Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wine Lunch in the Village

Met up with some friends in Hyde Park Village Friday, to get together over some wine and eats. At Timpano's, we waited about 10 min for a table to open up outside, since it was another great day in paradise, and we could do some great people watching of all the shoppers out in the Village on this Black Friday. We started with some Mussels, came out sizzling and hot with drawn butter...very tasty but kind of small. We also all dined on some Sliders, I know they are supposed to be small, but there was barely any meat at all on the soft buns; the 4 cheese pizza was very thin wafer like bread with some cheese melted on it; and some chopped salads with grilled chicken, in which the chicken was cold and also very small portion. What was good was the company and the very pricey wines, and the great service that Andrew provided...everyone on the patio seemed to be in a great mood this Friday after Thanksgiving, we chatted with several people during our nearly 4 hour lunch.

The annual lighting of the Christmas Tree was also taking place in the Village, so afterwards we met up with some more friends at the Wine Exchange, also in the Village. They had a nice large table available on their outdoor patio. It was then a walk through the Historic Hyde Park neighborhood to hit up one of my favorite dives, the Tiny Tap..where we met up with even more friends, shot some pool, played Foosball, before grabbing a cab for the 8 block ride up Howard Avenue to the Deck Pizza. The large pepperoni pizza was as close to NY style, thin slices that you fold to eat, very cheesy, nice tangy sauce....and of course a few pitchers of beer. A cab over to CitySide to say hello, and short walk over to Baxters, and then one more cab ride over to Green Iguana westshore to end the night.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Tampa!

Nice to be home for the holiday this year, although I do miss seeing my brothers and niece and nephews. Thanksgiving Eve(last night), got a call to see the Lightning hockey game against the NY Rangers at the Forum downtown. I ran in the shower, and caught the 7pm bus 3 houses down from my house(Yes... the Hartline City Bus). For $1.50 I get a comfortable, clean ride, that took less than 30 minutes(about 5 miles), and I did not need to find parking downtown, and I did not have to fork over $20.00 for parking, and I was able to have a few beers at the game and not worry about driving home....the game was Great, excellent seats in the 104 section, went into SO(shootout), which I have never seen before...unfortunately the Rangers came out good in the SO, and won the game.
It was then we all went back towards my house to celebrate an annual tradition at the Green Iguana Westshore, the Huuuuuuge Thanksgiving Eve Party...with people home for the Holiday, it was a packed house, and we ran into several people that you don't get to see but on holidays and some special occasions...Great Band as usual...Good Times!

Turkey Day was with the Aunt and Uncle in Brandon, on the way home stopped by Club Chelsea to see some good friends, and called it an early night.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A visitor in Tampa from LA

A buddy of mine came to Tampa for the weekend, stayed downtown at the Hyatt Regency, nice hotel, had a great view of the Pool deck and Harbour Island and Hillsborough Bay. Saturday we walked over to First Watch for breakfast, a few blocks from the hotel in downtown Tampa. As usual the place was busy, about a 10 min wait, but they always have fresh coffee and ice water available while waiting, and it was worth the wait for fresh omlets and French Toast, very friendly service. Afterwards I wanted to see how things were progressing on the Riverwalk, Tampa Museum of Art and Tampa Bay History Center, all under construction downtown. Most of the segments of the Riverwalk from USF park near Borein Street to Channelside is all complete. The history center was looking almost complete, it was due to open in January. The museum of Art looks huge, alot bigger than the older one, and a perfect setting next to the Performing Arts center along the Riverwalk. I twas nice to take a few hours and walk around downtown, there has been alot of progress over the past year, and they are really getting things ready for SuperBowl.

Afterwards, we took the kids to the Park/Beach at Picnic Island, there weren't many other dogs on the beach, it was a perfect day, temps around 70, clear blue skies. Late in the afternoon, we decided on some burgers, so walked over to the Green Iguana, and again, PERFECT burgers(Baja and the Feta Burger), chilling out watching some football in the tiki deck.

Saturday night after a cocktail on the Lobby bar of the Hyatt, which was very busy, we cabbed it to Ybor City to check out a new restaurant that opened up in Centro Ybor called Teatro. From the street the outside balcony was busy, and they had music playing...we get up there, and it the Benz Modeling Agency annual party, and we were welcomed with open arms...and an Open Bar, and Open Buffet...we even mingled with a few people, and were asked to come in off the balcony at one point by the owner Steve Benz, so we could hear his speech....just a big THANK YOU to Benz...Teatro is an upscale restaurant and bar, it was a highlight of the night. By midnight we ventured off the the 2nd Anniversary of G. Bar, and ended the evening with a cab ride over to City Side.

Sunday was watching the Bucs win over Detroit, and went with some friends to my Alma Mater, USF, last home game against UCONN, which we won.

A short week, but work takes me to NYC Tuesday, and i'm looking forward to Turkey day with the family and a relaxing long weekend in town.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A German Deli in Tampa....

After getting back to Tampa from a GREAT long weekend in the Keys and Key West, took Monday off to relax a bit, and we went to have some lunch in South Tampa...a good sandwich was calling..we tried going to a new Deli place on MacDill Ave near Bay to Bay, but it wasnt open yet...then headed over to Roberts Meats a few blocks from my house, and it was closed(?), so finally we ended up at Schiller's German Deli, El Prado and Manhatten Ave...a very authentic German Deli, with all kinds of foods and gifts imported from Germany, but best of all the excellent sandwiches you can get on all types of fresh baked breads...we had the Turkey Club on an Onion Roll, and also a Corned Beef, Pastrami, and German Salami w/Swiss on Rye...both very good. A side of German Potato salad, and fresh baked Apple Strudel for dessert. They have a few tables inside for eating, or you can order and take out.

