Thank You, Tom Pritchard

On this national day set aside for giving thanks in our country, it is a sad day for foodies here in Tampa Bay. The Tampa Bay Times announced the loss of Tom Pritchard, one of the “most inventive and influential executive chefs” who died at his St. Petersburg home on Wednesday (11/25) at the age of 74. Pritchard was responsible for shaping some of the most popular restaurants in Tampa Bay – Salt Rock Grill, Island Way Grill, Marlin Darlin’, Rumba Island Bar & Grill and Salt Rock Tavern.

The article mentioned that Pritchard always had a story to tell and I have my own of how our paths crossed. At the time, I was a figure skating judge and came to Clearwater often to skate and judge younger skaters. One of those skaters was an dark haired boy with a charming smile named Adam Ostfeld. This boy had talent and really loved skating. I had the opportunity to meet his mother, Jody Hale. Fast forward to 1994 when I met and started dating my future husband. One of restaurants where we went on dates was The Grill at Feathersound, where Tom Pritchard’s talents were being praised as one of the biggest things to come to the Tampa Bay food scene. One evening Jody saw us in the restaurant and introduced us to the affable Tom. I think we were in as much awe of his cooking talent as he was of me being a skating judge. One year, Tom cooked an amazing private dinner for skating officials who were judging the Suncoast Open competition that was hosted by the Florida Suncoast Figure Skating Club each fall. Sadly, the Feathersound restaurant closed, but we watched over the years as success unfolded for Tom with each new restaurant opening. We shared in the sadness when Adam was tragically killed in an auto accident after returning safely surviving 14 months of dangerous duty in Iraq with the U.S. Army.

We have enjoyed dining at Island Way Grill and Rumba, where we have attended dinners held for skating officials. Rumba has the most sinfully delicious Rum Cake. We continue to dine at the Salt Rock Tavern, a gem of a place that has proved to be crazy popular here in Oldsmar.

Thank You, Tom Pritchard, for the legacy you have left to the Tampa food scene – fun restaurants with great food. We will remember you with each delicious bite.

 

Posted in Dining, Florida, Tampa Bay Treasures, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Azteca D’Oro

I eat Mexican whenever I can on solo dining trips as my husband doesn’t like this type of food. When I saw Azteca D’Oro on University Boulevard in Orlando near UCF, I knew I had to try it. The first time I went, I did carry-out during a very busy lunch hour. I went to the bar to order. Got an appetizer quesadilla & added chicken for an extra charge. Later when I was back at my hotel, I looked at the menu and discovered that it would have been a better deal to order the Club Quesadilla entree which included whole wheat tortilla stuffed with chicken, bacon, avocado, lettuce, Monterey Jack cheese, pico de gallo and sour cream and is served with white rice and Rancho (cholesterol-free) beans. Would have been nice if the bartender who took my order had mentioned it. Azteca is a super popular lunch place in the UCF area, crazy busy. I timed my second visit for mid-afternoon. Lunch prices are in effect until 3PM so it’s cheaper to sample menu items at this time.

I ordered the IMG_0384Pollo a la Crema – strips of chicken breast sautéed with onions and mushrooms in a cream sauce and garnished with Cotija Mexican cheese. I got double black beans in place of rice. The entree came with a little mound of salad greens as well. I feel I struck gold with this dish as it was really tasty, what with all that creamy melted cheese sauce. Only problem was when I found a piece of melted cellophane wrap in the dish. Yuck! The waiter was very apologetic. Without me asking, he reported it to the manager who offered me a free dessert, which I accepted (got the flan). Tortilla chips and salsa come with all meals. It is the best salsa I have ever tasted with a delightful smoky chipotle flavor. The tortilla chips, however could use a little more salt. If you like Mexican food, try this place and you won’t be disappointed. Check out their daily specials like Taco Tuesdays and $2 Margaritas Monday – Friday from 11AM – 3PM.

