The food abides…


Super Bowl Penne…

Enjoy your greasy wings and clumpy nachos while you watch the Super Bowl. I’ll be over here eating my girlfriend’s incredible Parmesan Mascarpone Shrimp and Penne….


New Tampa/Wesley Chapel/South Pasco Summer Food Highlights!

I’ve been out of commission for the majority of the summer with a foot injury but that hasn’t stopped my girlfriend and I from continuing to enjoy our epicurean adventures; we’ve just been spending more time close to home in order to limit my walking. It’s been nice because I’ve gotten to experience some new dishes, some old favorites and few new places I’d never tried before and I’ve managed to snap a photo of just about everything. Here are some highlights…

Roasted Brussel Sprouts w/Honey Sriracha Aioli from BJ’s Brewhouse – Of all the new restaurants going up in the new outlet area on SR56, I think I like BJ’s the best because of the beer selection and house brews and I don’t hold the fact that it is a chain against them. These sprouts are another good reason to stop in. The Honey Sriracha Aioli expertly toes the line between sweet and heat.

Gypsy Cab Burrito from Capital Tacos – Capital Tacos has one of the best burritos around in my opinion (second only to Taco Bus). The pickled jalapenos give the gypsy cab some really nice depth and quite a bit of fire if you like that kind of thing.

Loaded Tots at the Fat Rabbit – This was my first visit to the Fat Rabbit and I love having a non-chain pub like this in our immediate area. The wings were stellar and a great alternative to the local franchises like Hooters or Beef O’Brady’s, but the Loaded Tots stole the show. Crispy and smothered in warm cheese and gravy, these went down easy with a good beer.

Fire-Grilled Artichoke from Flamestone American Grill – Another first, I enjoyed Flamestone and found it to be a nice bridge between casual and upscale dining. Their menu impressed me to begin with but the inclusion of this Fire-Grilled Artichoke with a Kalamata Aioli ensures that I will return multiple times. I love a good artichoke and it’s difficult to find these on local menus.

Seared Ahi-Tuna Salad from Flamestone American Grill – Also from Flamestone, my girlfriend ordered this Seared Ahi-Tuna Salad and loved it so much, I was kind of jealous (and slightly regretted that I went with the Salmon Kale Salad). She was nice enough to let me try some of hers and the ponzu-peanut dressing along with the perfectly seared tuna impressed me.

Fried Gator Tail w/Jalapeno Cheddar Hush Puppies from Prime Bar – Located in the Shoppes @ Wiregrass, Prime Bar is another Wesley Chapel staple and they have an extensive enough menu for someone to try new things upon each visit. We decided to give the Fried Gator a shot for our appetizer and did not regret it. Not chewy or gamy which means it was prepared well and the Jalapeno Cheddar Hugh Puppies soaked up beer like a champ.

Garlic Lime Edamame from Ciccio Cali – You want great Edamame? Go to Ciccio Cali. Perfectly roasted and just the right amount of salt, they take an excellently prepared Edamame and kick it up a notch with the garlic and lime. We loved these and devoured the plate.

Hot and Crunchy Tuna Bowl from Ciccio Cali – My girlfriend loves her Ahi Tuna and again she proved to be a better entree-picker. She dug this Hot and Crunchy Ahi Tuna Bowl, also from Ciccio Cali. The tempura battered onions, jicama and black sesame seeds gave this dish a great crunch and the Sriracha Aioli added a nice depth of flavor.

Thai Chicken Bowl from Ciccio Cali – Yet another dish from Ciccio Cali. I love a good Thai sauce and this Peanut Aioli was perfect. The mango and carrots rounded out the flavor of the dish well and the crispy fried wontons added a pleasing texture.

Blackened Cod Fish Tacos and Fried Plantains from Zim Zari California Coastal Grill – Another stellar selection from my special lady friend. She’s a woman after my own heart and if there are fish tacos on the menu, they have to be tried. These tacos from Zim Zari are probably the best in Trinity and the fried plantains were a great side dish.

