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Laura Reiley, Times Food Critic

Laura Reiley

Laura Reiley is the Tampa Bay Times' restaurant critic and a former critic for the San Francisco Chronicle and the Baltimore Sun. She is the author of four books in the Moon Handbook series: Florida Gulf Coast; Walt Disney World and Orlando; Tampa and St. Petersburg; and the Paradise Coast. She has cooked professionally and is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy.

Phone: (727) 892-2293


Twitter: @LReiley

  1. Renowned chef Ferran Adrià talks food as art at the Dalí Museum


    ST. PETERSBURG — Often described as "the Salvador Dalí of the kitchen," Catalonian chef Ferran Adrià, who some call the world's greatest chef, stood before giant video screens at the Dalí Museum on Friday morning. In town for the debut of the exhibit "The Invention of Food," an homage to Adrià and his now-closed El Bulli restaurant, he explained why sometimes food is just sustenance, sometimes it is craft and occasionally it is elevated to art. ...

    Chef Ferran Adria looks at the Jamon Iberico being served during the media preview of the special exhibition Ferran Adria: The Invention of 
Food" at The Dali Museum. The exhibit focuses Chef Ferran Adria of El Bulli and the connections that can be made between his work and the work of Salvador Dali. The museum is also hosting a series of curated Immersion Dinners that will take place at the museum during the run of the exhibit with local chefs including Michael Mina, Greg Baker, Jeannie Pierola, and Tyson Grant. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  2. For St. Petersburg's Dr. BBQ, the journey to fame was low and slow (w/video)



    It was Taco Tuesday in a neighborhood bar and Ray Lampe ordered a beer, nothing fancy, and two tacos with rice and beans.

    The St. Petersburg grillmaster is arguably the most famous food celebrity Florida has. His is the perfect kind of fame. It's not the Taylor Swift kind with squealing and stakeouts. But if you dine out with the star, who has won more than 300 barbecue competitions, hobnobs with folks like Justin Timberlake and is invited to Guy Fieri's birthday every year, you see it....

    Photo Courtesy of Ray LampeRay Lampe with what he called his "mountain man beard" in the early 80s at the Mike Royko Ribfest in Chicago.
  3. Dining Planner: Eat out this week for an array of kids' causes

    Food & Dining


    At Night of the Iguana on Friday, guests can help grant the wishes of kids with life-threatening medical conditions while enjoying food samples from 20 restaurants, live music from the Black Honkeys and Pelican King, an open bar, dancing, and silent and live auctions at TPepin's Hospitality Centre. 7-11 p.m. Tickets, $150, benefit the Make A Wish Foundation Central and North Florida Chapter. 4121 N 50th St., Tampa. (813) 288-2600....

    Former Times food and travel editor Janet K. Keeler will present “Hungry for Stories: Connecting Food to Our Narrative” from 10-11:30 a.m. Oct. 4 in Davis Hall, Room 130 on the St. Petersburg campus.
  4. How do food delivery services like UberEATS, GrubHub, FoodNow and Doorstep Delivery stack up?

    Food & Dining

    Delivery meant pizza. Period. And not too often. Just for those kinds of cruddy days when maybe you'd been rear-ended or the dog had done something unconscionable on the rug.

    So the rise of app-based food delivery services has largely flummoxed me. What kinds of foods, beyond pepperoni-extra-cheese, travel well? Do you tip? How long does it take? Can you provide feedback or make special requests? Does the food even approximate what you would have been served in the restaurant? What if it doesn't show up? And doesn't the driver's car start to smell really weird after a few weeks of deliveries?...

    UberEATS delivered these fries from Square 1 Burgers in South Tampa.
  5. Restaurant review: Cafe Largo one of few remaining authentic French restaurants in Tampa Bay

    Food & Dining


    Where have they all gone?

    Thirty years ago, fine dining meant French dining. Coquilles Saint-Jacques, sole meuniere and duck a l'orange; cream sauces and poufy souffles that made a whole dining room sigh in anticipation.

    French restaurants have disappeared. And this is not isolated to Tampa Bay. In metro areas all over America, diners are wondering where they went, fruitlessly trolling for coq au vin and soupe de poisson a la rouille. What's weird is this: Anybody who has been to culinary school has been put through their paces in French fundamentals, Escoffier and Careme and the "mother sauces."...

