Monday, January 19, 2015

Weekend Eats : Tapas, Sushi & Brunch

[ Snapped from a parking structure: A view of the waterfront and pier in downtown St. Pete. ]

This is almost embarrassing to reflect on, but this past weekend was most certainly a weekend of eating. We sort of back-slid on our resolution to cut back on eating out. But sometimes, life comes in and changes your plans. When friends invite you to gather over a meal, who are we to say no?

On Saturday, G and I made our way downtown to the Saturday Morning Market to pick up some fresh veggies for the week. But let it be known: Don't go to the market hungry! Because if you do, you will want to eat and/or buy every delicious-looking thing in sight. Like a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie as big as your head. A homemade chicken pot pie for later. Garlicky jarred spreads. And then, finally, the veggies we came for. At least we can feel good about supporting local small businesses, yes? For the record, we did admire (and buy) non-edible things, too, such as handmade jewelry, wine glass charms, hand-thrown pottery and more. (I desperately wanted that gorgeous pink and green platter! But the hubby said we didn't really need it. Sad face.)

After our trip to the market, where we tasted a few things and ate half of the above-mentioned cookie, we decided to get ourselves a proper lunch. The hubs and I decided to give Ceviche another try, since the last time we were there we were fairly tipsy and somehow managed to order all the wrong things. But we had heard good reviews about the tapas restaurant and the outside patios are usually packed with people, so we thought it deserved another shot. We ordered up several small plates, and while we weren't a fan of Ceviche's shrimp ceviche, ceviche de gambas, the other dishes were goodjust not great, and ultimately, we thought, not worthy of the price. The huevos rellenos, or homemade deviled eggs, were tasty, but nothing special. The patatas bravas, fried potatoes in a spicy aioli, were also winners but it is hard to mess up fried spuds. We were most disappointed with the chorizo y pimientos, five types of chorizo sausage in a tomato sauce with roasted peppers and onions. The description should have said five slices of chorizo sausage, because that's all we got. The gambas al ajillo, however, a plate of gulf shrimp tossed in a light but creamy garlic chili sauce that was delivered to us accidentally, was a pleasant surprise. If we were to return to Ceviche, I think we would just sit on the patio, sip sangria and nibble on the complimentary bread served with a yummy pesto dipping sauce, and take in the view and the people passing by. That's the best part.

While at lunch, we got an invitation to join our friends for sushi that night. We met up at Hook's, which is obviously a local favorite judging by the line out the door. I am not big on raw fish, so I ordered the Mexican roll (hold the smelt roe), which is filled with tempura shrimp, asparagus spears and avocado, and served with a streak of Sriracha. My dinner companions ordered much more elaborate and colorful rolls; they really looked beautiful! And everyone cleared their plates so I guess they were a hit.

On Sunday, the hubs dropped me off in downtown St. Pete for a girls' brunch at Lucky Dill. It was a lovely, cool day so we sat outside, sipped our free mimosas and noshed on the New York-style cafe's hearty breakfasts (fried green tomato bennys with avocado and bacon for Laura and I, and the day's special, an apple cinnamon french toast, for Blair).

So while I consumed far too many calories this weekend, I'm going to give myself a pass since it was all in the name of friendship and fun.

How was your weekend?

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