Bourdain.

I woke up yesterday to an e-mail in my inbox from Eater alerting me that Anthony Bourdain had passed. Not a great start to my day.

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True words. RIP Bourdain.

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The importance of Bourdain in the industry was so clear from the amount of love everyone showed him. He was one of the most famous and authentic food voices out there, never afraid to go against an industry filled with norms and filters.

The thing I’ll remember most about Bourdain was that he always stood up for what he believed was right and that is what I hope to embrace in my life going forward. The other thing Bourdain did well was shine a light on food cultures that we not covered enough and he tried to get down to the real story in his travels. He was loved worldwide.

I’ve filmed before for television and one of the most annoying parts of filming is how unnatural it all usually is. Usually all the people there have been prepped before you visit. The dishes made to perfection. The customers arranged to be supportive loyalists.

Bourdain’s style was to try and capture an authentic experience somewhere and that is different from your typical filtered television. He will be missed but hopefully we take piece of his spirit with us and try to absorb the world around us like he did so well.


After feeling bummed for most of the morning and afternoon, I found myself in Seminole Heights and ran into Chef Viet Vo (Chef V) of Mad Chef Tampa at Brew Bus Brewing.

I was there to check out the new cocktail menu and trying to simultaneously avoid Tampa’s daily soak bath storm and Friday I-275 traffic. We were both hoping to run into the Brew Bus Executive Chef Max Sherard, but missed him and decided why not go bar hopping for a bit and catch up.

I want to say that my first impression of the new cocktail menu at Brew Bus left me with high hopes and I plan to work my way through it little by little. I enjoy both the Brew Bus and Florida Ave. craft beers which have also been made into beer cocktails in addition to their normal cocktail list.

The bartender gave me a sample of a drink he is whipping up for CL’s Margarita Wars in a few weeks for some feedback as well. That will be exciting to see in person.

Side note: Creative Loafing is running a CL Deal for Margarita Wars right now that ends in 2 days at http://cldeals.com – 50% off admission. You can thank me later when we are sipping margaritas there.

We went from there to Rooster & The Till which seemed like an appropriate place to be on a day of sadness for the food world. Most chefs in town will say that is their favorite place in town and it is certainly one of the most forward-thinking places.

It was obvious that the place is special place for Chef V. We were both residents of Seminole Heights in the past. He ordered the Crispy Cobia Collar which was incredible. Traditionally Vietnamese and made with a twist at Rooster.

Can I also take a minute to talk about how much I love their painting of a rooster in there? In case you haven’t heard, there is a proposal to kick the roosters out of Ybor City happening right now in the city. The Ybor Chickens Society and Ybor Chamber of Commerce are both fighting it.

I stand with the roosters. We need to preserve the history and culture of Tampa and Ybor City as we grow it as much as possible.

Sign the petition to keep our chickens protected in Ybor City: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/keep-our-chickens-protected.html

Finally we ended our bar hop at The Refinery. I haven’t been to the new location since it moved into Fodder & Shine’s spot. I miss the rooftop and house-vibe of the original location. I have so many memories up there for my birthdays, new years, and also when they did those Pig Jams on Sundays with live bands. It was great.

I ordered my usual burger and so did Chef V. Solid after drinking food. The fries and ketchup always solid.

There was this Korean Cuban Melt (not sure of the actual menu item name) that they had in the last year or so of the old Refinery and it was killer. I am hoping they bring that back sometime.

Bulgogi and Cuban bread were just made for each other.

Once Chef V and I parted ways I headed over to St. Pete and spent the evening at Ichicoro Ane in Downtown St. Pete with some drinks and house music.

My day had turned around thanks to all the creators in Tampa Bay.

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Happening Now: Negroni Week 2018 in Tampa Bay

It’s Negroni Week this week.

Negroni Week started in 2013 as a celebration of the Negroni cocktail and a fundraiser for charities around the world. It is a partnership between Campari and Imbibe Magazine.

The Negroni dates back to 1919 in Florence and is named after founder Count Camillo Negroni ordered an Americano with gin instead of soda after visiting London’s gin scene. The recipe for the cocktail is almost a century old.

