicing and serving. Absolutely no one wants to eat a serving of piping hot and mushy eggplant. Allowing it to cool ensures a lasagna-like form for each piece. Eggplant Parmesan When prepared properly (patience included), eggplant parmesan is the poster child for luscious comfort food. In my opinion, the key to this recipe rests in two aspects: salting the sliced eggplant and allowing it to rest for an ample amount of time pre-breading/cooking and allowing the the dish to cool for at atleast 30-40 minutes before slicing and serving. Marinara2 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes1 onion (Peeled and sliced in half)3 garlic cloves (Fresh, minced)1 tsp crushed red pepper2 tbsp tomato paste1/2 cup red wine (Something you would drink)2-3 dried bay leavesparmesan rinds1 tbsp salt (plus more as needed)1 tsp black pepper (plus more, to taste)1 tbsp olive oilorange peel (approximately 3", to balance the acidity)Eggplant & Assembly4 eggplant (Medium in size. Peeled and sliced lengthwise into 1/2"thick slices)1.5 cups all purpose flour6 eggs (whisked well)3 cups panko bread crumbs2 cups vegetable/olive oil2 tsp dried oregano2 cups parmesan (grated, divided – plus more for serving)2 cups low-moisture shredded mozzarella8 oz mozzarella ball (torn into 1-2" pieces)1/2 cup basil (fresh, chopped) MarinaraHeat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion halves and cook until beginning to brown (8-10 minutes).Add in minced garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring here and there, until fragrant (1-2 minutes).Mix in tomato paste, salt and pepper and cook stirring occasionally until tomato paste begins to darken, 2-3 minutes. Add in bay leaves.Pour in wine and deglaze pan. Then, carefully dump in both cans of tomatoes and toss in parmesan rinds and orange peel. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low and allow sauce to reduce and cook until onion is soft and sauce is quite flavorful – 1.5-2 hours. Add more salt as needed. Remove and discard bay leaves, orange peel, parmesan rinds and remnants of onion. Season as needed.EggplantSet a wire rack inside a baking sheet and line it with paper towels. Layer eggplant slices single file and salt liberally. Repeat eggplant layering with paper towels. Allow to sit for at least a couple of hours and up to one whole day.After eggplant slices have rested, combine panko, one cup parmesan, dried oregano and a couple of pinches of salt in a food processor and pulse until well combined. One at a time, dredge eggplant slices in flower, egg (allowing excess to drip, and then coat well all over in bread crumb mixture. Set slices on a wire rack single file. Add vegetable/olive oil to a large pot or dutch oven and heat over medium-high. Cook dredged eggplant pieces a few at a time until golden brown (3-5 minutes). Remove from oil and add to paper towel-topped plate. Press with more paper towels gently to absorb oil. Repeat with remaining slices of eggplant.Eggplant Parmesan AssemblyPre-heat oven to 350. In a casserole dish, disperse one cup of marinara, followed by a single layer of fried eggplant slices, more marinara and then 1/3 cup of the cheese mixture. Repeat steps starting with eggplant slices, sauce and then finishing with cheese layer until you run out of eggplant – I usually get three layers, but it all depends on your dish.Cover with foil and bake for 50-60 minutes. Remove foil and increase oven to 425F.Top with torn fresh mozzarella and bake for another 20 minutes – cheese should be golden on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 30-40 minutes before slicing to ensure lasagna-like slices. Serve garnished with grated parmesan and fresh basil. Dinner, Main CourseAmerican, ItalianAbby Allen Recipes, Dinner Recipe, Eggplant Parmesan, Vegetarian
- December 2, 2022 Pass-A-Grille’s Sea Critters Cafe Revamps to Red, White & Booze
For as long as I can remember, Sea Critters Cafe has been a dining destination for Pass-A-Grille vacationers and locals alike. This year they acquired new ownership and a new name but don’t worry Red, White & Booze still offers locally caught seafood, easy access for boaters, a fun bar to feel like a local, and more. Before longtime fans get worried, their fresh margaritas aren’t going anywhere. The ambitious owners, Charles and Helen, are revamping the menu to bring back old favorites and introduce exciting new dishes. They also renovated the dock and outdoor seating to reel in boaters, pun intended. The vibe is very much beachy, laid back, and casual which is perfect for post-beach days, mid-boat days, and chill weekends when you’re looking for live music. They currently have live music on Fridays and Sundays. One notable feature is the waterfront view. The restaurant sits right on the intercoastal so get ready for a breeze and maybe even a dolphin sighting while you enjoy their tasty menu. Start with their popular and refreshing Critters Classic Margaritas with Margaritaville Silver, Triple Sec, and Critters’ fresh squeezed margarita mix. Who wouldn’t love a massive margarita that also tastes amazing