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A perfect Chowhound weekend

andy huse | Oct 15, 200205:37 PM

Started Friday evening with a feast of take-out Mexican from Las Tucanes, a new Mexican place here in Tampa. Chicken and cheese enchiladas a nice treat, beef tamales very good, topped with a very hot green sauce teeming with chile seeds. Chili rellenos quite good with Mexican rice and salad. Barbacoa tacos are a fave, with spicy shredded brisket, diced onions, cilantro, with a squeeze of lime and dab of green sauce.

On way back to Tampa from Winter Haven on saturday, I stopped with a friend for a big lunch at the Branch Ranch, an old-time southern dining room that was originally part of a private home. So popular they had to expand it several times. Although not exceptional, the food was solid and quite good. Grilled country ham a must, though I could have used a bigger portion. Black eyed peas came with ham cooked in, sweet potatoes were a bit bland, mac n cheese was a fatty, decadent delight. Washed down with a pitcher of sweet tea. I didn't eat for the rest of the day, except for a small snack late that night.

Finally, I attended a party thrown by the former owners of the Seabreeze here in Tampa. I was invited because of my role as author/editor/historian for their recent cookbook and history. They just finished contructing a wonderful addition to their house, complete with kitchen and deep fat fryer. It was well used this eve. Began with a great Seabreeze salad with lots of cheese (tiny pieces of parm, swiss and american), ham, tomato, onion, and romaine and iceberg lettuce.

Then, they served the BEST deviled crabs in the world (happily, they are now selling them out of their seafood shop on the 22nd st. causeway). They sliced them open lengthwise, dredged them in spices and blackened them in a skillet. Served with sweet hot Tiger Sauce.

Miss Lucy potatoes arrived as a final appetizer, thin slices of potato fried and srpinkled with garlic salt and parm. Shaped like lage potato chips, but taste more like fries.

Then, the entree arrived--- and what an entree! Beautiful golden-brown fried shrimp (large), grouper and mullet. All excellent, with no need for sauce. The grits are especially savory, as they grate onion into them while cooking, lending a mild but wonderful taste. Baked beans with planty of bacon. A slice of wonderfully moist lemon/walnut upside-down cake ended the meal.

Just as we finished eating, a cool breeze picked up outside, and we opened all the windows. I stood outside, enjoying the wind and post-table bliss.

Life is good ... so good.

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