Thursday, May 21, 2015

Summer Guide 2015: ReFILL - Bay area summer booze fests

Stay hydrated.

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 2:55 PM

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Whether you’re into sipping Rum Runners, IPAs or a PBR, the region’s summer drink festivals have something for everyone. Except for Margarita Wars, which happens on a Thursday, all of the events below take place on Saturdays.

May 23: Tampa Bay Margarita Festival. Ranging from classic to extreme, drink your way through an impressive lineup of margaritas at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Smash Mouth, the fest’s headlining band, and others will showcase live tunes throughout the day, and later the gathering will come to a close with a massive fireworks show. A VIP tasting experience, tequila sampling and food will also be featured. Tickets are available in advance through Ticketfly. $17-$85. Noon-11 p.m. 600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, 813-274-8615,

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Summer Guide 2015: ReSERVE - Bay area restaurant openings

Many more food & drink joints are scheduled to join the area's long list of great restaurants this summer.

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2015 at 2:42 PM

Sushi, Sanuki udon noodles and fish yakitori are among Souzou's culinary visions. - SOUZOU
  • souzou
  • Sushi, Sanuki udon noodles and fish yakitori are among Souzou's culinary visions.

A fresh lineup of destinations is set to light up the Bay area food and drink scene throughout the summer, some as early as this month.

Cage Brewing. R Bar brewpub owner Robert Hughes plans to premiere Cage Brewing, a production facility and tasting room at 2001 First Ave. S. in downtown St. Pete, in late July or early August. Head brewer Eric Richardson has created R Bar Brewing’s craft brews for two years, and will lead the beer-making at the new Grand Central District brewery as well. According to Richardson, at least 10 beers will be offered on opening day.

Central Melt. St. Pete will get Tampa Bay’s first grilled cheesery around August, Central Melt, in an 800-square-foot space at 685 Central Ave. Diners can expect sandwich mash-ups like basil, tomato, mozzarella and garlic butter as well as wine, St. Pete beers, counter seating, a stand-and-eat shelf and a small outdoor patio. The owner is Ed Allen.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Gas guzzlers: The best food from Tampa fuel stations

Chicken and waffles, Caribbean grub and more at Tampa gas stops.

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Sligh Petrol Mart, where the biscuits are made fresh every morning. - CHIP WEINER
  • chip weiner
  • Sligh Petrol Mart, where the biscuits are made fresh every morning.

Tampa isn’t big on street food (though street food-style restaurant projects have been cropping up as of late), probably because so many of of us spend so much time in our cars. And while food trucks get trotted out for festivals and other special events, they’re not a part of daily life for all.

The region does have its own kind of folk cuisine catering to the road mentality, though. In gas stations throughout the area, you’ll find kitchens tucked behind the candy racks and scratch-offs, dishing up excellent, filling, affordable fare that sees busy people through their days.
I’m not talking about chains hawking shrink-wrapped sandwiches (though I almost never pass up a RaceTrac burrito). Everything on this where-to-stop list is made to order, and most of the operations are locally owned.

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Wolfing it down: The hot & the sweet at Kojak's House of Ribs

A Tampa institution brings a mixed bag to the table.

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 12:43 PM


Fang ratings

5 fangs: Howl at the Moon
4 fangs: Slam Dunk
3 fangs: Roof-Riding Good
2 fangs: Teen Wolf Too
1 fang: Worse than Tony’s Liquor
SQUEEZE PLAY: The band members, er, teammates test the toppings. - DRUNKCAMERAGUY
  • drunkcameraguy
  • SQUEEZE PLAY: The band members, er, teammates test the toppings.

Tucked away among old oak trees on Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa is Kojak’s House of Ribs. The family-owned and operated business has been serving barbecue out of the converted bungalow since 1978. We had the choice of dining inside or outside on the big veranda, but on this hot and rainy evening we decided to head indoors.

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Restaurant review: Wildflower Cafe delivers on the details

From classic brunch to homemade desserts, a Clearwater gem shines.

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 12:30 PM

The Wildflower Triple. - LISA MAURIELLO
  • lisa mauriello
  • The Wildflower Triple.

