I have found an amazing group of Tampa area bloggers and was fortunate enough to be invited to an event with California Pizza Kitchen. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have seen me sharing pictures during the day of our event. California Pizza Kitchen in Tampa (International Mall) treated us like royalty and let us taste some of their favorite appetizers, cocktails, main plates, and desserts. They also treated us with gift certificates to bring our families back to try out their new menu items. I want to thank Denise with Tampa Bay Bloggers (and RunDMT blog) for organizing the details of the event with California Pizza Kitchen; I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard in a long time.
…and my stomach still hasn’t recovered! I ate so much food that day, I think I left 5 lbs heavier.
This group photo of all of us (minus Marisa who had to leave early) is one of my favorite photos from the day. Take a look at the wall behind us which is made from recovered wine boxes. It was absolutely stunning and part of their new design.
We started the lunch with some cocktail sampling. California Pizza Kitchen has two new cocktails; California Roots (pictured below) and Blueberry Ginger Smash. While the Blueberry Ginger Smash (Jack Daniel’s, Agave Nectar, Ginger, Fresh Blueberries & Lime, and Cranberry Juice) was refreshing; the California Roots drink was my absolute favorite. California Roots has a unique blend of Svedka Vodka, Fresh Avocado & Mint, Fresh Agave Sour, Fennel and a Salt Rim. You would never know that it has avocado in it if they didn’t tell you.
While we were sipping on cocktails, the kitchen prepared us some of their newer appetizers…each with a little bit of bacon! I mean, who can resist bacon!
The first was their Sunny Side Up Bacon + Potato Pizza. The eggs are placed on top (sunny side up) right before they serve the pizza. When you break the yoke, the eggs cover the pizza for a delicious treat. There are also fingerling potatoes and parmesan cheese on top of the pizza. I’d really love to replicate this pizza at home, but I’m sure it would end up being a total disaster.
Although, I found out that I’m pretty good at tossing pizza dough…keep reading…there’s a video below!
I love how California Pizza Kitchen has taken regular dishes and found fun new ways to serve them. The next appetizer we tasted was their Brussels + Bacon Flatbread. I never would have dreamed up this combination but the roasted brussels sprouts were the perfect compliment to the applewood smoked bacon.
The team at California Pizza Kitchen had more for us to taste, but we had to move to the tables for the next course.
One of my favorite “lighter side” dishes was the Harvest Kale Salad. I’m not sure I would have tried some of these dishes on my own, but I’m so glad that I did. The Harvest Kale had baby kale, roasted butternut squash, cabbage, shaved pears, cranberries, pecans and goat cheese; with a housemade citrus vinaigrette. What a perfect pairing of ingredients for a light, sweet salad.
Bring on the meat!! No, I’m not a vegan. I enjoy my meat and seafood too much. I did try a vegan diet back in college but it only lasted for a few months. The California Pizza Kitchen Fire-Grilled Ribeye had everyone moaning as it melted in our mouths. It was topped with a creamy blue cheese butter and served with a roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic arugula salad.
I won’t bore you with ALL of the pictures of our tasting but we also sampled the Hearth-Roasted Halibut and Cedar Plank Salmon. The Tampa location is one of the first locations to release this new menu and many of the items will remain exclusive to Tampa. They use a lot of local and seasonally available vegetables in their dishes and even had some of the herbs growing in the restaurant. I think I may find myself driving over to Tampa more often for lunch with my hubby at work.
I didn’t think we could possible eat anything else…
…then they kept talking about dessert,
…and we waited,
…but not too long,
I really thought this was going to be my favorite dessert. I mean, who doesn’t love s’mores! They are served in these adorable little glass jars that are the perfect size for snacking after your meal. The s’mores is a kettle cooked Belgian chocolate pudding, dark chocolate chunks (yum), double graham cracker crust and toasted marshmallows. I’m a chocoholic and this dish was divine!!
…but it wasn’t my favorite dessert!
Denise is showing off the dessert that made my heart pitter patter. Butter Cake! There isn’t much too say about this one. It’s a very simple butter cake. You’d think it would be boring compared to Salted Carmel Pudding and Pumpkin Cheesecake, right? Oh no…the Butter Cake is served warm with ice cream on top and whipped cream.
If food could stimulate an orgasm, then Butter Cake would be the stimulant! As they say on their menu, “Trust Us! Just Try It!” You will not regret it.
But if you’re feeling the need for a seasonal treat, the Pumpkin Cheesecake was pretty tasty too.
You’d think our fun was over, but it was just beginning. California Pizza Kitchen had a place set up for us right outside of the kitchen to teach us (hands on) how to toss pizza dough! One of the pizza chefs taught us the tricks on how to make the perfect pizza dough…and we have it all on video! I didn’t end up with dough on anyone’s head, so that’s considered a success in my mind.
Thank you Tara from Everday Ramblings of My Life for documenting all the silly dough antics.
Although, I’m not so sure I’ll give up my day job to be a pizza chef. You have to make a LOT of pizzas each day and I’m sure I’d mess them up royally. I’ll leave it to the professionals.
I truly had an amazing time at California Pizza Kitchen and the marketing team, management team, and the rest of the staff really treated us with class. They spoiled us and filled our bellies while we enjoyed the company of good friends. Sadly, most of us had to dash off to sit in car loop to pick up kids from school.
That night, I decided to skip dinner and let the family eat whatever they wanted! There was no room in my stomach for anything else.
If you’re ever in Tampa and looking for a place to shop and eat. California Pizza Kitchen is located inside the International Plaza Mall near the airport. Be sure to sign up for their Pizza Dough Rewards program on their website and earn a free small plate (like the flatbread). To learn more about California Pizza Kitchen and their menu items, click any of the links in this post to view their website.
To learn more about Tampa Bay Bloggers; visit us online and follow the #TBBloggers hashtag on Twitter & Instagram. For my participation in this event I received all of my drinks and food for free on the day of the event; plus a gift card for a future visit to California Pizza Kitchen. I also got to enjoy a great afternoon lunch with some great friends.