Wednesday, April 1, 2015

On the menu: Ybor City's Festa Italiana tradition

Experience Italian wines, cocktails and local eats during the annual Festa Italiana Weekend in Ybor.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 at 6:47 AM

One of the wood-fired pies Tre Figlie crafted at last year's Festa Italiana. - KIMBERLY DEFALCO
  • Kimberly DeFalco
  • One of the wood-fired pies Tre Figlie crafted at last year's Festa Italiana.

The three-day Festa Italiana Weekend will kickoff at Ybor City's Italian Club of Tampa from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 9. The annual tradition, benefiting the club's restoration fund, continues through April 11 and 12, with food samples, craft cocktails and other Italian delights.

Featuring more than 70 wines from Italy and eats like antipasti and dessert, the kickoff, which costs $60 for non-club members, also acts as the fest's Wines of Italy tasting. A silent auction will also highlight prizes.

Later, starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, the free admission Bocce Ball Invitational at Centennial Park, as well as the Italian Club's Italian Idol sing-off and Homemade Vino Competition, will take place throughout the afternoon.

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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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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Gourmet made easy: Locale launches curbside and to-go orders

That Locale St. Petersburger you've been dreaming about? Yeah, you can get it to go.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 18, 2015 at 5:21 PM

Locale's salad and Gochugang Wings prepared for pickup. - LOCALE MARKET
  • Locale Market
  • Locale's salad and Gochugang Wings prepared for pickup.

Cravings for Locale Market's chef-driven creations may now be satisfied on the run, as the downtown St. Pete destination announced the start of its to-go and curbside pick-up program Wednesday.

While to-go orders are retrieved at the Italian Food Co. counter, curbside pick-up items are brought to vehicles outside the market's Second Street North entrance for a $3 fee from 11 a.m. 'til 8 p.m. Monday to Friday.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Two St. Pete food affairs in April to make you say 'yum'

Snag a seat at St. Pete's Longest Table street feast, or USFSP's speaker-loaded food conference.

Posted By on Tue, Mar 17, 2015 at 7:19 PM

  • WUSF via Twitter
Two yearly food-filled gatherings will hit downtown St. Pete next month within a week of each other.

The first, happening 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9, invites diners to chow down al fresco at WUSF's Longest Table event along Bayshore Drive, starting from the Museum of Fine Arts and extending to the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club.

Alongside views of the waterfront around sunset, food and wine from neighborhood spots will be offered, including Caribbean chorizo-stuffed pork by Orange Blossom Catering and 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House's cinnamon roll bread pudding.

Tickets, which start at $85 and vary depending on which restaurant's meal diners choose, come with access to the Museum of Fine Arts' after party. They may be purchased online or by phone, and the last day to reserve a seat is April 5.

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Monday, March 2, 2015

Palate pleasers: Whiskey, wine seminars still open at Bern's Winefest

Most of the Bern's Winefest soirées are sold out, but a few have wine and whiskey left to discover.

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 9:25 PM

  • T. Hampton Dohrman
The 18th annual Bern's Winefest — held at the Epicurean Hotel and soon-to-open Haven from Thursday, April 16, to Monday, April, 20 — will feature toothsome eats and hundreds of wines from around the globe. Although a number of events, including the Grand Tasting, are sold out, there are three yet-to-filled gatherings left to entice festgoers' palates. 

From 7 to 8 p.m. April 17 in the Epicurean's classroom theater, Michter's Whiskeys master distiller Willie Pratt, who's been in the industry for more than 40 years, and Bern's director of spirits Dean Hurst will lead a presentation on American whiskey.

Guests will taste five of the brand's offerings, including the Sour Mash and Toasted Bourbon, alongside small bites from chef Chad Johnson.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Drinking Issue 2015: Try these at home

DIY books for drink-makers to pour over.

Posted By and on Fri, Feb 27, 2015 at 6:54 AM

  • Adams Media
There’s not much that’s new in Jackson Meyer’s splendid volume, The Book of Wine: An Introduction to Choosing, Serving & Drinking the Best Wines (around $16 on Amazon), but it’s organized in such a pithy and accessible way that mountains of information are at your fingertips. “Wine 101,” his opening section, takes you through a brief history of the drink, then follows with a broad overview on wine types from sparkling to port, complete with suggested producers listed by price. He then finishes with a concise summary of what goes into generating the beloved beverage.

