Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ABC - Advertising, Branding and Chicken!

Patricia Hunter of Ink Graphics introduced me to a fabulous hidden gem in Clearwater. Pico Rojo is located at 2475 McMullen Booth Road Suite E. Located on the corner of Enterprise and McMullen Booth in the Oakbrook Plaza, this little place was very hard to find! It is nestled in a strip center, but it is worth taking the time to find it.

Pico Rojo opened in December, 2008. Pico Rojo is a family owned restaurant that was created with the concept of introducing Latin American Rotisserie Chicken and foods cooked in an ecological, natural and flavorful way. They only use peanut oil for items that are deep fried and olive oil for saute'd foods. The chicken is marinated for 24 hours and then slow roasted in an ecological charcoal rotisserie oven.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting. Orders are placed at the counter from a very large menu hanging on the wall and then you seat yourself. One of my favorite things (simple things) was the large red water cooler on the very left side of the counter. It was filled with ice cold water, so whenever you were ready for more water, just get it! (I drink a lot of water.) I was drinking iced tea also and Monica refilled that for me.

First stop is the ladies room. Very clean with automatic soap and paper towel dispensers. There is also a bench to set your purse or whatever other reason. I hate when there is no place to hang my bag as I will not set it on the floor in the restroom.

After staring at the menu and trying to figure out what to order, I finally decided to have the 1/4 chicken with 2 sides. (I picked the same thing that Patty was ordering.) I was having such a hard time picking my sides, though - that I had to get an extra side. The side choices are amazing! You can select two with your meal: steak fries, fried yucca, sweet plantains, tostones, fried cheese, rice, beans, mixed rice/beans, quinua, quinua/beans, side salad, asparagus, coleslaw and corn. And, let me point out that all sides are vegetarian. I chose the quinoa and beans, fried cheese and asparagus. There is a variety of salads as well as a pico rojo sandwich or a rotisserie chicken salad sandwich and of course as chicken empanada.

Once our food was brought to the table, I was thrilled with my selections. The pico rojo is a mayonnaise based sauce and the aji is hot. You can mix them or use them individually. Some people pour it on the food, others dip. I mixed some hot into the pico rojo and then I put the aji in my quinoa/beans. I liked being able to determine how hot I wanted my food.

Quinua (or Quinoa, in English) is a South American plant that is cultivated for its seeds, which are ground and eaten. Quinua has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice. I will definitely have this again when I go back. Along with the fried cheese! Yum!

For dessert, Patty and I shared (well, I ate most of it) a cheese empanada.This is a fluffy pastry that is filled with white cheese and dusted with powdered sugar.

I think I may have kept Patty out longer than she expected, but once we started talking about her business, I was so intrigued, I just had to learn more. Not only is she a graphic artist, she is a painter as well. Her company, Ink Graphics, has been in business two years. Patty has always worked for other agencies and has done free lance work as well. The difference with Ink Graphics is that they know happy clients is the best advertisement that you can have. Every client knows that they are the most important client! Patty goes above and beyond to make her customers feel special and important. I know this, because Ink Graphics designed business cards for me. Email me and I will send you one. They are phenomenal!! Patty does not stop at business cards. She does everything. From website design, to your logo, slogan all the way through to marketing and promotion! She does headshots, brochures, postcards and printing. Anything you need - and if she doesn't do it, she has the connections to get it done! Some of her clients are Debra Dakins (website design), Sunshine Geriatric , More Than Awards and most recently the Marriott. You can contact Patty at Patricia@inkgraphicsonline.com or visit the website.

I knew that Patty was a painter, what I did not know was how accomplished she is! Her paintings were in the observation deck at Tampa International Airport for 6 months. She painted live there as well! How cool is that? She was in 14 shows last year.Most of her artwork is acrylics, but some are oil. Click here to see some of her work. I was truly amazed at her love for painting. She loves bright colors and reds! It was kinda funny that there were four people (including me) in the restaurant that were wearing red. Also, Pico Rojo means red beak!

