Thursday, April 22, 2010


Well I am in a new role with my job, and unfortunately do not have the time to update the blog until further notice.

I will say though that I keep myself very busy on the weekends, weather is getting warmer, lots of festivals, and events in and around the Bay area.

I hope to be able to come back time to time on any highlights!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Wow, first apologies, I've received several emails asking where were my updates. Things have been crazy busy with work and life in general, but let me try to sum up some things I've been up to in the Tampa area over the past month since I last posted.

Sunday Feb 28th, went to the last showing of the Broadway Musical 'Wicked' at the Starz Performing Arts Center in downtown Tampa.

Wednesday March 3rd was a good friends birthday, so about 15 of us met up at The Brasserie in downtown St. Petersburg to celebrate, and my friend Rob was playing solo his great tunes. The food here was excellent, we tried the Onion Tart, a large pie shaped Tart, great flavor, perfect to share for two as an appetizer. I had the Burger, a huge juicy Burger with cheese on a soft Onion Roll, and crisp fries. Perfect!!

Saturday, March 6th was the annual Florida Brewers Guild Beerfest held at Centro Ybor...taking the #19 bus from South Tampa, we were able to try over 40 different Florida brewers showcasing their fine brews...$25 gets you a 4oz cup to sample for 4 hours...lots of really good stuff this year. Then it was off to The Forum downtown for a Lightning Hockey game...

Sunday March 7th, was the ending of Gasparilla season, with the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront park, a beautiful day for it in downtown Tampa.

Wednesday a few of us caught my friend Rob again playing at Hula Bay/Dukes on the waterfront, a cool evening with good tunes, and good food.

Saturday the 13th was the annual St Patricks Parade in Ybor. We started at La Terazza's Italian restaurant around 6ish to celebrate a friends birthday...excellent service and food in this small Italian cafe on 7th avenue...then we walked over to Gaspars grotto to watch the parade, a stop in green Iguana, Spurs, Coyote Ugly, Club Czar, and to end the night we munched on some exccellent Tacos at Jalepenos De Ybor.

Sunday was A nice bike ride from Westshore Blvd to Bayshore Blvd along Euclid Ave, and then up Bayshore Blvd through downtown to Ybor City. It was a beautiful day for it.

Monday I was off to NYC for work.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A day in Sarasota

Saturday we went down to Sarasota, about an hour south of Tampa. Met a friend and had some lunch at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar in Bradenton, then went to the Mote Marine Aquarium, which grew in size since the last time I was there....they had a large bird sancutary set up across from the aquarium, and a short walk was the Dolphin, Manatee and Sea Turtle exhibits. After that a short drive to Siesta Key where we walked around the beaches and the Village area, and by evening it was time to meet up with about 10 others for dinner at Tommy Bahamas at St Armands Circle. A great little getaway for the day!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentines Weekend in Tampa

Saturday, although temps were chilly, we went and took a nice drive up Gulf Blvd from Madeira Beach to Clearwater beach, passing by lots of Mom and Pop motels, tourist traps, unique beach bars and shops. On Clearwater beach we stopped at Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, right on the beach. Parking in Frenchy's own parking lot, only holds about 10 cars just beside the restaurant, we were immediately seated, but it was very busy, with a live band playing. Perfect views of the Gulf...we started with the She Crab soup....large chunks of crab in a thick and flavorful soup...munched on Onion Straws, one order is enough for 4, until our regular Grouper Sandwich's came, one grilled the other Cajun style. This place still lives up to its reputation for excellent Grouper Sandwich's...and its a fun place with great views.

Sunday we took the Kayaks out at Picnic Island, it was only in the lo 60s but the sun was shining, and made it a perfect day for Kayaking...we explored a new island near the AirForce Base, lots of wildlife and birds, the water was calm and clear dolphin sitings on this trip though.

