08/16/17 Food & Dining
That's right: Sunday is the national day devoted to all things bacon, National Bacon Lovers Day. Which, really, isn't too different from the other 364 days of the year. But here's a little roundup of some special places to celebrate everyone's favorite meat snack (seriously, even vegans have a grudging respect for bacon's splendors).
DATZ AND DOUGH
The bacon king and queen are Datz (2616 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 831-7000) and Dough (2602 S MacDill Ave., Tampa; (813) 902-1979). At Dough you'll find bacon-topped doughnuts and at Datz you'll encounter, oh, just about everything with a side, garnish or topper of bacon. Current obsession: the MacDaddy, a creamy bacon- and jalapeno-infused macaroni and cheese....
08/14/17 Food & Dining
ST. PETE BEACH
Sometimes we luck out. Someone who has had remarkable professional success elsewhere in the country says, "You know what, I'm tired of [Cleveland's winters, say] and I want to dig my feet in the Florida sand." They move, they retire. And then they can't stay retired.
Lisa Masterson and Marlin Kaplan moved from Cleveland to Tierra Verde 3 ½ years ago. Kaplan, a longtime restaurateur, worked for some time with his buddy Ken Hamilton at the Palm Pavilion in Clearwater Beach. But then he got an itch. He wanted to do one more nice restaurant, his 10th, before he hung up his pots and pans....
08/09/17 Food & Dining
It was the first Tampa Bay food truck to be known nationally.
The original outpost, a school-bus-turned-restaurant in Seminole Heights, was actually called El Taconazo but known affectionately in the neighborhood as Taco Bus. It even predated longtime owner Rene Valenzuela, who bought it from Roberto and Monica Morfin in 2007. But it is Valenzuela who has expanded and expanded again, announcing on Wednesday the debut of four new locations as well as a new state-of-the-art ordering system and drive-thru options....
08/09/17 Food & Dining
Before it motors into downtown St. Petersburg at the site of what was the Rowdies Den, Ford's Garage opens another location next week in Westchase. The first Ford's Garage opened in 2012 in Fort Myers, and expanded to Cape Coral, Estero, Brandon and Wesley Chapel.
The concept is a tribute to Henry Ford, the first one just minutes away from where Henry Ford frequently wintered in Fort Myers. Ford's Garage combines the look of a 1920s service station with the feel of a modern-day premium burger/craft beer emporium. Look for burgers like the Ford's Signature, Model A and the Distinguished Gentleman, all served on brioche or European pretzel buns, and Ford's lists the meat itself: a choice of USDA Black Angus beef, American Kobe beef, open-range bison, sushi-grade ahi or grilled portobello. They've also got the shock-and-awe thing going: Henry Ford's Hub Cap is a show-stopping burger that can feed a crowd, as big as a Model T wheel, with 10 pounds of beef. Oh, and 5 pounds of fries on the side....
08/07/17 Food & Dining
The white bowl cradled at its bottom a passel of little house-made tortellini tucked in among a perfect brunoise of summer vegetables (tomato, zucchini, yellow squash), bits of fresh herbs and a few swirls of sauteed spinach ($10). A server brought over a small white pitcher and poured over it a blush-colored broth, richly tomato flavored but more like a consomme. Every flavor was lively, the vegetables' texture snappy against the plushness of the fresh pasta with its savory-umami bean puree center. Brilliant....
08/03/17 Food & Dining
Think back to your greatest childhood memory. Mom making chocolate chip cookies, the kitchen cozy and fragrant. She hands you the beaters, you stand and lick them clean. Ignore the part where somebody admonishes you both about the risks of eating raw egg.
Fast forward to college when cookie dough ice cream became your solace by the pint. No judgment, just a gold mine of cookie clods.
Cookie dough is back. In New York City's Greenwich Village, there are lines down the block at Do, shades of Dominique Ansel's cronuts. Online, there are the Cookie Dough Cafe, Edoughble and Unbaked: A Cookie Dough Bar....
The ground-floor retail space of the Tampa Bay Times building in downtown Tampa has been leased by Inside the Box Cafe & Catering, the company has announced.
Expected to open mid-September, this location in the newly renovated lobby at 1000 N Ashley Drive will be the third Inside the Box outpost in the Tampa market. The Tampa-based restaurant has existing locations in Westshore Center and Tampa International Airport (the original N. Tampa St. location has closed)....
