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A guide to Tampa Bay food and drink events this weekend

A local family revives the Polar Cup in Bradenton and Sarasota, two chili competitions and more.
Michael Micochero, left, and his father Mike will service events and businesses with their new Polar Cup van in Sarasota and Bradenton. [Courtesy of the Polar Cup]
Michael Micochero, left, and his father Mike will service events and businesses with their new Polar Cup van in Sarasota and Bradenton. [Courtesy of the Polar Cup]
Published Jan. 8

THROWBACK TREAT: POLAR CUP

A beloved 1980s and ’90s slushie-style drink is making a comeback in Bradenton and Sarasota. Local entrepreneur Mike Micochero and his family have brought the Polar Cup back to the area, slinging the throwback treat from a van as an authorized distributor at events and other community appearances. “I fell in love with The Polar Cup as a kid and we would enjoy this treat all of the time — especially after football practices at Southeast High School. I’m proud to bring The Polar Cup back to our community,” said Micochero, who is also a representative with Otis Spunkmeyer, in a statement. “The Polar Cup was such a big part of our lives and it’s incredible to hear stories of people introducing their kids and grandkids to their favorite blast from the past.” He and his wife Diane, son Michael and daughter Cindy will service the events, as well as businesses, with their eight current flavors: lemon, watermelon, cherry, pina colada, strawberry, mango, pineapple and sour apple. They aim to expand their Polar Cup presence throughout southwest Florida. Other future plans include increasing the van’s fleet size and possibly a brick-and-mortar location. thepolarcup.com.

HOT STUFF: CHILI COMPETITIONS

Taste your way around the 10th annual Chili & Salsa Bowl. The crowd at the Countryside Country Club downs chili and salsa samples, then casts a vote for the People’s Choice award. Live music, games, prizes and face painting are planned, too. Benefits Humane Society of Tampa Bay. $10. 1-4 p.m. Saturday. 3001 Countryside Blvd., Clearwater. eventbrite.com.

Speaking of chili, if you think you’ve got what it takes to make the tastiest chili, Irish pub and restaurant O’Toole’s invites you to throw down during the Chili Cook Off. Cash and other prizes go to first and second place. Benefits 4 Lucky Dog Rescue. $10 entry fee. 1-4 p.m. Sunday. 1215 W Brandon Blvd., Brandon. (813) 684-2600.

Chili samples are one highlight of the Chili & Salsa Bowl, which will take place at Clearwater's Countryside Country Club on Jan. 11. [Times (2009)]

TEARIFFIC: BRITISH TEA

Tasty Venues welcomes the start of 2020, and continues its weekly tea-fueled gathering, with It’s a New Year! British Tea. Apple, beet and goat cheese, classic cucumber and ham and pear sandwiches are on the menu, alongside roast beef and coleslaw canape, lemon ginger scones and pot de creme. $25. 11 a.m. Saturday. 951 E Brandon Blvd., Brandon. (813) 381-4999. mytastyvenues.com.

BETTER TOGETHER: BRANDY & BACON

Hosted at gourmet foods shop Vom Fass, Brandy & Bacon pairs aged brandies from Spain, France and Italy with bacon dishes. Reservations are required. 7-8:30 p.m. Jan. 9. The Shops at Wiregrass, 28249 Paseo Drive, Suite 110, Wesley Chapel. (813) 907-2167. eventbrite.com.

DRINK UP: WINE TASTING

Join fellow oenophiles and Redneck Wine Company for the Friday Night Wine Tasting. As many as seven wines are up for sampling. $10. 6-8 p.m. every Friday. 3225 S MacDill Ave., Suite 117, Tampa. (813) 837-0004. redneckwinecompany.com.

GET CHEESY: COOKING CLASS

The next health-minded Nature’s Food Patch cooking class, Mac & (Multiple) Cheese Sauce Options, is made for mac and cheese fiends. Instructor John van Vlaardingen pulls off some mac for you to try, a lesson that includes a how-to on different plant-based cheese sauces. Free. 6 p.m. Jan. 9. 1225 Cleveland St., Clearwater. (727) 443-6703. naturesfoodpatch.com.

FREEBIE: NATIONAL BAGEL DAY

This year, Einstein Bros. Bagels rings in National Bagel Day earlier than usual, so as not to conflict with National Pizza Day on Feb. 3 (when Bagel Day is typically observed). Stop by your local store from the national chain for a celebratory offer: a free bagel and shmear with a purchase. A coupon that can be used toward another free bagel and shmear during a later visit is also given out. Free. All day Jan. 15. Locations vary. einsteinbros.com.

On Jan. 15, Einstein Bros. Bagels will offer a free bagel and shmear to customers who make a purchase at their local store. [Courtesy of Einstein Bros. Bagels]

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. The food is art at the Epcot International Festival of the Arts, including this cookie that looks like a painter's palette. [Walt Disney World]
    The 39-day celebration of art, entertainment and food kicked off Jan. 17.
  2. Clockwise from left: Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apple, Candy Corn and Cheeseburger-On-A-Stick [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]
    Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apples and more are coming to the Florida State Fair.
  3. The cans feature pups who are up for adoption at Shelter Manatee. [Motorworks Brewing]
    The beer, available for purchase in packs of four and cases of 24, will be available until they sell out, the brewery says.
  4. Kumquats in Dade City. [Times (2002)]
    Plus, St. Petersburg restaurant German Knodle made Yelp’s list of the top 100 places to eat.
  5. Beverage manager for the Tampa Yacht and Country Club, Kasia Nowakowska prepares a Milk Punch cocktail, the club's signature drink for Gasparilla. Milk Punch contains brandy, simple syrup, heavy cream, milk and is garnished with nutmeg. Nowakowska says the club will make more than 120 gallons of Milk Punch for the annual Gasparilla Parade of Pirates on Jan. 25 -- and most of it will be consumed by noon prior to the invasion. [CHRIS URSO  |  Times]
    There’s a lot of history pouring into the glasses along the parade route for the brunch (and even breakfast) cocktails.
  6. Catrinas Tacos and Tequila brought its tacos back to Tampa in a new location on Jan. 17. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times (2012)]
    Plus, the chains Shake Shack and Huey Magoo’s are coming to town.
  7. German beer accompanies a serving of currywurst and schnitzel topped with mushrooms and garlic fries at German Knödle, 951 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. [MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE  |  Times]
    Nutella-stuffed potato dumplings and rave reviews put German Knodle on Yelp’s Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S. list.
  8. Turkey Meatballs with hummus and an herby salad [MICHELLE STARK  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    It comes together so fast for a weeknight dinner.
  9. St. Peterburg's iconic restaurant the Belmark was known as an inexpensive spot to grab a meal. [Times (1982)]
    Expect an updated take on classic diner fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  10. Kumquats that are yet to be harvested in the groves at Kumquat Growers, Inc. in Dade City. The local agriculture business provides fruit for the annual Kumquat Festival to be held Jan. 25 in downtown Dade City. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
    After years of crop decline, there will be more fresh fruit at this year’s annual Kumquat Festival.
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