Food Explorations: Tampa

Entering into my sixth month residing in the sunshine state, I realized that I haven't talked much about the eating explorations I've done since I've been in town. I know, for shame! I am slowly but surely getting out, and below are a few spots that have caught my eye.
  • Datz Deli. I admit: this one is the highest on my list. And the fact that it's virtually around the corner from where I live makes it even better. From the outside, Datz doesn't look like it can hold much inside its venue on S. MacDill. But rest assured: those who stop and venture inside will enter a two-story foodie heaven. With a market, bar, prosciutto bar and two-story restaurant that greets patrons, a market with unique specialty items and a remarkable dessert case to the left that will make any food lover swoon, the spot has something for everyone. For me, at first bite it was the homemade chips with a drizzle of blue cheese aioli, as well as the blue cheese wedge salad--one of the best I've ever had. For some, it may be the prosciutto tasting bar and the venue's bevy of beer and wine selections (including a bottle from Solena cellars in Cartlon, OR, which I know I saw at the restaurant, but am not seeing it on the menu online. Hm.). The bottle of Solena coupled with my spotting a block of Tillamook cheddar cheese and I knew this place wasn't messing around. Go for a visit and tell me what you think. Datz Deli, 2616 S. MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33629, http://www.datzdeli.com/
  • Cru Cellars. A girl has got to have a wine bar of choice on her radar when a glass at home, or in a big noisy restaurant, just won't do. For this wine girl, that wine bar/wine shop is Cru Cellars. Located actually just a block next to Datz Deli (how lucky am I?!) The wine shop which was formerly Gianpiero's Pick of Vine, was purchased by Sommelier Jennifer Bingham and her husband, Torrey, in August of 2010. Transplants from Chicago, the Binghams proudly took over the shop and added on a sweet little wine bar in the back with a modern but cozy flair. The wine bar serves a plethora of cheeses and charcuterie dishes, as well as chocolate sweet treats that are all meant to be paired with the wine, of course. And if you're simply looking to get in and out with a perfectly selected bottle of vino, the shop has rows and rows of wines that will have you covered. Cru Cellars, 2506 S. MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33629, http://www.crucellarstampa.com/.

  • Bamboozle Café. At times (many for me) the craving for some good eats from a far away land come to life and it's time to scope out good ethnic cuisine in the area. I'm beginning to branch out and know I haven't even come close to what's out there. On a recent outing in Tampa's downtown district, I had lunch with a new friend at Vietnamese hot spot, Bamboozle. I love me a good vermicelli noodle bowl now and again, and Bamboozle delivered on my hopes and cravings that day. A heaping serving of white noodles, fashioned with what looked like a garden that lay atop it (green leaf lettuce, pickle, daikon & carrots, mint, bean sprouts, roasted chilis and crushed peanuts), chicken and a side of Bamboozle's zesty chili dressing sent me into heaven. And the best part about it was not feeling overly stuffed or guilty about what part I had eaten (and what part I had to take home). The venue prides itself on bringing its customers a healthy culinary adventure, and I do believe it's food that you can feel good about devouring. Bamboozle Café, 516 N. Tampa Street, Tampa, FL 33602, http://www.bamboozlecafe.com/.
I have much more exploring to do, but it will take some time. Do you live in Tampa, or have you visited and have any favorite foodie spots? Do tell. I'd love to continue to add to my list of haunts to try.


Cru Cellars on Urbanspoon


Culinary Travels

When I think about exploring different parts of the U.S., or the world for that matter, I believe food can play such a huge part in the adventure. Come on, what's better than embarking on an unknown destination to not only see what's buzzing there day in and day out, but to also taste the area's food? It's one way to really understand different regions, cultures, and just people in general by what they eat, how they prepare it, and what foods are special to them.

The now defunct Gourmet magazine used to showcase a series called "Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth". It was a cooking show in which Gourmet's editor at the time, Ruth Reichl, would travel around the globe, often times with a chosen celebrity in tow, and really get deep into the food of that destination. The series is no longer running, but its episodes can still be found on YouTube (of course). Below is one of my favorites. I hope Ruth finds some way to bring it back. We do seem to have oodles of these types of shows on the Travel Channel and Food Network, but there is something about listening to Ruth actually speak her words vs. put them down on paper that, I think, make these so special: she's got a great voice for narration.

Does it inspire you to dive deep into the cuisine of a specific culture? Are you now thinking your next travel adventure will have a foodie twist?

Happy travels and exploration!



The Season for Cinnamon

Is it just me, or have you noticed that cinnamon appears to be a hot topic these days? It’s no wonder. The unmistakable aroma and flavor of the ever-popular spice isn’t just something that is synonymous with the holidays. The use of cinnamon is highly popular during all winter months (and year round). And what’s even better for cinnamon lovers? The health benefits of cinnamon are becoming unveiled every day.

Cinnamon is, literally, the dried inner bark trees in the tropical Asian genus called Cinnamomum. This layer of the bark carries a good amount of nutrients within it. When it’s cut from the tree, it curls into its signature long stick form.

