Tag Archives: Florida

A Florida restaurant bakers dozen

Casa Marina Hotel, Jacksonville Beach, FL
Casa Marina Hotel, Jacksonville Beach, FL

Among Florida’s Roaring Twenties grand hotels it seems Al Capone slept in many, including Casa Marina. The mid-1920s Prohibition era was profitable for Florida including Jacksonville Beach. The beachfront Mediterranean Revival club-like Casa Marina, complete with a sprinkler system, opened in 1925 to a high living bi-coastal clientele.

Casa Marina Hotel Penthouse Lounge, Jacksonville Beach, FL
Casa Marina Hotel Penthouse Lounge, Jacksonville Beach, FL

Ninety years later on the deck of the Penthouse Lounge & Martini Bar overlooking the Atlantic’s pounding surf Casa Marina serves a premium Tequila Margareta – without the slushy ice – that I’m confident infamous Al would approve.

 

 

 

Read what intrigued even the big Al to Jacksonville Beach…

Al Capone slept at Casa Marina on Jacksonville Beach

 

Lobster & Mango Salad, Sea Salt, St. Petersburg
Lobster & Mango Salad, Sea Salt, St. Petersburg

Blessed with Florida’s agricultural and ocean abundance at their doorstep, restaurants in St. Petersburg don’t have to search far for quality ingredients.

Smoked Fish Sandwich, Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, St. Petersburg, FL
Smoked Fish Sandwich, Ted Peters Famous Smoked Fish, St. Petersburg, FL

A relaxed Gulf of Mexico life style and plenty of Florida sunshine draw residents and tourists to a plethora of cafes, fine dining, bars and beach side venues serving traditional fried fish platters to truffled wild mushroom risotto. With an emphasis on independent ownership St. Petersburg chefs have the freedom to experiment or just create the best grilled grouper sandwich on the beach. Here’s a dozen to try in the St. Petersburg area…

A dozen good reasons to eat St. Pete

 

Maximo Moorings Seafood Shack, St. Petersburg, FL
Maximo Moorings Seafood Shack, St. Petersburg, FL

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

St. Petersburg is no longer ‘God’s little waiting room

Rum Fish Grill's lobster ravioli
Rum Fish Grill’s lobster ravioli
Bone Fish Grill's ceviche of scallops, shrimp
Bone Fish Grill’s ceviche of scallops, shrimp

Lest one think St. Petersburg is an example of the old joke that Florida is ‘God’s little waiting room,’ the attendees at September’s Grand Tasting were well under the age of this seasoned culinary journalist. St. Petersburg is attracting residents from a vibrant cross-section of educated world citizens that thrive on the arts, sun, beach, boating and fine food. An explosion of fascinating venues more than satisfies all of these eclectic tastes.

Sea Salt's bubbling panna cotta
Sea Salt’s bubbling panna cotta

With a rapidly recovering economy after the 2008 downturn, St. Petersburg, Florida has established itself as an art and restaurant destination on the Gulf of Mexico coast. Fourteen restaurants and eight wineries are featured in…

Inspiration at the St. Pete Wine and Food Festival

 

Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL & MFA Cafe
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL & MFA Cafe

Both the Museum of Fine Arts and the Morean Arts Center are masters at engaging the imagination of visitors whether through first century Roman iridescent glass or discovering the best cupcake artist in St. Petersburg.

Cupcakes as edible art at the Morean Arts Center
Cupcakes as edible art at the Morean Arts Center

Just like fine art, culinary creations can reach artistic heights. The Morean Arts Center has sponsored the Annual Great St. Pete Cupcake Contest for the past five years. It’s an opportunity for the city’s baking artists to be judged by both professionals and the general public. You can read about the region’s burgeoning art scene at…

Cupcakes and fine art in St. Petersburg Florida

 

North Straub Park, site of SPWFF
North Straub Park, site of SPWFF

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

 

When your only requirement is an internet connection

Dawn on Boca de Ciega Bay, St. Petersburg, FL
Dawn on Boca de Ciega Bay, St. Petersburg, FL

I’ve not posted on Travel with Pen and Palate since May.  After many years in Philadelphia a permanent move to a warm climate was the order from my very intelligent wife.  After all why not?

Maximo Seafood Shack, St. Petersburg, FL
Maximo Seafood Shack, St. Petersburg, FL

As a travel writer my only requirement is an internet connection. I’m not a stranger to living in a  warm climate. I spent nine years at the start of my career in Puerto Rico. I love traveling to warm climates, and on the USA mainland Florida is our tropics.

a silver afternoon on Boca de Ciega Bay
a silver afternoon on Boca de Ciega Bay

No doubt selling a house, packing up three decades of art and antiques and moving to St. Petersburg, FL, does disrupt a writing and traveling schedule. I’ve had to turn down several great press trip invitations including  El Salvador and Italy because my wife somehow thinks I should be involved in house hunting…yes, we moved without first knowing where we were going to live. Of course we had no way of knowing our house would sell in 6 days…but that’s all part of adventure.