The owner, Monica, was a very gracious host. It was a pleasure dining in their restaurant and they were truly concerned that everything tasted good and that we were enjoying ourselves. I asked to take a picture with her as she was so sweet and wonderful and when I stood up I realized how tiny she was (or how tiny I am not!)
They will deliver lunch to your business or office with a $25.00 minimum purchase. Catering is also available. Their hours are Monday - Thursday from 11:30am-9pm; Friday 11:30am-9:30pm; Saturday noon-9:30pm and Sunday from noon til 8:00pm. I will definitely eat here the next time I attend a show/concert at Ruth Eckerd Hall.
Oh and I forgot to mention that they serve beer and wine as well as homemade sangria. I did not have any today, but on my next trip back, I will definitely indulge in a glass of that!
I do it all for you, baby!!

I will not have any difficulty when I return, though!

I Was Under A Spell When I Kissed The Pig!

I was laughing to myself on the way to lunch that Debbie Lane of Wisdom Hypnosis was going to make me do something stupid like walk around the restaurant and quack like a duck! I met Debbie at The Ozona Pig, located at 311 Orange Street in Palm Harbor. She quickly assured me that would not happen! There was a lively crowd at the bar as we made our way to a table. I was ready for barbecue, but was told that they had the best burger. The smoked cheddar makes the difference. I was hesitant, as I wanted to try the bbq. Debbie suggested I order the BBQ cocktail, which is beans, slaw, pulled pork and a pickle served in a mason jar.($5.95) Debbie had an order of skewered barbecued shrimp.

I did order the "cowboy burger" ($6.95) and Debbie had the hickory smoked 1/2 bbq chicken ($9.95) served with coleslaw and baked beans and a deviled egg. My burger was served with fresh homemade french fries.

Our waitress was very attentive and kept our sweet teas filled. She was very friendly and personable.

During lunch, I told Debbie about laughing on the way there about her making me do something stupid. (As if I need any encouragement). She said that she only does "stage performance" once a year during the "Great American Teach In" at Palm Harbor High School. The rest of the time it is Medical Hyponosis, which is very different from stage hypnosis. Unlike professionals of stage hypnosis, the hypnosis professional certified in medical hypnosis cannot choose from a variety of subjects and direct the show. In fact, the problem can be so complex that its resolution requires total dependence on subconscious processes occurring in the individual.

What is hypnosis? The first definition from the MayoClinic website states, "hypnosis is a trance like state in which you have heightened focus, concentration and inner absorption. When you are under hypnosis, you feel calm and relaxed and you can concentrate intensely on a specific thought memory, feelingor sensation while blocking out distractions." Under hypnosis, you are more open to usual suggestions and this can modify your behavior, sensations and emotions. Although you are more open to suggestion, your free will remains intact and you don't lose control over your behavior.

Hypnosis can be used to treat a wide variety of conditions, such as: allergies, asthma, fibromyalgia, childbirth, dental prcedures, skin conditions, gastro intestinal problems, migraines, hypertension and urinary incontinence.

Debbie has witnessed individuals eliminate the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), once their stresses were reframed into more manageable events and occurrences in life. Plus., relieving any pain related to IBS allows for increased enjoyment and less worry.

Debbie is most known for her work with the "hiccup girl." I said, "You cured her?" and she replied that hypnotists do not cure, the individual does. She also treated a woman who belched 38 times every 15 minutes for two years. That would drive me insane! But, as Debbie explained, you have to regress to the original sensitizing issue.

I learned a lot from this lunch with Debbie. Your subconscious mind tells you a lot and your thoughts really do affect your body. Debbies office is located at 3060 Alternate 19 in Palm Harbor. You can email her at wisdomhypnosis@yahoo.com or call her office 727-781-8483.

Congratulations Debbie on your 2007 IACT Hypnotist of the Year Award. That is phenomenal.

As we were leaving, I had this overwhelming urge to kiss the pig. No, actually, once we were taking pictures, the crowd got involved and started yelling for us to "kiss the pig!" I was laughing too hard to kiss him!
Follow me to see if I do anything goofy with Patricia Hunter from Ink Graphics!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Relaxing Sunday Brunch with a Reflexologist

I am really enjoying Sundays and Sunday Brunch! Today Ruth Hughes and I went to Cafe Al Fresco right on the trail on Mainstreet in Dunedin. There is nothing like getting a good table at a good restaurant to make your day! When I arrived, the place was really busy, so for us to end up with a corner table outside, it was phenomenal! Ruth must have some pull around there!!