Monday after checking out the Academy Award nominee "Crazy Heart" movie, we went over to Hyde Park/SOHO area to enjoy a dining spot I haven't been to in a while, Ciccio's and Tony's. Place was jumping with pretty Hyde park people, the Olympics were playing at the bar area...lively place, LARGE menu they share with the Water sushi place next door. Lettuce Wraps have always been my fav here, so I got the Natural Chicken, and HUGE sliced all natural chicken breast, with plenty of toppings and tasty sauces to make your own wraps. We also tried one of the Stir Fry bowls you can create...very good!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Black Eyed Peas and Hockey - downtown Tampa weekdays

Wednesday eve we went to a long awaited show...the Black Eyed Peas were playing at the Forum downtown Tampa. Parking at the Embassy Suites hotel across the street was convenient, we walked over to Hot Tuna across from the Forum where the DJ was spinning all BEP, and was very crazy we then walked next door to The Hut...again a very busy crowd inside, we hung outside by the bar, and they also had a DJ, but not as entertaining as Hot Tuna. By 8pm, we entered into the Forum, with Club Seat tickets...the show was AWESOME...very entertaining. After the show we were not ready to head home with all the energy from the show, so we walked a few blocks up to the Hub, and cabbing it back home to end the evening at the Green Iguana south westshore...a great Wednesday night.

Thursday the Boston Bruins were in town, so we all went to the Lightning Game...prior to the game we stopped by Malio's for their great Happy Hour Menu...HUGE Ginormous juicy cheeseburgers, some of the best flavor and fresh baked soft onion rolls; Shrimp Theresa in a garlic lemon butter sauce; Mozzarella planks - cheesy and lightly fried; tower of Onion rings - again lightly fried and large portion...each item only $5 each!! We were pleasantly surprised how much food and how great it was...definitely will be back for the Happy Hour menu again. The game was slow go for the Lightning in the first period, but an exciting third period with lots of action, but could not get one last goal to tie it up, and we lost 5-4.


Monday, February 8, 2010

Tampa with Hockey, John Mayer and Pirates!

Another great long weekend started Thursday evening when the Tampa Bay Lightning took on the NY Islanders at the Forum in downtown Tampa. I used to watch and follow the Islanders as a kid, my dad would take me and my brothers to the Nassau Coliseum for games growing up in Long Island. Being in Tampa for about 22 years, I was going for the Lightning tonight, and although a sloppy game, Lightning won 5-2.

Friday was a concert night downtown Tampa. We started at Cafe Dufrain, got a nice table outside overlooking downtown and the Forum along the Channel. Food is consistently GREAT here, started with Lamb Ribs(kind of small, and a little over cooked) and Calamari, cooked perfectly with a great lightly spiced oil. Then we enjoyed Sea Scallops entree, and Ahi Tuna. PERFECT. A short walk across the harbour island bridge to the Forum after dinner was perfect(parking at harbour Island is free in the garage if you dine or use one of the services). John Mayer was awesome, played lots of new and old, talked alot with the crowd of nearly 12000. A walk back to harbour island after the concert, we stopped by the Convention Center along the Riverwalk where the Jose Gaspar ship has been docked all week after taking over the city last Saturday.
And Saturday night was the Night Parade for Gasparilla, the 3rd and final parade for Gasparilla. We got to Ybor City early to visit to partake in the Ybor ART walk which occurs every first Saturday of the month from noon to 6pm, only to find out that may of the studios and galleries were closed, because of the parade this evening. We got to the Laughing Cat for the BEST Italian dinner, and were joined by some other friends....filling up on some of the best Italian food in all of Tampa area..Sea Bass Special, Seafood AuGratin, Eggplant Parmasean, Eggplant Rotini, and some soups....all very very good. By then it was time to hit 7th Avenue for the Parade, and what I like about the night parade is it is more 'intimate'...the floats are closer, the people are not as packed, you can get right up to the front, and get the most beads ever. the 2.5 hour parade was FUN..meeting friends from the Krewes at Gaspars Grotto afterwards, and then late night Pizza and NY NY Pizza.

Im looking forward to the Black Eyed Peas this Wednesday!


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

2010 Gasparilla Weekend! The Invasion and Parade

Friday afternoon started off great, some lunch outdoors along the waterfront at Hula Bay, some Vino in the backyard patio with great friends, and then over to Hyde Park for the Pre-Gaspar festivities. Mateo's new Mexican place was packed, we ended up Valet parking at The Lodge on Howard Ave, and walked around Howard Ave which was hopping by 700pm. We walked over to The Rack on Platt Street for some good eats, have dinner outside, we enjoyed the Lobster/Spinach Dip, with large/soft triangle bread for dipping, then onto the Crunchy Grouper Tacos - Large fried pieces of Grouper in 3 soft flour tortillas, with all the accompaniments, and fries...they were good. And also some Bison Sliders with Cheese/Fries, very juicy and cooked perfectly. It was a great place to start the night.
Then it was a walk across the street to Hyde Park Cafe, where they started a new Friday Night special called "Flip Flop Fridays", and now have a Huge Biergarten with over 60 beers from all over the globe on Tap...also serving Piranellis thin crust pizzas and free wings. The beers are only $10 for a mug and all you can drink from 8-10pm, with a DJ outside in the Biergarten spinning classic dance/alternative tunes from the 80s/90s. It was a fun crowd. Couldn't stay too late, a big day was ahead for Gasparilla.