Chicken Marsala from Noble Crust – Inaugural visit to Noble Crust finally gave me a chance to experience their style of Italian/Southern fusion which admittedly, I didn’t understand until I tried it. Their Chicken Marsala with Chicken Sausage, Four Cheese Grits and Roasted Mushrooms was absolutely decadent and I’ve never used that word to describe a non-dessert before.

Shrimp and Grits from Noble Crust – Also from Noble Crust, my girl ordered the Shrimp and Grits. These were delicious as well, most notably, because of the addition of the blistered Shishito Peppers which gave the dish a nice smokey flavor and a bit of uniqueness to boot.

*      *      *      *      *

It’s funny how often you can ignore what’s in your own backyard while seeking greener pastures until something happens that forces you to open your eyes a bit. I am on the mend and will likely be striking out for farther locales again soon, but I intend to revisit some of these nearby places because they do warrant it. Consider this your reminder from the Food Dude to try and pay attention to what’s closer to home… You might be surprised by what you find.

Tried any of the above restaurants or have a suggestion for the New Tampa/Wesley Chapel/South Pasco area? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…

Hopped Grapefruit Kombucha from Humm!

Anyone ever tried Kombucha before?

So I’m a little late to board the Kombucha train, mostly because I don’t really like to drink tea in any form and I was a bit hesitant about the whole fermented-beverage-that-isn’t-beer thing to begin with. However I have to give credit where credit is due, this hopped grapefruit flavor from Humm is incredible.

With grapefruit juice and hops added to the fermentation, this kombucha tastes like a beer. That’s not an exaggeration; I drink this stuff in the morning and it’s like I’m imbibing a Session IPA with my eggs. The naturally occuring probiotics in the kombucha are a nice added bonus.

It encouraged me to try their other flavors. I’m also really digging the Blueberry Mint and the Strawberry Lemonade flavors.

If you like beer, but you’re on the fence about Kombucha, this is a great springboard.

Tried Humm’s or any other brand of Kombucha before? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…

Wild Blackberries!

Even though I live in a town home, I am on a conservation lot. I’m lucky enough to have a ton of wild blackberry bushes right in my backyard. It’s that time of year for them to start bearing fruit and bearing they are…

These things are amazing and the cultivated stuff that the supermarkets bring in from Mexico or Guatemala just pales in comparison…

Game of Thrones and a Coppertail “Stash…”

Yes it’s another Another Game of Thrones post so soon after the last, but it’s been a short season. In the glass is a Coppertail Brewing Co.’s “Stash” a Tropical Stout with Pistachio and Vanilla Bean.

This is a really unique brew with a very pleasing texture… and it tastes like drinking a big boozy bowl of pistachio ice cream. Which is a good thing.

Hope everyone enjoys the show!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides…

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.


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.


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


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… beer is freedom… and 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.


Cleaned and scrubbed about a pound of fresh radishes.


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.


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.


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…

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.


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


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

Siggi’s Icelandic Skyr



Two things of note about Siggi’s Pumpkin Spice Icelandic Skyr:

  1. Never tried skyr before but I’m loving this stuff. It’s sour, but it’s good. If you like yogurt but aren’t a fan of all the sugar, this is worth trying.
  2. Pumpkin Spice, a fall flavor means that we’ve officially hit the halfway point of the summer.


New Beer Friday! – New Belgium’s Heavy Melon Ale

My office closed a little early for the long holiday weekend so it afforded me a perfect opportunity to get a jump on New Beer Friday with New Belgium’s Heavy Melon Watermelon Lime Ale.

New Belgium Heavy Melon

I’ve always been partial to Fall and Winter offerings but as a seasonal brew, this one pretty much nails Summer right on the head.

Heavy Melon pours a orange/honey color with almost three full fingers of frothy white head and significant lacing on the glass. The fruit aroma is fragrant from the moment the bottle is cracked and opens up further as it is poured into the glass.

Contrary to the name, this is a light and airy brew with plenty of carbonation. The first pull gives the flavor of melon and while I can taste the namesake watermelon, I also get a little more honeydew than I was expecting. The melon mellows out a little until the back-end where there’s a combination of wheat and lime that really comes through to balance out the sweetness.

