Tampa, FL, part 2

Albany John worked his technology magic and now I can present the second part of our trip to Tampa, FL. Here is the first part. And I’ll tell you about the odd little buddy up top in a bit.

The morning of the funeral was lightly overcast with some sprinkles and mist. Albany John, Mama and Papa Amherst, and Chicago Velvet Smoove and I stopped off at a Starbucks for some coffee, and then made our way to Grandma’s funeral outside of Tampa, FL.

We all took some time to ourselves after the funeral, and eventually the whole family made our way over to the Jerk Hut. At this point it was still mid-afternoon, so our large group was easily seated.

I started off with a raspberry mojito, which was pretty good. The raspberry was syrup and fakey-sweet, and not much/any mint flavor.

Tampa Tom got a pineapple soda.

And OMG. Blogger… OK, has anyone else been experiencing a pissy Blogger picture upload? Evidently blogger didn’t feel like uploading Albany John’s ginger beer (which was phenomenal). Damnit. Well, he had one.

This was a sampler platter with sweet potato and yuca fries, chicken wings, coconut shrimp, and, uh, something else. Maybe plantains? This was so tasty, and great to share. That red sauce? I could dip just about anything in it – so good. Kind of like a Caribbean sweet and sour sauce.

Fried green plantains. Quite yummy – fried flat discs of plantain goodness.

Sweet Platanos – Yum! Tampa, you sure know how to cook some plantains – juicy, moist, soft innards, but a wonderfully flavored outside as well.

CVS got a roti dish with goat and chicken. I think. It kind of looks like a big tortilla, filled with jerked foods.

Albany John and Auntie TN each got jerk chicken. This was good.

And Tampa Tom told us how tasty the ox tails were, and at least 4 of us got them. Dear goodness. BEST OXTAILS EVER. He told us to ask for a side of the gravy to pour over the rice and beans too, but after getting the plate – dude, you don’t need to bother. There is plenty of delicious sauce on this plate.

Papa Amherst got the whole fish (corvina, I think). It was either this, or the ox tails, but we shared. Heck, we all shared bits of this and that – my family rocks.

Flaky, moist fish. Yum! This was insanely good.

Superfluous Salads. They come with the meal. These were more of an afterthought, and I’d be just as fine without the salads given the amount of food and quality.

Later on, our servers brought out some of the sauce/gravy from the ox tails. This is for one person. Holy crap, you could make gravy out of the grease on top of the gravy. I really wish I had the tummy capacity to have eaten this, or lived nearby to take it home.

Hello Kitty Sis sent me some of her curry chicken. It was milder than I thought (I expect the searing, blinding heat in most caribbean food), pleasantly so – the sauce was sweet and beautifully complimented the chicken (skin ever so slightly charred).

Later on, HK Sis found a rubber band in her beans and rice. The waiter was apologetic and said he’d bring her a new bowl. Normally I would be the first person to freak out about food hygiene. Ok, I AM. But dear gravy, you KNOW the food is something good if you just keep on eating.
Albany John, CVS and I had to leave dinner a spot early to get CVS to the airport in time to catch his flight back to Chicago. Once we got back, we dragged Mama and Papa to go get ice cream.

At Bo’s. It’s somewhere in Tampa, FL that was close to us. We saw some iffy reviews, but plugged the address into the GPS and off we were. Albany John got (I think) pineapple sorbet or something like that. Ok, crap. I can’t remember what the boys got. But they liked it.

Here’s Mama Amherst holding my small butterscotch-coated vanilla soft serve cone, and her own coffee milk shake. Mine was creamy, a good solid cone I’d get again. Her coffee milkshake was definitely pumped full of coffee flavor, but she said that Bo’s milkshakes didn’t have anything on WhatABurger’s tasty shakes.
Our total was just around $10 – yay!

The next day we were scheduled to leave beautiful Tampa, FL and head back to chilly Albany, NY. We decided to check out the Tampa branch of Yuengling Brewing Company and take their free 11 am tour.

