Tag Archives: beef

Fantasy Tuesday: A Day with the Cup


A lot of times, thinking about the things you don’t have (and likely never will) can be depressing. But I recently discovered that taking a somewhat “realistic” approach to a fantasy can bring a little bit of lightness to your day. Like, go from “Wouldn’t that be nice” to almost planning for the opportunity—whatever it may be. Sure, it sucks that it’s not going to happen, but maybe this is like when they tell you to smile even if you feel like ass—that there’s still something physiologically beneficial to the act. And nothing says “Tuesday” like a forced smile.

(P.S. Please don’t ever tell me to smile when I feel like ass, or I will give myself a reason to smile, and it will involve violence.)

Anyway, here is the first of three fantasies that I will try to play through to their logical outcomes.

A Day with the Cup

Interestingly, I never really thought about what I’d do if I, like someone on the winning team, got to spend 24 hours doing whatever with the Stanley Cup.

Seems right to take it to your hometown, as many folks do. So I guess my day would involve a trip to Bradenton Beach, where the Cup would be the mold for the top of a sandcastle before being filled with ice to keep my beers cold.

It’d also have to take a moment on the Asolo stage, and then I’d do a soccer-themed photo shoot with it at GT Bray.

It’s also logical to take the Cup back to where you first started playing—for real Cup winners, this invokes memories of mite-ish beginnings and that oh-how-far-I’ve-come kind of vibe. My hockey roots are decidedly more shallow.

But I could see it do just as well around a table at the rink’s Beef O’Brady’s (back before it was a preschool, a church, an OK bar, a bad bar, and then a horrible steakhouse). No, Beef’s: a few tables pushed together, with all the old crew, and the crew that have come since. And select favored opponents. And every single soul who ever showed up just to watch us play and then hang out afterward. With a pile of wings, keep the pitchers coming.

And, while we’re fantasizing, make it on a Sunday night before a Monday holiday—so nobody has to worry about going to work in the morning.

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Money-Saving Tips

Some of the ways I’m making $80 last two weeks this pay period.


Starbuck’s tasty Greek yogurt breakfast parfait with honey and the special no-sog packet of granola and slivers of toasted coconut? Easy enough: a big container of Greek yogurt, some honey (or agave nectar you have lying around after your homemade margaritas adventure), box of granola cereal and some shaved coconut. Mix the yogurt and honey in a Tupperware container, then lay some cellophane on top and put the granola and coconut in there.


Put the lid on, and everything’s ready to go for whenever you wanna mix it all together.

Find things that are awesome and appetizing when reheated, and cook a shit-ton of them: Black beans and rice, brandied chicken breasts, spaghetti carbonara, stroganoff. The kicker for me is that they have to be super-appetizing, otherwise after-work dining out wins. Which tends to mean they’re pretty fattening, too. This is where money-saving runs headlong into calorie-saving. Money wins. As does my tummy.

Volunteer for food contest judging.


Gourmet lamb meat loaf with roasted tomato jam, goat cheese and asparagus risotto. For? Free.

We’ve got weekly contests for finding various local food “bests,” and week before last, it was meatloaf. I’m not saying it’s the healthiest thing to do, but traveling all over town to sample four different kinds of meatloaf saves you money on dinner, that’s for sure.

Likewise, embrace the work luncheons you’re obligated to attend.


Any time you’re getting free risotto, you’re doing something right.

I wasn’t exactly psyched about today’s cancer luncheon, but teriyaki chicken on creamy risotto with asparagus from the Ritz? Yeah, that’s a deal.

choc cake…oh, and there was chocolate cake.

Biking to the grocery store encourages limited and lightweight purchases. I am not a motivated enough beer-drinker to ride 4.5 miles with a case of Bud Light on my back. Plus, this works in favor of calorie-consumption, too.


Invite considerate, lightweight friends over who will bring a 12-pack, drink one, and leave the rest for you.

Take a chance on a $2 hockey raffle ticket.

raffle beer

Hoptical Illusion alone is worth the $2. Plus: bonus mugs!

The key here is that “improving my chances” was too close to “throwing my money away,” so I took a single, low-risk chance and got myself eight fancy beers. Win.

And lastly, obey these booze-buying words of wisdom: “You should always think about cost per ounce vs. credit card interest.” In other words, don’t buy the smaller bottle just because you’re short on cash; put the handle on the Visa and congratulate yourself for being a smart shopper.

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Day Off No. 4

Apologies for the delay, but on Friday, after I got everything written out, WordPress ATE MY DRAFT, and I had to wait until I didn’t want to kill things anymore. Which takes a while, obviously.

So: Thursday. Thursday was our Anna Maria Island day. (And as an added bonus, I actually managed to sleep in until 10, so that was a good start.)

First up was beach. I love Bradenton/Coquina/Cortez/whateveryoucallit beach (the one that stretches south of Cortez Road). Debby did do some damage, but it’s a great demonstration of the importance of sea oats: The water obviously came right up and over the oats, but the erosion stopped at their roots–so now there’s this nifty sedentary study of a shelf of sand, and then waves that wash up much further on the flattened beach than they used to, leaving only 20 feet or so of sand. It’s still an awesome beach, though.