First stop - the restrooms. I was very pleased that everything was environmentally friendly. The lights turned on automatically when you entered, the toilet automatically flushed, the faucet was motion activated as well as the paper towels. The trash can was overflowing though and papertowels were spilling onto the floor. I wasn't sure what to think. The staff was all men, though. Perhaps that is why.

Everything on the menu looked great, but I decided to have the "Poached Eggs Florentine." This is two poached eggs over spinach and bacon potato pancakes topped with a ham and mushroom cream sauce served with potatoes. Ruth ordered the daily special which was a turkey club. Sorry, I don't have a beautiful description as it was not on the menu!

After brunch, we decided to have dessert. The server said they were individual servings, so we each ordered one. They were HUGE! We could have easily shared these, as each of us took half of our desserts home with us. Oh, that reminds me - I think I will finish that right now!

Ruth ordered the Chocolate Bread Pudding and I had the Apple Tart. Both were served hot with ice cream.
While we were relaxing by the trail and watching people jog, bike, skate and run by, we were discussing Ruth's passion. Ruth is a massage therapist and loves it! It is so wonderful to meet people who truly love and enjoy what they do. Ruth has been a massage therapist since 1986. Ruth moved here from Laguna, CA where she worked at the Ritz Carlton. She has touched the backs and bottoms of several famous people. I don't think I can mention any names, but when you see her, ask her to tell you about it! I was screaming when she was telling me about it! I worked at a resort many moons ago and I checked in several famous people. I met the Smothers Brothers, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover as well as numerous sports figures; but to actually touch them and rub their bodies! Oh my, It was all too much for me. I am sure the people at the next table were trying to figure out what we were talking about!
Ruth is the owner of Florida Reflexology and Massage Therapy. This is a treat for your feet and much more! Reflexology is very point specific and is great for people who are ticklish, as it does not tickle and the whole body is affected. I used to get reflexology massages all of the time, but my reflexologist moved too far away. I am thrilled to find a new therapist. If you have never had a reflexolgy massage, you have to add it to your bucket list. It is something you just have to do! Ruth also does relaxation massage, therapeutic massage, pregnancy massage, bamboo fusion massage, aromatherapy massage and seated chair massage. The best thing about this is that Ruth comes to you!!! No longer do you have to fit an extra half hour to hour in your schedule to drive and get a massage. She will come to your home or office. Wouldn't that be great to get an hour massage on your lunch hour?
I asked her if she could do more than one massage at a time because I was thinking of what a great "Girls Night In" that would be. Have your friends over and each person gets 15 minutes to a half an hour with Ruth while everyone else is enjoying themselves. How fun is that? Imagine how much fun your summer pool party would be if Ruth was inside doing massages for the guests! The other thing I thought of was a couples massage and she said that she can do it alone and do back to back massages, or she could bring another massage therapist and both people would enjoy the massage at the same time. That would be awesome. You would be totally relaxed and then not even have to drive home! The possibilities are endless. Email Ruth to schedule your party or event. She was also telling me about corporate employee appreciation parties that she has done. I would love to work for those companies! Free chair massages while you work!
What do you get for the person who has everything? The gift of better health! There are so many things that a massage does of which I was completely unaware. Massage lifts depression because endorphins are released. It keeps your body balanced. Stress is the precursor to disease and massage alleviates stress. Don't buy your friends more stuff...buy them a gift of massage. And especially a massage that is delivered!
I have always heard to make sure you drink water during the 24 hours following a massage, but I never knew why. Water is very important because massage stimulates circulation that includes toxins. Rather than letting the toxins settle back into your tissues, flush them out and cleanse with water. It all makes sense now.
Ruth keeps a pretty busy schedule and has a list of clients that have "set" appointments every month. Same time, same place! I heard it through the grapevine though, that she has some openings during the week from 10-2. Actually, I scheduled my hot bamboo fusion massage for next Thursday at 10am. Jessica Rivelli with Working Women of Tampa Bay said that I will love my Hot Bamboo Massage. She had one several weeks ago and said it was much better than hot stones because the heat is more consistent. She went on to say that it is a special treat beyond just a regular massage. Now I am even more excited. Too bad I couldn't get in any sooner. Don't wait to schedule with Ruth, that is for sure!!!
Tomorrow I will be having lunch at the Ozona Pig with Debbie Lane of Wisdom Hypnosis. Check back to see those pictures!

