Food Pairing 101: What Goes With Bailey’s Brunch at Carmel Kitchen?

Food Pairing 101: What Goes With Bailey’s Brunch at Carmel Kitchen?

Is it any wonder that Carmel Kitchen is rolling out their new Bailey’s Brunch menu in South Tampa? After all, South Tampa is to brunch as Paris is to lovers. At least that is what I’ve heard from my friends with the funny haircuts. You see I don’t live in South Tampa and I don’t do much brunch. I frankly find both of those a bit…shall we say indistinguishable. But when Robert Bailey invited me in to try out the new brunch menu that would be rolling out at Carmel Kitchen next week, I took him up on the offer. It wasn’t the pancakes or the waffles that got me. It surely wasn’t the alcoholic breakfast drinks. Nope, what got me there was the promise of homemade bread and preserves. I’m a sucker for that stuff.

We arrived at the kitchen right at our allotted time and were immediately seated in a booth by the window. Our waiter and hostess both gave us a quick run through on how to order via the electronic gadget that was lying at the end of our table. Afterwards, our server informed us that we didn’t have to use the device we could just order from him. We liked the human aspect, he was sarcastic and funny in a way that our device wasn’t. We elected to stick with him.

On the menu were a number of items that are typically over sweetened for American consumption. These included blueberry muffins and pancakes and cinnamon buns. But Bailey’s Brunch did things differently. They cut the sweet down. The blueberry muffins were extremely soft with a nice crust across the top. This crust was decorated with coarse sugar. It had a look that was reminiscent to muffin I used to eat all the time when I worked for Whole Foods. Taste wise, it was completely the opposite of what I imagined. It wasn’t sickly sweet inside. Instead it had a gentle flavor that really allowed the blueberries to take center stage.












See that crusty top and sugar shower?

The pancakes were pretty humorous. They were similar to the blueberry muffins in that their lack of sweetness allowed the blueberries first class citizen status. Another plus is that the pancakes were served drizzled in homemade syrup. So what was so humorous about them? The size. Due to some mishap in the kitchen, the pancakes came out way too big. I guess that’s why they run these training exercises. Not that J-Fur (or Z-Bot) minded. They’ll be pancake snacking for days.












Imma gonna eat your face, pancake

One of the most intriguing menu items was the multicolored hash browns. They came in red, purple and sweet potatoes. We asked to sub out the meat that came alongside the pancakes for some of the hash browns. Our waiter informed us that the hash browns had actually come out looking gross the day before so they were nixed in favor of red, purple and sweet fried potatoes. I loved the fact that they included three different types of potatoes. Unfortunately the cooking times of these potatoes are different and I’m not sure that was accounted for. The sweet were super soft, the red and purple not completely cooked. I left the need for a more uniform feel as my feedback for how Bailey’s Brunch could be improved. I just hope they keep trying, I would hate for Bailey’s to shift to the normal, mundane regular potatoes. The world of brunch doesn’t need more of the same.












The potato trifecta

My favorite item of the day (and the one I was looking forward to the most) was the fresh baked bread and homemade preserves. Bailey’s Brunch offers a number of seasonal preserves to go along with their wheat or white toast. Right now the menu includes blackberry, strawberry and pineapple. I was a huge fan of the blackberry and pineapple. The strawberry was fine, I just felt like it is a bit overplayed when it comes to dressing up toast. The wheat bread looked strangely like white and I was informed by Kim, as he came around and checked in with us, that the bread had set a little too long and that caused it to lose a lot of the bulgur flavor and look. He assured me that they knew exactly what they did wrong and couldn’t wait to correct it next weekend. Despite this, the bread was still really good. I had two servings.












Wheat bread with strawberry and blackberry preserves

To end the meal, J-Fur got a hold of a cinnamon roll which our waiter informed us were to die for. You have an option of ordering with raisin or without. If you know J-Fur, you know she went with raisins. We expected a Cinna-Bon style over-sugared disaster. But the theme of looking a lot sweeter than actually tasting played out one more time. J-Fur pushed the contents of her stuffed stomach aside just enough to polish off nearly the entire bun. It was that good.












