I am a total food geek. This little fact is hardly newsworthy given my publicly known hobby of food blogging. What you may not know, however, is that I take pictures of…well, pretty much everything I consume. It has often frustrated my dining partners, as I allow no one to touch their plate until I’ve achieved an acceptable shot. Half of these pictures will never make a blog post. So, why, you might ask, I “waste” my precious time insisting on the perfect photo of every breakfast, lunch and dinner I eat? Simply put, I “foodspot.” Foodspotting is an international foodie community created and controlled by a company in the culinary heavens of San Francisco. The primary goal is simple: Sharing pictures of excellent food with other foodies who live near…and very, very far. It is best used as an app on a smart phone but can be accessed from the website as well. Posting pictures and exchanging compliments with your “foodie friends” can be quite addicting. The coolest part of it all…I get to see shots of cuisine taken by people who live in India, Greece, Taiwan, Italy and more.
The Foodspotting craze as been gradually spreading. With a more notable presence in some better-known food-loving cities, I've been anxiously waiting for Tampa to get the word of mouth (literally). Without further ado, just a couple of weeks ago, the notorious fare fanatic eatery, Datz Delicatessen, hosted Tampa’s first and official “Food-spotting ‘eat-up.’” Sure, the 15 of us self-proclaimed “foodies” looked down right ridiculous taking shot, after shot, after shot of a single plate of luscious goods but we didn’t care one at all. For every beautiful picture taken, we had several bodacious bites to go with it. The evening was delightfully plentiful; for anyone who dines at Datz knows they are incapable of stinginess.
We were greeted with Prickly Pear Mimosas. Sparkling wine, tangerine-mandarin puree and prickly pear cactus syrup made for one sweet and tangy pre-dinner treat. With a garnish of kiwi and prickly pear cactus, it was as pretty as it was tasty.
The Figgy salad sat patiently for pictures and palates with its components of baby spinach, dried mission figs, Point Reyes Bleu cheese, Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon, red onions and pumpkin seeds. The earthiness and crunch of the seeds contrasted so nicely with the amazingly sweet, chewy figs and the intense, creamy bleu cheese. Dressed in a warm bacon vinaigrette, this salad was simply showing off.
Up next was a course appropriately named, “Gluttonous Delights.” Gluttony certainly did exist at this table when we stopped snapping shots to devour the Mac Bites. Jalapeno and crispy Benton’s Tenessee smoked bacon infused mac-n-cheese comes rolled, battered and deep fried for a true carnival conceived creation. Dipping these balls of cheese and meat in Sriracha aioli just takes them to a whole new level of decadence.
Also included in the “Gluttonous Delights” course: “When Pigs Fly” or a flite of various “breeds” of bacon to be exact. Going down the bacon line: Benton’s Tennessee hickory smoked bacon, jowl bacon, back bacon, peppered bacon & Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon served with balsamic glaze, maple syrup, red chili pepper jam, and Vosges chocolate. Wilber and Piglet…you have my deepest apologies for that one.
Continuing to spoil us like rotten little grandchildren, Datz offered the next course to their faithful fans. “Deep South Datz Style” began with the best dark liquor drink I’ve ever sipped…correction, gulped. Going down the pipes so smoothly, this beauty was made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, fresh lemon and local honey syrup. Lip-smacking libation, right there.
Photo courtesy I Run For Wine
To cancel out the smooth and sweet, we were served up some spicy Creole Shrimp and Grits. Having devoured this dish many times before, I knew I’d feel giddy with each bite. Plump and tender Gulf shrimp come perfectly placed on a bed of Anson Mills antebellum white grits and sautéed spinach with a delectable topping of grated smoked gouda and kicked up, red based Creole sauce. Quite possibly my favorite Datz dish!
This dinner affair would never end. There would be no complaints about its lavishness either. Up next…a course simply called: “Waffles and Beer.” Aged six weeks in a freshly decanted bourbon barrel, the Kentucky Bourbon Barrel ale was rich in its notes of bourbon. As its companion, Waffles-n-tweet were looking as scrumptious as ever. Boneless fried chicken tenders came stacked high next to their cheddar Belgian waffle counterparts. Sautéed spinach to their side as well as jalapeno-Maple syrup, this plate had decadent written all over it. Flawlessly crisp, the chicken made best friends with those waffles.
At Last, the final savory course was upon our stuffed stomachs. “Classics Our Way” was a sandwich and cocktail combination that would surely put me in a food coma. The “Havana Hottie” is a spin on the classic Cuban. A sandwich I’ve deemed fantastic every time I’ve ordered it, this time was no different. Datz housemade Mojo pulled pork pairs up with baked ham, Swiss cheese and honeycup mustard. Served on hot house-baked batard, the Havana Hottie gives sandwich lovers two things the traditional Cuban cannot provide: heat and crunch. The honeycup mustard is spiked with horseradish and the batard has an awesome crunch.
Between sandwiches, since I am do damn special, I sipped on a special preview: the Barrel Aged El Presidente. Whoa. Sugary and dangerously intense, this risky little number is barrel aged in house and includes Prichard’s Crystal Rum, Dry Vermouth, Rhum Clement Creole shrub and grenadine. It about threw me for a loop. Okay, it totally threw me for a loop.
Another special preview, another classic made their way: I present to you: “Crunchy Grilled Cheese,” the ultimate vegetarian option. The plain Jane yellow goo filled sandwich isn’t so plain (and fake) anymore. Extra sharp cheddar & quick pickled cabbage/carrots/zucchini are sautéed in sesame oil and served on grilled, sesame-crusted, house-baked sourdough. Whew, talk about a sweet spin on a classic.
Dessert, ahhh, dessert!!!! The time had come. “Sweet Finish” was not only our last course, it was our under-cover, behind the scenes tour into the soon to be opened, “Dough.” Before we walked through the construction zone for our own private sneak peak and doughnut making class, we were indulged with Housemade gelato- a medley of Lavender-honey, red-velvet and salted curry caramel gelato scoops. Words just cannot express the harmonious union these flavors made. Go get this gelato…like now. You can thank me later.
I was head over heels stoked to walk into Datz’s newest project: "Dough." A casual bakery and dessert store by day and a swanky dessert room at night, I have no doubt “Dough” will be one seriously successful (and sweet) business venture. As they cut the yellow tape, they privileged us to an extra special unveiling. To pamper us even more, we ate fresh, hot doughnuts adorned with whatever toppings our hearts desired. I created a dark chocolate iced, bacon sprinkled beauty for my viewing pleasure. For I was far too full to eat even another morsel.
What I preconceived a Foodspotting “Eat-up” was truly so much more. Datz did it again, per usual. They just can’t help themselves-spoiling the foodie community with an abundance of glorious goodies is what these owners do best. Thank you Datz for one notable “eat-up” experience. It will not be forgotten.