Saturday morning was very cloudy, breakfast was at a buddies house in Tampa Heights, then we took the #1 Bus (about a dozen of us), to downtown Tampa, first stop was The started raining, but by 4pm the parade had reached downtown and we walked over to Taps in Skypoint...some of us watched the parade from Taps outside under the shelter of a tent set up out front, others braved the rain and wind(it stopped raining by 5pm) with Ponchos on and watched the parade up front, catching beads, meeting lots of folks along the parade route. To end the evening, it was an excellent concert by Collective Soul on the Great lawn of the new Curtis Hixon Riverfront Park.

An excellent Saturday night!! And successful Gasparilla Weekend!

Monday, January 25, 2010

2010 Gasparilla Season Begins and a New Waterfront park in downtown Tampa

Saturday afternoon began an over 100 year tradition in Tampa, GASPARILLA! It runs through March 7th, with the Children's Parades and Pirate Battle/Fireworks today; the Pirates come to try and take over the city on Tuesday 1/26 only to be told by the mayor they will have to go to war for the key to the city---so on Saturday 1/30 they Invade the city by boat(100's of them), and take the key to the city, and have a victory parade and festival. The following Saturday is the night parade in Ybor City, the Outbound Voyage when we send the pirates back to sea is Saturday 2/27, and then the season ends with the Gasparilla Festival of the Arts in downtown Tampa 3/6 and 3/7. GOOD TIMES!!
The fireworks were watched this year with a few friends along Bayshore Blvd near El Prado Blvd, no need to deal with all the crowds further up on Bayshore, it was an amazing 30 minute firework display, and I always get to see some new ones like the smiley face fireworks that went off during the show, all while the Pirate Ship was docked in the Bay along bayshore Blvd. Afterwards, we walked over to mad Dogs and Englishmen for a nice table outside on the deck, and GREAT meals as usual at Mad Dogs--Lamb Chops, Fish and Chips, Mad Dog Salads, Cucumber Salads, and Calamari(which was more breaded this venture for some reason). All paired with some great wines. After dinner, met some friends for a birthday party at Splitsville in Channelside, then a Karaoke party.

Sunday was the grand opening of a new waterfront park in downtown Tampa, and extension of the Riverwalk. After an excellent meal at First Watch...we walked over to Curtis Hixon Park which opened to the public today, very modern, open layout, with a Great lawn for concerts and festivals. It has some very nice modern features, more of a special use park, and front lawn to the new Museum of Art and Children's Museum...there are many water features(fountains, misters), and great lighting effects in the evenings, docking for boats and kayaks along the river. I'm not too happy with what they did with Kiley park area, they removed all the trees and its just open..will be mighty hot in the summers in that area.

And....Looks like it will be the Saints and the Colts in this years Superbowl.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tampa's Gorilla Theater and a Wing Fest in St. Pete

Friday evening, went to check out the independent theater, Gorilla Theater, and a new play that opened up called "The Drunken City". There are quite a few independent small theaters scattered around the bay area, this one is in Drew park area of Tampa, near Raymond James Stadium. A great small place, about 45 seats in three stadium like tiered rows, not a bad seat in the house. A small bar area, and waiting area are comfortable for very inexpensive beers and wines and organic coffee's. The play was funny, and very well done by the cast.

