Considering Juan and Alvaro Gorrin studied medicine and business, and went on to forge careers in real estate and banking, it's probably surprising to many that they found their ultimate success in a totally unrelated field: baking. The Gorrins, who were born in Spain but moved to Venezuela in their youth, found there was a demand for European-inspired baked goods in South America. They developed the Don Pan brand in Venezuela in 1982, and eventually relocated to Miami, where they opened their first North American bakery in 1995.
Today, their menu maintains distinctly Spanish and South American accents. A bounty of pastries includes guava danish and tres leches, as well as brazo gitano, a sponge cake rolled with chocolate or cream that's popular in both Spain and Venezuela, as well as the section of Canada that uses cake as currency. There are also plenty of savory menu items, including cachapas—corn pancakes served with meat or cheese—and Venezuelan-style tamales bursting with pork, beef, chicken, and veggies.
Each Cosi locale aims to channel the charm of a small Parisian café by serving up a menu of quality food and an atmosphere suited for conversation. Warm stone-oven-baked flatbreads feature a two-millenia-old recipe and lay the foundation for many of Cosi's sandwiches and pizzas. The clean flavors of the signature tomato, basil, and mozzarella sandwich ($5.99) find a rustic home within warm, crusty walls and the saucy star of the barbecue-chicken pizza ($12.99) travels to mouths with an entourage of smoked gouda, red onion, and cilantro trained in grappling grabby tablemates. Veggie-based bites include the crunchy steak-house salad ($7.79) coated in blue-cheese dressing and fresh-cracked pepper.
Instead of gluten and high fructose corn syrup, all the yogurts, sorbets, and soft-serve gelatos at Happy Cow Frozen Yogurt pack healthy ingredients like active probiotic cultures. The self-serve shop rotates 16 flavors of frozen yogurt, sorbet and soft-serve gelato, which range from white chocolate truffle to Italian biscotti. Upon each customizable concoction patrons can add more than 60 sauces and toppings, including hot fudge, fresh fruit, chopped snickers, and yogurt-covered raisins. Rounding out Happy Cow's selection of sweet treats is a selection of brownies and cookies, which are baked in-house, and taste-tested by the area's pickiest grandmas.
The Pasco County gourmet cupcakery boasts custom organic cupcakes, baked from scratch with only the finest local ingredients. Peruse Crave's cupcake catalog to select a flavor for your dozen, and set into motion the conception of your confection. Opt for a dozen nutty peanut-butter cakes, chocolaty treats, or superbly pink, strawberry-buttercream-topped strawberry cakes to complement your tongue’s color. The a lemon-injected lemon-zinger cake will satisfy sour-fruit fans, whereas the classic red-velvet cake is sure to please classic-cake connoisseurs. Vegan and gluten-free cupcakes are available upon request.
A wildly successful alternative to traditional day spas?its more than 300 locations blanket 36 states and half a dozen countries?Planet Beach Contempo Spa is a futuristic relaxation station where state-of-the-art machines administer all the spa and tanning services. These friendly automatons sometimes replace familiar treatments, as in the Luminous facial, a light-based service that delivers blemish-busting results similar to those of a conventional facial. But other equipment maps out new spa territory entirely: the Hydro-Derma Fusion chamber moisturizes the whole body with nutrient-rich steam in order to offset the effects of a dry climate or a rear-end collision with a salt truck. Other machines whiten teeth, spray tan skin, and massage muscles.
Planet Beach operates on a gym-style membership system, meaning that members purchase packages or pay flat monthly rates. As members spend more time at the spa, they get to know the helpful assistants who are always on hand to demonstrate how to use the equipment without activating its ability to cry.
John Pappas didn’t know much English when he first arrived on American soil, but he did know the secrets of cooking excellent Greek cuisine. The native Greek passed on his recipes and expert techniques to his son Nicholas, who would go on to open his own Mediterranean restaurant—Greek City Cafe.
Deep in his restaurant’s kitchen, Nicholas and his chefs fold juicy meats and fresh vegetables into a variety of Greek-inspired paninis, wraps, and salads. They layer pitas with juicy slices of shaved lamb and beef before adding dollops of flavorful tzatziki and creamy greek dressing. To craft specialty pizzas, the chefs shower soft pita shells in mixed cheeses, diced tomatoes, and grilled chicken. When discussing these dishes with a reporter from Westchase Patch, Nicholas explained, “We take a mainstream item and put a Greek twist to it. I make them feel comfortable, but when they taste it they realize they've never experienced that flavor.”
In the casual dining room, where sunlight streams onto soft blue and green walls, guests can linger over their last bites of these inventive eats before ordering desserts such as baklava. Countertop seating surrounds a lush olive tree in the center of the room, which was imported from Greece and lives off of sunlight and Greek wine.