Hop aboard for a brief journey down Florida's whiskey-bourbon trail, which includes the award-winning St. Augustine Distillery.
Esquire magazine, that repository of all things stylish, published what they call the Best Whiskey Distilleries in each state, and St. Augustine Distillery Co. topped Florida’s offerings with their Port Finished Bourbon, aged in barrels from San Sebastian Winery just down the road. In case you’re noticing a discrepancy, most of what is distilled in America is in fact bourbon, a label for U.S. spirits made from corn (so not whiskey at all) and barrel aged. And St. Augustine, as fine as their product is (and it really is), is not alone in its efforts. Of course we know Dick and Marti Waters, makers of the very palatable Palm Ridge Reserve; Wild Buck rye whiskey is made by NJoy Spirits in Brooksville; Peaden Brothers in Crestview distills a corn white whiskey (moonshine to us). Timber Creek in Destin crafts four blends, made from at least 90 percent local Florida-grown grains and Florida limestone spring water. List Distillery makes white whiskey flavored with orange zest, cinnamon or habanero honey from their stills in Fort Myers. Kozuba in St. Pete creates white rye whiskey and barrel aged rye malt. Closer to home is the Bear Gully line from Winter Park Distilling, from white to single barrel reserve bourbon. Fish Hawk Spirits in Ocala makes seven whiskeys, including an award-winning Silver Queen created from the distillery’s own Silver Queen sweet white corn. And one of my favorites, Old St. Pete Sweet Corn Whiskey, comes from St. Petersburg Distillery.
Whiskey trail, anyone?
* Lucky’s Market just announced they will be selling Second Harvest Food Bank’s A Spoon Full of Hope line, with products made by and benefiting their Culinary Training Program. The products include a “Honey for Good” trio of orange blossom, palmetto and wildflower honeys from Pine Castle’s Goldenrod Apiaries; tomato basil soup created by Second Harvest Chef Jill Holland; and “Cookies for Good” shortbread, baked and packaged at Second Harvest Food Bank.
* In another Second Harvest connection, the 6th annual Field to Feast dinner is February 23, with all proceeds going to the Kids Cafe Program, an after-school meal service program that provides food to needy children in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. The all-Disney chef lineup includes chef Phil Ponticelli of Golden Oak; Daniel Sicilia from California Grill; Michael Rodriguez, Yachtsman Steakhouse; Robby Sayles of the great Tiffins; the Hollywood Brown Derby’s Axel Martinez and more.
* A big part of last year’s culinary happenings was the Women In The Kitchen event at Lake Meadow Naturals, supporting the James Beard Foundation's Women Entrepreneur Leadership Program, dedicated to advancing women in the culinary industry. This year’s event happens March 10, once again at a long communal table out in the field on the shores of Lake Meadow. Organized by The Rusty Spoon’s Kathleen Blake, the plates will be filled by chef Abra Berens, Granor Farm; Whitney Otawka (James Beard Rising Star), The Greyfield Inn; Beard nominee Charleen Badman, FnB; multiple Beard award winner Melissa Kelly of our own Primo, JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes; JBF Award winner Emily Luchetti, chief pastry officer, Big Night Restaurant Group; JBF Rising Star pastry master Ilma Lopez, Piccolo; Liza Hinman, The Spinster Sisters; Katharine Elder, Elderslie Farm & Creamery; and Jennifer Hostetter of the UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management. Tickets are available at Eventbright. Chef Blake will be cooking at the James Beard House in NYC on March 21 in a separate Women Entrepreneur Leadership Program event.