The History of Beer; How to Make A Mojito; and Tampa Bays Dining Scene Heats Up
When I was pregnant with my daughter, the only thing I wanted, besides a good night's sleep was a hito me too. I never drink in my life. And when I got pregnant, I was like, I feel like drinking a Mojo. I Robin sussing ham, and this is the best citrus seafood, banished flavor and southern charm, possessed celebrates cuisine and community in the sunshine state on today's podcast, producer delete, Cologne. Gets a lesson in mo- hito, making from the fifth generation owner of Florida's oldest restaurant the Columbia. We'll also hear from a prominent food writer about the Tampa Bay area's burgeoning food scene, and how relatively cheap real estate makes it all possible. Plus, our cook book, reviewer, Janet Keiller talks about the indispensable charms of real physical cookbook. But I as the weather warms up, we do have adult beverages on our mind. Craft beer has become a big deal in Florida. In fact, it's one of the top states in the country in terms of economic impact and brewing has a long history in Tampa. You can find out all about it at the Tampa Bay history center, which has an exhibit called history by the pint beer and brewing in Tampa Bay. Rodney kite Powell is here. He is a historian with the Tampa Bay history center. Hey, rodney. So tell me about brewing in Tampa Bay, it started with the Florida brewing company in ebor city, and like the eighteen hundreds, it was the Florida brewing company, started by they Martinez ebor the founder of ebor city in eighteen ninety seven and it was the first brewery in the entire state of Florida was he from Cuba or was he from Spanish from Spain. And so he had cigar manufacturing business in Havana, he came to, to Cuba's fairly young man. In where he put this brewery, I think, is really interesting because these were there were springs, their natural springs that had been sacred to Indians to the paleo Indians for, I guess. Yeah. And that's the, the government's spring is, as it came to be called was, was not just important for the native people who'd lived here. He say from, from Alenia, but for the soldiers at fort Brooke who first arrived here in the eighteen twenties in that fort, which is wasn't downtown. Tampa was continuously occupied until the early eighteen eighties and it was renown and so very natural place to put your brewery, because one of the most important things that goes in beer is the water. He was a Spaniard who had been living in Cuba dented with Cubans. Was there anything different about the way they brewed their beer? No is a matter of fact, it was driven beer was a logger because that's the kind of beer that Americans were drinking Bush. Exactly, it was selling. So that's what Mr. ebor did is he pardon the pun tapped, the expertise of Germans that were in the country, not necessarily here in Tampa and brought them here. So they would be able to manufacture a hike. Quality logger and their biggest market because market was Cuba, when you get outside of the Tampa Bay area Tampa at the time they exported beer to Cuba. They were at one point, the largest exporter of beer to Cuba, and prior to prohibition breweries owned saloons. And so you went to a saloon that was affiliated with Anheuser Busch or with the floor brewing company. So the Columbia restaurant started out as a saloon for the Florida burn common really, for the Florida Brian company, all right there in ebor city. Yes. Yes. So teddy Roosevelt came to town, he did his rough riders. Yes. He had had Abreu had a beer from the Florida brewery entirely well, it's entirely possible. He was at least he was here at the right time for that. There's a lot of myths about Brazzaville and others, who the timing doesn't even work for. But yeah, the brewery was a year old, and there was a lot of beer being. Consumed during the summer of eighteen ninety eight and the build up to the Spanish American war. These are young men getting ready to go off to war. Absolutely. They would have a beer. Gosh. There were thirty thousand young men that were here, not just the rough riders but thirty thousand soldiers and they are all were thirsty and looking for that last drink. So then prohibition hit in nineteen eighteen but Tampa didn't seem to pay much attention to prohibition at all. No. And and, and by by nineteen eighteen most of the state had gone dry, but Tampa, certainly had not because of variety of factors of our cultural makeup, largely though because of the large immigrant community that we had. There was very little interest in going dry and say the wettest dry city in the state or absolutely. It it absolutely was. And there are some wonderful examples of, of that, and people doing everything they can to get an elusive drink. So Florida's history is