Tampa Tuesdays: Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens

It’s officially spring, and that means it’s time for the Food and Wine festival at Busch Gardens! I was invited to a media event a couple of weeks ago to check out some of the amazing food offerings, and wanted to share them with you for Tampa Tuesdays.

3UDmB_E7HPslDpca8NZBZKcnl3YeuOJEy7ZeCsjLbIwpX92IB

When we arrived at Busch Gardens, we were immediately greeted by an adorable topiary, and of course some wine!

3HE8wSALRabf82GvFPj_bQcYrPw2FGAt_tzqRimuI-0pX92IB

There was food, music, drinks, and some friendly faces.

NxPAedaeu1JCtlePcIdT6lS7qwe0wU2xqGiAbaNdX1cpX92IB

Servers passed around some of the offerings, while others were found at the food booths just as you would find them in the parks during the festival. The bacon macaroni and cheese was my favorite, hands down! This was just one of the many offerings at the 13 food cabins, 65+ fine wines and 70+ craft beers!

1CZytnCY1KplzwKDvRAmYJnMxM56KLZf3GY37dI8LkQpX92IB

However the duck fat truffle fries were a close second.

3AYIvinenD3ifIGAyI9ro-DQnw4dXh2eWHP8drRMvYQpX92IB

Each cabin had a menu board with the food and drinks available as well as prices. Some even had pictures which I found very helpful.

oqZGsyrkGXgVAGlXH5KF5ahEtCFdF_NWr1n6voFUL9gpX92IB

dvg5ySDqqpN4GSaE9zcO3DSCgPVm4iLHypVYLx5Pwr8pX92IB

The president of Busch Gardens, Stewart Clark, spoke a few words, and it was fun to see the excitement he had for the event.

OkFAW905d1X60ltcfdVdbvkaaLSTJSZYa9ILpjORZV8pX92IB

Megan and I had to try out more wine, of course.

FslNa1Z0Ndp6cLKWv7g5Wv0gpk3kh4h8KEBifxYadQkpX92IB

Bobby tried the lobster tart.

IXpDrKSfml-8XKFEObRQqNQnFOpgf01sf5mX3cPUkIspX92IB

Jo7B14MWqNQ8SiNmc3LdZg9oYPiGewe9wEus-MyCmYwpX92IB

Then I found the frozen sangria and the mango margarita. Both were amazing, and I may have had more than one! (pictured here with shrimp and grits.)

Zvtog1XDvt5Tso935sbzJ6c-NRP9ZgodlLoXVWj_YKApX92IB

One of the new pavilions is called “cooking with Coke”, and I really enjoyed the pulled pork sliders with Coca-Cola® Cherry BBQ sauce.

OH2Z3fZkTfo6YysNbxO1X-hnPB8pnnPvlyQGKV5Q8S0pX92IB

Mango margarita pictured below.

P_-LWz3X9Pi_xw4ltEOeeiU5z-YSNQxqauhryEEpeTcpX92IB

No lie, after I took the below photo, a bird swooped down and stole my Key Lime Berry Parfait Mousse with churro. How rude! Also pictured are scallops and lamb chops with tabouleh. The scallops were Bobby’s favorite of the evening.

XVgVHW1zw17-46EhEPNBW0_c4nTMEaW5y50RCnQKFXspX92IB

I may have had another plate of the bacon mac and cheese. It’s THAT good.

RFdH5sGQA62UV7RZPK4BYoIm2Twu0fUnF0Tl3m3V68cpX92IB

RFz3ZG6yBJhzYv8if8iBgCoPgCQmQ9omMgDDmBXTzxEpX92IB

Something else we got to do that you can also do if you come to Busch Gardens (for a fee) is pet and feed kangaroos. It was so cool! They ate out of these little cups and were super friendly. It made my night!

jbjZsdAVAA05-PExdRABMU5EHXZO3HhAHsUktDzegiEpX92IB

p_BsxrfKFbyzQ1XQZ5C3TU20emQ0S_v6IEEBwRjaiWwpX92IB

X4osugZWbOLyW-hFeufVHH1kPZNE_rfDvr4pw-Ym9-gpX92IB

At the end of the night, we were sufficiently stuffed, and couldn’t wait to try more food at the Food and Wine Festival when it opened the next day! We haven’t been back yet, but we plan to do so soon.

busch gardens

Don’t forget that in addition to the amazing food offerings, there is an awesome concert line up including names like the Band Perry, Newsboys, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also plenty of upgrades you can purchase to make your visit even sweeter. There are festival samplers starting at $29.99, and VIP packages starting at $24.99.