In part two, “The Wine Universe,” he breaks down the major grapes with an astute rundown of the main growing regions, aromas and flavors, acidity, tannin, body and major mixing partners (i.e. which grapes may end up in the same bottle). This is followed by suggested food pairings and his preferred producers. It’s a quick and easy way to grasp a complex subject. Once he’s covered all the big grape varietals, he summarizes wine regions and gives you handy ways to link grapes to specific geographical locales. There are also practical graphics that present information you’ll find on wine labels, which allows you to connect the type of wine to the region to the grape variety.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Drinking Issue 2015: Step up your vino game

It's time to ditch the boxed wine for an at-home wine cellar.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 26, 2015 at 4:00 AM

  • Kevin Tighe

You need a wine cellar. It doesn’t have to be fancy, and the wine needn’t be expensive. However, there’s a certain joy in knowing the right wine for a particular meal is at your fingertips. I know wine can be intimidating, but that’s true for many realms of the unknown. Everything you sample and everything you learn adds to your enjoyment. You gain a greater understanding of your palate, and the diversity that the wine world offers, with the more you taste. So let’s begin.

It’s useful to develop a relationship with a particular wine shop, a spot that does regular tastings and offers advice. That said, I’m building this column around wine that’s readily available at Costco. The prices are good, and the selection is an adequate place to begin until you get hooked. When that happens, you’ll probably want to seek out specific producers and vintages, and, perhaps, stretch your budget for a special bottle. But in the meantime, we’ll focus on keeping it simple and affordable with most wines $20 or less. My strong recommendation is to up your game from boxed or bulk wine, and even from bottles under $10. Making that jump to an extra $5 per bottle is actually a quantum leap in wine quality. And as you’ll see, many of these recommendations are quite wallet-friendly.

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Trader Joe's debuts to Northeast St. Petersburg

At long last, the St. Petersburg Trader Joe's opened its doors Friday.

Posted By and on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 4:56 PM

Many a lei awaited those who stopped by the new TJ's Friday morning. - MEAGHAN HABUDA
  • Meaghan Habuda
  • Many a lei awaited those who stopped by the new TJ's Friday morning.

By the time the doors to the new Trader Joe's location in St. Petersburg at 2742 Fourth St. N., the line of people waiting to get in had snaked along the storefront and wrapped nearly around the block. A man played calypso music near the from entrance and another juggled.

A few minutes before 8 a.m., Mayor Rick Kriseman addressed those waiting in line.

 “The sun is clearly shining on us here today,” Kriseman said. “We are so happy to be able to welcome Trader Joe's to this community. Clearly, based on the line and all the excitement about this store. We are so glad to have you guys here. For those of you who have never been to Trader Joe's, you are in for a treat.”

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wine travel: Time For Wine workshop journeys to Sonoma Valley

Head to Tampa for a midweek Time For Wine tour of Sonoma Valley food and wine Wednesday.

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 1:10 PM

  • Wikimedia Commons
With wine guru and Time For Wine co-owner Charles Visalli as their guide, regionites will travel to Sonoma Valley during a wine workshop at Dash of Salt n' Pepper from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Time For Wine's ticketed tasting tour, called Wine Passport to Sonoma Valley, will highlight the food and wine of Sonoma, considered the birthplace of California's vino industry, as well as small bites from Dash chef Ghada Jadallah. Recipes will be included.

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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Busch Gardens, World Food Championships release more details on food events

World Food Championships move, while duck confit and more make Busch Gardens food fest menu.

Posted By on Thu, Feb 5, 2015 at 2:27 PM

Guests will taste dozens of offerings at Busch Gardens' new food and wine fest. - BUSCH GARDENS
  • Busch Gardens
  • Guests will taste dozens of offerings at Busch Gardens' new food and wine fest.

Two food and drink events, one new and another recently relocated, have some cool news.

Earlier this week, Tampa's Busch Gardens theme park revealed the menu for its inaugural food and wine festival that runs Saturday, March 7, through Sunday, April 26.

Spread out among nine "food cabins," the grub lineup will include griddled cheese cake sandwiches, passion fruit flan, roasted pork belly, habanero shrimp salad, jerk chicken sliders and mango eclairs. More than 50 wines, 50 craft beers and cocktails will be featured.

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