Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mexican Food and a Broadway Show!

Took Madre out for dinner and a show tonight. We started at Algusto's Mexican Restaurant on Kennedy Blvd just west of University of Tampa. Parking is behind the restaurant...I have to say some of the FRESHEST Mexican I've had in a while. It wasn't too busy at 630pm when we arrived, and were seated in a nice window booth facing Kennedy Blvd. Started with the Guacamole Dip and Chips, which was so fresh, but could've used a little more garlic. The salsa is perfect the way I like it with chunks of tomato. We ordered the Combo Fajitas for two, and when it came out it was more like for four!! Fresh tender cuts of chicken and steak piled with tri colored peppers and onion, the flour tortillas were hot and fresh as well. A Great Meal.
We then headed to the Tampa Performing Arts Center to see "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee"..I have wanted to see this every time I go to NYC, but it's always sold out. it has won several Tony Awards. The musical/comedy was excellent, great story line, audience gets involved, although I can see why it would be better to see this in a smaller venue, like the 200 seat theater on Broadway it plays at. All in all, a very entertaining show!
One thing I noticed when leaving the Performing Arts Center(which is beautiful, right on the River downtown, there are several venues)..that is that walking out of the Morsani Hall you see the best view of the downtown skyscrapers, and University of Tampa minarets all lit up at night.
I'm looking forward to this weekend, with no rain in sight, temps around 80, and blue skies..AGAIN(4th week in a row)...there is so many choices..Spring Break game, St Pete Grand Prix, MacDill AirFest, Italian Fest in Ybor City, Tampa Firefighter Chili cookoff..and on and on!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dali Fest, St Pete Beach, Tampa GreenFest

Another great weekend come and gone - Saturday morning, made the trip to Home Depot to complete the Spring Yard Cleaning, and plantings. Lisa and Bryan came over and we headed to Dori and Darrin's in Roser Park to go to DaliFest in downtown St. Pete at the Dali Museum. Dori and Darrin have an awesome 1920's home is the Historic Roser Park section of downtown St. Pete, just south of Bayfront Hospital. I'd recommend a walk or at least drive thru this VERY unique historic neighborhood. Lots of hills, older homes. DaliFest was celebrating its 25th year, with live bands on some vendors along the waterfront. Weather couldn't be more perfect. The museum was having 1/2 price admission and free guided tours, so Bryan and I went in to take a look at Salvador Dali's amazing collection - this museum in St. Pete boasts one of the largest Dali original collections in the world.
After the Festival we headed to St. Pete Beach for dinner and sunset. Driving down Gulf Blvd from Central Ave towards Pass-a-Grille, we could tell there were LOTS of people in town, the Blvd was very busy. We finally made it to Pass-a-Grille beach and ended up watching the sunset from the Hurricane rooftop bar, then went over to The Brass Monkey for dinner. Had a great table out on the deck over looking the Gulf of Mexico. Lisa had the Fish n Chips, Huge piece of White Fish with Fries, and 5 Onion Soup which was very tasty. Bryan got a Burger, and I had the Salmon with Pesto Sauce. All in all, an excellent spot!!
We then headed to Georgi's Alibi in St. Pete, as Bryan had never been there before, he just moved to Tampa from Dallas 6 weeks ago and was getting to know the area. Nice crowd, not too busy, but it was just before 11pm, and i was told it gets very busy by midnight. Green Iguana Westshore was next on our list, as it was walking distance to my house. We hung out on the Tiki Bar deck, checkin out the people, and listening to an all time fav band, Velvet Jones.