so intertwined with Cuba's and Fidel Castro's rise to power kind of caused the brewery, Florida Rury to go under, because the US, then embargoed Cuba, and that really kind of put the kabosh on, on breweries for awhile in Florida. Well, you know it was a transition time. You think about the, the big brands that were growing at that time in the post war era, we're talking about the nineteen fifties and nineteen sixties. They, they could withstand having one market taken away because they in dozens of markets, but you have a small brewery with these great connections to Cuba's you mentioned that can be really damaging. And so at the same time that one work closes, you have other breweries literally opening up in the same area. You have the opening of the Bush burry of the slits burry, you've got account ills Burke county that is actively trying to get Newt industry. In the area, and sometimes it's at the expense of the smaller established businesses. Well, what was the attraction for the big brewing company's? Why did Anheuser Busch locate in Tampa? I kind of a mid sized city is about distribution beers about freshness being able to deliver a fresh cold product was really important. Rodney. Oh, absolutely. It's been a real pleasure. Rodney kite Powell is an historian with Tampa Bay history center. There's an exhibition called history by the pine beer and brewing in Tampa Bay. It's there right now. As Rodney mentioned, the Columbia restaurant anymore. City has been around for a long time. The Hernandez gones mart family opened the restaurant in Tampa's, historic ebor city in nineteen zero five, and it's the home of some iconic, Florida dishes, like their Cuban sandwich, and nineteen. Oh, five salad. They're mo- hito is also very popular and producer, Dalil, Cologne visited the restaurant to find out more. I'm here at Columbia restaurant in ebor city in Tampa, and it's quiet. And that's only because it's not open yet. I'm here with Andrea guns mart Williams, fifth-generation owner, thank you so much for having us. Thank you for being here. What are we making today? Today. We are making a mo- hito. It's nine AM. So that's perfect. It's five o'clock somewhere. You read my mind. All right. Let's do this. You know, a lot of people are intimidated by trying to make them. Oh, hito at home or trying to make a sangria at home. But really once you have the base of it. It's pretty easy. What we do you gotta start with a simple syrup and we actually boil are simple, simple Serapis, equal parts of water and sugar, which gives you that sweetness in the idea behind making it. Simple syrup is a sugar will dissolve, obviously easier into your drink if it's made into a simple, Sarah. We actually boil some are simple syrup with mint in it. So that way you already have that essence of mint. So you don't have so much pressure to have to muddle the mint. So hard to get that flavor in. So we've got a pitcher filled with ice in some of our mitts mint simple syrup, and it's pretty simple. You start with a any light rum of your choice. We are using Bacardi superior today. That's what we use on our restaurants right now. But if you want to use something like a spice, drums, or if you wanna use a dark, Ron, there is no wrong choice. Everyone's taste is different. So go with. What you want. There's really no wrong from that is very true. Okay. Just go on and pour the whole bottle in there is that, that is a Q hundred milliliter. Then we add some sparkling water. What do you think it is about the Mojo? It happens to be my favorite cocktail. And when I was pregnant with my daughter who's now seven the only thing I wanted, besides a good night's sleep was a Mojo me. I had never drink in my life. And when I got pregnant, I was, like, I feel like drinking a Moheda, which is the darndest thing when you're pregnant, you know what? It's so refreshing. It's so refreshing, especially here in Florida. How popular is the drink here at the restaurant, it is super popular. It, it probably comes in second to are seeing, but it is a perfect Florida cocktail. It is. It's like a little vacation in a glass, and I'm smelling the mental ready. Oh, yeah. This is going to be good. Now, if you don't want to make the simple syrup at home one trick would be to muddle it with some sugar because the sugar would actually help break up the mint leaves. So that's a little shortcut. In case, you're in a rush, and you haven't had time to make the simple, Sarah. Okay. That's a good tip. Of course we have to add the lime. Good squeeze of lime just with her bare hands. You've you've done this a timer to. I may have done this in the restaurant and at home a couple of times. So we're adding about two and a half limes. I always say when you're doing it at home, you could always add one lime taste it, because