This is our first installment of new series of “Chow Low Down”. I hope you guys enjoy it.
Chow Low Down at 717 South Tampa, Florida
Wednesday brought the 3F Adventures crew ( this time tolerating me) to 717 South Howard Ave. in the SoHo district in South Tampa a long time destination for foodies of the area.
Chef Robert Masson was going to be preparing for us a seafood meal that I did not want to miss. “Chef” has been awarded numerous awards in his 9 years at 717 South and is one to think quickly on his feet. His credo is “Keep it Simple” (for a simpleton like me…well that is just fine) though “Chefs” simple is viewed through a Italian Asian fusion. An interesting twist to an interesting man, an avid fisherman and adventurer (just rolled his Jeep 4-wheelin’ that previous week).
My previous visits have included most recently the chicken picatta (served with mashed potatoes of all things – and it was good!).
The Seafood bisque (a favorite of the frequent there)was prepared and was very good. Not your traditional bisque ( a somewhat secret spice is used and once you learn what it is, you’ll go “oh yeah, that was it!” )however it was warm and creamy full of the delicate fruit of the sea.
The main course was what the crew was drooling over pistachio crusted Black Grouper ( Chilean Sea Bass is also used for this dish depending of the availability of freshness and quality) with a white wine/lobster sauce,with Portobello mushrooms and shrimp. The lightly toasted pistachios complimented well the sweet delicate, flakey fresh grouper and conversely it contrasted it in texture. The simple yet flavorful sauce brought out the true beauty of the dish. The shrimp were not tough and dry but rather just firm and tender, and sweet. We all could have eaten more of that speaking to the appreciating of the dish and not to the portion which was ample. The sides were perfectly cooked (not floppy, but with just a bit of crunch) asparagus spears and fluffy white rice that just oooozzzzzed goodness when loaded on the fork with the fish and the sauce.
Finally, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, “Chef” brought to us his now famous in our eyes “Punkin’ Cheese Cake”. Staying true to form and keeping it simple, he only used 7 ingredients if you don’t count the simple graham cracker crust.
It was both Elegant and at the same time homey, served with a dollop of whipped cream with a mint garnish. My opinion of it? Well lets just say that I plan on making that for my loved ones this Thanksgiving (although, I know mine will not be as good as “Chef’s”).
For most dinner entrees you are looking at less than $20 so the outlay to reward ratio is heavily tilted to your favor. At lunch there is a 1/2 Chef’s Daily Sandwich Special & Cup of Cupboard Soup or 717 Salad 8.95.
When ever you are in the South Tampa area or if you would like to make this a dining destination (they do accept reservations but have a well apportioned bar if you would like to “enjoy a short wait). They also have special nights with Tampa Bay area Celeb Bartenders (such as Joe Madden and various artists, musicians and other sports figures) on a regular basis for giving back to the community.
I highly recommend you go. Say “Howdy” to “Chef” and tell ‘em we sent ya!
I will not enter into the fray of NY vs. Chi-town pizza war. Suffice to say, if it is pizza – I will eat it.
On the way back from the conclave the other day I decided I would “take one for the team” ( real sacrifice right? : ) ) and stop by the Chicago Hub (http://www.chicagohubrestaurant.com/) in Winter Haven for some pizza. We had been there previously and were pleased.
Well, it was going on near 2:00 and I was “hawn-gry”. I started off with an order of 10 wings ($6.95). I couldn’t make my mind up as to which version I wanted so after speaking with Danny (he loves and runs the place) I was steeled on 4 versions. A Parmesan Garlic was my favorite that day (tomorrow my taste buds may want the Cajun more : ) ) they were unbreaded and fried with a bit of the sweetness or the garlic and a hint of saltiness of the parmesan.The Cajun was a medium butter sauce base with Cajun spices that was very good also. Wrapping it up was the Hot garlic and the hot traditional wings. both were quite good with the taste we are used to with hot wings. The exception being the sauce was a mite bit thicker, clinging to the meaty wings better.
