Saturday, January 31, 2009

Happy Birthday, Carol S.

Frank and I headed to Mount Dora, FL after work last evening to partake in the 70th birthday celebration of our good fried Carol. Due to the drive time, we arrived after the party started, but we did not miss out on the good food, wine, and festivities with forty or so of Carol's friends and family. My favorite item from the extensive selections of food was the mini lobster rolls; mini rolls, not mini lobster. After a "breakfast" of superb popovers, fresh fruit and assorted party leftovers, we headed home. Tonight I fixed an asparagus risotto, that was very tasty.

Health Update: For those who may not know, my next surgery is scheduled for Tuesday, February 3 (just a few days away). I will be at Tampa General for a couple of day, then home to recover. Stay tuned for further updates after the surgery.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's A Hurricane

... as in The Hurricane Seafood Restaurant, an old standby at Pass A Grill beach. It was my lunch stop today as I was out on my familiarization tour with my new camera. Amazingly, considering how long I have lived in the Tampa area, this was my first visit to this landmark restaurant. I had to grouper sandwich and it was tasty. I sat outside, overlooking the beach, with a nice breeze blowing off the gulf. 

Russian - Part Two

A week has passed since my last post due to a lack of inspiration or significant activity other than the normal work week. But the weekend is here and, as usual, there were things to do in St. Petersburg. Yesterday was capped with The Florida Orchestra performance of Russian composers: 
RIMSKY- KORSAKOV: Suite: Legend of the Invisible City of Kitezh
RACHMANINOFF: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, with pianist Peter Rosel
MUSSORGSKY/ASHKENAZY: Pictures at an Exhibition

A rousing performance, it was, and the pianist was great. As my "cheap seats" are in Row 1 we were looking up at the pianist and the underside of the piano. While a little too close, it was an opportunity to get an "up close and in person" view of the orchestra. Note to Mahaffey Theatre: dust the stage. Note to 1st violinist: A little polish on the shoes would be nice.
Earlier in the afternoon, when Frank arrived from Clearwater, we stopped at Red Mesa Cantina for a drink and appetizers. I tried two more of the soft tacos; ahi tuna and pork. Both were very tasty. We then wandered through the Art Festival at Baywalk before retuning to the loft for a wonderful (if I may brag a little) dinner of Pork Roast with Pears and Leeks. The entree was finished with a mustard cream sauce. I served wild mushroom risotto cakes as a side, utilizing some leftover risotto from earlier in the week. Frank selected, from the wine chiller, a bottle of St. Supery Virtu to accompany the meal. Very yummy !!!
Today, I plan on taking my new camera, a Canon xsi dSLR, for a test run, although I am not sure where I will go. 
I meet with my surgeon next Wednesday, so hope to have an update of the pending surgery sometime later in the week.
BTW... have I mentioned lately how much I enjoy living in "'DOWNTOWN" St. Pete.
That is my 2 cents!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bravo! Russian Cantina

It was a very busy weekend, it was. The title of the post is not a single item/event, but representative of three, count them, three separate happenings. In order they are:
1. Saturday: Dinner at Yummy Momma, a fairly new Russian restaurant on 4th Ave N. A very strange name it is. The results were mixed; forgettable Georgian (as in Eastern Europe Georgia), just OK Russian Beet Salad; and very good Beef Stroganoff for me, Chicken Kiev for Frank. We will return, but we are not "Russian" back.
2. Saturday: The Merry Widow: Bravo to the Saint Petersburg Opera Company (Florida that is; who knew we had an opera company here) for a fine production of The Merry Widow. While not The Met, it offered a fun evening with good singing and good music. I am looking forward to their next production in June.
3. Sunday: The Red Mesa Cantina opened their doors a week ago, and as I was flaneuring about town this afternoon, I stopped in for lunch. I had a glass of sangria (OK but not up to Ceviche's standards), a duck and goat cheese soft taco, a fried shrimp soft taco, and a Mexican Chocolate brownie, with Chipotle Chocolate gelato and strawberries soaked in Patron. The small tacos are priced between 3:50 - 4:00 each, with two or three making a nice portion. The menu is a inventive take on standard Mexican and Southwestern fare. My tacos were very tasty and the dessert was yummy and enough to share, but I ate the whole thing. Full entrees run $10 - $18. I will return to continue my testing of their menu. 

