THE TWO B'S: BEER AND BACON
For the second year, Patrick Green is putting on the St. Pete Beer and Bacon Festival at Vinoy Park from 1 to 6 p.m. Jan. 20. Last year more than 5,000 people showed up to celebrate both B's. Why this particular dynamic duo?
"Beer and bacon — both ingredients are so versatile, really. There's even bacon-flavored beer. Bacon can be in desserts and can be put in anything. Who doesn't love it," Green asks. "And the craft beer movement has really caught, especially here in the Tampa Bay area."
The event features more than 60 craft beers from 30 breweries, most local and regional, plus 15 different cocktails and wines with 18 food vendors providing well over 100 bacon-intensive dishes. General admission is $15 presale, $20 at the door. Drink sampling is $35 presale and $40 on the day of. Food is individually priced. Part of the proceeds will benefit Pet Pal Animal Shelter. Music will be provided by the Super Villains and Pitbull Toddler. stpetebeerandbacon.com.
ROLL YOUR OWN: BURRITOS
Here's something that I can't quite wrap my head around. Tijuana Flats has just launched a take-home burrito meal kit — "Hardly Homemade Burrito Kit" — which is now available on UberEats and through in-store takeout. Priced at $34.99, the burrito kit feeds up to six people and includes protein (chicken and beef); toppings (jalapenos, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and cheese); choice of refried or black beans; rice, flour or wheat tortillas and chips. Okay, the meat, that's restaurant food. But isn't the rest just groceries? The ascendance of food delivery gives rise to deep thoughts.
BOGO: RATTLE N HUM
Greg Mikurak, owner of Rattle N Hum in St. Petersburg, is doing something a little different in the new year. The craft cocktail bar with its large selection of high-end whiskeys, scotches, bourbons, tequilas, etc. is starting a new promotion Saturdays from 4 to 8 p.m. In short, it's a two-for-one deal. That goes for Pappy Van Winkle 10 year: Buy a shot for $100 and get a second shot free.
"The best explanation is that people will come in with a group of four people and can order two local Mastry's Brewing Co. IPAs and two chilled shots of local 727 Vodka and they would receive four beers and four shots," Mikurak explains. "We have never seen a true craft cocktail bar ever do this kind of special. We have a list of specialty bottles that are allocated to only us and we specialize in local beers. We want people to come in and taste products that the high-end community raves about but others can't afford."
After the holidays, a little high-end luxury at affordable prices sounds kinda nice. Rattle N Hum is at 29 Third St. N in St. Petersburg.
HONDA, TOYOTA and … TOP CHEF?
On my to-do list in 2018: Visit Sun Toyota and Brandon Honda. They recently hired Earl Weiss to helm the two cafes located inside the dealerships owned by Morgan Auto Group. Here's what's different about Weiss — he trained at the fabled Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, N.Y. I think if a dealership has free self-serve popcorn I'm ahead of the game, so a Culinary Institute-trained chef serving up made-to-order breakfasts, lunches, dinners and all-day snacks and desserts throws me for a loop. Weiss cut his chops at country clubs in Pennsylvania, relocated to Florida in 2005 to become the banquet chef at Hawk's Cay Resort & Spa on Duck Cay and was named the resort's executive chef in 2007. He was most recently the general manager of Timber Pines Country Club in Spring Hill. So, if you'll excuse me I'm going to have my tires rotated and grab a salmon burger. For more information, visit suntoyota.com or brandonhonda.com.