Saturday, February 27, 2016


We hadn't been to Beach Bistro in years... the last time we went was sometime after my dad died (2001) but before my mother moved back north in her final years (2008) - we had taken my mom and her friends Charlie and Jane to dinner there to celebrate my mom's birthday and thank Charlie and Jane for being such good friends of my mom's.  The place is the highest rated restaurant on the island where they all lived and where my family has owned property since the 1920s- and also happens to be twenty minutes from where we live now. So when John & Barb suggested dinner there we happily agreed, warning them that it was good but pricey. They said no problem because we would all go early with Barbara (Barb's mom) who we had not yet had a chance to go out with.

We picked them up around 5pm for our 5:30 dinner reservation (Barb had told us it would be early and we could think of it as a late lunch LOL) which was 1. the time they had available- this being "season" and 2. a good time for Barbara to be out as having completed 98 event filled years on the planet, she was not a late night person and options for dining there were slim given how in demand the place is this time of year.  We waited a very brief time in the tiny bar area of this tiny restaurant before being escorted into the dining room overlooking the gulf waters and the sunset view.

We had brought a 2002 Puligny Montrachet (a fairly stiff corkage fee but worth it to be able to bring from our own cellar) Since it had been awhile since we had been there I was somewhat surprised to see how little the place had changed (I guess why fix it when it isn't broken...)  We were the second table escorted in and I thought the room smelled a little musty but once the place was in full swing I no longer noticed it. Very shortly - no later than 6 pm - the place was full. I am estimating but I am guessing they can't serve more than about 40 people there maximum.   The dining room ceiling is draped in tent like red cloth and the walls are mirrored giving the illusion of more space but also giving every one a view in one way or another of the sunset.  I realized that this is why the early table were all filled - it wasn't only that is a popular place - we were coming at the most popular time - sunset on the waters being a big deal here.

this photo shows pretty much the entire dining room- we had a table in the far corner the only one for five in the place (there are several large tables in the bar area which were curtained off for privacy of the diners)

the view on the way to being seated-

sunset time but our table was so far in the corner we mostly saw it reflected in the mirrors which was actually quite lovely- the room just glowed...

here are two shots I took on the way in - one by the front door - cute fish motif going on there and one in the bar of the ceiling where they are many "mementos" hanging.

The bar is extremely cozy and the whole ambience is one of an old beach bum bar from the era when I was first coming to the island and I was wishing I had been here, at this very place, before it became a fancy restaurant because I bet it was a terrific dive bar where old wrinkled tanned-like-leather guys hung out shirtless, in shorts and huaraches, in the afternoons waiting for the sunset... Those men - so common a sight here in my youth are virtually non existent now.... but I am sure there are ghosts them in this place.... 

But I have digressed- back to dinner- We placed orders for starters and they delivered a cute little focaccia with three toppings and some terrific tomato blue cheese soup...

Starters arrived - the foie gras bread pudding for Phil, shrimp & lobster for me, and three salads for Barb, John & Barbara.

Then the mains came - Barb & John had the sheep's head fish and Barbara the rack of lamb, Phil a bouillabaisse and I had a grouper preparation.

The dessert courses sounded good so we each ordered (after all we were celebrating dinner out with Barbara - we HAD to have dessert, LOL) John & I had gingerbread pudding with ginger flecked ice cream.  Phil had a chocolate truffle terrine and Barb had the "Hat Trick" trio of mini creme brulees.  Barbara ordered a praline dessert and was served key lime pie LOL - so they needed to correct that but it resulted in a photo of the key lime pie dessert and then when the praline one came I forgot to take a picture of it LOL

sorry couldn't find the mini creme brulees (must have fallen down on the job LOL) and here is the key lime pie that we sent back for the right order of the praline... but that photo is also missing :-(

We sat at the table a while after getting the check (which was brought without request) talking and then moved our party to John & Barb's for a couple of spirited rounds of Rummikub which we have become quite addicted to.  Phil trounced us all in the second round leaving Barbara without having yet laid down her meld... he was quite cut throat (no helping little old ladies across the street from him LOL)

So we had a lovely dinner.  I wished the food was just a little bit better - no wow factor here - living on prior laurels I think.  The meal was lovely but at the prices they charge it should have been outstanding.  We are well and truly spoiled in Chicago, being ten minutes from our two favorite neighborhood places - 42 grams and goosefoot (respectively Michelin Two stars and Michelin One star) so it is tough to leave the city and come to a beach town expecting them to meet that standard. However that being said- I think they could notch it up a bit to meet their price point...

great fun with great friends - what's not to like... in the end nothing because the meal is a memory but the friendship a living ongoing relationship- and that is where to hold the focus... can't ask for better than that- life is good!

