Sunday, May 26, 2013

SUNDAY, MAY 26, 2013


MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND........A time set aside to honor all of those who have given so much to keep AMERICA free.  Please pause during the next 48 hours and say thank you to the brave women and men who no longer enjoy our freedom.

In a few weeks those of us in SARASOTA can once again take advantage of several restaurant specials.  Menus are already on line and reservations at some of the most popular will be hard to come by after the first few days.  One of those restaurants participating is Mozaicwhere effective immediately you can take advantage of their summer menu special three course dinner for $29.  If you've never been to Mozaic, you are in for a wonderful meal , and if you have; especially for Savor SARASOTA you,  will be rewarded with great value for the money.  Of all the restaurants participating, and there are many, Mozaic's menu is one of the best. Click here for a list of participating restaurants .

Bruce Fox & Friends
Randi LaSalle Fox & Friends
Last weekend we celebrated the 60th birthday of friend and tenant Bruce Fox.  Several of Bruce's friends and family gathered at Village Green for a southern feast prepared by an old favorite, Hickory Hollow. Their Ellenton location is worth the trip!

Debbie writes " a small group of friends dined at Ruth's Chris.  It had been many years since any of us had been there.  We made the right choice for a very special birthday celebration.  Our meals were excellent.  Some opted for 3 course prix fixe while others ate ala carte.  The prix fixe menu offers several choices including fish, chicken or STEAK.  While there are several excellent steak house's closer to those of us living near University, LBK, out East or downtown, Ruth's Chris is definitely worth the ride."
Exec. Assignment Editor George Miles also shares his dinning experience this week...."I have never been to the Bijou Cafe. I rate this dinner AAA a 5 Star dinning experience..I had stuffed crispy duck, and I have never had anything more delicious ....and I have been blessed to have eaten all over the world.  The white table cloth restaurant is one of the finest in our region and I am looking forward to going back and enjoying other items on the menu."

George is on the board of Ringling College of Art and Design and rightfully so is a champion of this fine institution.  In his email to me he goes on to state " it is one of the many hidden jewels of our region.  A first rate college with outstanding students along with a national and international reputation. ' Both George and I encourage your visit to the campus and the many buildings open to the public.

Saw The Great Gatsby and though I found it entertaining and well acted it was nevertheless too glitzy to thoroughly enjoy. Director  Baz Luhmann is well known for his over the top production and Gatsby is no exception.  He shot this in 3-D and even watching it on a regular screen, I could sense the third dimension aspects of the scene.  There have been many screen adaptation's of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel set in the early 1920's, but none as bold or loud as this one.  For instant pleasure, I suggest you re-read the book.

Breaking News!!!!!!!! Breaking News!!!!!!


CIO Debbie breaks the news...."JOHN DOUGH, successful restaurant and bakery at Cooper Creek has been sold to  the family who owns KILWIN'S.   As residents of Lakewood Ranch, the family sees a future in the concept of John Dough and hope to expand the brand.  John Dough  owners, Bill and Glenda will stay on through the summer to ease the transition and train new people.  The new owners anticipate a seven day operation and expansion to dinner.
It will be several months, but competition lurks for the breakfast/lunch fast food crowd.  That out-parcel under construction at the Target Shopping Center is Panera Bread.  Rumored as a tenant there for years, it is now a fact giving those who shop the University Corridor many choices for a quick and good meal.
TELEVISION ALERT....This week BRAVO celebrates the 250th episode of their Emmy award program Inside the Actor's Studio with a 2 hour retrospective featuring some of the best interviews live and on tape.  The questions are scripted by host James Lipton, but the answers are never the same.  Nathan Lane, Robin Williams, Bradley Cooper and Tina Fay are scheduled to appear. ON-DEMAND is still showing several first run movies:  Venus and Serena, The English Teacher, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Black Rock and Pieta.

