Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Something is Fishy

Frank and I had another successful Christmas Eve dinner. We again prepared the "Feast of 7 Fishes", an Italian tradition. We started at 3PM and finished eating the last dish about 8 PM, We took a leisure approach with the preparation and consumption of one dish at a time.We also took a couple of short cuts to keep it simple and relaxed. In my understanding of the feast you have to use 7 different sea foods (not just swimming little fishes). We had a great fun time with good food. So here is the menu, in the order of preparation and consumption.

  1. Anchovies and Sardines on crostini (counts as two fishes)
  2. Clam Chowder (prepared by Fresh Market)
  3. Crab Meat Salad
  4. Sauteed shrimp served over spaghetti 
  5. Seared Sea Bass served on a bed if wilted radicchio with Yukon Gold potatoes
  6. and finally, Seared Sea Scallops
We served smaller portions of each item so we could get through all 7 dishes. But even with our best effort, we never made it to the non-fish cheese course which we had planned for our dessert. After 5 hours of cooking and eating we were full, and tired. But it was worth it.


As Frank pointed out and I would agree: We will fix the "Feast of 7 Fishes" again, but neither of us are ready to attempt the alternate Italian Christmas Eve tradition, the "Feast of 13 Fishes"


That is all I'm Saying.


Happy New Year everyone.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and a Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Los Angeles and Anaheim

Here is a set of pictures from our November 2011 journey to the L.A area. You have read the script (my blog) and now you can see the movie (OK, a set of 26 photographs). I hope you enjoy the album. Just click Mickey's Ferris Wheel to view.


LA 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Rest of the Story

It is now Monday in Anaheim and the last day of the trade show for Frank at 1:00 PM. Since we were now paying for our room, I had booked a room with a Disney Fireworks view for our last 3 nights. We only got to view them from the room one night, but it was fun to watch away from the crowds.


We had reservations at Napa Rose for dinner on Monday night. The restaurant is on the first floor of the Grand Californian Hotel on Disney property. The hotel is very similar to the Wilderness Lodge at WDW, but the decor is Arts and Crafts. The restaurant is comparable to the California Grill at the Contemporary Hotel. We enjoyed a drink in the fireplace room, off the lobby before heading to our dinner reservation. 


We started our meal with a shared appetizer of seared sea scallops in a lobster sauce - very nice. Frank ordered the venison chops, tender and cooked to Frank's desired doneness. While I selected the Duck Confit. Both dishes were good although the duck lacked a depth of flavor I would expect. (Yes, the food snob is here again). Frank won the prize for selecting the best dish of the evening. We concluded the evening with a cheese plate - just OK, but still a nice finish to the meal.


Tuesday; We purchased a 1-day Park Hoper pass so we could visit both parks on the same day, Disneyland and California Adventure. Frank had to wheel me around in a wheelchair or I would not have made even one park. Thank you my Friend. It was embarrassing, but I swallowed my pride and let him push away. We did managed to ride a few "easy" rides plus Frank rode solo on the Matterhorn bobsled ride. 


We had lunch at Wine Country Trattoria Restaurant in the California Adventure park where I had Penne Bolognese and Frank opted for the Goad Cheese Mixed Green Salad. After lunch we moved from California Adventure area to Disneyland where we rode more rides including Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (that's my speed) and the Haunted Mansion among others. Dinner was in the Grand Californian Hotel at Hearthstone Lounge, off the hotel lobby. We shared two Blue Cheese Hamburger Sliders and a Cheese Plate.


Wednesday was a fun and interesting day. We booked a full day mini-bus tour of LA and Hollywood with pick-up at the hotel - nice. We toured through much of the city with stops at Hollywood Blvd, (Walk of Fame, Grauman's Theatre, and a view of the Hollywood sign above the city), The Farmers Market (lunch), and Marina del Rey. We drove down Sunset Blvd and Rodeo Drive and through some of the residential street of Hollywood. It was a good overview tour of the area.


Wednesday evening,to complete our journey to Anaheim we returned to Orange Hill Restaurant, see PCH post from earlier in the trip. The view was so nice and the food very good that we wanted to conclude the trip with those memories. I selected the Prime Rib and Frank opted for the Filet Mignon, Both meals were very nice, but someone needs to get a handle on portion control. My prime rib was listed as 3/4 pound, while Frank's Filet had to be at least that much. Way too much food.


Friday was spent at airports and on airplanes returning to Tampa. Our flights were both FULL but uneventful - a good thing I would say.


It was a fun trip., Frank's first to Disneyland and my first return visit to Disneyland since the mid-50's not long after it opened. 


That's all I am Saying

Friday, November 18, 2011

Home Again

I arrived home last night about 12:30 AM after a flight back from Anaheim.  Both legs of the flight were delayed due to passenger boarding issues. Customers were asked to check their "carry on" luggage as the flights were FULL, and there would not be enough room in the overhead space. Since some of the people could not grasp that concept, they were lugging on their large roll-aboards onto the flight and having to check it anyway. Oh, well, that is how it goes when you are flying these days. Now, it is happy blog time (no whining).

Next, first three days of dining.

Friday: After Frank finished with Day 1 of the trade show, we had dinner at Tony Roma's Restaurant close to the hotel. Enough said about that.