That is my 2 cents !

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Round Two

Health Update: I had a roller coaster couple of weeks from a health standpoint. After a PET scan, the doctor identified a "suspicious" spot in my neck. As a result the interferon treatment was delayed until this issue was resolved. This past Monday, it was back to Moffitt for a ultrasound and needle biopsy. The results came back positive, so it is back to surgery sometime in February for the removal of more lymph nodes. Not the news I wanted to hear, but I can't change it. I am intent on beating this beast, it just may take awhile. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


Dateline: Sarasota, FL. January 10, 2009
At first I thought I was at Daytona Beach for Bike Week, but alas, I was in Sarasota for Bike Weekend (or something like that). The tranquility of Main Street, Sarasota, was interrupted frequently by the sights and sounds of motorcycles passing by. While the noise was a little annoying, it did not hinder our enjoyment of spending an afternoon and early evening in downtown. The primary purpose of this day-trip was to visit Sur La Table, a wonderful kitchenware store. Neither Frank nor I had been to one before. Great fun, I say. I bought a mandoline, not the stringed instrument, but the slicing, dicing, julienning wonder. We roamed around downtown, stopping for an early glass of wine at Cafe Epicure, then drove to St. Armand's Circle for a walk, then back to Main Street for dinner at Mattison's City Grille, whose owner/chef is highly regarded. We had a nice meal dining al fresco amid the aforementioned motorcycle sounds. Frank had a spinach ravioli and I had roast duck. Both were very good. It was then back to Cafe Epicure for gelati, followed by coffee at the nearby bookstore/cafe, before returning to St. Petersburg.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Picture This !

Tonight I attended my first meeting of The Photographic Art Society of Florida. This is a group of professional and amateur photographers who meet monthly to share and critique members' photographs, and learn photographic and editing techniques. My friend, Clyde, a very good "amateur" photographer, recommended the club to me. Each month the club has a different topic for the meeting and tonight the topic was "A Place to Rest." We viewed over eighty images of varying quality of chairs (Adirondacks were very popular), benches, beaches, lawns, and others places to rest. The meeting has inspired me to work on my photography again.

Health update: My interferon treatment has been delayed while the doctors at Moffitt investigate a couple of other "areas of interest". More info to follow.

Remember: Click on the underlined links in the post to see additional information about the item/person.

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Wow, another year has passed and so quickly it seems. I had some great travels in 2008; to Las Vegas, then to Italy, and finally to Santa Fe. I sold the bungalow on Suwanee and moved to downtown St. Petersburg, which has been a wonderful change for me. I have found new restaurants and dined at many old favorites. While the economy has tanked, I am still employed and able to enjoy life with my two lovely feline friends, Paolo and Lucia.  I have a great network of friends and family, whose friendship and support I truly appreciate. My best friend, Frank, and I have enjoyed food, concerts, travel, and just sharing good times together throughout the year. We ended the year at "First Night" in downtown St. Petersburg attending ragtime piano, opera, jazz, and harp performances. We stopped for a glass of wine and a snack at L'Olivier (a cute little French creperie), and toasted the new year with fireworks over Tampa Bay. 
In the new year, I hope to see an improved economy for everyone and I am looking forward to the new Obama administration. From a personal perspective, while I have some medical issue to face, I am looking forward to a continuation of my enjoyment of life. I plan on celebrating my approaching 65th birthday (OMG, say it isn't so), with a trip with Frank to Buenos Aires, Argentina; a new experience for me. My wish for all of you is a healthy and happy 2009.

Douglas Pagels