Saturday, August 1, 2015

Five Courses: Third Boca coming to Riverview in fall & more

Construction on Riverview's Boca Kitchen Bar and Market continues, plus more in food and drink.

Posted By on Sat, Aug 1, 2015 at 10:55 PM

The two other Boca locations operate in South Tampa and Winter Park. - CHRIS FASICK
  • Chris Fasick
  • The two other Boca locations operate in South Tampa and Winter Park.

Construction on the third eatery from Boca Kitchen Bar and Market is coming along at the Winthrop Town Centre in Riverview. Neighbors with the Egg & I and Ciccio Cali, the newest Boca is slated to open in fall.

The New American farm-to-table restaurant, whose older siblings are headquartered in South Tampa and Winter Park, will feature a local, organic ingredients, a raw bar and craft cocktails.

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Where Love Grows continues to fight childhood hunger with cooking courses

Five-week culinary camp by Where Love Grows returned to Tampa's Epicurean for its second year.

Posted By on Sat, Aug 1, 2015 at 1:17 PM

Students and chef Max Sherard get ready to bake Oreo chocolate balls. - MATTHEW CRUZ
  • Matthew Cruz
  • Students and chef Max Sherard get ready to bake Oreo chocolate balls.
Where Love Grows, a Tampa nonprofit that's been working to end childhood hunger since December 2010, continued its mission this summer by bringing a cooking class series to the Epicurean Hotel for a second year.

In addition to Victoria's Good Table, which provides home-cooked meals for more than 150 children each month, Where Love Grows' five-week cooking camp teaches kids from Tampa area Boys & Girls Clubs how to create their own culinary masterpieces.

The series began July 7, and the final lesson, led by Epicurean chef Max Sherard, took place Wednesday morning. Sherard gave the children hands-on instruction on how to execute simple recipes like burrito bowls. Vicki Anzalone, founder of Where Love Grows, said the hotel's theater was full every week, drawing returning students and others who plan to attend next year.

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Petition asks two Tampa spots to eliminate shark fin from menus

China Yuan Seafood Restaurant and Hong Kong House's use of shark fin soup is being challenged.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 4:28 PM

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
The title of a new petition on Change.org keeps it simple: "Stop Selling Shark Fin Soup."

Started Friday by a Land O' Lakes resident, the petition addresses two Tampa restaurants — China Yuan Seafood Restaurant and Hong Kong House — for featuring the soup, which is popular in some Asian countries, calling the dish "cruel and unhealthy."

"Please ask China Yuan & Hong Kong House, the only restaurants in the Tampa Bay area that serve shark fin soup, to remove this item from their menus," the campaign says.

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Margarita Wars 2015: A tropical extravaganza

Kat McKenna of Salty's landed her cocktail recipe bragging rights as Tampa Bay's Best Margarita.

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 at 1:31 PM

Cynthia LeGrand from Acropolis (L) crafts her "fresh fruit twist" on a classic. - NICK CARDELLO PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Nick Cardello Photography
  • Cynthia LeGrand from Acropolis (L) crafts her "fresh fruit twist" on a classic.

The stakes were high at the second installment of CL's annual Margarita Wars, where 17 local bartenders showed off their most fantastical margaritas to land their recipe the coveted title of Tampa Bay's Best Margarita.

Cocktails competing in the tropical extravaganza highlighted ingredients like Thai chili, lavender, watermelon, grapefruit and, of course, jalapeño, but Salty's bartender Kat McKenna won the tequila-filled hearts of around 800 guests with her bananas Foster-style creation dubbed, The Foster Child.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cook, craft, create: Food pros gather in Orlando for five-day event

American Culinary Federation's annual convention is drawing national food experts to Orlando.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 3:03 PM

SHEALAH CRAIGHEAD VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Shealah Craighead via Wikimedia Commons
Thursday kicked off the American Culinary Federation's annual national convention and show, Cook. Craft. Create., in Orlando. The event, running through Aug. 3 at the World Center Marriott, will feature National Restaurant Association CEO Dawn Sweeney as its keynote speaker, along with cooking demonstrations and seminars, hands-on workshops, chef battles and a two-day trade show.

Topics like sustainable cooking, food trends, kitchen techniques and more will be presented by the convention's culinary gurus, which include Florida chefs Norman Van Aken of Orlando's Norman's and Cress Restaurant in DeLand's Hari Pulapaka.

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Changes, schmanges: Dunedin dining scene's still got it

Expansions, menu updates, openings and more are impacting Dunedin restaurants.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 10:41 AM

Sea Sea's new industrial-chic bar is the focal point of the main dining room. - MEAGHAN HABUDA
  • Meaghan Habuda
  • Sea Sea's new industrial-chic bar is the focal point of the main dining room.

