Tuesday, March 31, 2009

15 Days Left to Vote

Come on everyone. I need your vote, even those of you in Australia and Czech Republic (thank you very much for visiting). Pick a restaurant for me to try. Here is the earlier post with the list and some links, if they exist. 

I have listed six restaurants in the left sidebar for you to cast your vote. I have never been to Primi Urban CafeJoJo in Citta, nor Green Chili Indian Bistro. I have been to the Tampa and Sarasota Melting Pot locations. And I have had appetizers or dessert at the remaining two restaurants, Pacific Wave and L'Olivier Bistro, but have not had dinner at either. 

Only two people have voted so far. It is all in good fun, and I will more than likely get to all of these soon anyway.

With that said, Liz, my special friend and culinary expert in Atlanta, voted for ABM... anything but Melting Pot. I fully understand, and it IS the only chain on the list. If you are ever in the Atlanta area, check out Watershed Restaurant. Liz's friend and chef Scott Peacock turns out great food at this Decatur restaurant. The current issue of Saveur listed Watershed as one of the twelve restaurants in the country making a difference. Liz, who I have known for many many years, is an inspiration to me in so many ways, not the least of which is in the kitchen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It's Friday !

After a fairly full day at work, I had to rush to an appointment with my oncologist at Moffitt. (More on that later). Then I visited a high school classmate (Peter Stilton) and his family. I had not seen them since I moved to St. Petersburg, even though they live in north Tampa. Well, Jill, Peter's lovely wife, enticed me to visit with the promise of a jar of her amazing dark chocolate fudge sauce; made from an old family recipe. I couldn't turn that down. Plus I wanted to see them again. Peter is an accomplished artist, and I am fortunate to own a couple of his works. (The large oil painting hangs in my living room and was documented in an earlier post.) Check out Peter's work at Stilton Studio

Dinner tonight was a solo return visit to Buona Vita. I had a nice Caesar salad, and a pasta dish made with fresh, roasted, and sun dried tomatoes. It was good, but far too big of a serving, so I have lunch for tomorrow.

Finally, a brief update from the health desk: It looks like another surgery is in the near future. The previously noted spot on the lung showed up hot on the PET scan, so it must be removed. Date and location to be determined. 


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

POLL: Where should I dine?

I have tried the majority of restaurants in downtown St. Petersburg, but I need your help to pick the next "new" restaurant to try. I have listed six restaurants in the left sidebar for you to cast your vote. I have never been to Primi Urban Cafe, JoJo in Citta, nor Green Chili Indian Bistro. I have been to the Tampa and Sarasota Melting Pot locations. And I have had appetizers or dessert at the remaining two restaurants, Pacific Wave and L'Olivier Bistro, but have not had dinner at either. Now, Melting Pot does not qualify as "downtown" but it is only a short drive away. All the others are within walking distance.

So, what say ye? You pick and I will report on the experience. 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

St. Pete Sunday

It was another busy day in downtown. The Jazz Festival was going strong in Vinoy Park, so you could hear the music all along the bayfront. The city is preparing for the Honda Grand Prix, coming in two weeks, so many of the streets and sidewalks are partially blocked by the race barricades and fences. 

But I opted for a quieter day. Frank joined me for Sunday brunch 
at Red Mesa Cantina, followed by a visit to the Museum of Fine Arts to see the Albrecht Durer exhibit. The exhibit was great, showing a collection of 100 of his amazingly detailed woodcuts. We then stopped at the nearby gelateria before heading back to the loft (aka Bistro 523) for Bouillabaisse. I used lobster, shrimp, tilapia, and mussels and, I must say it came out great. (forgive me for a little boasting). Dessert, while not homemade (or not made by one of us) was a truly excellent cherry pie which I picked up from "Desserts by Millie" at the Saturday Morning Market. Every time I stop at the market, I have to buy something from Millie, even if it is just a couple of cookies. She makes wonderful desserts and is a friend of my good friend, Bob. 

Health update: I had another PET scan on Friday, and am now waiting on the results. The prior CT scan showed a small spot on the lung, the PET will help determine what action is needed. Stay tuned. 

That's all I'm saying !

Saturday, March 21, 2009

OK, Glen, As Requested

My long time (not old) friend, Glen, asked me to post more pictures of St. Petersburg. So I have added a new album to 
Piscasa  (<--click there).

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

S.M.M. Photographs

Here are a couple photographs I took at the Saturday Morning Market last weekend. 

St. Patrick's Day in Italy

Well, not really Italy, but in an Italian restaurant. Yep, it always gets back around to the food, doesn't it. Instead of making the green scene at an Irish pub we went to Buona Vita Ristorante, a fairly new restaurant in (where else) downtown St. Petersburg. Irish, Italian, they both start with an "I". This was our first visit, although we walk by it frequently on the way to other spots in downtown. 

