Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach’s Ocean Hai Supports Local Charities

The next time you dine at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach‘s Ocean Hai restaurant, sit at table #31 to support Pinellas County local charities.

Bamboo + 💚 #werklife #bcvsocial #foodstyling #bcvtravels

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The program “You Dine, We Donate” will select a new local charity every month to feature and donates all net proceeds from food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases at the assigned table to a cause. Here is the upcoming list:

  • April: Autism Awareness Month – Tampa Bay Chapter
  • May: Troop Rewards
  • June: Pinellas County Lifeguards
  • July: Clearwater Marine Aquarium
  • August: Pinellas County Schools
  • September: Eckerd Kids
  • October: Hooked on Hope
  • November: Clearwater for Youth
  • December: Arts for Life

Not a bad view for lunch!

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Ocean Hai is the signature restaurant at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach serving Asian-fusion cuisine with inspirations from Asian countries such as Japan, Thailand, and China.

Chef de Cuisine John Capponi previously worked at Tampa’s On Swann in Hyde Park Village as Executive Chef and as Executive Sous Chef at Skytop Lounge in Pennsylvania.

The Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach is located at 100 Coronado Drive and is ocean-front. Clearwater Beach was recently named #4 on the 2017 “Top 10 Traveler’s Choice Beaches in the United States” by TripAdvisor.

Visit Ocean Hai online to book a reservation at http://www.wyndhamgrandclearwater.com/dining/ocean-hai

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Sweet Saturday and Chocolate Sunday this weekend @ Ruth Eckerd Hall

The popular Chocolate Sunday event in Clearwater that I covered last year on my food blog will return this weekend, January 21-22, and is now a two-day event: Sweet Saturday and Chocolate Sunday and is once again sponsored by Tampa Bay Woman Newspaper. I can still taste the chocolate covered bacon that was provided by The Vine last year…delicious. I will be in attendance this weekend and you have a chance to win free tickets as well in my latest giveaway!

How to win: “Like” Carlos Eats on Facebook and post about your favorite chocolate vendor in Tampa Bay. You can gain 1 additional entry by sharing this post with your friends on Facebook from the fan page. I can view who shares the page from my fan page. Hurry because winners will be  randomly drawn Tomorrow, January 20th, at 5:00PM. Finally make sure you comment below so I can have your contact e-mail in case you win! If chosen, I will send the organizer your name for ticket pickup.

You can also take advantage of this $5.00 off coupon provided to me by the Chocolate Sunday organizers. I hope you’ll be enjoying the goods this weekend like I will. :]

Event Name: Sweet Saturday & Chocolate Sunday

Address: 1111 McMullen Booth Road Clearwater, FL 33759

Dates: January 21-22, 2012 – 11AM-6PM

Website: http://chocolate-sunday.com/

Tampa Bay becomes a Yelp Elite City

Yelp was the first food community I joined online back in 2006 after I was introduced by a Xanga friend living in San Francisco. Since then I have gone on to write over 500 reviews on Yelp and been a member of their Elite squad since 2006 as well. Yelp always had aspirations for Tampa and sent me free Yelp goods (including a t-shirt and hoodie) during my first few years as a member. I was one of the first reviewers, plowing my way through Tampa Bay. Reviewing every restaurant and business I interacted with.

Despite all the reviews Yelp Tampa never seemed to kick-off. I began losing interest as I noticed no sense of community was being built in Tampa like other cities. Over time Yelp grew and in 2009, a few consistent members began to have Unofficial Yelp Events (UYEs) around town. I joined a few and some dining trails included an Asian tour, pizza tour, and many trips to The Wat Thai Temple. Many Yelpers were bitter that Yelp would not allow them to become Elite members because Yelp did not recognize Tampa as an Elite city.

The Yelp Tampa crew on the 4th of July in 2009 at Pine Tree Karaoke Cafe (now called One Family Korean Restaurant) during our Asian tour weekend.

They continued reviewing and contributing for years on, hoping that Yelp would finally someday give Tampa Bay a chance. Finally, earlier this year Yelp announced it would be hiring a Community Manager for Tampa Bay…a sign that Tampa would soon be developing into a Yelp Elite city. Yelp Elite members contribute regularly to the site and have exclusive events they can attend around town, usually at local restaurants or bars with exclusive promotions and it is a great way for Elite members out of town to meet the locals. The Community Manager helps organize official events and find events around the city to promote on the website. A foodie network is vital to this growth.

