Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

As Hurricane Irma headed for Florida I decided to leave my stately pleasure dome by the sea. Cat 4 or 5 winds plus a threatened storm surge of 5 to 8 feet convinced me to bail out. The condo probably would have withstood the winds but 5 to 8 feet of surge would have caused our Chevy by the levy to float away. I cleared everything off of the balcony and packed a couple of bags with necessities.

Lydia was off to Ohio so I booked a room at a Ramada Inn in Temple Terrace. I had chicken wings and a couple cans of beer for my birthday. The next day around 6 PM we lost power. The next morning the storm had passed but I woke up to the sounds of a riot coming from the parking lot.

A couple of the worst offenders were cuffed and hauled off. The rest of this 'family' were evicted by the hotel manager. That set off a new round of fighting. More police vehicles arrived within seconds and the situation was diffused. I decided to brave the roads and head home.

The bridge to Indian Shores was blocked by police vehicles. Beach access was denied until 4 PM. I decided to chill until then. A little before 4 PM the cars started lining up on Park Boulevard. The lines began moving almost on the dot. We were told that access cards were mandatory, and I had them, but no one bothered to check as we approached the bridge.

The condo building was intact and the parking lot and garage showed no sign of storm surge. I parked and went to the elevator. That is when I discovered that we had no power. Five flights up a dark and hot stairwell was a challenge. The apartment was unscathed. The pool area was a bit of a mess, but since it isn't my pool I didn't have to stress cleaning it.

One of my biggest challenges was getting my cell phone charged. Battery power was sucked out quickly because cell phone coverage was spotty. My phone was in constant 'roam'. I am very grateful to Sweet Sage Cafe for breakfast two mornings with coffee, bloody Marys and especially for letting me recharge my cell phone during breakfast. The only other restaurant that I have found open on Gulf Boulevard is the Conch Republic. I haven't ventured too far so that I can conserve fuel. Petrol is still a big issue.

I have spent two simply marvelous nights in the apartment without AC. The biggest surprise was getting the morning paper delivered to my door the day after the storm. I missed TV coverage of the storm. Radio coverage, to put it bluntly, sucked. The announcers seemed more interested in the sound of their own voices and to see who could out-crude the other. There was very little information that was useful. This is not RADIO as I knew it back in the late fifties and early sixties when I was a commercial Broadcaster.

Just as a point of reference: Indian Rocks is north of Indian Shores and Redington is south of us. Both communities had power, actually it was said they never lost power. Indian Shores got powered up finally around 10:15 this morning.

Everything in our refrigerator will have to be dumped. My next challenge to is find food and adult beverages. Several Publix and the Winn Dixie in the area are still closed. I do still have some MREs left over from my military career. You can live off this stuff but it tastes like shit.

I guess that is the latest news for now, and holy crap, "That was fun!"

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Discovered Madeira Beach Treasure

Due to a last minute change of plans for dinner last night my bride and I found ourselves all showered, shaved, and dressed up with no place to go. On a whim, the Belle of Gulf Boulevard suggested giving Lisa's Cafe of Madeira a try. We had discussed Lisa's before but, for some inexplicable reason, we had never paid her a visit.

We arrived a bit past four and wandered in without reservations. Lisa cordially greeted us but pointed out that dinner service didn't start until four thirty. While we were looking at a wait for food Lisa said there would be no wait for adult beverages, so we made ourselves at home at the bar.

Lisa's signature cocktail is a strawberry, lemonade, basil fusion with vodka. This delightful beverage requires quite a lot of advanced preparation over several days time to realize its fruity goodness. This cocktail may have had a name but after my second one, names, my own included, eluded me.

Once properly medicated the Belle and I adjourned to a waiting booth and were presented with food and wine menus by our server, Tyler. Lisa had already mentioned a wine special, a Chilean bottle for a mere $25. Tyler suggested the sauvignon blanc, a Chilean estate bottled wine that's close to magnificent in my taste. Fruity, herbally, minerally and cheap! Warm crusty bread with a ball of real butter was also placed before us.