Saturday: This was covered in the PCH post a few days ago, so I will jump ahead to Sunday.

On Sunday, I had lunch at Rainforest Cafe (don't bother) at Downtown Disney and walked around the shopping area for a while. The best part of the day was meeting up with a second cousin, Abigail,  who is now living in Hollywood in search of stardom. Before moving to LA she spent 3 years as a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader which is quite an accomplishment. She just finished filming a movie with Adam Sandler (small part - Abi, not Sandler) which will be released next summer. I wish her well - she deserves it.

Abi picked me up at my hotel and she drove us to the foothills east of town to Orange County Mining Company, which has similar spectacular views of the valley like last nights dinner at Orange Hill Restaurant. Abi ordered a pasta primavera and I opted for the Scallops sauteed in a mustard cream sauce.   My only criticism is that the scallops should have been seared, not sauteed. We enjoyed the meals but as with Orange Hill Restaurant, the view stole the show. It was nice spending an evening with Abi - the last time I saw her was at her high school graduation party.

I will catch up on the rest of trip over the next few days. But while you are waiting, here is a shot of Abi and me at the restaurant.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

PCH

On Saturday, I took a nice drive from Long Beach south on route CA 1 also known as Pacific Coast Highway. It was a chilly,windy, and occasionally damp day but it was a nice drive, none the less. I drove through a number of Southern California beach communities, including Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach and ending in Dana Point before heading to Anaheim on I-5. My favorite was Laguna Beach which had a quaint main drag and plenty of restaurants. I stopped for lunch at Rock'N Fish. I had a nice cup of clam chowder and a large shrimp cocktail. The chowder was very good as were the shrimp.

Frank and I had dinner at the Orange Hills Restaurant about 10 miles from the hotel, high on a mountainside overlooking the lights of the greater L A area. Frank ordered a filet mignon and I opted for the bouillabaisse. The food was good but was overshadowed by the sparkling lights of the city.

O'Dark :30

O'Dark :30 is way too early to have to get up like we did Friday morning. We had a 6:00 AM departure from Tampa to Anaheim, CA,which involved a 3:00 AM wake-up call. Frank is participating in another trade show and I am hanging around the Anaheim area relaxing. We are staying at a Red Lion hotel across the street from Disneyland. It is strange walking out of the hotel and see the CA version of the Tower of Terror rising above the tree tops and other hotels. The parks here, being Disney's first, do not have the open expanse of vegetation that we find at the Florida complex. We plan on a visit to Disneyland on Tuesday after the trade show is over

Friday, October 28, 2011

FSS in Philadelphia


Friday Saturday Sunday (<---  click to view site) is open on Monday. Fortunately for us since we had reservations at this Center City Philadelphia restaurant for dinner last Monday. We just returned from a short visit to our friend Deirdre. We took a recommendation from our friend Liz blog Never Trust a Skinny Cook and booked at this long established restaurant.  It was great. There were 5 of us in the group, Frank, Deirdre, me and two other friends from my Ireland trip with Deirdre, a few years ago. All agreed the food and service was really good. I had the "rack of lamb" basically two of the thickest chops I have ever had and cooked to a perfect medium rare. Frank had the butternut squash ravioli in a sage brown butter sauce - loved it. Fran ordered the steak, again cooked perfectly, to which she proclaimed, "This is the best steak I have ever eaten". Els, (Fran's sister) had the crab cakes - another winner. Unfortunately I don't remember what Deirdre had, but she liked it too. (Bad memory).

The ladies had the coconut cream pie (Wow! I had a taste) and Frank and I split the bread pudding.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was a great suggestion, Liz. Thank you. And thanks to Deirdre for the wonderful hospitality during our visit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kool Beanz

When in Tallahassee, FL try Kool Beanz Cafe. Frank and I had dinner there last Monday and had a very nice meal in a cool funky setting. People were waiting on the patio for a table by the time we left. The restaurant was packed attesting to it's #3 out of 242 Trip Advisor rating in Tallahassee.


We started with a shared appetizer of Escargot in a garlic butter sauce - very good. Frank followed this with the Boneless Duck Breast in an Ancho-Cranberry sauce which he enjoyed. I opted for the Linguini, with crawdads, tasso ham, mushrooms, roasted garlic cream sauce - which was very good but could have used a few more crawdads. However there was definitely enough food on the plate.


The decor was bright and colorful, the food was very tasty, and the service was good. We recommend Kool Beanz Cafe.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

CORRECTION to "The Spoon is Still Saucy" post

I made an error in my post yesterday about the Saucy Spoon. The special wine paring dinner was on Tuesday September 27, not Monday the 26th. They are normally closed on Tuesday except for special events like this.. Bottom line, the Saucy Spoon is open on Monday and closed on Tuesday. (Thanks to Carol for catching this error)


Check the Saucy Spoon website to verify opening hours and days.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Spoon is Still Saucy

My last visit to Saucy Spoon was in November 2010 when it was in a different location and only open part time. They are now downtown and open 6 days a week, I happened to be visiting friends in Mount Dora who suggested we go to the Saucy Spoon at their recently opened downtown location for a special 6 course menu with Wine Parings on Monday September 26, (normally not open on Mondays). This was a special event so might not be a fair comparison, but from the time we opened the door until we left a couple of hours later, everything was wonderful. 
As in my prior visit, the food and service were both great. The nice wine parings were coordinated with Maggie's Attic (also in downtown Mount Dora). A representative was present to discuss each wine and answer questions.


