Spring St Petersburg Farmers Market Dinner at Maritana Grille, Loews Don CeSar

Thursday, April 30, 2015
Loews Don CeSar Executive Chef Kenny Hunsberger and Maritana Grille's Chef de Cuisine Gavin Pera have a passion for locally sourced products and this is clearly shown in the new St. Pete Farmers Market Tasting Menu. “Some of the best ingredients come from local growers! . We want to help heighten the awareness of these farms and provide our guests with the most flavorful local cuisine available in all of Tampa Bay.” boasted Chef Hunsberger.

I spoke to a few employees at Loews Don CeSar about the new menu and each of them were enthusiastic both Chef Hunsberger and Chef Pera are with the weekly Saturday Morning Market in downtown St. Pete. Some of the employees at Don CeSar have attended this weekly tradition with the Chef's, where they meet with local vendors and select what will be highlighted on the specialty menu. At times, they will visit the farms personally to select the freshest produce, meet the farmers and get a first-hand look at how their efforts at Loews Hotels reinforce the importance of providing guests a uniquely local experience.

My husband and I got to check out the new St Pete Farmers Market Menu and it exceeded our expectations. Four courses paired with amazing wine left us with another memorable dinner at Loews Don CeSar.

First Course
Lake Meadow Natural Crispy Farm Egg
Grilled Asparagus, Serrano Jamon, Lemon Truffle Vinaigrette
Wine pairing option - Hugel "Tradition Pinot Gris

This was an incredible dish. We were lucky to dine at Maritana Grille on a day they got in duck eggs, which took this to a whole new level. The duck egg was fried and served over grilled asparagus and an incredible portion of serano jamon.
Stone Crab
Wagu carpaccio, corn blini, violet mustard, asparagus
Wine pairing option - Cade Sauvignon Blanc

This dish was intricate and delicious. Four different presentations of stone crab made for four incredible bites.

Second Course
Seely's Arc Rabbit
English Pea Puree, Carrot Puree, Bacon, Spring Onion, Sherry
Wine pairing option - Paul Jaboulet Syrah

I will be honest - going into this dinner, both Gabe and I were planning on ordering the pork belly for course two vs. the rabbit. However, we decided to go ahead and try it since we wanted to experience the entire menu. This was both of our first times eating Rabbit and it was delicious. I was not expecting to be this wowed.
Palmetto Creek Pork Belly
Anson mill grits, truffle, kale, malbec and smoke
Wine pairing option - Saldo Red Zinfandel

Our server Jeff explained this dish as Southern perfection and that it was. It was presented with smoke from wood chips, which gave the most amazing flavor to an already perfect dish. I could eat this every single day.

Third Course
Chilean Sea Bass
Saffron Risoto, Tomato, Rainbow Chard, Riesling
Wine pairing option - Failla Chardonnay

I adored this dish - the Sea Bass was super buttery and paired excellent with the Risoto. Also, the wine pairing for this one was my favorite of the night.
Anderson Lamb Rack
Soubise, Turnips and their greens, chocolate port demi glace, perigord truffle
Wine pairing option - Provenance Cabernet Sauvignon

Gabes Lamb dish did not disappoint and you have to love the amount of truffle. The chocolate port demi glace was awesome.

Fourth Course
Iberico Jamon
Artisan cheese, marcona almonds (aka truffle almonds), spring harvest honey
Wine pairing option - Chateaux De Stony Muscat Ice Wine

I am not one with a sweet tooth so a cheese and meat plate at the end of my meal is my ideal dessert. I also have an addiction to marcona almonds, which I was first introduced to at Loews Don CeSar. 

White Chocolate Blueberry Mouse
Fire roasted graham, streusel, local blueberry jam, coconut ice cream
Wine pairing option - Perrai-Carano Eldorado Noir Black Muscat

Holy moly this dessert. As mentioned above, I am not big on sweets so this gem right here was a bit of perfection. The blueberries were not tart and were probably the best blueberries I have ever had in my life, without exaggeration (which I am known to do). Paired with coconut ice cream, what one would think is an odd pairing ended up being the perfect companion. 