Iced Iced Baby

My final take? I appreciate the invite immensely and when some of the kinks are worked out, I’m definitely returning to Bailey’s Brunch at Carmel Kitchen.

So what would I pair with a meal of this nature? One that has the sweetness dialed back but is fully loaded with fruit. That’s why I’d go with “Ghost Insider Your Head” by United Fruit.

Food Flavored Artist: Pale Honey’s “Youth”

Food Flavored Artist: Pale Honey’s “Youth”

Recently my obsession has shifted from the darker, deeper, denser taste of Black Honey to its more pale cousin. The taste, while different, is not a complete change of course. Black Honey has a layered taste, one that begins like an overwhemingly musty garage and ends like a religious woman falling to her knees in prayer. Pale Honey sort of skirts in and out of the garage tinged frame. There are moments that the musty garage is alluded to but at other points the tastes comes across as light and simple, minimalistic and stripped down. There are no rosebuds, orange blossoms or lavender plants seeping into this mixture. From experts who are deeply involved in the honey tasting community and therefore know so much more than I, I’ve heard that one might consider Pale Honey in the same taste sector as Sleater Kinney, PJ Harvey or Land of Talk (had they simply grown from bees roaming the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden instead of where they actually came from).

According to Tuva Lodmark (guitar / vocals) and Nelly Daltrey (drums), Pale Honey’s first single “Youth” was born one summer when they were locked in a sweaty rehearsal room. The guitar riff, which is like a little puppy that is constantly yapping and looking for something fun to chew on, sets the pace for the glassy drums. Musically “Youth” exudes “controlled coolness”. The last step for Pale Honey was to craft some lyrics that matched the same level of coolness. Eventually these lyrics came to symbolize “letting go, getting over things and keeping your head held up high” while earning your bruises.

“Youth” will be part of Pale Honey’s self-titled debut album which is due out May 4th on Bolero Records.

Listen: Turn to Crime, The Colourist, J. Viewz, The Wombats

Listen: Turn to Crime, The Colourist, J. Viewz, The Wombats

Shamelessly plugging Braveheart quoting sandwiches is not the easiest thing in the world. Add a few dribbles of these tunes and plugging becomes slightly more bearable:

I’m not sure if there is a bigger slacker in the vegetable world than collard greens. These bad boys are all dressed up and afraid to get dirty. So, they just sit there waiting and growing gigantic. They pair perfectly with “Prince of Slackers” the new track from Turn to Crime. I don’t know what it is about the song, perhaps it is the bedroom feel, but from the very first chords it feels like a slacker tune. Each time I think the tune is capable of more, it holds back seemingly announcing to the world that this track could have heart, but it doesn’t. I’m not saying it isn’t a catchy song, quite the contrary, I’m just saying my college roommate that was too lazy to go grocery shopping because he just wanted to smoke pot would’ve loved this song. Hell he could’ve been the one to write it. Bernie? Bernie? Is that you? Turn To Crime’s new album, Actions is set to be released on April 28th via Mugg & Bopp. “Prince of Slackers” is the first single from it.

The Colourist’s “When I’m Away” is a crazy good, catchy as hell, electro-pop number. It features everything that a good pop song needs: a smidgen of vocal effects, strategically placed chanting, bits of repetition, easily relatable lyrics and a chorus that makes me want to end every night dancing epically to it. Damn, I think I’ll do just that. For the next 365, this is the song my day ends with.

J. Viewz new single “Into the Light” embraces the singer’s deep, Matt Berningeresque voice. The single is a low key affair, when it comes to the verses, but picks things up during the chorus. This is also the part of the song where it picks up strangers. Coincidence? I think not. “Into the Light” features Wild Cub and it is the 3rd song on J.Viewz’s DNA Project, an interactive album-making experience made in real time.

We’ll pick things back up with the latest single from the Wombats. “Give Me a Try” is an upbeat electro-pop steamer that is calling for Vicodin on a Sunday night or, at the very least, a try. The song is the latest in a long line of great tracks that come from Glitterbug which is set to be released on April 13th.


