Alas, it is time for a vacation. Pennsylvania, DC, and New York beckon. I will be back shortly. Cheers!
Back in 1987 Def Leppard rushed to number 2 on the Us Billboard Hot 100 charts with their hit song “Pour Some Sugar on Me.” The bands producer, John “Mutt” Lange, was the inspiration behind the song. He thought it up during a coffee break. Word has it that had agave nectar, a commercially produced liquid sweetener from Mexico that I have come to enjoy much more than granulated sugar, been a bigger deal in 1987 history might have been changed forever. Imagine Mutt, pouring agave into his coffee and thinking up that song instead. Classic rock fans might be walking around today singing “Pour Some Agave on Me.” This playlist goes out to the imported sweetener that makes me think twice about reaching for the sugar.
Download Playlist Here
(Thanks to Pitchfork, Stereogum, Brooklyn Vegan, Absolut Noise,Triple J Unearthed, KEXP blog, Eardrums, Indie Rock Cafe, the Music Alliance Project, and the bands for making this mix possible)
(photo courtesy of Florida Trend)
Datz Delicatessen and Foodie’s Market is a place we end up a lot. Our friends love it because they have huge sandwiches slathered with meat and cheese, micro-brewed beers on tap, wonderful looking desserts and it is easy to get to.
As a vegetarian, non-drinker I find Datz to be average. There are some things about the restaurant that I really like and some that I could do without.
Datz has the sweetest, moistest, stickiest monkey bread I’ve ever eaten (it is only slightly better than yours, Betsy). There is enough bread for four to six people to share and it is relatively inexpensive. The only problem with the bread is that it is served solely during weekend breakfast (which thankfully goes until 3:00 pm). As far as other breakfast fare, the place has nothing spectacular for vegetarians. Even their pancakes and french toast come with a side of bacon or sausage or another type of bacon or another type of sausage. They do have fried potatoes on the side and these are pretty good although fried potatoes are hard to mess up unless you accidentally add meat to someone’s order and then insist that you didn’t only to return and say you did and offer a forced apology (hey Daily Eats, what’s up, remember us?).
The dinner menu at Datz is where vegetarians can find a few more options to consider. My favorite sandwich is the Roasty Toasty which comes on a batard (which is amazing) and has grilled portobellos, asparagus, red and yellow peppers and provolone cheese. It also has scallion cream cheese but I always order without. The dinner menu also features yummy pretzel bites as an appetizer. The bites are slathered in garlic, sea salt and Parmesan cheese. If you ask for pickles they will bring you a plate full without charge, which is a nice addition for dill lovers.
Oatmeal Cream Pie (ruined by the cranberries)
So what’s wrong with the place? For one, the potato chips. I’m not much of a potato chip fan and I love creativity with my food. But the potato chips that come with the sandwiches at Datz are sweet and drizzled in a blue cheese dressing. I’ve tried to mask the sweetness with ketchup, salt, removing the drizzle and it doesn’t help. Seeing as I rarely eat chips, when I do eat them, I want them to be salty to counteract the taste of my sandwich. I want something like the PommeFrittes at Dunderbaks. When I remove something from my sandwich or salad (the meat or scallion cream cheese) I still pay full price but if I want to add something (grilled onions) I have to pay extra. The desserts in their case look so amazing but always taste so-so at best. Worst of all is the menu that seems to be in constant flux. I like variety and mixing things up but not when they take a brilliant vegetarian appetizer (zucchini sticks) and replace them with something I’m not interested in. Our options are limited as is, don’t take it all away.
All in all, Datz is a place for meat eaters and beer drinkers. It is ok once in a while, for a vegetarian, but there are enough other places to eat that I shouldn’t wind up there so often. But I do and probably will continue to.
Datz is located at 2616 South MacDill Avenue in Tampa.
The Sarcastic Dharma Society’s song “While Sitting by the Window” is the perfect accompaniment for Datz because of its usage of eggs and bacon to paint a picture of window watching. The song comes from the bands 2007 album This is me with a piano and a lot of love. You can download any of The Sarcastic Dharma Society’s albums through their myspace page.
Another track by the band: “Before you Know it” Live from the Bear Hug in Portland, Oregon
I was lucky enough to catch a premiere showing of Dinner For Schmucks last night at Muvico. I had a nice reserved spot thanks to DF and her husband Jay (he is a blind movie critic, check out his site here). The movie wasn’t all that spectacular, it made me laugh but it was very cliched and predictable. My favorite scene was the idiot dinner, which in the previews seems like a much bigger part of the movie than what it actually was. Steve Carell’s (the office, Little Miss Sunshine) character was a dead rat collector. He gathered their carcasses and turned them into artistic expressions (the best of which was the rendition of “The Last Supper”). In honor of the rats, I concocted a very cheesy orzo and greens recipe.
(printable version)-olive oil
-1 package, orzo
-salt and pepper (to taste)
-1 can of diced tomatoes (28 oz)
-1 cup, white wine
-2 1/2 cups, water
-32 ounces spinach
-2 ounces asiago cheese
-1/3 cup Parmesan
3. Add the spinach and asiago. Cook, stirring occasionally, for four minutes. Divide the pasta amongst four bowls and top with Parmesan.