The St. Pete Farmer’s Market Tasting Menu is $85 per person, plus tax and gratuity. A specialty wine paring menu is also available. For reservations call 727-363-5077 or visit www.loewshotels.com.
Loews Don CeSar Hotel is located at 3400 Gulf Boulevard, St. Pete Beach, FL 33706.

Chicago Marathon 2015, here WE come!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
A few months back, my best friend Keri and I decided to enter the lottery for the 2015 Chicago Marathon. The Chi Marathon has been on my bucket list ever since completing my first 26.2. If we were both to get in, we would make a girls weekend out of it. Then our husbands decided they wanted to enter.

As the weeks went by, I wondered how this would all pan out. What if Keri and my husband got in and I didn't? Or what if Gabe and I got in but Keri didn't? Surely, there was going to be one person left out because the chances of all four of us getting in were nearly impossible.
Unlike the NYC Marathon lottery, Chicago does not automatically charge your credit card (you have 1 week to pay for your entry post acceptance). I refreshed my email about 100 times on Tuesday morning. Then this happened around 12pm est....
I jumped out of my chair and ran laps around the office telling anyone who would listen that I got into Chicago. I know they think I am crazy. I instantly messaged Keri and a few minutes later, I got this from her.....

So we are both in!! I probably called Gabe 10 times over the next few hours asking if he got an email. As of 3:30, nada. We assumed that neither he nor Keri's husband Jeff got in. Then at 3:45pm est, I received this photo.

Could this really be happening? Was there a possibility that all four of us actually got accepted? Over the next few hours, I paced. Chicago was originally intended to be a girls weekend. Now my husband is in and Keri's husband still hadn't received an email. At 5:30pm est, I received this.....

YAY!!!!!!!!!!! Somehow, someway, all four of us made it into the Chicago Marathon! At first, I speculated that everyone who entered the lottery got in this year because these odd's are near impossible. Then I found out from others who sadly didn't get in. For those looking to run the 2015, you can still do so through Chicago Marathon Charity and Chicago Marathon Travel Programs.

The Rooted Door - Stories from the Farm, Tampa

Monday, April 27, 2015
A new dinner series is coming to Tampa Bay. The Rooted Door will kick off their three part experimental dinner on Friday, May 15 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm. “Stories from the Farm,” is the premiere event of The Rooted Door series and guests will enjoy a multi-sensory experience while dining al fresco amid farm and garden pastures.
Stories from the Farm will be presented by two of Tampa Bay’s most noteworthy chefs, Ferrell Alvarez of the highly acclaimed Rooster & The Till, and Don Pintabona of the culinary wonderland, Locale Market,. This concept was inspired by the Bay's evolving food city and emerging metropolitan scene. Chef Alvarez and Chef Pintabona’s inspirations, passions, and roots to Tampa and the culinary world will be brought to life through a delectable and collaborative dinner.
The Rooted Door - May 15, 2015
Tickets: $120 per person 

Schedule of Events:
7:00p-8:00p- Guests enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while mingling with each other and exploring the farm.
8:00p - 9:30p - Guests sit down at the communal table to a 4 course meal led by featured chefs. Chefs will interact and engage with guests throughout the meal.
9:30p - Guests depart with thank you gifts.

Read below for the full press release on this event.
Tampa. FL. – (April 2015) – PASK Productions is thrilled to unveil their inaugural, three-part experiential dining series, “The Rooted Door,” on Friday, May 15 from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm. Located within the rustic landscapes of Tampa Bay, this concept was inspired by the local market’s evolving “food city” and emerging metropolitan scene. “Stories from the Farm,” the premiere event of The Rooted Door series, will launch with a multi-sensory experience during which guests will dine al fresco amid farm and garden pastures while enjoying fine farm-to-table cuisine prepared by nationally-acclaimed local chefs Ferrell Alvarez of Tampa’s Rooster & the Till and Don Pintabona of Locale Market in St. Petersburg.