Over 7,700 venues have participated to date and over $1.5 million has been raised. 60 countries now participate in the annual event. Several Tampa Bay bars and restaurants are participating this year.

Wondering where you can find a bar that is participating? There’s a map on their website.

Negroni Week Tampa Bay

Go here to find your local venue: http://negroniweek.com/venues/

Find a list of partner charities here: http://negroniweek.com/charities/

Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week features over 100 restaurants June 1st-June 14th

Savor Sarasota restaurant week will celebrate their 13th year with over 100 participants from June 1st to June 14th of 2018. The annual restaurant week that actually spans two weeks features multi-course pre-fixe meals for $16 at lunch and $32 at dinner.

Siesta Key, Florida

Sarasota has the highest concentration of Zagat®-rated restaurants in Florida. Siesta Key in Sarasota was named the top beach in America in 2017 by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards™ and by Dr. Beach.

The restaurant week is a great way to see what Sarasota has to offer and there are many new places popping up all over town.

New restaurants include: Smoked Meats; Café Epicure, Chaz 51, Chef Rolf’s New Florida Kitchen, Crab & Fin, Element – Modern Mediterranean Grill, El Greco Mediterranean Café, Evie’s Tavern on Main Street, EVOQ Restaurant, Farlow’s on the Water, Half Shell Seafood House, Howards Restaurant, Italian Tradition Restaurant & Martini Bar, Paradise Grill, PizzaSRQ, Prague, Rodizio Grill, Taverna Grill, The Bodhi Tree Café, The Coolinary, The Fountain Kitchen & Wine Bar, The Italian Grill, Tokaj and Two Senoritas.

Returning restaurants feature: 62 Bistrot, Alpine Steakhouse, Andrea’s Restaurant, Angelo’s, Apollonia Grill, Barnacle Bill’s Seafood, Beulah Restaurant, Bijou Café, Blu Island Bistro, Blue Rooster, BRIO Tuscan Grill, Café Baci,Café BarBossa, Café L’Europe, Café Gabbiano, Café Venice Restaurant & Wine Bar, Captain Brian’s Seafood Market Restaurant ,The Capital Grille, Carmel Café & Wine Bar, CasAntica, C’est La Vie University Park-Lakewood Ranch, Chart House, Chianti Ristorante Italiano, Crow’s Nest; Currents, Duval’s, Fresh.Local.Seafood, Euphemia Haye Restaurant, Fins @ Sharky’s, H2O Bistro, Harry’s Continental Kitchens, Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse, Jack Dusty; La Scarpetta, Libby’s Café & Bar, Lila, Lolita Tartine, Louies Modern, Mattison’s City Grille, Mattison’s Forty-One, Melange, The Melting Pot,  Michael’s On East, Miguel’s, Mona Lisa Restaurant, Mozaic, Muse at the Ringling, Ophelia’s on the Bay, Paris Bistrot, Red Clasico Sarasota, Roessler’s Restaurant, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Salute!, Sardinia Restaurant, Season’s 52, Selva Grill, Shore, Sophie’s at Saks Fifth Avenue, Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Stonewood Grill and Tavern, Table Creekside, The Rosemary, The Starlite Room, Tommy Bahama and Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi Grill.

Get all the details and menus at: http://www.savorsarasota.com

Savor Sarasota is sponsored by Sarasota Magazine, Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and OpenTable.

Upcoming June Wine Events at Michael’s Wine Cellar (Sarasota)

If you love wine, there are quite a number of upcoming events at Michael’s Wine Cellar in Sarasota. Spend a day at the beach and enjoy some wine at at this international boutique that has been offering wine for more than 30 years.

Monthly Casual Tasting – 6/2

In addition, Michael’s Wine Cellar has a monthly casual, walk-about tasting which will be held this Saturday, June 2nd from 2PM-4PM. Guests can enjoy dozens of international wines throughout. Admission costs $10 and no RSVP is required. Guests may register in advance or pay at the door.