JIM's RANT is a simple one this week.......where is the rain????  We moved to SARASOTA ten years ago.  Each afternoon at around 4 it rained and rained and rained...then it stopped until the next day.  NO MORE.  We are in a severe drought.  Our grass, trees, plants and flowers need some moisture to survive the summer.  Rain, and lots of it was predicted for this week.  Some areas of SARASOTA received several inches, but nothing wide-spread...maybe this week.

JIM KNOWS SARASOTA will return next Sunday and won't be back until FATHER'S DAY.  Thanks as always to Editor Tracy, CIO Debbie, Executive Assignment Editor George, Membership Director Carole and all of you who keep encouraging me to continue.  Have a great week......JIM....


Saturday, May 18, 2013

SUNDAY, MAY 19, 2013

If you missed REVOLUTIONS last Saturday at the Opera House,  you missed one of the best concerts of the year.  Miri-Ben-Ari was superb as was the entire orchestra.  Farewell to Dirk Meyer as he joins The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra later this year.   He will be missed.
Tickets are on sale now for Sarasota Music Festival,  June 3-22.  Alternating venues Holley Hall and the Opera House feature lectures and concerts with performers from orchestras around the country.  clickhereformoreinformation .  We went to the closing concert at the Opera House last year and it was fantastic.

I am pleased to say last week's blog created quite a buzz for rev-el-ry.  Their address is 3005 University Parkway, near Michelangelo's and Tires Plus.   CIO Debbie's review sent many of you for a sample.  We went back Sunday; sat at the bar; watched Tiger, and ate pizza and hamburger.  Delicious....

Delicious is a good word to describe recently opened Vietnamese Restaurant north on the trail across from Ringling College.  If you are a devotee of this type of food, LEANH'S is the best I've ever tasted.  Portions are huge, so go as a group and share the soup, noodles or moo-shoo pork and so much more.   Family owned and operated, the menu is full of familiar Vietnamese favorites.  Your server will help create the best combination for your table. What distinguishes LEANH'S from their competitors is the distinct sauces and flavor of their dishes.  The restaurant is small, busy and warm.  Reservations are accepted.  Their address is 2901 N. Tamiami Trail 941-355-7909.

ATTENTION.......Here's the news Debbie and I promised in last week's blog.  Many of you were disappointed with the closing of one of the more popular Main St. eateries, Brasserie Belge last summer.  We are pleased to report owner Christian has purchased a Kentucky Fried Chicken location on Fruitville Rd. and is currently in the process of converting it into A.'s/ ANTOINES . The menu will consist of Belge's many favorites and more.  Fresh seafood delivered from Sammy's seafood of Tampa.  Guests will be able to choose from mussels, lobster, salmon and much more. We will let you know when A.'s is open.

TELEVISION ALERT......CIO Debbie writes..." For those of you who love TV as much as me, set your DVR to record two upcoming programs.  Tomorrow (Monday, 5/20) PBS  (AMERICAN MASTERS) features two hours of Mel Brooks.  Running 9-11pm, it features some of his greatest hits including Blazing Saddles and The Producers. One week from today (Sunday, 5/26), HBO will broadcast BEHIND THE CANDELABRA, the story of Liberace and his young lover, Scott Thorson.  Michael Douglas plays Liberace, in a role already being Emmy acclaimed, while Matt Damon is Thorson.  Also featured in this all-star cast are Dan Akroyd, Rob Lowe and Debbie Reynolds as Liberace's mother.  Lurid only begins to describe what the story is about.  It airs next Sunday at 9pm."

ON DEMAND......There are several first run movies on demand this week....Venus and Serena, a documentary about the Williams sisters, To The Wonder with Ben Affleck and The Reluctant Fundamentlaist...both currently playing at BURNS.  Another movie out this week, which we have seen, The English Teacher with Julianne Moore, Nathan Lane and Greg Kinnear .  It is a terrific comedy/drama worthy of your time.  It can be found in the non HD section of new releases.