We lounged. We swam–the water was just cool enough to be refreshing, but warm enough so you wanted to jump right in. We played catch with our cool little Waboba-ripoff skippy ball thing. We swam around with our masks on and searched underwater for shells. It was perfect.

From there we walked dripping to Joe’s Eats and Sweets for ice cream, since Joe’s made a big impression during our office ice cream-a-thon, and salty lips love cool, creamy sweetness. Waffle cones of butter pecan and almond, and before lunch, too, because that is what you do on days off.

For lunch, as per the plan, we hit up Skinny’s–arch rival to our beloved Duffy’s. But we picked Duffy’s only because we loved their burgers by a lot, but we’d never tried Skinny’s by comparison before. This was our chance to make an educated decision.

Skinny’s: two TVs, both on SportsCenter. Good sign.

Skinny’s is an AC-less Old Florida shack right across the street from Manatee County Beach. It’s the perfect draw for beachgoers–close and casual, super-friendly and heavenly satisfying, with its own quirky-but-simple ordering rules. Burgers are Skinny (single) or Fatty (double), with cheese and bacon if you want, but your condiment/toppings options stop at “mayo” or “no mayo.”

I’m sorry, have we met? If the question is “mayo or no?,” the answer is always YES.

Also, tater tots. Tots are always a yes.

And yes, the burgers, they are juicy and delicious.

And yes, I’m still a Duffy’s gal.

I mean, I’m not going to turn down a Skinny’s burger–not on your life–but it wasn’t the kind of transcendent must-eat-this-burger-and-all-of-its-brethren experience I’ve had at Duffy’s. It’s just the way my beef has lain.

Stuffed and a tad overheated, we got in the car and just…drove. What a lovely thing–this must have been what all the old people were savoring while I was a bored and impatient child in the back seat. (Although I imagine they didn’t savor it too much with me there, heh.) We wound our way north to get to know the island. And then we wound up at one of my top 10 favorite places in all the world: Anna Maria City Pier.

Wood underfoot 100 yards out into the gulf; Skyway backdrop, sea breeze and cold beer, afternoon sunshine and a deep breath.

Doesn’t. Get. Better.

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Day Off No. 2

Up at 7 a.m. Ugh.

I didn’t realize when I committed to the idea of brisket barbecue, I was signing myself up for a wild beef chase.

First thing, made brisket rub and potato salad, and still managed to get out of the house by 10:30, to Target (birthday card and bathing suit), Publix (brisket, tarragon, toothbrush), Sweetbay (brisket), Lowe’s (cinderblocks, mulch, paper towels), Quality Mega Meats (brisket)–at which point I realized my 8 a.m. bacon and banana wasn’t cutting it anymore.

Also, did I mention that my car is insufficient in the cooling department? And oh yes: It’s hot as balls outside.

The second I got home and heated myself up a nice bowl of chili-powdered corn, Mr. Deelio informed me that there was now a 10-pound brisket on hold for me at Oneco Meats (their last brisket).

Back into the hot car I went. Drove by Oneco Meats (twice) before successfully steering into the parking lot.

MEAT DUDE: You’re the one the guy called for not long ago?

ME: Yep.

MEAT DUDE: Good thing. This is our last one.

ME: Apparently the last one in the county, too.

RANDOM SHOPPER LADIES: Oh, we’re from Texas. You can get them anywhere down there.

My bad, yo. Forgot what state I was in.

Ten pounds, dude. That’s a $40 hunk of dead cow.

Nothing like a good meat rub down.

Brisket safe in the fridge, I embarked on my random project for the day: Stacking boards and cinderblocks to create an outdoor shelf for empty plant pots and other outdoorsy things with no official home.

The best part was making the base for the bottom shelf out of a broken turkey frier pot and a half-burned desktop computer that’s spent the last three years under the orange tree. I’m resourceful.

The worst part was when I went to retrieve the machete from the darkened garage and stepped square into the freshly used oil pan. I’m a Three Stooges movie waiting to happen. I damn near beefed it on top of the lawnmower, too. (Apparently beef was the theme of the day.) Does anyone know how to get motor oil out of Reefs?

Only at the Palais de Debauche will you find a test tube shot in the course of your yard work. In other news, I’m totally going to name my kid Tooter Lingo.

Dinner at the ‘rents for Ma’s birthday–home-cooked barbecue ribs, B&M baked beans, Granny’s baked macaroni and cheese. Oh, and tarragon potato salad.

The conversation twisted and turned until it finally arrived at, of all things, A Christmas Carol. (Apparently everyone needs a little Dickensian winter this time of year?) A little triangulation of dates, and it turns out we can reasonably assume that, on a seventh-grade field trip, CCB saw Pa as Fezziwig at Alabama Shakespeare Festival in the mid-90s. Ghost of Christmas past, making a midsummer night’s appearance.

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My love of dive bars is well e-documented. As is my love of burgers. So since our nasty-ass clogged kitchen sink forced us out into the world for dinner, I was happy to cross Council’s off my list of must-visit burger joints.

