Saturday, January 14, 2017

her hundredth year begins

Yes- you read that correctly- the one hundredth year of our friend Barbara started today as we celebrated the completion of her 99th year.  Today was the 99th anniversary of her birth in 1918... and needless to say much has happened in the time Barbara has been here on the planet-

But the things we spoke about tonight were less about external things - the passing of wars and peace times and the accessibility of flights etc... it was mostly about a love story - her love story/life story... remarkable woman... she graduated from NYU in 1941 with a degree in psychology and sociology. She had been raised in the Mohegan Colony (Utopian society founded by leftists of various "stripes") in upstate NY and attended the Ethical Culture School for grade school. Until their home was built they lived in a tent on the property in the colony where their home eventually stood-

here are some photos from a visit to the Colony decades later-

a woman in full joy and happy mode- this is the woman we know today (these photos are only a few years old)

with granddaughter Allegra, daughter Beth and daughter Barb - and Barbara in sky blue in the center right...

all the gals tonight!

but back to the story- a long involved love story - but it is pretty much clearly told in this photograph

and so we found ourselves here - lucky enough to celebrate with Barbara and her family - two daughters, three nephews, a granddaughter and various spouses and her adopted "orphan" me, and Phil.

the lovely setting for the dinner party -

Barbara at various stages of her decades-

with nephews Peter and Tom and Rob and wives Sharon and Marilyn and in front Barbara and her sister Norma (known as Babe)

a sultry looking sixteen year old -

so HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY Barbara - we are overjoyed we could spend the day helping you celebrate!

tomorrow a new place to try with friends Gene & MaryAnn... and then dinner with Lew & Ellie and soon we are off to Chicago for a few days (to encourage gratitude for our sunny southern climate during the "winter" months.... so stay tuned...

Friday, January 13, 2017

week two

the second week of the new year brought something old and something new - oops no - this isn't a wedding LOL-

but here is how the week went- we had dinner out on Sunday (something we do regularly because we almost never go out on Friday or Saturday) - we went to a Sunday night favorite Cafe Baci- where we had comfort food... Sunday was likely the coldest day of the year with a day time high of only 56* and a strong enough wind to really make it feel much colder... We drank a bottle of 1999 Chianti and toasted the many great bottles of 1999 we had drunk over the years - this one might be the last one we have in the cellar....

On Monday we returned to Kasa Sushi for more of the good stuff - and had some new dishes to check out more of the menu-

trying something new- the dumpling soup was wonderful for a cold night- steaming hot and flavorful with the gyoza and shumai dumplings in the broth...

the shrimp tempura (another new to us dish) was prepared well but nothing as exciting as the sashimi, sushi and rolls here-

the gyoza were good but not as good as the last time we were here-

then on Tuesday it was "date night" with our friends John and Barb.  We tried a new to us place that evening (the Rosemary Cafe) and because I was somewhat rushed that afternoon - with the first class of the term and then physical therapy for a flare up of sciatica- I left my phone at home.

This is a real tragedy LOL- because the meal at the Rosemary Cafe was excellent and perfect for a chilly night.  Our server Shayna was terrific and everyone loved their food choices.  The starters we ordered were soup for John (a cream of chicken) and tuna tartare for Phil, escargot for me and chowder for Barb.  Then the guys both ordered "meat platters" of smoked brisket and Barb had sea bass and I had the huge veal chop - which I passed half off to my better half...LOL.  We all found room to try desserts - John and I had the apple tart (fab! and big enough to bring home half for Phil to try later) and Phil had a flourless chocolate cake (intense chocolate) and I forget what Barb had LOL- problem when the phone is sitting on the desk at home charging rather than in my pocket to serve as my memory jogger LOL---- oh well, we will be back and next time we will have actual photos of the really good food....

My class started off well - with good group who all dove right into the discussion of the books we have been assigned.  This is a new (and temporary) location for the lifelong learning academy and we are camped out at the local temple while the building of our new location is completed.  We have classes in the kids section of the temple - so there are no women's bathrooms - LOL - only girls (and boys)...