    Brad Frost pours wine at Caf? Largo’s 30th anniversary dinner.
  6. Dining Planner: It's a war zone with burger battles and sushi skirmishes galore

    Food & Dining


    It's a war out there. A delicious one. First up is the Beer and Burger Throwdown on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. Attendees taste and vote for their burger favorites, with restaurants and food trucks offering their best burger creations for $3 to $5, local brews on tap from the beer stations and free craft beer and home brews to sample. Guests can watch college football under the tents, enjoy the DJs, play in the game zone for adults or hang out with pets in the dog zone. There's also a fun zone for kids and a craft village in the stadium's North Parking Lot. Noon to 6 p.m. $10, cash at door; free for active military and kids younger than 16. Burger, beer and beverage costs are extra. Proceeds benefit Animal Coalition of Tampa. 4201 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (727) 674-1464....

    Pisces Sushi & Global Bistro owner Jeff Keene III, left, Roy Quijano, center and Robert Guzman, right, assemblesush during the first Sushi Battle Tampa Bay in 2015.
  7. Acai bowls? Ramen? They're among changes at St. Petersburg's constantly shifting Locale Market



    For the past several months, rumblings of an imminent restaurant recession have reverberated through the food service world. Amid the rumblings, Locale Market and its FarmTable Kitchen have just unveiled the biggest changes yet — changes that experts say fit into the direction food service is moving nationally.

    Locale, constantly in a state of evolution since its December 2014 debut, has shrunk sections like produce and fresh fish to make way for new quick-serve and prepared-food stations. It has debuted a ramen station, an expanded sushi bar, a poke bowls station and a build-your-own-meal option with easy heat-and-eat items. Think roasted turkey breast with cauliflower and sweet potatoes or Faroe Island salmon and quinoa with avocado and lime vinaigrette....

    Mixed fruit cups sprinkled with chili lime spice sit at the Sun and Moon Salutation area at Locale Market.

  8. Restaurant review: Pesky Pelican a solid neighborhood joint, with a focus on beer

    Food & Dining


    The biggest downside to a sizzling downtown restaurant scene is parking. The second biggest is this: The humble neighborhood mom-and-pop — the kind of place where the idea of reservations is hilarious and the owner knows your name, your drink and your dog's name (heck, even your dog's drink) — gets squeezed out by hipster retro diners and bespoke grilled cheeseries. Real estate becomes too dear for the kind of easy hangout where there's not precisely a culinary concept beyond "food people like to eat" and where no one has ever said pre-dinner to their beloved, "Is that what you're wearing?" ...

    Pesky Pelican will be owner Dan Pemberton’s nanobrewery when all the permitting gets worked out, with four beers on offer at a time: his raspberry wheat, a seasonal beer, a solid staple and one that Dan can play around with.
  9. For a local woman with multiple food allergies, dining out is complicated

    Food & Dining


    She scarcely glanced at the menu. When the server arrived, she took a neon pink sheet from her purse and handed it over.

    At the top: "I have food allergies. Peanuts are fatal."

    It went on to list everything else Linda McIlroy, 69, was allergic to. Milk, eggs, shellfish, mushrooms and peas.

    The waitress at Buya, a hot new ramen house in St. Petersburg, blanched a bit but kept a cool poker face....

    Linda McIlroy eats a brunch of rye toast, bacon, tomatoes, potatoes and fresh fruit at the Frog Pond restaurant in North Redington Beach.
  10. Dining Planner: What you need to know for the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

    Food & Dining

    Epcot: 62 days of food & wine

    We're just around the corner from the 21st Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Sept. 14 to Nov. 14. It has become one of the country's top food festivals and features Instagram-worthy sips and bites at more than 30 marketplaces. And for the second consecutive year, ABC's Emmy Award-winning lifestyle series The Chew will produce a full week of programs from the festival. Hosts Mario Batali, Carla Hall, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz will share their Disney culinary adventures and tasty recipes before Epcot audiences Oct. 5-7 in shows scheduled to air Oct. 10-14. ...