I first heard about Council’s from a Facebook-generated article we put in our December visitor’s guide a year or so ago. Since then it’s come up in conversation a few times, mostly with Beaucha (who, though he’s quite a few years younger, is basically my Bradenton mentor for all the northerly things I missed in my Sarasota-oriented upbringing).

First impression: Yep, dive.

In fact, it’s so much not about appearances that it almost seems like they’re trying too hard to maintain their dive-bar status–from the oddly blocked off front “window” that half-displays/half-masks the old sign, to the unmaintained black bar and its cluttered backdrop of signs and snapshots and decrepit cash registers, to the double-row of pool tables stretching into the back, lit up like an interrogation room by florescent lights.

Second impression: Awesome. I like it.

Well, except for the collective side-eye we got from the crowd when we walked in, led by the portly, ponytailed bartender. (That guy looks like he might be related to the second-generation Bahi Hut bartender who, last I checked, was slinging drinks at Broadway.) Reminded me of the reception we got when we walked into a considerably more frightening bar in BFE East Jesus, Tennessee, where we met a very nice man whose name I can’t quite remember–Trigger? Buckshot? Jackhammer?

Anyway, no menus–the chalkboard above the fridge lists hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chili, chips and beer prices. I ordered a Bud Light and immediately got a half eye-roll from the bartender. “Bottle?” he jabbed, grinding his teeth in the direction of the taps, which were Budweiser and Budweiser. “Um, yeah, please,” I responded, wanting to add, “I don’t give a shit, I ain’t gonna drink that that hangover gravy draught, even if it is cheaper.”

The bar, the beer, the limited food–it’s all very Hi-Way-esque, which certainly works for us so long as we’re not being viewed as interlopers. We ordered a couple of burgers, and the bartender grabbed some patties out of the fridge directly in front of us and took just one step over. This is when I realized that there was no kitchen “in the back”–just a griddle that looked to be about one-foot-by-two-foot.

Ok, that’s one of those tiny details that just encapsulates the awesome character of a place. That, and the sign over the fridge that says, “We’ve been cooking burgers since McDonald’s was just a farm.”

And I’d believe it. A few minutes later, the bartender plopped our burgers in front of us on the bar, half-wrapped in a napkin–no plates or nuthin’–and in one bite I was reminded of Duffy’s. Prooooobably not quite that good, but I’ll give it “Duffy’s East.” Next time I’ll order two, since I could eat the first one in about three bites out of sheer enthusiasm–juicy, meaty, crispy iceberg, chopped onions and tasty bun. (I asked for no tomatoes, but if you want ’em, they sit fresh in a little row on tiny shelves in the tiny window next to the griddle.)

Yep, we’ll be going there again. I’m sure they’ll love us–once they get to know us.

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Just to give you an idea of why we love Lan so much, this was the lineup for our $50 (apiece) chef’s tour Friday night:

Pre-dinner “snack”: Fried wontons with white bean hummus

Amuse bouche: A single mussel in shell topped with a Siracha and somethingerother sauce

Course 1: Curried rabbit soup with enoki mushrooms and cilantro

Course 2: Fried clam salad with lemon vinaigrette and chorizo; hard-boiled quail egg

Course 3: Breaded, fried sweetbread “chicken nuggets” and crispy fries with tarragon mayonnaise

Course 4: Puff pastry “Hot Pocket” stuffed with smoked mozzarella, salami and tomato with a garlic herb sauce and marinara and a roasted serano pepper

Course 5: Chevre (regular and smoked) and beet tart with honey, hazelnuts and truffle vinaigrette

Course 6: Flounder stuffed with spinach and crawfish and smothered in beurre blanc with roast red potatoes

Course 7: Seared scallops with pineapple salsa and parsnip/potato mash

Course 8: New York strip with papaya barbecue sauce and zucchini

Course 9: Lamb pot roast with a strawberry port wine sauce

Dessert: Chocolate mousse tart, buttered popcorn ice cream

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…to whom?

As good a story as any to start with, I guess?

So I’m searching for regular-salt, all-fat, NORMAL cream of mushroom soup in Sweetbay’s massive Campbell’s display. Sixty-something guy behind me turns and asks, in not the friendliest manner, “What kind of sauce would you serve with roast beef?” indicating a bag of sandwich meat in his basket.

My thought bubble is nothing but an asterisk and a puff of smoke from the short circuit.

“I…uh…like a horseradish…something?” I sputter.

“Something here?” he asks, indicating the wall of condiments, the steak sauces right in front of him.

I grab a jar of creamy horseradish and hand it to him. “Maybe like this?”

He is annoyed/incredulous. “You’d serve this? With roast beef?”

“Well, yeah, I guess”–I’m annoyed that I feel apologetic–“like maybe on a sandwich or something.”

“This isn’t for a sandwich,” he huffs. I shrug, at a loss, and he turns back to glare at the A1.

We should also note that I was wearing basketball shorts, a dirty white t-shirt and flip-flops. My greasy hair did not scream “foodie.”

I dunno what the hell he’s looking for, but I’m staying the fuck away from that guy’s house for dinner.


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