Another 2 lunch Saturday! I Do It All For You!!

A bunch of friends from Springstead High School were meeting on Saturday at Chili's. I wanted to see everyone, but Chili's is a chain! And a quite large one at that!! So, I met with my (alumni)friends and had soup and a margarita with them. I wasn't quite sure where we were going to go after that, but Dawn Muller said that she knew of someplace to go. It's great catching up with people and making new friends with old friends. Funny how even though you may not see someone for 15 years, the minute you see each other, it's as if no time has passed! We have decided to just keep meeting once a month for lunch and our group would grow. I think we are the only class in the history of the United States to not have ONE class reunion. We did not have a 5, 10, 15 or even 20 year reunion. That's right...Springstead High School Class of 1987 never had a reunion. Hopefully our lunches will grow and grow until we reach our 25 year reunion and one actually happens!!

After lunch at Chili's, Dawn and I went shopping and then we headed back to her house. I was thinking of a great little Mexican Restaurant, but I accidentally passed it and it was too much of a fiasco to get back there. We ended up at Felony's in Spring Hill at the corner of Forest Oaks Blvd and US 19. Iwasn't sure where we were going as all Dawn talked about was the pancakes. I thought it was some kind of breakfast diner. I was wrong! Felony's is a fun place with lively waitresses and a whole lot of atmosphere. The tables are covered in shiny metal, the bar and dining room is separated with prison bars, there is a working (replica) electric chair as well as a shark tank with a backdrop of Alcatraz prison. Oh, and the bar keeps changing colors. How cool is that? The servers were all wearing a yellow tank top under a blue and black short-sleeved jacket, black belted short-shorts, black sneakers, a pair of handcuffs and a "police" hat.

1st stop - the restrooms. They were very clean and large. (I hate trying to squeeze in when they are very small.) The pictures on the wall were great. This one cracked me up. The same shiny metal was used in the bathrooms as well. For some reason, I really like that look.

Some restaurants have really great service, but the food is horrible. Others have food that is great, but the service is not good. Well, today I had awesome food and a great server! Pearl was wonderful. She was very friendly and answered all of my questions. Those of you that have eaten with me know I usually have 82 of them! I do it all for you, though! I want good food that is unique. But, I also want something that the restaurant sells a lot. I don't want to order something the the cooks only make once a month. As an appetizer (these are called conspiracies on the menu) we had the fried zucchini. ($4.49)

I was having trouble deciding what I wanted to order. I finally went with the "Alcatraz Salad." When Bob and I visited San Francisco 7 years ago and went to Alcatraz, I became obsessed and watched every movie about it and even ordered an Alcatraz cookbook. Perhaps that is why I ordered this salad from the "Saladtary Confinement" section of the menu. It was a salad topped with pineapple, mango, avocado, cilantro and grilled shrimp with a creamy avocado dressing. I wasn't sure I would like the avocado dressing, so Pearl brought the dressing on the side. I did like the dressing, though. Look at that - it looks amazing. Those shrimp were so good! ($8.99)

You can order breakfast all day and since Dawn had not stopped talking about those pancakes, that is what she ordered. ($4.99) I thought she was getting three pancakes. But Pearl asked her if she wanted bacon or sausage. When the food was delivered, I could not believe all the food she put in front of Dawn. Three HUGE pancakes, bacon, homefries and an english muffin! REALLY? At least she had leftovers for breakfast the next morning. There really are 3 pancakes in that stack. Massive. You can get blueberry, banana, (I can't remember what else) or these ones were cinnamon/sugar.

There is an item on the menu that you get free if you can eat the whole thing in 45 minutes. It is a 5 pound New York strip steak grilled with provolone, mushrooms, onions, peppers and horseradish sauce on an oversized bun. You are even confined to a special cell! We just missed a woman who had eaten the whole thing earlier in the afternoon.

When we were getting ready to leave, we realized there is a wall where you can take your picture. I, of course, never pass up a photo opp! It would have been fun to have a bunch of friends in the "line-up." I didn't think of that until just now or I would have borrowed some guys from the bar! That would have been fun.

