Loosen your belts, dig out the stretch pants and head over to this year’s Taste of Pinellas in St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park from noon to 7 p.m. Sunday.
With over 60 restaurants representing more than a dozen cities from both sides of the bay, you’ll find tastes to satisfy every palate From Jamaican to Asian, barbecue to gator tail, lobster mac and cheese to Mexican corn on the cob, you’re sure to find plenty of food to enjoy.
This is the first year Poppa’s BBQ from Clearwater has participated and they were excited to be there. When owner and pit master Don Hosford opened the lid to his big smoker, the aroma was fantastic. These baby back ribs were definitely of the melt-in-your-mouth variety and truly some of the best I’ve tasted around here. They’re definitely worth a trip to the event.
Crabby Bill’s group was out in full force and there wasn't a crabby one in the bunch! Working away on several menu items, I interrupted them shortly to ask which items proved to be the best sellers and I got a unanimous reply of, “Gator burgers!"
Be sure to stop by and try some.
If you’re in the mood for something more upscale, I have to say that the real to-die-for item was the Lobster and White Truffle Mac and Cheese served by Bella Brava New World Trattoria. You can't go wrong with lobster and truffles and then to add it to the all-time favorite comfort food, mac and cheese; it’s a winner!
The Pie Factory & Toucan’s Coffee House Café of Largo was serving dozens of selections of pies, but their most famous is their key lime pie. Owner Bobbie Barmoor uses a 109 year old recipe for the pie and estimates they’ll serve 3000 to 4000 slices of that pie alone over the weekend.
Looking for a good Philly cheesesteak? Try Larry’s Giant Subs. Although they’re a large franchise, they started in Florida and the namesake of the company, Larry Raikes, was happy to give me all the inside info on how they can serve these large crowds so efficiently. They’ve been in the business for 30 years, selling their sandwiches at major events all over the country so this one was, as Raikes put it, “a piece of cake”. Well, I don’t know about cake, but give their cheesesteak a try.
I was pleased to see many students and chefs from the Institute of Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Tampa that were at the event for the first time. Instructor Chef Delgado told me that enrollment numbers were up as many students are choosing a culinary path. They’ll be holding cooking demonstrations with free samples all day. It’s also a great place to sit under a tent and get a break from the hot sun.
And let’s not forget what this event is all about. It’s not just about eating some great food . It’s not just for area restaurants to get exposure to tens of thousands of people. It’s for the kids. A major portion of the proceeds go to All Children’s Hospital.
So come out and support the cause while listening to some great music and enjoying some of best foods in the area.