Saturday, September 27, 2008

Food is an important part of a balanced diet.
Fran Lebowitz

Toasted in Tampa

Seven glasses of wine, full stomachs, and almost three hours after arrival, Frank and I departed Toasted Pheasant Bistro on (far) North Dale Mabry. The special wine dinner was one of the restaurant's monthly events and the first we have attended. The chef prepared a five course meal with a different wine selected for each course. We arrived a little early, so we had our first glass of wine at the bar; not included in the fixed price menu. The first "official" glass was on the outside patio followed by the dinner and wine inside. The menu is included, just click on the menu to enlarge. The meal was proceeded by an overview of the menu by the chef and a discussion of the wines by the wine merchant.

My favorites: 
White: Remy Pannier Vouvray - light refreshing with just a hint of sweetness - it was a nice aperitif.
Red: Stormhoek Pinotage from South Africa - a medium bodied fruity wine which paired nicely with the Petite Osso Buco.
Food: All good, but the Petite Osso Buco was my favorite. It was fall-off-the-bone tender, served in a nice light broth over a small bed of mashed potatoes and carrots. The chef, during his introduction of the menu, encouraged us to toss our manners away and pick up the osso buco and eat it with our fingers. 

This was a lovely evening, with good food, good wine and good service. I will return to Toasted Pheasant Bistro. 

... and we both made it back safely to our respective residences.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Food: (Part 2) Tap Tap Tapas

Tonight I walked (yes, walked) about 10 blocks to Ceviche, the St. Petersburg location of the Tampa based Spanish tapas restaurant. I actually dined at a sidewalk high-top table at Pincho y Pincho, their adjacent coffee shop and bar. The menu is the same, and it was a beautiful night with cool (yes, I said cool, but that is relative to the temperatures earlier in the day) breezes coming off the bay. With my two glasses of sangria, I enjoyed two tapas: grilled salmon with leeks in a saffron cream sauce and fresh (don't think canned) anchovies with minced onion and tomato on toasted baguette slices. Yes, they were very good, thank you very much! 

I then enjoyed a leisurely stroll home, up Central Avenue, people watching along the way. It was another nice day in my new city.

Food: Shrimp in the Wild

While running errands today, I stopped for lunch at the Wild Shrimp Company, a small walk-up stand on the corner of Central Avenue and 20th Street at the edge of Haslam's Book Store parking lot. It would be easy to miss, and even if noted, you may not be tempted to stop. If you drive on by, you are missing one of the "Best of the Bay" restaurants, using that term loosely. Walk up to the window, place your order, and enjoy the food at one of the two umbrella topped plastic tables fronting Central Ave. 

I had the po' boy loaded with lighted breaded, deep fried, sweet wild gulf shrimp. It was served on a fresh hoggie roll with lettuce, tomato, and a tangy grainy mustard and mayo sauce. Yummy, I say. 

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Art in the Loft

This is a closeup of a favorite painting that I am fortunate to own, titled "Embers of Venice" The artist, Peter Stilton, was a high school classmate of mine, who I reconnected with last year when I learned he lived in Tampa. To see more of Peter's work, check out Stilton Studio. And by the way, Peter's wife, Jill, makes the all time best dark chocolate fudge sauce.

"Essentially this is an abstract work in gold and copper leaf squares and rectangles of burnt sienna, orange, and blue paint. Almost like the Plexiglas overlays I used in earlier paintings, black silhouettes of peopled gondolas and Venetian buildings float over the under-painting. With a bamboo stylus I depicted St. Mark’s, Sta. Maria Maggiore, S. Simeon Piccolo, the Ca d’Oro, and the Rialto Bridge. Venice is a voyage, and here the viewer can float over its domes and campanile" - Peter Stilton

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Art and Food

... or is it Food and Art. Well tonight it was both. The Downtown Arts Association hosts the Second Saturday Gallery Walk where a number of galleries stay open until 9 PM on the second Saturday of each month. So, gallery walk I did, stopping at only three of the locations; Florida Craftsmen, The ArtLoft, and Glass Canvas. The latter was my favorite since I love art glass. This gallery carries all types of glass work from artists around the country. I found a number of pieces I liked, including a twelve to fifteen inch stack of multi-colored fused glass rectangles that changed color and appearance as you walked around the art. But alas, a purchase was not to be (at least not right now). I then walked to Straub Park and the Fine Arts Museum for a quick look in the Museum Store, before heading back home. 

