#WineDineTweet Event at Timpano Italian Chophouse

There was a time when I didn't drink wine. It's pretty surprising to me even, and I lived it, but it's true. I can't pinpoint when I became such a wine fan (it probably has a lot to do with the fact that my best friend married someone who works for a wine distributor), but it's happened and it's in full force. Fortunately for me, there have been some recent events highlighting food and wine pairings. I've been lucky enough to attend a couple of them.

Timpano Italian Chophouse hosted myself and a couple of other Tampa foodies (including my good friend Tracy and Tampa Trib's food writer extraordinaire, Jeff Houck) to try out their new Wine & Summer Menu during a #WineDineTweet event. Timpano is one of those places I've driven by a million times, always meant to try and just never have. It's located in Hyde Park, with a fantastic area of outdoor seating, and it is always bustling. 

When we arrived for the event, we were seated in a half-moon booth facing the bar, which proved to be a bigger highlight of the night than one would think. Suffice it to say that we had a blast watching the bar patrons drink more...and more.

Anyway, once we mingled for a little bit, we were greeted by the Restaurant Manager, Jesse Dippre. Jesse explained how the event would go, with a wine pairing for each food sampling. We were also introduced to Executive Chef Antoine Ludcene, a passionate Chef who was a pleasure to get to know. 

Shortly thereafter, it was time for our first course, the Artisanal Cheese & Charcuterie ($19), paired with Il Poggione Rosso di Montalcino wine. 

The platter is a chef's selection of cured meats and artisan cheese with additional goodies:

1. White Cheddar; 2. Prosciutto; 3. Grapes; 4. Smoked Duck Patrami 5. Crusty Ciabatta; 6. Soppressata (Italian Chicken Sausage); 7. Salami; 8. Green Apple slices; 9. Country Olives; 10. Cranberry Stilton Cheese; 11. Membrillo (Quince Paste); 12. Humboldt Fog Cheese

Jeff suggested the sausage, Humboldt Fog and Quince Paste on top of the ciabatta. When Jeff Houck suggests you try a combination of food, you just do. It was an amazing combination. Really, everything on the platter was enjoyable. The duck was peppery, but balanced well with the red wine, which had hints of wild berry- so good!

Next, we tried the Tuscan Egg ($8), paired with Belle Glos "Meiomi" Pinot Noir. The Tuscan Egg is made with a soft boiled egg inside of crispy chicken sausage, on top of Diavolo sauce. 

To make the meat, Antoine covered the chicken sausage with Panko and deep fried with a combination of shallots, garlic and fresh herb. The Diavolo sauce is made with tomato sauce, heavy cream, fresh herbs and salt and pepper, topped with fresh Parmesan cheese shavings. My favorite food of the night, I pretty much scraped every last ounce of Diavolo sauce that I could get. The Tuscan Egg was a perfect combination of crispy and soft.

The Meiomi is a rich wine, light to medium body, with a smooth finish and some spice on the nose. 

Our third mini-meal of the night was the Osso Bucco ($18) paired with Damilano "Lecinquevigne" Barolo

The Osso Bucco dish was light, yet rich. With tender pork shank, creamy Parmesan risotto and a bold pork demi-glace, this dish packed a punch of flavor. 

The paired wine, from the Piedmont region, had an earthy tone, with hints of black fruits and currants. The wine really was a great pairing with the red meat. Mm-mm!

The following meal allowed me to try something I never had before: scallops. Unbelievable, I know. I've just never had any desire to have scallops and, in all honesty, I avoided them because the thought of eating scallops was off-putting to me, but when a restaurant is gracious enough to host you, you try everything so that's what I did. And...I was not at all disappointed!

These Pan-Seared Scallops ($25), with asparagus, sweet cream polenta and with a lobster cream sauce, were out of this world. The polenta was a little too sweet for my taste when by itself, but the paired wine, Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio, helped to create a nice balance. The scallops, drizzled with the lobster sauce, created an elegant seafood dish. Recipe coming soon!