The new space is very nice, warm and inviting. A nice evening all around and I will definitely make a return visit.

The following is the menu from the dinner:
  • Fresh Mozzarella wrapped in  prosciutto and basil topped with a Balsamic drizzle
    • Served with Ruffino Proseco
  • Artisan Greens with Smokey Blue Cheese, Blackberries, and caramelized onions and white balsamic dressing.
    • Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (Spit Fire vineyards)
  • Salmon en Papillote
    • Hogue Reserve Chardonnay
  • Pork with Port Wine Cherry Sauce
    • Simi Pinot Noir
  • Beef Tenderloin Medallion with nutmeg-coffee rub
    • Franciscan Magnificat (Meritage Oakville Estate)
  • Pear & Blue Cheese Tart
    • Inniskillin Pearl Vidal Ice-wine

Thursday, September 15, 2011

M-I-C-K-E-Y

MOUSE

We paid a visit to the House of Mouse last weekend for a two night stay at the Wilderness Lodge. We didn't spend any time in the parks, just a relaxing visit to the lovely hotel. We were hoping for cooler weather in the Pacific Northwest, but of course we were only in central Florida. However the hotel was always chilly, so I guess we got our cooler weather after all. Nor do we have any pictures from this journey. But we did enjoy some good food, which should be no surprise to our friends and readers of this blog. 

We started the weekend with a drink in the Territory Lounge in the hotel where we enjoyed a couple of drinks and shared a wonderful cheese plate. The plate included a Rogue Creamery Blue Cheese, a Smoked Gouda, and a Drunken Goat Cheese. We enjoyed it so much we went back the next evening. Oh, and the drinks were good too.

Friday night dinner was at Artist Point, the Wilderness Lodge's Signature restaurant which continues the Pacific Northwest theme of the hotel.

We shared The Chef's Garden Heirloom Tomato Salad with a Mozzarella Foam. The foam didn't add much to the salad, but the rest of the salad was very good. For my main course I ordered the Pan-seared Alaskan Halibut and Frank opted for the Pan-Seared Scallops. Both were very good. For dessert we shared a wonderful mixed berry cobbler.

Saturday was a very relaxing day. We had a quick breakfast at Roaring Fork (walkup - no table service). We relaxed and read on the rocking chairs in front of the massive lobby fireplace, before heading out to the Contemporary Hotel for lunch at Wave, a casual contemporary restaurant on the registration level of the hotel. I ordered the Bison Burger. While it is not as juicy as a ground chuck beef burger, it was very enjoyable with a nice flavor. Frank opted for a good Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich.


Back at the Wilderness Lodge, we spent the time relaxing and reading. Our dinner reservation at the California Grill on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort was for 9:25PM so we had plenty of time to kill. Early evening we found our way back to the Territory Lounge for a repeat of the night before, a drink and that great cheese plate.


Our reservation was late and the only time available after 8PM since I was hoping to be in the dining room in time for the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. If you are dining in the California Grill you can access an outdoor viewing area adjacent to the restaurant. Well it wasn't meant to be this day - the Magic Kingdom closed at 7 and the fireworks were cancelled. 


That was OK as we had a very enjoyable meal and could still see all the lights around the WDW property while we dined.


For a starter, we shared Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Pesto, Shiitake Mushrooms and Basal. Very nice. Frank ordered the Grilled Red Snapper served with crab risotto (really good). I enjoyed my entree of Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Goat Cheese Polenta --- yummy. We were both so full that we passed on desert,


This was a great relaxing getaway and worked out well as Frank had a trade show in Orlando on Friday. While Frank work at the trade show, I had a opportunity to visit my cousin Carolyn and her husband, Gary, for a few hours. We had a nice visit and a casual good lunch at First Watch. Thanks guys, 


We both enjoyed the hotel, (my 2nd stay, and Frank's first). As usual we enjoyed the food, especially the two signature restaurants. No surprises there.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cruise Phoographs

Click on the Norwegian Sky to view album on Picasa.
Enjoy !




NCL Cruise - August 2011

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Sky is the Limit

That would be the Norwegian Cruise Line’s Sky sailing out of Miami. This was a 3-night cruise from Miami with Saturday docked at NCL’s private beach island, Great Stirrup Cay. We spent that day onboard the ship relaxing, touring the ship some more and (of course) eating. Sunday we were in port at Nassau after a high-speed transit to Nassau. Someone on board had a medical emergency and the ship needed to be picking up speed to arrive earlier in Nassau. We went out on deck to watch the light chop go flying by.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this was my first cruise and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Yes, I, who has resisted cruising for years, actually had a really good time. Thanks to Frank for his encouragement and prior experience on cruise ships for navigating us efficiently around the ship.

We arrived at the Miami port about 1PM and after check in, we were escorted to the Longboard Bar for a buffet lunch (hamburgers & fries) – nothing special. Now is probably a good opportunity to discuss some of the dining options. Other than the hamburger from the buffet, the food was universally good, and service was outstanding. Since NCL offers 3 specialty restaurants as part of their “Freestyle Dinning Option”, after lunch we reserved our tables for the next three nights.