On the way up Central Ave, I decided to stop in Bella Brava for a glass of wine and a artisanal cheese platter. My Echelon Pinot Noir paired nicely with the four cheeses and cranberry compote. It was a lovely way to finish an evening in my new city.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Food: St. Pete Sushi

Dinner tonight was at 9 Bangkok Thai Restaurant 571 Central Ave, St. Peterburg. I have been there three times since I moved here, so I must like it. Tonight was sushi, fresh and tasty. I have also enjoyed their Thai entrees, such as Crispy Duck Curry. The service is prompt and the staff friendly. And it is only four block from the loft. 

Name Change

I have decided to change the name of my blog to "The Urban Flaneur". The old (all of a couple of weeks old) name did not really sit well with my inner self. And as one dear friend mentioned, it reminded her of an American Express commercial.

So why "The Urban Flaneur" you ask? It represents a vision of what I would like to be; that is a person living in an urban environment who wanders aimlessly around their city, or any city.

" A flaneur is a stroller, a loiterer, someone who ambles through a city without apparent purpose, but is secretly attuned to the history of the place and in covert search of adventure, aesthetic  or erotic." ... The Flaneur by Edmund White. 

The content will not change and your options to read or not read remain the same. And, as always, you comments are welcomed.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My City: A Book (store) Review

This afternoon I walked to the Barnes and Noble at the St. Petersburg Campus of USF. It is smaller than a standard B&N, but it has all the essentials including a Starbucks. The book selection is good, but not as many choices as a standard store. Although it had all the current best sellers and a good selection of other options throughout the store. Since it is the campus bookstore, the hours are also non-standard, which, in my opinion, is the only negative. They close at 6 PM on Sunday. That is my 2 cents.

A Lofty Dinner

Last night I had my first dinner guests. The Doctors Tuten (aka Paul and Libby). Well, technically my second, since Frank and I ate the first meal at the new dining room table last Sunday. Frank arrived earlier in the day to help me complete the last IKEA construction project; adding the glass doors to the bookcase. It looks great - pictures to follow at a later date. 
Back to last evening: After feasting on the antipasto platter (ingredients from Mazzaro's - see prior post), pecorino cheese drizzled with honey and a really tasty and smooth Gorgonzola and mascarpone  cheese, we sat down to a salad of fresh figs, arugula and bibb lettuce complements of Frank. The entree was a simple angel hair pasta with fresh eggplant in a tomato, garlic and red wine sauce. Since the menu was Italian, we opened the bottle of Casa Emma Chianti that accompanied me on my return journey from Italy last June. Dessert was a lemon panna cotta with fresh raspberries. 

An Italian Treasure

I have found an Italian treasure in St. Petersburg. While not within walking distance, Mazzaro's Italian Market is only a ten minute drive, and worth the short trip. I made my first visit yesterday and was impressed by the variety and quality of their merchandise. The store is a large multi-room affair, with fresh meats, seafood, produce, pastas, prepared foods, etc. etc. They have a separate wine room with tastings on Saturday, which will have to be on my list for a future visit. There is a coffee bar, (they roast their own coffee beans) and a outdoor patio when you can enjoy their food.

I picked up a selection of grilled veggies, meats and cheeses for an antipasto tray, some fresh angle hair pasta, and a wonderful large round loaf of Tuscan bread.

Needless to say, I will return to this wonderful market. 

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Four Blocks

Why do I like living in this city? Well, within four blocks of easy walking, I have a number of good restaurants, including Thai with a sushi bar, an Italian (must have Italian), a deli, and others. I also have the Barnes and Noble bookstore at the St. Petersburg campus of USF, my local (albeit small) Publix, and CVS Pharmacy in the same four block range. Only a few more blocks and I can expand my selection of other restaurants,and find art galleries, museums and shops. Now that the boxes are almost all unpacked, and the final pieces of furniture are nearing completion, I will begin the exploration of downtown St. Petersburg.  

... and the car stays in the garage.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Finally, after some difficulty with mismatched directions and parts, the IKEA dining room was completed. Frank and I inaugurated the table with a wonderful eggplant pasta entree and arugula & fig salad.

Paolo and Lucia

My dear children, Paolo and Lucia have transitioned successfully to the new digs. After a week of hiding under the bed, they have migrated to sleeping on top of the bed.