you never know how much juice, you're going to get out of a line. I always drop a couple of the Ryan's in there. It makes it look pretty it does. It's got a nice bright green color. So you'll want to serve it in a clear glass, I would think so. Yes, we, we serve them in kind of an old fashioned sized glass, but you can put it in any size last he want. We always garnish it with the mid leaves with a lime wheel and here at the restaurant, we put a sugarcane stick in it. Nice touch. Go ahead and pour it into the glass. Poor one for yourself too, because this one's mine. Okay, shall we? Cheers. I think we should. Let's get nothing better than a Mojo at nine AM. Weakened after all duty calls. You know it's so refreshing. So what's the good food to pair it with he with the Cuban sandwich could go with a salad it could go with barbecue we could go with pizza. It's one of those things if you like a Mojo he'll go with anything. That's great. Well, let's go in with me. So Andrea gone smart Williams, thank you so much. Thank you so much. You can find the Columbia restaurants. Mojo recipe on our website, disast, podcasts dot com and Dalil wants everyone to know that although she may have craved MO hito. She did not drink when she was pregnant. Laura Riley was for many years, the restaurant critic for the Tampa Bay times. And she's a former critic for the San Francisco, Chronicle and the Baltimore Sun, she is cooked professionally, and as a graduate of the California culinary academy in two thousand seventeen she was a poet, sir. And James beard finalist, a James beard. Finalist again last year, and Laura just recently moved to a position in the Washington Post writing about the business of food. She and I were on a panel recently about the international dining scene in Tampa. Saint Pete area and afterwards, I pulled her aside to ask a few questions. Wanna talk about the dining culture in Tampa Bay and Tampa, Saint Petersburg, this whole area. It's changed so dramatically, you're, you're dining guide, you said in your new dining guide. I've expanded our dining guide to nearly one hundred restaurants. It's a reflection of what many national magazines seemed to have. Breathlessly. Included in recent months. Tampa Bay is increasingly one of the country's more exciting dining, destinations so, yeah, absolutely. And there's some really good reasons for that. I think that when you're in a market with really expensive real estate for years. I covered restaurants in Silicon Valley and in Palo Alto places that were enormously expensive to launch a restaurant. So you needed a lot of money you needed to borrow a lot of money and you needed to have a business model that was conservative. That had a kind of track record you weren't doing anything. That was super outside the box. And I think that when you are in a market, if you look at the food markets around the country that have emerged as exciting and novel, and, and that people want to do destination travel to because of the food. It's, it's second tier cities where they're still affordable real estate. So, you know, if you can I think a lot of times if you look at the, the most exciting restaurants that have happened here in the Tampa Bay area, a lot of them are not corporate. They're not replicable. They're not. Their restaurants started by an individual or a couple often by maxing out their credit cards by borrowing a little bit from mom and dad. They're not. They don't have a, a panel of, of invest, you know, kind of angel investors who plunked down a million apiece, and expect certain kind of metrics, you know. So it's a little bit more of a icon, a classic, you know, see to the pants approach to, to starting a business. And I think because of that you get more variation, more novelty, some things that are a little unexpected. So before food started getting attention restaurant started getting attention in this area. People started paying attention, the Tampa Bay area because of its craft beer scene really picking up and you've talked about that. Yeah. I think that so Joey redner started cigar city, I think, in two thousand seven and pretty swiftly a whole bunch of hobbyists beer makers from around the Tampa Bay area said to Joey, hey, I wanna I wanna work there. You know, I'll, I'll just volunteer all, you know, and so he got a real kind of strong and avid following at cigar city and became regional and national. And then he really did kind of launched the career of a whole bunch of other brewers in this area, and he allowed them to you. I mean, that's the thing about moving from craft you know, home brewing to commercial brewing. It's a scaling issue as it is in so many businesses. It's really hard to scale because the equipment is so different and he was gracious enough to let a lot of people