Sunday, November 4, 2012

Saturday in Ybor: A Market, Boxers, Bricks, and Some Chickens

It was an awesome Saturday in Ybor! The smell of cigars and the sound of bands dusting off their chops, I was happy to be spending a considerably warm day in the historic district.  

Park in the garage and enter Centro to start your journey!
You can tell everyone is still cleaning up and recovering from their newest hangovers, but this place doesn’t shut down to recover! It takes the hair of the dog that bit it and gets on with a day. There is a new crowd on their streets, and this is a crowd of day-drinkers and market-goers, and they need their fill of the good stuff, too! This Saturday, I was among these people, daring to walk the streets of Ybor, glazed over from a tall beer, whilst the sun was still high in the sky.

Heading east on 7th avenue, my fellow seeker of all things delicious, Ashley, and I were ready for some market goods! We were greeted with a pleasant gathering of delicious smells and artful manipulations of metal, glass, and ingredients! These are the places you gawked at the creativity of others before the age of Pinterest; wine bottle tea light candleholders, homemade soaps and salt scrubs, fresh-baked dog treats, and, my personal favorite, jams!

The festival is every Saturday, October-April 9am-3pm, rain or shine! 

There are a number of foodie delights to be found among the jewelry and decorative pieces; first, we tested out some Chinese pancakes from Ching’s Chinese Specialty booth. Never had a Chinese pancake? The research authority, Wikipedia, says it is a thin, flat pancake from China (obviously). While it is similar to a crepe, it is usually made from dough, not a batter (like the popular French pancake). It was a yummy start to our adventure.

A nice guy, and some very good pancakes! 
We moved on, and found ourselves in the land of preserved goodness, Hotte’s Sweet Shack. Heather Otte, the foxy redhead and mastermind behind these delicious concoctions, will describe and offer tastings of her flavorful combinations, all made with a few ingredients and a lot of love.

This cutie has a way with fruit and pectin!

She has a variety of your standard fruit jams, but the real magic is in her own combinations. She makes  jams from a variety of wines, so you can choose your favorite. Among her supplies this Saturday were White Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Chardonnay. I wanted my jam with a kick, so I decided to go with the Cowboy Candy Jam: a yummy pineapple, jalapeno mix dreamed up by Heather herself. If you want to find out where you can get your own jam fix, email Heather at

Yummy pieces of jalapeno and pineapple! 

We left the festival and continued our walk up 7th avenue, where Ashley spotted a cupcake shop. Even after years of domestication, all rational thought flew out the nonexistent window. Brain activity was from that point limited to,  “Me want cupcake, me find cupcake, me put cupcake in stomach.” We weren’t greeted with cupcakes when we arrived…IT WAS EVEN BETTER! BOXERS! We had been lured into a wonderful trap: the annual Florida Boxer Rescue, Inc. boxer bash.

The Annual Boxer bash was held at Gaspar's Grotto! 
Auction to help raise money for this worthy cause!
This boxer-mom has got it going on! 
A live-auction to help raise fund!
One of our older boxer friends, a little pooped from all of the excitement!
Look at this sweet face! So happy!
There are two reasons why this is a welcomed, if not preferred, alternative to a delicious cupcake. Their names are Hailey and Sierra.

Hailey (left) and Sierra, aka my children!
These beautiful babies are Derren and I’s children. Hailey, our first born, thinks she is a human, loves to spoon, and takes the signature boxer head-cock to another level. Oh, and if you’ve ever had one of those ridiculously sweet dogs you couldn’t help but kiss on the way out of the door, you’ve had a Hailey. Sierra? Well, Sierra is fully aware of her dog status; she is crazy, rambunctious, and completely unaware of her 80 lb weight (she will lay her big chest on top of you and you’ll be out of air). She my funny, ditzy dog: think the dog from Hyperbole and a half.

These two angels live with Dad in Memphis, and not a day goes by that I want to kiss their boxer faces. So now you see why this was a fate! It was the dose of boxer to get me through until Thanksgiving!

I had promised Ashley a deathbed worthy lunch, so we made our way back towards 15th street to The Bricks of Ybor, a skate shop and cafĂ©, serving up no nonsense sandwiches that will put your $5 foot long to shame (as if there were any comparison). It will kick that footlong’s buns. Repeatedly. 

This place has a laid-back vibe, with local art covering the walls and an open kitchen where they seduce you with the provocative assembly of their delectable offerings (that’s one sensual sentence). Also cool, you will find yourself singing along to an eclectic playlist featuring The Pixies, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Creedence Clearwater, among others.

I have been frequenting this place since I moved here, and I finally had a chance to get photographic, or if your like me, pornographic, evidence of its deliciousness.

We decided on two sandwiches to share. Our items were strategically planned based on the recommendations of Brick’s own Seamos, who I had bumped into at Food Truck Wars… he was also enjoying an Uber Good sandwich. He pointed out that while the Bird and the Pig is the best-seller (and for good reason), his heart belongs to the Pacific Rim Pulled Pork, with its delicious, 24-hour coffee marinated pork, and Asian slaw, all generously displayed atop sweet bread from La Segunda Bakery in Ybor (Spoiler: the bread is fresh, soft, and warm; pretty much everything you want bread to be).

The Bird and the Pig: roasted chicken, bacon. brie, apple, agave nectar, and
sweet bread.
Pacific Rim Pulled Pork: coffee marinated slow-roasted pork, asian slaw, and sweet bread.
All of this was washed down with a special, seasonal cocktail, courtesy of our server, and king of information, Blake. I can’t speak relatively, but I do know that if you are lucky enough to sit with Blake, you can expect great service and some new knowledge about your soon to be favorite bar, restaurant, and coffee shop. Oh, and the drink was awesome.

The Pecan Manhassat: Bullet rye, dry vermouth, and
orange-pecan syrup.
My date is pretty darn cute! Oh, and check out the
happy plates! Yum!
The brainchild of the Skatepark of Tampa, this place has edge and good food. You have to do yourself a favor, and check it out, whether for the ultimate hangover cure, a brag worthy lunch, or a latte at a sun-filled window seat. Oh, and they like to party, too, so make sure to check out the events on their Facebook page. As an aside, if there is a good band playing at the Ritz, you’ll likely find me here having a pre-concert beer.

They are launching a new drink menu November 10!
Check it out! 
Pleasantly full, we made our way back to the parking garage where something seemingly ridiculous happened. I had my first encounter with the feral chickens of Ybor. Yes, apparently there are chickens that roam Ybor, living on the street, possibly fighting crime in the late hours of the night. I hear they often meet up to work on plans to expand their presence to Channelside. Needless to say, it’s worth documenting, I mean, it’s not everyday you see a few baby chicks and their mom scavenging on the way to the car. Honestly, with feral chickens and rogue monkeys, I doubt I’ll be surprised if I see an elephant walking down Kennedy.

Mom and her babies...
Cuteness for scale :)
You should spend your next Saturday in Ybor, and make sure to check out The Bricks of Ybor while you are there. You can tell them Blaire sent you, which will probably result in a blank stare or an inquisitive scowl… maybe just order your food an leave me out of it, ha!

The Bricks of Ybor on Urbanspoon

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