Quote of the Day

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Your letter has been submitted

From the Tampa Bay Times: Although space limitations don't allow us to print all the letters we receive, we give them all careful consideration. Below is the letter you sent us. 
The Tampa Bay Times had an advertisement in the Sunday 8/6/2017 edition for Esbriet, a drug used to treat an incurable lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or I.P.F. Thankfully neither my wife nor I need this medication that was approved by the U.S. in 2014, but I was curious about the cost. Not surprising was the $94,000 to $96,000 cost of a years supply of this drug if purchased here in the U.S. The same drug and dosage if purchased in Japan, Canada, India or Europe will cost approximately $2,000. Is this not a pharmaceutical obscenity?

From a personal perspective, 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 those ten doses would have cost us $1260 or $126 per dose.

What contributes to this 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.

Of course Big Pharm is doing their best to make it illegal to buy prescription drugs from Canada and other parts of the world 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 and they do not work for Big Pharm.
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It remains to be seen if my letter gets printed, but this is an important issue that we can't allow to go unanswered.

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.

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.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Burger And A bowl Of Gravy

My bride, the Belle of Gulf Boulevard, has been feeling the urge ... the urge for a burg, hamburger that is. I suggested that since we were going to MD Oriental Market on 49th in Pinellas Park that we should give Pete and Shorty's a try since this pub is in the same shopping complex as the MD. So we did and we love it.

On our first visit my bride requested the Pete Burger Classic with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion with a 60 cent upgrade with cheese. For an additional $1.95 she added the Tater Tots. This meal seemed to satisfy her desire for a burger ... cooked her way.

I could not resist the Over Easy with Avocado prepared my way - medium rare. The Over Easy was a delightful, juicy mess with avocado, bacon, cheddar cheese and an over-easy egg that spilled its golden gravy over the perfectly cooked patty.

For my side I chose French fries ... ho-hum. But wait! For an additional 40 cents I received a bowl of savory and delicious brown gravy for the fires.

Since Pete and Shorty claim to be an Iowa bistro and I didn't spend a lot of time in Iowa a few years ago, I asked the server how to proceed with the gravy and fries. She suggested dipping the fries one at a time since pouring this gravy on the fries would make them soggy. I did as directed and the gravy and fries were heavenly.

As I consumed my burger it occurred to me to dip the burger in the gravy and take a bite, then dip again with subsequent bites - holymoly was that ever good.


We have visited Pete and Shorty's several times and the burgers are consistently perfect. This is now one of our premier burger palaces. And, spend that additional 40 cents and get that bowl of gravy. I think a shoe would taste pretty good dipped in that stuff, but you should probably stick with the burger and fries.

Good service and reasonable prices.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Dandy Dining On The Island

In our morning paper the other day my bride and I read a Reiley review of Island Grille & Raw Bar at 210 Madonna Boulevard in Tierra Verde. Laura Reiley is the Tampa Bay Times' restaurant critic ... one of the best food writers in the business of writing about food.

Intrigued by her article, I took a look at the Island Grille website. The Grille outgrew their previous location, so the owners built a new, grander structure back in August of 2016. This new place is spacious with indoor and outdoor seating. Island Grille is definitely not a rustic fish shack and one of the first things that caught my eye as we walked in was ... be still my thumping gizzard ... an oyster bar. And I mean a real oyster bar, with real oyster shuckers. I quivered with excitement.

I seriously considered dining at that bar but the hostess had already guided my bride to an awaiting table in one of the indoor dining areas and both my Belle and Jamie, our server, were waiting for me to show up ... with arms folded and impatient foot tapping.

Once seated, I couldn't help but be impressed with a series of panels with glass etchings adorned with images of snook, mullet, hog fish, a turtle and various other critters from the sea.

After ordering a Stella draft for me and a William Hill Chardonnay for my dining partner, I contemplated the oyster menu. Two boutique oysters varieties from up north and Louisiana mollusks were on this day's menu.

On the way to our table I had stopped to chat with one of the shuckers. He described the northerners as being a bit on the small side. He and I discussed the Gulf oysters for a moment, and then I was offered one as a taste test.

I watched as Ricky expertly shucked my oyster: top shell removed, the meat severed from the bottom shell, not a drop of the salty liquor was lost and the oyster wasn't dipped in a nasty bowl of water to wash away the flavor. The oyster on a half shell was handed to me and with great delight I consumed this sweet treat from Louisiana.

It is also a treat to discover a venue that serves oysters on the half shell shucked by people who have a clue as to the proper way to shuck and serve. I have only found one other restaurant along the Pinellas County Gulf coast that really knows what they are doing: our neighbors on Gulf Boulevard, the Salt Rock Grill. Back at the table, I requested a half dozen on the half shell.

Oops! What's this I muttered to myself? The oysters looked good but they were swimming in a big puddle of melted ice water. A lady, who turned out to be the owner, asked if there was a problem and she agreed that this oyster swimming pool was a problem and it was immediately corrected ... sort of.

My replacement tray came back rather quickly so I imagine the oysters were drained of water and liquor, placed on fresh ice and served. I ate them but they were not as sweet and flavorful as my gratis oyster at the bar.

Enough about oysters already! The next order of business was our entrees. The Belle requested the Chicken Cordon Bleu off the Early Bird menu. The breaded chicken was topped with sliced tomato, ham and Swiss cheese.

Said she, "The chicken with panko was crunchy on the outside, just the way I like it, and tender and juicy on the inside." Her side was fluffy mashed potatoes.

I was still in a seafood frame of mind so I chose a half dozen Chargrilled Oysters with chipotle lime sauce.



These oysters were prepared on the Island's chargrill and served hot with fresh French bread. I could detect the smokiness from the grill that had my mouth watering even before these mollusks were served. The sauce was tangy from the lime with a subtle piquancy from the chipotle peppers.

I finished with the Steamed Platter: 6 oysters, 6 clams, 6 mussels and 4 steamed shrimp.

All seafood was steamed just right, but I discovered that I really needed to eat fast before everything got cold. The shrimp keep cooking after leaving the steamer so I should have consumed them first. Next time I think I must try the Chilled Platter with 6 raw oysters, 4 shrimp cocktail and smoked salmon fish spread.

When Jamie came by to see how we were doing I told her that we were D-U-N, done. Apparently I was mistaken because the next thing I knew, this appeared on our table:

Jamie said that we really shouldn't leave without an order of this Drunken Bread Pudding. She was right! We did need to experience this decadent delight.

Almost as sweet as the bread pudding was our final bill: all food and four adult beverages came to a very reasonable $91.49.

Service at Island Grille & Raw Bar was exceptional, The owners were not only present, but worked hard to ensure a smooth running operation; from supervising to serving, to picking up dropped debris. These are very "hands-on" people. We were impressed.