use his equipment and to try a bigger batch into experiment with styles. So I think that, that he brought attention to his brewery from around the country. But then he also launched the career of lots of other people, and that in turn caused a lot of beer enthusiasts from around the country to start looking at the Tampa Bay area as a serious market, that, that really was ambitious and trying some new styles. And maybe not. Not working in a particularly narrow paradigm. I think that that's something that's been interesting about the Tampa Bay area's beer scene is that it's, it's, it's incredibly varied in terms of style, and, you know, Goza and sour beers, and, you know, the kind of the a mania, so it's been it's been interesting to watch and definitely, I think for a lot of people beers. The gateway drug to food, you know that you, you get interested in beer, maybe you're a young guy, you're out of college, and you don't want to drink Budweiser anymore. And so you kind of get into craft beer and you realize, well, how they're always different flavors going on here, and it kind of sparks your interest in food, at a higher level. So, I think oftentimes those go hand in hand, you mentioned that one of the problems with having a good dining culture in the Tampa Bay area may have been the lack of a reputable culinary program. Yeah. I think that we that is something that has been a real problem here forever. You know as long as I've been in this market. I mean, if you're in Chicago, or, or DC or. Or, you know, northern California L A or whatever. There are two year accredited either an associate's degree, or you know, sometimes bachelors programs that immediately, you have a whole bunch of fresh face, young people, who you can have in your in the back of your kitchen, and we have not really had that we have some really emerging high school programs and some some, you know, culinary programs where you can get an associate's degree judge. They're not. Yeah. They're not tremendously well thought of yet, and they don't have a tremendous track record of placing people in great kitchens. So you need a critical mass of good restaurants that actually do invite people to come in stodgy. I mean that's when you come in, whether it's an unpaid internship, were very modestly paid internship, you come to the kitchen and you, you spend a month and you, you know, you start wherever they put you guard Magget or peeling veggies, or that kind of thing. And you kind of learn on the job. That's a real that kind of intern. Chip type approach is a is a very strong one in the in the in the professional kitchen, and we have not had that tradition here so much, and it's changing, I mean, I think there are restaurants like the refinery rooster in the till where they people from other parts of the country will come into a stage in those kitchens. And then hopefully, the in in good food market, those people, then peel off when they've learned enough and are feeling or chafing a little bit work and under someone they don't wanna work for the man anymore. And then they go off, and they start their own thing, whether that's a food truck that ends up being a brick and mortar or to some very modest brick and mortar to begin with, I think that that's how you start having a critical mass of, of, you know, exciting restaurant culture, and we've seen chefs from New York, New York City in the last few years start restaurants in Saint Petersburg, or Tampa Noel, crews of itchy Koro is one that you know, pretty well. What was his reasoning for moving from Manhattan to Tampa. I think that when I talked to chefs from, you know other markets who've come here to set up shop. Some of it is that other places are so competitive. I mean, I think that we all we all feel that way a little bit just in terms of our own life choices. You know, sometimes a big urban center, where everything is hard and getting your groceries in your dry cleaning, and rents are high, and it's, it's super competitive to get attention. I think there's something appealing about moving to a slightly calmer quieter less hysterical environment to do what you do. I think you know, if if we look at people like, Jessica, and Lauren at the reading room, they were in Asheville working under someone else, and they wanted to start their own place, and they were thinking about ashville, but it was a pretty heated market. So to get the kind of attention and the customer base that you want. It's hard to do right off the bat, and I think we still have enough available real estate at a price point. That is an entry level price point here that has drawn, it's drawn a lot of, you know, attention from restaurateurs around the country. Thanks for being here, Laura. My pleasure. Thanks for having me. Despite the arrival of e books