Thursday, November 16, 2017

NOVBEMBER 19, 2017







HAPPY THANKSGIVING.....








JIM KNOWS SARASOTA returns early December.

For those of you who did not receive last week's blog you can go to archive to retrieve.  Thanks for you reading and have a great holiday and start to the Holiday season!!!!

JIM............ 






Saturday, November 11, 2017

NOVEMBER 12, 2017




BROADWAY COMES TO SARASOTA......



Broadway favorite, ONCE,  kicked off  Florida StudioTheatre's 2017-18 Winter Stage season this  week.  Winner of 8 Tonys in 2012 as well an Oscar for best song in an earlier 2007 movie; this one promises to be must-see until closing in January. And positive reviews only add to the demand.

A charming tale of an Irish street musician who is about to give up his dreams when an unlikely connection forces him to reconsider.   A minimalist set including a bar center stage where you can come up to buy a drink before and at intermission. 
 
Season tickets are still available for 4 shows at $59.    To get on line access please click here. You can also call 941-366-9000.


A few miles north on The Trail you can attend still another Broadway Classic, as EVITA opens the Asolo Rep season this Saturday.  Winner of 8 Tony Awards in 1979, this one is ageless.   Evita has been called the ultimate Webber and Rice musical.

Eva Peron used her charisma and beauty to rise from poverty to become first lady of Argentina at the age of 27.    That she died at so young an age makes her story and this musical adaption of it, that much more dynamic.

Who can forget Madonna in the movie version, along with Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas as Che.  You can still catch this On Demand, as I did last week.  It's ageless!!!!  Tickets are reasonably priced for most performances.  Their box office is now open but you can be your own box office at home by clicking here.


  
Those of you who are wondering about the Wallenda Family's whereabouts; they are alive and well in New York.  Appearing in Big Apple Circus, now through January 7, Nick and family close the second act with their seven-person-high-wire-pyramid.

The Wallenda fall during a performance at  Circus Sarasota this February is still fresh in my mind, as is Nik's performance a few days later.   According to the NY Times review "...too nerve racking to watch, even with an air mattress that could sleep 90 inflated below."


If you're planning a trip to NY soon then you can call 212-257-2300 or click here for tickets.  

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and I know many of you have already
started preparing for that holiday and the ones that follow.  What better way to get an early jump on Christmas/Chanukah shopping than visiting a Craft Show these next 2 weekends. 

If you're reading this on Sunday, then you have a few more hours for the 29th annual St. Armands Art Craft Festival.

And if you missed this one, this coming weekend will provide another opportunity.  The 5th annual Sarasota Fine Art Festival runs November 18-19 at the corner of Gulf Stream Ave, and Main St.  If you go Saturday before 1:00pm, you can take in the Farmer's Market as well.

Debbie and Mark  return this week with a review of recently opened Speaks Clam House in Lakewood Ranch.  They write..."Only open a few weeks they are already on wait at 7:30.     Food is Italian style with heavy emphasis on seafood.  Also available are meat and pasta dishes.  Entrees are served with two side, and along with salad , plenty to eat.

We ordered Fish N' Chips and  grilled swordfish.  Both were reasonably priced and delicious!  Their happy hour features name vodka for $5.  We will be back to this very good addition to the neighborhood."

For those of you reading on Longboat or west of 75,  SPEAKS plans to open its second location on Presidents Blvd.  next month.

As Speaks opens, two University corridor favorites have closed.   Square One Burgers and Daily Eats are no longer.    

For those of you who do not subscribe to Herald Tribune anymore, you have missed this news: their Hurricane Recovery Expo is Saturday Nov18, 10-3.  Located at Sarasota Main Plaza, adjacent to Hollywood 20.  Panel discussions, builders, preparation vendors,  storm recovery experts and more.  Admission is free!!!!
 