It’s pretty obvious that this brew was made for people who don’t really like beer, but that’s okay; I found it enjoyable all the same. In fact, this particular beverage will likely follow me to a few Memorial Day Weekend events I have on tap.

And speaking of Memorial Day, don’t forget to pause for a second to remember why we’ve got that long weekend. Beer is freedom and while you’re enjoying yours, remember to thank those whose sacrifices bought and paid for that freedom.

Tried New Belgium’s Heavy Melon? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…

Sunset Black Lager @ Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival

Headed over to Epcot with some friends to check out the new outdoor kitchens and try some of the seasonal beers they’re pouring.

Sunset Brew

Currently sitting by the lagoon near Germany in the World Showcase, watching the sunset and enjoying a sample of Kostritzer’s Schwartzbier Black Lager. This combination is perfection.

Hope everyone’s enjoying their Saturday as much as I am…

Pickled Jalapeno and Habanero Chicken

Recently, I’ve been buying these badass spicy artisan pickles from the Chill Dill at the Wiregrass Fresh Market. The last time I was there I struck up a conversation with the pickle purveyor and he gave me some advice: “When you’re done with the pickles, marinate some chicken in the brine and peppers.”

Well I took said advice and it came out awesome. A fiery, burn-a-hole-in-your-stomach kind of awesome, but awesome nonetheless.

Pickled Jalapeno Chicken

After letting it marinate in the peppers and brine for about 2 hours, the finished product is an insanely flavorful (and hot) piece of chicken. And because I am that masochistic, I decided to double-down on the heat and made a batch of sriracha mashed potatoes to go with it which actually complemented things quite well. I did cool things off with a pear and gorgonzola salad and a glass of sangria though.

What can I say, I like my heat.

Have a favorite spicy dish? Leave a message in the comments section below!

And remember… the food abides…

The Eddie @ The Lure

Stopped into The Lure in St. Pete because I’ve been drying to try the Grasshopper Tacos (yes, actual grasshoppers) and unfortunately they were out. Apparently they have to import their grasshoppers from Thailand and in such small batches that they run out very quickly after getting in a shipment. Had to settle for the Eddie…

The Lure - The Eddie

Grown-up tater tots, these are tossed in Gorgonzola, olive oil and a ton of fresh garlic. Potatoes are hollow sucker for a man bereft of fried insects… but these definitely helped.

Tried The Lure? Leave a message in the comments!

And remember… the food abides…

Fall Beer Season Has Officially Begun! Magic Hat Night of the Living Dead Sampler!

It’s that time of year again folks! If you’re a loyal reader you know that the Fall beer season is my favorite one. The Fall seasonals are slowly starting to creep up on the shelves and I couldn’t be happier.

Magic Hat Fall Sampler

Picked this one up from Publix. Gotta love the boys over at Magic Hat Brewing Company as their creativity (in both brewing and interesting beer names!) knows no bounds. While I’m a little disappointed that their Hex Octoberfest isn’t in the pack, the inclusion of their Jinx Smoked Scotch Ale and Wilhelm Scream Pumpkin Ale more than makes up for it. Never had the Hi-9 either so I’m really looking forward to trying these. That’s what a sampler is for, right?

Any favorite fall beers you’re eagerly awaiting? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides.

Ciao Revisted

In November I reviewed the Ciao Bistro in Wiregrass Plaza and if you recall, even though I had a major problem with the portion sizes, I still resolved to give them another shot. Well I did so last night. Tried another shrimp dish, the Shrimp Provencal and as last time, it wasn’t bad at all.

Ciao Revisited

Portion sizes were still a little bit less than what I would consider appropriate for the price but they’ve earned a stay of execution. I’ll give it a try one more time before passing final judgement. Hopefully they will continue to refine.

Want to judge for yourself? Give them a try and let me know what you think in the comments!