Sunday was Family Fun Day - it seems a term me and my bro made up as we have been spending the last few months getting together every Sunday, usually with my mom, aunt and uncle, and of course his wife and new baby boy. Today we went to the Tampa GreenFest, at Plant Park downtown. Plant Park is a beautiful park on the grounds of the University of Tampa along the Hillsborough River. Great photo ops of downtown skyscrapers, lots of shade trees and plams, and of course the UT famous minarets and historic buildings around the University as a backdrop. The festival had numerous nearby nursery and garden center booths, i had no idea Tampa had so many small mom n pop type garden centers around town. After a few hours here, we were hungry and headed to Hawk's on Bay to Bay near MacDill Ave. Great choice we sat outside, the NCAA games were on (Florida and Oregon), inside was packed with Gator fans. Sandwiches were big and extremely tasty, excellent Quesadilla's with lots of chicken. The Beef Melt is one of my favs, lots of Cheddar Cheese and Grilled Onions on a Garlic Buttered Cuban Bread. We then headed to Dairy Joy, my local neighborhood Ice Cream shop on Manhattan Ave, just south of Euclid Ave, with Soft Serve, and Sundaes. They have a walk up window, and picnic tables outside. We relaxed at my house in the backyard, and watched videos and pictures from the days adventure. The weather over the next few weeks through May is my favorites time, very low humidity, clear blue skies, breezy, and temps from the upper 50's at night to about 80 during the day....PERFECT!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

A South Tampa Friday Night

Lisa got to my house around 830, and we headed to Hyde Park/SOHO district for dinner and entertainment. Parking was easy tonight off Howard Ave, it seems 717 Parking has taken over many of the lots, and now charge $5 to park all night. Quite a bargain, and they watch your car all night. We went to Sangria's for dinner after meeting Kelly SOHO Sushi, Lisa hates Sushi(I love the stuff). Sangria's was busy as usual, but we were seated promptly. Ordered up Champagne Sangria for Lisa, and me with my water(still not drinking). For eats it was Meatballs, Lemon Chicken, Park tenderloin, Steak w/blue cheese, Mozzarella w/tomatoes, and Salad. All tapas plates mind you, so they were small portions. The Chicken and Pork were the best dishes, Meatballs were very tiny, bland and fell apart, Salad was just those weird greens with one tomato slice, and the Mozzarella dish only had three cheese slices. For a $60.00 bill with only to alcoholic drinks, I would expect more food, plus it all came out at the same time(not good).
Kelly came over to meet us(SOHO Sushi and Sangrias are connected), and we headed to the "Red House Lounge"(the old Po' Boys), walked in and they were blasting Heavy Metal music, and it just looked like they painted the walls black, and put black table cloths on the tables and kept the booths, not what I had thought it was going to be, so we quickly left and headed to 717 South for cocktails. It was busy, and they had some nice loungy music. We then headed for Whiskey Park across the street, again a good crowd, Hip Hop started the evening, but then it was more dance tunes as the night progressed. From there we went to Hyde Park Cafe, no problem getting in this time, as I had a girl with me, so we were let right in(I found out later that Friday nights are "Private Club" nights for reserved tables, guest lists, and if you have a HPC Card, with a girl, or you can wait in line. Still love this place, as Freddy Fernandez and Tony Faline spin some of the best tunes. The outdoor tropical courtyard, and side VIP Hop Hop section are nice as well, but the dance club area has the finest sounds and lights in the area.
At closing we headed to "The Deck" a few blocks away on Platt St. for Pizza(NY Style). It was a fun Friday in South Tampa.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

'300' Movie at IMAX

WOW, if you haven't seen this movie yet, or haven't seen it at all in IMAX, I strongly suggest you check it out, the sounds and the visuals were amazing! It's a battle movie, lots of blood and guts, but just amazing scenes. Channelside was busy tonight with the Lightning game, and vacationers in town.

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St. Patty's Weekend in TAMPA!

