Sunday was bright and HOT on Siesta Key outside Sarasota, FL. My family has been coming to Siesta Key for many, many years for vacation. It offers a rare taste of old Florida - a Florida free from Spring Breaks, massive hotels and condominiums, and chaos. My only beef with Siesta Key has always been that the best you could do for BBQ down here was Sonny's. For those of you from somewhere other than the Southeast, Sonny's is our BBQ equivalent of McDonald's. Let's just say they have great sweet tea. So, I almost jumped out of the car when I was cruising through the Siesta Key village and I spotted a beautiful plume of white hickory smoke, a large trailer smoker, and sign that said "BBQ".
Perry's Original Roadside BBQ Catering was stationed outside the Salty Dog in Siesta Key vending some delicious pulled pork, spare ribs, and smoked chicken. The picture you see was a simple and delicious pork sandwich that I got for a mere $6.00. I also sampled a rib, which was equally wonderful. Perry is running a family operation. His daughter served me my sandwich and gave me some of the back story on the operation. Her dad has been cooking BBQ a long time and is a fixture in the Sarasota restaurant community. She's been helping him build the business for many years. Since Perry has clearly mastered the production of top notch BBQ, he has set his sights (with some guidance and support from his daughter) on the BBQ sauce market. I found Perry's sauce to be just down-right great. In the fifteen minutes that I hung out with these folks, I saw several customers come up for their second serving of ribs or pulled pork and they all remarked how much they enjoyed the sauce. So, if you are a sauce hound, I suggest you follow the link above to Perry's site and order yourself some of his stuff. You won't be sorry.
In all, this was a great way to kick off my South Florida vacation. I met some great people who love what they do and I got to sample some knockout BBQ. If you are down in the Sarasota area, make every effort to find Perry and get yourself some.
Among the other great finds of the day was some red sweet corn that I picked up at the local Publix. I'm not sure if this is a regional variant of corn or if I've just been missing out, but this stuff is gorgeous looking and tastes great. I grilled my corn as part of a tomato/basil garnish. I'll be boiling a couple more ears tomorrow to see if I can coax a little more gentle texture out of it. But, this stuff looks great on the plate and tastes equally delicious. I don't know if this corn is widely available or even popular, but I think many chefs would be inclined to use it on their dishes for purely presentational purposes. As you can see in the photo, it really has a striking appearance.
I served my red sweet corn over my final find of the day. A visit to Walt's fish market introduced me to the Hog Snapper, which is apparently a close cousin to standard red snapper. I thought to myself " Hog Snapper? Pig meets Fish? I'm in!" The fish monger told me it's his favorite go-to fish when he cooks, so I knew I had to try it. Sadly, the fish doesn't taste like BBQ, but it is wonderful it its own way. Hog Snapper seems to be just slightly more buttery and delicate than regular red snapper. I garnished our filets with a simple relish of fresh tomato, basil, shallots, olive oil, red sweet corn, and salt and pepper. It was wonderfully fresh and light.
Coming soon - a follow up visit to Walt's Fish Market and a thorough investigation of smoked mullet.