Thursday, April 16, 2015

Coppertail Brewing Co. – Ybor City


After our lunch at The Bricks, we visited Coppertail Brewing’s brand new tasting room.  We’re going to have to update our brewery map because so many new breweries keep popping up in the area!

Their slogan is “Florida Inspired. Tampa Brewed.”  They had several beers that incorporated citrus, but nothing overly sweet.  We’ve had a few of their beers before (their “Core 4” are bottled and available at many local liquor stores now – we even saw their Free Dive IPA at Trader Joe’s later that day when picking up groceries). 

Coppertail’s new tasting room officially opened March 6th, and it sounds like they’ve had a busy couple of weeks since then.  For middle of the day on a Wednesday, it had a pretty good crowd. 

For the label art, they collaborated with independent artist Evan B. Harris, who created intricate and imaginative designs for each style of beer.   

The brewery’s décor is nautical industrial with lots of funky non-traditional decorations inspired by their labels.  For some reason they also incorporated a traditional confessional booth into the design.  I’m assuming has to do with their “Unholy Trippel”, which they describe as “sacrilegious hops, fruity & funky”. 

While you enjoy your beers, they have a 2-player Pac-Man table that lets you play retro arcade games for free (Lance looks pretty excited about this in the picture below...)  They also have the oversized Jenga and a pile of other board games like you find at most breweries. 

As far as the beers go, I enjoyed the Frank and the Giant Peach “Floridaweisse” and their Night Swim porter best.  And even though I’m not big on IPAs, the orange and grapefruit in their Citrus IPA made it more my style. 

They offer tours Thursday – Sunday for $7, which includes a behind-the scene look of the operations, a beer, and a souvenir glass.  It was the wrong day of the week for us to try the tour out, but a glass with their logo would be pretty cool!   

Coppertail Brewing Co. is located at 2601 E 2nd Ave, Tampa, FL 33605  (right across from IKEA) and is open 4pm – 11pm Monday – Thursday, 4pm – 12am Friday, 2pm – 12am Saturday, and 12pm – 7pm on Sunday. 

The Bricks – Ybor City


Yesterday we headed to Ybor City to grab some lunch.  I had heard great reviews about a restaurant called The Bricks, but hadn’t had the chance to try it out before. 

As expected, it is located in a brick building, with exposed brick walls in the interior.  It is clearly aimed at a young crowd – The Skatepark of Tampa apparently opened it after decades of sending business to other local bars and restaurants. 

When you walk in, the music sounds like you might be in a Pac Sun or Tilly’s.  The TVs had footage of 80’s skateboarding kids and The Disney Channel playing.  They had ads for “The Church of Nintendo” game nights on Mondays, and they featured a chorizo soup called “Chorizard” (for those of you that didn’t grow up as 90’s kids, there was a Pokémon dragon named Charizard…I never even had any Pokémon cards, but I still recognized the name…)  

I was pretty excited to see Cigar City’s Cubano Espresso Brown Ale on the drink menu.  It’s a coffee beer brewed with local coffee beans, and tastes almost more like a Starbucks drink than a beer.   

I ordered The Bird and Pig sandwich – with roasted pulled chicken, bacon, apples, brie, and agave served on sweet bread.  From their Yelp reviews, it seems that this is pretty much everyone’s favorite sandwich there.  It was the perfect mix of savory and sweet – and they even served it presented in a heart shape! I had the mixed greens salad as my side, which was tossed in a tangy dressing. 

Lance had The Burrito – with oven roasted pork, black bean-corn relish, cheddar, and avocado cream in a pressed flour tortilla.  I thought the pressed tortilla was much better than the normal cold tortilla you’d get at a typical burrito restaurant. 

Whether you’re a skateboarder or not, I’d highly recommend checking this place out. 

The Bricks is located at 1327 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605  and is open 11am – 1am Monday – Sunday.       

Crab Shack – St. Petersburg, FL


While Brandi & Jeremy were in town, they wanted to spend as much time at the beach and eat as much seafood as possible. 

The last day they were here, we headed to Caladesi Island.  And even though my Apple Maps seems to think that Caladesi is completely separated from Clearwater Beach, it actually is connected, so we hiked from North Clearwater to the end of Caladesi and back (about 9 miles total…which is much more beach walking than I’m used to!) 

The last time I went to Caladesi was back in 2011.  Lance and I had only been dating a couple weeks at that point, and the beach was completely deserted.  We didn’t know about the connection to Clearwater, so we took a ferry over from Honeymoon Island to the north (there might not have even been a land bridge at that point…supposedly it has only been connected in recent years…) This time, Caladesi was packed with retirees and spring breakers – totally different than our last visit. 

Anyways, after our long beach walk, we were pretty hungry.  We planned to eat at The Bait House, but with all the beachgoers, it had an hour wait.  Instead, we stopped at Crab Shack on the way back over the Gandy bridge.   