LkY5rN5I8o41wU-_w-oZkKIECyCkt88wu5iUmLpbwn4pX92IB

A huge thank you to Busch Gardens for the invite. This is such a fun festival that’s great for the whole family! You can experience the festival for yourself on weekends through April 30th. Concerts start at 7:00 pm. For more info be sure to check out the event FAQ page.

QOTD: Have you ever attended the Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens? What dish looks the best to you?

*Disclosure: I was provided free entrance into this special event as media, however all opinions are my own.

The winner of my Cabot giveaway is Susan Smith! Susan, be sure to email me at heatherslookingglass@gmail.com. You can check out the rafflecoptor widget in the original post to see the winner into.

Tampa Tuesdays: The Nutrition Factory

Last week, I was invited to a pre grand opening event at a new restaurant concept called The Nutrition Factory. It was built next to/kind of inside Powerhouse Gym in Tampa. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had heard about possible smoothies? Protein powders? Meals? Once we arrived and were shown around, it all became clear…clear that I loved this place!

alFRj29o9bQmJD6adKhF2gGIc8DqaPs0QaK8jlbpgSMpX92IB

As someone who has been blogging about health and fitness for seven years, I was particularly excited, and equally skeptical of this place. Let me tell you something. The heart and the thought that went into each and every single thing truly shows in the product. We walked in and loved the hip and fun vibe right away. There was a long table to sit at as well as outdoor seating.

mSc__6Zo4Ddw9Huxjt1UzDFsMjXNjXuzY7JHZGEpke4pX92IB

The menu is broken down into proteins, grains, veggies, and toppings. You can customize a bowl, salad or wrap based on this, or choose one of their pre-created concepts. They even have a bowl named “the boring bowl”. HA!

3SCdk4ebL0_t6IxS7B4Tqy5s_wULMJnhC3BRTks98nUpX92IB

Knowing I wanted to sample several things, I went with a Junior bowl. I got chicken for my protein, brown rice for my grain, and the loaded it down with toppings like edamame, avocado, cheese, and almonds. I also had a delicious dressing on the side.

38hc_0Hds_Xo0p2Ngd4_WSzSTIFXgMqf2OagfamKvxIpX92IB

You watch your food as it is prepared, and can customize as you go.

_P8yjvVEGW0lZ8RwHTpRC4DSn02y8XxY69TRJcDDUVYpX92IB

There is NO LIMIT on the toppings which was the best part!

dTbrEEXN1b76F_Ps7k8jdHR-e7tKNKl9k06lKW8MSIIpX92IB

There is also a smoothie station where you can get a protein shake, or a cold pressed juice smoothie. I had a birthday cake shake, and Bobby had a S’mores flavored one and one called the Hawaiian Pie. All were amazing! We also got to sample the cold pressed juice smoothies and they are packed with fruits, veggies, and vitamins. There are so many options!

0z3dv-_2Y4Q7vfhWWGLMDnzoXOLrGZIkjzFW0W3Se34pX92IB

This is one of Bobby’s bowls. he may or may not have had two. It was just so good!

nySXhj2TTj0O_oO_gji3_tH0IjRA5eYePI2knkiNqI8pX92IB

The Nutrition Factory also sells lots of product in their store, at great prices. The walls were lined with pre workout, protein powder, and the like. One of the owners, Michael, took a lot of time with us explaining the different products, and even helped my husband figure out what would be the best pre workout for him to start taking.

7UNU90SCTeWMd-S_nntIQsAFBALeOpVpvIrNf31gGnwpX92IB

Michael also told me of a really exciting concept they are bringing in the near future. He knows a lot of gym goers like to meal prep, but keeping food fresh all week is difficult, and some people just don’t have the time. He plans to offer a grab and go meal prep area, where you can come in and just grab your grains, or proteins, or the whole meals, WITHOUT having to join a subscription service where you have to purchase so many meals a week or month. I love it.

