Weekend Happenings

27 05 2014

And just like that, it’s Tuesday! I hope you all had a lovely long weekend! Thanks to all who have served and are currently serving our county. Freedom isn’t free.

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I thought I’d share some of the highlights from my weekend, which included two new (to me) places!

My weekend started out with (of course) a long bike ride! I met up with Meghan, Courtney, Heather, and Chris at the crack of dawn (7am) for a ride along the Suncoast.

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We busted out almost 102 km – great way to kick off the weekend!

That afternoon I chilled by the pool before meeting up with Chris, Courtney, Heather, her hubby, and some of their friends at The Getaway.

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This was my second time at the Getaway, and I think it’s a pretty sweet spot. It’s right off of Gandy on the St. Pete side, and the owner has really tried to make this bar on the water truly feel like “a Getaway”. You can pull up a boat at one of their docs, lounge on their home-made beach, or chillax under one of their thatched roof tiki bars. During the day they also rent stand up paddle boards.

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When we arrived there was a musician playing and it definitely felt like I stepped into vacation. They don’t have a kitchen on site, but there’s always at least food trucks there (order from the bar). The Big Bang BBQ Food Truck and Renny’s Oki Doki Food Truck were there on Saturday. I ordered some of the pork nachos from Oki Dokie and they were awesome! The kimchi sauce on top definitely had a kick, but I would definitely order them again. Later, I shared some sliders from Big Bang, which were also quite tasty. It was a fun night with friends that ended with some dancing at Hula Bay 🙂

On Sunday, I slept in (glorious!), went for a hot ride on Davis island, and then met up with some other friends at the Sandbar! So, if any of you have seen the (awful) movie Magic Mike, there’s a scene where they go out to the Sandbar to hang out. Yes, there actually is a sandbar in the middle of the bay where boats drive out, toss an anchor, and everyone just hangs out.

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My friends took their boat out which only had room for 4, and despite an offer to come back and pick me up, I opted to rent a kayak and paddle out. Why not get an extra arm workout in? I really wish I had taken some photos while paddling, because it was so pretty going past the mangroves, and I spotted a fish or two jumping out of the water.

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I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going (just go left around the point and then you’ll see everyone was my direction), but soon after I started paddling, I saw the crowds of other kayakers, and then TONS of boats off in the distance. After about a 20 minute paddle, I made it! And luckily I spotted my friends pretty quickly, because there were definitely over 100 boats out there.

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(Yes, the dog, Scooter, has a life vest on)

I roped my kayak to their boat and cracked open my new favorite beer- Rivertowne’s pineapple beer. This is SO yummy- it’s light and refreshing with a hint of pineapple. It’s not actually made from pineapples, nor is it one of those super sweet, high alcoholic beers. The pineapple is added in the perfect proportion. I highly recommend it if you’re a light beer drinker. (And don’t worry, I kept myself hydrated with water/Skratch throughout the day- I wasn’t only drinking beer!)IMG_4703

The cool thing about the sandbar is that it’s not entirely exposed in that there’s dry sand (at least where I was), so you’re constantly in the water, which helps to cool you off. The water ranged from shin deep in some places, to waist deep in others, like where we were anchored. The tide was actually dropping, so by the time I left close to 5, it was thigh-deep. We hung out for the rest of the afternoon, listened to the band that was playing (a special event for the holiday weekend) and went for a walk to people watch. People/boat/animal watch we did! There was a boat that had a tiki bar built on it, people with floating coolers, lots of pups running around, people who had set up tents with a table and a grill, lots of fake boobs (this is Florida, y’all), and someone even brought their pet boar out there! I kid you not! I really wish I had my phone with me at that time, but there was a woman who was feeding her boar (ring in nose and everything) on her boat! And this was NOT a little 10-15lb thing. Oh no, it was a year and a half and I would guesstimate over 100lbs! So. Bizarre! Now that’s not something you see every day!