    Guests can sample tapas-sized tastes of inventive cuisine and beverages at the Patagonia Marketplace during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival at Walt Disney World Resort.
  11. UberEATS to start food delivery in Tampa

    Food & Dining

    As if we needed another reasons to camp out on the sofa.

    Wednesday at 8 a.m., 75 Tampa restaurants will get in on what has been big news in most major metro areas this summer: UberEATS launches, offering food delivery from full menus of well-known area restaurants, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.

    The service will debut in Tampa, and in the next few weeks expand to other areas of Tampa Bay....

    On Wednesday at 8 a.m., 75 Tampa Bay restaurants will get in on what has been big news in most major metro areas this summer: UberEATS launches, offering food delivery from full menus of well-known area restaurants. SoHo Donuts, pictured, is one.
  12. Restaurant review: Goody Goody returns to Tampa, complete with iconic look and tastes

    Food & Dining


    “The taste, smell and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating food itself but also of place and setting," said John Allen, author of The Omnivorous Mind. "Food is an effective trigger of deeper memories of feelings and emotions, internal states of the mind and body."

    Take a bite of something and 50 to 100 cells called gustatory receptors get to work on each taste bud, sending signals to the brain's gustatory cortex. And the 12 million smell receptors of 450 different types in your nasal cavity get busy, too, sending electrical signals to your brain's olfactory bulb....

    The POX burger ($4.95) is human-sized and does not require jaw-unhingeing. It comes with an all-Florida beef patty, a soft bun and the components that make up the “POX” name: pickles, onions and a secret special sauce.
  13. Farm to Fable: What does it mean when a fast food or chain restaurant tells you it’s ‘local’?


    The professionally trained chef cracked eight eggs into rings on the griddle, delicately piercing the yolks. She toasted muffins, sizzled rounds of Canadian bacon and added careful squirts of real butter and squares of melty American cheese.

    White chef's jacket pristine, Jessica Foust, McDonald's Corporation's director of culinary innovation, was demonstrating how to make an Egg McMuffin. Debuted in 1972, it's a sandwich shrouded in urban myths: The eggs are fake! They're made in a 3-D egg printer!...

    Church Brothers Farms in Salinas, Calf. grow lettuces for Wendy's. Photo courtesy of Wendy's.
  14. Dining Planner: Junior Chefs of America compete, 'Top Chef' Jeffrey Jew cooks

    Food & Dining

    NOTE: Since this report was first posted, the Summer of Rum Festival has been canceled due to high winds from Hurricane Hermine. Refunds will be awarded at point of purchase.


    On Sunday, kids ages 4-17 compete in the annual Junior Chefs of America fundraiser to purchase kitchen equipment and utensils. Young chefs, tutored by local chefs that include Chopped contestant Rhonda Taylor DeLoatch, Paola Tazerez and Lauren Fury, square off by age groups to create winning Cuban sandwich recipes and win scholarships to further their culinary experience. The winner of each age group will be named a Top Junior Chef of America, with prize money of $500 and a 12-week scholarship to the Junior Chefs of America Cooking School, which is scheduled to open in September. Guests are invited to cheer on their favorite budding chef in a pet-friendly, outdoor setting with live entertainment, food vendors, kid-friendly vendors, educational learning booths and kids activities. Admission is free, but donations are welcome and will benefit Junior Chefs of America, a nonprofit cooking school. Noon to 5 p.m. Centennial Park, 1800 E Eighth Ave., Tampa. (813) 408-1078.

    Young chefs, tutored by local chefs, square off by age groups to create winning Cuban sandwich recipes and win scholarships to further their culinary experience.
  15. Cure your hangover with help from food critic Laura Reiley

    Taste Test

    Most of us remember our first time, the memory fuzzed with shame, or at least mild chagrin. As a seminal event, it may have set in motion a lifetime of proclivities, cemented a sense of self or delineated strong aversions.

    It sounds salacious, I know. In fact, this particular first is often yoked inextricably to that other one. I speak of our first hangover. That waking up, gum-eyed and sweater-toothed, to two thoughts in rapid succession: 1. Whaaa? 2. I'm dying. For slow learners among us, it may take years to unravel the mystery of how much, and in what combination, is too much. (Wait, is it beer before liquor, never sicker?)...

    Close up of young adult hands holding colored cocktails and toasting in a night club