You could tell that Michael is truly passionate about The Nutrition Factory, and has big plans for it. Expansion may be in the future as well, but he and his partner want to focus on getting everything right with this store before expanding. I really hope they do expand, as this location is a bit far from my house, but it is definitely worth the drive. I’m already thinking up custom ideas for my next bowl.

QOTD: Thoughts on this concept attached to a gym? What is your favorite protein powder?

Tampa Tuesdays

Hello friends! Now that I am living in Tampa, I am slowly learning my way around (with and without Google maps) and trying to immerse myself in all things Florida and Tampa. Because Tampa is a MUCH bigger city than the one I came from in Mississippi, there is so much more to explore and to share with you all, so I decided to start a new series called “Tampa Tuesdays”. I probably won’t do this every Tuesday, but whenever I have something fun and new to share with you about Tampa, I will try to do it on a Tuesday. It’s actually a little deceiving because I will also share things from surrounding cities as well, but mostly focus on Tampa restaurants, stores, and experiences. I hope you will follow along as I explore my new area!

Today I wanted to share with you about an amazing restaurant called Pelagia. This restaurant can be found at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel.

76k3BD5IS_H1hXCHTu_fY4pS9bMKSS10tQkVSKXblxcpX92IB

Bobby and I were invited for a special tasting of their Christmas and New Year’s Prix Fixe menus , which were created by Chef Brett Gardiner.You aren’t going to want to miss this if you are local! How it works is you get to create your own menu by selecting one starter, entrée, and dessert from the prix fixe menu. We didn’t experience all of both menus (that would have been way too much food!) but we got to sample items from each.

gq9Jg7NKk6gOKPB1WI7c3MRBkkw-vGNidQbaFg3BSZQpX92IB

We started with an appetizer plate which had smaller portions of four appetizers you can find on the special holiday menus.

-pK7fJE6XuNj3_enDqGCzf-wdThvNqFdr25vcGrjpIEpX92IB

What I loved about the menu is that it paired ingredients together that I would never have thought to put in the same recipe, but they came out amazing! Bobby’s favorite was the duck confit with sunchokes, frisee, pomegranate, and port vinaigrette. (top of the photo). My favorite (which totally surprised me!) was the grilled pear, watercress, maple bacon, and walnut dressing. (Far right in the photo). The pear wasn’t mushy, and the bacon paired with it had the most amazing flavor. I must try tor recreate!

Next we were given four samples of the main course to try as you can see from the above menu. Bobby and I both agreed that the rack of lamb with the blackberry sage demi was our favorite. So tender and juicy.

X4KO4iUDjJUqcmJwv8bbuGzMSvr1zZq1zPWt4N79tRwpX92IB

Lastly, we were treated with samples of four of the sweet desserts on the prixe fixe menus. Anyone who knows me knows I have a sweet tooth, so I was most excited about this part, and it did not disappoint.

cxby_2Xbf8j229B5OWY07hi1KQt7Jc5v2zzMnp9Yqe8pX92IB

My two favorites were the apple crumble dessert at the top left, and the eggnog panna cotta at the bottom right. It’s always fun to have festive holiday desserts, and these hit it out of the park. (The other two were wonderful too with great rich flavoring, but if I had to pick…) As a chocolate lover, I was surprised my two favorites were non chocolate, but that just goes to show how amazing they were.

The restaurant was beautiful and easy to get to from the front of the hotel, and the staff was warm and friendly. Even the private dining room had a unique flair, and a fun and funky chandelier.

jUJXwEIJHJL9v_eLit5vgFUGbs1-zP0n4i9uIQgptoQpX92IB

Reservations are available for seatings from noon to 8 p.m. on Christmas day, and throughout the day for New Year’s eve. The cost for Christmas day is $45 for adults and $18 for children 13 and under. For the New Year’s meal, the cost is $70 for adults and includes a glass of Prosecco (which I can attest, is delicious as well!). Prices exclude tax and gratuity. Please call 913-313-3235 for reservations, or you can make them online here.

*Bobby and I were provided a free meal from Pelagia, however all our thoughts and opinions are our own as we explore our new city!