Wednesday, August 25, 2010

All About Abbreviations with Suzanne Andrew

The VIP is located at 10625 Gulf Boulevard on Treasure Island across from the Bilmar. The VIP has been in existence since the 1970's, and although easy to miss, it is a landmark in Treasure Island. There is a long bar that seats up to 18 and some small and medium tables. Large parties can be accomodated on the outside patio.
The ladies room is only one stall and is very small. It was clean, though! I had to laugh when I saw the sign above the toilet:

We started off with an order of chips and salsa ($2.95). The salsa was definitely homemade and not from a jar! The tortilla chips are fresh cut and fried. They are not salted either, which I loved! I usually wipe off too much salt on chips. If you want salt, you can add it yourself. There is so much flavor, though, you might find that salt is not necessary.

The waitress took a very long time to take our order and I changed my mind about what I wanted several times. Debbie knew what she wanted as soon as she sat down and usually I am forced into making a quick decision, but since the waitress was very slow to return, I had extra time to decide what I wanted. Debbie ordered the chimichanga ($9.95 + $2.00 for rice and beans)and I had the "Big Mamu" shredded beef burrito. ($8.95 + $2.00) My burrito was so big, it had its own plate and the rice and beans were served on another plate!
The discussion between Suzanne and I ended up being a lot of acronyms and abbreviations. I ordered the BAB (Big Ass Burrito), Suzanne ordered the SMC (Shrimp Mole Chimichanga) and hers was DFG (Deep Fried Goodness.) We talked about terms we've used such as JBF and NSF and even her business name SMA Solutions. It's funny how everyone knows what you are talking about when you ask for a PB&J.
We had such a great time at lunch today. I am trying to decide whether I should do a TOP 10 list or some other sort of thing. Best of categories perhaps. Anyone have any suggestions, let me know, because you know I do it all for you, baby!!

Who Would Have Thought A Hot Dog Could Be So Much Fun?!

I stumbled upon the most fabulous place and I just couldn't wait to share it with you. Hot Dog 66 is located at 4000 Ulmerton Road across from the Cracker Barrel. Hot Dog 66 had three items on their menu: hot dogs, salads and big baked potatoes. The 66 comes from 66 toppings from which to choose!

This is a wonderful concept and I wish I would have thought of it! There are three different size hot dogs. The mini - 6" ($2.75), regular - 10" ($4.00) and the Jumbo (pink cadillac) which is 1/2 pound of pure beef and 12 inches long ($8.00)!!

Once you pick your size, you can select your toppings. You can select standard toppings that you can find anywhere, such as cheese, chili, jalapenos and onions.

There is a menu board with 4 different combinations which you can choose.

Or, you can go wild and pick things like coconut, asparagus, avocado, bamboo, corn, dried cranberry, pineapple, sesame seeds..the list just goes on and on!

There are also numerous homemade sauces including, but not limited to, A1, Blueberry butch sauce, cilantro sauce, chive alioli sauce, hummus, strawberry garlic sauce and wasabi! I decided to go wild and order things I would never think to order on a hot dog.
The toppings on this particular dog were red onions, green peppers, banana peppers, asparagus, cactus, coconut flakes and sundried tomatoes.

I also ordered a baked potato. The novelty of putting anything I want on a baked potato was too awesome for me to pass. My toppings on the potato were sour cream, corn, mozzarella cheese, sundried tomatoes, salsa and chives.

When I left, I called my friend Julie to tell her I was on my way to pick her up and she asked me to bring her a hot dog. Luckily, for her, I had forgotten my notebook and I had to go back anyway. Julie just wanted a chili cheese dog, but with all of these toppings, I just had to get her something else. That is when I decided she must have the "Morning After Dog." Actually, the taste of butterfinger on the hot dog was an awesome flavor combination. One of the guys was telling me about a man that comes in every week and gets the Jumbo with peanut butter, jelly, anchovies and ...I can't remember the 4th thing. Either way, you can definitely get whatever you want here!!

