Best Eats in 2016

Today I’m sharing with you some of our family’s Best Eats from 2016. 2016 took us to Puerto Rico, New York City and the Bahamas. Below you’ll find our best meals/snacks from 2016. Here’s our list of best eats for 2016.

January 2016

We started the year with an impromptu trip to Puerto Rico.  Going home means fruit flavored ice cream cones,fresh seafood and fresh coconut water. While visiting my dad, he offered me some coconut water. Sure, I responded. Little did I know, he was about to cut up a coconut with heavy machinery!

best eats 2016
My dad opening a coconut.

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Favorite Lunch Spot in Bartow

Working in Bartow has its benefits. Over the past few months, a bunch of new lunch spots have opened up in downtown Bartow making lunch time more fun for this foodie. While these new spots mostly offer the same type of lunch, i.e., salads, sandwiches and soups, their flavors and decor are completely different.

Urban Oak – Lunch Spot

Lunch at Urban Oak

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How I met Fabio Viviani

A week or so ago, my friend Cynthia asked me if I wanted to go to the United Food Bank of Plant City’s annual fundraiser Celebrity Chef dinner featuring chef Fabio Viviani. If you are a fan of top chef, you may have remembered Fabio from season 5.  This is one event I’ve wanted to go for the past few years. Because of time constraints I wasn’t able to go last year when Whitney Miller, Master Chef season 1 winner, hosted the event. So, this year I jumped at the chance to a) spend some time with a dear friend, b) meet such a talented chef and c) of course give something back.

Fabio Viviani, Cynthia and I at the corner store in Plant City.
Fabio Viviani, Cynthia and I at the corner store in Plant City.

The event was held at the Trinkle Center in HCC in Plant City. It was fun to see Jennifer Eipstein from Fox 13 Good Day Tampa Bay as the MC because that’s the morning news show we watch. The menu consisted of Chilean Sea Bass, Roasted Pork Tenderloin with squash, roasted potatoes and salad. For dessert, we had Ricotta Chocolate Chip Fritters! Everything was amazing.

United Food Bank Celebrity Dinner.
United Food Bank Celebrity Dinner.

After dinner, he showed us how to cook the Chilean Sea Bass we just ate and dared the audience to make pasta from scratch in 3 minutes! I’m on it.

If you didn’t watch Fabio on Top Chef, I suggest you go back and watch some episodes! He’s hilarious. His accent just adds to his humor. If he comes back next year, and you can attend the event, I suggest you make plans for it. He’s totally worth it and the food will be amazing. Trust me. Or you can head over to Miami and try his food at Siena Tavern.




2014 Restaurant Reviews: Elevage, Rooster and a Cask

If you like fresh, tasty and beautifully plated food, these are three restaurants you do not want to miss.

Back in January 2014, I wrote a post about which restaurants I would like to try in 2014. I figured instead of writing a list of resolutions, I would write about something I enjoy: trying new restaurants. I’m happy to report, that I actually made it to all three. Here are my 2014 restaurant reviews.

Elevage Restaurant at the Epicurean Hotel:

Ah, Elevage. How I love thee… We went there for brunch on a Sunday morning. I mean, can it get any better than that? First, this place is just beautiful. I’d like to move in and live there, forever. The decor alone is something to dream about.

Elevage Restaurant at the Epicurean Hotel, Tampa
Elevage Restaurant at the Epicurean Hotel, Tampa

But on to the food. After our trip to Charleston and Savannah, I’ve become obsessed with grits. So, if I see them on the menu, I have to order them. No surprise, Elevage had them on their menu with a poached egg. Win win. My husband was surprised when I passed on the lobster dish he ordered to try Elevage’s grits. Both dishes were amazingly prepared. Fresh and delicious. We hope to get back there soon and try their dinner menu. Oh and before I forget, they serve really good coffee there too. I mean, really good. They use illy, Italian coffee, which has become a staple in our household now!

Rooster and the Till, Seminole Heights:

This place is very unassuming. It’s a little spot in a small strip mall type building. We made it there one Monday afternoon right before they begin their dinner serving. The menu options were limited because we got there too early, but everything we had was beautifully prepared and tasty.

Rooster and the Till, Seminole Heights
Rooster and the Till, Seminole Heights

We ordered off their raw and cured menu: oysters, shrimp and charcuterie. Let’s start with the seafood. I’ve never had such fresh oysters and shrimp before! It just melted in your mouth. So much flavor packed in such little bites. The shrimp were so delicately prepared and light, I just wanted more. Definitively, we’ll be going back here soon to try their dinner menu!

Cask and Larder, Winter Park:

We had the pleasure of meeting Chef Petraski back in 2012 when he came to Parkesdale for a cooking demonstration. At the time, he was promoting his cookbook and the ravenous pig, which is also located in Winter Park. After a wonderful dinner at the ravenous pig, I knew we had to try Cask and Larder. Knowing Cask and Larder would be a completely different experience than the ravenous pig made it even more interesting.

Cask and Larder, Winter Park
Cask and Larder, Winter Park

We finally made it to Cask and Larder for breakfast. Their concept is that of a Southern Public House, and by that they mean its’ a place to grab a bite to eat, hang out, try some new foods or maybe one of their craft beers. The concept works. The space is beautifully decorated inside with lots of wood and delicious aromas emanating from their kitchen. As you can see in the picture above, I indulged in a Bloody Mary while we were there. First, I like tomato juice, V8, clamato, and vodka as well. Most of the times I don’t like them mixed for one reason or another. More often that not, I never finish them. Not this time. This was a perfect Bloody Mary.

On to the breakfast. The sandwich was delicious, but what I remember most is those beautifully seasoned tomatoes in the mason jar on the left. Oh my. Can you say fresh? These were the tastiest tomatoes I’ve ever had. And please remember, I walk around Parkesdale taking tomatoes off the vines. Shhh, it’s our little secret, ok?

Now to think about my 2015 Restaurant Wish List!

Spinach, Tangerine and Apple Juice

Spinach and I will never be besties. I’m just not a big fan. Sure, I enjoy cooked spinach, but fresh not so much. I think it’s something about the texture of it. But, we’ve all been told how good green veggie are and how we need to get our greens in. I would much rather drink my greens, thank you. Alas, I present to you, my Spinach Winner!


Spinach Green Juice


I packed the spinach into the chute of my Breville juicer and followed it with the tangerine under the soft setting. Once that went through, I switched to the hard setting and added the rest of the ingredients. I meant to add lemon juice when I was done, but forgot. This recipe makes 1 serving, which is great for breakfast or as a snack.

Spinach juice

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