Felony's is open Sunday through Tuesday from 7am - 12am and Wednesday thrrough Saturday from 7am - 2am. They have a sink or swim night and for $10 you can drink all you want of draft beer or well drinks. Pearl told me what night it is, but I didn't write it down. I do know, though, that bike night is Thursday night from 6pm-10pm and they have $2.00 bottles (non-imports). After 10pm it is ladies night and got $5.00 it's all you can drink draft or well drinks. Wednesday night is Karaoke night.
Tomorrow, I will be dining with Ruth Hughes from Florida Reflexology and Massage Therapy.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Authentic Cajun in Downtown Largo

Friday is the weekly networking function for the Unicity team. I have been missing this event as I had lunches scheduled. Jim Moyles asked me to leave one Friday open so they could all hear how I was doing with my 62 days. I agreed, as he always has lunch catered in from a local restaurant and I figured that would be a good opportunity to talk about catering. Well, there was food, but it was from Publix! Not that that is a bad thing; in fact that Cobb salad was awesome, but it doesn't fit in with my local restaurant theme. After the meeting was over I knew I had to go somewhere else. I do it all for you, baby!!

As I was driving back to Largo, I was going to stop and have Greek. I was undecided though, as I didn't really know what I wanted. Just then, Jack Dugan called me to ask a question and was telling me about this great lunch he picked up for his office at Po' Boys in Largo. I was heading that way and it sounded good, so I figured I would check it out. Once again, it is one of these places that you drive by a thousand times and never stop.

Gulf Coast Po' Boys is located at 312 West Bay Drive in downtown Largo.
It is a very small restaurant that is mostly take-out. There are 3 stools at a counter and a table for 2 inside and 4 tables for two outside on the patio. When I walked in, I was immediately greeted by Anthony. He was so friendly and welcoming. It is nice to feel appreciated when you visit an establishment. I was having trouble deciding on the fried shrimp po' boy or the oyster po' boy. Anthony settled it for me by making me a combo! Actually 1/2 the sandwich was oyster the other 1/2 was shrimp. The sandwich platters are served with coleslaw and potato salad. I didn't realize this when I ordered the side of red beans and rice. I had enough food for 2 people! Oh and the best part was that the bun was toasted! Well, that wasn't really the best part, but it was pretty great!

I am not sure why I can't find the picture of the red beans and rice. I know I took one because it looked so awesome. Added some New Orleans hot sauce and I was happier than a pig in mud! The red beans are "simmered in chicken stock cooked with ham hocks, tasso, seasoning and served with rice." There are 2 bottles of hot sauce on every table: Crystal and Louisana Hot Sauce.
Some of the other intriguing menu items included the Dirty Roast Beef (served with debris) and the blackened catfish Po'Boy. The assortment of Po' Boys consists of fried, blackened or grilled chicken; fried or blackened catfish; Cajun Andouille; white sausage; fried, blackened or grilled shrimp; fried oyster. They also have a variety of cool summer salads including a New Orleans italian style which is marinated mushrooms, pimentos, black and green olives with artichoke hearts over mixed greens. I do not like olives, but this sounds phenomenal!!!
Also, on my next trip to see Anthony and Michael, I will have to order "Marilyn's Forbidden Bread Pudding!" Only because it is topped with her incredible whiskey sauce.
Michael and Anthony opened Gulf Coast Po' Boys about a year ago. Michael is from New Orleans and Anthony is from Trinidad. They serve authentic Cajun food. They also have a neat assortment of Route 11 potato chips for sale. Some of the flavors include: sour cream and chive, chesapeake crab, salt and vinegar, barbecue and Mama Zumma's Habanero. I was tempted, but I will have to save that for the next time.

Gulf Coast Po' Boys is open Monday through Saturday. Closed on Sunday. Hours Monday through Friday are 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Saturday 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
Stop in and see Anthony and Michael. It is worth the trip!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Margarita Madness and ManTrap's Arlene

UPDATE ********** CLOSED**************

Arlene Balog and I were going to go to a quaint little tea room in Largo, but at the last minute, we decided we would rather have margaritas than tea! So I will have to save the tea room for someone else.

Senor Locos is located at 10500 Ulmerton Road in the Largo Mall. It has been there a little less than one year. We arrived a little after 2pm so we missed the lunch rush.

