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Winter Whiskeyfest this Friday, February 9th, 2018

Do you love whiskey? I know I do. Winter Whiskeyfest is happening this Friday, February 9th, 2018 from 6PM to 9PM. The event is presented by I Love The Burg. It will take place at La Florida above Red Mesa in Downtown St. Petersburg (128 3rd Street South St. Petersburg, FL 33701).

Tickets are limited and there are only 250 tickets available. Tickets cost $75 per person for admission.

Use discount code CARLOSDRINKS for $10 OFF until February 7th.

Whiskey glasses.

This includes entry to the event, over 12 different whiskey brands to taste, a commemorative tasting glass, light bites such as steak crostinis and ceviche, as well as live entertainment by DJ Austen Van Der Bleek.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit METRO to support their LGBT, Transgender, and Youth programs.

Participating distillers:

  • Belle Meade Bourbon
  • Coopers Craft
  • Old Forester Signature 100
  • Old Forester Statesman
  • Jack Daniels
  • Michters
  • Whistle Pig
  • High West
  • Kentucky Owl
  • Hillbilly
  • Elijah Craig Small Batch
  • Pikesville Rye
  • Larceny
  • Evan Williams Single Barrel
  • Deanston
  • Bunnahabhain
  • Ledaig
  • Breaker Bourbon Whisky
  • Kozuba Distillery
  • Horse Soldier Bourbon
  • Amador
  • Kentucky Peerless Distilling

Buy tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/winter-whiskeyfest-tickets-41520523002

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Articles Restaurant News Sponsored

SPONSORED: Valentine’s Day Brunch at Keel & Curley Winery – 2/11

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Keel & Curley Winery. I have been compensated for this post.

Keel & Curley, Florida’s second largest winery, will celebrate Valentine’s Day early on Sunday, February 11th, 2018 from 11AM-3PM in a formal brunch. Reservations are required.

The Plant City winery, farm, and home to Two Henry’s Brewing Co. will offer a formal brunch atmosphere with live music and choices including Prime Rib, Shrimp Scampi, and Cordon Bleu as entrees. Sides include tossed salad, a roasted vegetable medley, baked potato, and rolls.

Brunch will include one bottle of wine per couple and may be substituted for 4 drink tickets for wine, beer, or cider. Individuals receive 2 drink tickets for wine, beer, or cider.

Tickets are now on-sale and cost $85 for couples and $45 for individuals.

To purchase tickets visit http://keelandcurleywinery.com/valentines-day-brunch-winery/ or call (813) 752-9100.

Keel & Curley Winery is located at 5210 Thonotosassa Road in Plant City located minutes off I-4 Exit 17 next to Dinosaur World. It is open 7 days a week from 11AM-9PM Sunday to Thursday and 10AM-11PM on Fridays and Saturdays.

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Articles Food Trucks Restaurant News

Empamamas now open at Armature Works

Local food truck Empamamas has joined the vendor list at Armature Works for the Heights Public Market today. Several empanadas have appeared on the soft opening menu and it will expand with some time.

This is a huge deal for local food trucks and shows their gourmet power, especially after Surf & Turf is already doing great inside Armature Works. Today I had the signature dish, Tampa Girl Empamama, which is pretty much like a Cuban sandwich inside an empanada.

Here’s hoping to see more from them soon!

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Articles Restaurant News

Armature Works food hall now in soft opening

The long awaited Armature Works Heights Public Market is now in soft opening in Tampa Heights. The building opens at 7AM and most concepts are open by 11AM.

The food hall features over 10 different food concepts and bars throughout and is waterfront right off the Tampa Riverwalk near Waterworks Park.

I visited the soft opening preview last night and I’m back today trying out the menu at different concepts throughout the building. Everything has been delicious so far and you’ll find almost everything you might want to eat.

Visit them online at http://armatureworks.com/

Here are some photos:

Chicken slider samples from the all-day breakfast and lunch spot called Graze 1910.

Salmon Poke Bowl sample from Zukku Sushi.

