Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Week of Dining Out

Frank and I dine out probably far too often, but this past week found us in restaurants everyday from Tuesday March 12th to today, March 17. We also already have plans for dinner tomorrow to round out the week. It just worked out that way from celebrating my niece's birthday to dining with friends, to wishing our Philadelphia friend good bye after her 2 month visit in Sarasota. 

So, let me tell you where we ate this past week starting with last Tuesday, March 12 in Sarasota at Trader Vic's best known for their Mai Tai, which was ok. There were about 15 of us and I can only speak for Frank and myself, but wec were not thrilled with the food. We shared the Ahi Tuna appetizer with was probably the best dish we had there. I ordered the Fish and Chips which was lacking adequate seasoning and Frank ordered the Hickory Roasted Beef Brisket which he proclaimed way to sweet. I hate to pan any restaurant but this one, with it's nationally known name, didn't live up to our expectation.

Next up was Wednesday lunch at Oxford Exchange in Tampa across Kennedy Blvd from the University of Tampa. it is partially housed in a 120 year old brick building near downtown Tampa. The building included the Restaurant, a book store, a retail store of home goods items and The Commerce Club a private club, among other areas of interest in the building. Check our the link earlier in this paragraph to find out more about The Oxford Exchange and it's history. We had a lovely lunch with Denise and her husband, Thomas. The space is very cute and the food was very good. We shared an appetizer of Crispy Chick Peas (more please). I opted for the Lobster BLT which was loaded with chunks of fresh lobster meat (I've been on a lobster kick for the last couple of weeks, if it is on the menu  as a sandwich or bisque if will find a way to the plate.) Frank raved about the Chicken Burger served on a bun with avocado,  jalapeno, tomato and queso blanco. Frank said the burger was very light as it was composed of minced chicken mixed the the other ingredients before it was grilled. We would highly recommend Oxford Exchange.

Thursday we met a group of friends for dinner at Simply Delicious in Kenneth City between Clearwater and St. Petersburg. It is billed as a New York diner/deli. There were six of us in our group and I think everyone enjoyed their meal. I refer to the decor as Kitschy New York. It was a fun evening with good reasonable priced food in a different style atmosphere than the frequently used Florida Beach. Check the link above to see some photographs of the interior. We shared a appetizer with the table, Pastrami Reuben Egg Rolls. Crispy and tasty. In New York style, I had a 1/2 Corned Beef Sandwich (very tasty and tender) and a cup of Chicken Noodle Soup. Frank enjoyed the Chopped Chicken Liver Sandwich - tov meod (very good). Thanks to Bob G for a good suggestion. Oy Vey! 

Whew, I am getting full again just typing this post... but it is time to hit the road again for dinner in Bradenton to wish our dear friend Deirdre a safe journey hope after a two month stay in Sarasota. Six of us dined at Edelweiss near downtown Bradenton, Frank, my nephew Biff, his friend Butch, Deirdre and her friend Geri. Oh, I was there too. After some wine at Biff's we headed a short distance down the street to Edelweiss selected by Deirdre for two reasons; The chef's name is Frank and Deirdre knows all the lyrics to Edelweiss, makes sense to me; although we never did got to hear her sing it in its entirety. Next time Deirdre.

We had a very nice meal; Frank and I each ordered the Schnitzel a la Vienna prepared with the optional chicken instead of veal. It was very lightly breaded, tender and tasty. The service was very good (always part of a positive experience in our book). I'm sure we would all return to Edelweiss. 

Next up, a home cooked meal by our friend Carol F. served at her home. She  prepared a wonderful Shrimp Scampi in a very light sauce served with a nice caprese salad. We all dipped into the pasta bowl for seconds. Dessert was an ultra light Angel Food Cake with fresh strawberries. Yummy. And Carol's sister, Lois made Chocolate Chip Cookies for Frank and I to take home. I have to lock them away so I don't finish them today. Thank you Carol and Lois for a nice evening.