This week an Events tab appeared for Yelp Elite members to submit events and Review of the Day (ROTD), a way to recognize excellent reviews, also appeared on the home site for Tampa. It’s exciting to think where this could go and how this can help Tampa’s food scene grow as the powerful social media site Yelp backs the way. I know I’ll be motivated to keep contributing as much as possible. Congrats Yelp Tampa reviewers! Your hard work has now paid off.

http://www.yelp.com/tampa-bay

Where to Dine on Father’s Day in Tampa Bay

In case you haven’t heard, 50 million Americans are expected to dine out for Father’s Day this weekend. Trying to figure out where to take Dad to eat on Father’s Day? I have you covered. Here are some suggestions of dining deals happening around Tampa on Father’s Day (Sunday June 19, 2011 for those of you who didn’t know).

Stump’s Supper Club in Channelside is offering a free appetizer for Dad’s on Father’s Day (with the purchase of an entree).

Yamato Japanese Steakhouse has Morgan Chardonnay for $5 down from the usual $17 for Father’s Day.

The Yacht StarShip has a Father’s Day Brunch Cruise with tickets selling at $39.95, boarding at Noon on Father’s Day.

Father’s get free food and get to bowl for free at Splitsville in Channelside when they come with their kids.

Charleys is offering free 24oz Ribeye steak for dads, along with a signature salad and French bread (with a purchase of equal or greater value) on Father’s Day.

The Bearded Clam in Sarasota has a buffet with live music for families. $20 for adults and $6.95 for children 10 and under.

IKEA is having an all-you-can-eat Father’s Day brunch. $9.99 for adults and children 12 and under are just $2.49. Quite a deal with the amount of things on the menu.

Spaghetti Warehouse in Ybor City will be offering free Lasagna or Spaghetti for Dad’s on Father’s Day. No coupon necessary.

The Columbia will be open for Father’s Day and is accepting reservations. They have a number of specials for Father’s Day including a Coca de Langosta y Chorizo tapas special and two entree specials: New York Strip Sirloin “The Bambino” and Vieiras y IbĂ©rico “Canarias”. Note: The Columbia Cafe on the Riverwalk will have their usual menu and not be offering Father’s Day specials.

Grille 54 has a special Father’s Day menu. They will be opening at Noon on Sunday.

Beef O’ Brady’s will give Dad’s a free meal for Father’s Day (with the purchase of an entree of equal or lesser value and a limit of $10, some restriction apply…check with your local Beef franchisee for details).

Fleming’s Steakhouse has a 3-course Father’s Day Brunch for $32.95 and you get a free $25 gift card for your father with your purchase.

Visiting the Cheesecake Factory for Father’s Day? Print out this coupon for a free cheesecake for every $30 purchase. Valid until 6/28/2011. Even if you aren’t going for Father’s Day print it anyway. Who doesn’t love free cheesecake?

Hope everyone has a Happy Father’s Day! 🙂

Did I miss your restaurant? Shoot me an e-mail to carloseats [at] gmail [dot] com and I will add you to the list.

Chocolate Sunday Part IV

Read Chocolate Sunday Part III

Meeting the friendly people at the Palm Harbor House of Beer booth was a fun time. They had a number of beers for us to sample from chocolate stout to raspberry beer. The raspberry beer was smooth and sweet. I’m not much of a beer drinker, but the raspberry beer sample left me wanting more. You can visit their Facebook here.

You can visit Palm Harbor House of Beer online at http://www.palmharborhob.com/

Effen Vodka had complimentary chocolate liquor samples, but I found them to be too bitter for my tastes.

Buddy Brew Coffee offered samples of chocolate covered organic cocoa seeds. We learned plenty about their business (and freshly roasted coffee) from the owner there and I have read great things about them on my friend Tracy’s food blog. You can find Buddy Brew on Facebook here and also at http://www.buddybrew.com/

One interesting sample at Chocolate Sunday was Pirate’s Booty Chocolate. It was a test sampling, they haven’t released it to the market yet.  Popcorn with chocolate on top and healthy to top that. It tasted great…can’t wait to buy some in stores soon.  Their products are vegan friendly and cholesterol free as well as Trans Fat and Gluten Free. You can visit Pirates Brands online at http://piratebrands.com/ and on Facebook as well.

This concludes my coverage of Chocolate Sunday. It was truly a great event and I was honored to be in the presence of so many vendors and to learn about so many local businesses.

Chocolate Sunday Part III

Read Chocolate Sunday Part II

We made a stop to the Watercolour Steakhouse and Grille booth to try their chocolate covered shrimp.

The chocolate shrimp has to be one of the weirdest mixes I could imagine (next to bacon of course), but it was actually pretty good. LATimes Food Twitter had a ball with it earlier today on Twitter. The shrimp tasted like cocktail shrimp, I’d probably like to see this tried with fried shrimp (oh the thoughts that are going through my head at the moment) but this was a nice tasting. We were one of the lucky ones because the crowd cleaned out their supply about halfway through Chocolate Sunday. Watercolour was also handing out $15 gift cards for dinners of two or more. They have live lounge entertainment on the weekends as well.