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And of course, I had to photobomb this lovely selfie of my girlfriends. They were sitting in the boat and I was in the water, jumping up and down. I just so happened to perfectly time this jump with the click of the shutter. 🙂 (PS check out all the boats in the background!)

I had a great time at the sandbar, and I would definitely like to go back. I’m sure the water will be bathtub-like soon and not quite as refreshing, but if you’ve got an umbrella, a cooler, and some ice, it certainly makes for a relaxing afternoon!

That’s my weekend in a nutshell. How was your weekend friends?

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Roadtrip to Vermont- Part 4 (The FOOD!)

1 09 2012

Um, is it really September? Where the heck did the summer go?

Well, I guess it’s time for the last post in this drawn out account of my ridiculously long road trip. So, I’ll spare you the details and summarize the drive home. We drove. A lot. (1400+ miles) We arrived safely in Tampa. The end.

Now that that’s over, I can get on to the good stuff- The FOOD! Let me tell you friends, Vermont has some dang good food! And some pretty awesome farmer’s markets too!

In case you missed it:

Friday night’s meal: Courtney and I shared these plates.

On Saturdays in the summer, Burlington has an incredible farmer’s market, right in the heart of downtown. After the race, Felipe excitedly told us that the market was open for another hour or so, and that we all HAD to check it out. You don’t have to ask me twice! I love farmer’s markets! Of course the first thing I did was find a stand selling real maple syrup.

This was from Williston, which is about ten miles away from Burlington. Talk about local!!

I was a bad blogger and didn’t take many any photos of the actual market or the other cool stuff we found (honey, wine, maple lemonade, lots of fresh fruits/veggies). I wasn’t really feeling well, so I walked around a little before taking a rest on a bench while Felipe and Courtney looked around (Jess was resting in the car). I was really bummed that I wasn’t up to walk around more. I ❤ farmer’s markets, and really really miss them. (Growing season is kinda opposite here, and the closest market to me happens once a month. And, its not really that good for getting fresh produce- there’s like one produce vendor.) After we stocked up at the market (I think Felipe bought a quart of honey!) we headed back to the hotel.

After a shower and a nap, I felt much better and ready for our next excursion. It was close to dinner time, but it was also close to closing time for Ben and Jerry’s, which was a short drive away.

It didn’t take long for everyone to agree that we HAD to go to Ben and Jerry’s.

Everyone says Disney is the greatest place on earth. I think Ben and Jerry’s may be a contender for that title.

Clearly, I was excited to be there.

We opted not to take the tour because they weren’t making ice cream while we were there. Isn’t the point of the whole tour to taste test?? Sheesh. Well, at least I got a hot fudge sundae.

I should have gone with a scoop shop exclusive, but I went with the What a Cluster flavor: Peanut Butter Ice Cream with Caramel Cluster Pieces, Peanut Butter & Marshmallow Swirls. Tasty!

We couldn’t leave without taking funny photos in the cut out, over sized pint lid. Courtney’s face is great!

After our ice cream appetizer, we headed into Burlington for dinner. Apparently all the other 2000 or so triathletes in town for the weekend also had the same idea. All the restaurants were PACKED. So, we walked around some, put in our name at the American Flatbread, Burlington Hearth, and then headed over to the Vermont Pub and Brewery for some locally brewed craft beer.

Courtney and I decided to try a sampler. We told the bartender to give us six of her favorites, and we’d go from there.

If I remember correctly, here’s what we got (starting with the beer in the right column, at the top, and going clockwise)

Burly Irish Ale
Forbidden Fruit
Grand Slam Baseball Beer
Beetlejuice
Genniuss Stout
Tulach Leis

Click here for descriptions.

Courtney and I both agreed that the Tulach Leis was the best. I thought that the Forbidden Fruit came in a close second. We had just enough time to get through all of the beers before heading back to American Flatbread.