Tomorrow, Monday, evening we have tickets to see Leonard Cohen in concert at the Straz Performing Arts Center in Tampa. We will be dining at Maestro's Restaurant at the Center before the show. If you want more information on Leonard Cohen check his web site (link here) or read his biography, "I'm Your Man" by Sylvie Simmons.  Needless to say, I like Leonard Cohen.

That's all I'm saying

Thursday, March 7, 2013

One Day at EPCOT

On Friday March 1st (2013) Frank and I made the trek to Orlando to spend the day at EPCOT and a night at the Buena Vista Palace Hotel in Downtown Disney. We arrived late in the morning and went immediately to EPCOT. It was a beautiful day, clear skies and sunny. After getting me situated in my transport chair, Frank pushed me to the ticket windows and then around the park. I could not have made it all through the park without the chair and Frank's efforts.(Thank you my friend) As we "cruised" around the World Showcase we stopped at the Canada Pavilion to watch the movie, which has been updated and improved.

Pushing on, we decided to stop in Italy for lunch. Since my last visit they (Disney folks) have closed the old Alfredo's Restaurant and replaced it with Tutto Italia Ristorante (high-end) and Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria. We decided to dine at Via Napoli where we shared a Mixed Salad (very good) and a large Mushroom Pizza. The first thing we noticed was the traditional thin Napoletana crust and a thin layer of very fresh-tasting tomato sauce. The sauce was to die for - the best I have ever had outside of Italy. We passed on the wine and enjoyed a refreshing Blood Orange Aqua Fresca. I would highly 
recommend Via Napoli. 

We continued our loop around the World Lagoon with a stop at the Mexico Pavilion for the interior boat ride - very relaxing. Then on to the France Pavilion to watch the movie - Impressions de France, one of my favorites in the park although slightly outdated as noted by the bicycle scene. Still we stop to see it every visit.

On our way out of the park we rode Spaceship Earth, which has also been updated and improved since I was there last and is one of our Must-Do rides in the park. There are many other great rides and pavilions to see while at EPCOT but we had decided to limit our time in the park so we could return to the hotel to relax and refresh in the lobby bar.

We returned to the France Pavilion for our 7:40 PM reservations at "Chefs de France", which we have enjoyed frequently in the past. We were not disappointed by the service or the food this time either - always top notch. We started with a St. Germain cocktail, and switched to a bottle of red wine with our entrees. I then enjoyed a lovely cup of Lobster Bisque while Frank had the Maison Salade which he enjoyed. For our entrees, Frank opted for a very nice and tasty Broiled Salmon, with smashed potatoes with butter and chives. served with tomato and red pepper sauce. while I enjoyed my Cote de Bouef, Beef short ribs braised in Cabernet wine with pasta, pearl onions and mushrooms). We were able to watch many of the fireworks from our dining room table while we enjoyed our meals.

Dining done, and fireworks done, it was time to head out into the cool night air for some night photography to end our visit to EPCOT. We both enjoy this time in the park, when everyone else is rushing to the exit, the monorail, and the parking lot. You almost have the park to yourself - just wonderful.

But the trip isn't over yet. After a light breakfast in the hotel cafe, we headed to Downtown Disney to take a look around and extend our day as much as possible. We walked (I rolled with Frank still pushing my transport chair) the entire Downtown Disney complex before deciding on Raglan Road Restaurant and Pub for our lunch stop. Not to be denied a good meal to conclude our visit,  I enjoyed a wonderful Lobster Club sandwich (Lobster and avocado salad, crispy prosciutto, watercress and citrus herb mayonnaise) and Frank had a nice Cashel Castle Salad (Crumbled Cashel blue cheese, caramelized pecans, grape tomatoes, raspberries, prosciutto crisps, crostinis and; a raspberry vinaigrette. )

Next up, a link to a small Picasa photo album: Click on Spaceship Earth to see the entire album (only 13 photographs)

EPCOT March 2013

Monday, March 4, 2013


Lucia and me relaxing on the couch, a daily occurrence. Although she is normally passed out on my lap taking a nap.