         Friday Dinner: Le Bistro. The space was nicely decorated in a somewhat Victorian style and the entire restaurant was in a couple of long rooms reminiscent of a long elegant dining car. The food was very good. Frank had the Duo of Duck (duck breast and duck confit). He enjoyed it although the breast was slightly over cooked. I ordered the Bouillabaisse. The seafood was all cooked perfectly, however the broth was underwhelming, lacking in flavor. Oh what critics foodies we can be.

Before I continue, let me say our dinner “issues” were minor quibbles on preparation and flavor, nothing that would turn us away. Also the appetizers were really good in all three restaurants. I ordered Escargot, served in a typical escargot dish with plenty of garlic and butter.

         Saturday Dinner: Il Adagio. I ordered a fried calamari appetizer, which was excellent.  Very tender, and the right portion size for one. Unlike the trends in the US, the Sky served reasonably sized portions of all the food, which was a pleasant surprise (to us). I ordered the Spaghetti Carbonara, which I rate with some of the best. Frank enjoyed the Seafood Fettuccine, again the seafood was properly cooked, especially the mussels according to Frank. 

         Sunday Dinner: Tonight we dined at Cagney’s Steak House. OMG, we both rate this as our best dinner of the three. I started with a bowl of Lobster Bisque. The bisque was perfect, with a nice creaminess and a WHOLE LOT of flavor; 5-stars on the bisque. Frank enjoyed a typical steak house Shrimp Cocktail with 5 or 6 large, tender shrimp. It was very good he reported. For our main course we both ordered the 5 oz. medium rare filet mignon served with a side of potatoes gratin. The beef was our pick for #1 item of all our meals. The filet was cooked perfectly medium rare throughout with a nice crust on the outside and was wonderful. I would go back for the Lobster Bisque and the steak. What time do we board?

Other meals: I will just run through our breakfast and lunch options, again by day.

Friday: Lunch: As mentioned earlier, lunch was at the Longboard Bar.
          
Saturday: Breakfast at The Palace, one of the main dining rooms:
         Frank ordered classic Eggs Benedict and I ordered French Toast

Saturday: Lunch was at one of the buffets.

Sunday Breakfast was at Il Adagio, where they serve made to order omelets and waffles.
Sunday Lunch was split at two places. We had pizza at Il Adagio to start, and concluding with Hot Dogs and a beer at Longboard.

We quickly settled into a routine on board. Mid-afternoon usually included a short nap followed by a drink at one of the lounges. Our favorite quickly became the Plantation Club and our server, Ruel, who we ended up with for every visit. He remembered my name after one visit which I consider amazing and he, (like most of the staff) was always smiling. The other bars, such as the Pool Bar, the Atrium Bar, and Longboard all served good drinks but we preferred the décor and atmosphere of the Plantation Club to the others. The Plantation Club was offering 2-for-1 martinis (Frank’s choice). I opted for an Italian favorite, campari & soda. Drinks were usually followed with dinner, and then either some entertainment, a stroll around the ship or another drink.

The highlight of the entertainment was a piano tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John. The pianist and singer (same person) was very good and we enjoyed the performance. The last night after dinner we went to the main theatre (large and ornate) for a staff variety show. It was interesting but no wow factor.

Saturday we were in port at Great Stirrup Cay, which we did not plan on visiting, so we made it a relaxing day on-board ship. We went to the library to play a crossword puzzle and a Sudoku. The temperature in the library was very cold so we decided go to the deck to read for a while, as we did on Sunday after the visit to Nassau. Frank then managed to win $40 at the slots, while I managed to lose $30. Of course on Sunday, Frank lost his $40 and I again managed to lose my daily betting limit (self-imposed).

After lunch at a buffet and a post-lunch drink at the Pool Bar and a nap we went to the spa for our appointments that we booked earlier in the day. I had a facial – ooh very nice. Frank enjoyed a manicure – he didn’t want to leave.

Nassau:
Sunday was a day in Nassau. We had booked a NCL promoted land tour in a 22-passenger bus. We opted for a riding tour to a couple of historic forts and a local museum, The Junkanoo Museum. What is that you ask? So happy you did. To quote from Bahamas Getaway.

Junkanoo is a Bahamian festival that occurs during the dark hours of morning on the 26th of December and again bringing in its first hours of light on the first day of the New Year.” The museum was in an old Bahamian house operated by a husband and wife who grew up here and are active participants in the Junkanoo festivities. She makes all her own costumes, which remind me of Mardi Gras or the Philadelphia Mummers Parade – very colorful and ornate.

We next stopped at Fort Fincastle and the Queen’s Staircase (all 65 steps). It as an impressive accomplishment considering is was chiseled out of solid limestone by slaves in 1793

I did not climb the stairs (nor descend them). Due to my fatigue problems I did not attempt the stairs; even the tour guide and Frank recommended I not do it.

The driver took us through some very low-income residential neighborhoods on the way to the next stop, which is always eye opening and sad to see.

