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NEWS: 6th Annual Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival kicks off February 29th

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is launching their 6th Annual Food and Wine Festival earlier this year on Saturday, February 29th, 2020. The festival will run every weekend from February 29th to April 26th and included with park admission to the theme park.

This year will feature 25 new food items in addition to fan-favorite dishes and 80 wines, beers, and cocktails, to choose from. Some new additions include:

  • Chef’s Corner Cabin: Features 3 signature dishes carefully crafted by the park’s head chefs such as arroz con pollo, a pork belly taco with kimchi slaw, and pork tenderloin with champagne watercress sauce
  • Coaster Cocktails: Iron Gwazi Gimlet, Falcon’s Fury Lemon Drop, and Tigris Tea
  • Pick-A-Barrel Tastings: create your own flight of liquors and wines from around the world
  • Some other new food items include Kung Pao Ribs, Maple Bacon Cinnamon Rolls, “Boujee” Bacon, Fried Clams, Pork Tamales, Grilled Shrimp Elotes, and Strawberry Shortcake Sundaes

Guests can purchase a 5, 8, or 12-item sampler lanyard to use at each festival cabin to explore sample-sized dishes and drink offerings and they start at $32. Pass Members can purchase an exclusive 15-item sampler for the same price as a 12-item sampler and save 20% off.

Pass Members can get a sneak peak on February 28th that will include an all new menu of sips and samples and Eaglemania: The World’s Greatest Eagles Tribute Band.

Busch Gardens plans to launch Iron Gwazi this spring, North America’s tallest hybrid coaster and the fastest and steepest hybrid coaster in the world.

The 6th Annual Food and Wine Festival concert schedule:

Feb 29:                 Collective Soul
March 1:              The Commodores

March 7:              Chase Bryant & Danielle Bradbery

March 8:              Rachel Platten

March 14:            Ezra Ray Hart
March 15:            THREE DOG NIGHT

March 21:            LOCASH 
March 22:            Fitz & The Tantrums

March 28:            Home Free
March 29:            Taking Back Sunday

April 4:                 Third Eye Blind
April 5:                 KC & The Sunshine Band

April 11:               38 Special 
April 12:               Micah Tyler & Austin French 

April 18:               Lee Brice
April 19:               Clint Black

April 25:               El Gran Combo
April 26:               Toad the Wet Sprocket & The Verve Pipe

Find more information on the 6th Annual Food & Wine Festival at http://buschgardens.com/tampa/events/food-and-wine-festival/

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NEWS: Cuban Sandwich Festival coming to Kissimmee Saturday March 7th

The 5th Annual Cuban Sandwich Festival is coming March 7th to Kissimeee on Saturday, March 7th, 2020 from 11AM to 6PM. The event is presented by FORD. The event is free and family-friendly.

The festival will occur at Xentury City Center located at 2925 International Drive in Kissimmee, Florida 34747 (East of I-4, off of 192 and International Drive).

Jolie Gonzalez-Padilla, Co-Founder of the International Cuban Sandwich Festival, shares:

“The Biggest Cuban Sandwich in the World will be made, 190 feet of deliciousness and the BEST Cuban Sandwiches in Central Florida will compete for the chance to make it to the FINALS where they will have a chance to win the GOLDEN TICKET to compete in the WORLD FOOD Championships”.

Event organizers will attempt to make the “Biggest Cuban Sandwich in the World” with a goal of 190 feet. The sandwich will be distributed to help feed the homeless.

Participants will include businesses from Metro Orlando, Kissimmee and Central Florida. Restaurants will compete for the title of “Best Cuban Sandwich” in Central Florida.

Live music will include Johnnie Rivera -Vaya DJ, Revelacion Salsera, and Orchestra FUEGO.

I will be a judge at the event, I have been judging the Cuban Sandwich Festival since it began years ago in Tampa’s historic Ybor City.

The Tampa fest will occur on March 29th, 2020. Tampa created the iconic Cuban Sandwich and no amount of bickering from Miami changes the fact that Miami was a swamp when it was created.

Other judges include Osceola County Commissioner Peggy Choudhry, City Commissioner Olga Gonzalez, Executive Director of Downtown Kissimmee Diana Marrerro-Pinto, Publisher of Osceola Star Guillermo “Bill” Hansen, Marytza Sanz, President/CEO/Founder of Latino Leadership, Carlos Guzman of the Puerto Rican Leadership Council.