Bordeaux Wine Tasting – 6/9

Looking to try some great Bordeaux wines? Michael’s Wine Cellar will have a Bordeaux Wine Tasting on Saturday, June 9th, 2018 at 6:30PM. Tickets are on-sale and cost $50 per person. Admission includes Hors d’oeuvres and tastes of more than 20 Bordeaux wines which is quite a steal. Bourdeaux, France features the most sought after wines on Earth.

Each ticket will receive a $25 voucher for purchases of $50 or more of the Bordeaux wines being showcased at the event.

Buy Tickets: http://shop.michaelswinecellar.com/bordeaux-wine-tasting.html

Wine Educational Series –  6/11

For those looking to learn more about wine, Michael’s Wine Cellar is continuing their monthly educational series on Monday, June 11th, 2018 from 6:30PM to 8PM. 3 different wines will be tasted 3 different ways. Reservations are required. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased online. Class begins at 6:30PM on the dot.

Participants can enjoy a display of cheese and fruit, as well as sliced French bread during the class.

Buy tickets: http://shop.michaelswinecellar.com/wine-class-3-way.html

Chef Jose Andres opening Jaleo restaurant at Disney Springs this year (Orlando)

Chef Jose Andres will open a new Spanish restaurant called Jaleo in Orlando at Disney Springs later this year right next to House of Blues and Bongo’s. I couldn’t be more excited. Jaleo has operated 5 locations in Vegas, Washington D.C., and Mexico City. His restaurant group is called ThinkFoodGroup.

The menu will have Spanish tapas and of course feature Paella. Some menu items featured at other Jaleo locations include Gambas, Patatas Bravas, Jamón serrano Fermín, and Chorizo ibérico de bellota Fermín.

I have been following Chef Andres since he helped the people of Puerto Rico last year during the horrific Hurricane Irma catastrophe. His non-profit, World Central Kitchen, served over 3.5 million quality meals to the people of Puerto Rico while FEMA was dealing with issues providing food and water supplies as well as contractor issues.

Chef Jose Andres was named 2018 Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation for his efforts in Puerto Rico. World Food Kitchen is now working with farmer’s in Puerto Rico to help “build resiliency” since Puerto Rico currently imports about 85% of their food.

Check out more about World Food Kitchen: http://www.worldcentralkitchen.org

Now that Wine Bar George is serving a variety of wines to the masses, it only makes sense for someone to represent authentic Spanish food and wine together at Disney Springs. Once Jaleo opens, I’ll be there to support Chef Jose Andres. He has done a huge service to the people.

Wine Bar George now open at Disney Springs (Orlando)

Full disclosure: I was invited to Wine Bar George for a complimentary tasting this week to try their new menu. My history with George Miliotes dates back a few years and is outlined in this article. All opinions stated are my own and do not represent Wine Bar George or any other group.

Wine Bar George is now open at Disney Springs in Orlando.

I’ve been following George Miliotes for years when he was consulting with the Capital Grille for their Generous Pour event. His new 200 seat, 6,000-square-foot restaurant features over 130 wines by the glass, bottle, and ounce.

George Miliotes is one of only 128 Master Sommeliers in the United States of America. It is a mastery that few in the world hold. Wine Bar George is also the only Master Sommelier-led bar in Florida. The bar is open daily from 11AM to 2AM.

George has history with Disney going back to the opening of California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and managed the venue from 1995 to 2002. He created their award winning wine-list and was one of the first to make a “100 wines by the glass list” in the United States.

The food menu features seasonal items with everything made in-house. I stopped by today for a tasting of the menu and tried some of their selection as well as two featured wines with Miliotes hosting us.

We enjoyed a cheese and meat board to begin the tasting.

Wine Bar George offers a few choices here depending on party-size that range from $24-$54. Definitely a great shareable dish that is expected in a concept like this. I enjoyed their cheese selections and their cuts of meat. The chutney and mustard were also excellent.

The cheese and meat board was served with a German Dry Riesling from Selbach-Oster in Mosel, Germany. The Riesling went down great and would easily be a wine that I could sip all day. Selbach-Oster is ranked among the Top 100 wineries in Germany.

The flavor was certainly not your average Riesling and I would recommend giving this one a taste. A 6 oz. pour is $8 and a bottle is $32 at the bar.