The marquee in front of the restaurant and Lisa herself extolled the many culinary virtues of the Maryland Style Crab Cake. Said Lisa, "This is why people from Maryland come here." We could taste why ... lump crab meat, not overpowered with breading, and the perfect spice combination with a smear of tangy rémoulade.

For her entrée, my dining partner chose the Pecan Crusted Wild Caught, Sockeye Salmon with a Honey Bourbon Glaze, Roasted Garlic Mashed, and Chef's Vegetable Medley.

The salmon was perfect! Moist, flavorful and cooked to please the most demanding buds of taste. The Belle is not really a lover of seafood, but she was in gastronomic heaven with this dish. So was I after a taste of that fish.

I chose one of the specials that night that Lisa said was going to achieve immortality on her new menu the Hoisin Glazed Wild Caught Sockeye Salmon or Wild Caught Black Grouper, served over Rice with Scallions and a Thai Lobster Coconut Cream Sauce with a Stir Fry Vegetable.

I had this dish with the black grouper. It was good but not as moist and flavorful as my bride's salmon. The hoisin glaze was excellent as was the cream sauce. Oddly enough, my bride enjoyed my grouper more than her salmon while I enjoyed her salmon more than my grouper. Go figger!

This visit with all food and adult beverages came in at $148.52. We are putting Lisa's on our Gulf Boulevard rotation for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Lisa's Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Enough Trump!

ACLU Action

This is a re-post from an email I recently received. It needs to be repeated! The scum sitting in the oval office needs to be taken out back, tarred, feathered, and ridden out of this country on a rail. Enough of Trump already! 

Truth be told, I don't even know where to start.

Last night, Donald Trump cowardly used our nation's focus on the devastating hurricane in Texas to deflect attention away from two controversial decisions. First, his pardoning of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And second, his decision to sign a directive barring enlistment of transgender individuals in the military and cutting off essential medical care for trans service members.

What that means is that last night – in the middle of a national crisis that requires the full attention of our president – he decided to issue a formal presidential endorsement of racism and launch a stunningly cruel attack on patriotic trans people.

It makes me sick to my stomach, Jon.

Make no mistake: Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt of court for deliberately violating federal court orders, after violating the constitutional rights of people of color in his community. Trump's pardon condones racial profiling and a sheriff who defied the rule of law.

And Trump's ban on transgender people serving in the military is discriminatory, unconstitutional, and downright immoral. It's not based in fact or opposition from the military. It's based on bigotry and hate. Pure and simple.

You can bet Trump will be seeing us in court very soon.

From here I only know one truth: we have to get up and fight – day in and day out, and morning, noon, and night.

As the ACLU works to enforce the federal court orders we won against Arpaio in a separate civil rights case, and to challenge the transgender military ban in the courts as soon as Monday, we need you out there on the streets and phones to make sure your elected representatives do more than simply tweet their condemnation.

Congress has the authority to directly challenge Trump's assaults on our liberties and his support of racist individuals like Arpaio and other white supremacists. And they have the power to pass legislation, which has already been introduced, to undo the trans military ban.

It is time for them to exercise that authority, on these issues and more – such as President Trump's pending decision to revoke DACA, a program that ensures young, undocumented immigrants are safe from deportation. Congress should move quickly to pass legislation that provides Dreamers with the same protections as DACA, regardless of what Trump does.

We know from experience that the most powerful thing we can do in a moment like this is stand together and raise our voices.

There are going to be darker, more challenging days ahead for our country. But I believe we can overcome if we have the courage to do the hard work necessary to organize our local communities, put pressure on our elected officials, and to show solidarity with those communities that Trump is targeting.

When we stand together, nothing is impossible. Keep fighting.

In solidarity,

Anthony for everyone at the ACLU

Friday, August 4, 2017

Another Pharmaceutical Obscenity

We recently had to fill a ten dose prescription in preparation for a relatively minor medical procedure. The prescription was filled at a local Walgreens. We were billed $10 per dose for a reasonable $100 total. On the bright side, we have insurance. If we did not have insurance these ten doses would have cost us $1260 or $126 per dose.