This week work brings me to Chicago for a few days.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Wings Gone 'no so' Wild

We went out for some wings and football Sunday night, a relatively new place opened up where Hawks Grille used to be on Bay to Bay Blvd, just west of MacDill Ave. Large open space, high ceilings, lots of flat screen tvs throughout playing all the games. There is also a large outdoor patio, but it was busy with a Bean Bag tournament of sorts...

Grabbing a table inside, the no so friendly server took our drink order, we kind of felt like we were bothering her, the place was not very busy, lots of empty table dfor the Sunday evening. Ordering 16 wings(Garlic Parmesan and Jamaican Jerk), and also an Angus Burger and the Philly Cheese Steak Wrap. All the food came out at the same time, the wings we crispy, and I felt they were ok(nice to have a choice of over a dozen flavors), my buddy thought they were a bit greasy(they are wings though)...the Burger was typical, and looked to be pre-formed, the Philly Cheese Steak wrap, although small in size, was large in flavor and packed with meat. Sides included Sweet Potato Fries, crinkle cut, which were very plain tasting. It took a while for our server to acknowledge us most the night for refills on drinks, and clearing the table, and finally getting us the check to get out of there. All in all, it was an OK sports bar atmosphere with OK sports bar food, maybe a good place to watch a game with a few friends and some chilly ones.

Short week, as I descend to the Florida Keys Wednesday for a LOOONG weekend!!


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Kayaking with the Dolphins

Saturday after taking the Kids to their favorite beach(Picnic Island Park down the street off Westshore), it was time for me to do some exploring...on the Kayak. Decided to take them down to Fort DeSoto Park, and found a spot along the road leading to North Beach where you can park right along the water, and put in...after only kayaking about 15 minutes towards the Gulf along the mangroves in the intracoastal waterway, out of nowhere come a few playful dolphins...they stuck around for a while, giving a nice show, and then just disappeared. There was an abundance of wildlife out today, all kinds of birds, saw a few stingrays in the water, jumping fish of all kinds...and made out to the tip of North Beach, beautiful white sands, very peaceful for a Saturday. On the way back, stopped by a picnic area in Fort DeSoto that was along the water, called Arrowhead Picnic area...nice hiking trails and very wooded area, it was great to take a break from the kayak, and walk around exploring this part of Fort DeSoto i've never seen before. Great day to be out doing anything blue skies, and temps in the upper 70's.

South Westshore Thai

A new Thai restaurant opened up in the 'hood off South Westshore Blvd, about 10 blocks from my house. Jasmine Thai has a couple of other restaurants in the Bay area. An amazing job refurbishing this once Cuban place, and now it is very authentic Thai decor(even some of the decor and settings are from Thailand, according to the Hostess). Very clean, modern, Asian influenced from floor to ceiling. Our very friendly Asian server took our orders, we started with Tom Yum and Wonton Soups..the Tom Yum was very good, a bit spicy and sour, very fresh and flavorful with Chicken, and the Wonton was also very fresh, very thin Wonton skin stuffed with pork, bean sprouts and Asian veges, clear garlic flavored broth. Our meals consisted of Chicken Pineapple Curry - sweet and sour with just the right kick of spice, tender chunks of Chicken, large portion; Garlic and Black Pepper Chicken - huge portion with mixed Asian Veges in a very light sauce; and Crispy basket salad with grilled Chicken - a small sized salad in an edible shell, Asian veges and Greens, thinly sliced Grilled Chicken, and came with several dipping dressings.
We ended dinner with Banana Chips, fresh sliced bananas wrapped in a dough and fried, then drizzled with honey..perfect.
I have never been to Jasmine Thai, but found it to be VERY good, my dinner guests LOVE Thai food, and claimed this was very good. Nice to have another authentic eatery open up in the neighborhood.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Weekend in Tampa Bay!

The weekend actually started on Wednesday, for the monthly Hyde Park Live Music Series, parking on the top of the garage at the Village, there was an amazing sunset that lit up the few clouds in the sky a very bright orange, and cast the same orange glow on the skyscrapers downtown. A few hundred people gathered as usual, listing to good live music in the Village. Afterwards, we all headed over to MacDinton's to watch the reaming 3 innings of Game 5 World Series, that was delayed for two nights due to rain in Philly...and our Tampa Bay Rays were not triumphant against the Philly's losing the Series 4 games to 1. What a Great Season though, and a more promising 2009 for baseball fans in Tampa Bay!

Friday was Halloween, and as I do every year, some friends came over and we sat out on the Front Porch, like my neighbors all do, with some drinks, watching the kids come up for their Trick or Treats, there were about 40-50 kids this 9pm it was all quiet, and we headed out to Sunset Beach, a great little Gulf Front area on Treasure Island where some friends rented a huge beach house...was a great night, the Beach house was excellent, we walked over to Ka'tiki, one of the oldest beach bars in the area...there were a few people still in costumes this Halloween night, even at the beach bars.

Saturday we did a pre-party at my buddies Bayshore Towers condo on Bayshore Blvd, and then went a few blocks north in South Tampa to one of the largest, best annual Halloween parties in the Tampa area. A huge old house, built in the early 1900's, decorated all for Halloween, each room was different...a few hundred people showed up this year, all in costumes...GOOD TIMES!