Monday, March 14, 2011

On the Road . . . Sarasota (Pt. 1)

As promised, this next series of blogs are reserved for the highlights, and some lowlights, of my foodie adventure in Sarasota. 
Overall, I’d say Sarasota is a great town for foodies.  There is an amazing downtown that features a wide variety of the fried, filleted, and fricasseed with a variety of choices between Spanish, Mediterranean, upscale American, and casual cafes.  Then, in the Siesta Key area, there are some fantastic bars and restaurants for people who are bikinied and as fresh out of the sea as the fish on the plate.   I feel like I did a lot of eating in one week and I barely scratched the surface of culinary options.     
Starting with Sunday evening and running through Saturday morning, I visited Rico’s Pizzeria,Captain Curt’s Crab and Oyster Bar, Barnacle Bill’s Seafood, Ceviche Tapas, Café Amalfi, Daiquiri Deck, Gold Dynasty, McKechnie Field Ball Park, Sarasota Kennel Club, and Alpine Steakhouse.   I’m going to space out my posts on my food adventures of the week   as I get caught up on putting notes to paper.   
First up--Seafood. 
Barnacle Bill’s Seafood & Captain Curt’s Crab and Oyster Bar
After visiting Sarasota’s Safari Jungle Park (a place where the Flamingo’s eat out your hand), my friends and I were looking for a place nearby to stop.  We stopped at Barnacle Bill’s Seafood on Tamiami Trail on the recommendation of two friends who had already eaten there.  The menu has any possible seafood concoction under the sun and includes a page of several fishes that are fixed to your choice of cooking preparation (i.e. grilled, fried, etc) and with a range of flavor profile add-ons (i.e. Cedar Plank, Havana, Picatta, etc).  I ordered a Seafood Crepe and my boyfriend ordered the Conch chowder and the Seafood Strudel.    The Conch chowder had a very dense flavor profile that had notes that were fish¸ tomatoes, cajun spices, and a taste I couldn’t quite place but reminded me of anise or fennel.  Between the Crepe and the Pastry, the better choice was the pastry that was flaky, creamy, and really allowed the seafood to shine through.  The Crepe had potential and should have had more focus on the seafood, given the lighter crepe, but seemed to fall a little flatter.  Filled with good size shrimp, crab, lobster, and scallops, and covered in a lobster sauce, the rich seafood flavor got lost along the way.   Overall, the meal was interesting and tasty, but lacked the stomach satisfaction that you would want from crepe, cream, and seafood.
 A much better seafood and cream choice is the award-winning Clam Chowder I got at Tiki Bar at Captain Curt’s Crab and Oyster Bar.  This is a series of buildings that have a café and a late night bar, called the Tiki Bar.  The chowder was thick and I worried that it would be too heavy and gummy with thickened cream, but the chowder instead was full and comforting.  Although some chowders skimp on meat, Captain Curt packs there’s with big pieces of meat so that you get clam in every bite.  
A lesser success at Captain Curt’s Tiki Bar was the Tiki Shrimp Rangoon, which is butterfly cut shrimp that is fried in a light batter and served with cream cheese on top.  I ordered this because I had never had shrimp with cream cheese and I wanted to see what it was like.  I think the idea has potential, but Captain Curt’s execution mixed the mark.  It was a very dense, rich cream cheese that was literally dolloped on top.   As served, the cream cheese and shrimp never really unified, and the very sweet, somewhat citrusy dunking sauce didn’t help bridge the gap.  This is something I’d like to experiment with at home by using a whipped cream cheese that is flavored with old bay or lime zest.  If you try it before I do, let me know how it goes. 

Barnacle Bill's Seafood on Urbanspoon Captain Curt's Crab & Oyster on Urbanspoon
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  1. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. Nice blog!!

  2. Thanks so much for reading. I really appreciate the feedback!


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