This Halloween food spread is about many things. It’s about friendship, collaboration, inspiration and perseverance in challenging times. But mostly, it’s about treating yourself. After all, Halloween is coming up and we’re all looking for fun, safe ways to enjoy the holiday. So dig in.
Crooked Thumb & Gulfport Brewery’s Cherry Cheesecake Berliner is the perfect Halloween treat for adults
Kenjiro Tomita and Jason Toft’s Cherry Cheesecake Berliner arrived in Gulfport this October in a most unexpected way.
Our story begins about 20 miles north of Gulfport, in the small town of Safety Harbor, where Tom and Cindy Bassano opened a cheesecake café in June 2020. For the past year, the couple was baking their cheesecake in home and rental kitchens, then selling it to local restaurants and delis. A year later, they’d already outgrown these spaces.
When a property opened on Safety Harbor’s Main Street, they moved in and gave it a fresh paint job, painting over a couple of old and faded grapefruits in the process.
“The painting that was on that building had been here for years and they painted over it,” says Crooked Thumb Head Brewer Kenjiro Tomita. “It caused quite a stir in some of the local Safety Harbor Facebook groups.”
The controversy prompted Troubled Waters Brewing to brew a new beer and name it “Cheesecake Paintjob.”
Troubled Waters wasn’t the only Safety Harbor brewery inspired by all this. Crooked Thumb’s Kenjiro Tomita was watching these events unfold on Facebook as well.
“We’ve done beers with a similar flavor profile before, so we kind of already had an idea of how to achieve that cheesecake character,” says Tomita.
When the timing was right, Tomita reached out to his friend and former assistant brewer, Jason Toft, who is now head brewer at Gulfport Brewery. During their four years working together at Crooked Thumb, Tomita and Toft brewed several beers together, including a couple of award winners. Their Grandpa Jack’s Pils took home silver at the 2016 Best Florida Beer Championships in the Euro and International Beer category. Two years later, in 2018, the pair won silver again, this time in the lager category, with their Harbor Lager.
When Toft left Crooked Thumb for his current position at Gulfport Brewery in August 2019, Tomita was eager to continue working with him, despite the distance.
For the Cherry Cheesecake Berliner collaboration, the brewing duo made the beer together at Crooked Thumb while Toft waits for a larger brewing space to become available in Gulfport.
Both Crooked Thumb and Gulfport Brewery have Ch-Ch Cherry on tap for you to try this Halloween season. I wish I could say, “And now everything’s right with the world,” but it’s still 2020. At least there’s beer. And cheesecake.
More Halloween Treats
Seitanic Cordon Boo at Golden Dinosaurs Vegan Deli: “Golden Dinosaurs has already started celebrating Halloween!” GDVD co-founder Audrey Dingeman told the Gabber earlier this month. “We had our patio decorated by What Goes Around Vintage, and we’ve been putting out Halloween-themed treats already.”
A quick glance at their Facebook page shows a slew of pumpkin-flavored Halloween doughnuts.
Halloween weekend, they’re making Seitanic Cordon Boo.
“[It] will feature a charcoal black bun, GDVD breaded seitanic chicken patty, Reaper pepper cheese from Catalyst Creamery and a White Zombie Sauce,” says Dingeman. For dessert, try the Chocolate Black Raspberry Murder Cake or Braineater Cupcakes – because where else are you going to get these things? I’m not even vegan, and I want to give them a try.
Stone crab claws and Halloween cocktails at PJ’s Oyster Bar: When we talked to PJs owner Kelli Umstead about stone crabs last week, she was in the process of decorating the restaurant for Halloween.
“We’ve always decorated the restaurant for Halloween,” Umstead told the Gabber. “We’ve got things that make noise and jump out at you and scream at you when you go to the bathroom.”
She tells us that PJ’s bartenders are currently working on some Halloween-themed cocktails as well. Visit PJs around Halloween, and you can enjoy stone crabs along with Halloween decorations and Halloween-themed cocktails. What a treat that would be.
Zombies at Tiki Docks Skyway Bar & Grill: Tiki Docks in St. Pete serves Zombies year-round, be we can’t think of a better time to try one than Halloween. The classic Tiki cocktail, first mixed by Donn Beachcomber in 1934, combines Trader Vic’s 151 Rum, Myers’s Rum, Bacardi 8, Falernum, lime, grapefruit juice, spiced simple syrup, grenadine, bitters and Pernod. Unless you have a serious Tiki hobby, I doubt you have all these ingredients at home, so you might as well let the folks at Tiki Docks mix one up for you. But be careful. Drink too much and you might turn into a zombie. Also, the CDC doesn’t recommend getting plastered in the middle of a pandemic – something about clouded judgement and bad decisions.
Halloween sugar cookies and monster cupcakes at A Friend Who Bakes: “We are doing some fun things for Halloween!” says A Friend Who Bakes owner, Brittney Sherley. “We are offering cute Monster Cupcakes (available in two-packs for $6 – one vanilla bean, one chocolate, with assorted faces and frosting colors), and Sugar Cookies (available in four-packs for $10 – Gulfport Jack, Happy Bat, Cute Kitty, and Ghostly Gecko). Pre-orders are highly encouraged.”
Find the order link on their Facebook page.
“We are also giving out free trick-or-treat goody bags to kiddos on Halloween [between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. while supplies last],” says Sherley. “The bag will have some fun, small Halloween accessories and candy. They are geared toward younger kids, but everyone is welcome to snag one.”