11th Annual Blueberry Festival wraps up this weekend

Featured

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Keel & Curley Winery in Plant City. I have been compensated for my work. Any opinions expressed are my own and do not reflect Keel & Curley Winery.

Keel & Curley Winery’s 11th Annual Blueberry Festival will wrap up this weekend on Saturday, April 21st and Sunday, April 22nd. Last weekend drew thousands to the blueberry farm in Plant City.

Families and friends spent the day out on the farm picking blueberries and drinking blueberry wine and beer as well as food from trucks and vendors. Vendors were selling blueberry butter, blueberry jam, blueberry hot sauce, blueberry grilled cheese sandwiches…to name a few.

Keel & Curley is Florida’s second largest winery and makes over 20,000 case of wine a year. It is essentially Florida’s wine country located just over Interstate 4 on Exit 17 near Dinosaur World.

Joey Fatone from *NSYNC showed up last Saturday at the event and wowed visitors as he cooked up some hot dogs and Brooklyn food aboard his food truck Fat One’s Hot Dogs and Italian Ice. He was friendly and took plenty of pictures with fans and guests alike. The food truck will be back this weekend to wrap up the festival.

Guests can enjoy:

  • FREE ADMISSION
  • U-Pick Blueberries (8AM-4PM)
  • Live Music
  • $10 Blueberry Wine
  • Two Henry’s Brewing Co. Blueberry Beer & Cider
  • Limited-Edition Strawberry Shortcake Wine
  • Food & Craft Vendors
  • Kids’ Activities
  • & more

Event Name: 11th Annual Blueberry Festival

Venue: Keel & Curley Winery

Address: 5210 Thonotosassa Rd., Plant City, FL 33565

Dates & Time: Saturday, April 21st, 8AM-6PM, Sunday, April 22nd, 8AM-4PM

Ages: All ages welcome

Cost: FREE to attend, $10 parking

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/896744867165660/

Advertisements

Leaven Brewing Co. opening March 30th in Riverview

Riverview’s first brewery, Leaven Brewing Co., will have its Grand Opening on Friday, March 30th, 2018. The project has been years in the making and represents the next step for the Brandon/Riverview area.

Participants can enjoy a ribbon cutting from 5PM-6PM and local food trucks from 6PM-9PM. CLE Eats, Up North Doggs, and The Revolution Ice Cream Co. will be serving up the good eats. Live music can be enjoyed starting at 7:30PM by BABYL.

The owners have vigilantly updated their Instagram and social media channels to keep the community updated as they prepared for their journey and it is finally going to pay off with the opening.

Their history with craft beer goes back to Fort Myers Brewing Co. where head brewer and owner KJ Lynch had his start. KJ was originally a photographer for a media event and then started volunteering at the brewery until he was eventually hired full-time and worked his way up to head brewer.

He then started working at Brew Hub in Lakeland where he brewed for 17 different breweries and brewed up to 98,000 barrels of beer in his final year working there before KJ and his wife Jillian decided to open their own brewery: Leaven Brewing Co. in Riverview.

The two are big craft beer supporters and were married at Coppertail Brewing Co. in Ybor City.

Riverview reminds the couple of suburban Fort Myers and helped them to decide on their location with some luck from a friend.

They plan to book live music on the weekends and have plenty of fun planned for the residents of Riverview and visitors coming in for some local craft beer.

The craft brewery will be located at 11238 Boyette Road Riverview, FL 33569 just off US 301.

Don’t miss it.

Event name: Grand Opening / Ribbon Cutting

Neighborhood: Riverview

Venue: Leaven Brewing Co.

Address: 11238 Boyette Rd., Riverview, FL 33569

Date & Time: Friday, March 30th, 2018, 5PM-10PM

Phone Number: (813) 677-7023

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/1309507465821876/

 

Taking a look Inside the Box at Armature Works

I have long heard of Inside the Box, but never actually been to the cafe before. I reached out to Inside the Box when they opened at Armature Works in Tampa Heights to get the story behind this unique project.

I met up for a few hours with their PR representative and Executive Chef Clifford Barsi walked me through their operation. Inside the Box is a social enterprise that generates funds to help fund Metropolian Ministries. 100% of the profits from the deli go back to the charity.

Chef Clifford Barsi spearheaded social enterprises for Metropolitan Ministries after volunteering there and realizing he wanted to help combine culinary with helping people get back on their feet.

Attacking Poverty Using Culinary Arts Training

Inside the Box primarily employees people who need work that have trained under their Culinary Arts program for their cafe and also helps those in need get employment and training at some of Tampa’s busiest restaurants including Mise En Place, Boca, Bizou Brassie, and Oxford Exchange.

