Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Return to El Puerto, Tampa FL

On our last trip to Tampa we had to take Redneckhunter's brother to our find from our last trip -- El Puerto in Ybor City.  Since he was stuck in traffic, we ordered the biggest entree we could find for him -- the Parillada Argentina, Argentinean sausage, short-rib, skirt steak, chicken breast, pork chop, sweet bread, and morcilla served with two sides (obviously he had more than enough to take home).

Since we didn't want to steal from his sweet bread and morcilla (blood sausage), Redneckhunter and I ordered them as appetizers to share along with ceviche. 

The sweetbreads were big and meaty and the blood sausage was sinfully rich. I could feel arteries hardening...  Luckily the ceviche was vinegary and refreshing with those wonderful big corn kernels from Peru.

 El Puerto Restaurant and Grill
1623 E. 5th Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605
(813) 248-8222

Monday, March 04, 2013

Alla Spina, Philadelphia

Sorry for the long absence in posting!  We're hoping to get more out and about in the spring.  We did have a great meal recently at Alla Spina, part of the Vetri family of restaurants in Philly. We pretty much wanted to eat everything on the menu, so did our best to sample as much as we could among 5 people.

We started with the testina hash poutine (pig head, french fries, mozzarella curd and sunny side up eggs) and donuts as starters.  The soft runny eggs on the poutine were the perfect addition to the Quebecoise classic, and the pig's head has was slightly crispy and very porky.  The donuts (a mix of 3 flavors) were disappointing though.

Redneckhunter and J. happily did a tasting flight of 3 beers - I could not even begin to remember the names, but there was one nice sour raspberry Belgian that even I liked!

K. got a tasty bloody mary, but D. and I were disappointed in our "mocktails." Not only were they very small considering their $5 price tag, but my basil spritz barely had any basil flavor.

But then the entrees came.  I got the alla spina gnocchi (with porcini mushrooms and tallegio).   Wow - such amazingly soft pillows of deliciousness.  Marc Vetri does know how to make great gnocchi - I remember fondly the brown butter spinach gnocchi we had at Vetri

K. got a beautiful smoked salmon salad - those soft-boiled eggs look amazing don't they?

Redneckhunter opted, of course, for their spin on his beloved biscuits and gravy -- these were sage biscuits with veal ragu and poached eggs.

D. got pancakes made of squash with bacon-maple syrup and walnut butter, and J. got  the “necci crespelle” chestnut crepe, honey, breakfast sausage and over easy eggs.

We also shared a side order of cheesy parmigiana polenta.

After another tasting flight of beer by Redneckhunter and J. and an after-brunch Negroni cocktail (that no one else liked), it was time for dessert. 

D. ordered the "choco taco" and Redneckhunter got the donut bread pudding

As J. put it, this place would be very dangerous to the wallet if it were in our neighborhood...

Alla Spina
1410 Mt. Vernon St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130
P: 215-600-0017