Says Alyse Pask, creative director of The Rooted Door and president of PASK Productions, “My grandfather opened one of the first community drugstore in this city, so ultimately this event series is paying homage to my family roots. Through this unforgettable journey, guests can anticipate the Chefs culinary quests, inspirations, passions, and roots to Tampa and the culinary world brought to life. My vision is to set a magical tone where individuals will walk through a door into another world filled with the most advanced cuisine imaginable, which will create a cherished memory for years to come.”

Tickets to The Rooted Door “Stories from the Farm” series are available for advance purchase at $120+ per person (tax not included). Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit Sweetwater Organic Community Farm educational initiatives to support their initiatives to educate the community on how to live healthy and sustainable lives; as well as to The Rooted Door’s scholarship fund, a crucial part of the series’ community give-back initiative to Leto High School’s Culinary Arts Team. This scholarship will foster a student’s dream of furthering their education in the culinary arts and will pave their path to potentially becoming the next great chef. To RSVP for the May 15 dinner, please visit www.therooteddoor.com. Details of the fall event programming will be revealed on a future date.

Attendees will be invited to warm the palate with a sampling of small bites, followed by a plated four-course dinner ripe with the season’s finest local ingredients presented by chefs Alvarez and Pintabona, as well as a gourmet dessert station. Additionally, guests will be given a basket and invited to pick their own farm ingredients for on-site mixologists who will prepare refreshing craft cocktails. The “Stories from the Farm” menu will focus on localism found at Rooster & the Till and Locale Market, as well as the philosophy that natural and sustainable products, and responsible farming are key components in ingredient selection. The story-telling menu inspired by each chef’s journey from childhood to the present will ignite a narrative, where attendees will interact with the chefs and fellow patrons. The goal is to establish an intimate backdrop infused with deep conversations and offerings inspired by the chefs’ lives. PASK Productions hopes this will cultivate a new, imaginative event series of dining experiences that will bring to life the “immersive storytelling” platform into the event arena.

Founded in 2008 by Alyse Pask, PASK Productions, an experiential event marketing and branding agency with offices across Southeast and Southwest Florida, delivers premium services to a high-end clientele across the country. Their collaborations with exceptional brands include BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Gin, Cirque du Soleil, CORZO Tequila, L’OREAL Paris, DUSSE Cognac, Oxley Gin, ULTRA Music Festival, National Young Arts Foundation, and Beats by Dr. Dre among others.

Driven by a love for creating conscious events that impact people, grow communities, and support the culinary arts, PASK Productions believes in giving back in creative and inspiring ways. With roots in the Tampa area, PASK Productions is committed to helping grow a city that has provided so much to the team’s development.
For more information, please visit www.paskproductions.com.

There’s something to be said about coming together to embrace our roots. From the farms that grow the produce we eat, to how we celebrate our diversity at the dinner table, The Rooted Door honors the many flavors of our community with memorable and experiential events. Conceived and produced by award-winning PASK Productions, The Rooted Door is a fully-immersive, creative dining experience designed to share the stories and explore the palates of our greater community’s culinary experts. Honoring the beauty of an audience as varied as the ingredients that will be served, join us on a journey with friends and family, old and new, that takes a local and thoughtful approach to storytelling, eating, and discovery. For more information please visit www.therooteddoor.com or call 786.529.4447.

Locally praised Tampa-based Chef Ferrell Alvarez and owner of the noteworthy Rooster & the Till has made a name for himself as a forward-thinking culinarian in Tampa. In the first 10 months of being open, Rooster & the Till, a Modern American restaurant focusing on best ingredients from local farms and gardens, has earned both Best New Restaurant and Best Chef from Creative Loafing and Best New Restaurant from Florida Trend Magazine. As a graduate from the Cincinnati Culinary Arts Academy, Alvarez has been the recipient of nationwide recognition for a unique culinary view and artistic ambition.