Lastly, we were surprised with dessert and a paired 20 year port! 

The Chocolate Layer Mousse Cake was thick and creamy, not unlike a brownie interspersed with layers of mousse. The Cookies & Cream ice cream was great too.

The Taylor Fladgate 20 year port was a very sippable port and made me want to relax even more into the booth at the end of the event. 

Thank you so much to Jesse and Antoine for making the event special!

Additionally, Timpano has a host of ongoing and upcoming events- every Tuesday, stop in for Ladies Night and indulge in select martinis for $3! On Wednesdays, enjoy 1/2 off oysters at the bar! Every Saturday and Sunday, Timpano has an a la carte brunch from 11-2pm, featuring a Bloody Mary bar and unlimited mimosas for $12. 

Upcoming is Madonna's birthday celebration on Tuesday, August 14th at 7pm. Timpano will be the official location of the birthday party celebration with lemon drop Madonna-tinis (Madonna's favorite drink), a Material Girl shopping spree giveaway from a number of Hyde Park shops, a Madonna look alike contest and a band playing Madonna songs all night!

On Friday, August 17, Timpano will play host to the Bombay Sapphire bartending event sponsored by GQ Magazine. A "blue carpet" will be laid out and the participating bartenders will create cocktails using Bombay Sapphire. They will then be judged by London mixologists. The winner will go to Las Vegas to participate in the national competition!

Intrigued by Timpano? Be sure to like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter!

Timpano Chophouse and Martini Bar on Urbanspoon


Datz Deli (Dine Tampa Bay & Foodspotting Event plus Giveaway)

When it comes to favorite restaurants, well, Datz Deli is one of mine. I first tried Datz a long time back when they hosted a Sam Adams event. Since then, I've visited and tried so many items on the menu. I've been there for an early breakfast get together with my friend Tracy. I've been for happy hours and dinners. I've stopped by for a nice lunch before catching an early movie. 

One thing about Datz is they are always ready and willing to host events with other companies and, even better, they host tons of their own events, open to the public. The other night, I had the opportunity to attend a Dine Tampa Bay and Foodspotting event at Datz. The event served to introduce the new menu at Datz, and share information about Dine Tampa Bay's Restaurant Week and the Foodspotting phone app.

Restaurant Week runs from August 3-17 and will feature 121 different Tampa-area restaurants. Each participating restaurant will create a special 3-course prix fixe menu. Depending on the restaurant, the cost will be $25, $35, or $45. Get more information and make your reservations here

Foodspotting is an app available on Android and iPhone. The idea is that you can take a picture of the dish you ordered at a restaurant and upload the picture to share with app users, tagging the restaurant and the menu item's name. Foodspotting serves to share the dishes you can find locally and if you allow the app to use your GPS, you can find uploaded dishes at restaurants in your area. It's an awesome concept! See the video below!

When we arrived for the event, there was a part of Datz set aside for attending bloggers. We were greeted by Heather from Datz (fun fact: according to her business card, she is the Director of Fun- how awesome is that?!) and she went over how the event would run and what menu items we'd be trying. Heather was also always around to answer questions about Datz. The event started off right with some Popsicle Cocktails!

The first one I tried was the Blueberry Popsicle Cocktail.

Sparkling wine, blueberries and lemon make up this cocktail and it pretty much rocked my socks off. The cocktail as pictured is fantastic to begin with, but as the popsicle melts, it gets better and better. I admit that I struggled between allowing the popsicle to melt into the drink and just biting out huge chunks to enjoy. Ultimately, I did a little of both ;) 

Next up was the Tropical Citrus Popsicle Cocktail.

Made with tropical juices, including OJ, sparkling wine and cayenne pepper, this cocktail was so refreshing. The 2 cocktails have such different flavors that I recommend trying both!

