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Taste the Best of Tampa Bay

Video: Celebrate Food & Music!

The David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts' Taste the Best of Tampa Bay returns for its 27th year on Saturday, April 21, at 7 p.m. With more than 1,700 attendees annually, Taste the Best of Tampa Bay, presented by Raymond James Financial, Inc., is a popular event surrounded by the beauty of the Straz Center and the adjacent riverwalk.

Taste the Best of Tampa Bay will tantalize taste buds with various entrée samplings, luscious desserts and premium drinks. More than 40 of Tampa Bay's best restaurants, caterers and vendors will participate in this year's event including The Columbia, Queen of Sheba, Blue Bell Creameries and the Straz Center's own Maestro's Restaurant.

As always, music will play an important role at the event and headlining the main stage at this year's Taste the Best of Tampa Bay is Vertical Horizon, whose hits include "Everything You Want," "You're a God" and "Best I Ever Had (Grey Sky Morning)." Other entertainment, scheduled on the main stage throughout the evening, includes the local bands Trumain Lamar, 7 Years Past and The Groves. The violin/guitar duo Rebecca Zapan will play in the lobby of Ferguson Hall during the event. Acoustic guitarist Dean Johanesen will play in the lobby of Morsani Hall.

Proceeds from Taste the Best of Tampa Bay support the world-class performances and innovative education and outreach programs offered by the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. Hosted by The Producers Volunteer group, Taste the Best of Tampa Bay began as a fundraising project two years prior to the opening of the performing arts center.

Taste the Best of Tampa Bay is on Saturday, April 21, at 7 p.m. General admission tickets start at $80 per person and include open bar, food tastings and all the entertainment including the Vertical Horizon performance. Corporate tables are $1,000 and entitle 10 guests to reserved table seating and early admission at 6 p.m. Tickets may be purchased by calling 813.229.STAR (7827) or 800.955.1045 outside Tampa Bay, in person at the Straz Center Ticket Office or online at

Chef Benito D'Azzo's Scallops


? 9 large diver scallops (about 9 ounces)
? 1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
? 1/2 cup rice wine
? 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
? 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
? 9 ounces of Seaweed Salad
? Yuzu Vinaigrette (any citrus vinaigrette can be substituted)
? Black and White Sesame seeds

Remove tough muscle from side of each scallop if necessary. Pat scallops dry and season with salt and pepper. In a 10-inch skillet heat 1/2 tablespoon oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Arrange scallops in skillet, without crowding, and sauté until golden and just cooked through, about 30 seconds on each side. Transfer scallops to a plate. Top each scallop with seaweed salad and drizzle with vinaigrette. Garnish with sesame seeds.

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