Thursday, March 26, 2015

Drink More Wine: Wine-volution

Breaking down the bottle variation phenomenon.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 2:55 PM

Cork and air ingress contribute to differences in the same bottles of wine. - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • Cork and air ingress contribute to differences in the same bottles of wine.

Recently, a friend related the all-too-common story of how a wine that enthralled during a special trip to (insert romantic vacation destination here) was a disappointingly different experience when she opened the “identical” wine at home.

Perhaps the differences may be ascribed to the emotional dislocation of the moment. I mean, doesn’t everything taste better in (insert romantic vacation destination here)? However, bottle variation is a real phenomenon, with a complex matrix of causes.
Unlike, say, Coca-Cola, which tastes the same from can to can, wine is alive.

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Smooth transition: Tequila on the sixth day of spring

Three easy-to-make tequila cocktails to help guide you into spring's warmer months.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 9:03 AM

KEEPITSWEETDESSERTS.COM
  • Keepitsweetdesserts.com
If you need more proof that tequila isn't just for salt-rimmed margs and rounds of shots, look no further than 1800 Tequila's springtime cocktail recipes.

The brand shared three of its simple drink formulas with CL, which are fit for easing you into the season's warmer months.

Spring Fever
Makes 1

2 ounces 1800 Silver Tequila
1.5 ounces ruby red grapefruit juice
1 ounce fresh lime juice

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and shake well. Strain into a glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wolfing it Down: Carnal bliss at Mr. I Got 'Em

Good Wolf's go-to barbecue spot, St. Pete's Mr. I Got 'Em, gets a visit from the whole pack.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 2:52 PM

Wolfing-it-Down_5.jpg



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

TWO BY TWO: Marketgoers line up for Mr. I Got 'Em's 'cued specialties. - TODD BATES
  • Todd Bates
  • TWO BY TWO: Marketgoers line up for Mr. I Got 'Em's 'cued specialties.

Some days are perfect, and some barbecue divine — the sort of stuff we dream about every night before crawling out of the wolves’ den. As we learn, Mr. I Got ’Em is the man of our dreams.

Good Wolf has been sneaking off between fat bass licks to maintain a long-running affair with the dapper gentleman who serves up ’cue behind a St. Pete Saturday Morning Market vendor booth. Now he's finally ready to share his juicy secret with the rest of the pack, as we join in on his carnal bliss.

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Restaurant review: Transported through Sea Salt

Fabrizio Aielli's cuisine has wowed D.C. and Naples, and now, with Sea Salt, he's seducing St. Pete.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 2:29 PM

****
CLASSIC UPDATED: Sea Salt's oysters Rockefeller with crab and more. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • CLASSIC UPDATED: Sea Salt's oysters Rockefeller with crab and more.

As you climb the stairs to the second floor on the west side of the Sundial, you’re not prepared to see a school of fish on ice. But there they are. Just inside Ingrid and chef Fabrizio Aielli’s splendid Sea Salt (a cousin to their noted Naples flagship that bears the same name), you come face-to-gill with the day’s catch. 

A score of fish, with clear eyes attesting to their freshness, immediately sets the tone. The red snapper and branzini shine, but you’ve seen them before. It’s the 5-foot-long wahoo that first arrests the eye. Then there’s the enormous round Hawaiian moonfish the size of a garbage can lid. It’s hard to look away. Unless you’re a scuba aficionado, you probably haven’t been able to get up close and personal with a fish this big.

When you avert your glance, there’s an 80-foot-long raw bar piled high with every oyster imaginable, a 20-foot-tall glass wine tower and an inventory of 130 different salts from around the world.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tampa's Cuban Sandwich Festival attracts returning judges, thousands of attendees

The sandwich battle and World's Longest Cuban were featured at the annual Cuban Sandwich Fest.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 8:35 PM

Hillsborough Community College Events Coordinator Nelson Guerra measures the worlds longest Cuban sandwich. Final measurement - 100 feet; 13.8 feet longer than last years attempt.
  • Hillsborough Community College Events Coordinator Nelson Guerra measures the World's Longest Cuban Sandwich. The final measurement was 100 feet, 13.8 feet longer than last year's attempt.

They came as ambassadors of good will and taste. Forty-five hand-selected judges strolled into Tampa’s Ybor City Museum Sunday morning knowing their decisions would affect many.

As judges of the fourth annual Cuban Sandwich Festival, the group represented the region’s diverse heritage. Many were third and fourth generation Tampanians and, more specifically, Ybor and West Tampa descendants.

Officially dubbed the “The Big Smackdown” by event creators Jolie Gonzalez-Padilla and her husband Victor, the three-day festival drew more than 30,000 people.