Horchata Latte from Union Coffee (more popularly known as Commune and Co.).

Korean Philly Sandwich from BNB BBQ.

Pork Belly Bowl from Ichicoro Imoto.

Steak samples from Cru Cellars.

Delicious seafood from Surf & Turf Truck!

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Articles Reviews

Ichicoro ANE in Downtown St. Pete impresses

I crossed the bridge last weekend for the Distant World’s Final Fantasy concert at The Mahaffey Theater and needed a bite to eat after. Geniabeme raved about Ichicoro ANE when I last saw her at Keel & Curley for U-Pick Strawberries the day before so I had to check it out for myself.

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Ichicoro ANE is located downstairs from Station House in Downtown St. Petersburg. The inside is beautifully done and has plenty of seating both in the bar and in the restaurant which is a huge difference between this location and the original in Seminole Heights.

I can best describe it as an Izakaya or Japanese pub. The best way to think of most of the menu items is similar to the concept of Spanish tapas. Ramen is also on the menu but there are a number of Japanese appetizers and dishes that we decided to try during our visit.

The dim lighting and ambiance is masterful and takes the best parts of the original location’s foundation.

You’ll find wooden decor throughout and an open kitchen that is unlike most restaurants in Tampa Bay. The music sets the mood for a perfect and intimate night out with friends or for a chill date. I was in love with the atmosphere.

The food was also a winner. The meal began with a gyu bao bun. Spicy and flavorful with a gochujang mustard inside. The price was the standard for Japanese and Asian bistros in Tampa Bay these days ($7). I appreciated the complexity of this dish compared to average pork belly bao.

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After that I decided I needed something a little filling since I skipped lunch and went for the Tonkatsu ($10). This dish was cooked practically to perfect. There was a slight chew in the middle, but it was minor enough that is didn’t cause the dish to falter. The ends were perfectly crispy. They used bulldog sauce which I also use at home (the only proper way to serve this dish as approved by Japanese cooking tv shows and documentaries). It was beautifully presented and the cabbage underneath was a nice bit of greens.

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The Smokey Yucca Korroke was also enjoyable a nice starch to be enjoyed during the visit. Many of the dishes on the menu are traditional Japanese pub food and there are also some hard to find items such as Okonomiyaki which I certainly want to try in the future.

Our waitress was chill and friendly and I am happy with all the seating choices at Ichicoro ANE. She didn’t rush us to make decisions and also was quick to put in orders. It’s completely different from the rushed environment at the Seminole Heights location and I like it much more for that. I dine more for experience than because of necessity or because I’m in a rush. I like to savor every moment.

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For drinks it was hard to make a decision and I finally went with The Chocobo Lure (in honor of Final Fantasy). Imagine my surprise when the drink was inside a ramune glass which shook me with excitement. The drink features umeshu, yuzu cordial, Cappelletti, Aperol, Velvet Falernum, Agnostura and plum bitters. I normally don’t like plum wine but this one was enjoyable.

In the future I would like to certainly try more of the Japanese whiskey selections. The matrix charts for spirts seem to be the rage lately in restaurants.

I didn’t even dent the fish or meat menu and I hear the wagyu is delicious, but I’ll have to do that another day. Ichicoro ANE leaves plenty of things to try and an incredible environment to enjoy it in.

I’m impressed and I’ll be back soon and I recommend you also make a trip if you find yourself in St. Petersburg.

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P.S. Make sure to check the photobooth in the entrance. It’s pretty neat!

Restaurant Name: Ichicoro ANE

Cuisine: Japanese, Asian

Neighborhood: Downtown St. Petersburg

Address: 260 1st Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Phone Number: (727) 300-0281

Website: http://www.ichicoroane.com/

Menu: http://www.ichicoroane.com/menu/

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Articles Restaurant News

Valentine’s Day 2018 at Del Frisco’s Grille Tampa

Some people are celebrating Valentine’s Day 2018 early and some are celebrating late due to it falling on a weekday. Del Frisco’s Grille has an option for these couples.