First stop -- the restrooms. They were clean. Nothing on the floors. Small stalls, but that's ok.

Got back to the bar and ordered margaritas. Happy hour is two for one - all day, every day - on wine, draught beer, house margaritas and well drinks. We were immediately given chips and salsa and we ordered a queso dip to go with them! The queso was very good, but it was a little to thin. It didn't stick to the chips. We were making a big mess with the cheese dripping everywhere. It was a nice serving, though - in a big bowl!

I was having a hard time trying to decide what to order. I wanted fajitas, but I always order fajitas and wanted to do something different. I was going to try the chimichangas or the special burrito. What did I end up ordering? The lunch fajitas ($7.99)!!

They were served with guacamole, but you have to pay extra for sour cream. Usually it's the other way around. The fajitas were served steaming hot. Wow, look at that. YUM!!!! Served with rice and beans, there was definitely enough there fill me up!
It is only served with two tortillas, though. That's okay, as I didn't need any more food! Arlene was enjoying the queso dip and did not order anything else to eat. We started talking about how some people work at the same place forever and others change jobs a lot. Arlene loves her job and has been at the same place for quite some time.
Arlene has worked at Mantrap for 15 years and has been designing hair for over 25 years. Mantrap is located at 13177 Park Boulevard next to CVS. Arlene is very passionate about her work. She loves all facets of hair styling from updos to colors to braids. Colors are a favorite for her; low lights, highlights and even medium lights! Her favorite saying is, "I'm a lefty, but I'll do you right!" She is keratin certified and is also a razor cut specialist. Razor cutting is for thinning thick hair, taming gray hair and controlling men's hair. It gives great texture in hair. Scissors, razors, thinning shears - she is proficient with all of them! Every head is different.

Special occasion hair is another one of Arlene's favorite things to do. Whether it be for a wedding, graduation, prom, homecoming or any other special event, Arlene will make your hair beautiful. Updos are a lot of fun for her. She also loves to do braids. For example, French braids down the side, down the middle - creating art with braids. An added little perk is that she will travel to you for your special event. Arlene works long early days and late evenings to accomodate her clients.

Another thing that sets Arlene apart from the rest is that she does roller sets. Many older ladies insist on having their hair set with rollers. She is skilled in that area as well. No matter what you want done to your hair, Arlene can do it. Even if you don't know what you want done, she can help you figure it out!
If you want to make an appointment, just call Mantrap at 727-393-8751.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

All alone on Hump Day!

Stephanie called this morning to say that her baby was sick and we would have to reschedule our lunch. I was a little pleased as I had way to much stuff to do and it was kind of a blessing to be able to keep working on some other things. Then I got hungry. But, I didn't want to take a lot of time to get something to eat. I weighed my options and knew I had to stick with a local restaurant and no fast food. I decided to go to Mario's Pizza Trattoria located at 13688 Walsingham Road in Largo.
The lunch specials are on the window when you walk up to the restaurant. You can get two slices of pizza and a soda for $4.99 or you can get one slice with a side salad and a soft drink for $4.49 - or even a $5.00 Philly Cheesesteak. I chose to go with one slice, a salad and a Pepsi! I never drink soda. Not sure what got into me today.

The menu is quite extensive. There are 3 different types of pizza crusts. NY Style, doppio crust (double crust) and Sicilian style (square). They also have calzones, strombolis and rolls (sausage, chicken, italian combo or pepperoni) as well as hot subs, cold subs, philly steaks, soups and salads.

The inside of the restaurant was very clean, warm and inviting. And yes, the bathrooms were clean as well! There are both tables and booths. The soda fountains are self serve, so if you want a refill, just go get it! Everything is self serve. When you walk up to the counter, you order your food. Then, you get your drink, pick up your fork, napkins and whatever condiments and spices you want and go to your table. When your order is ready someone will bring it out to you. Well, he brought it out to me, the other guy that was dining went up to the counter to get his. Not sure if I received preferential treatment or not!
I really want to go at night and try one of their dinners. (I guess I could order one during the day, but I just figured I would have dinner in the evening.) The chicken piccata con pignoli (a flavorful lemon butter sauce with pine nuts served over lightly battered chicken $7.99) sounds divine!