The goal? To help those in need get higher paying jobs by giving them desirable skills that are needed in kitchens. Poverty often exists because people don’t have access to training and Metropolitan Ministries is working to change that.

The cost of living in Tampa has been climbing at a rapid pace although recently slowing behind the national average (sometimes 15% increases in rent prices year over year in the mid 2010s) since major investment projects around the bay began and programs like this will be needed more as people need better paying jobs to afford living in our city.

Metropolitan Ministries takes a look at what skills restaurants need from potential employees and seeks to teach these skills to their trainees. Some skills include how to be a prep cooks, advanced knife skills, how to clean a fryer/change oil, and knowledge of different essential foods. Trainees are placed in busy restaurants to build these skills that will ideally lead them to a career and financial stability.

Classes are small with only 8-10 students and is offered each quarter of the year. The course is 16-weeks. Each student is funded on a full scholarship. Only those in need qualify. Each culinary arts program features:

  • 150 hours of culinary classes
  • 20 hours for a Food Handling Certification Course
  • 100 hours of High Volume Production experience
  • 100 hours of Cafeteria experience
  • 100 hours of Restaurant experience
  • 40 hours for a Life and Employment Skills Course.

One particular skill that Chef Clifford Barsi highlighted was the importance of learning how to take a recipe and multiply or divide it. Consistency is key when restaurants are trying to create customer retention and this kind of skill is often missed in cooking programs.

None of this would possible without volunteers, donors, fundraisers, and these new social enterprises that are helping to fund these programs.

More info about their social enterprises: http://www.metromin.org/about/social-enterprise.html

Inside the Box Cafe Recommendations 

Inside the Box serves gourmet deli meat daily at Armature Works and also serves some delicious sandwiches. The price point matches the other vendors in the building at around $10-$12.

To me the best deal from the Inside the Box Armature Works stand is the deli meat which is sold at prices similar to popular Boar’s Head deli cuts, but will instead help fund a cause that aims to change and improve people’s lives.

As far as sandwiches are concerned – I tried a smoked lamb sandwich during my visit and it was absolutely delicious. During the soft opening for Armature Works I also tried a delicious turkey sandwich. The bread and cuts are certainly gourmet.

Some menu items include Smoked Salmon, Roast Porchetta, NY Strip Pastrami, and NY Strip Corned Beef. Sandwiches are steamed to keep them moist and warm when served with cheese. Plenty of sides are available to enjoy with your food.

Chef Clifford Barsi tells me that Inside the Box tries to source locally in Florida when possible, but as the Tampa Bay Times has highlighted before, that can be a challenge in Florida. You’ll find some Florida cheeses and cuts around the deli when in season.

Inside the Box also has a local market on the side where you can find lots of local produce, vegetables, coffee, and culinary goods as well as fresh bread from popular local vendors from around Tampa Bay and Florida including Piquant, Urban Canning Company, Sunset Salsa, Le’Anns Cheesecakes, and more. I’m hoping this market expands because I would like to see more things like this in our food halls.

Annual Fundraisers

You can help support the mission to end homelessness and poverty by supporting some key annual fundraisers put on by Metropolitan Ministries – although they are also always in need of volunteers to come help them get things done at the non-profit.

Metropolitan Ministries is a 4-star out of 4-star charity according to Charity Navigator.

Tampa Bay Food Fight is annual competition that Metropolitan Ministries organizes between chefs from both sides of the Howard Franklin Bridge. Proceeds from the event go back to supporting the charity.

Their Bridge Builders luncheon is coming up on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 at Hilton Hotel Downtown and WWE SuperStar Titus O’Neil is the keynote speaker this year. There are plenty of ways to get involved.

You can donate to Metropolitan Ministries directly here: http://secure.metromin.org/site/SPageNavigator/donate.html

TBBW: Brewery Battle of the Bands – 3/7

Coppertail BrewingTampa Bay Brewing Company81Bay Brewing Co.Dunedin Brewery, and Cigar City Brewing will go head to head in a Brewery Battle of the Bands at Crowbar Ybor (1812 N. 17th St., Ybor City, FL 33605) on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 from 7PM to 1AM for Tampa Bay Beer Week 2018!

Judges include John Palumbo of Replay Guitar ExchangeJosh Jensen from 98ROCK, Skip Sampson from 1603 Tattoo Collective, and Ray Roa from Creative Loafing Tampa!

$5 cover.

All proceeds from this event benefit Instruments Of Change, a charity that provides instruments to underprivileged youth in the Tampa Bay Area.

Replay Guitar Exchange is supplying prizes for winners and $1000 donation to Instruments Of Change.

