The food abides…

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Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2017 Photopost

Disney knows how to capitalize on a good thing. Their Epcot International Food & Wine Festival that occurs in the fall has garnered quite the following and with that taking place only once a year, they’ve started to build out some of their other seasonal events. Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival is now a bona fide culinary event in its own right.

With 15 outdoor kitchens, they’ve incorporated the whole gardening and fresh produce aspect into the event by focusing on the concepts of sustainability, local sourcing and urban agriculture.

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Here are some highlights from one of our most recent trips…

Crabless Cake and Wildflower Pale Ale

Crabless Cake with Pickled Vegetable Slaw paired with a Forbidden Root Wildflower Pale Ale from the Urban Farm Eats Kitchen.

Maudite Amber

Unibroue Maudite Amber Ale from the Northern Bloom Kitchen.

Chard and Kale

Fresh Swiss Chard and Kale. Literally growing right underneath the monorail tracks.

Braised Chicken and Crawfish and Kronenburg Blanc

Braised Chicken and Crawfish w/Rice Pilaf paired with a Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc from the Fleur de Lys Kitchen.

Pineapple Manu

Maui Brewing Company’s Pineapple Mana Ale from the Pineapple Promenade Kitchen.

Tomato Plants

Vertical urban orchards and gardens – Tomatoes and Amaranth.

Tuna Poke

Tuna Poke from the Hanami Japanese Kitchen.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company Quat

Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s “Quat” Kumquat Ale from the Florida Fresh Kitchen.

Berry Buckle and Founders Rubaeus

Warm Wild Berry Buckle Cake with Pepper Berry Sorbet paired with a Founders Rubaeus Pure Raspberry Ale from the Berry Basket Kitchen.

Potato Pancake

Potato Pancakes w/House-made Applesauce from the Bauernmarkt Kitchen.

German Beer Flight

German Beer Flight – Kostrizer’s Schwartzbier Black Lager, Schofferhofer’s Hefeweizen and Paulaner’s Munich Lager from the Bauernmarkt Kitchen.

Conch Salad

Caribbean Conch Salad w/Avocado, Mango and Onions (with a very backlit Three Caballeros in the background) from the Isla de Fresca Kitchen.

Sugar Cane Shrimp

Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer and Rice w/Coconut Lime Sauce from the Isla de Fresca Kitchen.

Limoncello

And while not related to Flower & Garden in any way, no trip to Epcot is complete without Limoncello cordials in Italy.

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I’ve found that the chefs are able to experiment a little more since they aren’t necessarily confined to a specific region’s cuisine so the dishes are a little more unique than what you find a Food & Wine. The beer pairings which included some really unique brews and you have a recipe for some amazing experimental dishes that make it completely worth the trip.

Have you been to Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival? Leave a message in the comments section below!

And remember… the food abides…

 

 

Roasted Radishes…

My local Saturday Morning Market had a vendor with some great looking radishes this weekend. I remembered a friend of mine recently told me that you can use them in place of potatoes in almost any dish so I picked some up. I figured I’d try my hand at roasting them and they came out better than I expected.

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Cleaned and scrubbed about a pound of fresh radishes.

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Tossed them in a little olive oil and added some rosemary, thyme, paprika, sea salt and crushed black pepper then spread on a baking sheet.

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Baked them at 400 until they got crispy, about 15 minutes. There’s a little bit of sweetness to these which is surprising given that little bit of a bitter kick that raw radishes typically have.

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Served these up with a little sauteed shrimp and a romaine salad which made a nice rounded meal that was significantly lower on carbs than roasted potatoes would have been. Next experiment with radishes is going to be in my Turkey Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup. Wish me luck.

Ever tried anything interesting with radishes? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…

Christmas 2016 Photo Wrap-Up!!!

It’s always easy to tell whether or not I’m busy during the holidays by the frequency or infrequency in which I post. If this year’s lack of even a Thanksgiving update was any indication, it’s obviously been a whirlwind of a month and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Unfortunately that meant the little free time I had was spent shopping, testing new recipes and otherwise preparing the abode for holiday revelers.