Carmelita's on a Sunday

Mexican food is one of my favorite foods! Well, Thai, Japanese, Barbecue and Italian are all pretty close together. I just love food. Period.

I was driving down the road and I actually wanted to check out this hot dog place, but they were closed on Sundays, so I figured I may as well have the Mexican food that was in the same parking lot. Sorry Chicago something or other. I will try you next time. Carmelita's is located at 7705 Ulmerton Road at the corner of Ulmerton and Belcher. There are actually four Pinellas County locations.

First stop - the bathrooms. They are very hidden, past the bar and around the corner. Bathrooms were clean. No trash on the floors. Not a lot of decorating or anything to make it pretty, but it was clean and that is all that really matters!

Lunch is served Monday through Saturday from 11am-4pm. I really don't understand why places think that you do not want to eat lunch on Sunday.

I usually order fajitas, but I wanted to order something different! I went with the Del Ray Combo ($10.99), which is a beef taco, cheese with shredded beef enchilada and a smaller version of the Del Ray Burrito. The Del Ray burrito is a wet burrito with ground beef or chicken (I had chicken) frijoles, lettuce, tomato and cheese all wrapped inside a flour tortilla and covered with ranchero sauce and sour cream.

I thought about skipping lunch all together and just having the fried ice cream, but I do it all for you, baby, so I had to eat!

One of my favorite things about Carmelita's is that you can pick the two sides that you want with your dinner. You can choose from Mexican rice, whole beans, frijoles, black beans, whole kernel corn or a side salad. I picked black beans and corn!

As I was leaving, I noticed a woman eating something that looked very yummy. It was the nachos. But, these are not your pile of chips covered with cheese nachos. Taco shell halves are covered with melted cheese, lettuce tomatoes and salsa served on a bed of lettuce and topped with sour cream. I will have to go back and try those. When I do, I will post pictures for you!

Lunch in a Saloon? I Do It All For You, Baby!

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

Sundown Saloon has been in Largo for years. Recently, new owners have taken over the Saloon and made a lot of changes. The inside is clean with new tables and barstools and very comfortable. The next change was to the menu. Not your typical fried bar food here! I was pleasantly surprised by the food and atmosphere at this bar. It is located at 12553 Ulmerton Road in Largo.

Debbie and I started with an order of the Thai Shrimp. They are a new addition to the menu, so they didn't even have a name for them yet! I bet they have a name now. Maybe they are called JoJo Shrimp!

Debbie decided to have the special of the day which was a Mahi Mahi sandwich and I went with the Maryland style crabcake sandwich. Sandwiches are served with chips, but we decided we wanted an order of onion rings too! These were not frozen onion rings! I love onion rings that do not have a lot of breading or batter. These were very lightly breaded. Horseradish sauce on the side.
Sundown has domestic bottles of beer daily til 7 for $1.50. Check their schedule to see what band is playing this weekend. Gotta love a place that still has live bands!
I really look forward to seeing the entire new menu. Stop in and tell them Billie Jo said hi!

Cafe Alma - My First Prix Fixe Lunch

Located at 260 1st Avenue South, Cafe Alma is hidden in a red brick building and it's a treasure hunt to find it! You can either dine inside or outside at the patio tables. Since it was a little humid, we chose to eat inside.

First stop was the restrooms. The building itself is amazing and if you have never been, you must go and check it out just for the history! The restrooms were very clean and nicely decorated.

I decided to start off with the shrimp and crab bisque. The menu stated, "rich and creamy with a touch of sherry" and for $3.00 a cup, I couldn't pass it up!

The restaurant offers a Prix Fixe lunch special for $9.95 (which includes your Choice of Any Sandwich or Burger, plus Alma House Salad or Soup of the Day, a Side Dish and Soda or Iced Tea.) I opted to get the burger of the day which was grilled onions and bleu cheese.