We went in the wrong entrance at first, then took this one. Phew. We were cutting it close!

Here’s the front view of the Biergarten.

And what you see when you first walk in. The tour itself is pretty quick. They say they don’t have a ton of employees – maybe around 60 for when it’s really busy, but never at the same time. No pictures on the tour were allowed, but our tour guides were super-friendly.

On the whole, it was a fairly quiet tour – it felt like you were visiting a very small business, but I suppose Yuengling is. It turns out they’re only in 11 states. We must get so much variety in Albany, NY because they also have a brewery in PA.
I’m not sure if I’d go out of my way for the brewery tour, or make it a “must-do” on a trip, but it was definitely something fun and informative to do in the morning when we hadn’t planned our day out. If you’re driving by with time on your hands, you could always stop in for a look see. FWIW – their gift shop is really small.

At the end of the tour they also let us sample 2 7-oz cups of beer. Albany John and I tried the bock, a new beer they hadn’t released yet, and… another one that I can’t remember. But it was dark. We had the bock second, and it was seriously floral. If you like Malort, you will likely love this. I don’t care for Malort, but I appreciated the floral notes. It kind of felt like I was drinking something pretty.

A display case of Yuengling shwag next to the little bar area.

Aww, they even had a bike rack!

The brewery had some wild life walking around the front too. We still have no idea what this little guy is. A duck? Chicken? Anyone have any idea what this black-red fowl is?

After the tour we went to Ybor City – the shopping/nightlife district of Tampa. We were there before noon, and easily found parking in the city lots. Very affordable parking. The street parking was a little harder to come by, but I’m sure you know where to park if you’re a local.

Here is a trolley. I wanted to check it out, but we ended up forgetting to do it. Whoopsie!

I can’t read the name on the sign, but we went into a cigar lounge. Ybor City used to house a lot of cigar rolling factories in the early 19th century. Many have been revamped into other businesses or residences, but there were quite a few smoking lounges in the center of Ybor City.

I looked at it again: the place is called Stogie Castillo’s.

Albany John got some kind of cigar and a Red Stripe beer. I went for the Woodpecker cider. Tee hee – woodpeckers! They also had some Playboy magazines in front of the couches (where we sat – super comfy!). You know, I was surprised by how many articles there actually ARE in Playboy. Did they start putting in more or something? Maybe they are going through a boobie budget or something.

You work up a surprising appetite flipping through girly mags and quaffing a cider, so we headed over to Mema’s Alaskan Tacos for a quick snack. Oh, fooding time has JUST STARTED!

I got a guava soda to drink. Light, refreshing, and it had real sugar in it, too!

$8 for 2 tacos and a soda. Woo hoo!

Here’s the interior

They call your order number when it’s up. I think I need stickers that say ‘shrimp’ to plaster on everything. Or maybe ones that say ‘add shrimp’.

We got our tacos with everything. Why not?

Here is my shrimp taco. Dear gravy – sweet, soft, succulent shrimp filling. I seriously considered buying another dozen to bring home on the plane. The corn tortilla was freshly made, oily, crisp, and delicious.

Albany John’s salmon taco was equally phenomenal. Seriously – Albany, can we get a Mema’s? Not only were they open late; but for a tasty snack – excellent.

And I continued my freakish love of grocery store tourism by visitng a Sweetbay.

Say, doesn’t something look familiar about this store? Something you just can’t place your finger on…

Omg, it’s the Floridian Hannaford! Or, more correctly, they stock most of their generics with Hannaford brand. How odd! The sugar was Hannaford, the cheeses were Hannaford (and look at the above fancy schmancy line of Hannaford cheeses). Although the bagels in the bread aisle were Sweetbay Brand. *shrugs*

However, they did have flavored Hannaford brand kettle chips. Oh no, we need those up here, girl! We only have plain. Hmmm.