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Whenever I remain in Florida for the holidays I always make a giant pot of Linguine with White Clam Sauce and host a Christmas Eve dinner for anyone close to me who can make it. This year quite a few more people than usual chose to attend so I had a packed house.

christmas-eve-table

My Christmas Eve table, complete with English Crackers. Mismatched chairs and place settings meant there were more people than ever joining us this year and that couldn’t have made me happier.

holiday-beverages

Of course my beer fridge was well stocked with plenty of holiday brews. Some of my favorites this year were the Barley Mow Tinsel, Anderson Valley’s Winter Solstice and Shiner’s Holiday Cheer.

zuppa-di-pesce

Because I had such a large group this year, instead of just the Linguine with Clams, I went full Seven Fishes. One of the dishes that came out very well was a Zuppa di Pesce, an Italian fisherman’s soup with clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops that I made in the crock pot. I added a little more oomph to the recipe by including some squid ink fettuccine which really upped the brine flavor.

baked-ziti

I don’t typically eat Baked Ziti as it’s too heavy but I tried my hand at cooking one of these for the non-fish eaters in attendance. There was only one small slice left at the end of the night so I have to assume it went over well.

linguine-with-clam-sauce

And of course no Christmas Eve is complete without the Linguine and White Clam Sauce. This is a shot of the bottom of the pot where there are more clams than pasta left. What most people don’t realize is that’s the best part. Eaten cold right out of the container on Christmas morning, there is no better breakfast. The overnight refrigeration seems to have the same effect that it does on Chinese Lo Mein (also better when eaten cold the next morning).

blue-moon-gingerbreat

Once the pasta was eaten, the desert cleared away, the guests departed and the kitchen cleaned I got to sit and relax for the first time in almost a month. Took it as the right moment to crack open a bottle of Blue Moon’s Gingerbread Spiced Ale that I’ve been sitting on since last year. Time did not diminish it’s flavors and it went down well while I watched A Christmas Story about 3 times in a row.

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dogfish-head-breakfast-stout

To keep myself young at heart, I have a rather juvenile morning ritual of cereal and cartoons on the weekend. Given that this particular weekend was Christmas however, I changed it up just a little bit by cracking a Dogfish Head Beer for Breakfast Stout and tossed on the John Denver & the Muppets Christmas special from 1979. Yes, I realize a late night beer on Christmas Eve and an early morning beer on Christmas Day is a little overkill, but it’s the holidays and I worked hard this year so I cut myself some slack dammit.

christmas-dinner

Just like Ralphie’s Dad, I’m a Turkey junkie so Christmas Dinner at my very good friends’ house in Riverview was much appreciated. Turkey, mashed taters, stuffing, green beans and a beet salad. After Christmas Eve’s very heavy pasta and oil based fare I was ecstatic to have some veggies along with it. The aforementioned Shiner Holiday Cheer went perfectly with this meal.

goose-island-312-urban-wheat

While it was no where near as hot or humid as it was last year, temps in the mid 80’s during the day meant it was rather temperate so I took a break from my heavy winter brews in favor of a refreshing Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat and it scratched the itch until the sun went down and things cooled off.

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Of course we have to talk about the holiday loot. I have some great gift-givers in my circle and among some really awesome items, there were a few badass booze-themed ones that deserve mention.

miir-growler

This is a 64 oz. Miir Growler. The proceeds of one of these growlers gives clean water to one person in a developing country for a year. Given the spirit of the holidays this was something I really appreciated.

cigar-city-marshal-zhukov

I’ve had my eye on this one in my Instagram feed for quite some time now and just haven’t gotten a chance to make it down to Cigar City to pick up a bottle. Fortunately my friend had his finger on the pulse and showed up with a bomber of Marshal Zhukov’s Imperial Russian Stout with Vanilla and Hazelnut. I think this badboy will be a New Year’s Eve brew.

christmas-limoncello

This same friend is also the one who makes his own limoncello which is one of my favorite after dinner cordials. This stuff does not last long in my house and I will be clamoring for another bottle by the spring.

bottle-caddy

It’s obvious that the majority of my friends are fellow zythophiles, so when I go to parties, dinners and other gatherings, I’m always bringing new beers with me for people to try. That’s why this bottle caddy, complete with opener, was a perfect gift. Tried it out yesterday and the best part is that it doesn’t tip over in car the way a regular cardboard six-pack does.

guinness-orament

My Christmas Tree is a mismatched conglomeration of vintage ornaments from my youth, geeky fare like the Walking Dead, Star Wars and Marvel superheroes and booze-themed decorations. So when my friends gave me this Guinness ornament of course I already had the perfect place for it.

kira-christmas-2016

And in traditional fashion, here’s a photo of my dog Kira on Christmas morning, holiday bandanna on, new toy in mouth and while it can’t be seen here, tail wagging about a thousand times a minute.

christmas-lunatic

So in case no one has figured this out yet, I’m somewhat of a lunatic when it comes to Christmas. I suppose a little photographic evidence of that lunacy is in order. Consider it your Christmas gift from me.

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I hope you’ve all been enjoying the holiday season as much as I have. We still have about a week before it officially comes to a close, so don’t forget to try a new dish or have a holiday beer with someone you haven’t caught up with yet.