When we were finally seated, we ordered salads and a large pizza for our group. By the time the pizza came, I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture. Regardless, it was delicious!

The next morning was driving day, so we stopped for our morning fuel.

It was a beautiful, cool morning (yay hoodie and jeans!) so I grabbed a hot drink. I decided I had to get something different, so I ordered the mudslide mocha. Basically, it was a mocha with irish cream flavor and chocolate milk. It was really sweet, but tasty. The weather screamed autumn to me, so I happily ordered the pumpkin chocolate chip muffin. OMG it was GOOD! I can’t wait for fall! (Oh wait, that doesn’t really happen in FL.)

I was about to check out when I saw this: Homemade raspberry pie. MMmmmhmmmm. I snacked on this all day long.

Someone suggested that we find a few farmer’s markets along the way (while we were still far enough north) to break up our drive. So, somewhere in the middle of western Massachusetts, we found a neat little farmer’s market, with fresh local produce, and lots of other assorted local goodies like beer, cheese, jelly, and fresh bread. WIN!

My bounty included this gem:

I made some quesadillas with this, and they were OUTSTANDING. Smoked cheddar ftw!

I also had to grab these guys:

I haven’t cracked these babies open yet, but the time is coming!

I’m not gonna lie, I left the northeast a little sad. The abundance of farmer’s markets made me miss my favorite farmer’s market in DC. And the weather we had for the weekend couldn’t be beat! It was what I would consider perfect fall weather, but it’s definitely not Florida fall weather. I’ll have to wait at least another three months before I experience that down here. Sad face. On the bright side, at least I won’t have to deal with snow!

As you can tell, I had some good eats on my road trip. Maybe for my next road trip, I’ll take a tour of the best farmer’s markets in the country. Wouldn’t that be great??





Tampa Bay Burger Showdown

7 05 2012

This weekend was probably the best one I’ve had in Tampa since I’ve moved here! My weekend was full of food, friends, and fun!

Last week, one of my friends from Running Club texted to ask if I wanted to go to the Burger Showdown on Friday night at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. The name alone sounded pretty awesome, but after learning that a $35 ticket got me unlimited samples of the 12 different burgers competing, two drinks, and dessert, I was in! From the minute I purchased my ticket, I started counting down until Friday night!

I knew Courtney loves food as much as I do, so I invited her to come along too. We went for a short bike ride on Friday right after work to build up a little bit of an appetite and then headed over to the park.

We checked in, getting our two drink tickets, a chip to vote for our favorite burger, and a postcard advertising Magners Cider. They told us to take it to the Magners tent and we’d get a free cider there. Score! We didn’t waste any time and quickly cashed in on our free cider.

I got the pear, and it was tasty. Really light, sweet and refreshing. A great summer drink! Drink in hand, we headed to try our first burger. First stop: Lee Roy Selmon’s.

 

We nicknamed their burger heart attack on a bun.

I think this was called Dewey’s Stacked burger and it was topped with pulled pork and bacon. LOTS OF MEAT.

I really enjoyed this burger, but I don’t know that I’d ever actually order it. I don’t want to know how many calories are in an entire burger…

Next we moved on to The Burger Joint. I was actually really surprised to see BGR on the line up. I knew there were a few in the DC area, but I didn’t realize they were in FL too. I always wanted to go when I was in DC, but never did, so I was really excited to be able to finally try their burger!

I was NOT disappointed. They were sampling their Wellington Burger: “Roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, garlic with a touch of mustard seed and blue cheese all atop our burger. Served on a fresh, buttery-toasted brioche bun with our mojo sauce.”

It was super rich, but SOOOOOOOOO good. I don’t know how they cooked the mushrooms, but I could have just eaten them and had a huge smile on my face!

Get in my belly!