You can checkout Watercolour online at http://www.watercolourgrille.com

Watercolour Steakhouse and Grille on Urbanspoon

Kilwin’s was present. Their booth didn’t have many things to sample. They were featured on my blog just the other day when I was writing about Chocolate Sunday.

The Melting Pot gave out the sample (pictured above) with a toasty marshmellow, strawberry, and brownie to be dipped in chocolate. It tasted great..makes me really want to visit The Melting Pot. They were swamped with visitors at their booth. I have never been to the Melting Pot, but my friends always talk about it. My friends say that the Melting Pot also has excellent burgers? I never knew!

Melting Pot on Urbanspoon

Viktoria Richard’s Chocolates is chocolate made into art. A cool gift for a date or an early Valentines Day present, the chocolate almost doesn’t look real because of how well designed it is. There are a variety of flavors available from Coconut to Wild Berry Pino Noir. New flavors are developed throughout the year. Retails stores are in New Port Richey, Clearwater, Tampa, and St. Petersburg and you can also shop online at http://www.vrchocolates.com/.

Their booth did not seem to have any samples, but they were selling boxes of chocolate (one of which Justin bought). The prices of the boxes ranged from $10-$15.

Affordable chocolate bars were available as well.

You can find Viktoria Richards Chocolate on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Viktoria-Richards-Chocolates/146304192046521

The Pie Factory and Toucan’s Coffee House booth was full of tasty looking pies. They were giving out samples which tasted pretty good. The Pie Factory has been around since 1990 and is family owned. They are happy to work with customers for custom creations as well. You can visit The Pie Factory online at http://www.piefactoryfl.com/

Continue to Chocolate Sunday Part IV

Chocolate Sunday Part II

Read Chocolate Sunday Part I

Costco had a booth and was selling a number of things as well as giving away M&M’s and various chocolate goods. All the sweets we tried at their booth were great. The last time I went to Costco was over ten years ago, but maybe it’s time to make a trip back there. Their Marketing Rep, Debbie Butterfield, was very friendly and personable.

Costco Food Court on Urbanspoon

A veterans help booth was nearby serving ice cream and candy.

Pupcakes Etc. was selling cannolis that looked tasty at Chocolate Sunday. They are known for selling dog treats and have a handy guide on their website about why certain foods are bad for your dog. Pupcakes was founded after the owners dog died and the owner decided that her next dog would have a natural diet. A baker for over 30 years, the owner transitions into cakes, treats, and cookies for pets. You can find out more on their website at http://www.pupcakesetc.com/

Treats for Troops is an organization that sends care packages to American troops. They were giving away free Hershey’s chocolates at their booth, but they’re cause truly moved us so we decided to donate some money. Treats for Troops ships 6 TONS of care packages every week. Postage bills run from $35,000 to $60,000 per month. Donations and supplies for troops are at an all time low after the holidays and Treats for Troops has organized a “Ziploc bags full of goodies” drive for Troops. You can help by filling a gallon size Ziploc bag with items for the troops or by passing them out to anyone willing to contribute. The deadline is February 15th, 2011. There are plenty of other ways to help out if you want to get involved just visit their website.

You can find more information online at http://www.treatsfortroops.info/

This booth was advertising a meet and greet with some stars. The chocolate at this booth was superb! We decided to head outside for a breath of fresh air after this.

Play 98.7 was outside. They are a new radio station in Tampa Bay playing Top 40s music (minus the Rap). They were giving out free prizes if you name a Top 40s song (that wasn’t a rap song)…it was hard for me to do on the spot, but I eventually won a lanyard.  They gave out some free stickers too.

Our next booth was The Vine Restaurant and Wine Bar. They stock over 400 different bottles and serve over 50 different types of wine by the glass. The Vine only serves Meyer Natural Angus Beef, their Duroc pork comes from the award winning Vande Rose Farms of Iowa, and they use natural fresh American Cedar Springs Lamb.

Their free sample was a chocolate and bacon mix that was amazing. If Adam Richman would have been there, he would have mentioned something about God being great. The bite certainly left me wanting more and I may have to make a trip out to this restaurant in Lutz sometime.

You can check out The Vine online at http://thevinebar.net/

Vine Bar on Urbanspoon

Continue on to Chocolate Sunday Part III

Chocolate Sunday Part I

First off, I would really like to thank my friend Justin Rita for helping me out to hold all the samples and shooting video footage. Couldn’t have done it without him. Now let’s get this Chocolate Sunday coverage going!