What constitutes the obscenity is that we can get the exact same medication from a Canadian pharmacy for $253.40 or $25.34 per dose. We actually came out ahead by using our insurance, $100 instead of $253.40. But what of those in this once great country who have no insurance? Does anyone care? It certainly isn't Big Pharm. With them it's about money and profit. And our Republican controlled Congress? It's the same thing, money; and to quote a line from the movie History of the World, Part I, "Fuck the poor!"

Of course Big Pharm is doing their best to make it illegal to buy prescription drugs from Canada and even Mexico because folks in need who are seeking lower cost options are cutting into Big Pharm's profits and the monies they use to buy politicians. I think our only hope is a big Democratic turnout in 2018. We need to terminate, with extreme prejudice, this Republican controlled Congress with our votes.

Understand this: I am not advocating a single party system. A wholly Democratic administration would probably be almost as bad as what we have now. There just needs to be a balance in this country with politicians who understand for whom they work.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Homecoming Dinner At Edison

While in Tampa last week enjoying our mini-vacation my trophy bride and I decided on a return dine at one of that city's finest restaurants, Jeannie Pierola's Edison: Food + Drink Lab. We had reservations for 6 o'clock that evening but we wandered in about 15 minutes early. That's not a problem we were told and immediately the hostess guided us to our table looking out on Kennedy Boulevard.

Marysol, our gregarious server, brought us menus and ice water while we took a peek at the mixology menu. After a few moments of deliberation the Belle of Gulf Boulevard opted for the Smoking Gun: duck fat-infused Bulleit Rye ‘Frontier’ whiskey, TeBella Lapsang Souchong-infused simple syrup, Crude ‘Sycophant’ orange + fig bitters, Jack Rudy aromatic bitters. This was a tasty concoction that washed away the cares of the day ... not that we had any cares that day.

Certainly our photographer had no cares since he didn't care enough to snap a shot of the Belle's Smoking Gun. The photog got his stuff together enough to record his adult beverage, the Oaxaca This Way: The 86 & Co. ‘Cabeza’ tequila, Barrow’s ‘Intense’ ginger liqueur, Alipus ‘San Juan’ mezcal, lime, agave, Bittermens ‘Hellfire’ habañero shrub.

This beverage was so yummy I had to have two. The goblet was coated with a Hawaiian black sea salt that perfectly accentuated this delightful cocktail. I tried not being too obvious while licking the glass, but that salt was so good. Look closely and you can see the Smoking Gun in the background.

For our comestibles the Belle and I decided to stay with small plates so that we might enjoy a myriad of flavors. When we placed our orders Marysol said that she would bring them to the table one after the other as opposed to all at once with only a small wait between dishes. A nice touch!

Strap yourselves in for the show is about to begin..

WOOD-ROASTED BEETS + SARAH’S FLORIDA CHEVRE - curry pistachio butter, lime jam, micro caliente. Muy delicioso!

WOOD-ROASTED OYSTERS - miso butter, sherry mignonette. One of the better roasted oyster dishes this side of Felix's place in NOLA.

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER - carrot celery date salad, Roquefort dressing. I am not a cauliflower kind of guy, but the Belle seemed bigly pleased.

This is a dish that gets my taste receptors quivering in anticipation: CHAR-GRILLED OCTOPUS - purple potato escalivada, sour orange aguachile, squid ink olive oil, micro Latin latitude. I swoon at the memory!

I really wanted to be blown away with this plate of SMOKED BONE MARROW - avocado, radishes, mole salsa, micro cilantro, grilled bread but the marrow was cooked beyond the point of being spreadable. The marrow came out in crumbles.

Veggie girl sitting across from me just had to have FRIED GREEN TOMATO SALAD - garden arugula, shaved fennel, cherry tomato confit, preserved lemon goat cheese, black olive emulsion and she seemed very pleased with herself.