It is a cute spot, with a small bar and a very eclectic mix of tables and chairs. We shared an order of Mussels Vaporett, in a white wine cream sauce. They were very good. For our entrees, Frank had Prosciutto and Cheese Sacchetti, little pasta bags filled with prosciutto and cheese in a pink mushroom cream sauce. I had Gnocchi Al Funghi, potato gnocchi in a mushroom cream sauce. The two sauces were very similar. I think Frank won on the entree selection. My gnocchi were not as tender as I would have liked. The other complaint we both had was that the sauces were too salty. 

We each had a couple bottles of Peroni (Italian beer) in very nice Peroni glasses. We had to have the beer to celebrate St. Patrick's Day, of course.

We will definitely go back. It was good, but not up to Vino e Pasta's standards. 

That's my story and I am sticking to it.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It was a BLAST

My friend, Karen, came over this morning for her first trip to the Saturday Morning Market. After wandering around the market for a while, picking up some cheese, bread, and produce for myself, and a bamboo t-shirt for Karen, we had lunch at Z-Grille. It was a lovely day in St. Pete, and a great day to dine al fresco. We snagged the last sidewalk table, lucky us. 

We shared the BLAST appetizer. (Applewood smoke Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, seared Scallops, and Tomato). There were two large tender,sweet sea scallops and all the components are separate on the plate. The idea is to take a small portion of each item on the fork to combine the flavors. It was very good, and a signature appetizer of the owner/chef, who is a semi-finalist for a James Beard award.

The B.L.A.S.T. was followed by a shared order of crispy and sweet onion rings, and a turkey, brie, and bacon sandwich. My only criticism was the crust on the bread; it was a little too chewy for me. Otherwise, the Z-Grille earned a A.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Verid's Pizza

Topped in Green, White, and Red, the colors of the Italian Flag, the Risorgimento Pizza, came out hot off the pizza stone, for our pre-concert dinner last evening. Frank and I had tickets to the Florida Orchestra production of Verdi's Requiem. But first, dinner. I prepared a pesto, shrimp, tomato, and goat cheese pizza. While the choice of ingredients, and hence the colors, was unintentional, it was definitely appropriate for the concert to follow. 

The orchestra was joined by the 170-voice Master Chorale of Tampa Bay, and a quartet of soloists, for a very nice production. My favorite soloist was the soprano, Indra Thomas, whose strong, and emotional singing closed the concert. Ah, there was actually a fifth soloist, who fortunately only had a one-note part in the concert, a service dog barked once which resulted in a hushed mummer throughout the hall. The concert didn't miss a beat. 

After the concert we met our friend Karen and two of her friends, Steve and Mark. Mark is a member of the Chorale. We ventured to Pacific Wave, they for dinner, us for a glass of wine and an appetizer. This is one restaurant in downtown St. Petersburg which we have not been to before last night, although it has been on our must-do list since before I moved here. Return we must, soon !

That is my story and I am sticking to it !

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Return to V e P

Tonight,  I returned to my favorite Italian restaurant, Vine e Pasta on Gandy Blvd. in Tampa. I don't know why I stayed away so long; this is my first visit since my move to St. Petersburg. Part of the reason is all the good restaurants in St. Pete. But after returning tonight to a wonderful Chicken Marsala, I remembered what I had been missing. It was nice to see the owner, Luis, again, and to be welcomed like a long lost relative. I will not wait another six months to return to Vino e Pasta. 

That is my story, and I am sticking to it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Three Sauces - Another Food Post

Yesterday, I visited my favorite Italian market, Mazzaro's. It is a wonderful shop and I have trouble controlling myself. Many items just jump off the shelf and attach themselves to me with Velcro. So, as I wandered the aisles, I picked us some lovely U-10 (large) sea scallops, a tuna steak, and some fresh ravioli filled with spinach and prosciutto. I had no idea what I was going to do with everything, but it all looked too good to leave in the display cases.

So, tonight, my usual taste tester, Frank, joined me for dinner and I prepared:
Pan Seared Scallops with a lemon butter sauce
Seared (but still rare) tuna with a sherry cream sauce
Spinach and Prosciutto Ravioli with a parmigiano cream sauce.

Get the picture... lots of butter and cream. 

Dessert was Cherry Clafoutis, leftover from Friday night book club. (Also made with cream)

Wine Paring: Willakenzie Pinot Noir

That's all I'm saying !


I had some extra shrimp ravioli last week. I boiled the ravioli as usual, and finished them in some browned butter into which I had added some chopped scallions. The scallions were just slightly caramelized, and with the brown butter gave the ravioli a great flavor. Yummy.