Sunday, November 19, 2017
Restaurant News

From shortcake to milkshakes, strawberry goodies are in season at Hillsborough County markets

RECOMMENDED READING


This time of year, between the Florida State Fair and Florida Strawberry Festival, it's not hard to locate a good slice of strawberry shortcake around town.

But if you really want to call yourself a shortcake expert, you need to hop in a car and head east.

February and March are the peak of our local strawberry season, and from Plant City to Brandon to Riverview, fresh markets are bustling with tourists and locals alike, all seeking some of the freshest, most gut-busting berry dishes in Florida. You'll find strawberry shortcake and milkshakes, of course, but also strawberry pizza, strawberry jam, strawberry cider, strawberry bread and so much more.

One recent day, I mapped out a tour of eastern Hillsborough County's top strawberry markets. You should do the same. Here, follow my lead …

Parkesdale Farm Market

Tampa Bay's best known strawberry market, Parkesdale, is also its most tourist-friendly, offering a ton of strawberry souvenirs in addition to a huge selection of fresh produce, jams, sauces, honeys and, of course, shortcake. On busy mornings (and this time of year, they're all busy mornings), Parkesale's shortcake line is an efficient, well-oiled machine. Adjust the variables as you see fit — whipped topping, vanilla ice cream, sweetened or unsweetened berries — just be prepared to order quickly. The assembly-line production kills a bit of that homespun, handmade feel — our milkshake came pre-made right out of the freezer — but at least you can enjoy your treats in a cool and shaded garden. All all, it's the quintessential Plant City strawberry experience, and everyone should go at least once. Parkesdale Farm Market, 3702 W Baker St., Plant City; (813) 752-0502, parkesdale.com.

Brandon Farms Market

This small farmer's market sits right on State Road 60, but it's got a comfy back-patio vibe that's perfect for a lunchtime escape. Your shortcake comes drowning in a sea of chopped berries and sauce, but if that's not your style, the menu has a few other berry selections, including strawberry pie, chilled tarts in a mini pie crust and strawberry pizza. Yes, pizza. It's a layer of berry slices and sauce layered atop a cheesecake-like spread on a crisp shortbread crust. It's worth ordering for the crust alone; snap off a piece and dip it in sauce or whipped cream, and it's heavenly. ­Brandon Farms Market, 3931 S.R. 60, Dover; (813) 685-4208.

Collins Farm Fresh Produce

Here's a rare east Hillsborough market that doesn't feel the need to play up its ties to the local strawberry industry. The huge outdoor market sells all types of fresh fruits and veggies, with the strawberry goodies mostly relegated to a small shack in one corner. They, too, serve strawberry pizza, but the sauce a bit too sticky and gelatinous for my taste. However, I'd rate Collins' shortcake and milkshake the best I found on my trip. The shortcake had a ton of topping, but the pillow of cake beneath wasn't drenched in berries. And the milkshake tasted fresh, not artificial, with big chunks of tart, straw-choking berries throughout. Be sure to enjoy its casual country vibe while you can — a brand-new Wawa is about to go up across the street. Collins Farm Fresh Produce, 2810 S.R. 60 E, Valrico; (813) 657-2016.

Goodson Farms

There's no getting around it: Goodson Farms isn't on the way to or from anywhere. Depending on where you're coming from, you may have to plan your entire day around getting all the way out to Balm. But once you arrive, you can see why tour buses of seniors sometimes line up for the shortcake. The indoor market is clean and comfortable, not unlike a church basement or fellowship hall. Here, too, you can get no-sugar-added berries on your shortcake, but why bother? They top each slice with what seems like an entire canister of whipped topping. Their pizza is also pretty solid, with thick, chunky, fresh strawberries and a sweet cookie-like crust. Yes, it's out of the way, but for any strawberry shortcake completist, it's worth the trip. Goodson Farms, 12405 County Road 672, Balm; (813) 634-7790, facebook.com/GoodsonFarms.