Find more information online at thecubansandwichfestival.com.

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Guide: Valentine’s Day 2020 in Tampa Bay

Looking for Valentine’s Day 2020 plans in Tampa Bay? Here are some suggestions:

  • Valentine’s Day Friday Flight: Tampa International Airport is having a free concert at the airport for Valentine’s Day on February 14th with The DeLeon Band in the Main Terminal Space from 4:30PM to 6:30PM. The airport gates are available for dining as well for those who enjoy a travel backdrop with their new TPA All-Access Program: tpaallaccess.com 4100 George J. Bean Pkwy, Tampa, FL 33607.
  • Anti-Valentine’s Day Cocktail Release Party: Head on over to URBAN Brew and BBQ in St. Petersburg for an Anti-Valentine’s Day event on February 14th from 5PM to 10PM. Four Roses will headline the event with two featured cocktails. 2601 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713.
  • Valentine’s Day Speed Friend-ing: The Lowry Parcade in Seminole Heights is hosting a speed friend-ing event on February 14th from 7:30PM to 10:30PM where the object is to get to know new people instead of just dating and it’s absolutely free. Match with anyone at the event and Lowry Parcade will provide you with tokens to play some games together. 1213 W. Waters Ave., Tampa, FL 33604.
  • Hello Kitty Cafe Food Truck Pop-up: The popular Sanrio character from Japan comes to WestShore Plaza on Saturday, February 15th from 10AM to 8PM. Snacks and merchandise are available. Great to pencil into your weekend plans. 250 Westshore Plaza, Tampa, FL 33609.
  • D&B Family Valentine’s Day Party: Dave & Buster’s in Brandon has a special promotion for Valentine’s Day from 6PM to 9PM. A special buffet for $21.56 with appetizers, desserts, and soft drinks with an option to upgrade to a $20 power card and unlimited game play for $10 more. There will be a live DJ, games, and prizes. Tickets available on Eventbrite. 10209 Estuary Lakes Dr., Tampa, FL 33619.
  • Punk Rock Valentine – Prom Night with The Ramones: The Independent Bar and Cafe in Seminole Heights is having a special throwback party on Valentine’s Day from 8PM to Midnight. It will celebrate the looks, hairstyles and music of the 1980’s with a special concert. They will have a prom photobooth, name the prom king and queen (for the best dressed), and have spiked punch (of course!). 5016 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603.
  • Valentine’s Day Party: Byblos Tampa on Macdill is throwing a party on Saturday, February 15th in honor of Valentine’s Day. The event will feature singer Mohanad, DJ Khalil, and Belly Dancer Gypsi. Tickets are $60 and will include cold and hot lebanese meza, soft drinks, main grill course, and a welcoming champagne toast. Reservation can be made at 727-687-2466. 2832 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, FL 33629.
  • Love’s Revenge – Haunted Trail: Head over to Plant City for a spooky haunted trail this Valentine’s Day weekend from 7PM to 11PM at Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online. 2837 South Frontage Road, Plant City, FL 33566.
  • Shuffletine’s Day: Shuffle in Tampa Heights will have a special celebration on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, from 4PM to Midnight. For $30 you can play Shuffleboard, drink a bottle of champagne, eat a heart-shaped pretzel, and enjoy a dessert. You will also be entered into a contest to win a $50 gift card. 2612 N Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602
  • “Love Reimagined” Dining Pop-Up: Rooster & The Till and Ichicoro have joined forces for a special dining pop-up event. If you’re willing to spend, it could be a great time. Tickets start at $160. 1910 North Florida Ave. Tampa, FL 33602.
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NEWS: Tampa chefs VS. Bobby Flay airing December 26th on Food Network

Tampa chefs, Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro will take their talent to the masses in America on Thursday, December 26th when they compete on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay”. The chefs currently own Xilo Mexican at The Hall on Franklin and focus on serving fresh Mexican-inspired cuisine. I stopped by last weekend to sit down with Chef Castro and discuss how they got here and where they are going.

Chef Rivera and Castro are best known for their past project called Piquant, a popular French bakery concept that was located first in Hyde Park Village and then West Tampa. The project was supplying the Tampa Bay area with fresh breads and pastries and certainly a local pioneer in that space where French bakeries are far and few between.

