2nd Annual Cuban Sandwich Festival Ybor City

Friday, March 29, 2013

Hi friends!! WORDS  cannot express my excitement right now. I have been named an official judge of Ybor City's 2nd Annual Cuban Sandwich Festival! This annual event is taking place on May 30th from 10:30 - 5:30 at Centennial Park, 1800 8th Ave, Tampa.

As a 2nd year Ybor resident, I take high pride in the Cuban Sandwich and have turned into quite the snob regarding the delicious meaty, crispy  buttery pressed sandwich (bring on the pickles, leave the tomatoes). Check out this video for more information on the event. Join us and you will enjoy live cultural musical and dance performances along with 50 Latino Food, Art and Cultural Exhibitors! Attendees will be able to try sample platters provided by the competing vendors to Vote on the Popular Vote Category through a texting Vote method. Admission is FREE! (but come early, it will be busy)!
On Saturday afternoon, along with many high profile Tampa Bay personalities, I will judge who has the best Cuban Sandwich in Tampa. Seeing the restaurants in contention slightly  makes my brain hurt. This Ybor girl can proudly state I have already experienced about half of the Cuban Sandwiches on the lineup!

Since I take photos of pretty much everything I eat, I figured I would share a few contestants showing up this weekend. Starting off with the second place runner up, Stone Soup, from the 2012 (I hate to claim I have never experienced a Cuban from the grand winner, Michelle Faedo)!

Stay tuned to hear who the takes home the rights of the best Cuban Sandwich from the home of Cuban Sandwiches!

Stone Soup, 2nd place Traditional Winner:
A few of the other contestants I have visited that are part of the festival:

The Floridian: 


Hi, my name is Megan and I am a little Dopey - runDisney announces the Dopey Challenge

Thursday, March 28, 2013
In this post, I am officially announcing that I have gone CRAZY or maybe a little Dopey for considering what I am about to write.......
Photo rights of runDisney
If you are a runner and follow runDisney, you would have to live under a rock to not hear the announcement that came out last week. Disney Marathon Weekend has added a 10K to their lineup, now becoming a four day race weekend. The four day race event now consists of a 5K, 10K, 13.1 and 26.2. The inspiration behind the 10K medal will be Minnie Mouse, who is my favorite Disney character.
2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend Meetup
In the years past, runDisney has held the Goofy challenge, where a runner runs 13.1 miles on Saturday and 26.2 miles on Sunday. Up until last week, I thought those runners were, well Goofy.....
Then the Dopey announcement came out..... Straight from the runDisney website: Runners may feel a little Dopey and even a bit Goofy at weekend’s end, but after all, they will have finished 48.6 magical miles! The Dopey Challenge will start with a 5K on Thursday, the inaugural Walt Disney World 10K on Friday, the Walt Disney World Half Marathon Saturday and cap off the weekend with the Walt Disney World Marathon on Sunday. Those who register for the Dopey and complete each event will not only earn four race medals, but will also take home the Goofy Challenge medal and the all new Dopey Challenge medal.

This is crazy runDisney! How are you going to do this to us? Six medals in one weekend? I'm a medal collecting fool and you're dangling 6 medals in my face to run 48.6 miles in 4 days? GAH! Here I thought Goofy was insane and now I am entertaining to do Dopey?

I officially decided to do this race after speaking with Nicole, who informed me of a possible Dopey race the day before the announcement went live. I ran my very first 5K with Nicole at Disney in 2/2012. I am happy to continue this journey with her since we technically started together. My friend Rachel from Runners Tales put the financial portion of it into a prospective. It is less than $10 a mile and we generally pay more than $30 for a 5K. Crazy as it sounds, I am going to do it. Registration goes live on April 9th at Noon. After seeing how fast the Dumbo Double Dare sold out (less than an hour), I will bet Dopey will sell out the day it goes live.

Wish me luck...........step one is getting in on registration day. If I get in, then more than luck will be needed.

NeighborFood Tampa Discount Code and Giveaway!

NeighborFood is coming to Tampa Bay! Over the past three month's, DishCrawl has shown great success in the Bay area and is bringing a new concept to town. NeighborFood is a one night celebration of food, family, and the community we live in. A neighborhood is defined by the community within it, so for one night we will be inviting our neighbors to live it, love it, and eat in it, because as Virginia Woolf said...

South Tampa was named the location for April 28th NeighborFood. Everywhere you turn, SoHo is full of restaurants and bars. I was not surprised when the location was named for the first Neighborfood in Tampa Bay. This is an all-inclusive event, not an exclusive event. There will be 8 restaurants participating in the event, all within walking distance. You will receive a dinner map which shows you the locations of all the restaurants you will try out.