actual paper. Cookbooks are a star of the publishing world. There are so many to choose from. But how do we decide which to invest in our cook book, reviewer, Janet Keiller, talks about the qualities that make some stand out from the pack, Janet teaches journalism at USF Saint Pete is the founder and coordinator of the graduate food writing and photography certificate program and the former food editor at the Tampa Bay times, and she's the author of cookie Lucious, one hundred and fifty fabulous. Recipes to bake and share. Janet also is a cookbook reviewer and the cookbook columnists for zest. Hey, john. Thank you for having me. I'd love to sit here and talk to you about cookbooks. So five years ago. We would have bet that cookbooks were on their way out because there's this thing called the e cookbook. That was it's really inexpensive. It's fast. You can download it when you feel like it, you have it, you really would have thought, well, what are people gonna want to pay for these hard back. Expensive, heavy cookbooks. But the fact is a cookbooks are doing really well in the publishing world. I mean, they're, they're a success story. What do you what do you think it is? Well, it is a success story. I think cookbooks in two thousand eighteen outsold cookbooks in two thousand seventeen which is phenomenal. When you think about it, and everybody talks about what we're going to be looking at stuff on our devices. We're going to be looking at cookbooks on our phones or tablets, or whatever. And I do that sometimes, and I bring him into the kitchen and I do now that I'm not afraid to wreck them. But I do sometimes have, like Google on my hands. And then I've got, you know, the screen goes away, and then I got to go back and you know so so it's still slightly cumbersome. That's not a really great way. Way to cook though I do. Look for recipes online. Do you find that I'll I'll look for recipes online, and I'll make it? It'll be great. And then I won't remember later where I found it or, you know, I won't be able, if I don't print it out which kind of defeats the purpose. I can never remember where I got that recipe from whereas the cookbook is right there. And you can turn to page fifty page turn down. And you bet your fingerprints all over it olive oil splashed on it. And you know, where to find that recipe? Well, it's funny that you, it's funny that you bring that up because I do that often. I'm notorious for doing that. I find the recipe I make it. And then I never can find it again. Here wasn't there wasn't. Yeah. You mentioned how you could Mark book with the dog eared page or that, you know, the splatters or something I think that's one thing that's really, really charming about cookbooks is the ones that are used show you, they've been used, you know, when you have if you ever inherent cookbooks from anybody, and you, you open those you just. Just those splattered pages or everything. You see your grandmother's note, you know that she had the sugar or something like that there's something really special about it. And the photography often is beautiful. Sometimes to me. They look more like coffee table books, then cookbooks right are beautiful on thinking, especially if the, the Yotam Otellini books right in Gerke gorgeous. And I also think for me a cookbook. It represents inspiration I love a cookbook that inspires me to get into the kitchen and I don't get that so much online online, I'm like, what am I gonna make tonight? I have chicken have this, and I have a few other things, we'll can I make or a quick. Some sort of quick thing. But if I really want to sit down and plan something a cookbook provides inspiration for me. So that's, that's that I think is one of the one of the characteristics that you can't you don't get so much online. There's great websites, but a cookbook, really does it. You can sit with it in your lap. And really kinda. Delve into it and the cookbooks provides stories. Yes. Right. I think that's I think that's really true. I did a little crowd sourcing on a Facebook page. I belong to just ask what are you guys, you know what do you look for in a cookbook got about fifty replies? And I would say stories came up at least seventy five percent of the time, people really resonate with that. Yeah, glad to know a hit on something there. So that is something I did want to talk to you about what do you look for in a cookbook? There's a lot out there right now. Well, you know, it's interesting what you look for in a cookbook can change over the years. You know, when I was when I was much younger and single and dated a guy who would eat anything I could spend all Saturday cooking. If it took me five or six stores to get the ingredients for this very involved recipe. I had no problem doing that. Yet at time. Yeah, I had the time and over the years, I sort of lost that time. And so I, I tend to now look for cookbooks where when I look at them. Well, first of all, photographs, and. And I need photographs. And that's when I on this Facebook page, that's almost everybody said they have to have photos, I sort of want to see how it's going to look what it should look like. Yeah. What you're aiming for, which, of course, is a little deceiving, because, you know, they have stylus and cooks and pro people and all kinds of fantastic photography. So sometimes you're, you're version doesn't really look like that. But at least I kind of get an idea, but that does create the, the inspiration for me. Oh, that's really neat. That looks great. I'm going to try that. Then I look for. I look I really look at the ingredients list. Like, okay, can I get this stuff? Is it around here, I'm going to have to go to five stores might have to mail order, something now, maybe I want to do that, if it's a big holiday meal. Maybe I want to think that far in advance, but a lotta times, I don't. So I'm just looking for things would would my family. Eat this can I make it an decent amount of time. So what I look for in a kind of changes over time. So it has to sort of fit your own personal lifestyle and pref. Princes? They want to know the people on the Facebook page, all of them, said, well tested recipes, I'm not sure how well you can tell that when you're at the bookstore thumbing through a cookbook. But I think for me if I the publisher is a good publisher should ensure that that's happening. I think that's why a lot of people like cookbooks from celebrities to I was going to ask you, that, so if you see a cookbook from a celebrity, I guess, you would assume say Joanna Gaines, cookbooks gone gangbusters, right? You kind of assume that the publisher wouldn't let that come out with some bad recipes in it, they're going to protect that celebrity, right? But the Washington Post just did a story on that cookbook, magnolia table about how, you know, it was the best selling cookbook, two thousand eighteen and how come it didn't get much press which is sort of interesting sold, like a million copies already. And that's kind of unheard of. So why didn't it I think because of? A couple reasons. Well, they tested some recipes, they didn't turn out very well. So that's kind of interesting. It's not a it's not a cookbook that gets a lot of attention. You know. Well we'll see an award season cookbook award season. When that comes it probably won't won't get to that level. I think there's a little bit of like. She's a lifestyle person that came to fame on HDTV with the fixer upper show and there's a little bit. I think will what does she know about cooking, too. Uh-huh. To write a cookbook. I think there's a little bit of feeling it can be a little bit of that. And food media can be a little bit like that. I know because I was in it for fifteen years. It could be a little bit like well who's sad? You know, Kristie teigen's another one with her her cravings cookbooks. And I was like that. I, I thought, well, what does she know about cooking? She's model. But then I looked at him. And I thought there's a heck of fun story there. Yeah. She whoever she's working with. I'm Agean, they all work with somebody. They're not probably writing every word of these cookbooks by themselves. But there is a neat story there. And they're the recipes are fun in that cookbook. So it's that's an interesting an interesting issue with the celebrities, will, you can look at people like a in the pioneer woman, or Einiger Artan, I was thinking of, well, Trish yearwood, right? He's got a show right obviously. So she must know something about cooking because she's Scott, her cooking show. Right. So somehow that I think maybe gives it more credence in the in the food, media's mind. I mean actually on TV cooking. And, you know, I might not fixing up house not. Rating. Right. Opening a restaurant in a shopping complex, and everything else. I mean it's all part of very carefully crafted business empire that the gains have, which, you know, I don't see really anything wrong with that. But I think that maybe white didn't get the kind of attention someone else might get. Well Janet, I look forward to hearing about cookbooks with you on the best. Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. I look forward to it to. We've gotta go. But come back to the table next week. We'll be talking to the best selling southern writer. Rick Bragg, visit us at the best podcast dot com for recipes and be sure to subscribe to the zest on itunes Google play, or wherever you get your podcast. I'm Robin sussing Hamdullah Cologne, in, I produced zest with help from markes, and Craig George possessed is a production of w USF public media.