As Matt was cooking my pizza (taking about 20 mins. ) Danny came out to visit with me. I was able to find out of his love for fishing and also his love of food. One of the ways he relayed this was saying, “I love feeding people” . I have come to believe that those loving what they do tend to be better at it than someone that just does stuff for a check.
Then comes the main event…pizza. It was a small supreme ($16) which is large enough to stuff two or to feed three.The crust had just a bit of a light crunch to it. There was ample cheese to it (as witnessed by the string of cheese in the pic) and all the vegetables were fresh. The sweet Italian sausage is home-made and all the other meats (pepperoni, bacon, ham) were piled high. I can not say when the last time was when I enjoyed a pizza so much…wait!…yes I can… the last time I ate here about one month ago.
I had no room to finish off the meal with desert (as we did the last time there) but I can tell you the Lemoncello Mascarpone cake is fabulous as well as the Italian Rum (who knew they distilled rum? : ) ) cake. I am told the brownie is quite the treat also.
Italian sausage sandwich and Italian beef sandwich is on the menu as well and even though I know I will have to try them one day, I will be hard pressed to omit ordering pizza too.
Not the easiest to find as it is stuck in the corner of the center, but well worth the drive
I do have one minor complaint. Amidst the standard music related to “The City With Big Shoulders” such as Blues Brothers “Soul Man” and various renditions of “Chicago”, I did hear Jay Z/Alicia Keys “Empire state of Mind”, that’s just not right!…I believe they have that corrected now.
I was in town and decided I’d follow up with an Italian beef sandwich. It is difficult for me to go there and not get pizza but I showed restraint. I did however order some of the garlic parmesan garlic wings and they were just as good as before.
When the sandwiches arrived I was pleased to see that two had been made. Since I had said “make it like you like your sandwich” one had grilled onions and bell peppers (enough such that they were soft and sweet) and the other also added mozzarella cheese. The 1/3 pound, or so, of thinly sliced Sirloin tip steak was piled high in a 6 inch roll. Upon the first bite the predominate flavor was the beef (as it should be), the nice, lean, juicy,tender beef. Not a bit of gristle or fat to be found. There was a hint of italian spices but nothing at all overpowering. This was all about the beef. There were sufficient onions and bell peppers but just enough to compliment the beef which is the main attraction. The side The one with cheese was placed in the oven to melt the cheese which dried the bread just a bit but it allowed it to pick up more of the juice. Again, not disappointed but rather very pleased. And the cost of this taste of Chicago?… only $5.50
At the recent Florida Fly Fishing Conclave I was able to meet up with Capt Craig Crumbliss with Andy Thornal’s in Winter Haven. I had previously met Craig at the store and he had volunteered to help us with OSW in taking wounded vets fly fishing in fresh water. He was raised in South Florida and has been fly fishing freshwater for over fifteen years. I had seen on Facebook where he had just published his first book. I was very pleased to get one of the first copies to review for you here. Upon returning home I got started reading immediately.
The book is a small paperback consisting of 85 pages but don’t let that fool you. There is a goodly bit of information in this book. I found the reading easy and the format quite simple (a good thing for me). In the first section of the book the Largemouth bass is featured as the primary target species here for fresh water and numerous characteristics of the fish were given.
The fly fishing gear and fly casting instructions were given and even a number of fly recommendations were listed. Furthermore, detailed food sources were listed in order to assist with fly selection (including one suggestion to bring scissors and pens to more closely “match the hatch”).
The last portion of the book covers seventeen locations in Central Florida where you can fly fish from land. As I was reading of these locations, I was thinking to myself of other locations I know of that have like features. I’m sure you can think of others in your area.
After having read this book, I now have the desire to try out some of the bodies of fresh water just a few blocks from my house. I think you might also.