and can be enjoyed with waterfront views? A deep fried delight, the Hush Puppies at Red, White, & Booze provide a flavorful comfort food accessory to your main dish. These hush puppies are lightly fried cornbread fritters served with a delicious house made remoulade for dipping. The crisp batter and soft inside is the most ideal combo for a perfect bite. My personal favorite menu item is the Maine Lobster Roll with slow poached lobster meat and celery tossed in an herbed buttermilk dressing served on a New England style bun. The fluffy, chilled lobster roll comes with a good portion and tastes very fresh. It’s so simple yet very satisfying. Is a lobster roll really a lobster roll without a side of fries? Definitely order the sweet potato fries. They complement the lobster roll with its salty and ever so slightly sweet flavor, making them the perfect sidekick. All sandwiches include a choice of homemade creamy coleslaw, thick cut steak fries, or sweet potato fries for an extra $.99. The Fresh Catch Grouper Sandwich is a beach restaurant classic. You can choose it prepared how you’d like with choices of grilled, blackened, fried, or a crunchy almond crust and served with your favorite side. We went with the classic blackened Florida grouper sandwich with thick cut steak fries and let me tell you, this is now on my list of favorite grouper sandwiches in St. Petersburg. It’s a safe order with simple and fresh ingredients to get that seafood fix in. The fries are thick, salty and perfect for snacking on. In a vast sea of fish tacos in St. Pete, it can be hard to stand out. The Dos Fish Tacos at Red, White & Booze are wonderfully filling and tasty with your choice of market-fresh fish, prepared your way, and topped with tangy pineapple pico, chipotle crema, pickled red onion and cilantro all in a flour tortilla. There are a lot of flavors to love here. We ordered the shrimp prepared with the crunchy almond crust. If you like a sweet, zesty and savory combo, then I highly recommend ordering these. For a side, you’ll get creamy cole slaw and thick cut steak fries which are both great. For some serious southern fare, you must try the Shrimp and Grits. They’re creamy, dreamy, and will fill you up. This decadent bowl combines the rich steamy flavors that we all love with shrimp and andouille sausage sautéd with red bell pepper and onion in a cajun cream sauce, served on top of creamy smoked gouda grits. This dish is incredibly good. A daily special that you ooh over as the waiter reads them off means you must order it. The Trio Shrimp Special came with a variety of battered shrimp and sauces to pair them with. One Mexican-styled with a chipotle cream sauce, the middle was the almond crusted with cocktail sauce and the last on the right was a coconut shrimp with a tangy sauce. The coconut shrimp was hands down the best one. All were great for different flavors and hints of sweet and savory. Delicious seafood? Check. Refreshing margaritas? Check. Waterfront views for boat and dolphin watching? Check. The overall experience at Red, White & Booze was really spectacular and you’ll feel like a regular even on your first visit. If you’re heading to Pass-A-Grille Beach, you’ll certainly want to stop in for a delicious meal and tasty, refreshing drinks.
- December 1, 2022 Shiver Me Timbers! Walk the Plank to Jolly Roger’s Grub & Pub
Arrrgghhh ye thirsty or hungry?! Grab your hearties and head to Jolly Roger’s Grub & Pub, located in Tierra Verde, for a bounty of grub and grog’-tails. Jolly Roger’s is an unexpected and welcome addition to St. Pete’s food scene. This cheeky bar and restaurant brings all the pirate flare you could imagine. From the moment you pull up to Jolly Roger’s you know you’re going to be in for some fun. Outside of the restaurant is a giant blowup pirate waving you on in. Once you walk in, there is no shortage of fun and interesting things to look at. From beachy murals on the walls, skeletons and pun-intending table signs hanging from the ceilings, quirky knick knacks strewn about the restaurant. No corner is left untouched, every detail is thought of down to the salt & pepper shakers on the table and the skull and crossbones flags planted in your food. But, beyond the fun pirate theme is a kitchen turning out some of the most unique and delicious bar food in town. Captain Kent, Captain Roger and Chef Kelly have created a menu unlike any other around. Jolly Roger’s has a scratch kitchen that brings you everything from bacon wrapped hot dogs, tuna tartar, deep fried ribs, smash burgers (even one on a mac n cheese bun), house-made sauces, and on weekends they serve breakfast. We started off with some Grog’ Tails to wet our whistles while we took in the large menu. I chose the Capt’n Kent’s Pineapple Scurvy Whip and my friend chose the Madam Maria’s “Yo Ho” Sangria. The Pineapple Scurvy Whip is comprised of Wicked Dolphin Pineapple Rum, coconut puree, and Triple Sec then topped off with Cutwater Bali Hai Dark Rum. I am not a huge fan of coconut, but I am a huge fan of pineapple, so I decided to give this drink a go and