Sunday, March 7, 2010

Seasons 52, Art, and More

A new Seasons 52 opened in Tampa a few weeks ago and I finally visited on Saturday. This is a Darden Group restaurant, but IMHO far superior to their two flagship brands, Olive Garden and Red Lobster. I have dined at the original Seasons 52 in Orlando and another one in Altamonte Springs, so I knew what to expect. The decor is Arts and Craft style, with nice rich wood tones. The service has always been good. The "schtick" is that all entrees are less than 475 calories and their menu changes seasonally. While their calorie claim is accurate, don't look at the nutritional breakdown for sodium levels, although I think we would be shocked by the sodium levels in most restaurants. 
I have not had a bad meal at Seasons 52 and Saturday was no exception. Frank and I started with a shared Grilled Steak and Cremini Mushroom Flatbread appetizer, which was very thin and tasty. Frank ordered the Spicy Chicken Chile Relleno, with goat cheese, which was very good, and just the right amount of bite. I enjoyed the Grilled Boneless Rainbow Trout; moist with a nice grilled flavor. For dessert we each had one of their "shot-glass" sized desserts, just the right amount of sweet to finish a nice meal. 
We paired our meal with a couple glasses of Honig Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley. 

After lunch, we headed to what my friend Liz refers to as Whole Paycheck Foods to shop for dinner ingredients. Shopping on a full stomach helps, but I wanted to cook, so we probably had more than needed after the nice lunch. We decided on a shrimp dish that we prepared in a cooking class at a B&B in Fernandina Beach, FL many years ago. Appropriately, we found some U-15 shrimp at Whole Foods that were labeled as Mayport Shrimp, so we are of the opinion they were from the waters off Mayport, FL, near Fernandina Beach. How neat ! We also fixed asparagus risotto as the side dish. Here is a non-exact recipe for the shrimp, since I really don't know how much of anything I used - other that about 3/4 of a pound of large shrimp for two people.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter in a saute pan
While heating, add a smashed clove of garlic, for a minute or so, to flavor the oil. (Don't let the garlic burn)
Remove the garlic, and add the shrimp. Be careful not to crowd the shrimp.
Cook for a couple of minutes on each side, until they start to brown. Do not overcook the shrimp
When almost done, add the juice from 1/2 - 1 lemon, add 1 minced garlic clove, season with salt and pepper, and finish with some chopped fresh Italian parsley. Cook together for one minute more, and serve immediately.

Art Sunday:
Today, Frank and I met Paul and Libby (of Paul and Libby's World of Travel fame), and the new proud parents of a baby girl, Emerson, at the new Tampa Museum of Art. The new contemporary building is a dramatic improvement over the old building. The exterior space around the museum is much better utilized with a public park, children's playground, and a dog park. Next door, still under construction, it the Tampa Children's Museum, This area of downtown was previously blocked from views of the river, but the new arrangement opens up the river, with views of the University of Tampa. 
The Museum itself seems to have less gallery space, but what there is, is well utilized. You enter a two story atrium with a center stairway to the gallery space, and a Calder mobile hanging from the ceiling. A nice first impression I say. The grand opening exhibit is A Celebration of Henri Matisse. focusing on his printmaking more so than the paintings we usually associate with him. It was a large (170 pieces) exhibit which included a number of wonderful line drawings. The exhibit is well worth a visit. 
As an aside, Paul, and all of us were pleased to see Ellsworth Kelly's "Black with White Triangle" painting in the museum. Kelly is one of Paul's favorites (feel free, my friend, to add any comments)
We had lunch at the SONO Cafe, operated by Mise en Place. While the menu is primarily sandwiches and salads, they are inventive and very good. Click ---> menu, to view the full menu.
We concluded our Art Sunday with a stroll through the Gasparilla Festival of Art, beginning in the park next to the museum and extending to Ashley Drive. I purchased a wonderful piece of art glass to add to my small collection. I will post a photograph of the new acquisition at another time. 
This was a great weekend of food and art, and sharing with good friends. A perfect day in paradise.


bsgatal said...

Hi Richard,

Thank you so much for your blogs. You are my map and food critic to all the place's that my husband and I go to visit. And you seem to be right on with them all!! Keep up the good work. We are following you!!!!lol. So glad to hear your doing well!!! Saffi say's hello.

Take care,


Dick said...

Linda, nice to hear from you. Happy you are enjoying my blog. I am glad you mentioned Saffi, as I would not have made the connection to you from your login. Stay in touch.