My favorite pizza is a thin crust plain cheese. It's really the only way you can taste the pizza. What are your favorite pizza toppings and how do you like your crust?

Realization By The River.

Tuesday morning started of wonderfully with a trip south to Ellenton. Rosemary, Jordan, Liberty and I were headed to Hickory Hollow. Rosemary kept talking about these fabulous corn fritters and by the time we pulled into the parking lot I was ready to devour them. There were only a couple cars in the parking lot and when we got close enough to the window, we could read the sign that read "On vacation. Reopen July 21." Are you kidding me??? We had to come up with a back up plan real quick! We decided to head over to Woody's River Roo Pub and Grill across from Prime Outlets. I couldn't remember its exact location, so we drove around for a couple minutes and ended up in the correct spot. Woody's is located at 5717 - 18th Street E in Ellenton right on the Manatee River. There was ample parking as well as a section marked off for motorcycle parking.

First stop - the bathrooms! The restrooms are outside, but the ladies room does have a window A/C unit. The bathrooms were surprisingly clean and nicely decorated. I thought I was going into a beach bathroom that would not be clean. I was astonished.

Rosemary Nickel is the founder of M.O.M. - Motivating Other Moms. After spending the afternoon with this phenomenal woman and her children, I was inspired to take a look at my own life and find out what it is that really makes me tick. I have only been working on this a couple of hours. Rosemary, on the other hand, has got her game on! She is here to help every mom out there. Most women who become moms do not really have an outlet to be who they really are. Some lose their identity because they become a wife and a mom and they lose themselves. Women are so focused on their children and families and do not take time to take care of themselves. A lot of women do not have someone to talk to and just listen to them or they are afraid to say what they are really feeling. I was so comfortable with Rosemary almost immediately. She is such a genuine and caring person! And wait til you meet her kids!

Jordan is her six year old son. He is currently homeschooled. ( Rosemary will soon be starting a blog about unconventional homeschooling. - more on this later.) What an intelligent, bright child! He was explaining things to me about how things work and even about the business he is starting. He wanted a websight to sell something and make money to buy a travel trailer with bunk beds and a metal detector. Rosemary encouraged him to find his passion - something that he really loved - and his answer was tea. They met with a blender and she asked him what flavors and things he liked. He came up with his own tea! They go to Empress Tea once a month for tea lessons. His website is just short a shopping cart which they will have very soon. You must check this out though! Click here. Check back later once they have the shopping cart and order some of Jordan's tea!

Liberty just turned four and is such a precious little girl. Seeing the way Rosemary works with her children and inspires, encourages and supports them just makes my heart happy.
Rosemary is currently working on a "Mom's Tea." After listening to exactly what this is, I told her I was going to get pregnant just so that I could attend one! (I was kidding!) A group of 20 women will get together one afternoon/evening from 4pm-7pm. They will have the opportunity to sit, talk and just share their feelings. She said the women leave there feeling uplifted and ready to conquer life. Once again, women just want someone to listen to them. With the price of admission, a ticket will also be given to a disadvantaged youth so that she can attend the princess tea. (This is on a seperate night for young girls.) The Princess Tea teaches young women confidence and shows them that they are important and can do or be what they want!

Back to the homeschooling blog that Rosemary will be starting soon. Rosemary will show some unconventional ways to home school your children. Most parents start with a desk and soon realize that does not work. At lunch today, she taught the kids about the river and estuaries, which animals live there and the kind of plants you might find. She said if her husband would have been there he would have talked about the bridge, the construction and how it worked. Everything is education and does not have to be confined to a room.

We sat at the restaurant for several hours and were delightfully entertained by our server, Cindy. She was not afraid to tell it like it is! We started out (by her recommendation) with the fried pickles. ($5.99) They were breaded and fried spears served with a dipping sauce. I think it may have been ranch. Rosemary ordered the gazpacho. It sounded cool and refreshing. This is a nice healthy vegetarian option. Cindy said, "To me it's salsa, but they call it soup!" It was reminiscent of cold gumbo without any meat. It had a defininite kick! I was having a hard time deciding what I wanted to order for lunch. I wanted something unique - as I do this all for you. I opted for the Grouper Roo-ben ($12.99) and Rosemary had the River Roo-bbq ($8.99). It was served with fries or coleslaw or you could pay 50 cents more for homemade chips. The kids ordered the fried shrimp with fries and hot dog with applesauce. All kids meals are $5.99. The grouper roo-ben was very tasty, but quite messy!