I was very happy I did. The coconut wasn’t too strong and it was more pineapple forward. The Sangria is a red wine sangria with bold and warm flavors. It was fruity and quite cinnamon-y and almost had the feeling of a cold mulled wine. If you are not a fan of cinnamon, I would may stray away from this, but for me it was perfect. Any time there is fried mac n cheese on a menu, you better believe I am ordering it. The Capt’n Mac’s Cheese Pirate Balls were possibly the best I’ve ever had. They are made with a house-made cheese fondu and then battered and fried to perfection. The crispy and flavorful breading wraps around the creamy macaroni and cheese and is served with a house-made spicy ranch dip. The combination is a flavor bomb in your mouth and is a must order on the menu. One item that we were told by many members of the staff to order was Davy Jones’ Deep Fried Ribs. You have the option of having them coated in a Thai Chili Sauce or a house-made Jack Daniel’s BBQ Sauce. We went with the Thai Chili. I expected the ribs to be dried out from being deep fried, but it was actually quite the opposite. The ribs were juicy and falling off the bone and the breading added a welcome crunch to every bite. In addition to our main appetizers, we saw on the menu that they had house-made kettle chips. Which is my favorite type of chip. So, we also decided to start with a side of the house-made chips with their house-made honey mustard and blue cheese dips. They were a little thicker than your standard kettle chip, but that just made for a more sturdy vessel for me to plop some of the blue cheese dip on to. While the boneless chicken may seem like one of the more “boring” items on the menu, our server actually highly encouraged us to order them. Fresh cut chicken breasts are hand breaded in house and deep fried for a perfect juicy bite. There are a variety of sauces to choose from, but we decided to go with the house-made buffalo sauce and a side of garlic parm. I think it’s quite rare to see a hot dog on a restaurant menu these days. So when I saw that they had half a page of their menu dedicated to their hot dog, or better yet the Sea Dog, varietals I knew I had to order one. Especially when I realized they were also bacon wrapped and deep fried. I decided to go with the The Chili Cheese Dog. The house-made chili is savory and has deep flavors and combined with the hot dog and bacon this combination is a savory food lover’s dream. I am not someone who typically orders chicken sandwiches at a restaurant. My friend ordered the Chicky Sandwich, and I took a couple bites of it. And let me tell you, this might be one of my favorite entrees we ordered. The giant chicken breast was tender, flavorful, and so juicy. The toppings were simple, lettuce, tomato, and caramelized onion. But I think there may have been another ingredient… MAGIC. It’s true what they say, sometimes simple is best (not saying that their extravagant menu items aren’t great too though). This is a sandwich I would go back to Jolly Roger’s for. Da Chef Kelly’s Cuban Sandwich is made with salami, ham, Cuban pork (roasted in house), swiss cheese, and mustard aioli on hand pressed Cuban bread. While this was delicious, it was probably the safest option we ordered and did not stand out amongst the pack. Get out your forks and knives for this “handheld” burger. Capt’n Mac’s Meat & Cheese Buns is a tower of two smashed beef patties, double American cheese, bacon, and remoulade sauce in between two fried mac n’ cheese buns. My friend was able to take one bite out of it before switching to a fork and knife to finish the rest. Honestly, the fact […]
We moved to St. Petersburg, FL almost 6 years ago. Sadly, it took us nearly that long to uncover all of the incredible gems sprinkled throughout town serving up Thai Cuisine. Thai was always a go-to of ours when we resided in Ohio and being introduced to some Thai hidden treasures as of late has been quite exciting. Our most recent introduction was to Rain Japanese Sushi Bar & Thai. It’s located in a strip mall off of Park St. N. It’s one of those spots where when you pull in, you just know that you’re in for something good. And our dinner experience over the course of the next hour proved this to be true, and then some. The restaurant is open every day, except Sunday, for dinner from 5:00PM until 8:00PM and through the week, they’re cooking up lunch from 11:00AM until 2:30PM. We stopped into Rain for an early dinner and arrived around 5:00PM. As soon as we stepped foot through the door, we were greeted by a friendly voice saying, “I just knew you guys were going to come in and eat with us!” (perhaps my photography in the parking lot was a giveaway? Ha!). We were greeted with this same enthusiasm throughout our entire meal. The service was genuine, prompt, efficient and the entire staff was so kind. We made a wonderful choice of sitting at the sushi bar where we were able to have a firsthand look at all of the sushi chef’s impressive creations. Though, those aren’t the only great seats in the house – Rain boasts a large dining room