Next weekend’s Super Bowl Sunday is the second-biggest eating day on the American calendar, a celebration of classic tailgating fare.
But hands off the nachos and wings for now. There are some wildly different foods in our area, if you just know where to look.
Gizzards have a bad rap. They can be tough, they’re purple and they often just get thrown away. They’re the part of the chicken’s digestive tract that grinds up her food. Very useful for the chicken, but why should we eat them?
Really, the only thing remotely wrong with gizzards is that they’re high in cholesterol.
Dan Terrill of Punta Gorda, one of our bolder local diners, once swore, “Gizzards can be amazingly tender and flavorful, intensely chicken-y and unctuous, without a hint of organ taste.”
On any given day, you could be putting away fried gizzards like there’s no tomorrow at Mini City, the food truck parked behind Englewood’s Beach Discount Liquors.
Chef-owner Glen Wilson knows how to cook them right.
Mini City ($), 937-733-0289, 1600 S. McCall Road behind Beach Discount Liquors, is open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday to 5 p.m.
PAH-sties, not PASTE-ies
The edible pasty has absolutely nothing to do with tasseled cover-ups and everything to do with Cornish miners, who carried the little hot pockets off to work with them.
Bundles of meat and veggies baked into dense, crimped turnovers, the hearty handfuls got the workingmen of Cornwall through a hard day’s toil, with the need for neither utensils nor reheating. The pasty’s density kept it warm, and its crimped edge provided a built-in handle, disposable after contamination from metal-tainted fingers.
You can try this historic dish at two local restaurants: The Celtic Ray Public House ($), 145 E. Marion Ave., Punta Gorda, and the Pasty Shop ($), 180 N. Indiana Ave., Englewood, which specializes in a wide variety of pasties, homemade soups and desserts.
Pasty Shop owner Pamela Woodcock Forst caters to both the British pasty preference — served with dipping gravy — and the “Yooper,” from Michigan’s U.P. (Upper Peninsula), where pasties call for ketchup.
The Ray serves less-traditional versions: spicy beef, Breton chicken, classic Cornish, veggie, tandoori, Reuben and Guinness bacon cheeseburger.
A bone to pick
In Polish homes, bone marrow is a delicacy to be fought over. Late food writer Anthony Bourdain once called the Roast Bone Marrow and Parsley Salad at London’s St. John restaurant his “death-row meal.”
After devising the recipe, Chef Richard Howze, now at Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm ($$) in North Fort Myers, described his roast bone marrow at Punta Gorda’s Leroy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar ($-$$) as “God’s butter! Just spread it on a crostini with a little garlic confit and Florida salt. It’s like a whole steak in one bite.”
Ackee — it’s what’s for breakfast
Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery & Grill ($) — 1825 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte (Save-a-Lot plaza) — serves any number of uniquely Caribbean dishes.
If you want something even more exotic than oxtail, there’s the Jamaican national breakfast: ackee and saltfish.
Mind you, if IHOP were to serve a breakfast special of salted mackerel with fruit that, unripe, is highly toxic, demand wouldn’t be overwhelming.
Thankfully, well-prepared ackee has the look and feel of scrambled eggs and is indescribably heavenly when mixed with salt cod, peppers and onions.
You can even add a distant relative of the pasty to your Jamaican breakfast. The patty evolved from pasties that immigrated to the islands during the colonial era.
Patsy’s Caribbean Delight ($), 320 Tamiami Trail, Port Charlotte, also serves ackee and saltfish for breakfast on Sundays, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Ever since Placida’s Blue Lagoon Restaurant closed its doors, we haven’t seen the like of its Crabby Mary — an eye-popping Bloody Mary topped with a fried soft-shell crab, two olives for eyes and jumbo-shrimp as claws.
Inspired by a regular who loved him a Bloody Mary and some shrimp, Burg’r Bar’s Chef Hector Romero whipped up a quart-size concoction that should be shared to be safe.
A jarful of three Bloodys is garnished with two crispy bacon strips, four bacon-wrapped scallops, two jumbo blackened shrimp and two lobster tails, along with pepperoncini, green bean, Spanish olive, cocktail pickle and roasted jalapeno skewers.
Order it at least 24 hours in advance for $40, or watch for manager Chris Mandile’s promised $18 version with slider and shrimp.
Burg’r Bar ($-$$), 941-655-8050, 317 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, is open Sunday to Thursday 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 10 p.m.
Portions of this column originally appeared in 2016. Send restaurant and bar news and recommendations to columnist Sue Wade at email@example.com. Average price ranges are $ = inexpensive (under $10), $$ = moderate ($11-$30), and $$$ = pricey (over $30), including tip and beverage.