The book sells for $9.95 and is available here
Being a “Good Son of the South”, I consider myself to know a bit about fried chicken like Capt Willy . I had to go to NC recently and took the time to stop by Barefoot’s Country Store & Grill on Highway 701 just 4 miles east of I-95 just south of Smithfield, NC.
To my notion, Barefoot’s has the best fried Chicken available to mankind. The first time I had it was at family event where it was catered. Even though it was not just pulled out of the fryer, it was mighty fine to me.
Normally I am a wings and legs man but to truly “test” the true characteristics of the bird I chose to get the white meat. My additional selections were freshly boiled and mashed potatoes (still with some lumps in them) and gravy plus onion rings all for $6. I couldn’t decide what I wanted to drink so I got both the tea and the Cheerwine (a local cherry flavored soft drink). Additional choices are Brunswick Stew (a tomato based chicken stew with the vegetable garden thrown in), green beans, fried okra,fried squash (in season), both french fries and wedges,potato salad and finally cole slaw. Meat Selections include NC pork BBQ(meat,salt, crushed red pepper and vinegar…that’s all), fried or grilled pork chops, chicken liver or gizzards, Hamburger steakmbeef stew, country style steak and fried shrimp,oysters, scallops, flounder (my cousin says it is the “best ever”), trout,or mullet. Hamburgers,Carolina Packer hotdogs, BBQ and other sandwiches are available too. This is true “Down East” Carolina cookin’.
Upon tearing into the breast, I found the skin to be light, crisp and not too crunchy. I am not certain he doesn’t mix in a bit of rice flour. The seasoning was light but upon looking at the crust it had a goodly bit of pepper to it. This was a bit surprising to me as I usually like the spicier chicken at Popeye’s (for mass production fried chicken). The white meat of the breast was very moist yet done. For those of you that remember the broasted chicken from the old Burger Queen it was reminiscent of that.There was a freshness of the meat that is not common to most restaurants (or country stores : ) ). It may have to do with the availability of very fresh chicken in the area. Shoot! For all I know that chicken could have been scratchin’ in the yard just 30 minutes prior. The mashed potatoes had a few lumps to them and was like velvet slipping down my goozle. The corn meal hush puppies were somewhat sweet and had just a hint of onion to them. The onion rings were lightly battered (not dusted) and even though that was the case it did not overwhelm the sweetness of the onion. They were not at all greasy.
I was a bit slow on the draw and missed out on the homemade carrot cake with cream cheese icing but did eat some of Miss Vivian’s Apple Jack. They are a bit like empanadas and this one was made from dried apple, sugar and cinnamon. I did enjoy it but I could have had another chicken wing in place of the desert.
I know there will be other things I need to try there such as the BBQ and the fried flounder and other seafood, it sure will be hard to order anything other than that chicken.
For the people that already know about William Joseph fly fishing equipment you probably know all about this since “Willy Joe” is reknown for innovative thinking and quality products. However I am very new to actually fly fishing but have stolen ideas and a product or two (conceptually) to incorporate in my stalking the flats with spinning gear.
My initial interest was in an infrared themometer they had (more on that later with a future review). Paul with “Willy Joe” told me right before he hung up that he was going to include a little something extra that they just got in. A few days later I got in the brown box. My surprise was the chest pack. For a couple of months I carried it around some of the trade shows we did and it was the main attention getter. People would walk up and ask “Where is that chest pack?” You see, one thing that sets it apart from other packs is that there are no zippers to be destroyed. The pack closes (quite securely thank you) using magnets which allows you to open and close it with a flip of the finger (no, not that “flip of the finger” but a kinder, gentler gesture).
I found the case to be waterproof and easy to access anything in it without it getting in the way of casting or fighting a fish. Easy to get on and off and is quite adjustable and comfortable. It is very light and comes as durable as you would expect anything from William Joseph.
I wanted to forward the company’s warranty simply because I believe it to be one of the best in the business, but you already know that, don’t you?