Our final stop was Fort Charlotte, the largest of the three forts in Nassau. Here I DID get off the bus and go down a flight of stairs to the dungeon then back up to where the mini-bus was parked. That caused me some fatigue and weakness problems. Instead of lunch in Nassau we opted (Frank insisted) that we head back to the ship so I could rest a bit. It was the right thing to do.


On Monday morning, before disembarking, we had breakfast at Il Adagio. Pancakes and Omelets. It was a nice way to begin the day and the long drive back to St. Petersburg.

Being my first cruise I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this 3-day trip was a great way for me to decide if cruising is for me. I would answer with a definite YES. I enjoyed the ship, the staff was great, and I really liked the Freestyle dining options and the food. The ocean view room was very clean and nice, and bigger than those Frank had been on with Carnival. We even had a small sofa in the room. Thanks again to Frank for encouraging me to give cruising a try. I like it and hope to have the opportunity to go on another one – maybe the Mediterranean or the Baltic areas – let’s book it now!

Photographs to follow, probably next week.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Photographs from the NCL Sky - Cruise to the Bahamas

Here is a picture of our two cabin companions. On the left, the elephant, is Alphonse, representing all the drinks we had on the ship. No sure where the name came from, except when Frank asked me to name it, Alphonse was the first that came to mind.On the right is Mario, (we think it is a pig) which represents all the food we ate.


I have more photographs which I will post along with a summary of the cruise. As I mentioned before this was my first ever cruise, and I had a great time.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

A New Journey

It was 1962 when I moved to Florida from Ohio, following my parent to the snow-free, sunny Florida. Since that time, I can't tell you how many people have told me how much they enjoy cruises. In the past few years the interest in cruising has increased significantly (I have no factual data to support that, just more of my friends have taken cruises; Frank has been on two and has encouraged me to try it too).  My friends Paul and Libby have made cruising as a means of reaching their travel trifecta; 7 continents, 100 countries, and 50 states. Check out the status of their quest on their blog - Paul and Libby's World of Travel.


But let's get back to today, or more importantly tomorrow. Frank and I are sailing on the NCL Sky out of Miami for my FIRST ever cruise. It is only a three night cruise to Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's private beach island. This is a trial run for me; if I like cruising, I will consider others.


Fortunately the tropics look fairly clear for this weekend, always a risk when you sail during hurricane season. 


I will report back to you when I get home next week. This is going to be a no-electronics tour... no laptop, no cell phones, no ebook readers - you get the idea.


My good friend, Deirdre sent me the following suggestions:

 
Try to remember the basics:
No Blackberries allowed (strawberries and blueberries are permissible)
Stay on the inside of the railing.
Don't spit into the wind.
And above all .....If the lifeboats are being let down - the hell with women and children.
 
Some good suggestions which I will try to follow.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Apartment

I know you have seen this shot before, but if you click on it, you will be taken to the Picasa album with all (11) pictures from the new apartment - all in one spot.
Skyline Fifth

Sunday, August 7, 2011

One More Photograph

This may be the last photograph of the apartment interior. This one is of the study/red room/guest room with Paul Tuten's painting which he did just for this room (at the condo)

Study
"Untitled" by Paul Tuten
A few thoughts on the move.
1. While I was not looking forward to the move as I had become very comfortable at the rental condo, I feel very comfortable here after just a week. One thing that helped was being able to get all my stuff in  this new space.
2. I think the space is actually cozier.
3. Paolo and Lucia adjusted relatively quickly to the change.
4. The move went well and relatively easy. The movers were good, but a little slower than expected. I'll take good and careful over speed.
5 I have a nice 5th floor view of West St. Petersburg, not quite to the beach.
6. I still have BrightHouse  Cable and Internet service, which is good, considering the option
7. There are trash chutes at either end of the hall on each floor.
8. The complex has a nice pool area, workout room, and social room with a full kitchen.
9. The dish washer is next to the sink, instead of across the kitchen like the old place. Notice it only too a week to be the "old" place.
10. Have I mentioned I like the new space.
11. We have dry cleaning and laundry pick up and delivery service

A few negative;
1. There is no covered parking. I do miss the garage, especially when it rains and the heat index is 103F like today
2. The washer and drier are apartment-sized. Smaller that normal capacity.
3. Carpet, no hardwood floors but I can live with that.

That's All I'm Saying (for now)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More Photographs from New Apartment

Here are 4 more photographs from the new abode.


The Buffet


Tuscan Sun Descending by Peter Stilton
Peter's Poem to Accompany the Painting


The Study (aka Guest Room or Red Room)





Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No More Boxes


Yes, it is true, all the boxes are unpacked and furniture is in place. The next major project is to arrange the kitchen drawers and cabinets. All items are placed "somewhere" in the kitchen, but I have to make sure I am comfortable where everything is placed. 

Here are a couple of photographs ( not great shots, but there will be more), of the living room. I think my furniture in this smaller space is working out very well and I am very comfortable living here. 
New Colors and the bookcases have been separated. 

Paolo on the couch, and Peter Stilton's "Tuscan Sun Descending"




Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Unpacking

The move on Friday was successful and the place is looking good thanks to Frank's organizational and decorating talents and his very hard work. I only have a couple more boxes to unpack; working on it a little at a time as I still get very fatigued quickly. I need to also thank Biff and Butch for their packing and unpacking help. All three were responsible for making this a successful move. 


