Sidebern's Executive Chef Chad Johnson strode into the dining room with a full Berkshire pig (from the nearby Summerfield's Pasture Prime) draped over his shoulder. Everyone at last week's Knob Creek Big Flavor Dinner dropped their Manhattans and gathered around a demonstration table. And with three knives, and seemingly little effort, Johnson showed the room "how to butcher a pig."
He showed us what parts of the pig most Americans will eat, and then showed us how much of the pig is leftover, which is a lot. Johnson is a chef unafraid of American's texture-frigid palates and he uses almost every part of the pig to his culinary pleasure.
The entire menu was suited to follow the grand entrance, every course laden with little piggie goodness.
We began with lard poached prawns with crispy trotters (fried pig's feet in lieu of croutons), fava beans, and egg vinaigrette.
"Thousands of raving, stumbling drunks, getting angrier and angrier as they lose more and more money. By midafternoon they'll be guzzling mint juleps with both hands and vomiting on each other between races," Hunter S. Thompson wrote of the Kentucky Derby in his infamous 1970 piece (which you can read in its entirety here).
The Bleacher Report says that race horses Orb (7-2 odds) and Verrazano (4-1 odds) are favored to win the 139th Kentucky Derby this weekend. You'll need a mint julep to complete the Kentucky Derby experience even if you don't have a horse in the race. The classic Southern bevvie is the perfect summertime sip.
According to Friday's Time Magazine article on mint juleps, the word "julep" comes from the Arabic word meaning "rose water." But the drink lost the roses and the water somewhere along the way.
The exact recipe varies, but one definition from the 1968 Dictionary of Drink and Drinking says this of the julep:
“The exact composition and making of a julep is a subject upon which any two Americans (one of whom is not necessarily a true Southenah, sah) are prepared to do verbal battle instanter.”
Every year, 120,000 mint juleps are consumed over the two days of the race, according to the Kentucky Derby website. And it takes 10,000 bottles of bourbon and 1,000 pounds of fresh mint to make.
Last Sunday, a crowd of over a hundred packed into the Ale and the Witch for the second annual LocalShops1 Top Local Chef Competition. The event sold out weeks in advance.
I joined Tampa Bay Times Food and Travel Editor Janet Keeler, Channel 10 reporter (and jalapeno eating champion I learned) Noah Pransky, and the Family Foodie as judges.
Each chef had to incorporate the Intensity Academy Gourmet & Hot Sauce Company's Garlic Goodness sauce into the dish they served. Dishes were judged on a scale of 1-5, based on taste, best use of ingredient, presentation, and creativity.
All the dishes were beautiful and delicious but Pipo's roast pork and black bean croquette with corn rémoulade took top prize. Also noteworthy was Meze 119's habanero bread pudding. Congratulations to everyone who participated!
There's little that gets my beer-drinking motor running hotter than a collaboration between a beloved band and brewer. So you'll understand the excitement when I got an email announcing Cigar City Brewing and Rock Brothers Brewing's collaboration on a brew for Have Gun Will Travel called High Road Ale.
Go into any Kahwa (they've got several locations across the bay area now) and your first drink is on them. Whether you like a latte with a pretty foamy design, or a iced coffee to-go-they've got you covered.
Free coffee from a local business? What's not to like?
400 N. Ashley Drive (Rivergate Tower).
Corner of Tampa and Polk Streets in The Element building.
St. Petersburg locations
475 Second St. N.
204 Second Ave. S.
Sixth Ave. S, and Seventh St. (Bayfront Medical Center).
According to their Facebook page, the owners of MacDinton's Irish Pub teamed up to expand another South Tampa watering hole into Downtown St. Petersburg. Friday, the upstairs bar and nightclub became 260 First.
"Staff will be the same," said VIP manager Kelsey Hale. "It will be bar and nightclub. We will have more parties and more events."
Datz chef Jason Dame is moving to Cafe Dufrain. The announcement came late Sunday.
Datz posted this statement on Facebook about Dame's move.
"Please join us in congratulating Chef Jason Dame on his recent appointment to Executive Chef at the highly-acclaimed Cafe Dufrain. Jason, we are proud of you and commend you on your success. You'll be fantastic!"
Dame's arrival comes with an entirely new staff and brand new menu.
Stay tuned to our food and drink site for more information on this story later in the week.
That's problematic for the blossoming brewing industry in the Sunshine State. A standard growler holds 64 ounces of beer or about four glasses of beer, a 32 ounce growler is about two beers, and a gallon growler is about eight beers.
Joey Redner, CEO and founder of Cigar City Brewing, said people on vacation (otherwise known as beer tourists) bring their 64 ounce growlers from home, and Cigar City must refuse to fill them.
"Some people think we were just trying to sell them a new 32 ounce growler," Redner said during our interview last month. "But then we have to explain that it's actually illegal for us to fill that size."
Senate Bill 1344, which was proposed by Pinellas Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, passed in the Senate Regulations Committee. The bill would legalize the standard growler size in Florida. Similar legislation in the House of Representatives, HB 715, had its first reading at the beginning of March.
Eli Crawford, 71, died on March 14. The Tampa Bay Times' Andrew Meacham reported Friday that Crawford passed away after a battle with leukemia.
Repka, a commercial mortgage broker by day, was walking through downtown St. Petersburg one Saturday morning in 2002 when the idea struck him.
"It was 8:05 a.m. and I saw a bunch of guys drinking beer together at Mastry's," Repka said. "I thought, well I want to drink beer at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning too."