General Warranty: The William Joseph warranty is as straight forward as it gets. We don’t care if you bought it at a garage sale, whether or not you have a receipt, if you backed over it with your car, or your dog chewed it up. As long as it remains repairable we will fix it for free, no questions asked.
If our product does not far exceed your expectations at every level, we will give you your money back. Let’s face it, if you are annoyed it is for a reason and regardless of what that is, if we don’t make it right we lose.
We don’t do this so you will never have to buy another product, (that would be dumb) quite frankly it is just the opposite. When you have absolute confidence that whatever you buy from us will bring you more pleasure than the cash you handed over, you will buy more and more Willy J, and then we all win.
River Wear Warranty: Waders will be repaired or replaced at our discretion at no cost to you for the first year after purchase. After the first year, waders will be repaired at a reasonable price. If they cannot be repaired they will be replaced at the following rate( Drynamic: $80.00, V2: $50.00, WST: $100.00, RT Wader: $50.00). Additional shipping fees will be added.
THE FINE PRINT: Hey there had to be some! A registration card must be submitted for clothing and waders with a copy of the sales receipt within 30 days of purchase. Warranty is only valid to the original purchaser.
When I began saltwater fishing seriously (or as seriously as I can be) I read any book I could get my hands on pertaining to the subject. Over 25 years ago there were not as many books on the subject as today. Furthermore the Internet was still a dream for the most of us.
This is the first book review entry to the reviews section that will hopefully turn into a library in the future. Someone asked me a week or two ago “What are your credentials”? Please keep in mind, I am not a professional writer or reviewer. I’m just a guy that loves time on the water and wants to help anyone enjoy this passion, pastime, hobby, or life.
The fist book review I decided to do was “Skinny: How to Fish in Shallow Saltwater” by Capt. Mel Berman with Gary Poyssick.
The cover of the book speaks “skinny fishing” to me with a beautiful picture of tailing reds taken by our own Sam Root. The 217 pages are broken up into three major sections.
The first section is “Fishing where the fish are” and goes into finding structure, planning your trip,positioning your boat and what to look for which gives clues on how to read the water and what the activity of various birds mean.
The second section pertains to preparation for the trip, namely packing for your trip which includes rigging, various lures and their applications, a couple of pages sharing the importance of sun protection and the products that help with that. Finally there is a fairly detailed section on choosing a suitable rod or reel. Since this is such a varied topic this section gives the attributes of various rods and reels as opposed to just saying buy this rod or that rod. It requires the reader to sit down and actually think about what they want giving them the tools to make an informed decision.
The last major part of the book is our favorite – time on the water – and includes using live bait, which has an instructional for tossing a cast net along with the various attributes of those nets plus how to rig live baits.
There are about 24 pages on recognizing the various species we target with photographs some explanation of their characteristics. Snook, reds, trout, tarpon pompano and permit, cobia, ladyfish along with many others are listed. Instructions on how to hook a target fish and what to do in fighting a fish are very helpful reminders even to the advanced angler.
The last 40 or so pages include recipes, a few letters to Capt. Mel asking various fishing questions, current (at print) Florida Fishing Regulations and instructions on how to use Google Earth to find locations where fish my be found.
I found the book to be easy to read and understand and the pictures and diagrams most helpful. I think this is a “must read” for a beginner or even intermediate angler and yet it has the reminders (“I knew that”) that we often forget and some valuable tips for the advanced angler. It can take years off the learning curve. I wish I would have had this book so many years ago. I might would have become a “respectable” fisherman, if such a thing exists.