If you're looking for something to do outdoors today the 10th Annual Downtown Sarasota Craft Fair continues in its new location, Gulfstream Avenue and Main Street across from the bay front.  for more information click here .  Is it just me, or why does the same show at different times of the year change annual...10th, 18th, etc...please tell me, if you can, what is different about the shows other than quality?  Anyway, at least the new location comes with a breeze.

Kudos to Justine Griffen for her reporting about the possibility of THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY joining several other restaurants at UNIVERSITY TOWN CENTER when it opens next year.  She mentioned several more, but did not include California Pizza Kitchen, which I understand is also considering inclusion.  Come a year from October, our restaurant choices will give me many items for this blog.  

While I'm at it, Gabrielle Russon deserves Kudos as well for her articles about Booker High standout Trevyon Thomas.  If his story does not touch your heart, I don't know what will.   Justine and Gabrielle are two recent additions to the HERALD TRIBUNE staff who make reading the paper a must each morning.

Jim's rant this week is not funny!!!!!  Our roads are becoming speedways; especially now that snowbirds and tourists are gone.  University Parkway, Fruitville Road, Highway 301 and Rte 41 are not in competition with Indianapolis.  That race is next week.  Drivers, all of us need to slow down AND stop before yellow turns to red.........

Another week is over.  They go by so fast these days.  Enjoy this one.  Don't forget SAVOR SARASOTA starts in a few weeks.  Menu's are now posted for most participating restaurants.  I'll have more on this next week, along with another oldie revisited by Debbie.  AND, next week I will reveal what all the activity in front of the TARGET CENTER is all about.   Another  out-parcel restaurant featuring breads, salads and soups.  You figure it out!!

Thanks to Tracy for her weekly magic.  She never ceases to amaze me.  And Happy Birthday Tracy.  Thanks also to Debbie for visiting the area restaurants and keeping up with great television programs, and to Carole who continues to add new members to the blog group .  And a much overdue thank you to Carter Lasalle, who many months ago showed me the way to create this blog.  To the rest of you, have a great week.........JIM.........

Sunday, May 12, 2013

SUNDAY, MAY 12, 2013

THEY'RE BACK!!!!!!!!! Every May around this time of year those of us in Florida are treated to the love bug mating season.  Unfortunately, they mate all over our automobiles.  Ugh...but have no fear, their season is almost over....until October when they return to die off until next year.
Manatee Players recently moved into its new Bradenton location.  It is easy to find IF the old signs are removed; unfortunately, if you don't have directions you will end up in the old location which is several blocks away.  Once, we found it, we parked adjacent to the building and walked a short distance to the  theatre.  It is ALMOST finished.  The building is scheduled for completion in August....just in time for next season's shows.  However, it is a fine addition to the area's arts scene and a short drive from  University and 301.

The first show was Miss Saigon which sold-out followed by the current run of Fiddler on the Roof.  The cast is big, local and mostly talented.  Fortunately, the role of Tevye is played by a large, imposing, talented singer.  The rest of the cast is uneven, as you can expect from amateurs ; however it is an entertaining production worthy of support.  To learn more about next season's schedule or remaining Fiddler performances you can click here to learn more about manatee players .  If you plan to go and want directions you can always call or email me.  I had the right directions, but went to the old location anyway.  No comment!!!!!

SARASOTA New restaurant alert from CIO Debbie....."family owned rev-el-ry, a welcome addition to the mostly corporately run University Parkway restaurants, is now open daily 4-11pm with a wide ranging menu appealing to all appetites.

I was invited to a mock service last week giving me an opportunity to sample a good portion of the large menu.  After being seated and  served our drinks, the appetizers began arriving.  My party started with a slice of wild mushroom pizza.  As with all rev-el-ry pizza, the crust is thin and crispy.  We also sampled spicy sausage, tomato and the house specialty golden potato with bacon and cheddar; all equally good!!!  In addition to pizza, we sampled wings, bratwurst, baked oysters with a luscious cream sauce, Gorgonzola tart with side salad and sausage bites.  All were excellent and highly recommended.