I am already comfortable in the new digs, and I think Paolo and Lucia are slowly adjusting. In a few more days everything should be put away and ready for some photographs. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boxes, Boxes, Everywhere

Moving day is Friday

That's All I'm Saying

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!

When I lived in Seminole Heights (Tampa) 3-years and more ago, there was a good pizza restaurant only a few blocks from my home. We would go to the restaurant since the pizza was good, (especially the New York style crust -my personal favorite), and we could walk to the restaurant.  They also offered a Chicago Deep-Dish pie. The pizzeria is called Cappy's


I have lived in St. Pete for 3 years and I have frequently driven by the St, Petersburg version of Cappy's  on 1st Ave N and 29th St, but had not eaten there until Saturday evening. This location (in the Kenwood area of St. Pete), and the one in Seminole Heights are located in similar Craftman style neighborhoods. Frank and I met Bob G., Bob S. and Clyde for another birthday dinner - this one for Frank. But Bob S. and Clyde also have birthdays but did not want any formal recognition/celebration. Too bad, they got cards anyway. ;-)


Frank, Bob S. and I shared a New York style pizza with fresh tomatoes, sausage, and mushrooms, while Clyde and Bob G split a Chicago-style "Cappy's special. (Bob what were the toppings?)


Regardless the pizzas were very good, although the wine was mediocre. Overall it was a nice evening with good friends and another "not-so-new" restaurant to check off the list.


Happy Birthday to Frank, Bob S. and Clyde. 


Oh, and before I forget, Cappy's is in my new neighborhood - about 9 blocks or so. So I will be back.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Time for a Change

Almost 3 years ago, I move to downtown St. Petersburg and fell in love with the urban experience almost immediately. I still enjoy the downtown life with all the restaurants and bay front close by. A couple of months after I moved in I found out that my leased condo unit had been on the market since February 2008. This spring I learned that the unit was listed for a short sale. Although the sale is still pending I cannot renew the lease, as the potential owners want to live in the unit, and not lease it out. So I started looking for another place to live. Finding a place in the downtown area proved to be more difficult that I ever expected. Availability in my acceptable price range was almost non-existent. 


So, I will be moving to a new apartment in the next couple of weeks. It is an older 11-story apartment building, which just reopened after a 30 - million renovation. While it is 3 miles from downtown, it had the space to hold my furniture and was in my price range. It will work out just fine, and I will be the first tenant in this unit, so that is good. I will post another blog after I get moved in.


Those who need my new address, will receive a separate email in a few days. I will be in the new location around August 1.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Two Headed Cat in St. Petersburg

OK, just kidding, it is only Paolo (L) and Lucia (R) attached at the butt, pretending to be one cat with two heads. 
Well they didn't pull that off very good - i think they need more practice.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Scans, Frank's Birthday Dinner, and North Carolina - a busy week

I have been missing from the blogosphere for a few weeks only because I didn't feel I had anything of interest to post. But I have saved up a few items for this post.


1.  I had my most recent MRI and CT scans the end of June. The great news came back last week - no new progression or new growths. So I get another 8 weeks break from exams and/or treatments.


2. Frank's birthday was last week and we celebrated at The Black Pearl on Main Street in Dunedin. This is a special occasion restaurant with a neat black and silver art deco interior. We started with a shared seared pork belly served over cheese grits - it was wonderful, may have been the highlight along with the dessert. 


This was followed by a mixed green salad with a nice raspberry vinaigrette.


For our main courses, I opted for a twice cooked Long Island duckling served over rice and a cranberry and apple demiglace. Frank had a very nice beef stroganoff served over spaetzle


And for dessert a luscious tarte tatin, made to order, order early or allow extra time to prepare. The apples were thinly sliced baked with butter, brown sugar, spices and topped with puff pastry. It was a work of art. and tasty as well.


3. The next morning we flew to Asheville, NC and a short drive to Maggie Valley for the annual family gathering and to celebrate my brother's birthday. Ah, it was much cooler than St. Petersburg; a nice change. My niece and nephews rented a nice 3 bedroom, plus loft space, log house, high up on the mountain side overlooking the valley. It had great views and cool breezes. We had a good time with my slightly crazy family. I think at one point there were 20 people in the cabin for meals.


Frank and I skipped out a couple of afternoons to visit Asheville and Highlands. I would like to spend more time in Asheville - it is unlike any other town in North Carolina (at least from my experience). It has a great historic downtown area loaded with restaurants, art galleries, and shops. The Highlands business district on the other hand, is about 6 blocks long, but is filled with nice shops and restaurants. We stopped at Wolfgang's Restaurant and Wine Bistro for a glass of wine and a mid afternoon appetizer. (We are always attracted to any place that has bistro in the name). I had a bowl of Shrimp and Lobster Bisque and Frank had a trio of fish tacos. Both were very good. 