Adventure for me as a culinary and culture travel writer is focusing on what makes a destination exciting for those who already call it home.  A tourist can always find the best beach,  the newest luxury hotel or today’s trendy restaurant by simply spending time on social media.

this cricket makes gardeners cringe in FL
this cricket makes gardeners cringe in FL

But will they discover the best cupcake? Will they think that discovery will be found in an art museum that features the glass work of Dale Chihuly? Or that an effusive city booster will be a Scot immigrant of 20 years who’s your server in a terrific cafe? I’ve discovered that and much more in my first three weeks in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Want to know about the cupcake…and Picasso’s lover…and a city that’s become a cultural mecca…with good beaches?

Please read more…

Cupcakes and fine art in St. Petersburg Florida

 

Cupcakes as edible art at the Morean Arts Center
Cupcakes as edible art at the Morean Arts Center

 

You can read all my articles and subscribe to my Examiner columns at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Suite 101

 

Sunset over Boca de Ciega Bay, St. Petersburg, FL
Sunset over Boca de Ciega Bay, St. Petersburg, FL

Twas nights before a southern Christmas

 

In Marion Square, Charleston, SC
In Marion Square, Charleston, SC

DSC06665Walk down any Charleston street and you’ll be acknowledged. Stop and ask a question and be prepared for a lengthy and enthusiastic conversation. As one gentleman said, “Charleston’s always been unique.”

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Did Charleston invent the spirit of Christmas?

 

Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA
Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA
Santa's Workshop in gingerbread
Santa’s Workshop in gingerbread

Richmond’s elegant Jefferson Hotel used to stock live alligators in the fountain of the Palm Court lobby. How does Christmas top that? Old Pompey, immortalized by a taxidermist, was the last and after his passing in 1948 the fountain was removed.

 

Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA
Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA

Richmond residents as well as visitors are drawn to both the lobby and hotel restaurants akin to New York’s Time Square – it’s the city’s Christmas focal point. Read why at…

Christmas alligators at the Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA

 

Polar Express Christmas trolly tour stop, Historic Pensecola, FL
Polar Express Christmas trolly tour stop, Historic Pensecola, FL
The Happy Pig Cafe, Historic Pensecola
The Happy Pig Cafe, Historic Pensacola

Seville Square and Pensacola’s National Historic District remain one of America’s most enduring Florida gulf shore neighborhoods and a focal point for Christmas festivities.

 

 

 

 

Pensacola National Historic District, FL
Pensacola National Historic District, FL

Read why Historic Pensacola has the ambiance of a village within the 21st century city and Christmas reflects its southern charm.

Historic Florida Christmas in Pensacola Village

 

Glass dome of the Palm Court Lobby, Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA
Glass dome of the Palm Court Lobby, Jefferson Hotel, Richmond, VA

You can read all my articles at:

Hellenic News of America

Original World Insights

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

Food & Recipes Examiner

Two January Days in the Florida Everglades

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In the 1820’s artist and naturalist John James Audubon lived for months in the Everglades, surviving mosquitoes, to paint in painstaking detail and breathtaking artistry its many bird species.

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The Everglades is a vast subtropical wetland and collection of coastal ecosystems including freshwater marshes, tropical hardwood hammocks, pine rock lands, extensive mangrove forests, saltwater marshes, and seagrass ecosystems. The abundance of wildlife, both subtropical and temperate species, is found nowhere else in the United States.

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Discover it on: A two day drive through the Florida Everglades

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“The worse my drawings were, the more beautiful did the originals appear.”                    John James Audubon

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You can read all my articles on Examiner.com at:

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

and

 Food & Recipes Examiner

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Florida in its Quincentenary Year

Castillo de San Marcos,  1572, Spanish fortress
Castillo de San Marcos, 1572, Spanish fortress

At best, the European empires who vied for centuries over control of the Western Hemisphere considered Florida a convenient military outpost for protecting shipping lanes to and from the old world. Misquotes, yellow fever, swamps and wars are never good for real estate sales. European empires and American statehood did little for Florida’s economy. It took Henry Flagler – John D. Rockefeller’s  partner in Standard Oil – to create an American Riviera and the state’s first golden age. His entrepreneurial expertise built the Florida East Coast Railroad, a plethora of elegant hotels, the cities of Miami and Palm Beach and revived the oldest city in North America, St. Augustine. From the late 1800’s through 1929, Florida basked in both its sunlight and the glint of a golden age in tourism.