Their Kouign-Amann was a personal favorite and when I went west to San Francisco, I was amazed and how the ideas that Rivera and Castro brought to Tampa Bay area are so huge out there and still mostly unknown out here. Piquant went through various cycles, but was ultimately closed much to my dismay.

When Chef Rivera and Chef Castro opened Xilo at Hall on Franklin, I wasn’t sure what inspired the move to Mexican cuisine. Castro explained to me that the idea to make Mexican food came from their unique past. Castro was trained at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York City and he volunteered at a church where he was trained on Mexican sauces and cuisine.

Rivera previously worked for a corporation that regularly flew her around Mexico and exposed her to many of the regional cuisines of the area. When deciding on a concept, Mexican came to them as something both different for the area and something that they could both uniquely bring to the table.

Slowly the chefs have added items to the menu that are representative of their love for Mexican cuisine including brunch options such as chilaquiles. They are one of the only vendors that are open during breakfast at the food hall.

When the chefs entered Hall on Franklin they also took control of the Kofe Tampa shop and have slowly moved into coffee as a business, with prior experience selling their own proprietary roasted blend at their bakery. Soon they will move toward plans to provide their coffee on a bigger scale with a more wholesale focus.

Their coffee can best be described as a truly Latin roast with bold espresso flavors.

The future may hold more restaurant locations in the Tampa Bay area, although the chefs are still considering potential locations across the state of Florida. They are well-traveled and have received much of their inspiration from past culinary projects and mentors. Hopefully their love for baking will also be a part of these next moves.

One thing that is clear is that both these chefs are passionate about food and are passionate about baking. Their debut on the Food Network is a great win for Tampa and also for themselves. Latinx representation is still lacking on Food Network and in the food industry in general.

Let’s hope they can beat Bobby Flay. Catch Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro on Food Network at 10:30PM EST on Thursday, December 26th. Free tickets are available to their watch party on Eventbrite that will run from 8:30PM to 11:30PM at Hall on Franklin.

Xilo Mexican. The Hall on Franklin. 1701 N Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602.

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Celebrate 10 years of USBG Tampa Bay’s Repeal Day Gala on December 7th

The end of Prohibition (December 5th, 1933) has always been an important moment in the cocktail industry and this year marks 10 years that the U.S. Bartenders Guild (USBG) Tampa Bay has celebrated the occasion with their Repeal Day Gala.

This year’s gala will happen on Saturday, December 7th at The Cuban Club.

The theme is the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair, an event that fell on the centennial anniversary of the city’s birth. The fair was about looking into the future of the world.

The event has grown from 35 people gathered in the Don Vicente Hotel’s basement speakeasy to a multi-floor event at The Cuban Club in Historic Ybor City.

Over the past three years, an average of 700 guests have been in attendance. Organizers share, “2019 is looking to be our fairest and most spectacular gala ever.”

The event is not only a gala for industry personnel and industry leaders in the cocktail world, Repeal Day now includes an educational component with seminars days before the party. Speakers from all over the nation come to enlighten others with their experiences and knowledge.

Tickets are available now and start at $100. Discounts are available for USBG members with proof of membership. They can be purchased online at EventBrite: http://bit.ly/2P5EKs2

The official website is located to at repealdayparty.com.

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Events Food Events News

NEWS: SouthShore Seafood and Arts Festival coming November 2nd and 3rd

The SouthShore Seafood and Arts festival is coming this November 2nd and 3rd to E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin. Over 15,000 people attended the festival in 2018. Organizers are offering a group rate of $3 for 20 admission tickets. The festival is kid and pet-friendly (pets must be on leashes).

There will be a wide-variety of seafood available at the festival including stone crabs and a variety of other seafood dishes from the Gulf and beyond.

The event is organized by the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce.

Photo via SouthShore Seafood & Arts Fesitval

There will be boats and RVs, arts and crafts, educational displays, commercial exhibits, and tons of interactive kids entertainment for families to enjoy. Over 150 vendors will be present at the event.

Food trucks and vendors attending include:

Event Name: SouthShore Seafood and Arts Festival

Date & Time: Saturday, November 2nd, 10AM-5PM, Sunday, November 3rd, 10AM-5PM

Venue: E.G. Simmons Park

Address: 2401 19th Avenue, N.W., Ruskin, FL 33570

Cost: $5 adults, Kids 12 & under FREE, Active Military FREE with ID, $2 parking per car to enter park, parking is free afterwards.