Tampa police Chief Jane Castor and her partner Ana Cruz joined other notable locals who returned to judge the event. Many of them have acted as the competition’s official taste-testers since the start. Those years of experience allowed them to hone their skills and develop a method for pacing themselves.

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Burgers, loquats stars of upcoming Bay area food fests

New Port Richey's loquat festival and Safety Habor's beer and burger battle are set for April 4.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 4:55 PM

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Locally made loquat pies, dressed-up burgers and craft brews will be showcased throughout two Tampa Bay food festivals Saturday, April 4.

The earliest gathering, happening from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at New Port Richey's Market Off Main, is the 2nd Annual Florida Loquat Festival. Last year, the event attracted hundreds, and its organizers plan to at least double the turnout this time around.

In case folks missed CL contributor David Z. Morris' lovely ode to the loquat, all they need to know is that it's an egg-shaped, native-to-the-state fruit celebrated by many.

This editor's friend even calls the loquat his "fuzzy little dream fruit."

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On the menu: Tampa tours Brooklyn through cocktails

Fodder & Shine patrons to get a taste of Brooklyn during a Manhattan-sampling journey Tuesday.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 2:39 PM

Fodder & Shine's A Tour of Brooklyn event will be held in its outdoor lounge. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • Fodder & Shine's A Tour of Brooklyn event will be held in its outdoor lounge.

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, regionites will toast to the day's end during Fodder & Shine's prix fixe Cocktail Camp tasting, hosted by bar director Kamran Mir.

Offering variations on the traditional Manhattan cocktail, which calls for rye whisky, sweet vermouth, bitters and a maraschino cherry, Mir will lead patrons on a $15 sampling tour through Brooklyn, New York, neighborhoods (think Bensonhurst and Carroll Gardens) in the restaurant's open-air lounge.

Each drink may be purchased a la carte after the event.

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Better than Mom's: Central Melt grilled cheesery set for St. Pete 600 Block

The 600 Block in St. Pete will get another food joint through the grilled cheese-driven Central Melt.

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 8:43 PM

Central Melt's nestled between the State Theatre and former McKenzie Gallery. - MEAGHAN HABUDA
  • Meaghan Habuda
  • Central Melt's nestled between the State Theatre and former McKenzie Gallery.

Launching a grilled cheesery is an idea Bodega on Central manager Ed Allen has held on to for more than three years. The timing wasn't right for him or downtown St. Pete until about the last year and a half, he says, and now, the city's ready to embrace a down-home sandwich New York and other locales are used to embellishing with gourmet ingredients.

Next to the State Theatre at 685 Central Ave., Allen's new Central Melt restaurant will add to the artsy 600 Block's cafe-style dining options that include Brew D Licious and Central Perks Cafe.

According to Allen, whose ideal grilled cheese is a spin on a caprese with homemade garlic butter and lots of mozzarella, when folks find out you're opening up a grilled cheese joint, they always share their favorites.

"People love bacon," he notes, adding that stepping outside the box a bit and putting twists on those classics are part of the restaurant's concept.

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Hurray for Pom Pom's, now open in St. Pete

With nosh and bevvies as colorful as its decor, Pom Pom's debuts to St. Pete Grand Central District.

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 at 2:24 PM

DANIEL VEINTIMILLA
  • DANIEL VEINTIMILLA

An early look at where the pastry magic will happen. - JULIE GARISTO
  • JULIE GARISTO
  • An early look at where the pastry magic will happen.
Do you love gourmet tea or are you looking for a filling but relatively inexpensive bite in a cheerfully funky atmosphere? 

Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria, an established cafe in Orlando beloved for its late-night hours, has opened another of its colorful nosh-and-sip spots in downtown St. Pete's Grand Central District at 2950 Central Ave.

Pom Pom's is striving for quality with flair. The colorfully welcoming exterior boasts the vintage charm of a converted 1950s gas station — painted and decorated with help by locals — offered an artfully painted door display in the parking lot with an arms-raised Buddha statue seemingly paying homage to a hand sanitizer overhead in the front dining area.  

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Enter the loquat, Florida's springtime gem

To have never known a loquat is as much a deprivation as to have never known love.

Posted By on Sat, Mar 21, 2015 at 8:55 AM

DAVID Z. MORRIS
  • David Z. Morris
They are here, across the city, turning from green to orange.

The perfect balance of sweet and tart. The most delicious fruit you can’t buy in a grocery store.

The Loquats are coming.

If that name sounds funny and unfamiliar, you are just as I was three short years ago — so naïve and unworldly. I pity you, just as I pity my past self, because (and I am not exaggerating here) to have never known a loquat is as much a deprivation as to have never known love.

The loquat will complete you. It will fill the deep well of emptiness that you rarely admit is there. It will distract you, perhaps forever, from the essential unknowability of life’s meaning.

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