Read Below for a discount code to save $10 off your admission to NeighborFood and for a chance to win one pair of tickets!

Here are some examples of dishes experienced at previous DishCrawl events to give you an idea of what to expect at NeighborFood. Come hungry!
DishCrawl Cigar City - Gaspars Grotto
DishCrawl Palma Ceia - Cru Cellars
DishCrawl Palma Ceia - Datz
DishCrawl Hyde Park - Photo by Dreaming Ingredients
DishCrawl Hyde Park - Photo by Dreaming Ingredients
So you get the idea. • Eight Dishes at Eight Restaurants. • One Exciting Afternoon. • Exploration of South Tampa. • All Restaurants Within Walking Distance. • Make beautiful memories.

Tickets are $40 online and $45 day of. Save $10 off using discount code RUNFORWINE. Click here to purchase your tickets today for only $30 using the coupon code!

Now for the contest!

I have a pair of tickets for NeighborFood. All you have to do is leave a comment below letting me know what your favorite restaurant in Tampa is! Any part of Tampa, I am curious to see what everyone likes out there. Make sure you enter via rafflecopter. If you are unsure how to use rafflecopter, watch this quick video.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Easter Brunch in Tampa

Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I have a confession - I am and always have been afraid of the Easter Bunny. As a child, I had nightmares of this giant bunny bringing me a basket of colored eggs. It always confused me as Bunnies don't lay eggs and why were they so colorful? I look back at my childhood photos and I am either crying or have the look of panic in my eyes every time my photo was taken with the Easter Bunny.

When I was growing up, my family always had a huge Easter dinner. We generally went to my Grandma's, where the 13 Grandchildren would have Easter Egg hunts while the adults cooked the feast. I don't recall once finding the Golden Egg.

My Father passed away in 2003 and this Easter would have marked my Fathers 62nd Birthday. It is hard to believe the last Birthday we celebrated with him was 10 years ago. Mom remarried in 2005 to a wonderful man who happens to be Jewish.While we have huge Christmas dinners and celebrate Hanukkah, Easter has been pushed to the side. Last year we went out to Easter Brunch. This marked the first time in my life eating Easter Brunch out at a restaurant. While I miss the traditional Easter dinner, I really liked this option (no dishes!).

My family is coming to Tampa again this year to do Brunch with us. There are so many options out there so I thought I would put together a list!


Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
Photo rights of Flemings
Flemings has a 3-course menu for $36.95 from 11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. You will also receive a $25 dining card valid for a future visit! The menu consists of everything from Lobster Bisque, Filet and Eggs, Brioche French Toast and more. This is an amazing deal and you will save money on your next visit to Flemings!


Oystercatchers on Urbanspoon
Photo rights of Oystercatchers
Oystercatchers is known to have the best brunch in the bay. I have dined there for lunch quite a few times and I am obsessed with their seasonal oyster selection. On Easter Sunday, Oystercatchers will feature their champagne brunch which includes limitless champagne, mimosas, bloody mary's, various brunch stations, a raw bar and caviar  They will also have two meet carving stations and higher end items on their Easter brunch, $69 a person. It is a little pricier than other options on this list but in this case, you honestly get what you pay for. 

Capital Grille

The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon
Photo Rights of Capital Grille
Capital Grille has a Easter brunch buffet that sounds out of this world. $49 for adults, $15 for children includes a carving station featuring Kona crusted tenderloin, a raw bar, Lobster Benedicts, made to order omelets, chocolate dipped berries and more. Parking bonus - since it is Easter Sunday, parking will not be as crazy at International Plaza! 

Texas de Brazil

Texas de Brazil on Urbanspoon
Photo Rights of Texas de Brazil
What could be better than celebrating Easter at a Churrascaria - Brazilian Steakhouse? Unlimited meats (everything from filet, signature sirloin, lamb, pork loin) and on Easter Sunday, they have included Eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon and sausage. Not to mention, the best salad bar you will ever experience. If you are part of TDB's email club, you will receive an email which will give you a free desert and unalcoholic drink! This brunch is valid from 11:00am - 3:00 pm and is $42.99 per person.

Roy's Hawaiian Fusion

Roy's on Urbanspoon
Photo Rights of Roy;s Hawaiian Fusion
Roy's Hawaiin Fusion has a two course Easter Brunch for $29.99 a person, 11:30am - 2:30pm. Their menu consist of a variety of non-tradional and traditional brunch items such as Pork Belly and Eggs (!!!), Filet or Crab Benedict and French Toast. You will also receive a $25 gift card for your visit. 

