I made the New York Times!
If you are reading this site for the first time, there is a good chance you read about it in the New York Times. This week’s been a whirlwind and I don’t even know where to start; it’s the first time I’ve been interviewed and written about in a major newspaper. As a whole, the experience was great, but I’ve been a bit nervous all week.
On Monday evening, I met Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times for dinner at a local Tampa restaurant. She had contacted me after coming across this site in a search for Tampa restaurants. I wasn’t sure how the article would look, but how much can she really have learned about me in three hours over dinner? On Wednesday evening, I gathered some of my best friends where we drank wine, talked and I cooked Shrimp and Andouille pasta. A photographer from the New York Times photographed the whole event and even sampled the food. It was quite an experience and I felt like a celebrity, even if for only an evening.
So what about the article? Most of it is pretty accurate, but there are a few points that may have been taken out of context. It is true that I’ve never set foot in Herbsaint; but I hardly believe it is “one of New Orleans’ most celebrated restaurants.” There are so many restaurants in New Orleans, many of which I have never dined. I guess it is a mistake of non-locals to succumb to the belief that good food in New Orleans comes with a hefty price tag.
Although I have dined at Galatoire’s, Antoine’s, Commander’s Palace and Delmonico, I have yet to experience Emeril’s, NOLA, Cuvee, and Restaurant August (though I did have drinks with John Besh at his bar at August). Too many choices, too little time. Some of my favorites in New Orleans that I frequented were One Restaurant, Upperline, Tommy’s, Bon Ton Cafe, Clancy’s and Vega Tapas Cafe, as well as many others. Great food can include a roast beef poor boy from Parasol’s, a fried oyster poor boy from Mandina’s, or a dozen raw oysters at Pascal’s Manale.
As far as my disdain for chain restaurants, it all comes from frustration. Tampa Bay has been infested with a plague, and it is called the chain restaurant. However, not every chain restaurant is evil or has bad food. I have enjoyed meals at Bonefish Grill and Outback Steakhouse and will continue to do so. In fact, each of the restaurants began with one location each in the Tampa Bay area. Irony prevails in this story though, as I’ll be at Bonefish Grill Wednesday evening for a business dinner, and last night I had the pleasure to meet and have drinks with the CEO of Outback Steakhouse. My biggest complaint is that the residents of Tampa are settling for mediocre food, and they shouldn’t. There are a plethora of fresh ingredients in the area and there are many good restaurants, they are just tough to find. So be adventurous this evening, and go to a local restaurant.
Oh, and if you are wondering about the “Key West diet,” it’s just a name I gave to several weeks of healthy eating before my trip to Key West. It’s nothing concrete and there is no gimmick, but I believe that by using fresh ingredients, sensible cooking methods, and the right herbs and seasonings, healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring. Sorry, no secrets here.
Last, my food writing in Tampa has only begun. I will soon be launching TampaBayEats.com to chronicle eating, drinking, and food experiences in the Tampa Bay area. Not many people are doing it, so I’m taking it upon myself to help the diners and restaurants find each other. A mission? Maybe, but I just consider it education. Look out for it soon.
Oh, and if you haven’t seen the article, check it out via the link – “An Exile on Lean Street, Dreaming of Fat Tuesday” – you have to register for the NYTimes online, but it is free and only takes a minute.
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