While there, be sure to look up at the ceiling near the bar to see the chandelier made of Corona beer bottles. It’s awesome. IMG_0385.JPG

Posted in Mexican Food, Orlando, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine

We have dined many times at the Winter Park location of Bosphorous and know well it’s reputation for delicious and authentic Turkish food. Didn’t know this location in the Dr. Phillips area existed but were delighted to stumble upon it one Saturday when looking for a place to have lunch after visiting the outlet mall in Orlando.

IMG_0375We started with an order of hot fresh baked Lavas bread with Babaganoush (fresh smoked eggplant purée with tahini, olive oil, and yogurt) and Haydiri (thick and creamy yogurt mixed with walnuts, dill, and mint) for dipping. This bread arrives at the table all puffed up and deflates when poked with a fork to tear apart and eat. Great for sharing and a must have with any Turkish meal.

My husband ordered his favorite dish of Donner Kebap – tender lamb, grilled vertically and thinly sliced) with rice and Turkish style veggies (beets, carrots). IMG_0377I had the Yesil Salata house salad – Romaine hearts, spring mix, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, feta cheese, tabbouleh, and Turkish black olives with their special dressing and added grilled lamb chunks. The salad was huge. I had never had tabbouleh before and I found I liked it. I love the way they fix lamb – the spices and the grilling make for incredible tasting meat.

My husband finished the meal with a cup of strong Turkish coffee.

Lunch prices are lower than dinner and there are specials for added savings. The menu includes selections for kids. My niece likes their pizza. I highly recommend either location of Bosphorous for an enjoyable tasty meal.IMG_0379

Posted in Dining, Orlando, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fresh To Order – Fast Tasty Food

 

IMG_0363

In the past few weeks, I have been making trips to Orlando to care for my Mom. That gave me a great opportunity to try some new restaurants. I’ll be sharing what I’ve found over the next couple of weeks.

I stumbled upon Fresh To Order while looking for a healthy place to eat in Orlando. When I walked into this gem in the Waterford Lakes Town Center and saw the flame grill I knew I had found the right place. The menu had a good variety of choices – soups, salads, paninis, small & entree long plates & burgers. On my first visit I ordered the long plate version of Fire Grilled Chicken with balsamic Cabernet reduction and substituted a mixed green salad for the wheatberry rice. Delicious and satisfying. IMG_0360On my second visit I got the small plate of Blackened Lime Shrimp with Asian slaw & ranch dressing for dipping. Another flavorful dish. A small plate is 3/4 of the size of an entree and perfect for smaller appetites. I like that they have a variety of flavored teas and waters to choose from. I will definitely be back any time I’m in the area.

IMG_0361

Posted in Healthy Food, Orlando | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Horrible Check-In Experience Almost Ruins 20th Wedding Anniversary Trip

My husband & I booked the Swan for two days to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary. We married at Disney in October 1995, so we thought it was a great idea for a quick weekend celebration to return there.

Rates at Disney hotels have reached big city luxury levels, so we had to settle for a more affordable hotel on the property, selecting the Walt Disney World Swan, a Westin hotel. Since I am a gold level Starwood member and Westin has a good reputation, we expected a great experience. Consulting the web site and talking to a reservation agent, I learned that some of their rooms had recently been renovated and made my selection accordingly.

Upon arriving to check at 3PM on a Friday, my husband was told our room was not ready. I inquired with a second front desk clerk and was met with rude abruptness and  refusal to give us an estimated time when the room might be ready. The clerk actually said “30 – 40 people are in the same boat as you.”  I thought “That may be, but are any of them celebrating a milestone anniversary which I had mentioned when making the reservation?” Turns out there was a convention ending that day and it seemed like the hotel gave too many late checkouts. We waited in one of the sitting areas for 1 1/2 hours which had comfy seating and free wi-fi, but who wants to sit there instead of relaxing in the privacy of your room?

Front Desk DSC01531

I went to the front desk a second time and spoke to the clerk at the Starwood Desk position who was very nice. She apologized profusely and gave us a $50 room credit. She offered that we could get a room right away, but it was 2 queens with interior garden view instead of the king with balcony looking towards the Broadwalk that we had booked. Was told we would get a call when our room was ready. A total of 2 1/2 hours went by before we got into our room which had been ready 30 minutes before we came back to the front desk a third time. We never received a call on our cell phones. We were given 2 free drink coupons for the inconvenience.