08/02/17 Food & Dining
BENTO ASIAN KITCHEN & SUSHI
Orlando-based Bento Asian Kitchen + Sushi, a quick-casual pan-Asian restaurant with nine locations throughout Florida, is poised to introduce its concept to downtown St. Petersburg. The location is set to open any day at 330 Third St. S in the AER apartment building near the University of South Florida St. Petersburg....
08/02/17 Food & Dining
Boiled peanut fans, listen up.
"Food engineer" Albion Williams Jr.'s Tasty Nutz Peanuts were initially created in 2011 and sold the traditional way — at a roadside peanut stand. Following the enthusiastic reception of his product, Williams decided it was time to expand his endeavors.
In 2012, Williams created a vacuum-sealed, flavorful product that is cooked, packed and shipped fresh the day of ordering....
ST. PETERSBURG — Squinting, the lead food stylist peered upward. Silent thumbs up: All clear.
Ray Lampe, a.k.a. Dr. BBQ, had passed the nostril check. Ten seconds later, a host swooped onto the set, and Lampe's first ever HSN segment was underway.
"I am joined by the man they call Dr. BBQ," Alyce Caron intoned, flipping her short, dark hair behind one ear. And on Sunday morning at 10 a.m., she and Lampe began as a team to sell Lampelicious pulled pork and spicy Texas sausages....
07/31/17 Food & Dining
CARROLLWOOD — At its acme, GrillSmith had six outposts, now only four: Clearwater (the first location in 2004), Lakeland, New Tampa and Carrollwood. With a tagline "craft by fire," it has held its own among grill-centric contemporary American restaurants like Stonewood Grill, FlameStone Grill and bigger guns like Outback. The concept has just undergone a renovation, logo update and rebranding, a prime opportunity to see how GrillSmith is faring in this competitive sector of the market....
One of my editors, soon to be married, asked me about knives for her registry. I responded with one text, then another. Soon, a novel in texts:
"Don't buy the set in the knife block (seriously, slide a slightly wet knife down in that slot and it's a haven for gross bacteria and your knives may rust)."
"Don't reflexively go for Zwilling J.A. Henckels or Sabatier just because you recognize the names. There are plenty of good brands out there." ...
07/26/17 Food & Dining
What's new: Food tech
Local food businesses are embracing new technologies and partnerships to bring us extra deliciousness.
Michael Blasco of Tampa Bay Food Trucks says that everyone always asks if there is an app to help find their favorite food trucks. And now there is, available for iPhones and Androids.
"The hardest thing is to get the truck owners to do all the paperwork," Blasco says. "This app is designed to scrape our schedule, so the issue of people going to a location where a food truck was supposed to be, but isn't, is no longer a thing."...
07/24/17 Food & Dining
TAMPA - Tampa Bay's craft beer scene is perennially in flux. New breweries open, others close or get scooped up by bigger breweries, some reinvent themselves so they can sell beer off site, and still others build on kitchens and add food to give enthusiasts another reason to sit tight.
The Brew Bus Terminal and Brewery has an interesting story. Anthony Derby was raised in Carrollwood, went to University of Colorado in Boulder and came back on vacations to work at Cigar City, where his mother, Toni, was president. Revved up about the growing beer scene in the area, he bought his first bus when he graduated in 2012 and conducted brewery tours based out of Cigar City. In 2014, he started doing contract brewing from Cigar City's facility, and he got up to four buses. These days, Brew Bus has six buses with tours spread across six cities....
07/19/17 Food & Dining
Epic Chef Showdown: Feeding Tampa Bay
The Epicurean Hotel is in the middle of its third Epic Chef Showdown to benefit Feeding Tampa Bay. It's a seven-week competition pitting eight of the Tampa Bay area's top restaurants against one another in a friendly cooking competition judged by a panel of local celebrities. Each week, two competing chefs receive a mystery box of ingredients not commonly prepared together, and will be challenged to create two unique dishes under the pressure of the clock. When time is up, each dish will be judged and one restaurant will be eliminated, with the winner moving on to the next round. Remaining competition dates are Monday and July 31 (qualifying rounds), Aug. 7 and 14 (semi-finals) and Aug. 21 (finale)....