dish update + events

by erin thursby
I don’t think I’m the only one with a dirty mind. Oral Explosion is not the name of a strip club or a porno. It’s the name of a company that’s building a stand-alone food court on San Marco Blvd. The name already has connotations, but once you add what the location is standing on (the site of an old strip club), then it’s hilarious.
As an interesting side note, I’ve been asking random people in my life what they think of when they hear “Oral Explosion.” The results so far: a type of fizzy candy, something to do with sexy mouth action, toothpaste and, of all things, vomiting.
I’ve no idea what sorts of foods will be in this center. Fast food, such as what you’d find at the mall, seems to be the consensus. I’m hoping it will at least be tasty fast food.
The Gas Knob, located next to the Veterans Memorial Arena closed. In Mandarin on San Jose Truffles Cafe and Bakery closed.
A sandwich shop named Kickbacks Sandwiches & Home Style Cooking is slated to go in on Edgewood Ave. According to Jacksonville Confidential, it is in no way affiliated with the Kickbacks on King Street. So why use the name of an already established place? Either the owners failed to google Kickbacks + Jacksonville or they’re hoping to cash in on name recognition.

foodcentric events

Lunch & Lit: People of the Book
Monday, February 2 from noon- 1 pm
This event combines two of my favorite things, literary discussion and food. It’s a free book discussion and lunch at the Main Library. Bring your own lunch and they’ll provide dessert. The discussion will be about People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. At the Downtown Library. Info:

Wine Tasting Series at Zaitoon
Wednesday, February 4
Celebrate Valentine’s Day early, or just celebrate you single status with a bunch of friends and a bunch of wine. Special guest and Sommelier, Kori Blacker, will be showcasing several different wines from the new wine list and Zaitoon’s Executive Chef, Mike Barbour, will be preparing special hors d’ouevres for the event. Also featuring live music by Mary Ann Hawkins. Tickets are $12/person. Guests that decide to stay for dinner after the Wine Tasting will receive a 10% discount off of their entire check for that evening! Call to make your reservation today! Info: or 221-7066

smART bites: Why Look at Animals
Thursday, February 5 at 6 pm
smART bites gives you a 30-minute guided tour of the featured exhibition and collection. Now you can get your “bite-sized” tour and tasty tapas from Cafe Nola after work on Thursday evenings! Free with museum admission. Admission prices: $8/Adults, $5/Seniors (60 years and older); $5/Military (with current ID); $5/Students (with current ID); Free/Children under 2; Free/MOCA Jacksonville members. Info:

Red Rose Ball
Friday, February 6 at 7 pm
Talk about creme de la swank- this annual black tie charity ball for the St. Vincent’s HealthCare Foundation, is one of the most exclusive fundraising events in Jacksonville, made largely so by the number of people who are happy to shell out the $300 per ticket. Jacksonville Marriott Southpoint, 4670 Salisbury Rd. Info: 308-7338

Cooking Class at 1171
Sunday, February 8 from 1- 3 pm
Want to learn how to make a romantic dinner for your sweetheart? 1171 will be holding a cooking class for just that purpose. They’re going to make a habit of it on the first Sunday of every month. The class includes a cooking demo, a sampling of the dishes and a glass of wine. The owner and chef, Fernando Silveira and Karolyn Cantin, former owner of the Village Cafe of Ortega and 1171’s catering director, will teach students how to whip up a romantic dinner of several courses, with appetizers, a seafood dish, a meat dish and two desserts. The class is $50, with $5 off if you register more than a week in advance. 1171 Edgewood Ave. Info: Call 384-3160 to register.

Bella Luna: Dessert Under the Stars
Saturday, February 14 from 7- 10 pm
The MOSH on the southbank will open their rooftop for a romantic evening. Do a little stargazing with the naked eye or use their telescope to scope out the night sky. Feed your sweetie something sweet. They’ll have all sorts of confections, chocolate and strawberries. 1025 Museum Cir. Info: 396-7062

High Tea
Saturday, February 14 from 1- 3 pm
A daytime activity for a special day. Take her to The Row, a Victorian inn that offers fine dining and high tea. Although they offer afternoon tea every Friday and Saturday from 1- 3 pm, Valentine’s Day will make it seem special. Afternoon tea is $15 per person plus tax and gratuity. Includes one sandwich assortment (chicken salad, egg salad, cucumber), one scone with clotted cream and jam and four petite desserts. Info: 354-5080 or

MOCA Valentine’s Day Dinner
Saturday, February 14 from 5- 10 pm
Cafe Nola will be open on Saturday, February 14 for Valentines Day! Don’t miss their famous 3 course Valentines Day dinner for only $39 per person. This includes a split of Champagne and a romantic dessert perfect for sharing. Reservations are required as they were fully booked last year. Please call 366-6911×231 for reservations. Menu will available online by February 1. Info:

The Grape Saturday Wine Tasting
Saturday, February 14 from 1- 4 pm
Try a delectable flight of four fabulous wines specially selected for you! Instruction given by a Certified Sommelier. Cost just $10. Info: 642-7111 or

16th Annual RSVP Chocolate & Beyond Gala
Saturday, February 21 from 7- 9 pm
Take a drive to St. Augustine and enjoy the evening sampling chocolate hors d’oeuvres and desserts from local restaurants and shops. Expect both live and silent auctions, plus a raffle. Free overflow parking and shuttle service will be available from the Fullerwood Resource Center on Hildreth Drive. Tickets purchased after January 5 cost $18. The Mark W. Lance Armory, 190 San Marco Ave., St. Augustine. Info: 547-3945.

Florida Strawberry Festival
February 26- March 8
February is a time for love, chocolate and Florida Strawberries. You don’t hear much about Plant City the rest of the year, but when the Florida strawberry season comes around, it’s big. Entertainment at this big fest ranges from Jessica Simpson and Kellie Pickler to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Randy Travis and Brenda Lee. They pick a Strawberry Queen, have most of the events and entertainment associated with a county fair, plus lush fresh strawberries and other local produce. Info:

Northeast Florida Scottish Highland Games & Festival
Saturday, February 28 from 9 am- 10 pm
Have a hankering for some haggis? Or at least a deep fried Mars bar? Besides the caber toss, that’s why I show up for the Scottish Games. At the Clay County Fair grounds. Info: or 725-5744

Noche De Gala (Night of the Gala)
Saturday, February 28 at 6:30 pm
Be a part of this 16th century masked ball celebrating the 490th birthday of St. Augustine’s founder, don Pedro Menendez de Aviles. Guests will be escorted to the festivities by re-enactors in period clothing. Cocktail reception and dinner will be catered by the Casa Monica Hotel, followed by dancing to contemporary tunes. Attire is black tie or 16th century costume. Lightner Museum and Ballroom, 75 King Street in St. Augustine. Admission is $175. Reservations are required. Info: 825-5033