Fortunately the room was the type we had booked – super clean with new décor in pleasant relaxing colors. The balcony was enjoyable to sit on and enabled us to view the EPCOT fireworks on Saturday night. The best part about the bathroom was the second separate sink and vanity across from the closet with plenty of room to spread out my stuff. The only thing that marred the look was that despite being recently renovated, there was a lengthy crack near the bottom of the shower wall. Due to the late occupancy of our room, we had to rush to get ready for a 6:45pm dinner reservation at another hotel on the property.


DSC01500We did have a lovely surprise of a fruit and cheese tray with a bottle of sparking cider that my sister arranged.

One other problem that occurred was that our luggage was not secured right away, but instead left in the lobby by the bell stand. Employees came and went and at times no one was the bell stand. I was able to go up and take an expensive pair of earrings out of one of my bags and no one questioned me. (My husband checked the bags so the bell staff didn’t know who I was). Shocking and unsafe, so watch your bags or make sure they are secured in storage if your room isn’t ready when you arrive.

This hotel charges for parking – $18 per day. The rate is the same for hotel guests as for day visitors. It would be a gesture of goodwill to give guests who are staying in a room a bit lower rate or wave the fee altogether. The parking lot is shared with employees (wearing their uniforms) who I noted had no reservations about taking spaces closer to the building right in front of paying guests! It would be more in keeping with Disney’s reputation for good customer service to have a policy that employees must park at the back of the lot and leave the closer spaces for guests.

Strong chance I would not stay at this hotel anytime soon. Shame on you Westin!

Posted in Florida, Hotels, Walt Disney World | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Have Your Cupcakes …..and Eat Them Too!

I have a serious obsession about cupcakes. I especially like mini cupcakes – so much flavor packed into one little cake and less icing (don’t care for the sweet sugary stuff and have been known to scrap it off a cupcake to avoid eating it!) to contend with. The bonus is minis are cheaper than the regular size allowing for more flavors to be tried without totally blowing one’s budget and diet. Here are some of my cupcake samplings in the past few months:

Sweet Tweets Cakery – Carrollwood area, Tampa

I didn’t need to visit the shop to do a taste test. Instead, the week I started a diet, a vendor brings these luscious creations to my workplace. They brought the big ones and there were so many flavors to choose from. I chose the peanut butter. By far, the best peanut butter cupcake I have ever eaten – equal in quality and taste to the ones my Mom made when I was growing up. The texture of the cake was perfect, a light yet moist crumb and lightly flavored. The frosting was pleasant tasting, not tooth achingly sweet. Later in the day I tried Amaretto and was disappointed. The cake was vanilla rather that almond flavor, the filling tasted pleasantly of amaretto, but the icing was plain vanilla buttercream. I found it too sweet and yes, I scraped it off. I would have expected more amaretto taste in the icing to complete the theme.

Gigi’s – Tampa

Someone at work said Gigi’s had better cupcakes than Sweet Tweets thus the gauntlet was thrown down. I had to find out if that was true. In the name of research, I visited the shop on North Dale Mabry. It was a little hard to find tucked in a strip mall with a small sign to signal it was there. I visited their website first and signed up for their Rewards Club, netting a free cupcake for the first visit. I chose a Chocolate salted caramel. Chocolate cake tends to be dry, but the dark chocolate cupcake was incredibly moist. To get the full effect of the cake, caramel filling and topping of caramel frosting and ganache with a pinch of sea salt on top, peel back the paper cup and bite down so you get all the sweet and salty layers of flavor at once. Wow!

I decided to try a second flavor (again, for research purposes) and went with gluten free peanut butter. It was very good and did not taste bland and dry like other gluten free ones I have tried at other bakeries. The frosting taste reminded me of peanut butter fudge and the chocolate cake tasted like a fudgy brownie. A very satisfying gluten free treat. I would come back here just to indulge in the gluten free ones.