Im a little late with last weekend, but wanted share what a great weekend it was here in Tampa for St. Patricks Day.
FRIDAY was a date night for me, I met my date at the Starbucks on Westshore and Kennedy(quite a convenient spot), we headed to Davis Islands for dinner, Mexican was on tab so it was Estella's. I have never had a bad meal here, and getting there around 830, there were a few empty tables outside. Interesting, there was a Mariachi Band playing outside when we got there. We ordered the Chicken and Steak Fajitas, which was plenty for two, and Guacamole Dip. Temps were nice in the 50's. Afterwards I showed my date around Davis Islands, and we then headed to Hyde Park/SOHO area for dessert, which was Gelato at La Casa Dolce, the best coffee/gelato place around town. So many flavors of Gelato to choose from, and again, nice outdoor seating watching all the bar patrons across the way in MacDintons, and walking up and down Howard Ave. It was very business tonight, Spring Break, and alot of visitors in town. WE then walked over to the Dubliner, which had a live band outside. Hyde Park Cafe was next on the agenda, but tonight I was surprised that they were having a VIP party, and only allowing those on a "list" to get in. Very disspointed, im not sure what that was all about, and what's up with the Velvet Ropes, this ain't LA! We stopped for a cocktail(im still just drinking water, and really feel good about it) at City Side where I ran into a buddy of mine who was kind of out of it, so we drove him home, and then I took my date to the car at Starbucks.
SATURDAY-St. Patricks Day-after reading the paper out in the backyard with my juice(instead of coffee), I did a little yard work, and then met my date from last night at International Plaza's Bay Street. We had lunch at Cheesecake Factory, and did some browsing in the Mall. Not a big shopper, I tried a few things on, looked at the awesome LCD and Plasma TV's, and did some people watchin'. It was then off to Westshore Plaza, I needed something Green for the evenin festivities, so I spotted a snazy light green pull over sweater from Banana Republic. We went back to my house where we rested for a bit,m before heading to Hyde Park at the Irish Bars. MacDintons was PACKED, Dubliner was PACKED, Four Green Fields was PACKED..we decided to call my friends Lisa, Chantel, Mike and Calvin who were in MacDintons to meet us for dinner, I didnt want to deal with drunks that had been drinkin all day. We all went to Bella's for some awesome Italian bites. Then headed home to watch "Employee of the Month" on Pay Per View.
SUNDAY - was family day, my bro and sis inlaw came down with the baby, and we headed to Heritage Village, and the Florida Botanical Gardens in Largo. What a great day, temps in the 70's, blue skies. Heritage Village is a recreated Florida town, where they took actual historic structures(homes, train depot, stores, churches, schools, etc.) that were going to be demolished in the local area, like a trip through time. Then we wondered through the Botanical Gardens which was very nice, my fav part with the Palms section. Who knew there was over 100 species of Palms. We then headed to Indian Rocks Beach to toss the Frisbee, but it was too breezy for the baby, so we grabbed some late lunch at Keegan's-great seafood joint, very casual, for some Crab Sandwich's, Oysters and Calamari. Wanting to still toss the Frisbee, we went to Seminole Lake Park, a beautiful park situated around Seminole Lake. After about an hour of tossin the disc around, we headed back to Tampa, and had Westshore Pizza and Stromboli while watchin some movies on Pay Per View. What a GREAT WEEKEND!
Heading to Birmingham and Orlando this week for work.....

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

For someone who HATES Clothes Shopping......

I rather enjoyed buying a couple of new suits at the Men's Warehouse. I have been putting this off for quite some time, and finally just went out after seeing the Men's Warehouse dude("Your gonna like the way you look, I guarantee it") on TV. What a great store, it was so easy to just walk in, be greeted by friendly sales people, get measured immediately, and then shown the area to choose a suit. They ask all the right questions(what is the suit for, how often do you wear it, etc.). Then you pick out a few, and they can match up pants, shirts, ties, shoes, socks, everything!! It's been 15 years since I bought a suit, and I have to say I was overly impressed. I do work from home, but travel a few times a month, a need a suit for my office visits. I bought two(light and dark), a few shirts, a few ties. Alterations were done the next day! It was that EASY! Very exciting for someone who loathes shopping for clothes. They made it sooo Easy. By the way, it was the Men's Warehouse in South Tampa. THANKS Ray!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Beautiful March Tampa Weekend!

This is why we live in Tampa, temps in the upper 70's during day, 50's at night, dry and blue blue skies. Saturday Debi an I ventured off to the Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Pete. Mayor Rick Baker was on hand playing guitar, there were roughly 50 booths along Central Ave and 2nd Street. Fresh Veges/Fruit, Plants, Arts, Food and more. As usual, there was plenty more goign on downtown St. Pete. The Cajun Crawfish Festival was in Vinoy Park, and there was some bands set up in Williams Park. It's nice to have both St. Pete close by, they have alot going on in there downtown. Afterwards, we headed to Jason's new Exotic Nursery over on 22nd Ave South, just West if I-275. He's done an awesome job cleaning the place up, and has numerous exotic plant species you dont see at Home Depot. Alot of Palms, Bamboo species, and very cool pots. He seems to be very happy, and is currently building another Koi Pond at the nursery. Saturday evening, we hung out at Debi's place over in Riviera Bay section of St. Pete. She lives on the water, with a dock over looking the canal and mangroves. We lit a fire in the firepit, and enjoyed some tunes, and I finally broke down and had a couple of beers. We picked up some sandwiches from City Subs over on 4th Street just south of Gandy(where the old Athenia restaurant used to be). AWESOME philly cheese steaks, and HUGE wrap sandwiches, I highly recommend this place!! And will be back!
Sunday was nice to sleep in late, of course do the Sunday routine of readin the paper out back in the yard. My bro and sis in law came down with the baby, and we all headed to Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Pete. GREAT park with many trails along Lake Maggiore. Saw quite an abundance of wildlife(birds, gators, etc.). They were having the Wildlife Weekend so there were alot of exhibits. After walking many of the trails, we decided to picnic there, and toss the Frisbee around for a while. A cookout in the evening(Surf n Turf) in the backyard rounded out the evening perfectly. It's nice to have family close by.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Non-Alcoholic Friday Night in Tampa

A beautiful day this Friday, led to a beautiful Friday evening. Still on the heart monitor thinggy, I decided not to have any alcohol this weekend again. I'm getting a little used to this, it actually ain't so bad not drinking, and i'm thinking of all the crap I can do around the house, travel, etc. with the $$$ being saved. Anyways, Lisa came over and we started Happy Hour at Rattlefish down here in South Tampa. Nice crowd, sun was starting to set, they had a few guitarists on the outside deck, it was nice cause we were immediately sated while waiting on a few other friends. Me with my water and Lisa with her wine, things were fine. We got the Chicken Tenders and Crab Dip. The food is ok at best, but very pricey. $12 crab dip and $9 for three fancy chicken strips. Its the view and atmosphere I guess you pay for. We ran into quite a few people from the area we havn't seen in a while, Crazy Dave brought his boat over from across the way, drunk and crazy as usual, Bob and Stephanie, who lost lie 50 lbs each and now look like skeletons which was a little creepy, but they looked good, I guess. I wanted to feed them some burgers. Ran into my neighbor Kevin, who informed me that there was some place called BJ's in St. Pete offering free food this week as it was opening week. Finally, Leigh and Ashley showed up and we stayed till about 8:30, it was getting pretty busy by this time. The weather couldn't be any better.
Lisa and I then headed to Green Iguana Westshore, again, me with my water, and Lisa with her wine. We talked to John, the manager, for a while, he's a great guy. A guitarist was placing outside under the Tiki bar, it wasn't too busy inside. They just opened a new ladies restroom, which Lisa couldn't stop raving about.
Afterwards we then headed for Hyde Park/SOHO to meet with other friends. We met Kelly, Chaistain and George and Lime, very busy around 9:30. We munched on some quesidillas at the bar, while Lisa was busy chattin away with some Golfer dude. I decide to order a Bottled Water, only to find out afterwards it was $6 bucks for a water..WOW! I stick with Tampa Tap I guess.
Mangrove's was next on the agenda with all of us, for we needed to meet another Kelly there. I'm not to fond of this place, people are a lil different, but it made for excellent people watchin. The tunes were crankin upstairs, great DJ spinning. By this time I was getting a little water logged.
Lisa's new Golfer friend showed up, and it was about midnight, and I saw no reason to continue to stay out, the friends were getting tipsy.(Interesting to go out and watch other, but they seemed to get a little annoyed that I was having fun regardless of alcohol). I headed back home.
ONe word about the evening, Valet Parked at each spot, always free, and just give them a tip when picking up the car, makes life so much easier.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Drive to Sarasota

I drove over to Sarasota from Tampa Tuesday, what a beautiful drive, and only about an hour. Across Gandy Bridge, and then over the Skyway Bridge. I love this time of year, the water is soo nice, clear, aqua blue/green, blue blue skies, low humidity. Downtown Sarasota has grown soo much, but it seems like it grew too fast with a lack of planning. No parking, buildings and condos everywhere. Just seems disorganized. I'm glad there is alot of planning involved with the growth of Downtown Tampa, we'll see in 5 years how things are.

Monday, March 5, 2007

2007 Gasparilla is over...

After a month and half of festivities(Children's Parade, Battle and Fireworks; the Invasion, Festival and Parade; the Night Parade; Distance Classic, Film Festival and Arts Festival) was a great Gasparilla this year, and I was glad to have attended each part, except the Distance Classic. Saturday evening, my brother and sis in law came down from the burbs(Wesley Chapel), to have some dinner at Intl Plaza's Bar Louie. Great Food and Music, very lively crowd, and over 2 dozen beers on tap! The fish tacos and mac n cheese were great, but the Quesadilla's left much to be desired. After dinner we headed to Dubliner in SOHO for a few, until finally heading home.
Sunday, the family and I all got together for the 37th annual Gasparilla Arts Festival downtown. It was a beautiful day, blue blue skies, about 70 degrees. Im glad that brought this back to Ashley Street and Curtis Hixon Park. Its nice laying on the lawn listening to some tunes and doing some people watchin'.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Ybor Movies and Chow....

Went to see "ZODIAC" last evening in the Centro Ybor Premiere theaters..again , state of the art facilities. Movie was excellent, a little long, but kept you thinking throughout especially if you didn't know much of the ZODIAC killer. There were many famous actors, more than what was billed. Afterwards, we headed to MEMA's Tacos which moved from there shack on 5th Ave to the Little Sicily site on 8th Ave near Centennial Park. Excellent Taco-Rita's(double decker tacos)..I suggest at a minimum of a beef and a chicken taco-rita style and an order of Nachos with their special refried black beans. Ybor was very busy for being so early in the evening(8:30pm), but we discovered that the snowbirds, tourists have flocked to the city for one reason or another as is always from February to April. There is just a lot going on in this town this time of year.

Friday, March 2, 2007

No Seasons in Tampa?

Who ever said there were no seasons in Tampa? I raked up over 15 bags of leaves yesterday. as I have one of those Oaks in the backyard that sheds its leaves this time of year every year. Now I'll have to wait for all the "stringy" things to finish dropping and the new leaves to sprout. Along with that, I'll have green dust to sweep up daily for the next month outside. Travelling on the Interstate you so see the leaves change colors and leaves actually fall from the trees, it just doesn't last as long, and happens at a different time of year...
I went to my Primary doc Wednesday, love when you make an appt, and they actually see you at that time. Seems I need to wear a Heart Event Monitor for the next 30 days to see about this Afib episode, still getting lightheaded spells, but not as often - seems I may need something to regulate my adrenaline response in my body, as it is making me go into hypo-tension at certain times.
Its a big weekend in the Bay area, with the Seafood Festival in Safety Harbour, Arts Festival downtown, the Yankees playing....just hope the weather holds out.