Brewer’s Ball 2018 Winners + Recap

The Brewer’s Ball 2018 presented by Best Florida Beer was quite the beer affair. The weather that day was perfect and there were a number of incredible entries that day at the event by breweries both near and far.

I have to say that my favorite beers that day came from Arkane Aleworks. I was a big fan of Gimme Swelter Mango Habanero Florida Weisse and Mezkin Blackbird Blackberry Sage Gose.

Here are the winners in different categories at the event:

Best Brewpub In Florida: Big Blue Brewing, Cape Coral, FL

Best Cider/Mead In Florida: Can’t You Hear The Thunder, Garagiste Meadery, Tampa, FL

Best Small Brewery In Florida: Arkane Aleworks, Largo, FL

Best Large Brewery In Florida: Infinite Ale Works, Ocala, FL

Second Runner Up Best Small Batch Beer In Florida: Yarmouth, Arkane Aleworks, Largo, FL

Runner Up Best Small Batch Beer In Florida: The Passionate Mango, Wicked Barley Brewing Company, Jacksonville, FL

Best Small Batch Beer In Florida: (Presented by Country Malt Group & Brewcraft USA) Chocolate Stout, Fort Myers Brewing Company, Fort Myers, FL

Second Runner Up Best Beer In Florida: Guayabera, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa, FL

Runner Up Best Beer In Florida: West Floridian, Infinite Ale Works, Ocala FL

Best Beer In Florida: (presented by Brewer’s Supply Group) Lightest Thing Ya Got, Big Blue Brewing, Cape Coral, FL

Full competition results page: http://bestfloridabeer.org/2018-medal-winners/

TBBW: 81Bay Brewing Co. and American Social Beer Dinner – 3/7

Join 81Bay Brewing Co. and American Social Tampa for a special craft beer dinner this Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 at 7:30PM for Tampa Bay Beer Week 2018.

Tickets cost $50 and includes 4 courses of food and 5 craft beers as well as hors d’oeuvres paired by American Social Chef Jay Jones and 81Bay Head Brewer Hayley Brown. Enjoy dining on the waterfront of Tampa Bay at this event.

Buy tickets: www.eventliveus.com/purchase/event/752422

TBBW: Sons of CANarchy Pub Crawl – 3/7

Ready to drink your way around Ybor City? Head out for the Sons of CANarchy Pub Crawl on Wednesday, March 7th, 2018 for Tampa Bay Beer Week 2018. 11 breweries, both national and local brands, will participate and serve 11 beers at 5 different bars around Ybor City. The event is FREE to attend.

The events kick off at 6PM at The Bricks of Ybor. The schedule is as follows:

6PM: The Bricks (1327 East 7th Ave., Tampa, FL 33706): Brew Hub, Sierra Nevada

7PM: Reservoir Bar (1518 East 7th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605): Bell’s Brewery, Two Henry’s Brewing Co.

8PM: The Brass Tap (1600 East 7th Ave. E-113, Tampa, FL 33605): Dogfish Head Brewery, Crooked Thumb

9PM: Boneyard (1823 East 7th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605): New Belgium Brewing, Brew Bus Brewing

10PM: The Dirty Shame (1929 East 7th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605): Terrapin Beer Co., Cigar City Brewing, Lagunitas Brewing

TBBW Beer Dinner at The Restorative (Dunedin) – 3/10

Local gourmet and fine-dining restaurant, The Restorative, will have their first craft beer during Tampa Bay Beer Week 2018 with Dunedin Brewery on Saturday, March 10th, 2018.

Dunedin Brewing is the oldest microbrewery in Florida. Tickets are $100 per person and are now on-sale. The Restorative won the Critic’s Choice for Creative Loafing Best of the Bay in 2017.

Address: 420 Patricia Avenue Dunedin, FL 34698

Email restorativerestaurant@gmail.com to purchase your tickets today.

Here is the menu:

Tampa Bay Beer Week 2018 Guide

Tampa Bay Beer Week 2018 is going to be one for the books. There are tons of events lined up to enjoy for the celebration of Tampa’s growing craft beer scene.

Per the website “The inaugural Tampa Bay Beer Week was established in 2012, and has since hosted thousands of events ranging from large-scale festivals to beer tastings, beer dinners and more”.

“The success of TBBW has been a major factor in the continuing growth of the Tampa Bay area craft beer community. Tampa Bay Beer Week begins on the first Saturday of March and ends 8 days later. It has become the premier Beer Week destination in the Southeast”.

beer-2166004_640

This is my guide to the events going on and my recommendations:

Visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/TampaBayBeerWeek/