And remember… the food abides…

Boar’s Head Kosher Dill Pickles…

Hopefully talking about pickles doesn’t come across as trite, but I maintain that Boar’s Head makes the best Kosher Dill pickles you can buy outside of a New York deli. Vlassic may advertise their signature crunch but they’re still soft pickles, which is typically a result of mass-production.

As most readers know, I don’t have too much of a sweet-tooth but I am somewhat of a salt-fiend. Thus, I totally dig a good kosher dill. In my opinion, a good dill pickle should be crisp and snappy and you should be able to taste the garlic.

Kosher Pickles

These bad boys from Boar’s Head are made exactly how they should be. Crunchy, not soft or soggy and full of flavor without being overpowering on the spice side of the equation. If you’re making a sandwich at home, trust me, this is the pickle you want to eat with it. These can be purchased at Publix in the Deli section rather than in the section with all the rest of the pickles. They’re a littl bit pricier, but totally worth the money.

If you give em a shot, let me know what you think in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…

Thanksgiving 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from the Food Dude! I’d be remiss of my duties if I didn’t make a post on the biggest food holiday of the year.

In my opinion, traditional fare is the way to go when it comes to the Thanksgiving feast. To that end, we enjoyed turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, corn souffle, cranberry sauce, green beans and candied carrots.

The Roast Beast with fresh thyme and sage and the signature stuffing.

The aforementioned stuffing; this is what I wait all year for. Cornbread stuffing with a sage turkey sausage and fresh cranberries. Loaded up with a little turkey gravy this stuff is out of this world. This is one of the best combinations of sweet and savory that my palette has ever had the experience of enjoying.

New menu item this year was a corn souffle which was actually pretty amazing.

Topped everything off with a little bit of pumpkin mousse. This is a new recipe I tried this year and I was actually really impressed with how it came out.

I hope everyone enjoyed their holiday as much as I did. Remember to be thankful, remember those less fortunate and above all remember…

…the food abides…

Vintage Candy @ the Fresh Market…

It is no big secret that I do not have much of a sweet tooth (I’m more of a salt-fiend). Sampling a desert menu item at a new restaurant I’m trying, a bowl of sugary cereal on a Saturday morning or an occasional Ice Cream every once in a blue moon is about as close as I get to consuming sweets on a regular basis.

When I was a kid though, my friends and I used to love to ride our bikes down to the corner drug store for candy and comic books. It’s kind of funny that a good deal of that candy is now considered “vintage.”

Fast-forward to today and I happened to be walking through a local gourmet food and produce store, the Fresh Market and they had the greatest collection of vintage candy I’ve seen in one place since being in that drug store when I was ten years old.

Here you can find Charleston Chews, Tootsie Pop-Drops, Mary Janes, Candy Buttons, Cow-Tails, Pixie Stix, Boston Baked Beans, Lemonheads, Sugar Babies, Big League Chew, Necco Wafers, Bottle Caps, Goldenberg Peanut Chews, Fizzies (not Pop-Rocks, but the real Fizzies!)  and a selection of salt-water taffy that would put many northeast boardwalks to shame.

If you ever get the desire to rot your teeth the way you did when you were a kid, make it a point to visit the Fresh Market and check out this display…

A Welcome From the Food Dude!

Welcome to the inaugural post!

I’m the Tampa Food Dude, although to many folks I’m probably better known as Tampa Bay area writer and critic, A.C. Noia.

I grew up in an italian home in Southern Connecticut where the kitchen was the most important room in the house and was raised with a love of cooking, food and drink. The Tampa Bay area has an amazingly rich food culture which my heritage has taught me to appreciate and I’ve been lucky enough to experience that culture for the last eighteen years.

For quite some time now, I’ve been subjecting my Facebook friends to what they probably consider annoying and inane photos of food, opinonated thoughts about certain local restaurants and bragging about new culinary acheivements that I’ve experimented with.

Since I already have a media blog (, I figured it couldn’t hurt to start another one solely dedicated to all things food, right? So sit back, relax and enjoy the meal. If you like a dish I’ve posted about, if you’ve got an opinion about a particular beer or if you have a restaurant suggestion that you’d like me to review, by all means, leave a comment!

Remember… the food abides…