Edges of Oceans

Odd, don’t you think, that we only ever hear of the Pacific Rim? I mean, why not an Atlantic Ocean Rim, or a Mediterranean Rim? A Mediterranean Rim makes way more sense, given that it’s an enormously smaller body of water, and all the cultures on the rim have been invading, conquering, dominating, fighting and competing for millenia. Their food is all related somewhere in the mists of antiquity too, making a fusion much more palatable.

This is the nub of my only discomfort about PR: the whole fusion thing. Not that it’s their fault. Food media and chefs looking for a niche created the idea of blending cuisines, so that what began as an awkward marketing tool tumbled into the mainstream, where it now resides.

Facts, as always, are my downfall. First off, Thailand is much closer to the Indian Ocean that the Pacific Ocean. Why it is even considered a part of the Pacific Rim is a mystery. Secondly, if you wanted to find two more opposed cuisines, it would be hard to beat mixing and matching – fusing, presumably – Thai and Japanese. In history, geography, language, culture, media, politics, arts, literature, religion, technology, sensibility…practically any sphere you care to name, the Thais and the Japanese have little in common. And a country’s food is nothing if not an expression of all these elements. Fusing Moroccan and Spanish, I get. Italian and Greek, sure. But Pad Thai and Sushi?

Like I said, that’s my problem, not Pacific Rim’s.

Pacific Rim is that rare establishment in Sarasota, a place that feels big-city. The ambience is polished and grown-up. It smells like a destination, rather than somewhere to merely fuel-up. The food is acceptable for the price if not stellar, my fellow-diners giving it 3 to 3.5 stars. The tip to four stars was for a genial and friendly hostess, who actually smiled and communicated as if it weren’t a chore, and the delightful lady from Osaka who served us with grace and aplomb.

Thank you both.

My Egg

Forewarned is forearmed. An early hint should be taken as the gift it is. When a restaurant’s front door has a notice taped to the inside “Cooks Wanted” the best outcome is not to fight the message. The smart act is to walk. In the other direction.

Perhaps that’s too judgmental. Logic should be our guide, too. If a restaurant has “egg” and “breakfast” in the name are we expecting too much for the eggs to be expertly cooked? Logic doesn’t work that well, apparently.

And popularity should be some kind of quality indicator, right? Lots of patrons normally means something good. Hmmmm. Perhaps not.

My benedict with avocado and bacon was sub-par this morning. The eggs were over-cooked. The bacon was fatty, unevenly cooked and of minute quantity. Instead of English muffin, the base was mini-pancakes. And the hollandaise was somewhere between gloopy and weird.

Many folks apparently think this is all acceptable. My guess is that the bussers were on the line this morning, with predictable results. When a restaurant tells you up front that they have no cook…heed that message. Rely not on logic, popularity or hope. That way lies disappointment.

Never, Ever Enough Coffee Shops

From Pinellas County south, across the mighty Manatee River comes the wagon train of Kahwa Coffee. Sarasota is territory ripe for a higher level of caffeination, so it’s no wonder new settlers are making their way here. This might not be the Oregon Trail but the Skyway Trail will go down in history as one of our lifelines to quality coffee, for which we denizens of this dozy district should be grateful.

The freshest outpost of the Kahwa empire continues their theme of roasting and serving fine to excellent coffee and tasty treats to match. The pared-down semi-industrial space fits nicely with their neighbor across 2nd Street: the Whole Paycheck loading dock. Fear not, it’s actually a neat spot with outdoor seating and a calm interior.

Can we ever have too many top-shelf coffee joints? Yeah, that’s a rhetorical question.