where did I leave off? I have to go see... oh yes - we had finished dinner at Pascal's in Coral Gables... the next day we headed back to Sarasota-Bradenton to have the actual Christmas holiday at our place... and Larry brought stone crabs the size of your forearm (I had a photo somewhere but now can't locate it - if I do I will add it)
we made risotto and pumpkin cake (that didn't stick to the pan despite not having any flour for the grease and flour stage- LOL) and we skipped the salad (perhaps it just seemed too healthy- LOL)
the following day (Christmas Day) we toured Anna Maria Island so S&S could see the old homesteads from my family history and we went to the beach and collected shells while walking along the beach- in glorious weather- and yes it was freezing and snowing in Chicago and it was cold and rainy in Portland (S&S home base)- so we were all very very happy about being out and about on Xmas day...
the pier at Anna Maria - flip flops on Xmas!!!
coquina beach- this was the better weather day of the two days we made our way there-
we had quite the bird collection on the beach- royal terns (with the duck's ass hair-dos) and black skimmers with the colorful beaks and laughing gulls... along with a few sandpipers...
we picked up Phil and went to one of the few open places for lunch Clancy's a local dive bar with a tiki hut behind it where you can eat outside... then at dinner time headed south to Café Baci where we brought a couple of wines and enjoyed straight forward Italian food for dinner. Larry had to leave in the morning to return to work so this was "the last supper" for this go-around of the Friedman Florida Feasting...
on the day after Christmas S&S and I headed back to the beach trying to time the tide for some better shelling efforts - LOL- we actually looked up tide charts!
a sandpiper checks for food just below the sand where small mollusks become lunch!
the shells I found- S&S had their own haul-some of these even made it back home and into my collection basket---
Then we had a late breakfast at the local diner Peach's. Spent the afternoon at home hanging out until it was time for a journey north to Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa. Bern's is renown for its wine cellar- but has some amazing food too- they have their own farm for produce, tanks to keep the fish alive until needed and incredible service (wait staff trains for years before going on the floor, doing rotations at the farm and in the kitchen, as well as extensive training on the wine cellar) The staff of the sommeliers is the absolute best and they would have to be with over 500,000 bottles to keep track of.... so here we go on the wines of the evening-
the first three- well selected by Phil and Steve for value- and then sommelier Brad Dixon (the best!!!) had good bottles pulled - and because we were under budget having gotten some great values we were able to add a fourth- the first fourth was "dead" and so we moved on to the second fourth wine and it turned out to be the wine of the evening - so it gets a single shot close up!!!! LOL
a shot of all the bottles we opened- including the one that went back to the back...
After dinner you head upstairs to the dessert room(s) - everyone gets their own room and there we ordered two 1954 Madeira wines a Malmsey and a Bual (the Bual from Henriques & Henriques showed better) and an 1894 or 96 (Steve can give me the date later) Madeira (Zada's birth year)... along with three desserts - the peanut butter and chocolate one won the event!
the wine labels are presented as a memento of the evening-
this was the wine Brad took back after we had a taste as it was "just not right"....
and this turned out to be the wine of the night- amazing still lots of fruit and incredible balance with the acidity- exactly what burgundy drinkers are always seeking- pinot noir at its absolute finest...
An hour drive home and we arrived at just after 1 AM- with a wake up for 5:30 AM and a 6:15 AM drop off at SRQ for S&S flight home to Portland. All went well and they made it home safe and sound as did their kids who had spent the week in New Orleans with a youth group convention.
a wonderful visit all around- and we had perfect weather to complement the food and fun...
and one more photo - from Christmas Eve dinner - which we took to send to our friend Irina in Lviv, Ukraine- we all met in 2006 and have stayed in touch - we expect to see her in October 2014 if things are OK in Ukraine... as we have a trip planned there starting in Kiev heading to southern Ukraine and Moldova and Romania. Our last trip was to western Ukraine and Kiev (we started in Poland) so we thought to explore something new!
here was a photo from that trip- LOL time sure flies!!! (but Steve and Phil seem to still be wearing the same shirts! LOL)
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