Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Council Oak Launches New Menu

Tuesday, July 25, 2017
My favorite restaurant in Tampa is without a doubt Council Oak inside of Seminole Hard Rock Tampa. They recently launched a new menu consisting of appetizers, entrées, a new dessert and several craft cocktails. We had an opportunity to check it out and sample many items that are available now to the public. The food was delicious and the drinks were so good we made many disappear. Following our dinner, Gabe and I took the chance at a few slot machines. I must say how much we enjoy Seminole Hard Rock Tampa's smoke free expansion.
The new craft cocktail menu featured drinks with such names as Pillow Talk, Garden Party, Cucumber Gimlet, Twisted Western and a photo worthy Rose Mojito, which includes a rose infused ice cube. If wine is more your style, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa just received the prestigious Award of Excellence by Wine Spectator Magazine for its impressive menu of over 300 fine wines.
photo credit: Leo Arboines, Seminole Hard Rock Tampa
The new appetizers on Council Oaks menu consist of: Steamed Mussels with garlic infused tomato broth and toasted ciabatta, Soft Shell Crab with summer succotash and caper vinaigrette, Calamari & Lobster with smoked cherry peppers and red wine gastrique, Coriander Crusted Tuna with fennel-cucumber salad, ruby grapefruit and tapenade. The steamed mussels were my favorite and this was the first time I had tried soft sell crab!
There are many new dinner specials on Council Oaks revamped menu including: Grilled Yellowtail Snapper, Florida Grouper with rock shrimp, a 21-ounce bone-in New York Strip and a Prime Rib special offered on Fridays and Saturdays only. Council Oak has an incredible steak selection and the entire table loved the New York Strip. I haven't been eating much red meat lately and enjoyed the new fish options.
The new dessert is a Baked Alaska which is flambeed table-side. This dessert is a delicious chocolate brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, meringue and chocolate sauce.
You can check out Council Oak's menu here. Cheers!

We were provided a free meal to check out Seminole Hard Rock Tampa's updated Council Oak Menu. However, all opinions are my own.

Carnival Cruise Line goes to Cuba! #CCL2Cuba

Thursday, July 6, 2017
Huge news came out of Port of Tampa last week - Carnival Cruise Line had it's first-ever cruise to Cuba. This ship sailed on June 29, 2017 on a four-day sailing with an overnight port of call in Havana!!! Carnival Paradise will have a variety of four and five day cruises from Tampa through May 3, 2018.

My friend Heather and I were invited to a Cuban inspired bon voyage reception to kick off the inaugural sailing. We feasted on delicious Cuban food and libations while listening to live Cuban music.
To kick off the Cuban festivities, Carnival Cruise Line created the “World’s Largest Cuban Sandwich at Sea.” This 10-foot-long sandwich contained the traditional ingredients of all Cuban sandwiches: a light white bread, five pounds of sliced ham, 50 pounds of marinated and roasted pork, six pounds of Swiss cheese, one gallon of dill pickles and mustard and mayonnaise.
This sandwich had a twist - half of the sandwich included 8lb of Genoa Salami which made it an authentic Tampa Cuban sandwich. The other half was the Miami version. As long as I've lived in Tampa, there has been a feud between which was authentic - Tampa won.
Carnival's Senior Cruise Director John Heald even made us do a Cuban dance.
At the Bon Voyage party, Carnival donated $25,000 to Tampa’s Ybor City Museum Society. I was thrilled to hear this, being a former resident of Ybor City. It's a great organization that is committed to preserve, promote and celebrate the unique cultural heritage of Ybor City, one of only three National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida.
The Cuba sailing series depart on: July 13, Aug. 14, 24 and 28, Sept. 7, 21 and 25, Oct. 5, 9 and 19, 2017, May 3, 2018. Five-day voyages add a stop in either Cozumel, Mexico; or Key West, Florida.
In addition to experiencing Havana’s colorful history and culture, guests sailing aboard Carnival Paradise can enjoy an array of amenities and a full schedule of daytime activities and nighttime entertainment.
The ship features a 12,000-square-foot Spa Carnival health and wellness facility and an exclusive Serenity adults-only retreat. Popular family-friendly programming includes Seuss at Sea in partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises featuring the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast with The Cat in the Hat and Friends and fun, supervised activities for kids in three age groups. The ship also boasts four swimming pools and a 115-foot-long water slide.
I think it's time for me to book another cruise. Cuba anyone?

Catching up and a sad goodbye

Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Hi friends! It's been over a month since I last posted on my little corner of the world wide web. So much has been going on and I have a lot to fill you in on. I spent most of June traveling for work - with trips to Hollywood FL, Atlanta and NYC.
photo I took at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, FL

At our event in NYC
I celebrated a birthday. My in-laws purchased me a vintage claw table which my husband refurbished for me while I was in Atlanta. I absolutely LOVE the outcome (and the MacKenzie Childs plates my Mom got me!). I will do a full blog post on what we did.
My Father in law and my husband redid our stairs! Ripped up the nasty carpet and replaced it with gorgeous wood stairs. This transformation was huge. Not to sound like a broken record, but a full blog post will be coming up on how we (they) did this! We are close to having all the carpet out of this house!

OK now for the sad news.........

We endured a complete heartbreak in June. When I got home from Atlanta, our Cat Boo was acting a little weird. He was breathing heavier than normal and not interested in eating. That weekend, I had friends visiting, one of which is a Vet tech. She informed me he was labor breathing. We ended up taking him to the emergency vet to find out he had fluid in both lungs and in his cavity. He had an advanced stage of cancer.....our world came crashing down. When we took him to the vet, I thought the worst thing that could happen was they would drain the fluid from the lungs and send him home with us. We had to make the extremely difficult decision to put him down.

It's been 1 1/2 weeks and I will say, while I miss Boo beyond words, each day does get easier. When the decision was made to put him down, I wanted to be no where near that building. However, my husband chose otherwise and wanted to be in the room with him. While I thought it was the hardest thing any pet owner could go through, it was the right thing for Boo. I held him while they sedated him. I felt his last breath. He said goodbye in the arms of those he loved the most.
June taught me a lot. I am a year older but feel much wiser (haha I had to). We experienced a loss that neither of us were prepared for. We both thought we had another good 5 years left with Boo. Going through this loss together made Gabe and I stronger. While I have lost multiple people in my life, including my father, he hasn't really dealt with death before. Sorry for the sporadic blog post but needed to step out of my writing funk.
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