How can you enjoy some of the best of the bay’s dining along with a thousand or so new friends?
The 25th Anniversary Gourmet Feastival presented by ComDesign Infrastructure Solutions at the A La Carte Event Pavilion (Sept. 15) did just that by bringing clever dishes from acclaimed chefs.
Few stayed in their seats as there was too much nibbling and mingling to do as 40 restaurants, caterers, wine and beer purveyors vied for attention. No one had an excuse to leave thirsty or the least bit hungry.
“Tonight marks a delicious milestone for The Helen Gordon Davis Centre for Women,’’ says executive director Ann W. Madsen. Thanecha Anderson, Southern Train Band and Taylor John Trio, in the VIP lounge, performed energetically.
Roll the credits for Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Hotel & Casino / Restaurant for sponsoring the VIP room where Pork Porchetta with Chimichurri Sauce and Lobster Risotto with Fennel Reggiano Parmigianino reigned.
Here are the stars from Executive Chef William Gideon’s lavish spread:
- Lime Poached Jumbo Shrimp with Avocado Mousse and Spicy Tomato Fresca
- Greek Tenderloin Wellingtons with Spinach, Aged Feta, and Oven-Cured Tomatoes
- Roast Duck, Noodles and Fresh Chilies Asian-To-Go Cups
- Tuscan-Style Swordfish Crostini with Olive Relish and fresh basil
The importance of dessert was punctuated by a tantalizing selection from Executive Pastry Chef Stephan Schubert.
Board Member Deborah Frantz, who served as event chair, called the spread “amazing.’’
I joined the hungry hordes that wove in and out of the aisles finding these favorites:
Citrus Cured Tuna with Yuzu Gelee, Radish, Compressed Watermelon, and Cucumber, Chilies with a Chili Thread Garnish, peppered attention for The Birchwood’s Birch & Vine (340 Beach Dr., NE, St. Petersburg, FL).
Another standout is the peppercorn-crusted sirloin bruschetta, served by Angie Taylor, manager of Timpano Italian Chophouse. The Hyde Park Village eatery, known for its steaks, chops, seafood and tall martinis, is open during the avalanche of construction taking over Swann Ave. (1610 W. Swann Ave. Tampa FL).
Downtown’s 32-floor SkyPoint tower houses the charming Anise Global Gastrobar (777 N. Ashley Dr., #D1 Tampa FL), known for its curated wines, crafted cocktails and internationally inspired, French, southeast Asian and casual menu. Caprese, roasted garbanzos and deviled eggs made friends here.
A Beer-Braised Brisket sandwich with melted Jack Cheese, cilantro sour cream, salsa and pickled jalapeno perks up the lunch menu at AJ’s Press (4406 N. Cortez, Tampa, FL). It’s also known for breakfast / lunch bowls, Chipotle Chicken Sandwiches, and jalapeno hushpuppies.
PDQ, or People Dedicated to Quality, scored a homer with chicken tenders sauced with a sweet-hot chipotle blend. Mike Keller served these addicting, piping hot, fried tenders right out of the fryer. (PDQ introduced zucchini fries, lunch bowls and hamburgers at locations in South Tampa, North Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Gainesville, and more).
When thinking Cajun or Creole cuisine, look to Ricky P’s Creole Kitchen (11006 4th St. North, St Petersburg, FL) for a hearty jambalaya and mellow bread pudding.
The Original Crabby Bill’s (401 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach, FL) had guests enjoying premium shrimp, and clams and scallops on the half shell.
Is there anything as American as barbecue? Mission BBQ put out memorable, pulled pork and brisket sandwiches with their saucy mac and cheese.
Tracy Guida also brought mac and cheese from EATS! American Grill (4502 S. Dale Mabry, Tampa, and 6264 Winthrop Town Centre Blvd., Riverview, FL). Although Guida called in sick, she didn’t let The Centre down and found a way to deliver with a smile.
Kelly Oliver, Schakolad Chocolate Factory owner (408 S. Howard Ave. Tampa, FL) since June, dazzled tasters with delicate, drizzled dark and milk chocolate truffles and customized, edible gifts. For breast cancer survivors, for instance, she fashions an exuberant, milk chocolate bra and eye-catching, pink high heel statuette.
Cigar City Brewing (3924 Spruce St. W, Tampa, FL) kept customers happy with three favorite craft beers.
Veteran sponsor Mike Kwasin brought some evocative pours of reds and whites from Fine Wine & Spirits Warehouse (4023 Gandy Blvd., Tampa, FL). Kwasin introduced guests to Wente Riva Ranch Chardonnay and Southern Hills Cabernet Sauvignon from his store that stocks. 10,000 bottles of wines, 75 Single Malt Scotches, 67 Premium Rums and 57 tequilas.
Longtime supporter Charles Visalli, who owns Time for Wine (5462 56th Commerce Park Blvd., Tampa, FL) had a double booth so he enlisted a beverage expert to make Margarita wine spritzers.
Formerly known as The Centre for Women, the non-profit organization brought in about $75,000 to help females in the Tampa Bay region with needs both personal and professional.
“We have gotten rave reviews about the Feastival and most people said it was our best ever,’’ says Kathleen Pravlik, The Centre’s Director of Advancement.
She adds: “Many restaurants say they loved the event and can’t wait until next year.’’