Friday, February 26, 2016

eight years old

Well I tried to remember the last time I was at the circus and I was I think about eight.  I was with my grandfather (of course since he LOVED the circus and the excuse to hang out with the grandchildren.) I got a clear balloon with a blue mouse head inside and my sister got one that was pink...LOL lines drawn from pretty much day one for us... but I digress... last year I visited the Circus Arts Conservatory during my Sarasota Arts class.  See this post which is chock full of information about it...

I learned that we have a terrific circus here each winter.  The Sarasota Circus was sold out by the time we visited the Conservatory so I had tucked the idea of going in the back of my mind.  When we read a terrific review of this year's Circus Sarasota I was worried that we might again be too late but we squeaked in under the wire (or the tent flap-LOL) to attend one of the last performances of this particular circus: Red White and Bello!

So I had some trepidation about this because when I actually thought back I wasn't really all that keen on the actual circus - more on the concept of its historical role in the growth of America - the pre automobile era and how important it was to small towns across the country in the days before TV and even before radio... And also fascinated by the logistics of putting on a circus in that era... This has been somewhat expressed in prior posts on the Circus Museum here at the Ringling complex...

But last night I found out once and for all that even the most cynical of us is an eight year old kid at the circus... We were on the edge of our seats a good deal of the time and laughing and enjoying the evening's centerpiece of entertainment - the incomparable Bello! There is no way to describe the fun we had because it would sound like we had lost our minds and maybe we did, but in a good way- we went with the part of our brains that didn't spend a lot of time analysing everything and picking it apart intellectually but just opened up to the sheer pleasure of being there with our little kid eyes and hearts.

virtually all the photos come from their website or the program (the few bad ones are from my cell phone LOL)

the new series are my cell phone photos-

now on to better photos and more information from the program-

the ring master - who held his high hat in his hand the entire time but never put it on LOL

the juggler - extremely fast - did it while walking around the ring side ledge (kind of balance beam sized) - very impressive!

the horse whisperer lady and her beautiful horses!

an amazing contortionist who worked high above the ring in this bubble that opened and closed with her pushing and pulling and hanging by a leg etc...

a biker dude who did bike stunts - clearly this bike was attached to his body at birth LOL - only kidding...

the strong men team who held each other up by their hands - the wiggling wrists gave me a lot of worry that they would fall but they held steady...

some cute dog tricks - but the assistant puppy was the best along with the rescue dogs -

a stunningly beautiful performance by Dolly Jacobs and her current partner - both of them getting up in the years but with bodies to envy no matter what your age-

 the foot juggler - perhaps my least favorite act - oh well...

Bello's daughter - they worked this act together - he was amazing- but she has a real future as well... she just went into the Guinness book of world records for part of this act-

but the star of the show was definitely Bello- I hate clowns - really detest them - they are so totally creepy- but not Bello- he was funny at the same time he was an amazing aerial performer.  He did stunts throughout the night that would have constituted an act by themselves alone, but he did multiples.

such charm- such talent- and all in a package that comes up to my chin...LOL - he was terrific- if you EVER get a chance to see him - don't miss it!


so a huge thumbs up for the Circus Sarasota performance and all the performers! We won't miss it next year-

after the show we had burgers at a place we loved when it was across from the Sarasota Memorial Hospital - but it has now moved way out east and the food isn't as good anymore - they no longer have our favorite app (Frito pie) and have changed the menu (why is that always a bad sign???)

so tonight dinner with friends and then next week we may have our last company (at the "guest house" we call home) of February... heading into March and a new term for school so always something to look forward to.... more later-