The Dinner for Shmucks is a meeting of important people vying for promotion and status in the business world. Another type of Meeting of Important People takes place in Pittsburgh. This meeting includes a new EP, Quit Music, that will be out this week as well as voyages amongst Jesus followers and country wives. Its poppy rock with a voice that actually sings and it is catchy as heaven. You can download the entire EP and it only costs you an email address.
Perhaps you were a Native American drink colored with sumac berries. Or maybe you were discovered by a man who ran away to join the circus and accidentally dropped red cinnamon candies into a lemonade container thus coloring you red. Were you colored by red horse rider tights (not a very palatable explanation if you ask me)? Did someone cut a finger and see the wonders that a few drops of blood can do to normal lemonade?
Perhaps the story of pink lemonade (and how it came to get its color) will never fully be explained. But that won’t stop us from enjoying it on a hot summer day or singing of its beauty to a fine looking person. Like Hot Lava does. Below.
I didn’t sleep or shower the night before my senior class trip to Baltimore, MD. I was too busy clowning around in a life size iguana cage. To try and hide my fatigue and poor hygiene, I wore a sweater and a knit cap. Unfortunately my attire drew the attention of some mall cops in Baltimore and they kicked me out. This was a big deal because it was my only source of entertainment in the tourist trap part of town where we were ordered to remain. To entertain myself for the next six hours I wandered through restaurants, perused menus and ordered water. One thing that kept popping up on each menu, and rightfully so because Baltimore is famous for them, is crab cakes.
I’ve never eaten a crab cake, well not a real one. Recently I came across a vegan recipe for them on a great blog Weekly Vegan Menu. The blog topped their crab cakes with a Horseradish Tartar sauce which I wasn’t interested in. So I decided to top my crab cakes with Vegan Red Pepper Aioli. It was an experience, twelve years in the making.
(printable version)-Six Crab Cakes
-1 package of soft tofu
-2 Tbs. Lime Juice
-1 Tbs. cider vinegar
-1 cup roasted red peppers in a jar.
3. Top Crab Cakes with aioli.
One of my favorite songs that day in Baltimore was “Possum Kingdom” by the Toadies (I was spending a lot of time walking around a body of water like the main character in the song). Amazingly enough, as I stood in my kitchen to create the crab cakes, I was again able to listen to music by the Toadies. The band has a new/old album, Feeler coming out. One of the tracks on Feeler is “City of Hate” (posted courtesy of Spin).
Another song reminiscent of both my trip and crab cake cooking is Gilbere Forte’s “1st Floor” (which features Freelance Whales). “1st Floor” is equal parts Hip-Hop, chill wave, trance and indie. Not normally a good thing but in this instance, I’m right there with them.
I don’t know you, personally, but I do know about you. I have heard that you were invented by Gayelord Hauser, a self-help author and nutritionist, to help make food taste good and be healthy at the same time. I also know you contain upwards of 39 different spices, herbs and seasonings and that you contain no MSG. I thought about you today on my 8 mile run, probably because I’ve been obsessed with condiments recently and you fit into that category. Maybe we will meet someday.
PS: The Aquabats would be a much more appropriate choice to extol your virtues. They seem like experts.
Shells and I haven’t interacted much. While my mom and sister were hunting them on the beach I was jumping hurricane sized waves with my brother. As my uncle and brother fired them at the shooting range I was miles away doing my best Iker Casilla impression. And as my college roommates paired them with Velveeta cheese for dinner, I was too busy mixing corn and baked beans to notice.
In fact, before trying my hand at stuffed shells this week, the only prior experience I had with them was when I went to Puerto Rico and collected some beautiful ones to take back to my mother. Unfortunately the creatures were still inside, something I didn’t realize, and when I opened my bag to show them to her it smelled like the Hotel Riviera.
(printable version)-20 shells (about half of a twelve ounce box)
-12 ounces marinara sauce
-2 cups of baby spinach
-14 ounces soft tofu
-2 tsp. lemon juice
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/4 cup nutritional flakes
-1 Tbs. basil
-1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
-1 cup Mozzarella
-pepper (to taste)
3. Drain the tofu. In a large bowl mush the tofu until smooth. Combine the tofu with lemon juice, salt and nutritional flakes and mix with your hands until taking the consistency of ricotta cheese. Add the basil and stir with a spoon. Finally combine the tofu mixture with spinach and Parmesan.
4. Spread the marinara sauce onto the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish that is broiler proof. Spoon the tofu and spinach mixture into the shells and place them in the baking dish. Continue until all of the tofu filling has been used. Sprinkle mozzarella over top the shells and bake for 10-12 minutes.
5. Increase the oven heat to a broil. Broil the shells until the cheese begins to brown (about five minutes in my oven). Serve hot.
*I used so little marinara sauce because I didn’t realize I had no more. You could probably double the amount I used and be fine.
People try to inspire and I can’t blame them for that. But oftentimes their inspiration comes in the form of canned cliches that sound hollow (like a shell) and rehearsed when stated. This is something the Octagon attack in their new song, “Clew Haywood.” They state “today is the first day of the rest of your life, don’t give me that nonsense, I don’t want to hear it.” I’m with them. The Octagon have a new album, Warm Love and Cool Dreams Forever, which you can check out here.
Something else I have been enjoying lately is Kids without Bikes from Victoria, Australia. Their song “My Eyes Exploded Thanks to My Friends” is like a drive on a dirt road. It starts out all bouncy and full of potholes but then the speed increases and things get out of control. Here is a live version of the song, below you can download the studio version courtesy of Triple J Unearthed.