As Locale Market’s Culinary Director, Chef Don Pintabona has spent more than three decades as a renowned chef and cookbook author. His innate talent for cooking, as well as his extensive management experience and vast food studies in more than three dozen countries, have made him a well-respected member of the culinary community. A graduate of the The Culinary Institute of America, Pintabona’s career highlights include years spent as Executive Chef of the trailblazing Manhattan restaurant Tribeca Grill, which garnered accolades including the Ivy Award for Excellence, the DiRoNa Award and Wine Spectator’s Grand Award of Excellence. At the seasonal, chef-driven Locale Market in downtown St. Petersburg’s Sundial lifestyle center, Pintabona blends his culinary influences with that of his friend Michael Mina. FarmTable Kitchen, the eight-course dining experience at Locale Market, recently earned a four-star review from Creative Loafing, as well as praise from Tampa Bay Times dining critic Laura Reiley comparing the experience to “great theater or virtuoso musical performances.”

Established in 1993, Sweetwater Organic Community Farm is a nonprofit community-supported urban organic farm and environmental education center in Tampa, FL. The farm embraces the spirit of community through their extensive programming including a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Membership, Sweetwater Sunday Farmers’ Market and Music Series, and a plethora of hands-on educational programs teaching community members of all ages about sustainable agriculture and the beauty of the diverse world we live in. For more information please visit www.sweetwater-organic.org.

The Culinary Arts Program teaches students top-level kitchen management and offers four levels of culinary mastery. Through interactive classes and exciting culinary competitions, the program challenges creativity, sheds light on the culinary world and supports its’ members to pursue their passions. For more information, please visit www.leto.mysdhc.org.

Inaugural Cigar City Brewing Tampa River Run #Giveaway

Friday, April 24, 2015
Although this blog is called I Run For Wine, I also run for beer. Regardless if I am running a full marathon or a 5K, there is nothing I love more than a cold beer after a run. Especially when that cold beer is from Tampa's famous Cigar City Brewing. With that said, I am so excited to run the Inaugural Cigar City Brewing River Run, a 2 mile fun run along the Tampa Riverwalk.
Register now for the Inaugural Cigar City Brewery Tampa River Run! Run, hop, stoll, jog on the newly completed Tampa Riverwalk in Downtown Tampa!
Event details and schedule
Run Starts: 10am
Registration Starts: 9am
Registration Location: Pier at Cotanchobee Park on the Tampa Riverwalk | 601 Old Water Street
Parking Info: Park anywhere in Downtown Tampa, including South Regional Garage
What to Bring: Ticket and ID
What to Wear: Whatever you want to wear

Your registration includes a Shirt, a Bottle Opener Medal, and 1 free Cigar City Beer after the race at the Beer Garden at the Tampa Downtown Carnival. Don't wait - early registration for only $28 a participant ends at midnight tonight and will go up to $40 the day of.

This will be a great inaugural event you don't want to miss. Since we live less than a mile from River Walk, we will be using Coast Bike Share since they have hubs all over Downtown Tampa and the Riverwalk!

I want you to run with me! I am giving away 2 entries to the Cigar City Brewing River Run!! Leave a comment below letting me know what you are most looking forward to at the Inaugural Cigar City Brewing Tampa River Run: Running on Tampa Riverwalk, receiving the inaugural River Run medal, the inaugural River Run shirt or drinking a Cigar City Brewing beer after you finish. Make sure you use the Rafflecopter Widget after you comment for more chances to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway *As a member of the Tampa Bay Bloggers, I did receive complimentary registrations to the River Run with Big City Events in exchange for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Kentucky Hot Brown Salad - Healthy Kentucky Derby Recipe #EBeggsfit

Thursday, April 23, 2015
I will never forget my first celebrity chef dining experience. This was in the early 2000's when my friend Darlynn and I were visiting New York. This was the beginning of Food Network's hype and I had just started watching Bobby Flay religiously. When we planned this trip for NYC, I insisted upon going to Bar American and promptly ordered a Kentucky Hot Brown as I had just seen Bobby make this when he competed on Throwdown with Bobby Flay.
This is a sandwich I love to eat during the Kentucky Derby. However, moray sauce over a huge piece of Texas Toast is not on my Spring diet. So I turned this unhealthy sandwich into a very easy to make and delicious salad! While a key component of the Kentucky Hot Brown is a fried egg and moray sauce, I used a soft boiled egg to make up for the creamy texture. I used the main ingredients used to make a hot brown with far less fat and calories. You can cook the bacon, roast the tomatoes and the Parmesan crisps at the same time.