This is the house salad that is served with your sandwich. The side of the day was couscous salad. As you can see, there are all sorts of yummy things in that couscous!
Cafe Alma has several different sandwich options available on their lunch menu ranging from a gyro, to a chicken club, to grilled eggplant and portabello. This is definitely one of the places I will visit again when I am downtown. The lunch menu is available from 11-3 Monday through Friday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Schnitzel in the Summer in Seminole

I think this is one of those "best kept secrets!" Portobello Diner located at 13023 Park Boulevard is a hidden gem that you might not expect to find in Largo/Seminole. It is a small restaurant (seating for about 40) that has a couple tables outside as well.
First stop was the restroom. You have to go through this decorated arch to get to the restrooms, so it doesn't look like that is where you are headed. The ladies room was very clean. You know how I hate a dirty restroom.
Next, I could not decide whether to have breakfast or lunch. Potato pancakes and German pancakes sounded so good, but so did the schnitzels! I decided to go with the lunch, since this is Afternoon Delight and I do it all for you, baby!! (breakfast is served 8:00-11:30 and lunch is served from 11:00-2:00) I was there in the time window where you could order either one. This would have been great for Bob and I as he always wanted breakfast and I always wanted lunch. I opted for the WienerSchnitzel [pork] ($8.95) The schnitzel was served with a salad and fries, but I upgraded to a side of spaetzle.

They also serve subs ($5.85 avg.), burgers (4.15), gyros ($6.25) and salads ($7.25). The salad was served with a home-made dill dressing. I like the colorful tortilla strips on top.

The inside is very quaint and nicely decorated. I love the cute salt and pepper shakers on the tables.
Beer and wine are served. I only had iced tea with my lunch though. The waitress was there every time my glass got low. Very attentive service, but not overwhelming. I look forward to going back here to have breakfast. I am quite curious about the potato pancakes. I want to see if they make them like my mom did!

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Tucked away in Sabala Plaza at 14100 Walsingham Road in Largo, you will find Ippolito's Italian Deli. It looks very tiny from the outside, but it is chock full of good stuff on the inside! There were several construction workers waiting for their sandwiches and several other people eating at the one table inside the deli. I picked up my food and took it back to the office, although once I was there, I was informed that they do deliver from 11am - 1pm. You can also call ahead your sandwich order and avoid the wait.

It took me a while to decide what I wanted anyway, so I didn't care about the wait. I figure the food must be pretty good if people are waiting in line to order it. It gave me a chance to take some pictures.

All subs are made with Boarshead meats and cheeses. They are $4.50 for 6" and $5.25 for a 12". There is a wide variety of hot and cold subs, or you can customize your order to suit your taste buds.

I decided to order the "Chef's Creation" which is actually your choice of items. You can pick three items for $6.50. Selections include stuffed shells, lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, veal or chicken cutlets. stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms, antipasto, chicken parmigiana as well as sausage and peppers. These items could change daily. It took me quite a while to decide (I do not do well with food decisions), but I opted for the stuffed pepper, lasagna and chicken parmigiana.
There was enough food for me to have lunch and dinner! I couldn't believe the amount of food for $6.50. You could get 2 of these and have dinner for 4. Grab a loaf of bread, make a salad and Viola! - Dinner!
The next time I go, I will definitely try one of the subs. Jack Dugan said they are really good! I will go back and take some pictures of one. I do it all for you, baby!!

Randy's West Indian Restaurant and Roti Shop

As I was headed to St. Pete, I was feeling a little hungry and did not have a "lunch date" scheduled. I was just going to skip lunch and have an early dinner, but I do it all for you, baby, so I decided to do something adventurous! As I was looking at all of the restaurants on Highway 19, I spooted this tiny restaurant and was immediately intrigued. Randy's West Indian Restaurant and Bar. I figured if the place was too dirty or anything, I could at least have a beer and say I was there! The menu says Roti Shop as well. Randy's is located at 1310 - 34th Street N. in St. Petersburg.

I walked in and was immediately greeted by Randy. He was serving another customer, but he made me feel welcome in his establishment. I liked it already. It's nice to see smiling faces and be greeted when you walk in the door. Mind you, he was at least 25 feet away from me when he yelled hello! He could tell that I had no idea what I was doing in there, so Randy and the other customer started guiding me through the menu. The other gentlemen must eat there every day as he knew about every item on the menu. I must admit this was totally new to me! I think they knew this as well.