GateauOChocolat prides itself on “luxiourious, organic, flourless, and gluten-free cakes”.  Normally when you think of all those things in the same sentence you don’t imagine that cake will taste very good, but after I was provided with a free sample I was blown away with just how good their cake tasted. The booth exhibitors were very friendly and welcoming to us and provided us with some information pamphlets. Gateau uses Ecuadorian Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate, organic butter and eggs from small farms, and organic, carbon-neutral Florida cane sugar.

A visit to their website has informed me that Gateau are currently waiting for organic certification, but do use 100% organic products. Their website is very informative and has information on how to best serve their cakes (available in either 6 or 9 inches). I met the founder, Emmanuel Roux, at their booth and he was really enthusiastic while telling me about their cakes, I couldn’t wait to take my first bite.

The cake was was rich and had a very soft texture. I loved the taste of the chocolate, it wasn’t too sweet, but just right. The strawberries and whipped cream on the side went well with it and the nuts on top were fantastic. My favorite thing was that this cake tasted homemade and not like something you’d find at Publix or some other grocery store. My photograph was taken as we were surrounded by about 100 people in a tight space so I do apologize that the photo isn’t clearer, but if you look below you can see the beautiful presentation of these cakes.

You can order Gateau O Chocolat’s cakes at their website: http://www.gateauochocolat.net/

Next we stopped at Casey’s Cookies. Casey’s is a not-for-profit company with the mission to “promote independence and improve the quality of life for developmentally and physically disabled adults” and was started by Casey’s parents after their daughter was born with Goldenhar Syndrome, “a congenital birth defect that includes deformities of the face and spine, and sometimes mental retardation”. Casey’s parents been through many struggles as Casey has grown up, but Casey’s Cookies is something positive that they have come up with. The booth was selling cookies for a dollar and so we decided to buy one, the cookie was pretty great and my friend only took a few seconds to finish it. Casey’s Cookies caters and accepts donations and volunteers as well.

You can visit Casey’s Cookies online at http://www.caseyscookies.org/ You can also find them on Facebook.

Pure Magic Ice Cream was our next stop (just the name makes you want some). Located in Kissimmee, Florida, these vendors were a little far from home, but we were glad they made the trip out to Clearwater for the day. Pure Magic uses Liquid Nitrogen to make fresh frozen ice cream, which according to their website is 320 degrees below zero. Pure Magic has been around since 2007 and was founded by Doug Mayhew and John Eustace. They can also serve alcoholic ice cream (interesting) and popular flavors are Pina Coloda, Strawberry Margarita, Kahlua, and more. I didn’t see these at their booth, but would love to try some! They cater all kinds of events and serve Tampa, Orlando, and Central Florida.

You can watch the process below:

Liquid Nitrogen freezing the ice cream. Justin had some ice cream and loved it, he claims its some of the freshest tasting ice cream he has had. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it back to the booth to try it myself, but it looked appetizing.

Pure Magic on Urbanspoon

You can visit Pure Magic Ice Cream at their website: http://www.puremagicicecream.com/. You can also find Pure Magic on Yelp and Facebook (as well as Urbanspoon-just click the button above this).

We backtracked and visited Taste Cafe at this event as well. It’s been a few months since I last visited Taste Cafe for their Bloggers Dinner. It was great seeing an old friend again and sure enough Taste Cafe had some great choices of food to sample here.

This dish (almost all gone when I visited their booth) was Taste Cafe’s chocolate bread. One bite of it and I wanted to eat the whole thing…no wonder it was almost all gone. They offered two toppings: Irish Whiskey Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate Mousse, both were amazing! As usual the owners mouth-watering descriptions of their food remains true!

Taste Cafe also was offering another sample, which quickly became my favorite at Chocolate Sunday…

Black Bean Chili with chocolate in it. I’m not much of a chili-eater. I will eat some here and there…but this chili was so good. It could convert me into a daily chili lover. I wanted to take the whole pot home (maybe I will next time I stop at Taste Cafe).  The chili was appealing to all my taste buds and in the right way. Describing this chili in any other way than perfect would be wrong. It’s no wonder Taste Cafe won the most unique use of a chocolate award at Chocolate Sunday.

Continue on to Chocolate Sunday Part II

Chocolate Sunday

Chocolate Sunday just passed over the weekend and what an event it was! The sheer massive amount of people and vendors all interacting was quite an experience. Attempting to cover this whole event in one blog would probably be impossible (or kill your internet speed with all the photos I took), therefore this blog will split into parts. No one part is better than the other so be sure to check it out all out and see what Chocolate Sunday was all about and the great food that was brought there by vendors around the Tampa Bay area and Florida state.

Chocolate Sunday

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV