Monday, September 29, 2008

South Westshore Crawl; TaTa-Palooza; a Festival

What a weekend....Friday we walked up to CDB's on Westshore a few blocks form my house, the weather was great for sitting outside for some dinner. A great bottle of Wine, some Antipasto Salad(I ordered by mistake), and a Meatball Grinder on the upper outside deck. We were looking forward to CDB's pinwheels(rolled up Provolone Cheese, Ham, Turkey and Roast Beef and sliced like pinwheels), but they come on the Chef Salad, not the Antipasto Salad, which was loaded mostly with greens, and a few chunks of Salami, Cheese and Ham, some carrots here and there..nothing special, but good. Our server did bring out a side order of the pin time I think that would be good enough with some bread and a bottle of wine......The meatball grinder(the small) was huge, oven baked, melted cheese...plenty of food...again though there sauce is a bit sweet for my liking...the bottle of wine, side order of pinwheels and company made the night.
Afterwards, we walked next door to The Wooden Door Irish Pub, the Rays game was on, a light crowd was on hand, the outside patio tables were all taken up, its nice they put a 50" flat screen out on the was then onto the Green Iguana Westshore to finish watching the Rays game, much livelier crowd as usual..the band started up, and it just got livelier from there.

Saturday it was breakfast over at Mama's Kitchen on South Dale Mabry on my way to Home Depot to do some housework...nice to start the day off with some of the BEST biscuits and gravy in town.
Later in the afternoon, met up with a friend of mine up the street who lives in Stoney Point neighborhood, on one of the canals leading into the Bay. We took his boat out on the bay for a few hours, beautiful blue skies, we found a nice sand bar area over near Weedon Island where there were about a dozen other boaters hanging out.
Saturday night was "TaTa-Palooza" at a friends house, to Benefit the Breast Cancer society, there were about 50 of us that showed up for a fun evening of Black Jack, Food and Drinks, Prize giveaways(I got the little kids bike), and a game of Guessing the TaTa's...all for a great cause...the evening went on afterwards as we headed to Club Chelsea, the Old Club Azalea downtown Tampa, interesting crowd, and even a hilarious drag show...for some late night Pizza it was on to Ybor City where we noticed Demini's on 7th was closed, but we enjoyed walking on 7th Ave, looking rough as usual at 3am on a Saturday night, for Pizza at New York New York, and then around the corner for a few more slices at the little pizza place on 15th street.

Sunday was a relaxing day, off to the Hyde Park Fall Art Festival, this year there were many vendors sampling food items and health conscious activities, after socializing and looking at over 100 Art booths, we sat outside on the patio at Bailey's for lunch. They mostly just do catering and take-home meals, except when they open for dinner for a few hours on Tues, Wed and Thurs evenings....this was the first time they did lunch....very freshly prepared Chicken Salad sandwich's or BBQ pulled pork, with their famous BBQ beans, and very tangy and citrusy ColeSlaw with Mandarin Oranges...a down home, southern style type of place. It was back home to catch he rest of the Bucs game against Green Bay(GO BUCS!).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back from Nashville, TN and A night out in a Tampa Village

Back from Nashville(actually Franklin, TN)..some highlights included the quaint little town of Franklin, TN and the Red Pony restaurant on Main Street, some great hiking in the Smokey Mountains.

As I flew back, I met with a few friends at the monthly Hyde Park Village Music Series, always the last Wednesday of the month through October. The air was very dry this evening, actually wore pants tonight, it was great to feel such a change in the weather as Fall arrives in Florida, and seeing that this was the largest crowd i've seen all year at the Village for this small festival, everybody in the local area was also taking advantage of the nice weather....again as usual, I am always running into people I haven't seen since college, or even my old employer....Good Times!!

Waking up on this Thursday morning, it was actually a bit chilly....ahhhh, a touch of whats to come in Florida for the next 8 months.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Ricks, Rays, Tahitian Bfast

After work Friday a bunch of us met up at Ricks on the River for Happy Hour...large outdoor seating area along the River, nice views of downtown, live music, and good food, whats better than that after a long week? It was also feeling a little fallish, nice breezes and drier air.

Saturday it was off to St. Pete with some friends for the Tampa Bay Rays/Minnesota Twins baseball game, winning this game meant being in the playoffs for the first time since the Rays started back 10 years ago. We parked at Ferg's where for $15.00 you also get 6 free draft beers, well worth the close parking and entertainment happening at Ferg's. The place is HUGE, but the downstairs open air area smelled like someone had been sick all over the place the night before, and the heat of the day was not helping much...we went upstairs where they had a small outdoor patio overlooking Tropicana Field.....we ate some ok sandwich's(limited menu on game day)..they were probably prepared the day before knowing large crowds would be around for the game. After the great win, and playoff ceremony, we walked down to the Emerald Club bar, nice dive bar, a live band was just setting was then onto Oyster Bar where we met some other friends of mine, then Mastry's, Independent, and capping off the evening at Georgi's Alibi.

Sunday, after taking a friend back to St. Pete to pick up his car left at Ferg's, went out to the Tahitian Inn on Dale Mabry for some late breakfast/lunch(served till 3pm). Greek omelet was oversized and stuffed with Feta and Spinach, large helping of sliced and grilled potatoes, and a side over overly salted Corn Beef Hash.

Finished the day relaxing watching a great Bucs/Bears game, that the Bucs pulled off in overtime to beat the Bears.

Work takes me to Nashville, TN this week.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Brooklyn, NY

It was a good trip to Brooklyn for work this week, I have been many times, but experienced a few new things this trip to the Brooklyn Heights area....Brooklyn Promenade great views of downtown Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge, Henry's End restaurant-some of the best tasting food and great small intimate dining; Juniors for Cheesecake!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Biking Upper Tampa Bay

Took the bikes out for a ride as I have many times to Upper Tampa Bay Trail...just wanted to note on this trip, they still have not made any progress beyond the 8 mile mark. It is supposed to connect to the Suncoast trail by 2010. It's a great ride from the Waters Avenue rest area(easy parking and water available)..most of the trail is shaded as well from this point and is all paved and mostly flat, there are water features, and bridges, some wildlife.

Work takes me to Brooklyn, NY for a few days.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

USF Bulls and The Bungalow

After flying back from Greenville, SC on Friday, a good buddy of mine and I went to my Alma Maters(USF) home game against Kansas....parking at the Westshore Marriott hotel, we took the hotel shuttle, with about 8 KU fans, to get dropped off about 2 blocks form the stadium...we met up with his co-workers who were having a nice sized tailgate party, food, beers and all..being that this was nearly a sell out crowd for tonight's game(59,000)..the fields outside the stadium were packed with tailgaters...Good Times!! There is nothing like a night College Football game against two ranked teams...between the USF marching band, the overflowing Student section, and everyone just excited that the young USF football program has done so well. The game was one of the most exciting i've seen, from KU dominating the game in the first half, to USF taking on a substantial lead in the second half...only to be tied up by the end of the forth quarter, and what looked to be an overtime game, a field goal was kicked within seconds of the end of the game to pull our South Florida Bulls ahead of KU and WIN!! It was good to see some of my alumni I graduated with, we always meet up at the Pirate Ship deck behind the student section at half time each home game.

Saturday morning, went over to Mama's Kitchen on Dale Mabry Hwy, just south of Gandy usual, the greasy spoon diner like restaurant pulled through with another great breakfast....
For dinner, a few of us went over to a new place on Kennedy Blvd in Hyde Park area called The Bungalow. It's a very large Bungalow house built in 1919, they did a great job with an open bar area, and small dining area...very nice, wood floors and brick walls, there are pictures of the old house through the bar area. With flat screen tv's throughout, you can catch any game whether in the bar area or dining area...the crowd is very Hyde Park pretty, there is a front porch as well with some tables. Food was good as well, starting with the Buffalo Chicken Wings, they tasted more like Fried Chicken Wings then Buffalo style....dinners included the Surf and Turf sliders(1 burger, 1 ahi tuna, 1 grouper, and 1 crab cake), when I asked what I could get instead of Fries, the server advised that I could only get fries, even though there are about 6 other sides that you can get with other meals(Asparagus, Grilled Veges, Island Cole Slaw, Mac n Cheese, Yucca Fries and Fries)...I demanded the island cole slaw instead of fries, he said he would see what he could do(I got the cole slaw)...the sliders were good, the burger and crab cake were about the size of a .50 cent piece..tiny, the grouper and tuna were a decent size for sliders....I think they should skip the crab cake and go with the jerk chicken slider instead so you would have two turf and two surf sliders.......we also had the Jerk Chicken sandwich which was said to be ok, and the Ahi Tuna dinner which was said to be excellent, cooked rare and flavorful.
The place can get very noisy, there is some music in the bar area...a very nice new addition to Kennedy Blvd.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Greenville, SC...who knew?

Just finished a week long business trip to Greenville, SC, what a very very nice downtown area for this small of the nicest i've seen, and it was America's top Main Street in 2003....lots of restaurants, bars, live music venues all along the 10 block Main Street, and very pretty parks surrounding the immediate downtown area with Rivers and waterfalls...some highlights included Reedy Falls, Cleveland Park, High Cotton Jazz, The Handlebar, Liberty Tavern, Soby's, Smoke on the Water, and great hiking in the foothills...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

NEW KAYAK, St. Pete, Downtown Tampa, Bulls n Bucs

Getting back from KC, I cam home to a brand new Kayak(Olde Town Dirigo 12o), purchased with some of my numerous Marriott points from travels over the years. A buddy of mine and I took them out to Picnic Island for a nice peaceful kayak venture, lots of great wildlife to see Thursday evening, the tide was high enough to go through a few Mangrove trails near the Air Force base.

Friday, a few of us ventured out to St. Pete for First Friday's Get Downtown live music series. Prior to the event we went to Zapata's for Mexican, just across the street from BayWalk in downtown St. Pete. It is a Mexican place and Tequila Bar with over 50 varieties of Tequila, for entertainment they had a Marimba player playing some tunes with pre-recorded keyboard music in the background(a bit cheesy)...the Happy Hour was 2 for 1 weal Margarita's and decent Sangria...we ordered Chicken Fajitas and Enchiladas, which were OK, but nothing to write home 7pm, the large restaurant was nearly empty still after being there over an hour, they do have some outdoor seating available.
Walking towards Central Ave for the event, the downtown was bustling with all kinds, the crowd at the event seemed a bit rougher than usual, but as we went into some of the establishments along the event(Oyster Bar, Lobby, Garden, Taste of Wine), the crowd was a bit more normal and inviting. After the event, we walked around the corner to Bishop Tavern, packed, this place had a DJ this evening, and both the upstairs and downstairs and each separate room was busy...we then walked a block over to PUSH where afer a $10 cover for guys, we walked upstairs to some great music, and a cool crowd, and were able to take in some nice sights from the very large rooftop deck area...before leaving St. Pete for the night, we had some late night slices of Pizza back on Central Ave at Fortunato's.

Saturday, went over to First Watch downtown for some good eats for breakfast, and walked over to Historic Tampa theater after getting an Iced Green Tea at Indigo, just in time for a Theater Tour...afterwards it was a cool drink at The Hubb next door....then I headed to Madres in South County of Hillsborough for a some steaks and watching USF-UCF match up game with family.

Sunday was one of my good friends birthday, so quite a few of us were up at Bar Louie's in International Plaza...celebrating her birthday, seeing old friends and meeting new one's , and enjoying the Bucs game...sliders were great, the atmosphere was perfect for watching any Football games...after the game a walk over to Champps on the other side of BayStreet was no match for the great crowd that gathered at Bar Louie...we ended Sunday eve at the Green Iguana Westshore with the last of the good friends and the birthday girl.

Work takes me to Greenville, SC for the week, be back Friday.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kansas City...WOW!

Just getting back from Kansas City, MO...and what a surprise! Just had no idea KC was what it is...some interesting tidbits from the trip include:
KC airport, the airplane pulls up, and you literally walk out the plane to the car at curbside, never seen anything like this; KC Power and Light district(reminded me of City Walk at Universal or Pleasure Island at Disney); Ward Parkway - beautiful estates, rolling green hills, lots of trees, and a river running along the middle; the Plaza - very Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills.

Some of the numerous highlights from the weekend included the KC Irish Festival, Missy B's, my buddies get together the first night at his house, World War I memorial, Harry S Truman Presidential Library, Lucky Strike Lanes....