Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival

October 13, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Yesterday we all went down to Hunsader Farms in Bradenton for the annual Hunsader Farms Pumpkin Festival.

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It was around 90 degrees yesterday and thus felt like the typical Florida pumpkin festival. Hot. We went to Hunsader’s a couple of years ago and I remember it being hot then as well.

Upon arriving at Hunsader’s Farm, you are directed to park in a pasture about a half a mile from the actual festival. There is an ocean of cars.

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Then you walk, trying to avoid cow patties and ant hills.

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Lots of things at the festival cost extra money, but kids 12 and under get in free.

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They have a free circus which we went to last time, but this time we skipped it.

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We first headed to the corn maze ($2 each).

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Then we walked and walked.

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The corn was not too high so you could see people everywhere throughout the field walking around, looking down, shuffling like zombies.

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In case we got lost in the knee-high corn, they had some people out there to watch over us zombies.

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When we were going over the foot bridge we noticed a crowd gathering at the monster truck exhibit.

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We realized we would have a great vantage point from inside the corn maze, so we headed that way.

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We also got to see the pumpkin canon discharged from the corn maze.

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We did get stuck at dead ends several times in the maze, but finally managed to make our way out. It took a while. It was exercise.

They had a crate maze (free)…

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and a hay bale maze for the littles (also free).

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We ran the fried food gauntlet.

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We passed the butterfliers.

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They had live music at several venues on the farm.

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Then we hit the vendor area. They had pretty much everything you’ve ever seen sold at any festival anywhere. Some things I liked:

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My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-62(Cal got one of these.)

My Fascinating Life Caroline Calcote-63(I bought some pickled okra and some dill pickles. I should have bought three jars of the okra. It’s amazing. I bought stuff from this lady last time too.)

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All the boys got snow cones.

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I got candy corn glass earrings.

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The boys got in line for this:

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Chad and I stood in the shade while they bungeed.

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They did have pretty good prices on produce (but not all of it was actually local…much of it was, though).

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I bought a bunch of beets and a spaghetti squash for around $4 total.

Then the boys did this ($5 each):

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It was a good day.

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Cya.

Datz Dough Fall Menu Preview

October 12, 2013 at 6:11 pm

Disclosure: Datz Dough hosted the Tampa Bay Bloggers meet-up and provided us with all of the food and beverages shown below in exchange for live-tweeting/instagramming and blog posts about the new fall menu. All opinions are my own and no further compensation was provided.

Last night the Tampa Bay Bloggers got together to “share what we learned” at conferences over the summer. The meet up was hosted by Datz Dough, the amazing side-kick to Datz restaurant in Tampa.

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I was greeted at the door by a tray full of of prickly pear mimosas.

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When the syrup at the bottom was mixed in the drink turned such a pretty color.

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I just took one sip, for review purposes of course, and it was dreamy. This was definitely the sweetest thing I had tasted in six weeks. I refrained from continuing to drink it, but I continued to enjoy looking at how pretty it was.

Dough is known for this wonderfulness:

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Um, yeah. Pretty much looks like a magical sugar heaven right there. To a girl who hasn’t had sugar in six weeks it looks like delicious sin.

But the brilliant folks at Datz Dough recently hired Chef Domenica Macchia to create an entire new menu for them. I have had Chef Domenica’s food before when she was the chef at Three Birds Tavern in St. Petersburg. I had some amazing and creative food there. When I read that she was given carte blanche to create the menu, I knew it would be inventive and delicious.

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I didn’t really have much to contribute to the “share what you learned” discussion, but there was no way that I was turning down this invitation. I mumbled something about just going to Fitbloggin’ in Portland to see far-flung friends, not attending any sessions, a few general things about how to enjoy conferences in general (i.e. just go to network and have fun…don’t stress over the overload of info).

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We had a good turn-out of course.

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I’m pretty sure anyone in our association who COULD be there, was there. Datz is always amazing, but we were being given the privilege of trying out the FIRST plates that Chef Domenica had prepared for Dough. Awesome. My friend Gerardo was there to take great photos for us, but then he wasn’t in any of the pictures! Well, I think I got his profile in one later.

So we mingled and talked. And we ate.

Datz TBB menu

First up was the Passport Salad.

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This was right up my alley with goat cheese, olives, and figs. The crispy chick peas were perfect in the dish. I ate all of this one.

The next course was the Not Yo Mama Mac & Cheese.

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Ahhhh, the temptation. I wanted to eat it all in one bite! But I was really trying to stick with NSNG (no sugar, no grains) as much as I could while still enjoying the event. Besides the pasta, I’m sure there was flour in the cheese sauce…the amazingly smooth, creamy, delicious, perfect cheese sauce…what was I talking about? Oh, I’m sure there was flour in that sauce. So, I just stuck my fork in to the sauce and tasted it, avoiding the pasta. Yes. It was perfection. I could so dive into a bathtub full of that.

Next we were presented with a second cocktail. This was called the Bobby Boucher Spritz. It got cut off of that menu that I showed above.

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The Bobby Boucher was cherry heering liqueur, overproof bourbon, Benedictine, and sweet vermouth. I stirred it and took one long swig. It was so good. I could have downed the whole thing in one more long drink. But I didn’t. I was satisfied with my one good sip. I love bourbon (of course, being a one-time Kentuckian, and hosting a Derby party every year forever), and this drink was divine.

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Next up was a little Sea & Swine.

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Perfection. It was a huge perfectly seared scallop with a piece of BACON BRITTLE on top. Yes, it had bacon candy on it. And I ate the candy. I think my sugar buzz was already setting in for the evening. Our server had an extra plate of scallop, and I winked at him and just told him to leave it at the empty table behind us. So I ate two of these. On the second one I was devout and did not eat the brittle. Still awesome.

Next up was “The Steaks are High”. This was a strip steak plank with valronah chocolate coffee sauce. (Chocolate!!!!) It was paired with a blue cheese cheesecake, not shown on the menu above. It was a BLUE CHEESE cheesecake bonus!

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I ate every bit of the steak and practically licked the sauce off my plate, and I ate two bites of the cheesecake. In my defense, the cheesecake was more savory than sweet. And I can’t even describe my love for it. Chef Domenica, will you make me a blue cheese cheesecake for my next birthday? I won’t make you sign anything!

And then the heavens parted and the angels started singing and a lovely vision entered the room carrying this:

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These are Chef Domenica’s famous duck fat fries, which I have had before. They were not on the menu and thus not expected, but holy cow…so amazing. I ate one bite cut off the end and dipped into the sauce. I’m not sure what the sauce was, but that was one great bite. The texture of the fries was the perfect contrast of light, crispy exterior and soft, fluffy interior. So glad they will be on the menu! These fries belong in the world.

Finally, dessert was presented. This is the Banana Foster Boozy Shake.

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I wish I could have been double-fisting those, but in reality I took one long drink through that cute straw and was transported to autumn dessert nirvana. The banana was very subtle, and there was the perfect flavor of fall in there…cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg? I don’t know, but it was really good.

As we were all devouring our shakes (well, not me, but you know), Chef Domenica came in to speak with us for a minute. This is the group giving her thunderous applause (and there’s Gerardo, or half of him):

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I’m pretty sure we were all deliriously happy with the meal we had just received.

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Oh, those foolish, foolish people in St. Petersburg for letting her go. She was so nice to chat with us, telling us about her amazing experiences and culinary background. She is a rockstar chef.

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Thank you so much to Datz Dough and to Chef Domenica Macchia for a fantastic evening!

I hope that Chef does not mind me referring to her as Chef Domenica rather than Chef Macchia. I don’t know the proper etiquette and I think of her as one of my best friends now. I’m sure she feels the same. (p.s. Chef, I was the one in the pink dress.)

All of the items that I featured above will be on the new fall menu (in a larger portion)! It is launching this Tuesday, October 15th, at 11 a.m. at Datz Dough.

Be sure to:

Like Datz Dough on Facebook.
Follow Datz Dough on Twitter.
Follow Datz on Instagram.

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Cya.

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