“B-21 a Tarpon Springs Gem”: Article on Patch.com

Patch.com, a local business and community specific news site, has featured our Tarpon Springs store location in an article by Rachel Jolley. The article explains our beginnings and how we have grown in the Tarpon Springs area since 1966. From the article:

They were placed as one of the top 10 retailers in the U.S. by Market Watch Magazine.

So, what’s with the name?

If you didn’t figure it out already, guests must “be 21″ to purchase goods from the local shop.

Read the full article from Rachel Jolley here:  B-21 a Tarpon Springs Gem

Next Great Rhone: 93pt 2009 Roche Bousquette

2009 Domaine Roche Cotes du Rhone Villages, Cairanne Bousquette
2009 Domaine Roche Cotes du Rhone Villages, Cairanne Bousquette

B-21 found the Rhone’s next great winemaker and the next great AOC. You’re lucky we did! And very glad we met young Romain Roche before the fabulous 2009 vintage so I could get you first dibs on his top cuvee: lush grenache spiked with carignan. When we met Romain last year, he was working in an old unmarked stone building down the hill from Cairanne. That’s one of the best villages in the Cotes du Rhone and a sure bet to move up to AOC status. Rasteau next door has recently become an AOC or Cru just like Gigondas and Vacqueyras. I think Cairanne is next.

Cairanne‘s good rep hangs on very old vines on the stony plain, where Roche’s parents have 15 prime and gnarly hectares. They used to sell their beautiful grenache to bigger outfits, but Romain knew they could and should stand on their own. He’s only made a couple of vintages so far and used a mobile bottling machine parked outside to do that. We just had to bring him to Tarpon. If you met him, I can tell you, he’s as charming as his wine. Nothing new-fangled about the La Bousquette, it is ripe old school stuff, stains the glass, fills the nose with smoke and spice and coats the palate with earthy sweets. Like rolling around on a thick Oriental rug and savoring the exotic softness.

Another Reason to Visit Tarpon: Real Greek Yogurt.

Greek yogurt

Buying the bricks and mortar way has its pleasures. Like meeting Team B-21 in the flesh instead of Facebook, of course. Plus you can savor Tarpon’s full Greek flavor. Like real yogurt, not jelly on the bottom or Whateverberry, but the aggressively tart, creamy, and healthful stuff  that’s arrived in supermarkets in the last two years. Tarpon can beat that. Our Greek cooks make their own!  Yogurt doesn’t get fresher.

My favorites are made at the Acropolis Meat Market on Tarpon Avenue downtown (ask for Teddy) and the @Cafe on Pinellas, closer to the docks, where Yanni dishes it out with honey and walnuts. And to go.

Put Greek yogurt on the shopping list for the next wine-buying trip to Tarpon. And bring a cooler.

The water’s cold and dark but spirit’s brave on Epiphany

Epiphany Divers in Tarpon Springs
Epiphany Divers in Tarpon Springs

Today is the high point of the Christmas season here in Tarpon Springs. For the Greek-American community here, and especially its boldest young men,  the holidays are not over until the annual dive for the cross January 6.  Tarpon’s been home to proud Greek sponge divers for a century; every year they proclaim that heritage in this cold and watery ritual. In the Greek Orthodox church, Epiphany celebrates Jesus’s baptism in the River Jordan. The immersion has a special resonance in a community of divers and a big fishing fleet, so folks here have performed the blessing of the waters and the diving for 105 years.

In a flourish of Old World pageantry, the biggest outside of Greece, the Greek Orthodox archbishop and primate of North America, priests, parishioners, musicians, children and a dove-bearer parade down to Spring Bayou after the morning church service. Sometime after noon the crew of some 75 boys in blue and white T-shirts are rowed out to the center of the bayou in small boats.

The doves are released, a large white cross is tossed into the depths and the boys leap from the boats.

2008 Boutari Santorini, Assyrtico (92W&S)

An impossible task, yet within minutes one victorious arm emerges holding the cross followed by the whole breathless, soaking teenager. His fellows carry him dripping wet back to the church for a blessing, and a huge Greek festival follows.

It’s something to see and as many as 50,000, Greek and non-Greek, make the pilgrimage every year, and millions watch on television.

If you come, and you should at least once, come early. Stop by B-21 aftewards, for we have an inventory of 40 Greek wines from the traditional to the best modern varietals from Naoussa, Achaia, Santorni, Samos, Makedonia and more.  There is much more to Greek wine today than retsina and roditys, not that there needs to be.  Opa!

On the way to B-21: Art to play with

Leepa Ratner Museum in Tarpon Springs, Florida

There’s extra fun to be had in Tarpon Springs besides shopping through hundreds of top vintages (and prices) and for those who haven’t made the drive, the B-Blog will occasionally let you in on some of the extra pleasures up our way.

One jewel is the Leepa-Ratther Museum of Art, a treasure of 20th century art from Picasso to Chagall left by a fellow colleague of the art world. On display right now is a colorful retrospective of playful work of the late Volf Roitman, who lived in neighboring Holiday not far from us, as well as Latin America, Barcelona and Paris.

Roitman led a group of artists who delighted in moving color, cutouts and curves and recently designed a Dallas museum that looks like it was built out of Matisse, Calder and origami.

He died last April and certainly deserves a toast. There are dozens of Spanish labels bursting with artful fun to choose from. I‘m torn between the Miro-esque Espelt Grenache ($9.99 ) on the Costa Brava and the deliciously striped Tempranillo from Vilosell in Catalunya ($14.99 and a 91 + from my amigo Summer Martin.)