Locals have a new spring food festival to add to their calendars

Bagels and lox, a kosher wine room and more are planned for the Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival.

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click to enlarge The classic combination of bagels and lox is planned for April's Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival. - toasty via Flickr
toasty via Flickr
The classic combination of bagels and lox is planned for April's Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival.

Bagels and lox, a kosher wine tasting room and baked goods are just a few of the culinary offerings set for the upcoming Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival. The recently announced food fest, presented by Clearwater's Temple B'nai Israel and community sponsors, will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 2.

For some time, Temple B'nai Israel — one of the oldest Reform Jewish congregations in Pinellas — has been looking to host a signature event to build a better sense of community between Jews and non-Jews. And after a few members of its congregation were impressed by their visit to the annual Tallahassee Jewish Food Festival, the temple decided to bring one here.

"We decided that this type of event would be a wonderful fit for our area and would also be a great opportunity to bring people in the doors of our newly renovated synagogue," said Pete Tanner, who's handling the Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival's publicity, in an email to CL.

All the festival food will be prepared in the Temple B'nai Israel building and provided by members — except for the meats used in the Carnegie Deli corned beef and pastrami sandwiches (priced at $15 per platter) and the kosher falafel from Congregation Beth Shalom, the conservative synagogue up the street.

"On our end, we have had our sisterhood women baking and testing recipes for our baked goods, and our brotherhood members are learning about correctly slicing corn beef and pastrami," Tanner said. "We're also testing coleslaw recipes and looking at the different types of rye breads available to us."

In addition to baked goods and candy ($4 and up), matzo ball soup, kosher hot dogs, a flight of kosher wine ($5), noodle kugel and blintzes available for purchase, the Tampa Bay Jewish Food Festival is set to feature take-home eats, including uncooked Passover/kosher items from the temple's local Chabad rabbi. The price of each dish will be posted to the fest's website in advance, and some foods will even be available for preorder.

The event will also mix its edible attractions with culture and music on the grounds of Temple B'nai Israel. Throughout the day, festgoers can expect various arts and craft vendors, a live music stage with Jewish-themed tunes, a play area for kids, and several educational lectures and demonstrations. Organizers are inviting community Jewish groups — which will hopefully include the Holocaust Museum, Israel Bonds and Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, among other organizations — to set up vendor tables during the event, free of charge, as well.

There's no fee to attend the new rain-or-shine gathering, but attendees are asked to bring a canned good or nonperishable food item to benefit local food pantries.

According to Tanner, Temple B'nai Israel, which is prepping for a crowd of 1,500, is optimistic that the inaugural fest will become a regional event.

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