Website: https://www.ruskinseafoodfestival.org/

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/516486122476272/

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Articles Events Food Events News Restaurant News

NEWS: Savor St. Pete festival coming November 2nd and 3rd

Savor St. Pete is bringing their food and wine festival to Downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday, November 2nd and Sunday, November 3rd at North Straub Park.

The event was previously known as Clearwater Beach Uncorked. It will be a showcase of Tampa Bay chefs, restaurants, breweries, and a wide variety of wines.

Savor St. Pete is sponsored by City of St. Petersburg, Publix, and Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater. The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club is the official hotel partner for the event.

“We look forward to creating an extraordinary level of excitement in the ‘Burg,’” said Tammy Gail, festival founder and producer. “We are bringing elements that will ramp-up the cool factor that SAVOR ST. PETE will feature.”

Tickets are now available for general admission on both Saturday, Nov. 2, and Sunday, Nov. 3. General Admission guests are welcome on-site from 1PM to 4PM. GA tickets are $75 per person per day.

All event guests receive a limited-edition wine glass, custom tote bag, and exclusive access to the Grand Tasting Village that is located within a 30,000-square-foot tent. 

Restaurant Partners:

  • Bavaro’s
  • BJ’s
  • Brio Italian
  • Bulla Gastrobar
  • The Library
  • Red Mesa Restaurant Group
  • Marchand’s Bar & Grill
  • Paul’s Landing
  • Roy’s
  • Sweet Charlie’s
  • The Birch & Vine
  • Watercolour Grill & House
  • Teak St. Pete

Wine, Brew, and Spirit Partners:

  • 3 Daughters Brewing
  • 19 Crimes
  • Bacardi
  • Big Storm Brewing Co.
  • Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer
  • Bonanza California
  • Casamigos Tequila
  • Cayman Jack
  • Conundrum
  • Chateau St. Jean
  • Days of Youth Wines
  • Des Amis Napa Valley
  • Deutsch Family
  • District 7
  • Don Ramon Tequila
  • FitVine
  • Fleurs de Prarie
  • Florida Beer Co.
  • Folktale Winery & Vineyard
  • Four Roses Bourbon
  • Francis Ford Coppola Winery
  • Golden Winery
  • Islamorada Beer Company
  • Josh Cellar
  • Justin Vineyards & Winery
  • Keel & Curley Winery
  • Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards
  • Landmark Vineyards
  • Matua
  • Mer Soleil
  • Metz Road
  • Ole Smoky
  • Pusser’s Rum
  • Ranch 32
  • Ron Barcelo
  • Ryder Estates
  • San Sebastian Winery
  • Scheid Family Wines
  • Sea Sun
  • Shaw
  • Stella Artois
  • Stella Rosa Wines
  • Stephen Ross Wine Cellars
  • Sterling Vineyards
  • Stokes’ Ghost
  • Tito’s Vodka
  • Two Henry’s Brewing Co.
  • Two Henry’s Hard Cider
  • VDR
  • White Claw
  • Ziami
  • Ferrari Carano
  • Vida de Louie Tequila
  • Manifest Distilling
  • Island Grove Wine Company
  • St. Petersburg Distillery
  • Banyan Reserve Vodka
  • Tippler’s
  • Old. St. Pete
  • Tanqueray
  • Washington State Wine
  • Redemption Rye
  • Swamp Head Brewery

Follow Savor St. Pete on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. The event hashtag is #SavorStPete. 

Event Name: Savor St. Pete

Venue: North Straub Park

Address: 400 Bayshore Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Cost: $75+

Ages: 21+

Buy tickets: http://www.freshtix.com/events/savor-st-pete

Website: http://savortheburg.com/

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Guide: Halloween 2019 in Tampa for Adults

This is a guest post by Brandie McCallum.

Remember the fun and excitement leading up to Halloween when you were small? Finding just the perfect costume, making plans with friends in hushed tones, and the anticipation of the sugar rush? All of that is can be yours again!

Grab your besties and get ready to find all the treats that come with being an adult in Tampa.

For those of you that have little ones and are planning a little family fun…head over to the Tampa Riverwalk for their annual Trick or Treat. Your kiddies get the excitement of trick or treating and you get a lovely stroll with a tasty beverage.