“Here’s to the ladies who lunch,” proclaims legendary Broadway composer Stephen Sondheim. This is what runs through my mind surveying the crowd as I endure the 30-minute wait for a recent weekday lunch at Wildflower Cafe. The casual yet upscale atmosphere clearly lures oodles of gal pals to nosh and share the latest news from up and down the adjacent Pinellas Trail.

Tucked away under the oak trees in Clearwater, just northeast of what will soon be the remains of the Belleview Biltmore, this charming café is shrouded in the back corner of a Wedgewood-blue office building fronted by a bank off S. Fort Harrison. But as you approach from the rear parking lot, colorful plants, a covered deck and a curved blue cloth awning with white wrought iron curlicues welcome you.

Even though the cuisine is simple on the surface — after all, it’s just breakfast, salads and sandwiches since the café shutters in the mid-afternoon — there is a a sense of finesse and attention to detail, as if Martha Stewart were watching and directing the whole operation via Skype.

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Saint Somewhere Brewing Kickstarts new facility/tasting room

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2015 at 11:51 AM


For eight years, Saint Somewhere has been crafting incredible Belgian-inspired farmhouse ales out of the same production facility in a small industrial park in Tarpon Springs. While the space has also been home to a series of bottle trade events and the like, it's not what you could call an ideal place to really savor Saint Somewhere principal Bob Sylvester's flavors; back when Sylvester started producing his beer, taprooms weren't really en vogue among small production craft breweries, as they are now.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Squealing good: Out of the Pot throws pig roast benefit

Head to West Bay Public House in Largo Sunday for Out of the Pot's $10 pig roast for a cause.

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2015 at 5:06 AM

For Memorial Day weekend, get in on the Largo-based Out of the Pot's Cuban-style whole pig roast from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Held at West Bay Public House, the culinary affair will begin serving its grub around 2, and plans to donate its proceeds to the Children's Burn Foundation Of Florida.

A $10 admission ticket, which locals may snag online or from West Bay, comes with one plate of food, entry into the event's several raffles and a $5 donation to the foundation.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

St. Pete Beer Project returns with liquid art in June

A beer and art lounge, home-brew tasting and more to be highlighted at next month's Beer Project.

Posted By on Mon, May 18, 2015 at 6:03 AM

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The Museum of Fine Arts and Green Bench Brewing Co.'s annual two-day Beer Project kicks off from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 12, at the museum with a "Beer + Art Lounge" showcasing MFA collection-inspired beers from local breweries, including 7venth Sun Brewery and Pair O' Dice Brewing Co.

Guests will experience the offerings throughout the evening in addition to food and music.

Entry to the lounge experience costs $60, while tickets for the the home-brewed beer tasting that runs noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 13, are $35. 

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Friday, May 15, 2015

The chocolate chip cookie that has, well, everything

Celebrate Chocolate Chip Cookie Day with this recipe from Jeff Martin's Buttercream Dreams.

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 6:02 AM

  • Andrews McMeel Publishing
Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, friends. If you're not sure what to bake, Jeff Martin, founder of the Smallcakes cupcakery franchise (there are three in Tampa Bay), shares a glorious recipe for the beloved confection in his cookbook, Buttercream Dreams.

Putting a spin on the traditional formula, Martin combines mini marshmallows and chocolate chips with cornflakes to create what he calls "pure magic." If you're more of a chocolate chunks kind of person, go ahead and substitute, and if this cookie isn't quite your style, check out these other sweet renditions, including one that's vegan-friendly.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

USF St. Pete Brewing Arts Program offers knowledge on tap

3 Daughters and USFSP plan to launch the state's first Brewing Arts Program in fall.

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2015 at 3:47 AM

The pilot program will teach the ins and outs of running a brewery and more. - JAMES OSTRAND
  • James Ostrand
  • The pilot program will teach the ins and outs of running a brewery and more.

After establishing a craft brewing internship through the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, 3 Daughters Brewing in St. Pete is laying the groundwork for the pilot USFSP Brewing Arts Program, set to launch in fall.

According to Frank Biafora, dean of the college of arts and sciences, the six-month program — which will grant students USFSP-issued certificates of completion rather than degrees — is the first of its kind in Florida. The courses will discuss everything from the technology and science of brewing to its art and business aspects, including perspectives from distribution companies and brewery owners.

“I’m thrilled about it because it’s one of those things that matches so well with our community,” Biafora says.

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