It’s Foodie Friday! I had the amazing opportunity to preview the new tastes and ambience of the California Pizza Kitchen at International Plaza as part of a special sponsored blogger event. The California Pizza Kitchen new menu has some pretty impressive additions, making this one of my favorite foodie adventures this year. Ironically, only one of the new dishes was a new pizza. I’ll be the first to admit it; I had not been to a CPK in quite some time. When I did go, I never ordered anything other than pizza. When a place with “pizza” in its name starts expanding beyond that, I get a little worried. However CPK’s new menu additions were overall winners. If you haven’t visited since the end of June this year, then I’ve got several reasons to entice you to go.
The newest pizza is the Sunny Side Up Bacon + Potato Pizza. It has potatoes, Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon, caramelized leeks, parmesan, mozzarella, and topped with 2 sunny side up eggs. Eggs on pizza was very adventurous for me, but one bite and I was sold.
Now these next 2 dishes changed my life. They have introduced a new appetizer, Brussels and Bacon Flatbread. I hated Brussels Sprouts as a kid and in my opinion, they had no place in my life. But this fortuitous experience broadened my horizons. They also used roasted Brussels Sprouts as a side dish and I loved them. In fact I enjoyed them so much that I was inspired to do some experimental cooking of my own with Brussels sprouts at home. [Brussels Sprouts That Taste Good]
The second life-changing dish was the Harvest Kale salad, with baby kale, toasted farro, butternut squash, Napa cabbage, shaved pear, marinated cranberries, spiced pecans, goat cheese, and a citrus vinaigrette. The unassuming star of this show was the butternut squash. I have cooked with butternut squash but never had I eaten it cold this way…mind blown! I’ll be adding that one to the rotation. There are a lot of players in this salad, but they came together with a big party in my mouth!
Libation (that’s fancy talk for drinks!)
CPK has quite the drink menu. There is a great variety of wines, two types of sangria, and wine flights. There are also some great new cocktails, handcrafted and made fresh, the way cocktails are meant to be.
Blueberry Ginger Smash – Jack Daniels, Agave nectar, ginger, fresh blueberries, lime, and cranberry juice
St. Germain Blood Orange Sangria – St. Germain elderflower liqueur, bacardi lemon, chardonnay
St. Germain is my favorite liqueur on the planet so I was super geeked about this one!
California Roots – Sdveka vodka, fresh avocado, mint, agave sour, fennel salt rim
This green cocktail knocked everyone’s socks off. Avocado in a drink is simply just not the norm. This was a winner and worth a trip after work every Friday just to drink this cocktail!
Roasted Garlic Chicken + Seasonal Vegetables – crispy skin chicken breast in lemon garlic sauce with hearth roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and Mediterranean herbs
I loved this dish. The chicken was moist and tender and so full of flavor. This was my favorite entrée of the day.
The other notable main dishes were the fire grilled rib-eye topped with a creamy bleu cheese butter (that butter should be sold by the pounds!), hearth roasted halibut, and cedar plank salmon. I enjoyed the halibut and it was complimented well with the butternut squash farro with kale. I won’t rate the salmon, since I’m just not a salmon person. However, it came with a corn and spinach succotash topped with feta that was very good.
The desserts stole the show!! In fact I toyed with the idea of making a separate dedicated just to them. It took pure gluttony and the will to be greedy for me to taste them all, but I battled through it, for foodies everywhere.
Pumpkin Cheesecake – pumpkin cheesecake with a ginger crumb praline crust with fresh whipped cream and drizzle of praline sauce
S’mores – Belgian chocolate pudding in a jar with dark chocolate chunks, graham crackers, topped with toasted marshmallows. This is not your girl scout’s s’mores. It is über rich and very decadent.
Butter Cake – It’s like the most moist buttery yellow cake your grandma ever made topped with ice cream. So good!
Salted Caramel Pudding – Caramel pudding, black cocoa cookie crumbs, fresh whipped cream, caramel sauce and natural sea salt
I don’t know who was first to bring this salted caramel craze to the forefront, but God bless them. CPK, outdid themselves with their take on this latest food fad. This dessert in a jar was so good, that I named him. His name is Sam, Sam the Salted Caramel Pudding. Just get it, okay? Order it, pig out, and promise yourself you’ll run it off in the morning. (I think I might have to put that phrase on a t-shirt)
There are so many great new options and I love the risk and experimentation California Pizza Kitchen has taken to really bring something new and fresh to the dinner table. Now I must break the bad news to you. The only location in Tampa with the new menu right now is the International Plaza location. In fact, Tampa, Boca Raton, and Naples are the only locations in the state of Florida with the new menu. It’s being rolled out across the various markets, so if you aren’t one of the lucky cities, then just hold out a little while longer.
Sponsored CPK GIVEAWAY
Because I love my readers and I want you all to have a chance to experience a new food-venture (and because California Pizza Kitchen was so generous), I’m giving away a $50 e – gift certificate to California Pizza Kitchen! It starts today, November 7th and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, November 10th. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, November 11th.
Good luck! Click the giveaway image below to enter!
“Foodcation….it’s a thing.”
Lauren Gay – Outdoorsy Diva™