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What's happening in Tampa Bay food: Florida Hard Seltzer Fest, tropical fruit tasting

The Tropical Fruit Tasting, a two-day tradition that draws a crowd, will return to Jene’s Tropicals in St. Petersburg this weekend with everything from 20 specialty mango varieties to durian. [Times (2011)]
Published Jul. 17

GO HARD: Florida Hard Seltzer Fest

Down fizzy sippers created by bartenders of 10 local watering holes during 3 Daughters Brewing's Florida Hard Seltzer Fest. The seltzer mixology competition, which features Tito's Handmade Vodka and asks you to choose a winner, is a highlight of this inaugural celebration. Also expect live music and food from six restaurants in the area, including WEPA! Cocina de Puerto Rico and Red Mesa Cantina. Admission grants you unlimited beverages and bites. Benefits St. Petersburg Free Clinic. $50-$55, $70 VIP. 4-7 p.m. Saturday. 222 22nd St. S, St. Petersburg. (727) 495-6002. 3dbrewing.com.

MANGONIFICENT: Tropical Fruit Tasting

Try a global array of fruit at the Tropical Fruit Tasting. Now in its 23rd year, this two-day tradition draws a crowd with samples of everything from jackfruit and 20 specialty mango varieties to red Mexican papayas and, yes, even the notoriously stinky durian. Other highlights include tropical fruit dishes, hundreds of trees for sale (plus the raffle offering a 6-foot mango tree) and expert growing tips. Free. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Jene's Tropicals, 6831 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 344-1668. jenestropicals.com.

COP THE CROP: Vegetarian Beer Dinner

Dishes calling for fresh summer produce drive the Vegetarian Beer Dinner presented by Palate Culinary Services chef-owners John Lewis and Debbie McGiffin. Designed to appeal to all dietary persuasions and paired with house beers, the five-course meal offers toasted olive and Gouda quick bread with whipped ricotta and spicy sauteed kale; corn bisque over spiralized beets and lemony zucchini slaw; spicy veggie jambalaya; cauliflower, mushroom and walnut tacos with poblano rice; and brown sugar shortcake with warm bourbon peaches. Space is limited. Call for reservations. $50. 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Caledonia Brewing, 587 Main St., Dunedin. (727) 351-5105. caledoniabrewing.com.

BOOKS AND BITES: Vegan Popup and Cookbook Signing

Catch Megan Sadd, founder of L.A.-based vegan food blog Carrots and Flowers, at the Mermaid Tavern for a Vegan Popup and Cookbook Signing. Sadd visits the Seminole Heights hangout to sign her cookbook 30-Minute Vegan Dinners until 8 p.m. (limited copies are available for purchase) while providing a special menu of plant-based provisions featured in the tome — think oyster mushrooms po' boys, truffle mac and "cheese" or butterscotch bourbon bread pudding — while supplies last. The Vegan Popup and Cookbook Signing is a homecoming of sorts for Sadd, a Tampa native and graduate of Blake High School. 5-11 p.m. Saturday. 6719 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa. carrotsandflowers.com.

FEAST FOR THE SENSES: The Taste of Music

Listen up, adventurous diners. Traci Bryant Ferguson, a partner and the executive chef of hospitality company NINA, flexes her culinary talents at one of her three eateries during this feast for your taste buds — and eardrums. The Taste of Music pairs a curated 12-song soundtrack with eight food pairings, two cocktails and three wine pairings, as well as some surprises along the way. $100. 6-10 p.m. Monday. Caracara, 730 Broadway, Suite 4, Dunedin. (727) 221-5444. eventbrite.com.

GINVINCIBLE: Local 10 Year Switch finalist

10 Year Switch, the international cocktail contest celebrating a decade of Scottish gin Caorunn, has recognized Rock Brothers Brewing bartender Chris "Scooby" Olivier for one of his libations. Olivier was named among the five U.S. finalists for his Caorunn Calling, which mixes Caorunn with lavender syrup, dandelion extract, Angostura orange bitters and orange and grapefruit zests. Author and cocktail "godfather" Gaz Regan judged the entries on criteria like taste profile and creative presentation. Olivier's finalist designation, according to a news release announcing the winners, will take him to New York City, where he is set to battle it out with the other U.S. finalists (hailing from Chicago, New York and Dallas) and five U.K. finalists on July 31. Judged by a panel of experts, Regan included, one victorious bartender will be chosen from each country. Both then have the opportunity to trade places, working guest shifts at neat bars in their counterpart's country, and have their drinks dubbed Caorunn signatures. Stop by Rock Brothers and congratulate Olivier, will ya? 1901 N 15th St., Tampa. (813) 241-0110. rockbrothersbrewing.com.

HOP STUFF: Tampa Bay's beer champs

Seven area breweries made the region look good at the U.S. Open Beer Championships. The annual competition, which judges 7,000-plus beers in more than 130 styles by both professional and at-home brewers, awarded medals earlier this month to Big Storm Brewing Company (one bronze), Brew Bus Brewing (one gold, one silver, one bronze), pictured, Cigar City Brewing (one gold, two bronze), Coppertail Brewing Co. (three bronze), Cueni Brewing Co. (one gold), De Bine Brewing Company (one bronze) and Motorworks Brewing (one gold). Two beermakers were also named among the top 10: Brew Bus Brewing, No. 9, and Cigar City Brewing, No. 10. Outside of Tampa Bay, Florida breweries in locales like Lake Worth, Pompano Beach, Orlando, Jacksonville and Cape Coral also scored some nods. A Carnival Cruise Line beer, ParchedPig Smoked Porter, even took home bronze for the Sunshine State. To peep the full winners list and breakdown of the medals, visit usopenbeer.com.

GAME OF CONES: National Ice Cream Day

Up for observing Sunday as National Ice Cream Day? Good, because we've got a few ideas.

Adorable ice cream truck-on-wheels Clara Rose cruises to Hawthorne Bottle Shoppe to create beer floats using select brews from the Grand Central District gathering place. 2-5 p.m. 2927 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. (727) 800-2810.

The Cake Girl showcases two deals: buy one ice cream sundae, get a second half-off and buy two scoops, get a third free. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 13713 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. (813) 360-0909.

And there's a meaty chain to check out if you're curious about how well steak bits and ribbons of bourbon caramel go together. LongHorn Steakhouse recently launched $3.99 steak and bourbon ice cream — topped with bourbon caramel sauce, whipped cream and "steak sprinkles" — at select locations, including the Tampa restaurants, for a limited time. Locations vary. longhornsteakhouse.com/steakicecream.

PARTY THYME: Blooms and Brews II

Crooked Thumb Brewery hosts the Pinellas chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society's Blooms and Brews II. The second annual bash promises craft beer samples, finger food, a plant identification contest and door prizes. To help plan the grub, RSVP to pinellasfnps@gmail.com. Free. 7 p.m. Thursday. 555 10th Ave. S., Safety Harbor. pinellas.fnpschapters.org.

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