Father's Day isn't as long-standing a tradition as Mom's special day (Mother's Day dates to 1872, Father's Day to 1910). Nonetheless, the third Sunday in June is preceded by a mad scramble to get something fitting for the gentleman of the house. Cuff links, sporting equipment or, for the dad who knows his way around the kitchen, here are our picks for affordable foodie Father's Day finds.
. 'Tis the seasoning
Tim Lawhorn's family has owned drugstores or restaurants in downtown Haines City since the 1940s. Following behind Grandma Bunny, Tim learned to cook at the counter of old-fashioned soda shops. One rule: Don't be afraid to season your food. That advice stayed with him through jobs as executive chef all across the country until he returned to Haines City, where he started Lawhorn's Corner Cafe and began to market Lawhorn's Signature Seasoning. Kosher and low in sodium, it's an all-purpose seasoning blend with a nice balance of onion, garlic and pepper that seems to work especially well for steaks on the grill. It's available at lawhorns.net for $6.99 and also at Publix stores.
n Dad meets grill
The Grill Wizard grill brush has twice been voted "Best Brush" by Cook's Illustrated. It features replaceable stainless steel mesh scouring pads rather than bristles. The pad conforms to grill grates and doesn't wear down like metal bristles, and you can pop the handle in the dishwasher for cleaning. You can buy replacement pads online or replace them with inexpensive scouring pads from your neighborhood market. The Grill Wizard is available online at toolwizard.com for $11.98 plus shipping (or as part of a barbecue bundle with other tools for $49.99). It is also available at Grate Grills and More in Oldsmar for $10.99.
m For the spirited father
Food & Wine's new Cocktails '09 is at the top of a heap of new cocktail books for a number of reasons. First, rather than focusing on one spirit at a time, it groups its 150 drinks into categories: by-the-pitcher drinks, frozen drinks, seasonal drinks or the still-trendy Latin drinks. Some may be esoteric (say, the "Boris Karloff" with its St. Germain elderflower liqueur), but the categories get creative juices flowing, and if that's not enough, the recipe for bacony peanuts, in a party food section, will make you drool. A pocket-guide size, it also has gorgeous photographs, and the list of the country's top 100 bars at the back makes it a good business traveler's companion. (Alas, the only mention in Florida is the Florida Room at the Delano Hotel in Miami Beach.) The book is available at bookstores or Amazon.com for a list price of $14.99.
m Meat of the matter
Three graduates of St. Petersburg's Canterbury High School, Chris Fuller, Frank Craft and Ted Saksefski, may be best known for their indie film, Loren Cass, about adolescents growing up in St. Petersburg in 1996. But their year-old Meatman is a note-worthy achievement as well. The small boutique specializes in premium meats and exotic game. A recent visit turned up rattlesnake, kangaroo medallions and little individually wrapped scorpions ($5; crunchy but not necessarily tasty, says Fuller). More impressive, though, were the thick-cut, Cryovac-packed prime steaks. For Father's Day, the Meatman is offering 10 percent off the prime steaks — still not inexpensive, but an Iowa-raised, 24-ounce, wet-aged porterhouse (regularly $39.49) was deeply flavorful and absolutely luscious with marbling. The shop is located at 6336 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. Contact (727) 525-6585 or meatmansteaks.com.
Laura Reiley can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2293. Her blog, the Mouth of Tampa Bay, is at www.blogs.tampabay.com/dining.