Once we had an opportunity to chat a little, the first menu item was given out for us to try- the Watermelon Feta Salad

This salad is made with fresh watermelon, pickled red onion, feta cheese, arugula and finished with chili-lime salt. I've been to a handful of food events since the beginning of summer, all of which feature the restaurant's seasonal watermelon dish, and this one is my favorite. I love how Datz puts its own special touch and ingredients in the salad, yet the normal, traditional watermelon flavor is still there. Too often, the natural juices of the watermelon are overpowered by seasonings, but Datz does it perfectly right.

After salad, we were treated to the Poutine.

The Poutine consists of crispy fries topped with a cheddar cheese curd demi-glace, topped with an egg, sunny-side up. This item was certainly interesting- something I'd never think to combine, but it works! The fries are nice and crispy, the demi-glace is tasty and reminds me of a sweet gravy. The egg was a nice bonus too.

Our next dish was the Fish 'N Crisps- beer-battered Atlantic cod, fried crisp, served with housemade chips, dusted with malt vinegar powder and served with tartar sauce and fresh lemon. 

The cod was flaky and cooked to perfection and the malt vinegar powder kept the batter from turning soggy. Now, if you've been to Datz you'll agree with me and if you've never been to Datz you'll soon learn, that they are known for their chips! They are sweet and salty and usually drizzled with creamy blue cheese and green onions, accompanying their sandwiches on the regular menu.

We were also able to try the Rillette.

The Rillette is whipped mortadella mousse topped with dried cherries and toasted pistachios, served with toasted brioche garnished with fig balsamic. I loved the toppings on the mousse- I'd eat that just by itself, and the toasted points with the balsamic was great. Mortadella is an Italian pork sausage and I recommend it!

Lastly, we each received a Blood Orange Gelato Push Pop.

Ah, gelato! This gelato was topped with candied orange peel and it was such a perfect dessert to end the meal with!

Thank you to Datz, Dine Tampa Bay and Foodspotting for the amazing event! The new Datz menu will launch this Friday so check it out! Also be sure to try out the Foodspotting app and make your reservations for Restaurant Week!


Now for the real fun part! When we were enjoying our meal, I noticed the Home Brew kit that Datz sells along the wall and spoke to Heather about it. Datz has graciously donated a Home Brew Kit for me to give away, along with 2 spots for a winner and their guest to attend Datz's Homebrew Basics event! I also have 2 meal vouchers (entree and beverage included) to give away! So, there will be 3 winners!


What to win: 
1. Homebrew Kit + 2 tickets for winner and a guest to be my guest to the Homebrew Basics event/class at Datz. The event is on Tuesday, July 24th at 6:30pm. The Kit and tickets to the event are a package giveaway item. Therefore, you have to be able to attend the event to win the Homebrew Kit. Upon selecting the first place winner, I will ask the winner if they will be able to attend the event. If not, I will select a new winner and the original 1st place winner will win the second prize (below) instead. We have 2 extra spots reserved so I want to make sure the winner of the kit can attend the event. :) If you know for sure that you cannot attend this event, please let me know in the comments below.
2. Meal Voucher for free entree and beverage.
3. Meal Voucher for free entree and beverage.

*You only have to be able to attend the event to win the homebrew kit. You do not have to attend the event to be able to win the meal vouchers- those will be mailed to the winners.*

Other details:
This giveaway will start now and end Thursday, July 19th at midnight. Winners will be contacted Friday, July 20th and announced via Facebook and Twitter. Winners have 24 hours to respond to me, or to reach out and claim their prize.  

To enter:
Use Rafflecopter below. (***IF YOU DO NOT SEE THE RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY WIDGET, MAKE SURE TO CLICK "READ BELOW" UNDER MY SIGNATURE***). If you have any questions regarding the giveaway, or have any issues with entering, please email me ASAP at jensfood@yahoo.com. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Datz Tampa on Urbanspoon