The menu items include: curry goat, curry duck, curry beef, curry potato, curry shrimp, curry chicken or stew chicken. You can get these served with rice or roti. There is also oxtail, rice and beans as well as pelau and chicken. Peleau is peas, carrots and rice cooked in coconut water. There is a vegetarian version as well. Randy suggested I have the stew chicken and I figured that was a good place to start!

My meal was served over rice with beans and with some sort of slaw made of carrots, peppers and cabbage (I think). ($6.50) The hot sauce was very flavorful and I could have used the whole bottle! I will go back just for the sauce!!

I wish I would have reviewed the menu a little bit before ordering as I would have loved to try one of the beef patties ($2.00) as an appetizer. I figured I would have dessert afterwards, but I was too full. I know, me, too full for dessert! They have either a currant roll ($1.50) or Kurma ($1.50). I will definitely try one of those next time I am in there. I am quite curious about the cow heel soup ($5.00) too! Randy told me to come back and I definitely will. I love restaurant owners who appreciate my business.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Bento Box and a Facial.

On the way to Irene Gott's Day Spa (located at Crimson Spa in Safety Harbor), I stopped at Yuki Japanese Steakhouse for a quick lunch before my facial.

I wasn't sure what to expect for lunch as I have only been there for dinner. I got there just after they opened (about 11:45), but as it got closer to noon, the restaurant filled up rather quickly.

I decided to order the Tempura Bento Box ($8.95) which included soup, California roll, salad and rice. There were 4 shrimp tempura and the vegetables were: asparagus, broccoli, potato, carrot and zucchini. As an added bonus, there was a little spring roll! My waitress was very pleasant and the sushi chefs never stopped working the whole time I was there. There were a lot of people having sushi for lunch.

I arrived at Crimson Moon Spa and Boutique in Safety Harbor, located at 400 - Second Street North. Irene took me back to the facial area to being my facial. First Irene did a complete evaluation of what my skin needed. After the consultation Irene decided I need the works, since it has been years since my last one.

After cleaning my face, she notice some hairs that needed waxing, after the pain, I was ready to relax. (Talk about being honest in a blog. Don't ever tell anyone else!)

Irene applied the exfoliation peel, to remove the build up of dead skin cell. Next, she recommended the medical microdermabrasion to go deeper into layers of build up and renew healthy cells. After this treatment, my skin was as smooth as baby's skin. Irene applied the infra red and blue light therapy to renew the collagen and lighten the sun damage. It was so relaxing, I begin to sink into a deep relaxed state of mind. I dosed off to sleep and I am not sure how long I actually slept. As I started to wake up, Irene suggested one more procedure called the non surgical facelift to tone and lift the muscles of my face.
At the end of the session, Irene recommended the skin care products from Syence of London. As she applied the products, she explained the four step hydration products. These work together to bring up the moisture and to plump up the skin. When I looked in the mirror, my face and body was renewed, relaxed and rejuvenated.
I felt like I just had a stay-cation. Irene can answer any questions about facials and Syence products. Call her at 727-560-5025.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Life is Vin-tastique!

What a wonderful afternoon at the O Bistro! I was very intrigued by the name, but forgot to ask anyone why they chose the letter O as opposed to A or any other letter. The restaurant is located in a strip center at 6661 Central Avenue. There is ample parking, so you never have to worry about finding a place to park.

I arrived and was immediately greeted at the door and seated. The server, Judy, told me that I had to wait for the others to arrive to hear the specials. Jodi Fritch and Larry Tirrell who own Vin-tastique, arrived shortly after, so I didn't have to wait too long to hear the specials!