 


JIM'S RANT.......Am I the only one who feels this way, or is Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach  Dirk Kotter always sad?  Even when winning, which is rare this season, he NEVER smiles.  No wonder a team that showed so much promise in 2016, stinks up the place in 2017.....and what about my woeful Bears?  Go Ravens....How many days to Spring Training???....JIM....see you next week, then its off for a few........





 




Saturday, November 4, 2017

NOVEMBER 5, 2017





FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO FORGOT.......


Waited a few weeks before sampling the store that has Sarasota buzzing:  LUCKY'S MARKET!!!
Located Tamiami Trail and Siesta Drive at the foot of Westfield-Siesta it is well worth the trip.

Though similar to better known Whole Foods and  Fresh Market, Lucky's brings a new approach to warehouse shopping. 
Sure Sprouts or Publix has comparable items available as do the aforementioned, but simply stated, Lucky's is more fun.  What better way to shop than with a draft beer in one hand and cart in other.  Only in America.

Their produce is organic and the meats are smoked while the sushi is rolled right before your eyes.  If you like chicken or tuna salad, they prepare it while you watch.  And their turkey is real, not processed, as sold by most competitors.  Well worth the price!!  NOW, if they could only get all those shoppers to visit the Mall!!!


Had lunch this past week with Marlene Meyer at recently opened ACROPOLIS  on Cattleman in Benderson shopping center.   She writes, " The restaurant has a Greek feel with white and blue interior.  It is large, sleek, and open; however,  we took advantage of a beautiful day and ate outside.

To begin, the bread (although not pita as described) with tzatzki sauce was delicious.  Our Lentil soup was well prepared, as was their Horiatki Salad. For those of you unfamiliar with this salad, it is Greek without the lettuce." Go ahead and click here to view their entire menu.  

We had few complaints about meal, but both pick Appolonia and Blu Kouzina for Greek food over this place.

A word of caution, most evenings there is belly dancing, plate breaking, napkin throwing,  and loud live music.



By now, most of you have heard about the Ringling Library Association TOWN HALL lecture series.  The 2018 edition will be their 38th year of presenting outstanding speakers to the community.


This year's list reads like a who's who of news and decision makers.  Leading off on Monday January 22 is former Presidential advisor and CIA director, John Brennan.  I am not privy to his lecture, but I will be eagerly awaiting the Q and A session.  John Meecham, who appears regularly on NBC is the second speaker, and he too should have a lively Q and A.  

Immediately following the lecture, lunch is available with speaker in the Grand Foyer of the Van Wezel.    Best to  order by phone  at 941-309-5100.  Hope to see you there in January.


For those of you who have been to CUBA, or are planning a trip there in the near future you will find Nelson DeMille's new thriller, THE CUBAN AFFAIR a quick and entertaining read.   

The tale begins in Key West and involves a charter boat owner with his cranky partner captain, a Cuban-American female friend, and a lawyer up to no good.  They head to a fishing tournament in Cuba, and while there search for a hidden cache of money.   If you're looking for fast paced entertainment and an escape from the recent headlines you've come to the right place. 

 
It was not a surprise, but disappointment,  when Anu Tali announced she is stepping down as  Music Director of Sarasota Orchestra at conclusion of 2018/19 season.   She has brought an international spotlight to our community, and for that we're grateful.  

Tali returns the weekend of 11/10-12 with this season's first Masterworks concert. 
 
This opening concert features works of two great masters, Gustav Mahler and Antonin Dvorak.  Included in the program is Mahler's always stirring Fifth Symphony, and  guest soloist Adolfo Arenas  performing during Dvorak's beautiful and expressive Cello Concerto.

Tickets for these performances at Van Wezel are available. for both evenings as well as Sunday afternoon.  To order tickets on line, you can click here.

Tickets start at $33; an exceptional value for this program.  You can also call 941-953-3434. 

We have a Federal Holiday at the end of this week.  Since 1938, our  official holiday honoring persons who served in the military is celebrated on November 11.  Since that day is Saturday, we are observing on Friday.   We are already being bombarded with SALES!!!