Del Frisco’s Grille Tampa will offer a special for 7 days for Valentine’s Day. Customers can enjoy a 12 oz. Wagyu Bone-In Steak topped with truffle butter for $58. The item will be available off-menu from Sunday, February 10th to Sunday, February 18th. The restaurant recommends pairing the dish with a Portillo Malbec or Aquinas Cabernet Sauvignon on the wine list.

Del Frisco’s Grille is located at 4138 West Boy Scout Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33607.

DFG-BoneIn-0236

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Articles Restaurant News

Valentine’s Day 2018 specials at Ocean Prime

Looking for an upscale and elegant Valentine’s Day option? Ocean Prime Tampa will offer a special Valentine’s Day menu for guests on Wednesday, February 14th in addition to regular lunch and dinner menus.

The main course features a 10 oz. Imperial Farms Reserve Wagyu New York Strip Steak with Truffle Scalloped Potato, Haricots Verts, Cipollini Onion and Sauce Bordelaise for $85 or a Sauteed Chilean Sea Bass with with King Crab Fingerling Hash, Onion Marmalade and Shellfish Sauce for $65. Salted Caramel Brown Torte with Vanilla Mouse and Bourbon Caramel will be available as special dessert for $12.

The Chilean Sea Bass will available on the menu until February 18th.

Napa Valley Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon will be available on-special at $37 per glass. The wine carries a 94-point rating from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate. The wine has notes of chocolate, dark fruits, and mocha.

Ocean Prime Tampa is located at 2205 North Westshore Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33607 at the International Plaza & Bay Street next to Crate & Barrel.

Ocean Prime serves lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30AM to 4:00PM and from 12:00PM to 4:00PM on Saturdays. Dinner is served from 4:00PM to 10:00PM from Monday to Thursday and 4:00PM to 11:00PM  on Fridays and Saturdays. Dinner hours are 5:00PM to 9:00PM on Sundays.

Lounge open daily. Happy Hour is offered Monday to Friday from 4:00PM to 7:00PM and Saturdays from 12:00PM to 4:00PM.

Check out my other article about the new outdoor dining terrace at Ocean Prime Tampa.

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Articles Events Food Events Restaurant News

Valentine’s Day Dinner 2018 at Hard Rock’s new The Rez Grill

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino‘s newest 5,000 square ft. American grill restaurant and casual-dining concept in Tampa, The Rez Grill, will have a special Valentine’s Day dinner with a 5-course meal available for $75 per person. Reservations are now being accepted.

Some interesting options on the special menu include Maryland Crab Cakes, Beef Tartare, and a Crispy Snapper Filet. The Rez Grill will offer a complimentary glass of champagne and a wine pairing with the dinner.

Frank Anderson

The Rez Grill features Creative Culinary Director, Frank Anderson, whose background includes running James Beard restaurants in Los Angeles Animal and Son of a Gun as Chef de Cuisine.

The bar program features made-to-order drinks using house made syrups and juices as well as an array of bourbon and whiskey choices and American-made vodkas and gin. A signature option: “The Rez Cocktail” features house-infused pineapple tequila, mint, lime, and club soda.

Craft beer fans will find Cigar City, Coppertail Brewing, and Barrel of Monks on tap. Wine enthusiasts have over 100 options to choose from at The Rez Grill.

The Rez Grill

Reservations can be made by calling (813) 627-8120 and begin at 5PM on Valentine’s Day.

Here is the menu:

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Articles Restaurant News

The Fresh Market celebrates Valentine’s Day 2018

Looking to spend a quiet Valentine’s Day at home this year? The Fresh Market is offering a take-home Valentine’s Day option for the special day this 2018 at just $49.99. Available for ordering immediately online with in-store pick up and purchase February 12th-14th.

Shoppers can choose two Chateaubriand-cut filet mignons or North Atlantic lobster tails or one of each. The main dishes will be served with Yukon whipped potatoes and asparagus tips, ready to be seared. It includes dessert with chocolate-covered strawberries and even a dozen roses.

