The party last night was at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg – I had never been there before, but what an incredible venue! It is a huge ballroom built in the 1920’s with a beautiful arched ceiling. It was featured in the 1985 sci-fi movie Cocoon (along with the shuffleboard courts across the street).
I think our favorite food from the night was the peanut butter stuffed cookie from Gigi’s Cupcakes! I discovered a new bakery & pizzeria called The Bake – which is right down the road from us so sure I’ll head there soon (they had amazing donut samples). Mad Dogs & Englishmen was serving samples of their bangers & mash. Shell’s Seafood gave out generous portions of clam chowder. One of the best ice cream companies, Revolution, was there sampling their Eurotrash flavor (made with Nutella and Biscoff cookies). Anise Global Gastrobar had Boozy Brownies with Rye Whiskey and Blood Orange Liquor. Ashworth Artisan Chocolate had all sorts of sweet goodies, including crème brûlée and PB&J truffles and pumpkin pie fudge. CD Roma, Spaghetti Warehouse, and The Bake all had meatball samples, which was a little overkill for me (I do like meatballs, but a bit more variety would have been nice). And Pipo’s had a Cuban rice dish – I wish they’d done plantains or a meat dish, but I guess the rice is easiest to feed a crowd.Jerk Hut’s line was actually so long that we didn’t end up getting a sample (but we’ve eaten there before and it’s great Jamaican food). Looking back, we somehow also missed the pimento cheese crostini samples from Sono Café and whatever Maggie on the Move was handing out.
There were also a few drink sample stations – New Belgium Brewing had their Fat Tire and Ranger beers. Cuestion Tequila gave out half shots (which was more than enough for me). Kahwa Coffee had free coffee (with it being a night event I only had a little bit to dip my peanut butter stuffed cookies.) And Swami Juice gave tastes of their healthy fruit and veggie juices (I liked the one with carrot, orange, apple, ginger, turmeric & cinnamon).
The longest drink line was for Roux’s Pink Fairy drink – made with Florida Cane vodka, Pernod Absinthe, St. Germaine Elderflower, lime, coconut water, and blueberries. We actually did wait in that line a few times since that drink worth it. It took longer than the other drink lines since they weren’t pre-made – the bartender was meticulously handcrafting the cocktail, muddling blueberries, and straining the drinks into sample cups.
The event was a bit too loud to actually hear the announcements of this year’s winners, but we took home a copy of the new CL Best of the Bay issue which outlined everything.
Best Seminole Heights Restaurant: The Refinery (runners up: Ella’s Americana Folk Art Café & Rooster & The Till)
Best Safety Harbor Restaurant: Whistle Stop Grill (runners up: Green Springs Bistro & Southern Fresh)
Many of the food & drink winners are places that I’m already familiar with, but there are a few new restaurants and bars I’m excited to try out! I’m sure you’ll see a lot of them featured on the upcoming blog posts…