We arrived at TPA yesterday afternoon after a very busy, but enjoyable, 4 days in Maggie Valley.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boston Photographs Are Ready

The Boston photographs have been posted on Picasa. Please click on the New Statehouse photograph in the right sidebar to view the album.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Animals in Boston

I am almost ready to post the Boston photographs on Picasa with a link to them from this blog. But until all is ready here are a couple of animal pictures from the trip.
The Famous Swan Boat
in the Boston Public Garden
Make Way for Ducklings
Boston Public Gardens
I must give credit to Frank for the photographs from Boston. He took almost all of the photographs on this trip. Good job, my friend.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Teaser Pics from Boston

Fanueil Hall
Trinity Church


Monday, June 6, 2011

Weekend Restaurants

Weekends are a good time to meet friends and try new restaurants. This past weekend was no different as we dined at two restaurants we had not dined at before. 


On Saturday, we joined Shane and Sue for dinner in Safety Harbor at a cute old house turned Green Springs Bistro. Amazingly it has been in existence for 10 years, and we had never been there. Sue and Shane have talked it up for many months, and we were finally able to schedule and reschedule a date for dinner. 


To start, the four of us shared two Blue Crab Cake appetizers. They were very good with lots of crab meat and limited amount of filler. For our main courses we had; Sausage, Shrimp & Grits (Frank); Sesame-crusted Mahi-Mahi (Sue); and Pesto-seared Shrimp and Scallop Risotto. (Shane and me). The food was very good all around. For dessert, Shane and Sue shared a sinfully large chocolate cake and Frank and I shared their specialty, a Raspberry and Blue Berry Cobbler, a much more manageable portion size. 


My only minor quibble (and this is my personal taste), the risotto could have used a little more salt or seasoning. The shrimp and scallops were fine, just the pesto risotto needed another pinch. 


The service was good, the place is cute and a little on the funky side. We enjoyed the company, the food, and Green Springs Bistro and we will return.


Sunday found us with "15 minutes of fame" Bob G and friends to celebrate Bob's birthday. We all met at Rib City, a national chain (9 states) which started in Fort Myers Florida. I believe that most of us ordered the baby back ribs (1/2 or full rack), except Frank who had a pulled pork sandwich. I must say the ribs were very tasty and fall-off-the-bone tender. Service was good here too.


We had two nice evenings with small groups of friends sharing good food and conversation. 


By the way: Happy Birthday Bob !!!



Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Boston - Hits and Misses

Back by popular demand, our wrap up of the highlights and lowlights of our latest trip.  This time, hits and misses of Boston.

Sights
Hit (Frank) - The Trolley Tour of the Freedom Trail.  We got to cover a lot of ground, see a lot of things (comfortably), and the guide was informative and funny.

Hit (Dick) - Trinity Church.  I loved the Tiffany era stained glass, and the Romanesque-style architecture.

Miss (Frank) - Quincy Market.  It may have been a historic market place at one time, but is not much more than a glorified shopping mall now.

Miss (Dick) - I agree 100%.  Unless you are a history buff, skip it.

Food
Hit (Frank) - Everyplace we went was good, but nothing was great.  Oddly enough, I really enjoyed the tuna tartare and the cosmopolitans at the Top of the Hub.  Yes, tuna tartare and cosmos are cliches, and yes, high altitude dining spots can be long on atmosphere and low on dining points, but this place hit it right on all notes, and gets a thumbs up from me.

Hit (Dick) - I agree on Top of the Hub, but overall, my fave is Brasserie Jo.  My rotisserie chicken crepe with a creme sauce was very good, flavorful, and satisfied a jones I had on for chicken pot pie for weeks!

Miss (Frank) - Ristorante Fiore on Hanover Street.  It was a nice place, food (Italian) was ok.  But it seemed like one of those places that didn't have to try very hard, and it showed.

Miss (Dick) - Sam Snead's.  This is actually at the Tampa Airport, but STILL was the WORST hamburger I probably have ever had.  They will only cook it medium or well done.

Frank - Actually, there is only one option...cremated.

Moments
Hit (Frank) - For me, it was the moment I ran into a mother and her grown daughter in the Public Garden.   I was taking a picture of the Make Way for Ducklings statue.  The adult daughter sheepishly walked over to the mother duck statue, and sat on top of it.  Her mother explained to me, as she was taking a photo, that she had taken that same shot of her daughter when she was five, and wanted one of her all grown up .  I thought it was kind of neat.

Hit (Dick) -  Being awed about how clean and impressive a city Boston is.  It's historic, modern, and full of interesting neighborhoods.  I couldn't believe the lack of grafitti (downtown at least).

Miss (Frank) - Being in Boston knowing that the Lightning lost to the Bruins the night we arrived.

Miss (Dick) - Not having enough time to walk around the North End.  I want to go back and explore all my peeps in this Italian neighborhood.

Last minute comments:

*Sheraton Boston Hotel is a nice option in the Back Bay.
*Comments about how rude Bostonians are (cab drivers in particular) are way off base.  People seemed friendly and helpful in general.
*Service in restaurants tended to be slower than what we usually are accustomed to.
*May is a good time to go to Boston.  City is just lovely.