All the cocktails have wine spirit infusions and the New York Sour featured a 12-year aged bourbon with a wine floater. Director of Beverage, Robyn Cohen, spearheaded the menu in collaboration with George Miliotes.

The other wine we tried was the Yeringberg 2013 Bordeaux-style Red from Victoria, Australia’s Yarra Valley. This was an excellent and smooth red that was easy to drink and went along well with the other menu items on the tasting list. This is a higher end wine that would normally go for around $90 a bottle at retail. They recently acquired this wine so it is not yet listed on the menu, but available.

The Mac + Cheese balls were excellent. Sometimes you’ll find that the crust will get into the inside of these creations and make a gritty texture, but that wasn’t the case at all with this dish. The Mac + Cheese was completely creamy and delicious. Great Mac + Cheese can be hard to come by.

The grilled octopus was one of the best dishes I enjoyed during the tasting. The octopus had a very ceviche-like quality to it. I would order this dish in the future. It wasn’t chewy at all. I would probably also get this dish in the future if I went for the sangria on the menu.

The chicken skewers were a top choice during the tasting at Wine Bar George. It almost reminded me of Japanese Fried Chicken or Karaage, but with different flavor profiles. This dish was truly enjoyable. Make sure to squeeze the lime on top – it really does make a difference here.

It wouldn’t be a tasting without dessert and we enjoyed a key lime dessert as well as an olive oil cake. I liked the key lime, but the olive oil cake was incredible and stood out to me among the two. I would order this again and again and highly recommend it.

I stopped at the top floor before I left to look around and Wine Bar George has great upstairs views. I’m sure it must be beautiful at night with Morimoto Asia in the backdrop.

Wine Bar George was everything I expected and more. The restaurant and bar space is beautiful and the staff is just as passionate about wine as George Miliotes himself. The wine, cocktail, and food menu all perfectly complement and contrast flavors and show a clear understanding of what makes a great restaurant.

I think there is so much potential at Wine Bar George and I am looking forward to seeing this business blossom at Disney Springs. I’ll be back soon.

Restaurant Name: Wine Bar George

Neighborhood: Disney Springs

Address: 1610 Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Phone Number: (407) 490-1800

Website: http://winebargeorge.com/

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

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

Twitter: @WineBarGeorge

Restaurant News: Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ now open in Brandon

Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ is now open in Brandon. It’s been open for a few weeks now. I stopped by today for a bite.

The restaurant is in the old S Bar location next to Burlington Coat Factory on Adamo Dr. (State Road 60).

The inside has been changed dramatically and it now has a blue lounge feel in the Korean BBQ grilling area and the bar area of S Bar was changed into a dining room and bar for general Korean dining. The facility lost plenty of its charm in the transition, but there is certainly plenty of room inside.

I visited the other Sa Ri One BBQ in Hillsborough a few weeks ago out of pure curiosity for this new location and was not impressed with what I found there. The side dishes were bland, my server was inattentive, and the Korean BBQ meat was not very good and expensive (~$30 vs. ~$20) compared to competitors in Orlando like Izziban and Korea House.

I still wanted to see how this location was though.

Today – I decided to stick to the basics and order a soup from the menu. I had the Galbi Tang for $14.95. Galbi Tang is a beef short rib soup and perfect for this kind of rainy weather. My server Jinah was very friendly and she kept up on the refills for the ban chan and was a complete 180 from my experience at the other location.

The ban chan (side dishes) also tasted really great today. The kimchi was great and so was the fish cake and other various side dishes. I’m not sure if we can attribute my last experience to management or that this location is new, but Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ was great today in Brandon and I would recommend checking it out.

Jinah was a great server – she even caught my debit card when I almost left it at the restaurant and returned it to me before I left.

Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ has weekday lunch specials and is open 7 days a week.

Sushi was not available today as their sushi chef was apparently not in – not sure when that is going to be available either.

