May 05, 2016
It is my policy to never go to a restaurant the first week they open, for I want a restaurant to work out the kinks before my visit. The kitchen team needs time to gel and find their pace. However, I was invited to The Sacred Pepper opening night, and it was terrific.
Since I was a guest, I did not over order – my mom raised me right (well, I think so) by following the ordering patterns of my host. If they order chicken, order something comparably priced. That said, I walked out of the Sacred Pepper FAT & HAPPY…and was very impressed with both their food and service.
The Debartolo family owes this restaurant and have many family recipes. I especially liked the marinara sauce with is a not so secret recipe – it is boldly lit-up for all to see right next to the bar. The baked lobster and crab rotolo is a must. The meatballs are made with ricotta, veal and pork and are quite tasty. Veal Chop Milanese is a fine dish. The olive tapenade served with their bread might be the best tapenade I’ve ever sunk my teeth into…bar none. The olives were so fresh.
I will be back next week for sure. Can’t wait.
The Sacred Pepper
15405 North Dale Mabry Hwy
May 05, 2016
Everyone said the lines were long – so I decided to go last Friday at 2:30pm figuring the lunch crowd would be over. No such luck. This new Chicago style casual Brandon eatery was jammed packed at 2:30 in the afternoon. The parking lot was huge and full. How crazy is that?
A friend of mine said they were waiting for the “newness” to ware off before they go. Frankly, I’m not sure the mad rush will ever take a dive…for Portillo’s was a solid home run for the type of fast quality food they serve.
Since it would probably a while before I returned I decided to order – well, a lot. Glad I had friends with me. I can vouch for: the hot dogs, steak sandwich with peppers and cheese, onion rings, chili, hamburgers, and all 3 (yes, I tried all 3) made on-site desserts. The strawberry shortcake and the eclair cake were my favorites of the three.
They move the lines pretty quick and they have plenty of seating. Their drive-through system is unique. Actual people stand outside to take and bring your order. No yelling into a mike and little waiting.
1748 West Brandon Boulevard
May 05, 2016
Cool bar at O Cocina and Flights
Mexican restaurants are plentiful in the bay area…and O Cocina is a must try. I think you will like it, for I certainly did. While the salsa needed some salt, I added a pinch, and it was smoky and perfect with their chips.
My absolute favorites that I will order again on my return visit (soon) are: tableside guacamole, plantain empanadas, pastor chicken flautas, pork belly norteno, and chicken enchiladas. Yes, I ordered everything. Each of these dishes were some of the best Mexican food in the bay area.
O Cocina and Flights
4110 Henderson Boulevard
May 05, 2016
In celebration of the Kentucky Derby this week, we are serving up Kentucky Hot Browns.
The Kentucky Hot Brown is an open faced sandwich created in 1926 at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky by Chef Fred Schmidt. It consists of toast, turkey, bacon, tomato and a Mornay sauce. It was created as an alternative to the traditional ham and eggs the hotel would serve its late night patrons who were hungry after dancing into the wee hours of the morning.
We will be serving it at numerous catering events this Saturday at Kentucky Derby parties around the bay, both as a passed hors d’oeuvre, and in casserole form. When we served them at Bailey’s Restaurant they were always a HUGE hit.
We make ours with fresh baked turkey, our own candied bacon, topped with heirloom tomatoes and yummy Mornay sauce made with rich gruyere cheese. It is a spectacular dish year round, but especially this weekend honoring the most famous race of them all.
- Pepperidge Farm bread or any hearty thick sliced white bread (toasted) – cut crust off
- Fresh baked turkey breast or a high quality sliced deli turkey
- Sliced heirloom tomatoes
- Candied bacon
- Mornay sauce
- Gruyere cheese for the sauce and extra to top
My preference for this sandwich is always fresh baked turkey. You can buy turkey breast and bake it off covered (butter, salt and pepper) in a 325 degree oven until done. Or Sam’s and Costco sell a fried turkey breast (or even pre-cooked sliced turkey breast) that is good as well. Last resort is deli turkey. It’s ok to use. I prefer the sliced turkey breast from either Wright’s Gourmet (yes they sell it sliced and it beats all others), or Boars Head from Publix.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups milk
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 4 ounces grated Gruyere cheese
Melt butter in medium size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook whisking constantly until the flour roux is pale yellow…do not brown. Slowly whisk in milk and stir until the sauce thickens. Once the sauce thickens, add remaining ingredients on low heat. Cook for approximately 4 to 5 minutes.
- Thick sliced Applewood smoked bacon (or your favorite kind of thick sliced bacon)
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar for each slice of bacon
- Light sprinkling of cayenne pepper
On a sheet pan with bacon side-by-side, press brown sugar into each slice. Sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Bake at 350 until crispy. I line my sheet pan with aluminum foil for easy clean-up, or use a baking rack that fits inside the sheet pan lined with aluminum foil. This is the best method for it helps eliminate greasy bacon.
Thick slice heirloom, beefsteak, or any other high quality tomato you prefer. Once sliced, place on a medium hot non-stick skillet brushed with butter for approximately 10 seconds on each side – just long enough to heat it up slightly.
Removed crust from bread and toast. Top with warm or room temperature sliced turkey, sliced tomato, hot Mornay sauce, 2 slices bacon crisscrossed, and grated Gruyere piled in the middle. Broil until browned. Serve hot.
For Passed Hors d’oeuvers: Slice crust-less Pepperidge Farm bread in quarters. Toast. Top with room temperature or warm turkey (deli is fine), a spoonful of hot Mornay sauce, a 1” square candied bacon, one half cherry or grape tomato. Sprinkle with grated Gruyere cheese and broil until melted. Serve hot.
Hot Browns For A Crowd: This is a real crowd pleasure. Butter a casserole dish. Line with toasted crust-less bread, top with turkey, tomato, candied bacon, Mornay sauce (to completely cover), and lots of grated Gruyere cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until it is bubbly golden brown. Serve hot.