Aside from flavor, cinnamon has many health benefits. To name just a few:

  • It’s an excellent antioxidant source. This is great news for keeping our immune systems strong during these cold months.
  • Cinnamon has been known to keep you fuller longer, and it helps control blood sugar levels.
  • Cinnamon has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
  • Studies have found that smelling cinnamon can boost cognitive function and memory.
  • It’s an excellent source of fiber, iron, manganese, and calcium.
  • Studies have shown that ½ teaspoon of cinnamon a day can help lower LDL cholesterol.
  • It acts as a food preservative, inhibiting bacterial growth and food spoilage.
  • Cinnamon has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory qualities.
An added bonus of the spice is its versatility. Cinnamon’s myriad uses allow you to utilize it in just about any dish you choose, from savory to sweet. Some ideas, as well as some of my favorite uses of cinnamon:

  • Start the morning off with a cup of hot water, freshly squeezed lemon, honey and a dash (or two) of cinnamon.
  • Kick up your morning bowl of oatmeal with a few sprinkles of cinnamon. To incorporate the flavor even more, I like to add a few dashes of ground cinnamon to the pot just as the oatmeal is finished cooking.
  • Add a little spice to your afternoon bowl of fresh-cut fruit and yogurt.
  • Marry it with your marinades in meat dishes.
  • Do you reside in one of the 49 states that were draped in snow this week? Heat up a delectable cup of hot cocoa and sprinkle it with cinnamon for an extra cozy treat.
Are you a fan of cinnamon? What’s your preferred way to enjoy its flavor and benefits?



A New Year for Savoring

Oh I just love the New Year. It brings fresh starts and clean slates and allows us to scrape off all the excess we've dragged along over the course of the prior year and get back to basics.

Savor It is welcoming the new year with a slightly different look and twist. The blog finally has a custom header; I'm not graphically capable and decided to get a little help. First, I'm so excited to have a photo not just from the myriad of stock images out there, but from an actual friend who happens to be an amazing photographer (amongst other things), Heidi von Tagen. Heidi was my academic rep at Western Culinary Institute, and she's also a fantastic cook and a brilliant writer. Be sure to check out her lovely blog, Gorgeous Bits. For customizing the image and finagling with my fonts, I turned to Jason Marsh of JMarsh Studios. Dealing with the back end of design and websites and all of that goo, I prefer to delegate and thank Jason for his many revisions and patience with my ever changing mind.

As I'm writing this post I'm actually watching the "Cooking Channel". I love Sunday morning cooking shows. And even though my time on this blog can sometimes be elusive, I'm still doing "It". I'm still ooohing and ahhhing over scrumptious-looking eats onscreen, and savoring each bite I take when dining out or cooking at home. In addition, I'm exploring. I made a huge leap this year--about as huge as I could--and made my way cross-country to Florida. I do miss all that the Portland food scene had to offer, but that rain. Oh, Portlanders can have it. I had enough, and the only thing on my mind was that my life needed 365 days of sunshine. After that, we'll see what's next.

What's next for Savor It?:

The Food
Food, of course, has always been a focus. The variety is endless and there is always something new to taste, and to learn. I've often been surprised at the many times people were shocked if I didn't know something about food, or how to cook it, or the definition of a certain type of food due to my culinary degree. "But you're the food person," people would say. People, chill. The world of food is endless and no one that I know knows every little thing about it. And to me, that's what makes it so fun; the constant learning, finding of new ingredients and just 'playing' with it.

For me, 2010 was the year of the gorge. I ate everything in sight and felt as if I couldn't get enough. You too, huh? Trust me, I have NEVER planned to be the diet food blogger, and I won't be. It's just not what I want to be the champion of, but I know that some things have to change. My thoughts for 2011 are to enjoy the whole foods, get back to the clean eating and just the best of the basics the bounty has to offer. And of course there are indulgences, but in moderation. Moderation. I think that needs a definition, and I'll add that to my list. I've just learned that it's not all that fun to just devour everything in sight just to do it, or just because you're a 'food person', etc. I'm speaking for myself, of course, but I see it all around. Adam Richmond, I love you and I actually think you're quite adorable, but I'm over the the Man vs. Food mentality of eating a slice of pizza the size of a toddler, or a bowl of 100 scoops of ice cream. Oh, I could, but I'm not, and I'm learning to get back down to reality with it all.

The Travel
I've always thought that food and travel go hand in hand. Who doesn't like to experience new cuisine when they're far away from home? It's a big part of learning about different people and their cultures around the world. In a write-up I did for culinary school (view it here) I wrote, "Food is a commonality shared throughout the entire world. Everyday we might not go for a swim in a pool, or take a drive in a sports car, or a hike through Multnomah Falls, but everyday we eat..." and I still feel that way today. So this year the blog will add a travel element to it, and it's fitting as I'm in a totally new world.

The In Between
It's all about balance and what keeps us going day in and day out. What goes on in between are the unexpected experiences, the people we come across that lead us on a new path and those little triggers that cause us to make this decision over that one.

So welcome to a New Year. This one feels different. I think there's much in store for all of us.

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