Dunedin's still got it.

As the waterfront town's dining scene continues to expand and evolve, attracting newbies like Happy's Bayou Bites and Neptune's Bar & Grill, Sea Sea Riders co-owner Sylvia Tzekas says it's the place to be.

"It used to be just us and Bon Appetit," she says. "Everybody's got their own little thing going [now]."

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Dining of the future: Datum grows, helps more local restos with culinary innovation

Sarasota's technology solutions biz Datum is engaging more independent eateries and customers.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 30, 2015 at 4:26 AM

TECHIE TASTES: New tools are changing the way diners and drinkers order. - ZIOSK
  • Ziosk
  • TECHIE TASTES: New tools are changing the way diners and drinkers order.

Head toward your neighborhood coffee bar.

“Hello, are you thirsty?”

Swipe left for “yes” on your smartphone. Keep moving.

Arrive and walk inside to pay for your latte order, which was prepared by the barista as you got closer.

This kind of proximity-aware technology, known as beacon technology, isn’t as futuristic as some might expect, and it isn’t reserved for food and drink giants, either. According to Andrew “Wilko” Wilkins, director of independent restaurant solutions for Datum Corporation, mom-and-pops have more access to these types of infrastructure than they think.

“Most restaurateurs think they can’t get it, it’s too far out of their way, so expensive, or whatever,” Wilkins says, “so we provide a one-stop shop, if you like, for everything you need for technology in a restaurant.”

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Mill adds seasonal kick to St. Pete's 200 Block

Downtown St. Pete's The Mill premiered along Central Avenue with seasonal New American cuisine.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 7:44 AM

Cheese and charcuterie are featured, too. - B.LIVELY IMAGES
  • B.Lively Images
  • Cheese and charcuterie are featured, too.
Psssst. Downtown St. Pete restaurant The Mill opened a little over a week ago in the Progress Plaza building at 200 Central Ave.

The restaurant, occupying the old JoJo's in Citta Italian Restaurant space, operates 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Restaurateur Jason Griffin and chef Ted Dorsey, who last cooked at the Hotel Zamora's Castile in St. Pete Beach, blend rustic cuisine with seasonal ingredients to create "an all-around sensory delight."

With stylish farmhouse-inspired decor, the spot highlights New American dishes such as sweet pea hummus, fish and grits, potato soup, lamb hoagies and black pepper cheesecake. Custom cocktails, beer and wine are also served up.

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Restaurant review: Fuel up at Ford's Garage

Ford's Garage in Brandon pairs comforting classics with new-school twists and brews.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 6:42 AM

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AAND, THEY'RE OFF!: Two of Ford's signature burgers leave the assembly line. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • AAND, THEY'RE OFF!: Two of Ford's signature burgers leave the assembly line.

Zooming onto the Selmon Expressway toward Brandon always reminds me that we are in the Space Age. It’s often clear sailing with nary a car in sight, so I struggle with the impulse to rocket ahead — well over permissible limits. I wonder what our ancestors, reliant upon the power of a single horse, would make of the ease with which I can zip back and forth across the bay in search of food.

Then I arrive at Ford’s Garage, not an oasis for automotive repair, but rather a bastion of prime burgers, craft beer and comfort food.

The interior design, however, takes me back a century to the early days of the horseless carriage. Henry Ford’s shiny examples of progress and the unabashed brilliance of American assembly-line entrepreneurship float above the bar and dining room as if Chitty Chitty Bang Bang were on holiday in Tampa Bay.

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Drink More Wine: Head south in search of wine

Exploring wines in Mexico's stunning Valle de Guadalupe.

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 6:14 AM

Winemaker Alvaro Alvarez inside AlXimia's three-tiered bodega. - JON PALMER CLARIDGE
  • Jon Palmer Claridge
  • Winemaker Alvaro Alvarez inside AlXimia's three-tiered bodega.

Visiting vineyards and meeting winemakers is illuminating. It’s the best way to get inside their heads and understand the delicious outcome of their labors when you taste. So, when presented with the opportunity to join a caravan of wine professionals exploring Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley, I jump at the chance.

A mere 90 miles south of downtown San Diego, however, is a whole new world.

Crossing the border in Tijuana, you can’t help but reflect on the riches that we Americans take for granted. The landscape is arid, the poverty evident in every glance. As we approach Ensenada, wine central for Baja California (the Mexican region, not our state), the mountains climb above a valley floor that’s filled with lush irrigated vineyards bursting with grape clusters. Tomorrow, the harvesting of sauvignon blanc begins.

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