with a number of tables. When we arrived at Rain, we were the first to step in for dinner service. However, it didn’t take long for the tables to become occupied. By 5:45PM, the restaurant was bustling and nearly half-full. I love to watch that unfold. To begin our meal, we started off with a small bottle of chilled sake. They offer a handful of sakes on their drink menu that are most all around the $15.00 price point for the 300ml size which I find to be the perfect amount for a casual dinner for two such as this. Crisp, light and refreshing after a long day and exactly what I want with this type of meal. I find edamame to be one of those consistent and simple staples to enjoy throughout a meal with these genres of food. It almost acts like a palette cleanser between bites of sushi and fried rice, etc. and perhaps the best part is that it’s not filling whilst still delicious. Truly, a perfect snack. At Rain, the Gyoza are offered two ways – with vegetables and with pork. We went vegetable and let me tell you what an unexpected hit these were. Texture-rich, savory and explosive in flavors, we enjoyed these so much that we had a hard time not filling up on them alone. I definitely recommend one order to share between two, or two orders to share between four, and so on. Not only does Rain specialize in Thai, but they also create delicious Japanese food and sushi expressions – both classic rolls and renditions with their own intriguing twists. During our dinner, the sushi rolls were probably what we saw the most of…and trust me, they were making rolls by the handful. What started as one chef behind the sushi counter soon lead to two as the tables inside filled up. The sushi plates and arrangements from these talented chefs is artistic expression and pictured below is only the tip of the iceberg. We witnessed large platters of rolls by the handful land on tables as eager diners looked on with mouth-watering anticipation. We ordered three rolls (but could’ve easily ordered many more if our stomachs would’ve allowed) – the Snow Crab roll and two specialty rolls – the Hangover and the Sassy Amiga. The Snow Crab, pictured in front below, is a basic roll with snow crab, cucumber, mayo, avocado and smelt roe. The crab is very good and definitely stands out to make a statement. So if you’re a lover of crab, this one is undoubtedly for you if you want a roll without the fuss. The Sassy Amiga roll (pictured below on the left) was listed second on the menu and immediately grabbed our attention with components of spicy tuna, krab stick, avocado, cheese and a tortilla wrapping. I typically don’t gravitate towards specialty rolls like this, but it was a unique choice that I’m glad we made. The roll, of course, had heavy savory notations, but it also carried a nice sweetness due to the marriage of ingredients. The presentation was also quite beautiful; however, it was somewhat hard to eat. Smaller pieces would be ideal, but the roll is still ultra delicious. Pictured below in the middle is the Hangover roll. This specialty roll has that whole less is more thing going for it as it is only comprised of spicy tuna, cucumber, scallions, lime and a yummy little special hangover sauce. It’s incredibly fresh tasting with just the right amount of spicy subtle tuna flavor. This is one of those rolls that I would order time and time again. The menu at Rain is large enough without being too overwhelming. Plenty of rice and noodle dishes are available, most with your option of vegetables, tofu, chicken, pork, beef, shrimp or a seafood combination. Below is the Basil Fried Rice with vegetables. In this dish, which is listed under the Thai Dinner Section of the menu, you’ll find egg, bell peppers, carrots, onions, scallions and basil leaves of course. Basil is my favorite all around herb and this dish screams of it, which ultimately satisfied my senses. Somehow, I managed to not order the Masaman curry for a change. Instead, I landed on the Prik Khing with tofu. The Prik Khing is a dish of bell peppers, green beans, bamboo, onions and scallions all stir-fried together […]
- November 2, 2022 Thai Am’s Dining Room Re-Open’s with a Bang
On Saturday October 29th, Thai Am, which is located on 4th Street in north St. Petersburg, celebrated the grand re-opening of their dining room. Thai Am has been open for over 20 years, but they were forced to cease in-person dining back in 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. They continued their take-out and delivery services over the course of the two long years and never missed a beat. This Thai-favorite was beyond thrilled to welcome patrons back to dine on-premise over the weekend and what a bustling and exciting evening it was. We arrived for dinner at prime-time on Saturday evening around 7:00PM and we lucked out as there were just a couple of open tables still available. The small but mighty north St. Pete establishment was packed full of eager, hungry diners. The entire time we were there, there was a constant flow of people in and out – the amount of takeout orders that they were filling was