Carmel Cafe

Carmel Café & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon
Carmel Cafe is offering their normal Brunch Menu with a free glass of prosecco or a mimosa with any Brunch Specialty Item, 11:00am - 2:30pm. The Mod Med Omelet is one of my favorites with jumbo lump crab, artichoke and goat cheese

Pelagia Trattoria

Pelagia Trattoria on Urbanspoon
Photo Rights of Pelagia Trattoria
Pelagia Trattoria is offering a fixed price Easter buffet all day long! The Buffet begins at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 9:00 p.m. for $49 adults, $18 children and each adult will be offered a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. Pelagia will offer a made-to-order omelet and egg station which converts to a pasta station at 3 p.m. There will be carving stations with oven-roasted turkey, prime rib and honey-glazed ham. A chilled seafood selection will also be offered along with Eggs Benedict, Crab Cakes and much more.

With Easter only 4 days away, I think it is time to select where we will be eating this year! If I had my way (enter hissy fit throwing, I don't want my photo taken with the Easter Bunny), it would be Oystercatchers. I have a weakness for caviar and champagne.

Villa Maria Wines, New Zeleand for #TGTaste

I am part of a virtual wine tasting group called Thisty Girl Taste. When I first head of the group, I couldn't sign up fast enough. I love social media and wine so it was a perfect pairing. On March 27th at 7pm EST, our team will gather around the country and chat about wine, while drinking wine. This month, we received two wines from New Zealand.
Alastair Maling MW- General Manager Winemaking & Viticulture
Villa Maria Estate is New Zealand's most awarded winery. Proudly family and New Zealand owned, Villa Maria sources grapes from the best wine growing regions to produce wines of exceptional quality, enjoyed by wine drinkers around the world. Villa Maria was the first wine company in New Zealand to declare the winery a “cork-free zone,” sealing all wines from the 2004 vintage onward with a screwcap to ensure quality in every bottle.

One of the wines we received was 2012 Villa Maria Estate Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Retail price: $19.99
Tasting Notes from the Winemaker: This vibrant Sauvignon Blanc is bursting with a fruit-salad-bowl of flavors including ripe gooseberry, passion fruit  fresh citrus lime and exotic herbaceous aromas. The wine has an exciting palate with layers of juicy flavors  intensity and fullness, finishing with a refreshing crisp, clean and racy acidity. Enjoy this exuberant and delightful wine.

The second wine we will be tasting is a 2011 Villa Maria Estate Private Bin Pinot Noir, Retail price: $15.99

Tasting Notes from the Winemaker: This wine has a perfumed bouquet of ripe cherries and raspberry fruits - hallmarks of Marlborough Pinot Noir. On the palate the wine displays ripe fruit with complex savory and spice elements. Soft, silky, fine-grained tannin's provide structure and definition, yet also allow for the wine to be consumed young. Retail price: $15.99

Jjoin us on Wednesday, March 27 at 8PM. EST and follow the hashtag #TGTaste. You will have an opportunity to chat with Winemaker Alastair Maling @alastairmaling and Villa Maria Wines @villamaria_wine. In full disclosure, I was provided with these wines to participate in #TGTaste.

What's in your fitness closet?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Friend and fellow Fit Fluential Ambassador, Pavement Runner, started a post so we could get a peak inside of one another's fitness closets! This scared me - I am not the most organized person. I knew going into this I would not be able to find every one of my race shirts and it would take me 10 minutes to find all four pairs of my CEP sleeves. One and a half hour later, sweating, panting and frustrated at my disorganized drawers, I ended up with an idea of what is inside of my #FitnessCloset

Let's start with my Race Shirts and as I mentioned above, not all of them made it into this shot. In fact, two of them were given to goodwill (races I want no memory of). In my total collection, 5 of these shirts are runDisney (Princess Tangled 5K 2012, Expedition Everest 2012, Tower of Terror 2012, Disney World Half Marathon 2013, runDisney 20th Anniversary shirt - Marathon Meetup). Two of these shirts are from the Rock n Roll Marathon Series (St. Pete and New Orleans). The remainder are from various 5K's, 10K's and charity runs.
Running Shorts - this is when I knew I had a problem. Every time I go to the store, I instantly go to check out running shorts. Yet as you can clearly see, I do not need another pair of running shorts (especially since a few didn't make it into this shot). I prefer Nike 2-In-1 Tempo Running Shorts above all others. I own 4 pairs of shorts in this style. Since I live in FL, the majority of my bottoms are shorts - I only wear capris a few times out of the year and I do not own a single pair of running pants. In this photo, I have 10 pairs of running shorts and 3 pairs of compression shorts, more than half of the collection is Nike.
Running Skirts / Race costumes - Yes, that is a Minnie Mouse skirt and a Jessie from Toy Story skirt you see. I am a runDisney girl, so I always dress up for the race. Along with my two costume skirts, I also have a red and green Sparkle Skirt, a black Rock n Roll Marathon Series skirt  by Brooks and a pink skirt by Kyodan (which I honestly forgot I owned until this project).
Moving onto my Shoes & CEP sleeves. My primary long distance shoe is ASICS Gel Nimbus 14. I keep my ASICS Gel Nimbus 13's at my Mom's house in case of emergency. For shorter runs, I switch between the Saucony Virrata and Brooks PureDrift. The Reebok Zig's are my gym shoes. I own 4 pairs of CEP Compression Sleeve, green, pink, blue and black. My undergarments are not  making an appearance - my sock drawer is a mess and I just am not in a sports bra sharing kinda mood.

