Sunday, March 20, 2011

On the Road . . . Sarasota (Pt. 4): Turduckhen

Alpine Steakhouse: Turducken
I, like many others, am a huge fan of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” Whenever I travel to a new town, I try to consult Guy Fieri about what local food stop awaits me.  When I booked my plane ticket to Sarasota, “D,D, and D” was the first food research I did.  What I found is that Florida itself has several Fieri finds and Sarasota has one—Alpine Steakhouse. 
A local diner, Alpine’s claim to fame is a turducken that is stuffed with two different kinds of stuffing and cooked for 12 hours.  Initially, never having had Turducken, Alpine’s was a food destination I really wanted to visit.  However, after fearing it would be a heavy afternoon fare and so having a hard time scheduling it in the trip, my resolve to go floundered.  My determination was shaken even more when looking at reviews of the place replaced the myth of the thing with doubting reality.  After debate, doubt, gastronomical reasoning, I resolved to go before my plane ride home.    
The Turdukhen dinner, which features a hefty slice coupled with a baked potato and cranberry sauce, is $15.  This would have been a little much for wallet and for preflight stomach, and I was happy to find that you could get the Turducken sandwich, which was a more reasonable portion and a much more reasonable price of $5. 
The first bite was everything I wanted: think thanksgiving on a bun.  Subsequent bites, though, proved harder to fully appreciate and get excited by.  With the textural difference of the poultries (the dense duck, the softer chicken, and the firm turkey) and the variety of a flavors in the stuffing (some with spinach and some with andouille sausage) made it a bit of a tastebud and texture crapshoot.  Although the surprise and suspense might be the highlight for some and was something I wasn’t sure initially how to respond to, by the end I found it a little distracting.  For me, there is something to getting a great bite in which everything comes together, melding in a mouth moment, and then knowing that it will happen all over again in the next bite and the next bite and the next.  With the Turducken, in sandwich form at least, that consistency of a repeated fantastic bite doesn’t really happen. 
In reflection, there are no food regrets and no love loss.  If served a Turducken again, I wouldn’t turn it down.  But, it does make me wonder if, when it comes to poultry, there is such a thing as a third wheel. 
Alpine Steak House & Karl on Urbanspoon
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