We’ve dined there a couple times – it’s very casual and a bit divey, but the crab there is fantastic.  They don’t have much of a beer selection though unless you’re into Budweiser or Coors Light. 

We started with the Tater Skins with Bacon, Crab Meat, and Cheddar along with the coconut shrimp.  The coconut shrimp was great, but the potato skins didn’t seem like anything special (I’m sure it was real crab, but it didn’t seem like it…)

I always get the same meal there – the 1 ½ pounds of Alaskan Snow Crab, which comes with a potato or rice, and either salad or slaw. 

The salads are simple but very fresh. We were so hungry we all devoured ours before I got a picture.  The potatoes are pretty basic, served with sour cream and fake butter, but they are cooked just right.  The thing they really specialize in of course is their crab.  It’s served with some bright yellow butter dip (like what you’d pour over your movie theater popcorn), but the crab is so flavorful on its own, you really don’t need to add anything to it.  

They bring you buckets with scissors, metal crackers to break the legs, and thin wooden seafood picks to get every bit of crab meat out.  It’s a lot of messy work, but it’s worth it.  Just know that at some point you’ll probably get hit by a flying bit of crab shell – it’s not really a great place to go on a first date. 

We were all covered in sand, sunscreen, butter, and crab juice by the end of the day – but after some quick showers, we finished our evening with dessert at Yogurtology.  I especially liked their new flavor of the month, PB&J! 

Crab Shack is located at 11400 Gandy Blvd N, St Petersburg, FL 33702 and is open 11am – 10pm Monday – Thursday, 11am – 11pm Friday – Saturday, and 1pm – 10pm on Sunday.     

Yogurtology has several locations.  Tonight we visited the one at 3017 W Gandy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33611 and is open from 11am – 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11am – 11pm Fridays and Saturdays. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Chocolate Baileys Cheesecake


Every Easter since 2008, I’ve baked a cheesecake (you can see all the previous ones on this tbt post from last week).  I’ve tried to make a different kind every year, so I have tons of cheesecake recipes saved on Pinterest.

This year I baked a chocolate cheesecake with Baileys, topped with chocolate chips and chocolate covered espresso beans.  Like the chocolate peanut butter kind I made in 2012, this one was super rich. 

We drove down to Fort Myers to celebrate with Lance’s family this year.  After spending the afternoon at the pool, we headed to his aunt & uncle’s place for dinner.  They have an Easter tradition of crafting bunnies out of pears with maraschino cherry noses, marshmallow tails, clove eyes, and paper ears.  We ate those along with a huge dinner, so we barely had room for cheesecake afterwards. 


I’d never baked this flavor before but I’m very happy with how it turned out!  When cut, it showed all the layers really well – chocolate graham cracker crust, chocolate cheesecake, sour cream topping, and the chocolate chip/espresso bean garnish. 

Baileys Chocolate Cheesecake (adapted from Cozy Country Living)

·        2 cups chocolate graham crackers crumbs (about 12 whole crackers)
·        8 T butter (1 stick), melted

·        4 – 8oz pkgs cream cheese
·        1½ cups granulated sugar
·        1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
·        1 tsp vanilla
·        4 eggs
·        ½ cup Baileys Irish Cream liquor

·        1 – 16oz container sour cream
·        ¼ cup granulated sugar
·        ¼ cup Baileys Irish Cream liquor
·        1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
·        About 50 chocolate covered espresso beans

1.  Grease a 9” springform pan (I used coconut oil spray) and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Grind your graham crackers in the food processer.  Mix with melted butter and press into the bottom of your pan evenly and part way up the sides. 

3. Bake crust for 8 minutes, then allow to cool while you prepare the filling.    

4. In a small saucepan, heat chocolate chips on low, stirring until just melted.  Set aside to cool slightly. 

5. In a large bowl with a hand-mixer (or this year I was able to use my KitchenAid mixer!), blend the cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. 

6. Slowly add the melted chocolate by the spoonful, scraping the sides to make sure it combines well. 

7. Add eggs one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition.

8. Add the vanilla and Baileys and mix together until combined. 

9. Pour filling over crust and spread out evenly.  Bake for about 60 minutes, or until almost set.  Remove and let stand for 5 minutes. 

10.  Blend together the sour cream, sugar, and Baileys for the topping.  Spread evenly over cheesecake and bake 5 more minutes. 

11. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Carefully go around the edges of the pan with a knife to loosen, and move the cheesecake, still in the springform pan, to a cooling rack and let sit another 30 minutes. 

12. Top with chocolate chips and chocolate covered espresso beans. 

13. After another hour, you can cover the cheesecake with foil or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator overnight. 

14.  Remove the sides from the springform pan, cut in slices & enjoy!