Instead of my usual “the food abides” I will close with a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Beer

New Beer Friday Two-fer!!! Bell’s and Abita’s 2016 Christmas Ales!

Kicking off the holidays with not one, but two new Christmas brews for today’s New Beer Friday.

bells-christmas-ale-2016

Bell’s Christmas Ale:

Bell’s Christmas Ale is a Scottish-style ale which is an unorthadox choice for a Christmas beer, but it’s well-served here. It pours a medium orange with about a finger of off-white head. There’s a solid fruit bouquet with a hint of caramel.

The first pull gives caramel notes with heavy malt and just a touch of nuttiness, specifically almonds. On the back end is an array of fruit flavors, most notably, white grape, dried cherries and candied figs with a little bit of a hoppy bite.

This is a surprisingly light and drinkable beer, almost session-like, which is uncharacteristic for a Scottish Ale. Perhaps that’s the holiday gift from Bell’s.

abita-christmas-ale-2016

Abita’s 2016 Christmas Ale:

Two years ago I tried their 2014 Christmas Ale and was rather impressed with it. The 2016 keeps the standard high.

The 2016 Christmas Ale pours a very dark red with almost two fingers of frothy brownish-white head. On the nose is a very strong scent of pine.

The first pull is somewhat hoppy but with an immediate blast of the same pine. The pine rounds out on the back end to a surprising and pleasing peppermint flavor which, when combined with the pine, tastes almost reminiscent of a wintergreen Lifesaver. It sounds odd but it works and works well.

This is a unique brew and once again Abita makes an ale that screams Christmas.

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It’s still early in the season so it should be relatively easy to get your hands on these but don’t wait because we all know these seasonal brews won’t last long.

Tried Bell’s or Abita’s Christmas Ales? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…

Tomato & Mozzarella Caprese

tomato-and-mozzarella-caprese

Made a little Tomato and Fresh Mozzarella Caprese to bring over for a dinner with some friends this weekend…

Best of the ‘Fest! – The Best of the Tampa Bay Area’s Local Oktoberfest Beers

For the last six weeks anyone who follows my Facebook or Instagram might have worried that I’ve become an alcoholic as I’ve checked into and posted photos from a rather large number of local breweries. There was a reason for my madness however and my labors have born fruit as I’ve now managed to sample a good majority of the local area Oktoberfest lagers.

We are extremely lucky that we live in one of the most brewery-dense locations in the country and this gave me the opportunity to try a slew of different offerings. The Marzen is one of my favorite styles of beer and I was surprised at how many good ones were brewed this year.

Prepare yourselves. This is going to be a long one…

3-daughters-marzen

3 Daughters Brewing – 3 Daughter’s “Mission to Marzen” Oktoberfest pours a solid amber color with 1 finger of white head. Nice and malty with a good caramel finish, the sweetness of this beer is significant without being overpowering.

 

paw-marzen

Pinellas Ale Works – PAW’s “Pawtoberfest” Marzen pours a deep brown with half a finger of reddish head. This brew boasts heavily toasted malt notes and comes across slightly stronger than an Oktoberfest typically does, but it’s a solid offering nonetheless.

 

cycle-brewing-marzen

Cycle Brewing – Cycle’s “Das Rad” Oktoberfest Marzen pours a deep red with 1 finger of white head. Bready with heavy caramel notes, this one had a slightly bitter finish, but it worked well overall.

 

barley-mow-oktober

Barley Mow Brewing Company – Barley Mow’s Oktoberfest Marzen pours a light reddish-brown with half a finger of off-white head. Hoppier than I was expecting with subtle notes of apricot mixed in with the caramel and spice. It’s worth noting that this was the only Oktober I didn’t try in the actual brewery. The Lure in St. Pete had this on draft so I took the opportunity to sample and it’s a good thing I did because I might have otherwise missed the opportunity.

 

cage-festbier

Cage Brewing – Cage’s “Uncle Fester” is one of only a few local breweries that opted to go for a Festbier instead of a Marzen. As such it pours a lighter golden color with almost no head. Because of the style, this was hoppier, more floral and had a significant bite at the end. Regardless of the fact that I prefer Marzens this was unique and I found it quite pleasing. It probably helped that it was a hot day and Cage is an open-air brewery & tasting room.

 

angry-chair-marzen

Angry Chair Brewing – I’ve found that Angry Chair simultaneously produces some of the most creatively experimental as well as some of the most well-balanced beers around. Their Oktoberfest Marzen is the latter. Pouring a deep amber with almost no head and slightly more carbonation than is typical, this is a nice roasty, malty lager. Angry Chair’s Oktoberfest is one of the more drinkable Marzens around and it went down FAST.