Tank Tops: This looks so much better in real life than this photo turned out. So much for the saying your clothes look better on the floor. So I have about 25 running tank tops. I mean, really, who needs that many shirts?! Again, Nike was the clear winner in this group, all of the shirts on the right are Nike, the ones on the left are various other brands. I do not run in short sleeves, if it is cold outside, I wear my Arm Sleeves. Again - I'm a FL girl. The only long sleeve running shirt I own is my 2013 Walt Disney World Half Marathon shirt.

This was fun! I actually got to clean out my dreaded workout drawer that is always overflowing. Not to mention, I can never find anything so I continue to wear the same three outfits over and over again.

Head on over to Pavement Runners site to check out what is in other Fit Fluential Ambassadors fitness closets!

Foodspotting Eatup at Besa Grill Clearwater

Let's take a trip back in time to July 2010, I had just moved to Tampa and had a total of 3 friends in town, all of whom I knew prior to moving here. One happens to be one of my closest friends today, Lauren (Tampa Uncorked). Lauren and I were at Happy Hour one day and I was sharing with her my love of taking photos of food and posting on facebook (she is my facebook friend and was already aware of this habit). Lauren mentioned an app, where you can share photos of food with fellow foodaholics.

Enter Foodspotting. This one app changed my life in Tampa. The very first food event I went to was in July 2011 with Dine Tampa Bay and Foodspotting. I was introduced to many of my current day friends through this app. It allowed me to meet multiple people who shared the love of food (and taking photos of what you eat).

When I was asked to assist in hosting a Foodspotting Eatup in Tampa, I jumped at the opportunity. If you are unfamiliar with Foodspotting and like to share your photos online, I strongly suggest downloading the app today.

This past Sunday, myself and 14 other Foodspotters shared a table and multiple plates of  food at at Clearwaters Besa Grill. We were introduced to the newly launched Sunday Brunch at Besa. I am currently looking at my calendar, looking for my next adventure to Clearwater where I can experience this brunch again.

The first thing that excited me was that Besa Grill has a make your own bloody mary and mimosa bar - I was in heaven, especially when I saw the infused spicy vodka and infused citrus vodka.
I promptly made myself a bloody mary, pickle and shrimp included - with the delicious perfectly spicy vodka.
Our first dish of the day came out which was one of my favorites of the day. Besa Shrimp - Crispy gulf shrimp in a saracha agave aioli. It had the perfect amount of heat to it without being overly spicy. The pickled jalapenos were a perfect touch to this dish.
We then received teh Besa Salad with red onion jicama, cucumbers, pumpkin seeds and lime-cilantro vinaigrette. It is my goal to recreate that salad dressing. I would put it on everything! It was beyond.
The next dish was Vanilla Bean French Toast - 3 sliced of Texas toast with a cinnamon vanilla bean custard and maple syrup. Where I am typically not a morning sweet tooth, I truly enjoyed this. The fruit was a nice touch and I would order this again!
Around this time, I switched over to the Mimosa station, where I made myself a Dessert Pear and Orange Juice mimosa with a ton of fruit garnishes. It was so good, I may have poured me a second!
Following the French toast was another favorite of the day - Crab Cake Eggs Benedict - Poached eggs over lump crab cakes with homemade hollandaise and Besa home fries. Many people at the table agreed that using the Crab Cake instead of bread was a perfect option. This truly made the crab cake stand out.
Our final dish was Steak and Eggs - Prime Rib w/ two sunny side eggs and Besa potatoes. I really enjoyed the use of prime rib in this dish. At this time, I was beyond full and couldn't truly enjoy this amazing dish. The two bites I did consume were delicious and perfectly prepared.
Out came desert and I couldn't say no. A tower of Vanilla Bean Creme Brule and a second tower of flavored Creme Brules - the Nutlella was my favorite of the group.

And just when you think it's over, out comes a basket of Churro's with homemade vanilla bean, chocolate and caramel dipping sauces. They were the perfect ending to this wonderful brunch.
Thank you Besa Grill for an amazing Foodspotting Eatup! I look forward to many visits back to this Clearwater gem.

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