Restaurant Name: Sa Ri One Sushi & Korean BBQ

Cuisine: Korean, Korean BBQ, Japanese

Neighborhood: Brandon

Address: 1025 W. Brandon Blvd. Brandon, Florida 33511

Phone Number: (813) 548-0024

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

Hooch and Hive music-centric bar opens Thursday in West Riverfront Tampa

Last weekend the City of Tampa opened a new 25-acre park called Julian B. Lane Park to the public. The park has been called the “Central Park of Tampa Bay” and features plenty of green space, tennis courts, a soccer field, playground, boathouse, and more.

Just days later, Hooch and Hive bar and restaurant is opening its doors around the corner from Julian B. Lane Park on Thursday, May 17th, 2018 from 7PM-3AM to the public at 1001 West Cass Street.

The owners background includes Flytrap, Czar, Zoya, Vagabond Gita and Monday Night Moonlight Market.

“Hooch and Hive is a music-centric bar, with a heavy local art-influence, good AF sound system, inspired menus, and a deep desire to have a huge impact on Tampa’s creative scene. By focusing on the passions of the city’s fringe sub-cultures, Hooch offers an uncommon experience only found outside the mainstream”.

The bar sounds like the perfect place to launch art and culture in the new development on the west side of the Tampa Riverwalk called West Riverfront.

Chef Adam Polisei from Ocean Prime is featuring “dry-aged beef sliders, pulled-duck confit & waffles, and a metric-ton of vegetarian dishes”. Items will be “served in eco-friendly paper boats and priced between $3 and $4”. Jamison B Breadhouse Bakes will be used for the sliders and local products will be used when possible according to the owners.

Lunch will be available and there will be FREE Wi-Fi for workers and students as well as a full coffee bar.

Local Mixologist, Kamran Mir, developed the bar menu and will feature “pre-prohibition cocktails and modern classics, as well as a healthy dose of original boozy creations”. Local craft beer will be on the menu in addition to some “brown-bag staples” such as PBR and Miller High Life.

Exciting developments in Tampa these days.

Event Name: Hooch and Hive Grand Opening

Date & Time: Thursday, May 17th, 2018 from 7PM to 3AM

Address: 1001 West Cass St. Tampa, Florida

Phone Number: (813) 251-1234

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

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

Website: http://hoochandhive.com/

Sponsored: National Dance Like a Chicken Day this Monday 5/14 at Pollo Tropical

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Pollo Tropical. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent the sponsor.

 

FREE FOOD ALERT! Celebrate National ‘Dance Like a Chicken Day’ on Monday, May 14th at Pollo Tropical®.

Fun fact: The Chicken Dance was my favorite Dance as a kid. I remember auditioning to perform it in elementary school.

pollotropical

“The unique restaurant brand, famous for its no-antibiotics-ever chicken that’s citrus-marinated for 24 hours, is offering anyone that does the “Chicken Dance” at Pollo Tropical between 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Monday, May 14 a FREE 1/4 Chicken with Rice & Beans meal!

Simply by dancing their juiciest chicken rendition in homage to the brand’s famous marinade, guests can earn a free Pollo Tropical® 1/4 Chicken with Rice & Beans!

The offer is valid on Monday, May 14 from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., only in the dining room (not valid in the drive-thru).

This offer also isn’t valid in combination with any other offers or promotions.”

National Dance Like a Chicken Day is an annual holiday, listed on the National Day Calendar and taking place every year on the same day – May 14th.

4th Annual Peach Festival this Saturday at Keel & Curley

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Keel & Curley Winery located in Plant City. I have been compensated for my time.

This Saturday, May 12th is the 4th Annual Peach Festival at Keel & Curley Winery in Plant City located at 5210 Thonotosassa Road.

The event has FREE admission. It event will run from 8AM-6PM and feature U-Pick Peaches & Blueberries, Food & Craft Vendors, Peach Cider, Peach Wine and Blueberry Wine Bottle Specials for $10, Live Music, and more.

Some of the vendors include:

  • Stanford’s Jerky
  • Ben’s Soft Pretzels
  • Jessi’s Flaming Fruit Sauce
  • Lobster Maine-iacs
  • Alessi Bakery
  • Cotton Kraze
  • Aunt Neci’s
  • The Tea Jug
  • The Best Thai Food
  • & More

Parking costs $5.

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/552397481827222/