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10 fall food and drink moments we’re looking forward to

From cookbooks by Alison Roman and Antoni Porowski to local bake shops and Oktoberfest, we’re ready for the season.
St. Petersburg's Saturday Morning Market starts Oct. 5. [Times (2016)]
Published Sep. 25
Updated Sep. 25

After a slow summer season, we click back into culinary gear in September.

It’s the official start of fall, the busier season for restaurants, the time of year when notable cookbooks are released in time for holiday gift planning. Farmers markets start up again. Stone crab season begins mid October. Some of our favorite foods are back in season — apples! Monster cereals for Halloween! Warm beverages! And dining outdoors on your back patio doesn’t seem like the crazy idea it once was.

From places to eat and drink to TV shows and cookbooks, here are 10 culinary concepts we’re looking forward to in the coming months.

Wine bars

Natural wines are having a moment in Tampa Bay. [MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | Times]

Is wine the new craft beer in Tampa Bay? It sure seems like it. The natural wine trend popular in cities like New York and Los Angeles has made its way to our area, and pet-nats and skin-contact whites are popping up all over. Beaujolais Nouveau Day, which celebrates the annual release of the young gamay from the Beaujolais region of France, is Nov. 21. And by the end of 2019, three new wine bars are slated to open in Tampa Bay, at least two of which will make natty wines a focus.

First up is Oxford Exchange’s Champagne Bar, a new concept opening in early October. The bar in the Tampa retail space/restaurant will offer glasses of Champagne, rose and select cocktails. In keeping with the Instagrammable aesthetic of Oxford Exchange, the space will make a splash with “pink and red shades, lush fabrics, and exuberant textures,” according to Oxford Exchange. And they’re partnering with Rifle Paper Co. for custom illustrations on the cocktail menu, and even a Rifle Paper Co.-themed drink. The bar will be open from 9 a.m. (!) to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and at 11 a.m. Sunday.

Next door to Cafe Ten-O-One, CellarMasters Wine Bar & Bottle Shop plans to open this fall. [MEAGHAN HABUDA | Tampa Bay Times]

Coming to St. Petersburg’s Edge District is CellarMasters, a wine bar and bottle shop that aims to open by December. Located at 1005 First Ave. N, the space will offer bottles of wine on the retail side and by-the-glass wines and beer on the other side of the property. There will also be small bites. Ryan Rugg, a veteran of the wine industry, and Kory Lynn, a sommelier, are opening the concept, which they hope will help make wine more accessible and approachable.

Joining CellarMasters in St. Petersburg is Book + Bottle, a half book store, half wine bar from owner Terra Dunham. Opening at 17 Sixth St. N in December, the menu will be heavy on natural wines and there will be a full coffee bar with food, including cheese plates.

Wandering Whisk Bakeshop

Jennifer Jacobs, owner of Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. [Courtesy of Jen Jacobs]

Jennifer Jacobs started Wandering Whisk Bakeshop in 2016, creating decadent neon cakes and cookie sandwiches out of her own apartment. She continued to craft her creations at home, even as she grew the company and quit her day job.

Not anymore.

In October, she’ll debut her first commercial baking space, a place in Pinellas Park she’s calling a “boutique bakery studio.” It will primarily be a space for Jacobs to craft the custom orders her business is built on. But she also plans to offer baking classes, and open the shop for popups every so often.

RELATED: Jen Jacobs started Wandering Whisk Bakeshop out of her home kitchen

Wandering Whisk Bakeshop has moved into its first brick-and-mortar, a space in Pinellas Park. [Courtesy of Jennifer Jacobs]

The first popup, and the shop’s official grand opening, is Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — or whenever Jacobs runs out of sweets. Expect fall-themed treats like caramel apple and pumpkin spice macarons, pumpkin spice latte cupcakes, a sweet corn cookie sandwich and other Wandering Whisk classics. There will be another popup in December.

The space is a big deal for Jacobs, who quickly outgrew her home baking setup. The new bakery is stocked with a much larger oven, fridge and freezer.

“The oven, I’m so happy about,” she said. “I went from making 20 macaron shells in my home oven. Now I make 160 at a time. It’s going to bring some of my sanity back, honestly.”

Jubilee: Recipes From Two Centuries of African American Cooking

In her celebrated book The Jemima Code, author Toni Tipton-Martin explored more than two centuries’ worth of African-American cookbooks — an annotated biography that examined the stereotypes surrounding black food culture and shed light on the contributions of African-American women in the creation of American cuisine. Her followup, Jubilee, takes a deeper look at the evolution of African-American cooking, with recipes accompanied by detailed descriptions on their origins.

The strong narrative approach throughout the book is accompanied by historical anecdotes and gorgeous photography. From salmon croquettes and Nigerian black-eyed pea fritters, crawfish bisque to coffee-scented short ribs and biscuit-topped chicken pot pie, this book aims to be a celebration of African-American cooking today. It’s out Nov. 5 (Clarkson-Potter, $35). — Helen Freund, Times food critic

A Jeff Goldblum TV show

Jeff Goldbum [Associated Press]

Yes, the guy from Jurassic Park. Though if that’s how you primarily know Goldblum, you’re missing out on a highly inquisitive mind. From his jazz performances to his rhapsodic appearances on talk shows and podcasts, the 66-year-old actor has become one of pop culture’s greatest icons. And now everyone will soon get to see The World According to Jeff Goldblum.