Cook: Cutlets, Collards, Buffalo Aioli Sandwich

Cook: Cutlets, Collards, Buffalo Aioli Sandwich

DSC_0387“The problem with seitan, is its full of wheat. If you can’t get it out, let’s breed it out.”
-Tender Branson, 2011

So that’s me quoting me paraphrasing King Longshanks (in Braveheart) most likely butchering some Atila the Hun call to arms from the 451 (year, not zip code). I’d imagine that from the time it was fired off by synapses to the time it crossed my lips hundreds of years had passed. And to think they say that alcohol is what slows thought processes down.

My goal since uttering this quote back in 2011 has been to do just what it hints at, breed the wheat out of seitan. I’ve tried everything. I’ve added a bit of a sexy feel to my kitchen, turned romantic music on and set all kinds of neat little situations. My latest foray was to pair the seitan with refrigerator ingredients in some not so normal positions (think Masters of Sex meshed with Top Chef). I went straight up missionary position with barley, attempted the sultry saddle with bulgur and failed miserably scissoring carrots. My worst mistake? Trying to spider beets. That shit was a mess.

Thankfully the good folks at Post Punk Kitchen were also experimenting with some breeding of their own and came up with a mixture of chickpeas, bread crumbs and vital wheat gluten. The resulting cutlet is like seitan without the stomachache. It was so light, I could put it on vegan sub rolls and still not fall over with a swollen gut. Collard greens and buffalo aioli rounded out the cutlet sandwich:

Cutlets, Collards, Buffalo Aioli Sandwich
(printable version)

For the sandwich:
Doublebatch Chickpea Cutlets
-4 large collard green leaves, ripped into small pieces
-olive oil
-red pepper flakes
-vegan sub rolls
-buffalo aioli

For the aioli:
-1/2 cup canned coconut milk
-1/4 cup Frank’s Hot Sauce
-1 ounce olive oil
-1/2 Tbs. chia seeds
-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
-1 garlic clove, pressed

1. Make the aioli by throwing everything into a food processor. Run until it is all mixed up. Scrap it into a bowl and put into the refrigerator to thicken.

2. Prepare the chickpea cutlets according to directions.

3. Warm some olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Saute the collard greens until they are bright green. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes overtop. Set aside.

4. Toast the buns.

5. To assemble the sandwiches: spread some of the aioli on each side of the toasted bun. Rip the cutlet into small pieces and fill the bun with it. Spoon some collard greens overtop. Rip into that sandwich in the same way those chickpeas rip into the seitan.

You might think it sounds like a dying quail but it really is something more along the lines of this.

Press Release: Laser Spine Institute Officially Donates 25,000 Meals to the Tampa Bay Community

Press Release: Laser Spine Institute Officially Donates 25,000 Meals to the Tampa Bay Community

Here’s a followup press release to last week’s Give & Grub review:

March 3, 2015 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Laser Spine Institute announced today that it has surpassed the 25,000 mark for meals donated through its Give & Grub food truck program, an initiative aimed at reducing food insecurity in Tampa Bay. Supported through an integrative partnership with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Feeding America Tampa Bay and Metropolitan Ministries, Laser Spine Institute donates a meal to a child in the Tampa Bay area for every meal sold by the truck and for each use of #GiveAndGrub on social media.

“We are overwhelmed by the support from our partners and the entire community in helping the Give & Grub food truck reach this milestone,” said Dotty Bollinger, President and Chief Operating Officer, Laser Spine Institute. “But we still have work to do. Hunger remains a serious problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of families in the Tampa Bay area.”

Beginning with October’s launch, Laser Spine Institute pledged to donate 150,000 meals to local children in need over the course of a calendar year. According to Feeding America Tampa Bay, there are an estimated 700,000 people in the region struggling with hunger — of that number some 250,000 are children.