JIM'S RANT.....For years, I've been an avid viewer of local news; especially during hurricane season when they scare me to death!!  But lately, Ive grown weary of the endless commercial breaks.  When I was in broadcasting, breaks were limited to 3, maybe 4 products AND product protection.  No more.  The other night Toyota was a sponsor of newscast, and after a break of 4 different auto manufactures, not one spot for Toyota.  I know commercials are what drive profits, but does anyone have empathy for the viewer???..........Once again, thanks for reading.  See you next week......JIM





 









Wednesday, October 25, 2017

OCTOBER 29, 2017







HAPPY HALLOWEEN...ARE YOU READY TO PARTY????



Many of you read Jim Knows late Saturday or Sunday.  If so , you have something to do this afternoon.  

The  first of several Craft Festivals is open  until 5pm.  Located in a familiar area 5 Points Park & Central Avenue, there is a variety of jewelry, pottery, ceramics, photography, painting, clothing...you get the idea.  And if you're hungry, food trucks have been added this year.  

In next weeks edition, I'll have advance information on this year's American Craft Council show at Robards arena December 1-3.  



 Sarasota Opera returns this week with an old favorite LA TRAVIATA.  Arguably Verdi's most successful opera, it tells a familiar tale.  A woman of means falling in love with a peasant.  But as you can imagine, through a strange turn of events, she is forced to abandon her lover and return to her family.  Beginning November 3, and running for 7 performances, this promises to be a sell out.  To order tickets visit visit their web site and learn about this opera as well as the outstanding season they have planned.


The food is very familiar; what isn't is TOO JAYS new look.   After a few months of remodeling, their act is as good as ever.  Facing stiff competition from newly opened Connors and Bravo, Too Jays more than holds its own.  For those on the run, they've added a counter for dining as well.

We had dinner there this week and am happy to report the corn beef is delicious along with the bread which doesn't fall apart with the touch.  

Letters, I get Letters....An avid steak eater writes....."Your critique of Connors was much too complimentary. I had dinner there a couple of weeks ago and ordered their special 12 oz. PRIME cut of sirloin steak which I had to send back because they absolutely ruined it.....the replacement was a 12oz strip steak ,which they also destroyed. Needless to say, I'm not going back."






Almost going unnoticed for a few years, Sarasota Contemporary Dance is selling out this season.  Your next chance to see this exceptional group is November 30-December 3 when their annual VOICES will be playing.  
 
This spectacle is a hallmark of the company's approach to dance.  Full of physicality, thought, and wonder.  Totally creative and original, VOICES is choreographed by members of the troupe as well as guest choreographers from around the country.

Appearing in the intimate Jane B Cook adjacent to the Asolo Theatre.  For tickets please go their web-site. There you will find additional information on performers, etc.

SELBY Botanical Gardens, is an attraction available year round.  With a diverse collection of plants from tropical and subtropical regions around the world, it is a wonderful side trip for  visiting family and friends; especially this time of year when the weather is ideal to be outdoors.

Now featured through is their annual Orchid show.  Though smaller in presentation than some other annual shows, this one is easy on the eyes and also takes you through some outstanding areas of the property.

As you walk along the Gardens you end up at Payne Mansion.  There you will find an exhibition of treasures from their research collections.  These explore the science and splendor of orchids through as witness through the elements of nature, earth, air, fire and water.

The 14th annual Sarasota MEDIEVAL FAIR returns next weekend to the Fairgrounds.  For pure family fun, this unique event features tournaments, food (of course), artisans.  There are $off coupons available all over the place.  Admission is not free, but the parking is.  See you there.
 

Many of you are poised to attend this year's CINE-WORLD;  for those of you who are not, there is a gem of a movie playing in Bradenton.  Showing only at AMC 20, MARSHALL is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.  It is also very topical, since the case involves a sexual assault.  The difference here the charge is made against a black chauffeur by his white socialite employer.

The cast is full of unknowns, but Kate Hudson, Josh Gad and James Cromwell are well known from previous screen roles.  