truly impressive. The phone never stopped ringing, food was hitting tables left and right and the staff handled all of the buzz with grace and efficiency. Below is a photo of the calm after the storm – a quiet dining room after a successful re-opening. In celebration of the grand re-opening, Thai Am incentivized guests to dine-in by offering a $20.00 gift card voucher to put towards a future dine-in experience at the restaurant (which we did in fact receive and are thrilled to use in the future). In addition to the $20 voucher, Thai Am is also offering 20% off of your online order of $40.00 or more for a limited time. You can place your order on their website here. For an exceptionally busy Saturday evening and considering the occasion, the hard-working staff at Thai Am were impeccable. Linda was our server and she went above and beyond to ensure that our meal and overall experience were both top-notch. The rest of the staff at Thai Am was also ultra generous and accommodating. All hands were on deck and many of the staff members wore more than just a few hats to ensure that the re-opening went off without a hitch. I had enjoyed Thai Am’s food one other time prior to my experience this past weekend but that was years ago and it was a takeout order. I remembered that the menu was quite extensive so I wanted to make sure I did my research prior to our dinner. I’m ultimately glad that I did this because my odds of over-ordering would’ve been extremely high as everything sounded delicious. A game plan was carefully devised so we could try as many different things as we could without having an abundance of leftovers; however, that still was the case (but let’s be honest, leftover Thai is never a bad thing). Thai Am does not sell alcohol, but they do have a beverage menu with refreshments like Thai iced coffee, various Thai teas and soft drinks. Pictured below is the Thai Iced Coffee. This was the first time that we had ever had Thai iced coffee, so I wasn’t quite sure what it was or what to expect. Thai coffee is made this way using sweetened condensed milk which makes for an ice-cold creamy and sweet beverage that is frequently enjoyed in Thailand. I usually enjoy my iced coffee alone or with a splash of unsweetened non-dairy milk, so this drink was a touch sweet for my pallet, but it would be perfect for, say, the vanilla-latte lover. Because we wanted to try as much food as we could, we made the wise decision of starting off our meal with the Thai Am trio which comes with three Spring Rolls, three chicken drummettes and three Krab Rangoon. All are fried until crispy and served with sweet and sour dipping sauce on the side. It’s an idyllic spread to share with the table and a great way to try a few appetizers in one. My husband and my mother also dined at Thai Am with me on this night and we each had a different favorite of the trio. I favored the rolls, my mom hummed about the Rangoon and my husband Mike couldn’t get enough of the chicken. A short time later, entrees began to arrive at the table we ordered four: Kao Pad Sapparod (Pineapple Fried Rice), Gai Fai (Chicken on Fire), Pad Thai and the Gaeng Masaman (Yellow Masaman Curry). The curry was the first of the group to arrive and was also my entree of choice for the evening. This yellow curry dish is served with potatoes, onions and, whole peanuts and choice of protein (most all of the entrees come with choice of tofu, shrimp, pork, beef or chicken unless stated otherwise). Historically speaking, Masaman style curry is a main course that I both order and cook with some regularity, because it is probably my favorite curry dish. Thai Am’s Masaman curry reminded me why in fact this is one of my favorites – sweet and savory flavors, silky smooth sauce, ultra-tender potatoes and perfectly-cooked fried tofu. I will continue to order this again and again, but I will probably opt for more spice next time. My husband’s entree was undoubtedly the most fun of the group, the Chicken on Fire. He welcomes as much as possible at all times so he requested to have his dish prepared “Thai Hot,” which brings the most heat on Thai Am’s spice thermometer. Other levels of heat include mild, medium and hot. We didn’t realize that the chicken would quite literally be on fire. This marinated and fried chicken breast filet is served with Thai Chili sauce, broccoli, cabbage, carrots and is then topped with flaming whiskey – yes, they light the chicken on fire. Then, you blow it out when you’re ready to dive-in. This is a dish I definitely recommend ordering whilst dining-in. The chicken had spice, but it wasn’t overwhelming at all, […]
- November 2, 2022 Cacio e Pepe Corn Ribs Recipe