Henry Flagler's Hotel Alcazar, 1888 (now the Lightner Museum) St. Augustine, Fl
Henry Flagler’s Hotel Alcazar, 1888 (now the Lightner Museum) St. Augustine, Fl

More wars, the Great Depression and jet aircraft diverted attention and Florida’s luster suffered from the 1960’s to the end of the century. Yet the 21st century has witnessed a renaissance in interest in America’s sub-tropical real estate and it’s 20th century golden age.

 Vinoy® Renaissance Resort and Golf Club
Vinoy® Renaissance Resort and Golf Club

Florida pink is the color of St. Petersburg grand hotels

The arts are flourishing with the revival of resort destinations such as the gulf coast’s St. Petersburg. The venerable Morean Arts Center (1917) has built a new facility just to feature America’s preeminent glass artist, Dale Chihuly.

Persian Sunset Wall by Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Collection, St. Petersburg, Fl
Persian Sunset Wall by Dale Chihuly, Chihuly Collection, St. Petersburg, Fl

Chihuly illuminates the art scene in St. Petersburg, Fl 

500 years ago (1513) Don Ponce de Leon fruitlessly searched for the legendary fountain of youth and discovered Florida instead. A lot of history and visitors have followed and they all needed a bed. The building that is now St. Augustine’s renowned St. Francis Inn was built while the city was still part of the Spanish empire – 1791. Yet Joe and Margaret Finnegan have never seen Lily even though they have owned St. Augustine’s historic St. Frances Inn for nearly three decades. Of course, Lily’s not a guest…

The St. Francis Inn
The St. Francis Inn

It’s no mystery why Lily stays at the St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Fl

An attentive and friendly staff of 14 oversee the many details that can make a guest of the St. Francis Inn forget they’re also visiting one of America’s great historic destinations, St. Augustine, Fl.

Strawberry soup, St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Fl
Strawberry soup, St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine, Fl

Recipes from Florida’s oldest B & B, St. Francis Inn, St. Augustine

Bistro de Leon is a husband and wife team matched in their senses, love of food and making people comfortable.

Seafood risotto, Bistro de Leon
Seafood risotto, Bistro de Leon

Jean-Stephane is Bistro de Leon, St. Augustine, Fl, but Valerie sets the style

City walks has tours featuring St. Augustine pubs, ghosts, chocolate and mayhem that should cover anything of importance in the first 500 years.

Athena Cafe, St. Augustine, Fl
Athena Cafe, St. Augustine, Fl

St. Augustine’s Savory Faire walk table hops through history

The first thing you notice when you walk into Meehan’s Irish Pub and Seafood House are the autographed Jameson whiskey bottles that line the rafters of the bar.

Meehan's Irish Pub & Seafood House, At. Augustine, Fl
Meehan’s Irish Pub & Seafood House, At. Augustine, Fl

Meehan’s Irish Pub & Seafood House helps explain the 450 year lure of St. Augustine

Sunset & pirate ship, Clearwater, Fl
Sunset & pirate ship, Clearwater, Fl

You can read all my articles on Examiner.com at:

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

and

 Food & Recipes Examiner

Pensacola Renaissance

Historic Pensacola Village
Historic Pensacola Village

Through wars, hurricanes, political and economic upheaval, Seville Square and surrounding Historic Pensacola Village remain one of America’s most enduring Florida gulf shore neighborhoods.

The past is the present in Florida’s Historic Pensacola Village

Shelby Clarke, guide at Historic Pensacola Village
Shelby Clarke, guide at Historic Pensacola Village

Mari and Allen are betting on a sure thing – the civic energy and pride that’s driving Pensacola’s Renaissance.

Carmen’s Lunch Bar and the Śole Inn mirror Pensacola’s Renaissance

Mari Carmen Josephs, Carmen's Lunch Bar, Pensacola, Fl
Mari Carmen Josephs, Carmen’s Lunch Bar, Pensacola, Fl

The Pensacola Business Challenge’s mission is to grow the downtown economy one business at a time.

on Palafox Street, historic downtown Pensacola, Fl
on Palafox Street, historic downtown Pensacola, Fl

Pensacola has a fierce independent streak that has buoyed its success for 450 years as both an important Gulf of Mexico commercial city and a tourist destination.

Pensacola, Fl, should adopt the phoenix as its tourism mascot

Pensacola, Fl, circa 1920
Pensacola, Fl, circa 1920

Any visitor to Pensacola’s historic downtown can easily eat their way through a timeline of great American southern cuisine.

Pensacola restaurants dish up 450 years of history

The Grand Marlin, Pensacola, Fl
The Grand Marlin, Pensacola, Fl

 

You can read all my articles on Examiner.com at:

Culinary Travel Examiner

 International Dining Examiner

International Travel Examiner

Philadelphia Fine Dining Examiner

and

 Food & Recipes Examiner

Pensacola, Fl
Pensacola, Fl