The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2015

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Page 52 of 136

52  /  the tasting panel  / june 2015 ON-PREMISE PATTER W hen James Beard semifinalist Greg Baker and his wife, Michelle, opened Fodder & Shine in Tampa last December, they set out to revive a piece of history. Fodder & Shine is a Southern public house that that gives a nod to Florida's Cracker cuisine heritage. Crackers were Anglo and Scots-Irish settlers and their descendants, who often worked as cowboys. The term, which originally meant "braggart" in Elizabethan English, has sometimes taken on pejorative connotations, but the Bakers proudly promote Cracker cuisine "to give folks a glance into Florida's rich cultural heritage through food and drink." Part of the tapestry at Fodder & Shine is the unique beverage program designed and managed by the restaurant's "Spiritual Advisor" and Beverage Director, Kamran Mir. A Florida native who has a degree in film and video and who still plays regularly with his band, The Urbane Cowboys, Mir had interest in mixology while working in Tampa clubs and bars. "When the Bakers approached me with this opportunity, it was a dream come true," says Mir. "It allowed me to support myself doing what I love." In keeping with the restaurant's theme, Mir incorporates Cracker elements into his cocktails. A condiment called "old sour"—made from lemon, datil peppers, sugar and salt, fermented for a week—is used in his "Son of War Eagle" cocktail. (War Eagle is the massive smoker in back of the restaurant.) The drink consists of Angel's Envy Bourbon, housemade old sour and smoked syrup crafted by smoking ice in War Eagle and using the resulting water to make a syrup—"Smoke is attracted to cold," explains Mir. According to Mir, the restaurant and its cocktail program get "lots of neighborhood support" from the locals in the Seminole Heights district, an up-and-coming area full of young families (Mir lives three blocks from the restaurant with his young daughter). As dinner service winds down, the enormous bar and covered patio draw a colorful late-night crowd who are there for the drinks. Those include not only Mir's cocktails but also six fresh taps of "hyperlocal" brews from Tampa's and neighboring St. Petersburg's burgeoning craft brewing scene. The vibe is strictly "come and hang out," says Mir. Mir also created the wine list at Fodder & Shine, and serves every wine by the glass. The list holds "the usual suspects, plus a couple of surprises," says Mir. "I wanted it to be accessible in terms of taste profile and price." Mir is motivated in his work by interaction with his clientele and, most of all, by his "love of the game." He likes to "try stuff out by trial and error—some things work, some things don't." For him, Tampa is home and he has no plans to decamp anytime soon. "I'm a solid Tampa guy," he says. "I feel honored and privileged to be working for the Bakers and am in it for the long haul." Sunshine State of Mind KAMRAN MIR, BEVERAGE DIRECTOR AT TAMPA'S FODDER & SHINE, THINKS AND DRINKS LOCALLY by David Gadd / photos by Chris Kelly Kamran Mir.

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