Kentucky Hot Brown Salad
Fresh Roasted Turkey, cut 1" thick and into cubes (I used Boars Head)
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (drizzle olive oil and bake at 400 for 20 minutes)
Bacon cooked in the oven (baked at 400 for 15 minutes)
Eggland's Best Soft Boiled Egg (see how to make the perfect soft boiled egg here)
Parmesan Crisp (bake a heaping pile of Parmesan on a baking sheet at 400 for 5-10 minutes)
Red Wine Bacon Vinaigrette (see recipe at the end of this post)
Texas Toast Croutons (if you want)

Roast your tomatoes, Bacon and Parmesan at the same time. See above for times. While you are doing this, make your soft boiled Eggland's Best egg. Put everything together and you have a Kentucky Hot Brown Salad!
One of the flavor profiles I love most about this salad is the use of soft boiled eggs and light dressing. The egg yolk gives so much rich flavor to the salad without compromising your diet. The dressing I made was an invention of mine which turned out amazing. Instead of using bacon in my dressing, I used a bacon flavored vinaigrette by using smoked olive oil and espresso balsamic. I found these ingredients at a local specialty olive oil store and added a tablespoon of red wine.

Red Wine Bacon Vinaigrette
1/8 cup of Smoked Olive Oil and Espresso Balsamic (found in specialty olive oil stores)
1 tablespoon of Red Wine - I used 14 Hands Kentucky Derby Blend to keep with the theme

Combine all three items in a blender of food processor to turn into a vinaigrette

With this recipe, I used Eggland's Best for my soft boiled eggs because they are only 60 calories which correlates with a lower level of total fat and calories from fat.

Compared to ordinary eggs, each Eggland’s Best large egg contains:
25% less saturated fat
10 times more vitamin E
3 times more vitamin B12
4 times more vitamin D
Double the Omega 3s
Good source of vitamins B2 and B5
38% more lutein

This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Eggland's Best.


2016 runDisney Registration Dates and how to get into a runDisney race

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
It's hard to believe we are already talking about 2015 races but when it comes to the popular runDisney events, you have to plan ahead. I remember my first 5K, the 2012 runDisney Enchanted 5K fun run. My running buddy Nicole and I signed up for it less than 2 months away from the event. These day's, runDisney 5K's sell out within minutes. My husband Gabe's first Full Marathon was the 20th anniversary runDisney Marathon with the most fantastic medal you've ever seen. He registered a mere 4 months prior to the event and got in. These days, if an anniversary medal is in play, the event will sell out before you can make up your mind.
2012 - 2015 runDisney Medals
It's a bit hard for me to grasp that this is the new day of runDisney events. I have had two recent occurrences where an event was full before I had time to register. This, coming from someone who has early registration privileges being an annual passholder. I was in a meeting when the Wine Dine Half registration opened (both for early and public registrations) and didn't get in. PS - I am still pouting over this.

  • If you are looking to run a runDisney event, you need to be in front of your computer (not registering via cell phone) at Noon EST the day the registration opens. 
  • Make your decision if you want to run the event ahead of time and don't be on the fence day of. 
  • Once you are in the queue, do not walk away from your computer. I missed out on Wine and Dine registration due to this.
  • If you are looking to run with a family member or friend, make sure they are doing their own registration at Noon as well. I know many people who were able to register but their favorite running buddy was left in the dust as the event filled up before they secured a second registration. 

Here are the 2016 runDisney registration dates along with the early registration dates for  Annual Passholder (AP) and Disney Vacation Club (DVC).