Saturday, we went over to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park along the Bay to check out the 1st Annual Wingfest. About a dozen or so restaurants cooked up all kinds of wings for the tasting...there was live music, and it was a nice breezy sunny day along the waterfront. The Sloppy Pelican, which is in St. Pete Beach, got my vote for the tastiest wings.
In the evening, it was a group of us enjoying some live music and good eats at Hula Bay's Dukes on the lower level area...pouring rain and lightning was the background for a fun night, which ended at the Green Iguana South Westshore.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Friday night in St. Pete; Saturday night in Hyde Park

After work Friday, went over to a friends in the old NE neighborhood of St. Pete, we were planning to go downtown for some eats. We wanted to go to Red Mesa Cantina, but getting there around 830pm, there was over an hour wait...looked like a great scene, live music was playing outside in the courtyard, but it was almost 40 degrees out..brrrrr. So we walked a block over to ZGrille. Nice open modern space, with the kitchen in full view behind the bar. We waited less than 5 mins for a table to be cleared, another great looking scene. Friendly service, we started out with Chips with homemade Guac, Queso, and Salsa - the salsa is the pureed kind, I like mine with chunks of fresh tomatoes, this was good though, we also asked for hot salsa, and for .50 they brought a small side of hot salsa(not sure why they wouldn't just give it to you). The Marinated skirt steak and Rib Eye were our main meals, each came with smashed red potatoes, and a vege(fresh green beans, asparagus). The skirt steak was a very small portion with a pureed chimichurri sauce, not as tender as I would have liked, but it was OK. The RibEye was HUGE, very tender and juicy, flavorful, enough for two. We were pleased with the meal, for some reason our dirty plates remained on the table for quite some time. After dinner it was time to light a fire at home, we were expecting sleet in the morning!!

A cold Saturday greeted us, high temps never got over 40 degrees, and we were expecting another freeze in the evening. It was a friends of mine birthday, so about 8 of us went over to Byblos for excellent Mediterranean/Middle Eastern eats. We all met at the bar, where a very friendly bar tender kept us entertained, suggesting wines and cocktails. At 7pm there were only a few people in the place, by 730 it was getting packed. We had a private table in the bar area, called the 'Mosquito Room" because of the mosquito net above our head, a great area and highly recommended for a party of 6 or more. Food and Wines kept coming, Ive always had such great service and some of the best middle eastern foods at Byblos. By 9pm, we had the belly dancer in our area...some Turkish Coffee to wrap up the great evening, and then it was out in Hyde park for the rest of the night, first to Cork on Howard Ave, watching the rest of the Wild Card playoff games, and enjoying great company, then a walk over to Dubliner.

Sunday, being as cold as it was, I made homemade Italian Wedding Soup, wow, what a pain making over a pound and a half of little tiny meatballs from scratch. GOOD STUFF!!

Hopefully we may see the 70s by Saturday, we are on 10 days of temps below 60 in a row.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy New Year Tampa - Twenty Ten!!

The New Year is here, and is COLD!! For Florida standards, highs in the 50s with lows in the 30s, this upcoming weekend, we may even see some sleet!?

It was a fun New Years weekend in the Bay area, starting out on Wednesday the 30th, about 30 of us all met up at Hula Bay to see my buddy Rob play some great music, and enjoy each others, service, music...all good times. And the views even better along the water front of Tampa Bay.

New Years Eve, it was me and a few others at my friends house in the St. Pete neighborhood of Old NE. Making homemade pizzas, we had alot of fun, and then around 1130, walked down Coffee Pot Bayou to North Straub Park to watch the downtown St. Pete Fireworks at the strike of midnight to welcome in Twenty Ten!

Friday - New Years Day, was a great day for watching the Bowl games, and made a huge lasagna for some close friends, of course watching the move 'The Hangover'.

Saturday night, a few of us met up for dinner at the new Hamburger Marys in Ybor City's Centro Ybor. A great space, large circular bar area, lively music and videos playing...a very large balcony area along 7th Avenue too. Service was fast and friendly, food even better...large salads, tasty and huge wings. Alot of fun to start off the evening. Then it was on to see a great show at the Ritz Theater in Ybor City. Glactic is an amazing Funk band, entertaining and fun..who knew a trombone could be so entertaining...FUN FUN!!! I will always see this band when they are in town.

Sunday to end the weekend, took a friend to the last Bucs game of the season against the Falcons. We lost our last game, but we braved the cold temps(only got to 49 degrees), and were able to enjoy the second half of the game in the Club section, no better way to keep warm and watch the game then the Club area of Ray Jay Stadium.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! GET OUT AND EXPLORE TAMPA BAY!! One of my goals this year is to explore new places to Kayak, Bike, Beach, Dining and Nightlife.