Comments
No Thanksgiving plan? Head to one of these Tampa Bay restaurants for traditional feasts and more

No Thanksgiving plan? Head to one of these Tampa Bay restaurants for traditional feasts and more

You realize Thanksgiving is just a week away, right? No pressure. If you don’t have a holiday game plan for Nov. 23, let’s do this thing. There are still a bunch of options, many traditional Thanksgiving repasts and some a little less conventional. C...
Published: 11/16/17
A St. Petersburg artist created the labels for this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau wine release

A St. Petersburg artist created the labels for this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau wine release

Every year, there are bad things we can count on: taxes and death. And good things: Thanksgiving Day on the fourth Thursday of November and on the Thursday before, the Beaujolais nouveau arrives. What is less predictable is just how this vin de l’ann...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Oak & Stone with self-serve beer coming to St. Pete, South Tampa’s Byblos to reopen

Oak & Stone with self-serve beer coming to St. Pete, South Tampa’s Byblos to reopen

COMING SOON: OAK & STONEBeen to Oak & Stone in Sarasota? In early 2018 we’ll get one in St. Petersburg at 199 Central Ave., next to the newly constructed Hyatt Place. The concept is wood-fired pizzas mated with a self-serve beer wall highlighting cr...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Restaurant review: NuMex needs to tell its story better to stand out among St. Petersburg’s taco scene

Restaurant review: NuMex needs to tell its story better to stand out among St. Petersburg’s taco scene

ST. PETERSBURGI seldom have been so perplexed about a new restaurant. The prospect of NuMex’s opening in the Grand Central District swirled more than a year ago and I watched the hip little building come together. The spelling of the name itself was ...
Published: 11/13/17
Proper in downtown St. Pete to close as Park & Rec takes over its space

Proper in downtown St. Pete to close as Park & Rec takes over its space

ST. PETERSBURG — Next week, something almost unprecedented is happening in St. Petersburg’s restaurant scene.Park & Rec, the game-oriented concept from Stephen Schrutt’s Hunger + Thirst Restaurant Group, will expand Nov. 17 into a second building. It...
Published: 11/10/17
Don’t want to cook on Thanksgiving? Where to pick up every part of the meal in Tampa Bay

Don’t want to cook on Thanksgiving? Where to pick up every part of the meal in Tampa Bay

Some years you’re feeling it. The peeling of the pearl onions, the procuring of the chestnuts, that one creepy moment when you’re nearly elbow-deep trying to locate the bag of giblets. Thanksgiving is the most important cooking holiday of the year, t...
Published: 11/08/17
Made Coffee’s cold brew creation is brewed and canned right here in Tampa Bay

Made Coffee’s cold brew creation is brewed and canned right here in Tampa Bay

ST. PETERSBURGLet’s start with the actual can itself, a turquoise-tan-orange vessel emblazoned with text and illustrations: "Ingredients: coffee, water, time"; an image of a simple coffee brewing process under "How we made it." The colors pop, the fo...
Published: 11/07/17
Updated: 11/10/17
New Indian restaurant Rasoi now open in Ybor City

New Indian restaurant Rasoi now open in Ybor City

Rasoi Indian Cuisine, launched its grand opening Saturday (Nov. 4) as the only Indian restaurant in Ybor City. Located at 1701 E Eighth Ave., the traditional restaurant cooks authentic Indian food with the finest spices and ingredients imported from...
Published: 11/07/17
Naples is a dining destination worth visiting, rich with newcomers and long-standing favorites

Naples is a dining destination worth visiting, rich with newcomers and long-standing favorites

NAPLES Naples Restaurant Week is a semiannual promotion celebrating the region’s best dining at an affordable price, with lunch and dinner prix fixe meals available for either $25 or $35, depending on the location. This year it’s slated ...
Published: 11/06/17
Calling food fans: This weekend has food festivals in Dunedin, Indian Rocks Beach and more

Calling food fans: This weekend has food festivals in Dunedin, Indian Rocks Beach and more

Let’s hope you’ve been in an abstemious mode, maybe even fasting this past week, because things are about to get real for Tampa Bay foodies. TAMPA GREEK FESTIVAL One of the biggest events this weekend is the Tampa Greek Festival at St....
Published: 11/03/17
Updated: 11/10/17