Creamed corn, corn casserole, and even frozen corn are some of the standard players there to represent corn at the Thanksgiving table. Add in a dose of nontraditional fun with this vegetable this holiday season by making these air fryer corn ribs. Sweet corn season just started in Florida as it runs from October through June. Perhaps the most difficult part of this recipe is slicing the corn into ribs. First of all, you want to make sure that your knife is very sharp. The cob can be very difficult to cut through so just make sure to take your time and be extra careful. Cacio e pepe, which basically translates to cheese and pepper, is a delicious way to prepare these ribs but not a have to. Other seasoning combinations I recommend are: paprika/parmesan/cayenne/cilantro with a crema drizzle, or even just salt/pepper seasoned and finished with a drizzle of good vinegar and some fresh dill – get crazy. Rollin’ Oats carries a large assortment of organic spices and seasonings that would be idyllic with corn. Mother In Law brand Goghugaru Korean Chile Flakes and Frontier Co-op’s organic Tandoori Masala are a couple of my favorites. Cacio e Pepe Corn Ribs Have some fun with your corn side dish this holiday season with this air fryer corn rib recipe Air Fryer 4 ears of corn1/2 cup olive oil (plus more, as needed)1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)1 tbsp garlic powder1 tbsp onion powder1 tsp salt (plus more as needed, to taste)2 tsp black pepper (freshly cracked)1/4 cup basil (torn) Peel the corn. One at a time, cut each cob in half length-wise and then cut each half in half again so you have 4 corn "ribs."Combine spices, salt and pepper and oil in a medium bowl. Mix well.Brush each corn rib evenly with the mixture. Finish with a pinch of salt and more black pepper.Preheat an Air Fryer to 400F. Lay corn ribs in a single layer in the Air Fryer tray. Set the timer for 15 minutes and flip halfway through. Cook until desired doneness has been reached (I like a bit more char so I tend to cook them longer).Arrange on a platter and serve topped with parmesan and torn basil. Appetizer, Side DishAmericanCorn Ribs Recipes
- November 1, 2022 Pumpkin Basque Cheesecake Recipe
Thanksgiving is on the horizon and I have the perfect Fall-inspired basque cheesecake recipe to serve your guests for dessert. Some of you may not be all too familiar with what exactly a basque cheesecake is. In short, it’s a a form of cheesecake cooked at a high temperature which in turn makes for a “burnt,” caramelized top with an interior that is ultra luscious and creamy. The process is very simple – just make sure that you have these tools on hand when making it: 10″ springform pan like this one, a stand mixer (like a Kitchen-Aid), parchment paper (3 16×20″ pieces), mesh sieve for sifting flour and a baking sheet. As for the ingredients, the list is fewer than ten. You shouldn’t have a hard time finding most of the ingredients as they are pretty standard and most always available – cream cheese, sugar, eggs, flour, heavy cream, vanilla extract, nutmeg and cinnamon. Pumpkin, however, can be tough to find the closer we creep towards Thanksgiving. I recommend stocking up now while it’s readily available. Rollin’ Oats currently has canned organic pumpkin puree in stock. We only need one cup for the cheesecake; reserve the rest of the can for something else like: in smoothies, pancakes or perhaps in something savory like a sauce for pasta or gnocchi. Make this the day before Thanksgiving in order to allow ample time for the cheesecake to cool and set up overnight in the refrigerator. This is necessary, but hey, that’s one last thing that you have to prepare on the big day. By morning, it’ll be ready to slice and serve whenever. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Pumpkin Basque Cheesecake After making cheesecake this way for the first time, you'll be hard-pressed to ever revert back to the standard cheesecake way. 2 lb cream cheese1 1/2 cups sugar1 1/2 cups heavy cream5 eggs1 egg yolk1/4 cup flour (Sifted. This is where your mesh sieve comes into play.)1 tbsp vanilla extract1 tsp cinnamon (Plus more for garnish when serving)1 pinch nutmeg (Grated.)1 cup pumpkin (Canned puree )salt Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with one piece of parchment. Lightly grease your springform pan. Take another sheet of parchment the same size and line your springform, carefully tucking it in (there should be plenty of overhang). Lay another sheet of parchment the same size on top and nestle it into the pan as well. The two pieces of parchment should be crossed.Add all cream cheese to a stand mixer and beat until smooth and creamy.Pour in sugar and beat until sugar is dissolved.Add in eggs one at a time, making sure they're mixed well.Mix in the cream, sift in the flour and add in the spices and a pinch or two of salt.Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract to the mixture and combine.Place parchment lined springform onto baking sheet. Carefully pour mixture into prepared springform.Bake for one hour. Remove when the top of the cheesecake is dark golden. Make sure not to cook it for too long – the inside should still have a light jiggle to it. Let the cake cool and then place it in the refrigerator overnight to setup. Remove the cake from the fridge and carefully peel away the springform pan and parchment paper. Slice and serve with optional cinnamon garnish. DessertAmericanPumpkin Basque Cheesecake