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend
presented by Cigna
Jan. 6-10, 2016 │ Walt Disney World Resort
Passholder Early Registration Starts: April 14, 2015 - Noon EST
On Sale: April 28, 2015 @ 12:00 PM EST

Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend
presented by Sierra Nevada Corporation
Jan. 14-17, 2016 │ Disneyland Resort
Passholder Early Registration Starts: June 2, 2015 - Noon EST
On Sale: June 16, 2015 @ 12:00 PM EST

Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend
presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals
Feb. 18-21, 2016 │ Walt Disney World Resort
Passholder Early Registration Starts: June 30, 2015 - Noon EST
On Sale: July 14, 2015 @ 12:00 PM EST

Star Wars Half Marathon, The Dark Side
April 14-17, 2016 | Walt Disney World Resort
Passholder Early Registration Starts: September 15, 2015
On Sale: September 21, 2015 @12:00 PM EST

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend
presented by PANDORA Jewelry
May 5-8, 2016 │ Disneyland Resort
Passholder Early Registration Starts: July 28, 2015 - Noon EST 
On Sale: Aug. 11, 2015 @ 12:00 PM EST

Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend
Event Dates: September 1-4, 2016
Passholder Early Registration: January 26, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EST
On Sale: February 2, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EST

Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend
Event Dates: September 23-25, 2016
On Sale: January 12th, 2016

Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend at Walt Disney World
Event Dates: November 4-5, 2016
Passholder Early Registration: March 22, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EST
On Sale: March 29, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EST

Avengers Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland
Event Dates: November 10-13, 2016
Passholder Early Registration: April 5, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EST
On Sale: April 12, 2016 @ 12:00 PM EST


2015 Pier 60 Sugar Sand Festival - Clearwater

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
This past weekend we had the opportunity to check out an amazing event at Pier 60 in Clearwater - The 2015 Sugar and Sand Festival
This event features 10 master sand sculptures who spent 9 days creating unbelievable sculptures using 1000 tons of Clearwater Beach's sugar sand.
The 2015 Sugar and Sand Festival's theme is Sugar and Sand Tales - an enchanted storyland featuring classic fairytales. 
Imagine walking through a 21,000 square foot tent seeing all of your favorite childhood tales brought to life in sand sculptures. 
This magical event runs through April 26, 2015 and tickets are only $10 for adults, $5 for children (free under 6) and $7 for military, police, teachers and fire fighters. Click here for more information and to buy Sugar Sand Festival tickets

Not only did we get to check out the event, but we were invited to a VIP dinner where we got to dine in the sand! I am not talking about a picnic on the beach - literally dining on a table carved out of sand. 
Catered by the always delicious Baystar Restaurant Group - we had enjoyed a culinary adventure on the sands of Clearwater Beach.
The dinner consisted of seared scallops, watermelon arugula salad, oysters, red snapper and key lime pie. As I am writing this post, my husband is sitting over my shoulder exclaiming once again how amazing our dinner was. 
Following dinner, we watched a firework display over Pier 60, which will also take place this upcoming weekend. There is also a free concert series on the weekends. Click here for more information on the beach concert series. 

Snoqualmie Vineyards Organic and earth-friendly wines - Earth Day Wine

Thursday, April 16, 2015
Earth Day is less than a week away and I always reflect about what I do during the year to help our environment. I always make a conscious effort to purchase items made from recycled products and will spend a little more money on things that are Eco-friendly. So an earth friendly wine is right up my alley!
Snoqualmie Vineyards is a sustainable wine made out of the largest certified organic vineyard in Washington State. They recently released a ton of new wines just in time for Earth Day and they have new Sustainable Packaging. There is a large variety which would pair perfectly with events during the Spring and Summer.