If you would like to read a chapter of the book you can click here to a link where you could do that and you can even purchase your own copy for your library (or one for a fishing buddy) thru this link. The price of the book is a reasonable $19.99 + tax and if you type in the promotional code SaltyShores you will get the book shipped to you free of shipping charges. If you prefer to go to your local tackle shop for your copy, They are available at The Back Country in Vero Beach,FL., Andy Thornal’s in Winter Haven,FL., Stones’ Outhouse and Big Fish Bait & Tackle in Lakeland, FL. If you are in Tampa or St. Pete most of the better tackle shops are carrying them plus the better shops in Bradenton and Sarasota that also includes Gibsonton and Ruskin and quite a few other locations. If your store doesn’t have it, ask for it.
For whatever reason the link I had no longer work.
To buy the book or have any questions please email the admin:
Some time ago Sammy got some Cortland Master Braid to me from Cortland to test and review. Being thoroughly satisfied with my Stren Super Braid and my Suffix Performance Braid I was somewhat hesitant. He said, “This is the best braid you have never heard of.”
I had some issues with other lines in the past and had found a couple of braid lines that I liked and had confidence in. The other lines either broke or I would consistantly get wind knots from hell.
Being a “team player” I decided I would spool a reel up with it and give it a shot. So I loaded the High Vis yellow 10 lb. test line (a 2 lb. mono equivalent in diameter) up on my Quantum 40. As I loaded it onto the spool I noticed the texture of the line was a mite bit stiffer than the other lines I used. I was concerned with the casting distance but to my pleasure the relative stiffness of the braid really didn’t have any affect on the distance. One concern down, three more to go.
The other concern was the dreaded wind knot. Sometime ago I had my first experience with braid that resulted in taking every bit of braid off all my lines because of knots. I had just begun to untie a knot that looked more like an osprey’s nest as opposed to just a bird’s nest. Off to my left they came….the water column rose up and a band of marrauding reds swam by within casting distance. That is what should have been casting distance if I didn’t have that darn knot. I was made sport of by those reds that day as they mocked me and some even flipped me off with their fins. Sometime after that I “discovered” the Stren and at Sammy’s urgeing I incorporated the Suffux into my arsenal…my wind knots were relatively a thing of the past. Much to my pleasure the Cortland Master Braid did not manage one single knot. Not one. The package says “Twist Free” I believe it. Now, I must admit, I usually close the bail manually just as the lure or bait hits the water but the conditions ranged from very windy (in excess of 25 mph) to quite cold (40’s).
Another concern was would the line break when bringing in a good fish. Now I realize a “Good Fish” is a relative statement. Some time ago on of my Blue Water buddies gave me great ribbing with regards to my “big 26 inch red from my little plastic boat.”
Point well taken. This Courtland did manage to bring in a couple of nice reds about that size and a few sharks a bit larger than that. A couple of times I did see the tailfin slap the braid. It held up. Three down.
The final test is the overall durability of the line. Through those skirmishes the line had not shown any sign of wear… none. Furthermore, Sammy has been using this line since July and sees no wear at all.It looked as it did when I first put it on the spool. Four down.
I was able to get these results from a test that may show clearly what I have been trying to say.
MasterBraid – a picture is worth 75,000 words
As I complete this review the words I had heard before ring in my ears, “This is the best line you have not heard of.” Hopefully, we will change this.
This line passed my tests and I think that it may pass whatever tests you may have for it.
Keep visiting SaltyShores regularly because soon we will be testing their fly lines and also blue water heavy test braid.
About a month ago (mid December) Dale handed me a couple of jigs and said here give these a try. The jigs he handed me were the “Title Shot” jigs from Finn Tech. At first, I wasn’t expecting too much from them. I mean they’re just jigs. Plus I was happy with the jig heads that I was already using. Took all of three fishing trips for me to become a convert.
The first trip consisted of fishing a flat on the south east side of Tampa Bay, looking for redfish. The day was somewhat cool and windy and the fish were hard to find. I decide to use the 3/8 oz jig with a 3” gulp. I spent most of my time dragging the lure through the grass at the edges of pot holes and sand bars. The jig did a great job of gliding through the grass. I only managed to catch two small reds that day but the hooks were so sharp that they practically hooked them selves.