- October 6, 2022 Sweet Potato Tian with Maple-Tahini Drizzle Recipe
Sweet potatoes are one of those fantastic ingredients that can show up whenever you’re in need of a sweet OR savory dish. Because of that reason, they’re a staple in our household. Yams and sweet potatoes of all kinds are always on deck in our kitchen: Jewel, Garnet and Japanese Sweet Potatoes, specifically. The end result of this side is quite stunning and may look difficult to replicate; however, it is in fact quite simple – especially if you have a mandolin slicer. If you do not have a sharp knife, a mandolin is key in making these rounds nice and thin like they should be. It will make your life so much easier (and safer) and you can definitely find one on Amazon for under $25. Save your finger tips. But please heed the warnings whenever using a mandolin and where the safety glove. You get going so fast that it is easy to cut yourself without one. This Tian is many things, in addition to being delicious and quite simple to assemble. It’s also comforting, health-forward, perfect for Thanksgiving and vegan (but still the utmost satisfying). If you buy all of the ingredients at Rollin’ Oats (and other health-forward grocers), this beauty can be made 100% organic too with local produce and mindfully sourced ingredients and products. Sweet Potato Tian with Maple-Tahini Drizzle The arrival of October tends to instill the want for all things Fall – especially when it comes to cooking. Use any combination of sweet potatoes/yams for this elegant side that is perfect for the season. Cast Iron Skillet 3 sweet potatoes (Any combination of sweet potatoes and/or yams will work. Sliced into thin rounds.)1/2 white onion (medium in size, sliced thin)1/2 cup parmesan cheese (grated)3 tbsp olive oil (divided)1/2 cup pomegranate seeds2 tsp saltMaple-Tahini Drizzle1 tsp salt (plus more, as needed)1 tbsp olive oil1/4 cup tahini2 tbsp maple syrup1 lemon (juice only)water (as needed to thin out sauce)1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (like cilantro, basil, parsley or dill.) Maple-Tahini DrizzleWhisk all ingredients together in a medium bowl or mixing glass. Add one 1 tbsp of water at a time as needed to thin sauce. It should easily drizzle without being too runny. Season with salt as needed.Sweet Potatoes & AssemblyPreheat oven to 400F. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to a nonstick skillet like cast iron or casserole dish. Sprinkle half of parmesan cheese in skillet and then layer potatoes in the pan in a spiral (almost like you would with dominoes).Top with one more tbsp of oil and salt. Distribute onions on top with remaining tbsp of oil and a pinch of salt. Roast for one hour, turning skillet/pan halfway through, until potatoes are cooked through and onions have taken on color.Remove potatoes from oven, drizzle with maple-tahini sauce, top with pomegranate seeds and fresh chopped herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley or dill. Appetizer, Side DishAmericanAbby Allen Recipes, Fall Recipes, Fall Side Recipes, Sweet Potato Recipes
- September 2, 2022 Chicken Piccata with Grapefruit Recipe
Traditionally, lemon is the citrus utilized when making chicken piccata. However, we’re shaking things up with this recipe where grapefruit is implemented instead. In September in Florida, a great deal of citrus is in season and that includes grapefruit. I don’t find grapefruit frequently used in savory recipes, but do see it quite a bit in desserts and salads. So when Lori mentioned that she made a chicken piccata with grapefruit years ago that was outstanding, I had to have a stab at it. This recipe is very similar to any other piccata recipe. The main (and only) difference in this instance is that we are using fresh grapefruit juice instead of fresh lemon juice. I find that the grapefruit makes the end result just a touch more sweet than the original recipe – it’s very subtle. When sourcing your grapefruit from somewhere like Rollin’ Oats where the organic produce is plentiful, seek out fruits that are very ripe and juicy. Avoid under ripe grapefruit that will feel more firm in texture. If the idea of grapefruit in place of lemon is too farfetched for you, perhaps ease into things by only using 1/2 lemon and 1/2 grapefruit. Chicken breasts are what I typically use for this recipe as I find them to be more convenient and easier to work with. If you’re looking to up the flavor ante, give chicken thighs a try instead. Chicken Piccata with Grapefruit Swap in a juicy grapefruit for the traditional lemon in this easy Chicken Piccata dish that is certain to satisfy all. 2 chicken breasts (Halved so that you have four pieces)1 cup flour2 grapefruits (Juice of 1 and the other cut into wedges.)6 tbsp butter4 tsp olive oil1/2 cup vegetable stock1/4 cup parsley (Fresh, roughly chopped)1 tsp salt (Plus more to taste)pepper (to taste) One at a time, place halved chicken breasts under plastic wrap and pound or roll until thin. Place on a plate and season with salt and pepperDredge each chicken piece in flour and shake off the excess. Heat a skillet or dutch oven (I like