For our entree we shared seared scallops, pork loin chop and perfectly cooked tenderloins.  Entrees come with vegetable and potato.  The portions are generous and easily split after a few appetizers.

Michael, Jennifer and Joey
Dessert was prepared by owner/chef Angela.  We sampled chocolate marquis: not too sweet and served in a pool of creme Anglais....a slice of chocolate heaven.  AND toffee pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.  YUM!!!

Happy hour, featuring $3 wine is 4-7pm daily.  The bar area is comfortable with sofas and soft chairs for casual drinking and lite dining with friends.  The pub menu consisting of hamburgers and the appetizer offerings already mentioned is available all evening, and can be ordered in restaurant as well. AND, the bar is open until 11pm with food service as well as drinks.

John and Angela have put together a well trained and professional wait staff.  I highly recommend you visit rev-el-ry, and support a locally family owned restaurant." 

The 2013-2014 Broadway, Dance and Classical performances  at Van Wezel have been announced. 

Featuring  Tony winner MEMPHIS along with nine other smash hits and four specials it is their best season yet.  Subscriptions are available now with single tickets going on sale sometime in June.   JUST ANNOUNCED.....DIANA ROSS returns September 11. 2013.  If you did not see her a few years ago, you are in for a terrific standing ovation performance.  Tickets go on sale in two weeks, but if you become an e-mail subscriber now, you can order on-line where best seats are still available.  Roberta and I will hopefully see you there!!!


This is no April Fool joke, but a recent headline to a story in the Longboat Observer.  For those who don't know, the groin referred to in the headline is sand related.  Groins slow the constant movement of sand from north to south to bring sand to an area that's sand starved.

For those of us who have been on those beaches (try getting on with condo access) the system is working and refurbishing the beaches that have been losing sand  for several years.

I just think there was a better way to get our attention than this headline.  April Fool....YES....April 25....NO!!!

Jim's rant this week is with the jerks interviewed by television reporters who are in opposition of the text-ban law which goes into effect on 10/1...that is once Governor Scott signs the measure into law.  How can anyone in clear conscience be opposed to a law making it safer to take to the streets of any Florida highway??  And while I'm at it, why does it take 6 months for the bill to become law?  Well at least the legislature cleaned up election rules increasing early voting and extending voting for those still in line when the polls close.  No one will be laughing at us in 2016.....HA!!!!!!

Thanks again to Tracy for her editing and proofing.  No one but Tracy knows the shape this blog is in when I hand it over to her.  And thank you CIO Debbie for your REV-EL-RY review.  I couldn't agree more.  I cannot wait to go back; especially that thin crust pizza.  NEXT WEEK, DEBBIE AND I WILL REVEAL A SURPRISE COMEBACK/RETURN OF A WELL KNOWN SARASOTA restaruranteur to a familiar corridor.  Watch for it.  Have a great week and mothers enjoy your day.....JIM.......

Saturday, May 4, 2013

SUNDAY, MAY 5, 2013

HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!  The one day of the year when everyone has a festive excuse to eat tacos and drink margaritas all day long!  It sounds like ST. PATRICK'S DAY when everyone becomes Irish for a day and drinks green beer like there's no tomorrow.  Since the defeat of Napoleon3 in 1862, Cinco De Mayo has been celebrated in Mexico and here as a celebration of Mexican Heritage and Pride.

EL TORO BRAVO,  my favorite authentic Mexican restaurant is celebrating with specials all day long.  There are many other popular restaurants, Mexican and not, celebrating as well.  Don Pablo's, Two Senoritas, Tijuana Flats, and  EL Lago Rancharo in Lakewood Ranch, are among the many participating in the celebration.  FYI, EL Lago, is now owned by their next door neighbor JPAN, so you can expect improved food and service.

If you are looking for an outdoor activity today, try the FIT triathlon at BENDERSON PARK.  The facility, still under construction held it's largest single rowing event last weekend with over 1,800 participants and 8-10,000 in attendance.  And, our inconsistent Florida  Legislature just voted $5 million for the park which means Benderson is still in the running for an International event and is on target to complete the park in a few years.  The Florida International Triathlon competition begins at 7am.  There will be sprint and international distance races as well.