Sweet! Good Golly by Miss Holly – Orlando

Try as I might, resistance was futile to stay away from this cupcake shop located in Waterford Lakes Town Center in Orlando. I have made 3 visits so far. The majority of flavors are awesome and the cake is moist with the perfect crumb texture. The cupcakes are soooo good! They should be as the owner Hollis (Holly) Wilder is a three time Cupcake Wars winner. The mini cupcakes are a great way to get a taste of several flavors, and there are a lot of flavors to try here. Go on Monday when they are $1 each (usually $2 each or 4 for $7). If I was a judge at Cupcake Wars, my first place would go to the Peanut Butter Chocolate – a perfect blend of the two flavors. I felt something akin to cupcake nirvana eating it. Other favs:

Nutella – featuring European hazelnut spread as the filling in a Nutella cake with a delightful caramel buttercream frosting

German Chocolate – Awesome, especially the frosting – a delicious mixture of caramel, pecans and coconut which is nothing like the stuff that comes out of a tub (Sorry, Betty.)

Pumpkin – I love pumpkin! The flavor was just right and the icing not grossly sweet or overly cream cheese tasting.

Toasted Coconut – needs no explanation

The one failure was the Dulce de Leche. I’m pretty sure this was not a Cupcake Wars winner. When I think of Dulce de Leche, I think of the ooey gooey caramel that comes in a can. That’s not what  you get with this cupcake. Its failure is due to using spice cake as the base which detracts from the caramel filling which was the only good thing about it. The frosting was also off – supposedly Dulce buttercream had an odd taste (my first impression was a light orange flavor?!) and was overpowered by too much cinnamon sprinkled on it. An employee even remarked it is a not a very good tasting cupcake. My suggestion for improving this – the cake should be plain vanilla, yellow or a light caramel flavor and use the caramel buttercream that is on the Nutella. You can never have too much caramel.

Join the Sweet Treat Club if you plan to eat here often for special deals including a free birthday cupcake. There is also a day when UCF students wearing Greek frat/sorority shirts get special pricing. They also serve frozen yogurt but didn’t try it. I’m sure I’ll be back whenever I’m in the area. (Just don’t tell my doctor.)

SmallCakes – Oldsmar

Waited for months for this location to open due to construction delays. Made my first visit the night before Halloween. It was 8pm and they only had ½ dozen cupcakes remaining, none of which I was craving, so I left. I returned on Halloween which was the last day they were offering the pumpkin flavor. I had to get the regular size as this shop has not received pans for baking the mini size. (They will be available in the near future.) As cupcakes go it was ok. Nothing outstanding, but not bad either. Like their Facebook page where they post daily featured flavors and specials. This location has had several days when they have sold out (as early as 2pm!) so they must be doing something right.

Posted in Bakeries, Florida, Orlando, Tampa, Tampa Bay Treasures | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

9/11

On this, the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it occurred to me what an effect that day has had on travel in ways both big and small, not just that day, but every day since. There are so many stories…..

I was in Washington DC in March 2003 to announce practice ice sessions at the World Figure Skating Championships. The recent start of the war in Afghanistan resulted in heightened security at the competition, including the presence of government security and bomb-sniffing dogs to ensure the safety of the skaters, officials and other dignitaries attending.

My plan was to combine a little pleasure with business and visit some of the great sights Washington has to offer, especially the museums that make up the Smithsonian. I had been to the zoo on a rainy Friday that resulted in sparse crowds and a chance to spend some rare alone time in the panda house.

Saturday I headed over to the American History Museum. After a somewhat lengthy wait to go through security, I entered the main lobby and I was stunned at the sight before me. The flag that had been draped over the Pentagon in the days following 9/11 was hanging almost the full height of the lobby wall. I was awed by the flag’s massive size, but also by the condition of the flag – it was dirty, covered in soot, had possible burn marks and was torn or frayed in several places. Yet, there it hung for all to see as a symbol of the strength of our country and its people who came together in the face of national tragedy.

After touring the America’s First Ladies exhibition, I had only a little time left to see something else before closing time. Somehow I ended up in the 9/11 exhibition. So many items from that day in New York – a dusty shoe, twisted metal and so much more.