 

cigar-city-marzen

Cigar City Brewing – One of the only other breweries to veer away from the the Marzen route, Cigar City’s Oktoberfest Festbier pours slightly darker than Cage’s Uncle Fester (though the filter on my photo app is making it appear darker than it really is; color is actually closer to what you see at the bottom) with a half-finger of bright white head. This is a drier beer with a more hoppy, floral note. This brew is a zythophilian statement on the end of summer transitioning into the fall. And yes I’m going to give myself credit for the legitimate use of the word “zythophilian.”

 

big-storm-marzen

Big Storm Brewing Co. – Big Storm’s Oktoberfest Marzen was easily my favorite of all the local offerings. Pouring a deep amber with two full fingers of bubbly white head, this brew had it all; sweetness, caramel, slightly toasted malt and an incredibly smooth finish. For sole drinkablity, this one tops the list.

 

tbbc-marzen

Tampa Bay Brewing Company – TBBC’s Oktoberfest Marzen pours a very clear reddish-gold with a finger of bubbly white head. There are strong caramel and biscuit flavors with just a slight hoppiness on the back end. Another rather drinkable Marzen and worth trying.

 

coppertail-oktoberfest-1

Coppertail Brewing Co. – Coppertail’s Oktoberfest Marzen is what kicked off this entire endeavor. They had an interesting take on the traditional Oktoberfest and it made me want to see how other breweries interpreted the style. Pouring a deep red with almost two full fingers of bright white head, this lager is brewed with more hops than I’ve ever experienced in a Marzen before. It retains those characteristic caramel and malt notes but has a nice flowery bouquet with quite a little bite at the end. I know that doesn’t sound like it would mix well but Coppertail pulls it off.

 

rapp-marzen

Rapp Brewing Company– Rapp Brewing’s Oktoberfest Marzen pours a lighter orange color with about half a finger of white head. With lots of caramel and malt notes this brew was was easily the sweetest of all the local offerings.

pair-o-dice-marzen

Pair o’ Dice Brewing Company – Pair o’ Dice’s Oktoberfest Marzen pours a light amber with two fingers of creamy white head. Another well-balanced and drinkable lager, the notes of caramel, malt and toasted biscuit effectively complement each other culminating in a well-rounded finish.

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Now not all the local establishments opted to brew an Oktoberfest per se, but some did brew some really notable Dunkels. If you know your history, you know that the Dunkel was the Oktoberfest progenitor of the current Marzen and Festbier styles we currently know and love so I’ve decided to include a few of the more notable ones.

81bay-not-on-porpise-dunkel

81Bay BrewCo. – 81Bay has a pretty large menu for a newer kid on the block. Their “Not on Porpoise” Dunkel pours a rich brown with about a finger of cloudy white head. Full of roasted malts there are deep chocolate notes that round out on the back end with almost no bitterness.

 

spbc-munich-dunkel

St. Pete Brewing Co. – SPBC’s Munich Dunkel pours a deep amber-brown with a tiny brownish colored head. This Dunkel is rather smooth possessing balanced malt and caramel flavors with just an ever-so-slight cocoa finish.

 

rapp-munich-dunkel

Rapp Brewing Company – Yes, Rapp makes the list twice. I’ve already sung the praises of Rapp’s Munich Dunkel in a previous post so there is very little more I can say about this one other than once again emphasizing how insanely tasty this beer is.

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And there you have it folks, Tampa Bay’s Best of the ‘Fest. These brews have been listed in no particular order and while I have no one favorite overall I will go out on a limb and give some props in a few categories: Angry Chair had the most balanced Marzen, Coppertail the most unique take on one, Cage Brewing offered the best Festbier and Big Storm rounds out the list for being the most drinkable of the bunch.

Unfortunately there were a couple of that I did not get to try, most notably Dunedin Brewery’s 2016 Marzen. I’m hoping that by the time I make it up there, they will still have some left but if not there is always next year. I’m also hopeful that some of the newer breweries whose more recent openings made it difficult to pursue a traditional Oktoberfest will have the time to do so in 2017. I look forward to some new ones while seeing how these old favorites are further refined.

Have a favorite Tampa Bay Oktoberfest Lager? Leave a message in the comments!

And remember… the food abides…

Duck Confit Tacos @ Anise Gastrobar

Had dinner with some friends last weekend and we decided to try Anise Gastrobar in Downtown which I’d never been to before.

anise-duck-tacos

The Duck Confit Tacos with Picked Daikon Radish, Jalapenos, Hoisin BBQ Sauce and Cilantro Aioli

anise-mashed-cauliflower

Can’t forget to mention the Mashed Cauliflower with Coffee Cola Gravy