“There is no greater imperative we have as a society than to ensure the health and welfare of our children,” said Thomas Mantz, Executive Director, Feeding America Tampa Bay. “Understanding this, Laser Spine Institute has taken it upon itself to invest their resources to provide meals to children who would otherwise go hungry. Through the company’s efforts, thousands of Tampa Bay children have meals on the weekend, a time when far too often they don’t eat. Laser Spine Institute’s commitment to the cause of childhood hunger will change the lives of many and we cannot fully express our gratitude for their partnership.”

As part of its giveback program, Laser Spine Institute donates backpacks of food to children at two entire schools in the community every Friday. Secured through Feeding America Tampa Bay, each backpack contains five shelf-stable nutritious meals for the weekend. Participating schools include Cleveland Elementary and the MOSI Partnership School in Hillsborough County and Woodlawn Elementary and Nina Harris School in Pinellas County.

Laser Spine Institute also throws blowout events monthly with the Give & Grub food truck at local Boys & Girls Clubs. Children at those events receive a meal secured through Metropolitan Ministries that mimics the truck’s gourmet menu, along with a backpack of five meals for the weekend. Those events have also featured the Lightning’s “Rolling Thunder” interactive games and an appearance by Lightning players, Ben Bishop and Anton Stralman.

The Give & Grub food truck sells its gourmet menu for lunch at regional office parks and corporate centers throughout the area. In addition, it can be found at select events, festivals and in Amalie Arena’s Thunder Alley before Thursday and Saturday Lightning games.

For more information on the Give & Grub food truck, the giveback program, and to see where it’s headed next, visit

Where They Eat: Loframes and Entre 2 Vins

Where They Eat: Loframes and Entre 2 Vins

I liken Franck Russo’s double life to the sweater that J-Fur is in the process of knitting. As it stands right now, the mustard color piece has a really long arm and one that is about bicep length. Total indie musician on one side, dinner date on the other. Franck spends his bicep length time producing music. After some successes on his own On The Fruit label and via Berlin’s Bpitch Control, Franck has ventured into duo territory. He joined up with British singer-songwriter/producer James Yuill to form Loframes. The band is prepping for a March 9th release, via Beatport, of their debut single, “Get Real (Can’t Touch Your Love)”. The track blends electro, pop, synth and deep house into a smooth, lovelorn classic. There’s also some badass saxophone sounds, the likes of which haven’t been seen since Tim Capello’s oiled torso greased the stage in Lost Boys:

So what about Franck’s really long sweatered arm? That would be Entre 2 Vins. This is his restaurant that he owns in France that specializes in handmade foods and wines sourced from small producers. Franck’s meal of choice? Well, I’ll let him tell you about it:

My restaurant Entre 2 Vins is situated in the old touristic city of Antibes on the South-East coast of France. We specialize in natural wines that have been hand made by from small producers and with absolutely no chemical products, and our food is all similarly sourced and draws inspiration from local Provençaal, sud ouest and Spanish traditions.

I think my favourite item on our menu would certainly be the Vacherin du Mont d’Or. Vacherin is a prestigious, and rare, cheese produced only in the Jura region. It’s made from cow’s milk but only during the cold winter months from September to April when the cows are brought down off the mountains.

In our restaurant we bake it in the oven along with a glass of Jura white wine inside, one clove garlic and a grind of some good black pepper. While that’s cooking, the cheese melting deliciously on the inside whilst the surface crisps up, we’ll prepare some beautiful potatoes, a variety called “La Bonnotte” that only come from the island of Noirmoutier and have this incredible taste from being grown close to the sea.

To go alongside the baked cheese and potatoes we’ll prepare some special charcuteries from Burgundy and Corsica, such as Jambon Persillé, Coppa, Lonzu and Prisuttu and finally provide some good bread fresh from our local boulangerie.

Then to wash it all down I recommend a nice bottle of the 2007 Domain Jean François Ganevat “Chalasses Marnes Bleues”, a citrusy wine made from a local grape Savagnin and one of our region’s famous Vin Jaune. All in all it’s a simple but really quite special meal and customers are queuing up for it in season.

When I saw Franck Russo is a producer, we aren’t just talking music here. We are talking a double life of producing music and locally sourced, seasonal food.