Sometimes the best movies are the ones you hear the least about.  See it soon, as I doubt it will be playing next weekend.


JIM'S RANT....Here we are at the end of October, Halloween is tomorrow, leaves are off the trees, Sarasota's weather is more fall like, AND the Christmas decorations are all over the place. In my youth, Thanksgiving was the traditional start of the holiday season.  No longer, now that on-line shopping is king...Oh well, we can start thinking Easter soon.....Until next week, thanks for reading.....JIM
 

Friday, October 20, 2017

OCTOBER 22, 2017



CONGRATULATIONS TO LOS ANGELES  DODGERS

YOU BEAT MY CUBS!!!!!


In The Heights, the brainchild of Lin-Manuel Rivera (Hamilton), opened on Broadway in 2008, and went on to win 4 Tony Awards, including Best Musical.  It's the opening show at Westcoast Black Theatre, where it's playing to capacity nightly.

This show looks back in time when immigrants migrated from the New York to the Washington Heights neighborhood of upper Manhattan.  Through songs reflecting the heritage of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic,  you are transformed into their world .  Miranda's score includes hip-hop, salsa, and Caribbean that will have you dancing along with the cast.

Now playing through November 19, you can call 941-366-1505 or go to their website for tickets and information about this show and the entire season.  If tickets are gone, check back, as performances are being added, including a matinee this Thursday October 26.


 The fall movie season is in full swing, what with Cine-World Film Festival a few weeks away, and the always anticipated end of year movies a month away. 

Running Friday 11/3-Sunday 11/12, you have a strong list of over 30 films to choose from.  Ranging American, foreign, documentary and closed caption, at first glance this year's list seems an improvement on the past couple of years. 

Many of the films have played in festivals from Cannes to Toronto.  Here is a short list of some of the best.....

Borg Vs. McEnroe....taking place in 1980, these two top tennis players of that era squared off against each other at Wimbledon.  If you enjoyed Battle of the Sexes, you will love this one.

Lady Bird.... As the world changes in 2002, a mother and daughter living in Sacramento Calfironia compete against each other in a changing world. 

Last Flag Flying....A top rate cast including Bryan Cranston, Lawrence Fishburn and Steve Carell, these three come together at funeral of young Marine killed in Iraq War.  

Score....An inside look at how music is composed for the movies we enjoy so much.  This documentary features John Williams and Danny Elfman among others.   Spoiler Alert...this one is also on Amazon, but wonderful on a big screen.

Happy movie-going!!! 


And if  you are  one of those "would rather watch at home", you're in for a treat.  This past Sunday, Netflix began streaming a NEW movie from acclaimed director, Noah Baumbach :The Meyerowitz Stories.

Featuring Dustin Hoffman, Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson, Elizabeth Marvel and even more, it tells the story of a father and his relationship with wife and children as they grow apart and grow into adulthood.

Filmed on the streets of New York at many locations familiar to those who live or travel there, the two hours fly by.  And if you need a refreshment or get a phone call there's always the pause button.  

Bravo Coastal Bar & Kitchen is open at Westfield Siesta Key and it's a winner.  Totally different from it's sister chain, Brio Tuscan Grille at UTC;   serving lunch, dinner and even coffee with  pastries in the morning for early breakfast,  Kitchen is so much more than Italian.
  
Their dining room is ultra contemporary and open.   The 6,900 square-foot, 323 seat restaurant comes equipped with USB ports and electrical outlets which encourage those of you who like to work and eat to do so.  There is an outdoor patio complete with fire pit, television and lounge furnitre.

Now for the best part.  The food is really good.  From small plates to full meal, there is much more than pasta and your typical Italian.  Along with salad, hamburger, calamari, they serve the best skirt steak I've had in Sarasota.  Along with crispy fries you've come to expect now with this dish, it will make you want to come back.



