Saturday, January 30, 2016

a wonderful wine dinner

We attended another spectacular wine dinner from Chef Jamil at Michael's - in the wine cellar.  This time focused on cuisine from South Africa.  Made us want to return there soon! Yes, it is a long flight but we have been talking about it more frequently as of late.  We felt we didn't get enough time in the winelands and also one can never have enough time with the wildlife in their own habitats... I am tempted to go into a whole post about the safari part of our month in southern Africa and our leopard anniversary! but am disciplined enough to hold the focus on the dinner... LOL

dishes shown in order and then descriptions below them - amazing food- Jamil really outdid himself last night!

they were terrifically nice and made an alternative dessert for me (coconut allergy) a luscious creme brulee...

the scanned menu -

We were joined by friends John & Barb and ran into the Greenbergers (Jim & Ellen) who had reserved for the dinner as well... which made for a very quick passed hors d'oeuvres time as we caught up a bit with them.  Today we headed to AMI for burgers at Skinny's - we finally got a chance to eat outside... it IS winter here (despite being a lot warmer than Chicago) and we have had some chilly and very wet weather of late... so sunshine was very welcome today! Tomorrow is the outdoor walk around tasting at the Ringling - the Grand Tasting of Forks N Corks weekend... keep your fingers crossed for good weather- clouds are OK but not rain.... Sunny would be the best!!! CBGB are coming down from Tampa... and we will end the day with a concert at Fogartyville - a group called Runa... so stay tuned for the update....

Friday, January 29, 2016

living on love

Last night we saw a frothy boisterous comedy at the Asolo... Living On Love... it opened last year on Broadway with Renee Fleming in the Diva role but closed soon after.  I both enjoyed the play and can see why it didn't make it.  This is a perfect play for less expensive venues where a night of entertainment isn't equal to a mortgage payment - such as Broadway shows with star names are.  The play was fun and funny.  Phil declared it "cute and dated" but I liked the "period piece" aspect finding some of the story lines too difficult to really put in the context of today's media diversity.  Who for instance would be the butt of the Leonard Bernstein jokes in 2016? No conductor (Maestro) has the corner on the market of celebrity today in quite the same was as he did in his day.  And no diva of the opera today can equal the acclaim of Maria Callas in her era either....

so I found it completely entertaining and a fun way to pass the evening- all six of the performers were strong but of course the four performances by those who were allotted actual opera pieces won the day. The two "houseboys" were fabulous and really stole the show in their big scene. The Diva and the Maestro were fun - over the top - performances with hers being the stronger by quite a bit but his had its moments for a number of good laughs.

overall- worth an evening of your time (unless you detest opera - in that case you won't find it an amusing diversion)

so a positive review of the night's entertainment from me... next up Forks N Corks wine dinner (South Africa winemaker featured)- stay tuned...

Thursday, January 28, 2016

friends stay overnight

we had been inviting our friends to visit for a couple of years and finally they made it for about 36 hours LOL- they are busy- both of them still work -doctor and tax lawyer/accountant- so getting away can be challenging especially since they have to deal with two full calendars...

but we got lucky and they were headed to Naples for the Wine Festival and stopped along the way down there-

they arrived in time for wine with dinner at Bern's (we met them through food and wine) and then the next morning they relaxed while I went off to class - then we headed out to lunch and then had a stop by the Star Fish Company to pick up stone crabs for an at-home snack before dinner at a favorite on AMI- Blue Marlin.

They left at dawn this morning - long before we night owls were up - for a second very rainy day in a row... luckily we were able to snack in the courtyard the afternoon of their arrival... on a much nicer day.

For the first night we had a planned dinner with CBGB (Tampa friends) at Bern's - the steakhouse known for its extensive wine cellar of over 500,000 bottles of wine.  We had eight wines downstairs before retiring upstairs for desserts and three glasses of various 1954 vintage Madeiras (birth year of three of us and  vintage known for no other excellent wines except the Madeiras.)

I took one photo of the food - LOL the cute little onion soup they serve with all their entrees- the rest of the photos are of wine LOL- big surprise...

three old white burgs-


a few red burgs-

(this one below was the wine of the evening- surprisingly lively and smooth fruit flavors)

a Beaujolais (no, not nouveau!)

a terrific cornas and a cahors that still shows well - we have had this one on prior visits

a couple of corks - before we got to the point where I forgot about the last few- LOL

then a tour of the kitchens - more square feet than all the dining rooms put together- an amazing operation that starts with their farm seven miles away - that supports the restaurant's commitment to fresh quality products....

a tour of the wine cellar ( and a peek at one of the 1954 bottles)

we had lunch the next day (after my class was over) at Columbia in St Armand's and had the cava sangria some soup and salad and a number of the tapas...  for details of a very similar meal you can catch the blog post called-

then we headed up LBK to AMI (LOL) everyone uses abbreviations around here because the names of the islands are somewhat cumbersome- Long Boat Key (LBK) Anna Maria Island (AMI)... it was so foggy you couldn't see Beer Can Island from the bridge between LBK and AMI- or the water for that matter... we decided to stop at our local fish market/dockside restaurant Star Fish to pickup stone crab claws for an afternoon snack (hey we haven't eaten in more than an hour! LOL)

the place was almost empty- but the fog gave me an opportunity for a cool shot of the shack of their dock area-

and then later in the evening we headed off to Blue Marlin in Bradenton Beach for dinner-  where I had a new to me prep of the fish (they had black grouper and red snapper last night)

and we had two excellent wines from our cellar with which we celebrated our friends' visit

our friends left at dawn and unfortunately had rain the whole way to Naples - but we appreciated the time we got to spend together - and hope we left them with a good impression of our dining possibilities - we had reserved at indigenous but the weather precluded our eating there since it is 90%  outdoors... and we would have loved to have enough time to also do Louies Modern as well since both of the places you can BYO and we could use the help bringing the cellar to a manageable number for folks who aren't getting any younger- LOL

alas if you have "problems" like this you really have no problems - LOL- we are so lucky and we know we are...

tonight the theater- so stay tuned for a review of Living on Love and tomorrow a wine dinner (part of Forks N Corks weekend) of South African wines at Michael's Wine Cellar with Barb & John... after a rummikub rematch with her mom Barbara (who got it as a 98th birthday gift from fans) then CBGB will meet us for the Grand Tasting at the Art Museum - the big finale for the Forks N Corks weekend... followed by a concert that evening.  Then next week: the ballet, the symphony, another concert and a birthday visit from friends along with a few more wines and restaurants... always something going on around here...