Snoqualmie 2012 ECO Chardonnay Columbia Valley (Organic)
Winemaker Comments: “ Crafted with no oak, this wine is a refreshing experience of true Chardonnay varietal characters. Pear and apple nuances accent the nose leading to clean fruit flavors on the palate.” – Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2013 Chardonnay Columbia Valley
Winemaker Comments: “ This Chardonnay opens with hints of orangeblossom and aromas of citrus and pear fruit on the nose. The palate has a citrusy component with toasted sweet oak flavors and a balanced, creamy finish.” – Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2013 Winemaker's Select Riesling Columbia Valley 
Winemaker Comments: “ A crisp and refreshing Riesling, this wine bursts with aromas of spicy pear and dried apricots. The richly textured palate is characterized by spice and fruit with lingering notes of honey.” – Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2013 ECO Riesling Columbia Valley (organic)
Winemaker Comments: “ This organically grown Riesling bursts with fresh aromas of pear characters accented with a touch of lime and mineral notes. A crisp, off dry finish captures the pure elegance of this varietal.” – Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2013 ECO Gewurztraminer Columbia Valley (organic)
Winemaker Comments: Made from organically grown fruit, this wine is a pure expression of Gewurztraminer grape characters. Spicy, fruity aromas are coupled with crisp and juicy fruit flavors that will pair well with spicy ethnic dishes.”– Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2012 ECO Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley (organic)
Winemaker Comments: “ The 2012 ECO Cab shows red currant and strawberry like fruit characters in the nose. The fruit carries through on the palate mingled with ample soft textures.” – Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2012 Merlot Columbia Valley
Winemaker Comments: “ The 2012 ECO Cab shows red currant and strawberry like fruit characters in the nose. The fruit carries through on the palate mingled with ample soft textures.” – Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley
Winemaker Comments: “This Snoqualmie Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon has ripe black fruit aromas layered with cocoa and spice. The palate presents with a mouthful of fruit and sweet oak followed by long velvety tannins. This handcrafted wine showcases the best of the varietal and terroir.” – Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2012 Whistle Stop Red Blend Columbia Valley
Winemaker Comments: “Fresh aromas of ripe current and blackberry fruit couple with hints of sage giving way to sweet fruit flavors and soft luscious tannin on the palate.” – Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Snoqualmie 2012 Syrah Columbia Valley
Winemaker Comments: “ This Syrah reveals rich impressions of blueberry and plum fruit with subtle notes of chocolate and smoke. Soft luscious tannins and sweet oak flavors lead to a smooth finish.” – Joy Andersen, Winemaker

Pippin Comes to Straz Center Tampa Bay #BroadwayInTampa #PippinOnTour

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Pippin the Musical - its Broadway with a side of Motown, Cirque Du Solei, SNL and quite possibly the best stage act I have ever seen. When my husband and I found out we were going to a showing of Pippin at Straz Center, Tampa last night, neither of us knew much about the show. I knew it was the 2013 Tony Award Best Revival of a Musical but that is about where my history of this production ended.
Between the talent of the cast, including "Leading Player",  Sasha Allen (a finalist from Season 4 on The Voice) to the jaw dropping acrobats, I was blown away. The new production came straight from Broadway and is directed by Tony Winner Diane Paulus.
Pippin was hailed as "an eye-popping, jaw-dropping extravaganza" and there is no better way to describe it than just that. We have been fortunate over the past two years to see quite a few traveling shows at The Straz Center and this was hands down the best I've ever seen.
There were times during the show that I found myself hysterically laughing. What sets this story apart from all others is a mix of acrobatics, magic, comedy and pure talent. If you are unfamiliar with the story (as I was until last night), it based on the premise of a mysterious performance troupe which is led by the Leading Player (Sasha Allen). She tells the story of Pippin, a young prince on his search for meaning and significance. He goes through the show feeling directionless with life until The Leading Player inspires him. Words really can't describe this show
Pippin is noted for many Broadway standards including, Corner of the Sky, Magic to Do, Glory, No Time at All, Morning Flow and Love Song. While I didn't know any of the songs due to the fact we've never seen Pippin before, many people around us sang throughout the night.

If you go see one show this season at The Straz, make Pippin it. You will not be sorry! We received Press tickets for review through my partnership with Tampa Bay Bloggers. As always, all opinions are my own.