Click: Black and Vegan, Combating PMS, Dairy Free Illuminaties, Mint Chocolate Chia Parfaits, Bitches in the Hood and Other Items From This Past Week

Click: Black and Vegan, Combating PMS, Dairy Free Illuminaties, Mint Chocolate Chia Parfaits, Bitches in the Hood and Other Items From This Past Week

Its bad enough that the Ivy League schools scheme about ways to rule politics, now (meaning for the last four years) they are doing the same thing to veganism. We’ve gotta watch out for those vegan illuminaties. Here are some other things to watch out for:




“What D’You Say” by The Go! Team

Will Joseph Cook “Streets of Paris”

Canopy Climbers “Fever”

“Cities Between Us” by Ellenberg

The Longwalls-Home


Sirena “Chemicals” (Ace Supreme Discomix)


“Fucking Bitches in the Hood” by Death Team

“Hypnotic” by Zella Day

First Quarter Click Tracks (When Available) via Spotify:

Food Flavored Artist: Black Honey’s “Madonna”

Food Flavored Artist: Black Honey’s “Madonna”

In religion and art and the world that combines the two, Madonna refers to a representation of Mary the mother of Jesus. Now Mary is a Saint. In fact, she is considered by many to be the most meritorious saint. But despite her high standing in religious circles, Mary sometimes winds up dancing on dusty dashboards or covered in elephant feces. That’s to say it isn’t all robes of white and glamorous regalia for this gal.

In the new single by Brighton’s Black Honey, titled “Madonna”, they hit on the dirtier side of this saint (or are they referring to the artist whose idea of a nightmare is a fall down some steps?). “Madonna”, like its predecessors, is driven by a sludgy, surf-style guitar and distorted vocals. It’s a choppy affair that is constantly starting and stopping over its nearly three minute life span. This start/stop/start set up gives the song an alluring Madonna on the dashboard feel. Red light, stop. Green light, go. Highway, shake what your daddy gave you for hours on end. “Madonna” is the type of song that no matter what momentarily pulls you away from it (llamas on the run anyone) you’ll always find yourself coming back.

Where We Eat: Give & Grub Food Truck

Where We Eat: Give & Grub Food Truck

Everyone knows that the more people that get involved in something, the more likely it is to be ruined. There’s even an ancient proverb that speaks directly to keeping collaborations to a minimum: “too many cooks spoil the broth”. I think it is time to mark that proverb with a big ol’ asterisk, one that is footnoted at the bottom with the words “the exception to this proverb is Tampa’s Give & Grub food truck.

Five Companies, One Goal

A project by Laser Spine Institute, the Give & Grub food truck was created through an integrative partnership between five different organizations. Each of these organizations brings their own unique expertise to the table. As an extension of a collaboration between Laser Spine Institute and the Tampa Bay Lightning, and through a mutual desire to “stick it to hunger” in the local community, the idea of a “food truck for good” was developed. The purpose behind this food truck would be two-fold. First, for each menu item sold, Laser Spine Institute would donate a meal to a hungry child in the Tampa Bay area. Second, the menu items offered would consist of gourmet, food-truck friendly versions of Tampa Bay Lightning players’ favorite meals. To help out with the food insecurity side of things (food insecurity is when access to adequate food is limited by a lack of money or other resources) Laser Spine Institute reached out to Feeding America Tampa Bay and Metropolitan Ministries. If anyone knows the food insecurity issues in the local area, it’s these two groups. Both agreed to join the fight. The final piece of the puzzle was to find and staff a food truck. This part of the project was taken care of by California based Roaming Hunger. With Laser Spine Institute leading the charge, these five organizations began working together to achieve two things: feed Tampa Bay citizens gourmet food from a food truck and use the profits to fight back against hunger.












Give & Grub’s Lightning Inspired Menu

How it Works

Give & Grub travels around the greater Tampa area visiting business parks, local events and Thursday and Saturday home Lightning games. Here they offer their seven different menu items for sale. Each item that is sold is tallied and a meal is given to a needy child or family. Don’t live in the area? Unable to get off work to visit the food truck during the lunch run? Lightning games end too late for you? No problem. Give & Grub has made it easy for you to participate via the internet. Just use the hashtag #GiveandGrub on your social media posts and a meal will also be donated to children and families in need.