My good friend and Executive Assignment Editor, George L. Miles Jr. provides us with an interesting commentary of his week's activities....."last night Janet and I went to see Claybourne Park.  Really great and the performances were first rate.  I also ordered takeout from MICHELANGELO'S on Sunday.  The fried calamari was really good and the linguine with sausage was delicious...for $23.  We had enough food for a few days.  One last thing, the food and service at CARMEL'S is slipping.  My Tuesday lunch group gave it an F rating. The food was not cooked properly and portions were really small.  I had a good piece of salmon, but we will not be going back."  Thanks, George.   Claybourne Park gave its last performance Thursday.  If you did not see it, you missed a great show.

This weekend kicks off the SUMMER movie barrage with IRON MAN 3I will be skipping that one, as my youngest grandson Josh saw it the day it was released. Here is his review, "Iron Man 3 released this Friday to fairly good reviews. This third installment takes place some time after The Avengers (released last summer) and makes mention of it's affects on the main character, Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.) throughout the movie. There is a new villain, "The Mandarin" (played by Ben Kingsley) who is portrayed in an unexpected manner which adds to the fun of the movie. IRON MAN 3 is the funniest of the trilogy and just as action packed as the other two. All in all I loved the movie and would definitely recommend it!"

I recommend The Place Beyond The Pines. Playing at Burns and Royal Palm, it is a gritty and tough independent movie. If you enjoyed The Wrestler, you will like this one.  Also recommend Mud,  with Matthew McConaguhy and two young future super-stars.  This is a true Independent thriller that keeps you involved through the final sequence of events. I cannot recommend Company You Keep with Robert Redford playing at Burns.  It is uneven and at times not easy to follow.  Plus the sight of an ancient Redford running through the woods is totally unbelievable.

If you just want to stay home, ON-DEMAND has a movie which opened in NY and LA this weekend.....The Reluctant Fundamentalist from the best-seller about a Pakistani-born Wall Street hotshot whose life is derailed after 9/11.  Entertainment Weekly has it #4 on its MUST LIST this week.

Looking for a good beach book???  Harlan Coben's new psychological thriller, SIX YEARS,  is best read during those days when you have enough time to commit to reading.  It is a not to put down thriller, and ranks as one of his best.
My oldest grandchild, Cori graduated high school last May and is about to finish her freshman year at University of Georgia.  She pledged Sigma Delta Tau, and had an active academic and social first year.   She finishes finals this week and heads home to Atlanta for awhile before heading off on an adventure of a life-time to ISRAEL as a participant of Birthright, funded by a group of Jewish philanthropists who believe every Jewish child should visit their homeland.  She'll be away for ten days and will nanny the rest of the summer.  She returns to UGA late July.

MOTHER'S DAY ALERT.......  Next Sunday is set aside to honor mother, daughter and wife.  There are many restaurant specials from elaborate brunch to dinner.  Just don't forget the date.  You might want to shop at AS GOOD AS IT GETS. From cheese to chocolate to wine, gift baskets and more they have become one of SARASOTA'S best for gift giving. click here for more information .  They are located at 49 S. Palm Ave.

JIM'S RANT this week is directed to some of SARASOTA'S finest restaurants who continue to charge exorbitant prices for wine, beer and cocktails.  Everyone needs to make a profit, but not that much!!!!  And at several well known establishments, the price of a glass of wine is more than double what they pay for the bottle.....drink at home and have dessert when you go out to eat.  Your credit card will be better off for it!!!

Have a great week.  Today, Roberta and I are seeing Fiddler On The Roof at the new MANATEE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER in Bradenton.  I'll have a review on the show as well as pictures of the new theatre next week.  Thanks to Tracy and George for their contributions this week.  A special thanks to Josh for his review of IRON MAN 3. As always, have a great week and I'll see you again next Sunday........JIM