I also noticed this leader board of percentages +/- for each department, with lots of positive encouragement. It was pretty open to the public to see. Quite cute, I thought.

After gawking around a supermarket, we headed over to El Taconazo – the Taco Bus (actually, we first tried to go to a Vietnamese market to get Banh Mi, but that was closed and completely devoid of any business, so then we headed here).

Parking wasn’t a problem. They had their own lot.

We went all out. It was around $22 for all the food we ordered. And yes, they looked at us like we were crazy for ordering so much food.

Albany John ordered 2 tacos for a lunch special. Yum – this plate was AMAZING. I don’t think I’ve ever had refried beans with cojita on it – superb.

I got a huge ass horchata to drink. I wasn’t actually sure what I was ordering, but when the woman at the counter taking orders called them off, I ordered the 3rd one. They had jugs of them sitting out behind where you order (where we also sat), but they weren’t labeled, and I really didn’t want to risk getting Tamarind. Thankfully, they got it for me.

I’ve tried horchata once at Casa Oxaca (yeeearrrs ago) and thought it was a little too much for my tastes. Oh no, my friends. No. This was light, refreshing and perfect for 2 to share. Even with those delicious gigantic bottles of hot sauces. The rice milk was creamy without being heavy. The cinnamon was a beautiful note in addition to a little almond (it’s been like 3-4 weeks and I am now tasting this drink on my tongue again. Damnit, why do I have to be so far away?). Nothing overpowered anything – all the ingredients perfectly complemented each other.

We also got the shrimp ceviche. I’ve never had ceviche so I can’t say how authentic this is or not, but we highly enjoyed it. Shrimp were perfectly cooked (not mushy or anything), and the tomato sauce was bright, a bit spicy, and the onions also added a bit of freshness.

Here is my monster burrito. I think it was beef carnitas. Yum. Yum. Do WANT MORE.

The meat was excellent – well flavored, moist (it was dripping liquid, and I mean it in a good way), and not really any filler. I was definitely not used to a burrito that was 80% meat, 20% everything else (onions, tomatoes, cheese, if there was any rice, it was extremely minimal).

There were red and green bottles (huge bottles) of hot sauce for condiments, and I couldn’t resist them. They green had a great flavor but was blazingly hot. The red, oh, you could slather that all over your food. Albany John and I had turf wars over using them.

This is what the burrito looked like when it first arrived. MY BABY! Some how, we managed to polish off our food. We waddled off, but dear goodness, what a way to end a trip.

We drove over to a little park on the water and waddled around there for a bit. There were docks, and it was nice and sunny. A good way to end our trip before heading back to return the car (sans gas, whoops) and wait at the airport.

We made it back to Albany safe and sound. I can’t wait until we can return to Tampa, FL. It was lovely.

  1. Grace said:

    favorite parts–any and all mexican food and butterscotch-dipped frozen yogurt. my stars.least favorite part–whole fish on a plate. gives me the heebie-jeebies. 🙂

  2. phairhead – wow, that was a BIG handshake then!Grace – it’s looooking at yeewww!

  3. Maryann said:

    Just stopping in to say hi. It must stink being back in Albany 😉

  4. I am just writing to comment on the pic of the black/red waterfowl.. I have no idea what that is, but I was in Orlando about a month ago and there was one that looked exactly like that camped out in front of our hotel. It was very creepy and still haunts my dreams.

  5. Muscovy duck!I wonder how it tastes? At any rate – cute! Thanks!

  6. Hi! I’m the Community Manager of Ruba.com. We’re building a website to highlight some of the most interesting places travelers around the world have discovered. We’ve read hundreds of blogs about Tampa and we think that this post is awesome! We’d love to highlight excerpts from your blog (assuming it’s OK with you of course) and to discuss other ways of tapping into your expertise if you are interested. I’m at erin[at]ruba.com.
    Thanks! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: