Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Livin' Local in St. Pete

When I found out that Keep St. Petersburg Local, a nonprofit advocate for small, independent businesses, was hosting its first-ever Localicious week dedicated to eating and drinking local, I knew I wanted to participate. From Oct. 12-19, Localicious featured tons of fun events around St. Pete highlighting locally-made food and drink, as well as restaurants, brewers, growers, markets and makers. My hubby and I ended up setting aside Saturday afternoon to explore LOCAL BUDS: An OctoBEER Farmer's Market at Green Bench Brewing Co. in downtown St. Pete. More than 20 local businesses were vending at the farmer's market, and in addition to their standard wares each featured a "beer-centric" collaboration with Green Bench. Think beer-infused soaps, candles, wearables and edibles.

GT and I had a blast wandering through the market, browsing the booths, Green Bench brews in hand (in the cutest commemorative glasses). I loved seeing the work of indie makers, and even mingling for a few minutes with the creatives behind the brands. And we definitely supported small business on Saturday, leaving with several kraft paper shop bags in our hands. After we had our fill of the OctoBEER market, we walked a few blocks to fill up our tummies at another local institution: Engine No. 9. The popular burger joint is cozy (read: small) but we lucked out and scored a table right away-- right before the evening rush. A crowd waited outside while we ate our juicy burgers (the Border Line for me, the XXX Burger for the hubs), considered by many to be the best in Tampa Bay. 

This livin' local thing? Not too bad. Not bad at all.

Check out the local, handmade goodies we found (and bought) at the farmer's market...

[ Hanging succulents, and succulent photos, at O'Berry's Succulents. ] 
[O'Berry's booth boasted lots of mini succulents and cacti in adorable vintage vessels. We took home the one in the white German beer mug, below. ]

 [ Delicious olive oil and balsamic vinegars from Kalamazoo Olive Company. We had fun trying different flavors and my tastebuds were swept away by the combination of Sorrento Herb Olive Oil and Peach-infused White Balsamic Vinegar. Of course we had to take some home! ]

 [ Cute setup at Beard + Beauty, which is ran by the sweetest couple. A bearded man and a beautiful girl, naturally. I loved the tea-infused soaps, below, and scooped up the Sagemary Tea as well as one of the Green Bench collabs: Ocean Hops, featuring the brewery's Surrealist IPA. When they learned GT had just celebrated his birthday, B+B threw in a sample just for him: Black Magic. ]

 [ We thoroughly enjoyed our Green Bench brews! I'm not even a huge beer fan, but I loved the Skyway Wheat and Saison de Banc Vert. ]

[ Steve's Gourmet Olives helped complete what I've been working on for years: Converting my husband into an olive lover. After tasting the Mild Pirate (named for its Caribbean spices) Wine-Marinated Olives, GT had to have a jar of his own. ]

 [ Handmade cards and coasters Oma Darlin' + Southern Letterpress.]
[ "Drink Local," "Wish U Were Beer" and "I Love St. Pete" pretty much summed up the event. GT bought coasters that said "Beer Here." Fitting.]

 [ Hand-poured soy candles from Smith Wicks. We couldn't resist creating a four-pack with warm, fall- and holiday- inspired scents. ]

[Pickles and jams from The Urban Canning Company. We actually got the last jar of Coffee Pot Spicy Brown Beer Mustard, made with Green Bench Brewery's Coffee Pot Bayou Beer. Would be perfect on a pretzel, or a ham sandwich. ] 

[ Nick Boutwell, St. Pete's famous street musician, played his accordion for the farmer's market crowd. ] 

[ Beer-inspired jewelry from Strands of Sunshine. ] 

[ T-shirt truth from Hopcloth. There was also an adorable "home brewed" onesie but I didn't want to jump the gun. ] 

 [ Painted deer head above the taps inside the Green Bench tasting room; our second round of beers in our keepsake glasses; selfie time at sunset. ]

 [ Cozy, intimate, locals-hangout vibe inside the very-red Engine No. 9. ]
[ The Engine No. 9 menu features 20+ burger options. I ordered the Border Line, hold the cheese, and perhaps the best tater tots ever. They had a sweet, almost maple syrup-like quality, and were super addicting, as fried food tends to be. ]

[Odd but wise graffiti spied on the walk back to our car. ]

Keep doing you, St. Pete!

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