For several years now, The Manatee Community Band has been performing
throughout the community in High Schools, Colleges and Parish's.  Their 2017-18 season is about to kickoff with a very special program Saturday Oct. 28.  Along with  a touring band from France, Les Philhammonsite in a program aptly titled, USA MEETS FRANCE.

Admission is free for this 7:30 p.m. concert at Manatee High School 902 33rd St. Ct, Bradenton.

Seating is open, so if you want to spend an evening listening to music from around the world, the place to be is here.   Click here for additional information including how to become a participant.


 
JIM'S RANT.....Sarasota is now 6 weeks removed from Hurricane Irma;  I'm still having nightmares!  Not nearly as damaging a storm as Harvey or Maria, Irma took down several trees and created a waste nightmare.  Why is it though, many neighborhoods are still waiting for this debris to be cleared?  Very disappointing.  

Have a great week.....JIM 








Wednesday, October 11, 2017

OCTOBER 15, 2017





WELCOME BACK TO ANOTHER SEASON OF....JIM KNOWS SARASOTA




Sarasota at Sunset


Once again,  our wonderful community is called best place to retire for 2018 by US News& World Report in their recent publication.

Conducting interviews with hundreds of adults 45 and over and focusing on housing affordability, happiness, taxes, the job market and access to top-quality hospitals, Sarasota came out on top.  

"Much more than a beach town." The Sarasota school of architecture, orchestra, ballet, opera, theatre, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System and Doctor's Hospital were mentioned as many of the reasons to retire here.

Several new dining options became available late last season and all summer long.  Thanks to all of you who sent suggestions and reviews these past few months.  I will get to ALL in the coming weeks, but I'm going to start the new season with a personal experience. 

Connors Steak and Seafood has been open for two weeks and, boy are they thriving. We were there this past Tuesday, and every table was occupied when leaving at 8:45.

Located  at Westfield Siesta Key in an area housing Metro Diner,  Bravo Coastal Bar and Kitchen, and soon to open Naples Flatbread and Wine Bar it is helping to bring relevance back to the Mall, still hurting from the opening of UTC.

Connors puts a casual twist on the traditional upscale steakhouse experience. With a price point between Outback and Capital Grille, this is a restaurant you could go to for a simple dinner, a special occasion, or a a happy hour during the week. 

Entrees come with side salad and baked potato, and are reasonably priced.  The lamb chops were excellent; the steak not so.

Open for lunch and happy hour daily you can go on line by clicking here.
or dial 941-260-3232 for reservation.  

FST Winter Cabaret Season is in full swing with Mack The Knife: The Bobby Darin Songbook kicking things off in grand fashion.  At the young age of 25, Darin was touring the world with his music and compelling stage performances. 

In addition to Mack, Darin was known for If I Were a Carpenter, Beyond The Sea and many more.  All are performed here.  Playing into February, you can get tickets by calling 941-366-9000 or by clicking here.

If planning on Main Stage or Cabaret this season,  a subscription is the best way to go.  Always offering a liberal exchange policy and pricing from $39



If you want to participate int this year's RINGLING INTERNATIONAL ARTS FESTIVAL time is running out.  It begins  Wednesday evening with an eye-popping opening night party in their Courtyard with food, wine and beer.  Sometime during the evening there will be a performance of WANTED by eVenti Vertical.

Over the next several days attend performances of music, dance and theatre.  For more information please click here.  Your admission to any of these performances is an admission to Ringling as well.

Before departing, for those of you tired of television comedies and drama there are a couple of documentaries streaming now worthy of your time.   GaGa:Five Foot Two/ Netflix takes you back to her Super Bowl performance, and much more.  Spielberg/HBO, is a fascinating look at his career from beginning to now.


 
JIM'S RANT.....What use to be a charming, quiet, little known vacation or retirement location has grown into a  BIG CITY.  Sarasota, complete with most of the chain restaurants known to man;  cultural venues as good as most major cities; a social calendar competing with itself; and traffic which will be indescribable in a few months is no longer a rest stop between Tampa and Naples!! ......Until next week........JIM




Your best choice for before theatre dining