ST. PETERSBURG — In only its third year, St. Petersburg's young wine festival already is attracting wine world royalty.
Arriving as one of the honored guests of the Museum of Fine Arts' Wine Weekend St. Pete, Feb. 8-10, is no less a grand personage than Jean-Charles Boisset of Napa and Sonoma and Burgundy, France. Not a true king, perhaps, but as head of Boisset Family Estates, he oversees so many dominions in France and America that he has nearly as many titles as a Hapsburg. ...
The sign promising "Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture'' seems out of place on a dull stretch of Interstate 4 east of Tampa.
It takes just a few minutes from the busy highway to get through downtown and its fringe to reach Florida Southern College. The drive is nondescript, but then Wright, America's most famous architect, was never a fan of the grand entrance. ...
02/09/09 Bars & Spirits
While hard times hit even wealthy Naples, its big-hearted wine-lovers dug further into deep pockets to raise $5-million for the far less privileged at the Naples Winter Wine Festival last weekend.
The final total was a fraction of the amount that in past years made Naples the world's richest wine event. Last year's event raised $14-million. Still, the auction remains Florida's most lavish and generous affair, studded with food and wine stars, including the Food Network's Emeril Lagasse. ...
09/09/08 Bars & Spirits
Not many corners around Tampa Bay look like a quaint English village, complete with a friendly pub. And that's especially so in the pristine precincts of Westchase, which was an empty stretch of Hillsborough County just 10 years ago. Yet now it has a local joint where beer and good spirits spill as happily as they do after a soccer match in Fullpint-on-Tiddly.
And more generously. Since the World of Beer, like all American bars, is not tied to a single brewery as often is the case in Britain, the publicans here can pull dozens of lagers, ales and porters on draft. Plus, last call is much later. ...
09/02/08 Bars & Spirits
You may know the name, perhaps too well. Sonoma-Cutrer has specialized in chardonnay for so long that it has topped most restaurant wine lists for years and has run the risk of over-oaked over-familiarity.
Not this bottle. It's a new mid-range blend of the best foggy S-C vineyards on the coast, from a superb 2005 crop. You'll taste juicy fruit basket to start, with a whiff of lemons on the nose and a platter of apples, melons, pears and pineapples in the mouth. Winemakers imposed a leaner style, crisp from the get-go, spiked with ginger and spice, front and back. Butter and cream, sure, but not too much, more like a lemon gingersnap. ...
08/26/08 Bars & Spirits
Today's puzzle: Whatever happened to the carmenere grape, which was a regular minor character in the red wines and vineyards of Bordeaux until the phylloxera devastation of at the end of the 1800s?
Well, it migrated to Chile before the crisis and masqueraded there as merlot for almost a century. It has been rediscovered and is now the signature of Chilean reds. La Playa's is a fine example, but there are others you should explore....
08/19/08 Bars & Spirits
This is mighty young stuff, but it's just in time for summer's best steaks.
McManis Family Vineyards' petite sirah is a strapping friendly farm kid from big acreage in California's San Joaquin Valley. Ordinarily that gets little respect compared with more precious turf, but the McManis family of longtime farming and modern smarts proves its worth and value here.
The nose is jammy with dark fruits and berries. You might expect peanut butter next, but what you get is chocolate around jelly-thick fruit and hints of cinnamon spice. There's a very easy texture with even more fruit at the end. ...
Once you've made friends with eggs again, invite them for supper. They can be charming dinner partners.
Around the world, the egg and its abundance of inexpensive protein is welcome at the table all day long with an amazing variety of companions.
In restaurants, breakfast for dinner has become so popular that the American Egg Board hosted a seminar on the topic. In grammar-crunching jargon, the Egg Board calls the reshuffling of meals "re-dayparting.'' Or as MBAs might say, eggs are being repurposed on a new platform. ...
08/12/08 Bars & Spirits
The weather this year has been maddening for the gang at Dry Creek Vineyards and their neighbors in northern Sonoma County.
Less rain and snow meant less water in the reservoirs. When a late frost struck in March, not everyone had water to protect their vines. Then came a hot, dry summer when even more water was needed. Then there were wildfires: Would the ash and dust in the air muddy the grapes? ...
08/12/08 Bars & Spirits
Groans or grins at the name on the label are deserved, but the cause of the puns and the wine inside are legitimate.
Kent Rosenblum, who founded the winery and is a consulting winemaker, is also a veterinarian and devoted dog lover. He chipped in $40,000 of the proceeds from the first year of the Bone project to Paws for the Cause, which trains animals to help the disabled.
The wine is mostly syrah and zinfandel, mourvedre and carignane, Rosenblum favorites that borrow from the Rhone more than Beaune or chateau country cabs. It's tail-wagging friendly in texture, with a nose and mouth full of cherries, spice and smoke. Meaty, but not a chew toy....
08/10/08 Working Life
ST. PETERSBURG — "American Dream,'' Joel Goetz says when he answers the phone.
His voice is as smooth and sweet as brown mustard, husky with the tang of 20 years in a kosher deli. In the next hour, he fields 13 more calls from people who want a bite of the dream he's peddling: a new hot dog cart.
In hard times, the appeal of low-cost self-employment soars — and a tiny stainless steel restaurant on two wheels gleams. ...
How will you celebrate tonight's opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics? If you're anything like us, you'll be piling up on the couch with some mood-setting Chinese takeout. We've all got our strip-mall favorites, but if you crave something a little more filling, here are our picks for the 10 best Chinese food joints in Tampa Bay.
1. Yummy House, Tampa: It doesn't look (or sound) like much, but this unassuming strip-mall joint produces authentic, amazing Hong Kong-style cuisine. The Peking duck and salt and pepper tofu are absolute winners, plus you can bring your own wine or beer and drink without a corkage fee. Trust us: The name fits. 2202 W Waters Ave., Suite 1, Tampa; (813) 915-2828....
As long as summer smothers on, let's keep chilling with bright new whites from Spain.
This one is a sharp blend of old, new and borrowed too. Chardonnay came from the international generic inventory, but macabeo, a.k.a. viura, is a Spanish favorite in easy whites and cava sparkling.
Castano is rebuilding the vineyards and credibility of Yecla in the very sunny south of Spain, and elevating macabeo grapes too....
Dr. Doolittle only talked with the animals; friends of Lowry Park Zoo can drink with them at the 13th annual WaZoo celebration Saturday night.
Well, not quite.
Zookeepers will bring out an armadillo and a few show animals on leashes, but the rest of the park's residents will be kept to their regular bedtimes in their sleeping cages.
"The only animals out that night are wearing flip-flops,'' says Jimmy Mela of Tampa's Vintage Wine Cellars, who has rounded up beer for WaZoo from the beginning. ...
07/29/08 Bars & Spirits
This is the work of legendary winemaker Tom Mackey, although it looks like that of CSI: Sonoma. You are seeing spots on the label. Splotches and splatters of red paint spill in a dozen patterns on black and gold.
The wine inside is a good value blend from St. Francis, a merlot leader. It's heavy on that grape, cabernet sauvignon and cab franc, plus zinfandel for California spice....