By this time I was quite porky and except for one last adult beverage I felt like I was D-U-N done.

This was the El Molino - Xoriguer ‘Gin de Mahón,’ mango, lemon, basil, edison habañero tincture, Saracco ‘Moscato d’Asti’ with a cute-as-can-be tiny clothespin securing a leaf.

Did I mention that I was done? Well, Marysol was having none of that, so my bride and I shared this beautiful and decadent creation: DARK CHOCOLATE CRUNCH - chocolate mousse, hazelnut feuilletine, raspberry pomegranate paint, smoked chocolate ice cream. This crunch transcended merely good. It achieved immortality in the taste buds of our minds.

Dinner with cocktails, wine, and food came in at $195.81. Maybe a bit pricey for everyday dining, but we don't get to Tampa much anymore, so this was a real homecoming celebration for us.

Buen provecho, y'all.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Dining Downtown Tampa: Anise

"Anise Global Gastrobar centers around internationally inspired bites." My bride and I were inspired to have a few of those bites at Anise while visiting our former home, Tampa, this past week. We wandered in around six-ish on Thursday and were promptly greeted and seated. Anise does not accept reservations for less than parties of six.

Anise has a clean, modern decor with picture windows looking out toward Ashley and the river beyond. Darrell was our very charming and efficient server who quickly plied us with refreshing adult beverages as we settled in to explore the bill of fare.

The Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I decided to stay with small plates. We started with one of the Savory Plates, the spectacular Spicy Beef Tartare.

With raw tenderloin, apple, chives, lime, kimchi sauce, this tartare was probably the best rendition that we have ever had. This dish demanded to be consumed immediately and with gusto.

Our friends back on the island said our lives would forever be incomplete if we didn't dive into an order of Deviled Eggs. Hmm, thought I, I have had deviled eggs before ... at most any pot-luck or picnic I've ever attended. Oh posh and piffle, bring them on Darrell.

I can tell you one or two things right now: I have never had deviled eggs as good as these. We requested two of each, bleu & bacon and pesto & sun dried tomato. The two tastes were uniquely different yet creamy and delicious.

My bride has never met a tater tot that she could eschew, so we got an order of Truffled Tater Tots with a ramekin of lemon creme fraiche.

After a gazillion years dining in military mess halls with the ever present potato something or other, I can't get worked up over taters. I am sure these were heavenly, but I left them for the Belle to enjoy ... and, she did.

Next on our gastronomic horizon were the buns, Stinky Bunz, that is. We requested three and while they were tasty, they weren't particularly stinky, and after a gazillion years in military barracks and tents I can recognize stinky - but, I digress.

The Belle was more than just pleased with her choice of fried zucchini with crispy garlic and shallots. As I mentioned, while she can not refuse a tater tot, I can not refuse pork belly. I am also fond of kimchi, so the obvious choice for me were the bunz with braised pork belly and kimchi. C'est magnifique!

I really didn't need a dessert but my bride insisted on the powdery sugared Beignets, three diet-busting treats to end our meal at Anise.

Anise: the food was excellent, the service was friendly and professional, and the prices were reasonable. All food and adult beverages a pocket pleasing $85.04.

Anise Global Gastrobar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Two Days In Tampa

In need of a break from the monotony of island living adjacent to the beach, my bride and I decided to visit our former home city, Tampa.

We booked a room at the old Holiday Inn, the Barrymore, a tad up river from downtown. The hotel was cheaper than those closer to the heart of downtown Tampa. The room was adequate and we had our usual roof-top view. The hotel dining venue, the Waterworks Bar and Grill, offered food and adult beverages. The Belle and I enjoyed breakfast both mornings of our visit primarily because of our server, Linda. She is a joy!

Though both my bride and I had worked in downtown Tampa for 25 or so years, we had never experienced the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk was therefore a priority ... after food and adult beverages. Food and drink will be discussed later, as in: when I get around to it. (Anise and Edison)

Here is our walk along the river.

Update 8/3/2017: I forgot about this photo ... a black and white painting on the Riverwalk.