That's all we are sayin'

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No Quacking Here - Sunday in Boston (Version 2 including photograph)

As many tourists cities do now, Boston is no different. All over town you see these amphibious bus/boat combinations with passengers outfitted with duck noise makers - quackers. i personally find 25 people riding by me sounding like a bunch of ducks very annoying, so we took the Freedom Trail Trolley Tour, no quackers allowed. Our original plan was to walk as much of the 2.5 mile Freedom Trail as possible, but this morning we decided to ride the trail on the Trolley due to my fatigue levels. After a taxi ride to Quincy Market, you remember that historic market place (like shopping mall food court) overrun with tourists., we purchased our tickets on the City Trolley Tours, what appears to be one of the two main trolley tour companies. Anyway, the tour was very good and the driver/guide was very funny. We would be driving and he would spot someone who looked like someone famous, such as Adam Sandler, and he would alert us that Adam Sandler was in town this weekend and point to the guy. Ok, guess you had to be there, Still better than the quackers. But I digress. 


In addition to the sites we saw yesterday we also saw more of the city, and the area north of the river (aka "sea" in the Paul Revere poem.), including Bunker Hill and the Constitution war ship. Trivia Question: Where was the Battle of Bunker Hill fought? This was asked by our driver/guide, and Frank was the only person on the trolley who knew the answer. Most of the fighting was on Breed's Hill. Way to go Frank for paying attention in history class.


We could see the Old North Church very clearly from the north side of the river (as could Mr.. Revere and others who were waiting for the "one if by land, two if by sea" moment. 


The tour concluded back at Quincy Market and we headed back to the hotel for lunch at Brasserie Jo. We had a lovely lunch, and probably in my opinion one of the best meals we had of the weekend. I enjoyed a wonderful crepe with rotisserie chicken in a cream and pea sauce. The flavor was great. Frank enjoyed a Salade Frisée Lyonnaise with bacon and poached egg. Very nice.  


i went back to the hotel to rest up and relax while Frank went to the Boston Commons and the Public Gardens area to scout around. I saw the park earlier and it is lovely. When Frank came back we took the T to Kenmore Park, a nice residential area near Fenwick Park (think Boston Red Socks). It was a nice excursion to another area of the city. We both really like the different residential areas. Most in the old city are multi-story brick row homes on tree lined streets. Very nice, I say.


As is our custom, we went to the hotel bar for our pre-dinner drink. Following that we cabbed it to Paul Revere's house in the North End (Italian neighborhood). There was a crowd of camera clickers standing in front of the house; I guess waiting for a shot of Mr. Revere and his horse. But, no luck today; He was probably out looking for more lanterns,  Below is a photograph of the house... still standing after all these years. 


The house is in the North End, the Italian Neighborhood, where we were told to stop in any restaurant and you will get a good meal. So we stopped at Ristoranti Fiore, which we saw recommended in our tour book. We shared a nice antipasto plater, and I opted for a special pasta, (Bombolotti alla Vodka, their own creation, with small chunks of fresh lobster meet) while Frank ordered the Garganelli all Salmone , pasta tossed with salmon and basil in a tomato cream sauce. While the meal was good it doesn't compare to some of our favorite Italian Restaurants in Tampa and St. Pete, like Vino e Pasta and Primi Urban Cafe, but we are spoiled and biased. To conclude the meal, we shared a wonderful Cannoli, a gold star effort, very simple, basic cannoli which was not overly sweet. 




End of Sunday.


Quack

Monday, May 30, 2011

Saturday Afternoon - Boston

I returned home this evening (Monday). I wrote the following on the plane and figured I would post it since I obviously am behind. I will catch up over the next couple of days. 

The story continues...

After lunch at the Union Oyster House we headed back to the hotel for an afternoon rest, which I needed. After the brief rest, we headed back to the T, as they call the underground metro system. The stations are clean, as was all of Boston that we saw. I don't recall seeing any graffiti in town. 


Our next stop was Copley Square and Trinity Church, a Romanesque style church with a large, beautiful collection of stained glass windows. Unfortunately, a three panel set of windows in the back of the church which were on Frank's must see list, were out for restoration. A good reason to return.

We boarded the T again for a short ride back to the Prudential Center, adjacent to the Sheraton. We decided it was time for a post-sightseeing, pre-dinner refreshment at the Top of the Hub on the 52nd story of the Prudential Center. My mojito was very good as was Frank's Cosmopolitan.  The best part of the stop was the Yellow-fin Tuna Tartar.

Dinner tonight was at Todd English's moderately price restaurant called Figs. It was in a very old building like many of the restaurants are in Boston. The place has a great reputation. He is the owner of Blue Zoo in Orlando, probably one of the best dining experiences I have enjoyed
At Figs we shared a very large thin-crusted pizza with Figs, Prosciutto, and Gorgonzola cheese. It was very good combination of flavors, but we thought it would have been even better with fewer figs and more Gorgonzola, but who are we to tell Todd how to prepare his pizza.

The downside of dinner was the temperature level in the dining area. Everyone in our section was sweating or fanning themselves with a menu.

The upside, beside the pizza, was that we were seated within 10 minutes of arrival with no reservations. Frank called the week before to make reservations only to be told that they do not take them. But, they do have a call ahead list. Frank asked it they would put us on the list for 7PM on Saturday, thinking that would never happen. When we walked in the hostess said it would be 1 hour before they could seat us. We then mentioned the call ahead list, and sure enough we were on it. 10 minutes we were seated in a table overlooking the activity on the street.

End of story.