I didn't even have a chance to check the restrooms before Jodi and Larry got there, so Larry and I went on an expedition to find the restrooms and compare notes. I was very pleased with the ladies room. The floors and walls were clean, it was decorated nicely and the mirror did not have and spots. When we arrived back at the table, Larry was a little disenchanted with the mens room. It offered too much privacy! Since there was only one men's restroom without stalls or urinals, he thought that if he had to spend any amount of time in there, someone would be knocking at the door. I told him that women had to deal with that all the time!!!

It was actually quite funny comparing notes from the women's and men's rooms. Apparently men look at things a lot different than women and do not care if there are pretty pictures on the walls or nice plants in vases. I must point out that in all of my future posts, notes will only apply to ladies rooms and men may feel differently!! (These pictures were taken in the ladies room.)
After reviewing the menu and changing my mind several times, I finally decided to have the deep dish spinach pie with Greek salad ($11). Jodi was having the grilled ham and three cheese tomato melt with tomato bisque soup ($9) and Larry ordered the bbq brisket and brie quesadilla ($11) and a cup of tomato bisque soup ($4) . I am glad he ordered the quesadilla, as I was quite curious about that as well. I was also intrigued with the goat cheese and fresh berry salad. The side dishes that you can choose if you order a sandwich include waffle fries, eggplant fries, fruit or macaroni and 3 cheese. I was hoping that Jodi would have ordered the eggplant fries as her side, but just like me, you have to have tomato soup with a grilled cheese! Fortunately, they accidentally served her sandwich with the eggplant fries, so we got to taste them anyway! (It's these little extra bonuses in life that make me happy!)

I explained to Jodi and Larry that I liked to take pictures of the food as they were presented. Larry felt that the soup could look prettier (my word) if he cleaned the edge of the bowl and he dressed it up with his crackers. I say, if the restaurant is going to serve something that doesn't look pretty, it should be photographed that way. Just to avoid any future arguments, I am showing you both pictures of the bisque. With and without crackers!

Vin-tastique is the exclusive wine-focused event enhancement service provider for the entire Greater Tampa Bay Area. I was not exactly sure what this meant, but after talking with Jodi and Larry and seeing their love and knowledge for wine, I want them at my next event!! Jodi and Larry have a vast wisdom not only for wine, but also social media promotion. Many times, a wine or liquor store will have a wine tasting event, but not know how to promote the event, so it may not be successful. Or, they promote the event and get a lot of people to attend, but there is not really anyone there who can answer your questions about the wine or find you something that you may really like. It is rare and fortunate that you find someone like Jodi who can promote your event as well as answer all of your wine questions.
Let's say, for example, that you have a museum, gallery or any type of business for that matter. It could be a bookstore! And you want to have a customer appreciation night or other event, but you don't know how to go about hosting this event. Jodi and Larry will take care of all of the details for you! They will ask you some questions about the kind of wine that you like and want to have available for your guests. Jodi will promote the event on all social media sites. They will be there the night of your event answering all questions about the wines and making sure that everything is perfect and your guests are having fun.
Or, if you do not have a brick and mortar business, but you want to have a wine tasting in your home...just call or email Jodi! I know myself, that I have not had wine tastings in my home as I do not want my guests to feel pressured into purchasing anything. I hate the hard sell!! But, with Vin-tastique, Jodi and Larry ask the same questions to get a feel for what you want at your tasting. Their motto is "Your tasting, your way." If you want to do all Rieslings from Germany or you want to try something from South Africa that you have never tried - just let them know! For $20 per person/15 person minimum, they will come to your home with the wines you want to taste as well as an accompaniment. This is where it gets fun. You can choose chocolate (and not hershey's...they have an amazing chocolatier from whom they get their chocolate), cheese, pastries, tasty treats or even cupcakes. There is no sales pitch, they will tell you where to get the wine that you like and that is it! No order forms, no payment now, none of that stuff! Just taste the wines, have fun with your friends and let Jodi and Larry take care of your guests. I can't wait til I find 14 other people who want to come to my house and do this! Or, invite me to yours!

You can tell that Jodi and Larry are people persons! They will get along with any and all guests or customers and make them feel welcome and appreciated. And you definitely want your customers to feel appreciated.