The new series, hosted by Goldblum and produced by National Geographic, premieres on Disney’s new Disney+ streaming service on Nov. 12. According to Disney, the show will “follow Goldblum as he travels the globe and explores pretty much whatever interests him in that moment." We can’t wait to see what he thinks about culinary topics that apparently range from “ice cream” to “Korean barbecue.”

Oktoberfest, a.k.a. beer season

Contestants of a stein hoisting competition hold large beer steins at the Oktoberfest celebration at Curtis Hixon Park in 2015. [LUIS SANTANA | Times (2015)]

Pumpkin beer releases give way to Oktoberfest celebrations, which run throughout the month of October in Tampa Bay. The beer-centric festival in Munich, Germany, goes through Oct. 6; the big Tampa Bay parties mostly start that weekend or the one after. Among them: the German American Society of Pinellas Park’s celebration, which kicks off Oct. 4; Dunedin Brewery’s Oktobeerfest 2019, a festival with seasonal beer, German food and music Oct. 3-6; and Tampa’s 10th annual Oktoberfest in Curtis Hixon Park, a big outdoor party on the waterfront Oct. 11-13.

The beer spirit runs through the season, with festive beer releases (lots of Marzens and pumpkin flavors) and smaller Oktoberfest celebrations at breweries around Tampa Bay.

A salad concept from the Il Ritorno owners

Chef David Benstock and his wife Erica Benstock inside their restaurant, Il Ritorno. [Times (2014)]

Tampa Bay is woefully lacking many true salad-centric restaurants, especially of the fast-casual variety. So we’re interested in the sophomore effort from David and Erica Benstock, who own downtown St. Petersburg Italian restaurant Il Ritorno. Chef David Benstock has cooked dinner at the famed James Beard House in New York City, and he’ll bring that pedigree to this new space along with his wife and Hype Group owner Brooke Boyd and her husband Peter, who owns Boyd Construction.

RELATED: We review Il Ritorno in St. Petersburg

In the former Kalamazoo Olives space at 449 Central Ave., the team will open Greenstock in late October just a couple of doors down from Il Ritorno. The concept will focus on fresh ingredients, quality proteins and made-to-order salads with homemade dressings. They’re tight-lipped about the details, but we’re hoping it’s the kind of spot you can pop into for a quick, robust salad.

“Nothing will come from a can or jar,” David Benstock said. “We (will) have the same food philosophy at Greenstock as we do at Il Ritorno — super fresh and homemade.”

Farmers markets

Little Pond Farm staffer Willie Bonner stacks produce at the Saturday Morning Market. [Times (2016)]

Lots of Tampa Bay’s farmers markets start up in October, signaling a time of year when strolling through rows of produce, handmade goods and prepared foods is at least slightly more bearable. One of the area’s largest markets, the St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market, opens Oct. 5 with dozens of vendors in the Al Lang Stadium parking lot.

Alison Roman’s new cookbook

One of our most anticipated cookbooks of the year comes from Alison Roman, a recipe creator and writer for the New York Times and other culinary outlets. She’ll debut Nothing Fancy on Oct. 22, a guide to “unfussy food for having people over.” It’s the followup to Roman’s Dining In, one of 2018′s most well-reviewed food reads.

Roman is one of the sharpest culinary voices of the moment, her recipes sophisticated and simple, her tone cheeky and irreverent yet bolstered by years of restaurant experience and deep cooking knowledge. We can’t wait to read her take on entertaining, or, as she refers to it, “the art of having people over."

Olivia

A rendering of the new restaurant Olivia, from Chris Ponte and his team. [Courtesy of Olivia]

This long-awaited restaurant from local chef Chris Ponte and his wife, Michelle, is named after the couple’s daughter and is set to open at the end of October at 3601 W Swann Ave. in Tampa. According to JT Mahoney, a partner on the project and the Pontes’ son, Olivia will feature “traditional Italian cuisine with a modern flair.”

The vibe will be casual and the food will be sophisticated, much like the Pontes’ On Swann, which they opened in Hyde Park with John and Trudy Cooper in 2016. There will be a “working dough room” in the restaurant so guests can watch chefs make pizza dough, fresh mozzarella, pasta and ravioli while they dine. There will also be a full bar and a temperature-controlled wine wall.

RELATED: On Swann is one of the best restaurants in Tampa Bay

Chris Ponte, a James Beard Award nominee, has been a leader in the Tampa Bay culinary scene since he opened Cafe Ponte in 2002. After this, he’ll debut a space at the new Midtown Tampa.

Antoni in the Kitchen

From left, Karamo Brown, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Antoni Porowski and Bobby Berk in Netflix's 'Queer Eye'. Porowski has released a new cookbook. [Netflix]

The new cookbook from Queer Eye star Antoni Porowski feels as much a reaction to people making fun of him for putting yogurt in guacamole (we’re on Antoni’s side) as it does a way to showcase his Polish heritage. In Antoni in the Kitchen, which debuted earlier this month, you’ll find sophisticated recipes that indicate Porowski knows what he’s doing in the kitchen. And lots of nods to Eastern Europe, like his Polish hangover soup called Zurek.

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