Much has happened in the last few months at Coppertail Brewing Co. Progress seems to move so slowly at times but after looking back (since the last update) it is frankly surprising how much has taken place. Back then we had a name, a building, and little else. Now, plans have been set, equipment has been ordered, and we’re starting to gain, well… a little momentum anyway. Ironically, last weekend was Wazoo which is where my compadre and fellow co-founder Kent originally pitched the idea to me last year (2012).
Read more: The adventures of opening a brewery: The wheels start to roll
Some of the other homework was easy. Craft beer is huge and growing nationwide. Yet in Florida, it’s still in the toddler stage. Anyway we knew there was room in the marketplace and Cigar City Brewing had opened up a few years back and really blazed the trail. With that info we also ascertained that there was a growing demand for fresh, local, craft beer in this metro and that this Bay area thirst would continue to increase for quite some time.
Read more: The adventures of opening a brewery: Fun, work, headaches, beer
It’s shorts and flip flops time for quick eats so we have more hours to play. My hubby and I discussed, debated, dissented, and compiled our fave, fast-casual restaurants. These places, where you line up to order, are much more appealing than fast-food options (and cheaper than sit-down cousins). Experts say this hybrid category is on the grow and judging by the parking lots, most patrons agree.
Read more: Tampa Bay’s best restaurants with fast-casual food suit our speedy lifestyle
Miami has its attributes but can it claim rights to the holy grail of tropical sandwiches? Ybor City was turning out these banquets on Cuban bread before the turn of the previous century. Early bricklayers flattened their “mixto’’ sandwiches between hot bricks thus toasting bread, melting cheese, and melding flavors. But Miami Herald reporter Fabiola Santiago says Tampa has no culinary chops and started a cat fight about Miami boasting the original. “There’s no doubt that our Cuban sandwich, served all over South Florida, is more authentic and tastier. Even in its Americanized or gourmet incarnations, a cubano in Miami is superior– my Tampa and Miami friends agree,’’ whined Fabiola. Harrumph!
Read more: Tampa defends its Cuban sandwich title: The best in the Bay
If hurling and soccer, shamrocks and goofy Irish wit buttons bring you pleasure, you’re more than ready for St. Patrick’s Day. Tampa Bay’s assorted ale houses don’t always meet lofty standards but with the luck of the Irish, the grub can be filling and satisfying.
Read more: The best Irish pub fare in Tampa Bay
It took a stint of unemployment to help Todd Sturtz become a cheerleader for Tampa’s culinary scene. Last year, the chemical-environmental engineer and self-proclaimed foodie, started a blog, TastingTampa.com, and organized a dozen Food Truck Rallies throughout the area. The September rally at Hyde Park Presbyterian Church created lots of lines with almost 5,000 visitors. Todd recently launched 13th Step: A Support Group for Foodies, to promote the local talent in our area.
Read more: Food bloggers agree: Tampa’s Pelagia Trattoria makes a meal of discovery
Unabashedly rich and irresistible, few foods bring on such giddy cravings as chocolate. Love is sweet, but it’s much sweeter with chocolate. Its phenylethylamine is the same chemical that our brains produce when we fall in love. Quality chocolate stirs the same emotions and is positively addictive this close to Valentine’s Day in Tampa Bay. Charge up your appetite, and your wallet, with some luscious choices from candy land.
Read more: Chocolate is love in an edible form: Nine of Tampa Bay’s best chocolate shops
You never know who will be in your eatery in Ybor City. Sunday’s Fine Dining owner is still clucking about the rooster that took up residence in his office for a few days. His management style wasn’t so bad but his keyboard skills were all hunt and peck. Dave Sunday, armed with a skill set culled from the army, the Long Island fishing community and a degree from culinary school in New York (NYIT), has gotten notice here. Once a chef in South Hampton, N.Y. during summers, he chose to winter here and cook at the Straz Center for the Arts. Even that wasn’t his idea of paradise.
Read more: Any day is good at Tampa’s Sunday’s (Fine Dining)