A guard came to tell us it was a few minutes before closing time. I do not remember whether I pushed the button before or after he made that announcement, but the effect it created I will never forget. The button was attached to a display with a telephone and played countless phone messages left by loved ones – wives, mothers, fathers, boyfriends/girlfriends, etc – looking for; no pleading for call backs to let them know their loved ones were safe and had not perished when the towers collapsed. The sound of each anguished voice was the only sound in the room, anguish that tore at the heart. With its power, it gripped each person in that room; people abandoned what they were doing, stood still and listened.  Even the museum guard was silent. He let all the messages on the recording play to its entirety. When it ended, we all silently left the room.

Posted in Washington DC | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

My Own Walk In the Woods

mt katahdin frm katahdin stream campgrd
Since the movie “A Walk in the Woods” based on the book by Bill Bryson is opening in theaters today, I share my very small, very short experience of walking a portion of the Appalachian Trail (AP).

A wonderful part of my childhood was spent in Maine (age 9 – 12 1/2). Maine is definitely a great place for a kid to grow up. We did a lot of outdoor stuff and the state is so incredibly beautiful. When we lived in Bangor while my Dad was overseas, my Mom took us to Baxter State Park several times. I got to see my first (and to date only) moose, dived for coins in an icy cold mountain stream, had a chipmunk stand on my outstretched hand without it biting me and celebrated my 12th birthday beside a beautiful lake. We took many hikes. One time I remember we found an entrance to the AP. The trail seemed fairly easy and flat for the short distance we were on it. However our hike was cut short by Mom when she realized that due to recent rains, the trail was a muddy mess. I don’t think she was comfortable with driving five muddy kids home.

Jeff on Hunt TrailWhen my husband found out about my little adventure on the AP, he was envious. He had always dreamed of walking part of it. He pushed for a fall foliage trip to Maine in October 2013. We planned a partial hike of the Hunt Trail to satisfy my husband’s AP requirement. Hiking to the top of Mount Katahdin is not for the weak of spirit or body. After the tree line, the going gets rough, requiring strength, stamina and good climbing skills to get up with the aid of iron rebar embedded in granite. Keep in mind, we were an out of shape couple in our 50’s who live in very flat Florida. In my case, I am also overweight. Our plan was to hike as far as Katahdin Stream falls, approximately 1.2 miles.

We set off early on a chilly Thursday morning (37 degrees F). I had made reservations for parking at Hunt Trail. It is highly recommended to make them online in advance of your trip as the parking lots are first-come, first served and fill up fast during the peak times from late spring (after the end of mud and black fly season) through summer and on weekends in the fall. When we pulled in a little after 7 AM, there were maybe 2 other cars and the lot never filled during the day. If you opt to hike on weekdays after Labor Day, a parking reservation is probably not needed, except at Sandy Pond, which always seems busy.

Tip: Make sure you use the privy before starting your hike or you might find yourself doing what bears do in the woods.

Hunt Trail start2We signed the trail head log. A log at every trail head helps the park rangers can keep track of who is hiking, in case someone comes up missing. Hikers have underestimated how long it may take to hike a trail round trip and have been caught in the dark on the trip down. It’s amusing to read the log as people write funny things including their trail name if they have one.

Hunt Trail - Baxter State Pk
Hunt Trail starts out gently enough, but not for long. It’s not a hard climb, but there are a lot of rocks and tree roots. The various sized rocks are meant to be used as steps. I highly recommend good quality hike poles to make it easier. I sometimes have pain in my left hip, so I used a cane.  The fellow hikers we met or that passed us on the way up were very friendly. Hikers are a convivial bunch. We are all out here enjoying nature and doing what we love. I thought I would be a hindrance to other hikers, but my husband told me later the looks people were giving me were ones of admiration, not the scorn I had imagined. Slow as I was, I felt such a sense of accomplishment.

The layers I had dressed in got peeled off as we progressed up the trail and the warmer it got, comfortably in the 60’s.  I gave my camera a workout. This place is a photographer’s feast with the beautiful fall foliage, misshapen tree trunks, lush ferns, fascinatingly shaped fungi, etc. I stopped every few minutes as interesting things caught my eye. I tried to drink it all in, to savor each tiny nuance of the incredible beauty.