My second trip was down at Siesta Key “Point of Rocks”. The fish love to hang out in the sandy areas between the rows of rocks and I have lost many a jig head there. I spent a couple of hours working this jig with a DOL cal tail. I didn’t catch any fish that day but, because of the weedless design and jig head shape, I also didn’t lose any jigs.
A couple of days later I was back to my favorite Tampa Bay flat looking for reds again when I hooked into a perfect 26 and 7/8” red. The cool water made this red extra feisty and it gave me a great fight. After the fight when I examined the jig, it was in perfect condition. Not the slightest bend to the hook. Now they have got my attention.
At this point I needed to learn more so I headed over to their web site www.jigfish.com and grabbed up some info.
Available in 1/16 (2/0 hook), 1/8, 3/16 (3/0 hook), 1/4, 3/8, 1/2 (4/0 hook) and 3/4 (5/0 hook) sizes and four HOT bass-n colors.
While at their site I also noticed that they were selling a Title Shot Skip jig. I wasn’t really sure how much a jig could help with skipping under the mangroves but I had to order a couple to find out. I also wanted to order some more of the original Title shot jigs in different colors.
Ordering from their site was easy enough and the jigs were at my house in ____ days
To be continued when the jigs arive………
I have owned numerous headlamps over the years. My attitude has been “get the cheapest, it’s just a light”.
Well, my attitude has changed.
Princeton Tec has been making durable quality lights for over 30 years for military and industry including first responders. Most recently they released a very light weight (3.6 oz) headlamp, the EOS Tactical Headlamp for outdoorsmen. The Tac EOS opperates off of standard 3 AAA Lithium or Alkaline batteries with a life of 112 hours. That is a lot of fishing trips! The lamp is 1 Maxbright LED which is powered at 45 lumens. This is in the neighborhood of a 25 watt bulb and at it’s highest setting ( 4 settings – blinking, high, meduim, low) can shine in excess of 60 yards.
In addition the Tac EOS also has an easy-to-change lens filter system designed for specific nighttime activities: red for preserving night vision, blue for blood tracking and green for hunter safety.
When I took it out on the water it did not dissapoint. It was comfortable and lit up the area well. I was apprehensive to test the Level 2 (30 min. under 1 meter of water) waterproof rating because I had some headlamps from other manufactors it the past that were supposedly waterproof that failed miserably. To my delight the lamp still worked.
The cost of these headlamps is around $52 but should be the last headlamp you should have to buy for quite some time.
I’ve decided to post a review of something that is not new, but old.
Years ago I went to Andy Thornal’s in Winter Haven (a wonderful outfitter and fly shop) and picked up a Titanium braid cutter from Fishpond since I was new to braid lines, tired of the nailclippers rusting and did not have any pliers that would cut it. For years that Pitchfork Clipper has hung around my neck by a small cord and has gone on most every trip with me. I called Fishpond and they informed me that the Titanium now was unavaible because it was cost prohibative at about $75 each. They sent me the other model made of aluminum which is the same design as mine.
The design is simple being a 1/2 inch aluminum tube about 3 inches long with stainless steel cutters that are replaceable (in all the years I have owned mine I have never had to replace them). I have used them to cut 80# flouro and 50# braid with never an issue. Another useful application is to use the holes in the cutter to put your hooks in to cinch down knots. Just a great tool, simple in design, well made construction and durable materials. The suggested retail price is $22.
Another clipper they sent to me is their Aussie Clipper. It is made of plastic and has a stainless steel cutter that I used to cut braid even though it was mentioned to only cut mono or flouro. Also secured to me by a cord around my neck or a zinger attached to me. One of the signs to me that a company is concerned with quality is “what is their least expensive product like?” The cost for this cutter is only $8.95 very lightweight, does what it is supposed to do and would be an excellent stocking stuffer.