Pippin at The Straz Center

Pippin will be at Straz Center Tampa from April 14 - April 19. Click here to purchase your tickets today!

Show Dates & Times
Tues. 7:30 p.m.
Wed. 7:30 p.m.
Thurs. 7:30 p.m.
Fri. 8 p.m.
Sat. 2 and 8 p.m.
Sun. 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Review of Diet to Go - great for those on the road!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Since the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2015, my life has been a bit of a whirlwind. I have been traveling for work and find myself all over the state of Florida during the week. I had a hard time in the beginning with life balance and found myself eating way too much fast food since it was convenient. When one has to travel from Tampa to Jacksonville and back in one day, it is hard to find something nutritious to eat. So it was perfect timing when Diet to Go asked me to review a week of their product, 3 meals a day. These meals can be cooked in the microwave or conventional oven and are frozen. On those days that I travel to Jacksonville, the meal could start defrosting on my trip and be ready to cook by the time I made it to the office.
The Diet to Go meals were surprisingly good. I didn't go in with high expectations as they were frozen. However, these meals were not only convenient, healthy but also really good! I opted for the Traditional Low Fat meal plan. There are two other options, Vegetarian and Low Carb. I also requested not to have seafood in my plan. When I received my meal plan, I was surprised to find items such as Mac and Cheese, Grilled Cheese, Breakfast Pizza and Burgers on Pretzel rolls on there. This is my kind of diet!!
Chicken Pesto Salad
I received 5 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner. My favorite meal of the entire week was a lunch meal - Chicken Pesto Salad served with a whole wheat roll.
Granola and Yogurt
Although I am not a breakfast person, it was nice to sit down with a set menu, telling me what to eat and when to eat it. I found myself eating breakfast as opposed to skipping it, like most days (or turning to a protein shake/smoothie).
Turkey Picadillo
One of the items that I was most looking forward to and it didn't let me down was Turkey Picadillo with apricot glazed asparagus. This dish was full of flavor and I didn't feel as if it were diet food.
The lunch meal I was most looking forward to was Grilled Cheese with Lentil Chili and a chocolate brownie. This comfort meal was right up my alley.

My diet plan was as follows:

Day 1
Breakfast: Mushroom Strata, Chicken Sausage, Tropical Fruit Salad
Lunch: Bistro Chicken Salad, Mini Mango Walnut Muffin
Dinner: BBQ chicken, anise roasted potatoes, baked beans, green beans, bbq sauce

Day 2
Breakfast: Granola, Greek Yogurt, Apple Juice
Lunch: Chicken Philly Sub, Veggie Slaw
Dinner: Turkey Picadillo, Brown Rice Pilaf, Apricot Glazed Asparagus

Day 3
Breakfast: Cornbread Muffin, Greek Yogurt
Lunch: Chicken Pesto Salad, Whole Wheat Roll
Dinner: Macaroni and Cheese, Carrots with Cranberries, Broccoli with Almonds

Day 4
Breakfast: Kale & Swiss Frittata, Chicken Sausage, Applesauce
Lunch: Grilled Cheese, Lentil Chili, Brownie
Dinner: Thai Turkey Tenderloin, Stir Fry Rice, Green Bean Medley

Day 5
Breakfast: Breakfast Pizza, Spiced Apples
Lunch: Turkey Burger on Pretzel Roll, Orange and Craisin Salad
Dinner: Baked Spaghetti Pie, Cauliflower
One thing I loved most about Diet to Go was the convenient app that let me sync to my Fit Bit. I entered what I ate, if I worked out and my FitBit automatically synced my daily steps. This assisted big time to keep me aware of my daily activity. It was a little too easy to get stuck in a rut while spending multiple hours a day on the road.
Overall, I was very impressed with Diet to Go. While I love cooking at home, this plan worked out very well for me given my current work life situation. If you are unsure of what Diet Plan you would need, the Diet to Go professionals can help guide you the right way.

Click here to find out more information, pricing and menu selections for Diet to Go!
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