I almost didn’t get to the falls. Right before bridge I was met with the obstacle of a huge boulder taller than I was. Now what was I going to do?! There may have been a way around it, but that would mean going off the trail. Just then, another hiker on the way down appeared on top of the boulder and hoisted me up.

Jeff resting on Katahdin Stream Falls bridgeKatahdin Stream Falls are not real big, but still pretty. My weary but happy husband rested on the bridge while I took pictures.  My husband had propped my cane against a boulder at the entrance to the bridge. As I sat down next to him to rest, my foot caught the cane, sending it hurling down under the bridge! Great! How is this fat old lady supposed to get down there? Sputtering and mad I figured out how to ease myself down on choice rocks to get to the cane. Not bad. I was even able to climb back up without a problem.

We started our descent. You would think walking back down would be easy, but think again. You are now tired and a little bit sore. Thank God for the cane. My stops to take photographs had us taking a while to get down again.

The experience was so worth it. You learn what you can do if you are determined and find the mental as well as physical strength to accomplish it. I am now working on losing weight and getting into shape so I can go on more hiking adventures.

fungi on birch tree funghi6 4 yellow leaves leaf caught in treefloating fall leaves  fall leaf against lichen & granite

Posted in Baxter State Park, Maine | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Annoying Airline Passenger Stories

I recently came across a post on the blog Young Adventuress about annoying things people do on airplanes (http://youngadventuress.com/2013/08/annoying-people-on-airplanes.html/comment-page-3#comment-294423). It is well worth reading. This post is both painfully honest and hilarious at the same time.

It got me to thinking about my own flying horror stories. There are the usual seat kicking kids, lost luggage and even a damaged Italian leather purse (airlines’ fault on that one). Here are some of the more memorable:

  1. Invading My Personal Space – Just one of my personal pet peeves, but I don’t like strange people touching me. This holds especially true for creepy men. I prefer aisle seats for easy access in case I need to get up. On one flight, I was in my aisle seat and had the misfortune to have a very large man (OK, I know it’s politically incorrect, but he was obese) occupy the middle seat of a 3-seat bulkhead row. It became an uncomfortable problem when during the flight he appeared to have fallen asleep and leaned in my direction. I say appear, because every time I moved away from him, it became obvious that he consciously kept wiggling toward me and rubbing against my side. The added bonus was that he sweated profusely. Yuck! Find someone else to cuddle up with, Bub!
  2. Creepy Men – Boarding a flight to Salt Lake City, I had an attractive blond ask to sit next to me with a little desperation in her voice. She explained that her assigned seat was across the other side of the plane and pointed where I saw an older man looking at us. She said he was putting the moves on her and making crude remarks. I notified the flight attendant about why the lady needed to switch seats (not a problem since the one next to me was empty). The man continued to leer at us during the entire flight. What a pig! Guys, an airplane is NOT a singles bar. Stop hitting on us. (Yes, we women will stick together for protection from creepy types.)
  3. Line Jumpers – I was returning with my in-laws from a trip to Las Vegas. At McCarran, there is a separate security line for First Class passengers. They pay enough/travel enough to have earned this nice perk. I am walking down the First Class lane when a young woman with a baby in a stroller and her mother in tow ducks under the rope from the other lanes and cuts in front of me. The woman gets to the security checkpoint with table and x-ray machine and fusses about having to take her baby out of the stroller. The TSA agent is insistent that she do so. She takes the baby out of the stroller and HANDS THE BABY TO THE TSA AGENT!!!! Wait, it gets better! She then cannot get the stroller folded up. The TSA agent is holding the baby at arm’s length and to add to the mad scene the baby starts to wail! Meanwhile, her mother has already zipped through the x-ray ahead of her and guess who has the board passes??!!!  Frustrated agent waves her through sans boarding pass. Morals of this story: 1) Don’t cut lines and go where you are not authorized to go, thus inconveniencing and annoying other passengers; 2) Learn how to fold up a baby stroller fast; 3) Always carry your own boarding pass/travel documents and 4) Travel more and be prepared so you know how to do things efficiently and not hold up your fellow passengers.
  4. You Want to Put What in the Overhead Bin?!!! – On a return flight from France, I had a FA ask me if it was OK for a guy to put a bag in the overhead bin above me (he was sitting a few rows forward). The guy shows the bag – it’s a bowling ball bag!!!! I said no and explained to the FA what was in that bag and explained what a bowling ball was (she was French and didn’t recognize the bag) and what could happen if another unsuspecting passenger opened the bin and got hit in the head with the ball. I also had Limoges gifts in a bag in the bin. FA made the guy put his bowling bag under his seat. Seriously, Dude, what were you thinking?!!
  5. Drunk Story #1 – Return flight from Boston, burly guy sitting in window seat next to me seems a little agitated. We take off and his agitation increases. All of a sudden, he says he can’t breathe. I summon a FA, who takes him out of the seat and lays him down on the floor. A nurse is on board and is summoned. After some questioning of his female traveling companion it is learned he is a nervous flier and drank at least 2 or more drinks pre-flight to calm his nerves. He is now suffering from lack of oxygen in the blood stream, which can be life threatening. The amazing thing is sitting next to me he never reeked/smelled of alcohol.
    6. Drunk Story #2 – Because I am a figure skating judge, I fly a lot. On one flight to judge, I was seated next to a woman who seemed very sad. She confesses that she was coming back from her mother’s funeral and had finally mended fences with a sister whom she had not spoken to in years. I felt sorry for her so I used one of my drink coupons to treat her to a beer. This lady was in a very fragile state and managed to drop the beer which splashed on me and down the left leg of my pants. The flight attendant replaced the spilled beer where upon it got sloshed around and I got more beer on me. Good thing this lady was being picked up by her husband at the airport and not driving. It was interesting explaining to my fellow skating officials why I smelled like beer upon my arrival. (And I don’t even drink or like beer.)
    At least, unlike Young Adventuress, I’ve never been thrown up on by a baby.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blaze has Blazing Good Food and Craft Beer, Service Not So Much