I will definitely pop back in here when I am down in Ellenton shopping. I will probably just have an ice cold beer and watch the boats. It was enjoyable watching the cars cross the bridge too. You can get her by boat or by car - or even by motorcycle.
I think we were just too disappointed about not getting to go to Hickory Hollow that we just couldn't enjoy our meals.
Does anyone know where I can get some good homemade chips with my sandwich? Man, that just makes a lunch!!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Found Heaven in Pinellas Park!

Monday afternoon was spent with Micheline Rozon at DeSesto Italiano Ristorante located at 7199 - 66th Street N in Pinellas Park. Micheline and her husband Sesto have owned the Italian Restaurant for 3 1/2 years. Tucked away in a small complex just south of Park Boulevard, DeSestos is another place that I have driven by numerous times and did not even realize it was there.

Micheline and Sesto are originally from Montreal. They moved to Florida in 1997 and immediately got involved in the Florida Pasta Company. All of the products from Florida Pasta are produced in small batches and distibuted to hotels and restaurants throughout Florida. A full line of fresh pasta is available for purchase at the restaurant. Ravioli is sold in 12 piece packages and some of the mouthwatering flavors available were pumpkin ravioli; gorgonzola, spinach and pine nuts; feta cheese and black olive; crab and lobster; goat cheese, pine nuts and spinach; and butternut squash and walnuts. There were also packages of gnocchi and tortellini available as well as a variety of meats and cheeses. If you want dessert, pick up a box of Italian cookies, biscotti or pizzelles. Whole cakes are also available for purchase.

The restaurant is very casual for lunch. Dinner is much classier. Friday and Saturday nights there is a mandolin player. This sounds like a great idea for a date night! The restaurant is very cozy and inviting. When I first arrived, there were only a few people dining, but by the time my food was served, there were quite a few people eating. For lunch, you can always get a soup and salad for $5.50 or a half sandwich with soup or salad for $6.00 as well as daily lunch specials. As I was looking over the menu, I was very intrigued with one of the appetizers "Olive Ascolane." They are large green olives stuffed with meat and parmesan cheese then breaded and fried. I started writing down the description of these and got a little sentimental in thinking how much Bob (my deceased fiance') would have loved these. Just then, Micheline appeared at the table with some of them for me to taste. A tear came to my eye as I knew that Bob was having lunch with me. (sappy but true.) These tasty morsels are definitely a labor of love. Each olive is handstuffed. They were delicious.

Bread was served with two different types of pesto in the dipping oil. The first is a sundried tomato pesto and the other is a basil pesto which is called Sesto's Pesto.

Sesto and his mother lived in Italy for 7 years, so the recipes are authentic. Some of the dinners on the menu are his mother's creations. She still runs a restaurant in Montreal.

I left my lunch choice decision to Micheline. She selected the "Linguine Mamma Angela" which has a wine cream sauce, capers, mushrooms, ham, Italian sausage and pancetta ($9.50) and "Penne Alla Sesto." This dish is penne served in a cream sauce with sundried tomatoes, onions and mushrooms ($9.50). Both dishes were quite delicious, but the Alla Sesto was phenomenal. I will not eat boxed pasta ever again!! I cannot believe the difference in the taste. And the best part is that you can stop in and pick up fresh pasta and take it home to make for dinner. Love it!!!

There is a children's menu available with prices ranging from $3.50 for a Ceasar salad to $5.25 for lasagna bolognese meat sauce or cheese tortellini. There are several other things on the menu too.
DaSesto's also caters. There are full lunch and dinner catering menus. They will deliver lunch to you Monday through Friday from 11am-3pm. Call to see if you are in their delivery area. 727-209-2695. For catering events email Sesto@dasesto.com

Micheline talked me into dessert and I am so glad that I caved to the pressure! The tiramisu was so light and delicious. It was heavenly.
I am already looking forward to my next visit to DaSesto's Italiano! I cannot believe this gem is located so close to me right in Pinellas Park. This will definitely be added to my "favorite places" list! Stop in if you are in the area, or just make it a destination restaurant. It is worth the trip!