The food is donated through weekly backpack drop offs at targeted elementary schools in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Through their partnership with Laser Spine Institute, Feeding America Tampa Bay sources these backpacks with food and every child in the school receives one to take home (the schools range in size from about 250 to 450 kids). Each of those backpacks includes five meals for the weekend. Once a month Give & Grub has a huge “blowout” at a local boys and girls club. This involves filling the food truck with a Lightning player (or the street team if a player is not available), kid friendly food and more backpacks. The kids then get to experience what it is like to go up and order from the truck, take home a backpack and possibly meet a Lightning player. Laser Spine Institute works with Metropolitan Ministries to make all the kid friendly food that is served during these monthly “blowouts”. To date, Give & Grub has given back 25,000 meals. Their goal for the year is 150,000. Currently they are on pace to reach it.

The Food

So what about the food that Give & Grub sells from the truck? As I mentioned before, the truck offers seven items. One of their most popular items is the Chicken Parmkos (honoring Steven Stamkos). It consists of Chicken Parmesan on homemade bread that is baked fresh in a commercial kitchen the day the truck goes out. The sandwich is served alongside housemade potato chips. Fun fact: Give & Grub also makes their own pickles. My sister-in-law opted for the Parmkos. It was a huge sandwich that she couldn’t finish in one sitting. She was a fan. Another popular item is the Hedman Steak Tacos (named after Victor Hedman). I’m not sure if Hedman is into tofu or not but Give & Grub offers a tofu version for the vegetarians. The tacos are served with marinated tofu, roasted corn, Pico de Gallo and Tijuana rice. They are then topped with spicy chipotle ranch and served alongside a container of black beans and fried plantains. The tofu on these tacos is hands down some of the best I’ve had in Tampa. Sate Asian Grill and Taco Bus are the only places comparable in the tofu department. Whatever that tofu was marinated in gave it a nice flavor that lingered long after each bite. Also standing out were the peppers that were layered across the bottom of the tortilla. They too had a very distinctive flavor. The tortillas themselves? Fabulous. Each taco comes double wrapped in flour tortillas. These tortillas serve as a safety blanket, protecting the tacos from extreme conditions. I took a set of tacos to go and the tortillas were still crispy the next day. Most tortillas can’t stand up to the Branson family fridge and they go soggy with fright. Give & Grub’s just laughed at the weather whole time.








The Hedman Steak Tofu Tacos

The surprise of the day belongs to the other vegetarian friendly item on the menu, the Bishop Bowl. I say this because I did not expect to be a fan of it. The bowl is named after goalie Ben Bishop. It is piled high with blackened tofu (or shrimp), wasabi caramel, mango, plantains and cilantro rice. The dish nicely melds together Cajun cooking, Japanese spices and South American fruit. The bowl is huge. It probably weighs more than a quarter of what Bishop weighs. Both J-Fur and I were really impressed with the bowl. Again, the tofu and peppers were top notch. But they were only part of the fun. The sweet of the mango and plantain and the slight spiciness of the wasabi caramel helped finish off a dish that pleases all the parts of your palette. Z-Bot was also a huge fan of this dish.









The Bishop Bowl









The Baby’s Seal of Approval

Give & Grub’s food proves that having too many cooks doesn’t necessarily have to spoil the broth. Sometimes, if the wrists flick just right, all those hands can actually create an amazing product. But what truly sets the truck apart is that all the profits from their amazing product go to help better the Tampa community.

Give & Grub on Urbanspoon

My visit to Give & Grub netted me a lot of food. It took all I had to finish it in one sitting. After the last bite I immediately felt like *thumbs quickly through CD collection, ah, here it is* I was in Fat Heaven. That’s why they are the perfect match for a Give & Grub visit. That and they pay homage to Roaming Hunger’s locale.  Check out the band’s “LA Girl” from their self-titled EP.