Found this restaurant on Tripadvisor and took a look at their web site. The good menu selection including venison burgers had me making a reservation for a October week day evening while we were in Bar Harbor. We arrived on time and were seated quickly after rearranging tables as the hostess mentioned they had a party of 10 just cancel. That’s when the trouble began. Almost 30 minutes went by without anyone coming to our table. I tried to catch the eye of every server that passed by as well as a guy who kept stocking the bar with no luck. I glared as some of them which usually works but not this time. Another party of 6 was seated at the table behind us and got service right away. Finally the hostess who seated us asked it we were OK. No, we weren’t. The person who was sent to serve us was the guy from the bar and he brought attitude with him. We put in our drink order. My husband got 1/2 glass of Pinchy Ale which they apologized about not having more and didn’t charge for it and a full glass of Bar Harbor Reel Ale, both of which he liked. I ordered iced tea, but it was never brought. Ordered Shrimp and Scallop Curry with Jasmine rice for my husband and a venison burger with gruyere cheese and caramelized onions with a side of Belgian-style duck fat fries. My husband said the curry had a good taste but was milder than he expected. My venison burger was cooked medium rare instead of medium as I had ordered. Skipped ordering dessert of coffee.

Blaze poutine with duck gravyWe decided to try them a second time for lunch a couple days later. We were one of the first to arrive for lunch and were seated on the patio, to enjoy the lovely fall weather. Hostess mentioned lunch is slow for them. We ordered clam chowder and Poutine with duck gravy and cheese curds. Both are wonderful. I also get a Brick oven pizza (like a flatbread) with fig, ricotta, gruyere and proscuitto. The blend of these ingredients works really well and I enjoyed it a lot. Service was much improved over our first visit.

To get to Blaze at 198 Main St, you have to walk up most of Main Street away from the harbor and shops. It’s just past the ivy covered Ivy Manor Inn. Make reservations for dinner and during the busy summer months. Go for the craft beers and the good food and hope the service has improved.

Posted in Maine | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment