Cigar City Tap Talks: Invasion Pale Ale

Photo credit for the Featured Image goes to http://www.tampapix.com.

Yesterday I visited Cigar City Brewing for Tap Talk: Invasion Pale Ale.

The Tap Talks are part of a series about the history of different beers and the City of Tampa and feature curator Rodney-Kite Powell and Cigar City’s El Lector, Neil Callaghan. Proceeds from the event benefit the Tampa Bay History Center which is located in Downtown Tampa on the Tampa Riverwalk.

The event was sold out.

We learned quite a bit about Gasparilla Pirate Festival which has been a tradition in the City of Tampa since 1904.

Cigar City created the Invasion Pale Ale for Gasparilla and wanted to make a drink that was enjoyable, but not too alcoholic for the crowd to handle while at the parade. Cigar City describes it as a “citrusy, tropical and low-alcohol session beer “.

There were many interesting things we learned about Gasparilla, such as the busy life that once existed on Franklin Street, which was decorated for Gasparilla in historical times and also that there was once a trolley on Bayshore Boulevard.

We also learned about Ye Mystic Krewe, which is the original Krewe of Gasparilla, and maintained status as the only one for decades. One of the oldest pirate flags photographed in Tampa is pictured above. Find our more about Ye Mystic Krewe at http://ymkg.com/history/.

Joe Gaspar is actually a myth according to the Tampa Bay History Center and no proof can be found that he existed. Gasparilla was originally created as an event to create tourism for Tampa and to draw people to see how nice the weather was and how they could make a living here.

The popularity has never ended and thousands still head to Tampa every year for a pirate celebration like no other. I am still looking forward to going on a pirate ship in the water during the event one day.

We finished with a rare beer made with Invasion Pale Ale and adding Orange Peel and White Oak flavors called “Lue Gim Gong” after the famous Chinese-American horticulturalist.

He was known as the “The Citrus Wizard” and inherited an orange grove that he successfully made into the foundation of the citrus industry here in Florida. The beer is available now at Cigar City Brewing, but may not be easily accessible outside of the brewery.

You can donate to the Tampa Bay History Center at http://tampabayhistorycenter.org/donate/. Donations support “education programs and exhibitions” and allows them make a “collection of more than 1,000 artifacts and documents”.

 

7venth Sun Tampa Grand Opening this weekend

Need plans this weekend? 7venth Sun will have their Tampa Grand Opening this weekend at their new Seminole Heights location located at 6809 North Nebraska Avenue on the corner of Sligh right next to The Mermaid Tavern.

The new building is 18,000 square feet and once was home to a skating rink according to the Tampa Bay Times. Pet owners: The outdoor patio is dog-friendly.

The main event will occur on Saturday, August 12th, 2017 from 11AM-1AM. Live music will be provided by Heavy Pets band at 7PM. There is no cost to attend.

Collaboration beers will be served with Green Bench, Escape, Mastry’s, Stations of the Craft, Hidden Springs, Cigar City, Angry Chair, and Cycle Brewing.

Here is the tap list:

Buddy Brew Coffee will have their food truck on-site and there will be coffee beer collaborations between the two as well as food served at their truck. The Ramen and Waffles Food Truck will be on-site as well serving food. Ramen and Waffles opened earlier this year.

Lowry Parcade will also have a pop-up at the event.

Exciting news indeed!

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Event name: 7venth Sun Tampa Grand Opening

Address: 6809 North Nebraska Avenue Tampa, FL 33604

Date & Time: Saturday, August 12th, 2017 11AM-1AM

Cost: Free to attend

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/152307801989109/

 

Caffeine Roasters now open on Kennedy in South Tampa

Caffeine Roasters has moved into where Drama Burger once stood at 2420 West Kennedy Boulevard and is now open. Caffeine is also located in Downtown Tampa minutes from Franklin Manor at 212 East Cass Street. I am a fan of the Downtown location and also really enjoy the new space as well.

The expansion mirrors an expansion happening with many of the new coffee shop brands taking on Buddy Brew Coffee and Kahwa locally.

The menu is the same at both locations and the space has lots of seating from couches to tables and plugs and Wi-Fi available. The only downside of the new location on Kennedy is lack of parking – the place has only been open for a few weeks and parking already sucks.

On the positive side, they have a drive-thru so you can take your coffee with you if you can’t find parking.

The staff is very friendly and happy to explain the types of coffee they provide and the background of what they are doing – that was also noticeable when I visited the Downtown Tampa location in the past as well.

Last but most certainly not least, their coffee tastes great – I had an El Salvador roast during my visit and fully enjoyed it without hardly any sweeteners or add-ons. Check out Caffeine Roasters!

Restaurant Name: Caffeine Roasters

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Address: 2420 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33609

Phone Number: (813) 644-7245

Website: http://www.caffeineusa.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CaffeineRoastersTampa/

Twitter: @CaffeineTampa

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/caffeineroasterstampa/

Little Donut House more than a little disappointing

What is it about miniature donuts that makes them so enticing? Is it how magical they look on Instagram and Snapchat? I’m not really sure, but I decided to give them a shot this past weekend at Little Donut House located at 4048 West Kennedy Boulevard.

I was initially inspired to try Little Donut House after sampling their Margarita Donut at CL Margarita Wars which was actually quite tasty and impressed me with an innovative taste.

My friend and I ordered 6 donuts ($4.50) and shared them during our visit to Little Donut House. None of them were appealing.

littledonut1

The donuts were cold and lacked any flavors that stood out. They did not taste fresh from the donut underneath to the toppings. Most of the menu items were basically chocolate choices and the other ones did not sound too appetizing.

I suppose you can argue that the donuts were not fresh because we visited in the middle  of the afternoon. Still – I liken it to a pizza place selling pizza by the slice in the afternoon that should probably be thrown out.

If you’re open for business – the quality should still be there.

Quality toppings and ingredients could definitely pave the way for an excellent mini donut. There is lots of possibilities, but I haven’t seen that execution yet.

The most disappointing donut I had was the Maple Bacon Donut. The bacon on the donut tasted like bacon you might get from a salad bar drizzled on top of a miniature donut and fell completely flat on flavor.

It’s really hard to make bacon unappealing and that’s why this experience has stuck with me in the back of my mind for days.

I am not a fan of Mini Doughnut Factory either – too sweet, too cakey, just not for me…but Little Donut House fell even under that scope.

I wasn’t even aware that Little Donut House and Mini Doughnut Factory were in the middle of litigation recently over a name dispute, but frankly I don’t like either.

For mini donuts I am going to stick to Disco Donuts and for regular donuts I am sticking to Craving Donuts.

The internet wants McDonald’s Hi-C back and Fanta gone

The decision by McDonald’s to replace Hi-C Orange soda with Fanta per a deal with Coca-Cola (originally reported back in April) has not gone well. Reddit predicted the mess McDonald’s is now to trying to advertise their way out of this with no fanfare.

Don’t companies have the ability to survey their customers and see if they want a change to the menu? Also, is it just me or has the flavor of Fanta soda gone into the toilet in recent years?

Just check the responses to this tweet and sponsored ad:

RIP to McDonald’s mentions.

Taco Traveler delivers world class eats

I stopped by The Taco Traveler food truck today for Taco Tuesday at C. 1949 Florida Beer Garden. The two have teamed up for a weekly Taco Tuesday event as of late. It was my first time visiting either business.

The Taco Traveler is a local food truck that started last year serving tacos inspired from around the world.

To be honest, I’m surprised there are not more taco trucks in Tampa Bay considering how popular Mexican food is and how easy you can blend it with other cuisines. In world history, Mexico was an important connection between the Eastern and Western worlds and many flavors and spices traveled through Mexico to other nations.

Let me mention also that The Taco Traveler isn’t trying to play towards traditional Mexican cuisine, but the dishes it puts out do capture the flavors I want in my food.

The Taco Traveler has a few standard menu items and rotating specials.

On the list were the Korean BBQ Taco, Banh Mi Taco, Tex Mex Taco…to name a few. I went with the Tex Mex Taco which was the Taco Tuesday special ($2) and the Korean BBQ Taco ($4.50 with tax). Both surpassed my expectations and impressed me.

They offer a choice of flour or corn tortillas and the correct answer to that question is always corn tortillas.

The sad part about corn tortillas is when they rip – but that’s what forks are for!

Tacos - Korean BBQ Taco and Tex Mex Taco

The Tex Mex Taco comes with your choice of beef or chicken, cheese, shredded lettuce, house-made salsa, sour cream, and green onions. What impressed me about it was the quality of the beef I ordered and the seasonings of it – it was excellent down to every last bite.

The salsa was also quite tasty.

Then there was the Korean BBQ Taco which came with pickled red cabbage, Korean BBQ, sriracha aioli, kimchi, queso fresco, and green onions. It was INCREDIBLE and I was truly happy with this taco.

I’m a bit of a Korean food snob having lived in Seoul in the past, but this taco was definitely what I wanted and how I imagine a Korean taco would taste. It made me start thinking about all the other possibilities of what can be done using Korean cuisine when applied to other categories.

Can I also say that more places in Tampa should use queso fresco? It’s such an amazing topping to food dishes and you hardly see it on menus here.

The prices were reasonable considering they are a small trailer food truck. I had two tacos and felt pretty full. I would like to try their nachos in the future.

I will definitely return in the future for more tacos.

C. 1949 was also quite an experience. The bar menu was huge and the staff was friendly. They had a ton of local options and the draft beer and local list was filled with tons of choices and varieties and many new craft beer choices that are just recently hitting the market.

It’s obvious that the management of C. 1949 cares about providing quality craft beer to their customers.

The atmosphere at C. 1949 fits Seminole Heights as a neighborhood and has that hipster vibe down.

The lighting and actual decor is modern and the bar itself is spacious, well air-conditioned, and has plenty of seats. Outdoor seating is nice although it was certainly be more enjoyable when Florida cools down a bit.

The live acoustic musician outside was great and fit the overall vibe. C. 1949 seems to be doing lots of events lately and you can see more about it on their website if you’re interested: http://c1949.com/

Tampa Bay Taco Tuesday Dining Guide

Wondering where to eat for Taco Tuesday in Tampa? No, I’m not talking about your average Tijuana Flats. Taco Tuesday offers deals at many great spots around town and no two taco places are created equal.

Here is my list of go-to spots for Taco Tuesday deals in Tampa Bay and places I’d recommend visiting. There may be more restaurants offering the deal, but that doesn’t mean I recommend them.

  1. La Villa River Hills: I am a Mexican food snob from San Francisco and most places in Tampa are “good for Tampa” and that is about it – they don’t even come close to the quality or ingredients of taquerias on The Mission. La Villa River Hills is the real deal though. Fresh, Mexican cuisine at an affordable price and the quality is apparent in everything from their salsa to their tamales. They offer $2 tacos on Tuesday. The location is near FishHawk and Valrico which is a long drive for many – but well worth it. You might want to call-ahead because the restaurant is small, but this is easily my favorite Mexican place in Tampa Bay right now.
  2. Taco Traveler: This local food truck is delivering tasty non-traditional tacos on Tuesdays at C. 1949 in Seminole Heights. Enjoy $2 taco specials and $1 off select beer inside the building. Live-music is also happening.
  3. Ciccio Cali: One of the best known Taco Tuesday deals in town. Many of the bowls available at Ciccio Cali can be converted into flour tacos for just $2 each during Taco Tuesday. They load them up. My favorite? Hot & Crunchy Tuna. The flavor is there. More places should experiment with sushi tacos in general. Be patient because the crowds can get crazy and my experiences with hostesses have been mixed. It’s located in Brandon, New Tampa, and St. Pete.
  4. TacoSon: The original Taco Bus. TacoSon is where the owners of the original Taco Bus opened shop after their sale and you can tell by the crowds that the original fans have followed them to this location on 56th Street. Avoid the drive-thru unless you’re comfortable with sitting in your car for long periods of time and just go inside. They don’t do Taco Tuesday deals, but on the flip-side tacos there are $2.50 everyday. Real deal. They now have locations in St. Pete and Wesley Chapel as well.
  5. California Tacos To-Go: This local chain has excellent tacos and offers 2 tacos, chips, and a drink for $6.99. A little more expensive than some other spots, but the quality is definitely there. Most recipes hail from SoCal and the loaded fish tacos are truly amazing. Locations in USF, South Tampa, and St. Pete. It’s one of the few places that Guy Fieri recommends that I can agree with.

If a place did not make the list – it is likely that I either do not recommend it, I haven’t visited the place, or I forgot and this list will be regularly updated as well so look for that. If your favorite place isn’t on the list that’s okay too. This is an opinion-based piece and you are entitled to your opinion.