Roses and Chocolate-covered Chocolates

Orders can be made online at http://www.thefreshmarket.com/our-products/holiday-meals

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Articles Reviews

Sunday Brunch at O Cocina (South Tampa)

Full disclosure: I was invited to try the brunch menu at O Cocina for a complimentary tasting in exchange for my opinion. These opinions are my own and do not represent O Cocina.

I am normally skeptical of the phrase “Modern or Contemporary Mexican”. It usually means expensive food that pretty much ditches all the things that make Mexican cuisine what it is minus some tortillas or guacamole. I’m happy to report that my experience at O Cocina was the furthest thing from that and truly represented a thorough understanding of Mexican cuisine in a gourmet twist.

I specifically came to try the brunch menu on my visit. What I found is that O Cocina maintains the freshness of Mexican cuisine and doesn’t ditch but embraces the spices or flavors that make it so great as it tries to reinvent it to a more elegant audience than your taqueria or dive food truck.

The meal began with an order of Huevos Rancheros ($11). To me the standard will always be represented by dishes such as this one. It sounds like an easy dish, but there is so many complications to it such as the ranchero sauce used, quality of the sides, tortilla, and of course the egg. O Cocina includes chorizo in their brunch dish and masterfully complements it with their version of beans that maintained true to Mexican staples.

The ranchero sauce has a fresh tomato taste as you can see. Nothing spicy here (not a problem for me). The fresh avocados were a plus – but for an even greater experience, I recommend adding sour cream to this dish as a side. The tortilla could be a little crispier for my liking, but I still enjoyed it nevertheless. The egg was also cooked just right (commonly ruined at many restaurants trying to adopt this dish).

I added Carne Asada ($7 extra) to my dish simply because I knew I wouldn’t be able to order both and stay hungry to finish.

The thing I found to be great was the seasoning of their Carne Asada, many chefs when creating their Mexican steak on the menu ditch the traditional seasonings that are honestly perfect to begin with and I was happy to find that O Cocina seasons their Carne Asada perfectly.

You can order a bowl of Carne Asada for around $11 which is a great price for brunch considering how much brunch seems to cost at some restaurants these days.

One interesting dish I also tried was the Churro Waffles ($5 for a side). Clearly playing to a trend happening in the restaurant sphere with churros literally being used for anything, this dish masterfully played both the flavor a waffle and a churro into an excellent breakfast item. I was impressed and would order it again. It was clear the creator of the menu wanted to do more than provide a sugary adventure and this dish was successful at this fusion dish.

For libations, I tried the mimosa which is standard and met my expectations (they are available bottomless by the way).

Although, the real winner to me was the cocktail I tried called Jose Gaspar (pictured above). This cocktail has milk, rum, bourbon, Madagascar vanilla bean, Mexican cinnamon, and nutmeg, It is a powerful and tasty concoction that reminded me of Rumchata but was a thousand times superior.

During my visit I decided to sit at the bar and watched the bartender at O Cocina carefully making cocktails from scratch. They all looked good and I can’t wait to try more in the future.

Speaking of the bar at O Cocina, it is one of the most beautiful bars I have seen in town. It brings up thoughts of Alice in Wonderland or Secret Garden. It is truly underrated how few bars in Tampa actually have a good ambiance so this was a welcome addition to me at O Cocina.

The chips and salsa were also great as was the guacamole, but at $10 for a fresh spread of guac – you’ll want to make sure you’re sharing with someone if you choose to order it (the portion was quite generous). I found it went well inside my Huevos Rancheros and with the steak.

I recommend visiting O Cocina if you haven’t had a chance to stop by yet. The operators will also be opening a second location soon at the new Armature Works food hall in Tampa Heights called Cocina Taqueria so look out for that soon.

Restaurant Name: O Cocina

Cuisine: Mexican, American

Neighborhood: South Tampa

Cost: $$

Address: 4110 Henderson Boulevard, Tampa, FL 33629

Phone Number: (813) 289-0649

Website: http://www.ococina.com/modern-mexican

Menu: http://www.ococina.com/modern-mexican#menus-1-section