Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Celebrate August food holidays: National Banana Split Day, National Whiskey Sour Day and more

There is a food holiday on almost every remaining day in August, according to Here are some ideas for how to celebrate them.

Michelle Stark, Times food editor

Aug. 18

National Ice Cream Pie Day

Not to be confused with ice cream cake, in which cake and ice cream must merge, ice cream pie is a cinch to whip up at home. Step 1: Buy a premade graham cracker crust. Step 2: Mix 2 pints vanilla ice cream with 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, 4 roughly chopped peanut butter cups and 2 roughly chopped Butterfinger bars. Step 3: Pour ice cream mixture into crust, cover and freeze for about 2 hours. Step 4: Eat and try not to get brain freeze.

Aug. 19

National Soft Ice Cream Day

We are going to interpret this as soft-serve ice cream, and advise you to go grab a cone at one of Tampa Bay's iconic old-time ice cream joints, like Dairy Kurl (1555 Gulf-to-Bay Blvd., Clearwater), where ice cream can be blended into a milkshake with candy; or the Twistee Treat on St. Pete Beach (6900 Gulf Blvd.), which has a soft-serve machine that can churn out up to 66 different flavors.

Aug. 20

National Chocolate Pecan Pie Day

We're going to cheat a bit on this one because the category is just too darn specific. Our recommendation is to stop into Wright's (1200 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa), known for its legendary pies, and grab a pecan. When you get home, if you really feel like honoring the day, melt some chocolate in a saucepan and pour it right on top of your slice.

Aug. 21

National Spumoni Day

More ice cream! Must be something about the August heat. This is a traditional Italian concoction made up of layered ice cream and candied fruit/nuts. An easy way to re-create the colorful dessert at home is to layer cherry, pistachio and chocolate or vanilla ice creams in a bowl.

Aug. 22

National Pecan Torte Day

Not to be confused with a tart, a torte is a very rich layered cake that's heavy on the sugar and cream. For a local take on the torte, try the pecan version at Piquant (1633 W Snow Ave., Tampa), a bakery in Hyde Park that was an early adopter of the cronut craze.

Aug. 23

National Sponge Cake Day

Need a quick homemade dessert? Try a fluffy sponge cake. In a bowl over a double boiler, mix 4 large eggs and 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar together, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Using a hand mixer, whip on high speed for about 6 minutes, until the mixture has increased in size and resembles ribbon when stirred. In another large bowl, combine 1 cup milk and 8 tablespoons butter and microwave until melted. Add 1 tablespoon vanilla extract and the egg mixture. Fold in 1 cup all-purpose flour and 1 cup cake flour. Stir to combine. Divide batter between two 8-inch round pans and bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 35 minutes.

Aug. 24

National Peach Pie Day

Feeling too lazy to make an entire pie? We feel you. Try this instead: Wash and core 4 peaches, then place them in a glass baking dish. Rub each piece with 1/2 tablespoon butter, then sprinkle with 1 teaspoon each brown sugar and cinnamon. Remove a frozen store-bought pie crust from its tin and press down slightly to flatten. Cut into 4 equal pieces, then layer each piece over a peach. Bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pie crust is cooked through and the peaches are soft.

National Waffle Day

Take the unexpected route and celebrate this day with some chicken and waffles. Our No. 1 pick in the bay area? The Fried Chicken and Waffles brunch dish at Noble Crust in St. Petersburg (8300 Fourth St. N). For an early dessert, hit up Urban Creamery (689 Central Ave.) a few miles away, which serves waffles topped with ice cream.

Aug. 25

National Whiskey Sour Day

If you're going to order one of these at a bar, you might as well choose one with stunning views: Head to Level 11 at the Grand Plaza Hotel Beachfront Resort (5250 Gulf Blvd.), a rooftop lounge overlooking St. Pete Beach.

National Banana Split Day

Head to Bo's in Tampa (7101 N Florida Ave.), where they have something called an upside-down banana split: sliced banana, ice cream, hot fudge, pineapple topping, whipped cream, nuts and more.

Aug. 26

National Cherry Popsicle Day

Go to the Hyppo in downtown St. Petersburg (627 Central Ave.) and indulge in a gourmet popsicle. (The pop shop probably won't have any flavor quite as rudimentary as "cherry.")

Aug. 27

National Pots de Creme Day

Locale Market's FarmTable Kitchen (179 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg) has a decadent, reasonably priced bowl of butterscotch pot de creme, a traditional French custard dessert, for $6.

Aug. 28

National Cherry Turnover Day

Head to Largo for a stop at Frida's (9700 Ulmerton Road), a cafe with a giant bakery case that contains everything from simple almond cookies to full German chocolate cakes. They have fresh cherry (and apple) turnovers, too. Fun fact: A mini turnover comes with many of their breakfast entrees.

Aug. 29

National Chop Suey Day

Pop into China Yuan (8502 N Armenia Ave.), a north Tampa spot that is serving simple, authentic Chinese food. The menu comes with a dare: "If you don't see what you want, ask! We can prepare almost any dish." Try placing an order for the Americanized Chinese dish chop suey, a meat entree heavy on the bean sprouts and bamboo shoots.

Aug. 30

National Trail Mix Day

Make a quick trail mix you can bring to work to hold you over until dinner: In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup roasted peanuts (you can buy raw ones and pop them in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes), 1 cup roasted almonds, 1 cup dried cranberries or blueberries, 1/2 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup pretzels or popcorn. Stir, then divide into 4 zip-top bags.

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