No worries, mate. Team Tyson is still alive and kicking. We just had to hibernate for the winter, kind of how this bear should after spitting in the face of fate. At any rate, if we’re posting then you know we had a weekend full of good eating. Throw in the fact that it was Memorial Day Weekend, you know we we got a little ignorant. Where did this ignorance take place, you ask? Why Tampa, FL my good sir. Because Mrs Tyson’s birthday occurred last week, I thought it would be cool to drive down to Tampa and partake of some tasty cuisine. Obviously, she agreed. She agreed so vociferously that she stayed up one night until 2:00 AM looking up Tampa restaurants. I woke up the next morning to about 20 emails detailing 20 different Tampa restaurants. This girl was ret-ta-go. And so was I, so we skedaddled down to middle Florida.
Well, we didn’t exactly skedaddle. It was more of a mini road trip. It wasn’t a drive to Montreal, but it was long enough for Team Tyson to prepare with the requisite accoutrements. Tortilla chips, oatmeal pies, Fiber One bars, and mango juice found their way into our cooler. We’ve become quite adept at planning for road trips. If we don’t travel in style, we surely travel in comfort. Consequently, the ride down to Tampa was rather comfortable even though our stomachs had begun to growl. The first stop on our magic carpet ride was La Lechonera.
The missuses got a wild hair to scope out Puerto Rican BBQ, specifically “lechon.” One of THE favorite dishes of Puerto Rico, lechon traditionally is suckling pig roasted over charcoal. Let me repeat that. Suckling pig roasted over charcoal. We’d heard that La Lechonera possessed some of the best lechon in Tampa, so we gave them a try. Funny thing happened when we walked in, though. We were greeted with about 50 dishes that ALL looked good and were crazy inexpensive. The restaurant is setup cafeteria style, so you can see all the food items. All I saw, I wanted. As we scanned the menu, looking utterly befuddled and confused, we hung in the back letting customers go ahead of us. We debated back and forth as if our next breath depended on the outcome. After about 15 minutes of hemming and hawing, we finally made a decision.
That would be Lechon a la barita, black beans over yellow rice and fried plantain.
And that would be Castillo de cerdo, red beans over white rice, and yuca w/garlic sauce.
Yeah. I’m just gonna let those images sink in for a minute. Done salivating? Cool. BUT HOW DID IT TASTE?!?! Man, look. The lechon was tender, juicy, and tasty. AND there were several pieces of pork skin that were crunchy, fatty, unctious, and otherworldy. I don’t have the requisite communication skills to relay how awesome that skin was. Just know that my stomach was exploding and I wanted even more. Moving on, the black beans and rice were great and the plantains were damn near burnt…which made them stupendous!
The castillo de cerdo (ribs) were tender like how your Uncle June June used to do. The sauce was tangy with a hint of mustard. My wife doesn’t eat red beans. She tore the frame out of these red beans. So there you go. Last but not least, we must talk about the yuca with garlic sauce. If you’ve never had yuca before, it’s sort of like a potato. Yuca is good, but whoever’s grandmother is working in the back whipped up a garlic sauce that made me see the light. It was the PERFECT compliment to the yuca. It was so good, right now I’m missing it like I miss my hairline. It’s that serious. And if you don’t believe the food was trump tight?
This was by far one of the best meals I’d had in months. I needed the jaws of life to get me out of the booth, and a wheelbarrow to get back to the car. But it was soooooo worth it. Keep in mind that this was only the start of our trip. Many more adventures lie ahead. Be sure to stay tuned.