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Now, for those of you who are ready to find your spooky and are over 21…Downtown Tampa will not let you down! Don’t forget to haunt responsibly. ProTip: Use Uber or Lyft to avoid the hassle of parking or spending time with the Tampa PD.

Bizou Brasserie in the Le Méridien Tampa Hotel is ready to tantalize you with their Halloween goodies! The creative mixologists there are making sure you get all the treats and none of the tricks. Making it a mesmerizing start to your escapades.

Event link: http://www.facebook.com/events/440220863262678/

Maybe you and your ghouls want to haunt a few more spots? Grab your tickets for the annual Downtown After Dark Halloween party happening Saturday, October 26th from 10PM-2AM. For those over 21, the block party covers most of Downtown Tampa and each spot is ready to haunt you! Some featured bars include GenX Tavern, Four Green Fields, and Spain Restaurant Toma Bar.

Tickets: http://bit.ly/2oZhhjC

Is Downtown Tampa not your thing? No worries, there are few places that will haunt your evening. Starting with the delightfully haunted Plant Museum. Where you can connect with the dearly departed and delve into the eerie past, head over to the old Tampa Bay Hotel and join the team at the Henry B. Plant museum for a rare after dark visit.

Or grab your Lyft and haunt Sparkman Wharf for an evening on the Haunted Wharf on Saturday, October 26th from 7PM-11PM! The event is free and open to the public with live performances and $5 parking at the garage nearby.

Haunting Armature Works is bringing in an orchestra on Wednesday, October 30th from 6:30PM-7:30PM that promises to be the largest in Florida to play for an hour. Fall under the spell of bewitching favorites like Saint-Saens’ Danse Macabre and Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. Make sure to check out their events calendar for the other Halloween events!

This time of year, everyone questions which wine goes with M&M’s or is candy corn better with merlot or pinot grigio, Society Wine Bar is going to answer those questions for you! Join them for their annual wine and Halloween candy pairing evening at either location on October 30th from 7PM-9PM. RSVP is not required but strongly suggested.

Grab your wicked and wild friends to decide which haunted Tampa adventure will captivate your old Hallows Eve adventures. Mind your manners, watch for the ghosts that will be stepping out to join you while out for your thrills and chills! Don’t forget to tag us at Carlos Eats during your haunts.

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First Annual Ford’s Taste of Latino event recap

I stopped by the Taste of Latino today for their food festival for a few hours. Hundreds of people showed up for a beautiful Sunday in Historic Ybor City. One of the cool things about the event was the wide variety of people who showed up there. There was food from around Latin America including arepas, paella, empananas, flan, Cuban coffee, and more.

The event was organized by Latin Times Media and sponsored by Ford.

Here are some photos from the event:

Delicious paella from Nonna’s Artisan who went on to win one of the trophys for Top Latino Chef.

I didn’t plan to judge, but ended up judging after being asked to help. How could I say no?

This rice went really well with the flank steak and plantains, although it was a little dry on its own.

It wouldn’t be a Latin festival in Tampa without a Cuban Sandwich. Tampa is the home of the Cuban Sandwich and the organizers of Taste of Latino also plan the annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival every spring, which is a qualifier for the World Food Championships.

I tried these ceviche tacos from Las Palmas (winner of the Cuban Sandwich Festival) and they were pretty good. Plenty of spices.

Flan was one of my favorite things here. One of the highest scores I gave out. I love good flan.

Chef Aldo Mosquera was one of the winners for Top Latino Chef at the Taste of Latino. It wasn’t totally shocking since his paella and empanadas were delicious.

Like I said! Great stuff.

 

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WEIRD: Candy Corn Pizza further sign of societal decay

Candy corn is probably the worst “treat” to grace the Halloween season and the annual rush to create food people don’t want has led to the Candy Corn Pizza push of 2019. BuzzFeed did an in-depth exploration into the phenomenon in 2018. Just when you think you’ve forgotten, candy corn comes back into your life.

35 million pounds of candy corn are sold every year according to the National Confectioners Association in 2015. Whether all this candy ends up in a trash bin somewhere is for another day and discussion.

The reaction to the abomination is about what you expect as a person who experiences daily online torment:

https://twitter.com/BrianManzullo/status/1185274662529437696