After that deliciousness, it was time for a drink refill. Mmm Shock Top. 🙂

Next up, Datz! I’ve never actually been to Datz, but it is DEFINITELY on my list of places to go in Tampa. I have driven by Datz a few times, but never thought much about it. It seemed like just a normal deli. I mean, it’s a pretty generic looking building with one of those signs with the block letters that someone needs to go up and change:

I’m not a big deli person, so I figured it was nothing special. Until I saw Meghann’s post about it a few weeks ago. OMG. Datz just shot to the top of my list of places to go for brunch. Red Velvet Pancakes?? Definitely NOT what I was expecting based on the name and looks of the building!

Back to burgers- Datz was sampling their macaroni and cheese filled burgers. Yes, I said the burger had macaroni and cheese inside! What a quircky combination!

It was good, but I didn’t like it as much as the BGR burger. I didn’t really taste much of the mac n cheese; it was overpowered by the the barbeque sauce on top.

Where to go next? We stopped by Stacked, whose signature stacked burger is a challenge to eat.

If you can eat all of that (4 patties!!!) in a certain amount of time, its free. That sounds like a stomach ache waiting to happen. Their burgers weren’t ready when we went by, so we wandered to the next table.

The Tampa Convention Center was sampling a new burger they are going to start selling at their outdoor cafe.

I believe they called this the surf and turf, and it was a burger with lobster salad on top. There was also guacamole and I think remoulade sauce too. Interestingly, it was served on an English muffin. This one was only okay. I think it was an interesting combination of flavors, but would have been better if it had been served hot off the grill. Oh well, I guess we got to the table at the wrong time!

We spotted our friend Mary and took a break from eating to chat and take a quick picture 🙂

Next up, we went over to the Ashley Street Grill. This is a restaurant in the Sheraton hotel in Tampa. They interpreted “burger” a little more loosely than the 11 other restaurants and were serving a fish sandwich.

It was kind of like a crab cake but made of fish. The slaw was really flavorful, and would have been good on its own. But I found the burger to be really mushy which really turned me off. I’m not normally a texture person, but this was just not working for me. I had a few bites and then threw the rest out 😦

At this point in the evening, we were all getting full, but we decided to switch it up and get something sweet. We headed to the dessert table, where we had the option of an apple tart or tiramisu. I got the tiramisu, and it was awesome!

So maybe not the most appetizing picture, but it was delicious!

After dessert we sat and chatted for a little before deciding to rally and go for another burger. We were planning on stopping at Burger 21, but I got sidetracked by the “Farm to Table” sign I saw at the Marriott’s tent. Locally and humanely raised beef, prosciutto, heirloom tomatoes, and arugula? YES PLEASE!

A little too much bread on my piece, but this was probably my favorite burger of the night. Even as full as I was, I still enjoyed this burger tremendously. I definitely thought that the beef in the burger had the best flavor of any of the burgers I had tried. It may have just been in my head, but I’m going to go with it. Grass-fed beef wins in my book.

Unfortunately, I surrendered after this burger. There were a few other burgers that I didn’t get to try, including one from a Danny’s All America Diner, a local joint that had been featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.

I guess I’ll just have to go there myself!

A few other Tampa favorites: Burger 21, Square 1 Burgers, and the Green Iguana, didn’t make it into my belly on Friday night. These have been added to my list of restaurants to try.

As the Showdown came to a close, they announced the winners. One winner was The Green Iguana, which unfortunately I didn’t try! And then, I was quite surprised when they announced The Ashley Grill burger as one of the winners! That was my least favorite! I was pleased however, when they announced the people’s choice as BGR. It was definitely a good burger.

I had such a good time hanging out by the water with my friends and eating good food. And, for the amount of food I ate, I think it was a pretty good deal! (Only because I had bought my ticket in advance. At the door, it was $55!! No thank you!)

I could do this every weekend! Well, maybe not with burgers, I don’t think my body would like me so much…

When’s the next “showdown”??

Question of the day: Have you ever gone to a foodie event like this before? How did you pace yourself??