to use a dutch oven for the high walls in case of splatter) over medium high heat and add 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tsp oil. Add two chicken pieces at a time and cook for four minutes on each side until browned and coked through (about 8 minutes).Add 2 more tbsp of butter and remaining oil and cook last two pieces of chicken just as we did the first two. Remove from heat and turn down skillet to medium. Pour in stock, capers, juice of one grapefruit and grapefruit slices. Allow to simmer and then add chicken pieces back in and cook for another five minutes. Taste and season as needed.Remove chicken, add remaining two tbsp of butter to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Spoon reduced sauce and capers over chicken, garnish with parsley and serve. Dinner, Main CourseItalianAbby Allen Recipes, Chicken Piccata
- August 1, 2022 Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Mango-Avocado Salsa Recipe
Tacos are a love language for a lot of folks. I can’t quite put my finger on exactly why the handheld treat appeals to the masses, but I have a few guesses. There are so many taco renditions out there that you’re bound to fall in love with at least one. One of my personal favorites is Baja style which originated in none other than Baja California, Mexico. This type of taco is usually comprised of a white and flakey fish, often fried, a cabbage slaw of sorts and usually some kind of crema/sauce. This taco recipe was of course inspired by the refreshing Baja style taco, but I’ve added even more excitement with a bright mango-avocado salsa. Both fruits are in season in Florida during the month of August and Rollin’ Oats has plenty of them waiting for you – organic, ripe, juicy and delicious. Don’t limit the use of this salsa to just these tacos – have it as an appetizer with chips, spoon it on a salad, etc. I have found that we humans are quite particular when it comes to our tortilla shell preference. Flour or corn? Soft shell or do we want crunch? Street style or perhaps a bit larger? There are so many questions. Because of this, I’ve left the tortilla preference totally up to you and Rollin’ Oats has a variety of shells all over the board for you to pick from. Flour, corn, hard shell or even grain-free (made by Siete and they’re fantastic). As for the Cod, you’ll find a ten ounce bag of wild-caught in the frozen section at the back of Rollin’ Oats which proved to be incredible-tasting. If you aren’t a fan of cod or can’t find it, any flaky fish will suffice. Beer-Battered Fish Tacos with Mango-Avocado Salsa These are going to be your summer go-to taco for any occasion. Don't limit the use of the salsa to just this dish – it's great on salads and as an appetizer on its own too. Mango-Avocado Salsa1 avocado (diced in small cubes)1 mango (diced in small cubes)1/2 medium onion (diced)1 lime1 jalapeno (seeds and stem discarded, minced)2 tbsp cilantro (fresh, roughly chopped)salt (as needed)Chipotle Mayo1/4 cup mayo2 tsp liquid from can of chipotle chiles1/2 lime (juice of only)1/2 tsp salt (more as needed)Cabbage Slaw1 cup red cabbage (finely chopped/shredded)1 cup green cabbage (finely chopped/shredded)1/2 lime (juice of only)1/2 tsp salt (plus more as needed)pepper (to taste)Beer-Battered Cod & Taco Assembly10 oz Cod (preferably wild caught and cut into 2-3" pieces)2 cups vegetable oil2 cups flour (all purpose will do, divided)12 oz light beer (I used Cigar City Jai Low)1 tsp baking powder1 tsp cayenne2 tbsp salttortilla shells (flour, corn, grain-free – whichever you prefer…)cilantro (chopped)lime wedgestortilla shells of choice Mango-Avocado SalsaCombine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Taste and salt as needed and then refrigerate until ready for taco assembly.Chipotle MayoWhisk all ingredients together in a small bowl and season as needed. Refrigerate.Cabbage SlawStir all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl. Taste and season as needed and also pop into the fridge until later.Beer-Battered Cod & Taco AssemblyIn a medium bowl combine 1 1/4 cup flour, beer, baking powder and one tbsp salt. Whisk until smooth without chunks. Add remaining flour, salt and cayenne to another medium bowl and combine. Pat cod pieces with a paper towel and season with a pinch or two of salt.Toss cod pieces in dry flour and cayenne mix and then dredge in batter. Set dredged pieces on a cooling rack set over parchment to catch the drippings.Heat oil (it should be 2-3 inches thick – if not, add more) over medium high heat until 350-375 degrees (you can use a deep fat thermometer for precise temps). Add fish pieces (you can do this in two batches) and allow to fry for 3-4 minutes.Flip and fry for another three minutes until cod is cooked through and golden brown in color. Remove and allow to cool on a parchment-lined plate.To assemble the tacos, add a spoonful of the cabbage slaw, 1-2 pieces of fish, salsa, drizzle of chipotle mayo and cilantro and lime wedges as needed. Main Course, Main DishAmerican, MexicanBeer-Battered Fish Tacos, Best Taco Recipe, Fish Taco Recipe