Later in the week we met Neil for dinner - a lovely meal at Mise En Place in Tampa... where we had three terrific wines - a Glavier champagne and a 96 Morey St Dennis and a 2009 Beaune Clos Des Mouches... I would personal put them in the revers order of the above list with the white burg showing incerdibly and the red burg showing extremely well and the champagne being really good too but not to the level of the other two wines... the food was great - and I do have photos LOL so easy to remember...

an amuse of chilled melon soup - very tasty

Phil started with the quail-

Neil with the tuna carpaccio

and I had the pork belly with the blue cheese croquette (oh my YUM YUM YUM)

Neil had the veal scallopine and Phil had the venison and I had the hanger steak - then we all had the same dessert which Phil had claimed was one of the best desserts he had ever had last time we ate here - but I was less impressed as was Neil... I wished I had ordered the panna cotta LOL-

here are few photos from the website -


then today- Friday we rounded out our week with lunch at a new place which was a disappointment - hey you can't win em all!

Cute place and very clean! but the food was lacking in flavor - especially the tzatziki sauce which seemed to be missing its garlic and the tomatoes which quite unfortunately had been refrigerated which of course does not treat tomatoes well at all--- they become mealy and tasteless....

so we won't be back there- but "you have to try before you don't know" as they say in Phil's family...

we have a busy busy week coming up with - starting tomorrow- Barbara's 99th birthday party and then dinner with Gene & MaryAnn on Sunday at a new-to-us place Mozaic in Sarasota.  Then on Monday we are meeting Lew & Ellie in St Pete for dinner at another new-to-us place Il Ritorno.  Tuesday class again and "packing" for our trip back to Chicago - Wednesday off to the tundra LOL... but we will console ourselves with dinner at Oriole and lunch at mfk and seeing friends and getting errands run... And when we we get back to Florida we hit the ground running with lunch with Neil and then a visit from Poul & Lene (friends from Copenhagen) and an overnight stay by my cousin Cathy, and then a visit from friend Mike who will be in town to play with Al Stewart.... the ballet with Barb and wow - there went January!

And seriously - we commented last night about how lucky we are to have great friends and two wonderful condos for our footloose lifestyle... I am working on my VISA for the March Uzbekistan trip... I have wanted to do a Silk Road trip for years - literally since 2005 when I first visited India.... I thought I would get there about five years ago when OAT developed a trip through the "stans" as they are called... but when I called to book it they had already canceled... the MIR "5 stans"  trip is three weeks and if I could have talked Phil into going I would have done that years ago but that is a long time to leave him alone and eating Popeyes and gyros LOL... so when I saw this one a nice 12 day trip I hopped on it right away- and if it is fabulous then maybe I will be able to draft my travel buddy Jen into a return trip...  so always planning ahead... things to look forward to... even though the world will be changing after January 21st - we can still try to be ambassadors for the better traits of the U.S.

onward and upward.... stay tuned!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

a surprise

today we are having winter and it made me want to stay inside tonight and snuggle with my very cute cat... but we had tickets to a concert at Fogartyville... so I was less than enthusiastic upon arrival but got much more upbeat when the opening act of the evening- a brother trio called The Walker Brothers (who actually looked like they could be the Timberlake brothers to me LOL) came on for their set.  They were young- and energetic and extremely good musicians so that was a good thing!

but then the main act - two "older gentlemen" named Compton & Newberry - came on and blew us all away.  They had such talent and were such good fun along the way that everyone was having a good time and the evening went on and on- with the ending being the Walker Brothers joining Compton & Newberry on stage for several numbers- and we had dueling banjos and dueling mandolins... and dueling guitars - too fun!

you can see what a good time they were having -


the Walker Brothers - as openers and then with Compton & Newberry-

a great time even though it was 40* by the time we left the venue - we are headed to an overnight low of 32* but it warms up tomorrow - so you don't have to feel too sorry for us... two days until my first class and I have one book left to finish before that- so wish me luck!  more to follow as always!