Saturday, June 29, 2013

SUNDAY, JUNE 30, 2013


If you enjoy watching fireworks, the area has several displays planned for the 4th.   As you head out, remember to plan for traffic, crowds, heat and bugs.  For a complete schedule of displays click here.  There are several convenient locations including downtown Sarasota, Siesta Key and Bradenton. There are plenty of convenient places to set up your chair and blanket.  If you don't want to venture out Television is next best bet.  PBS has it's annual CAPITOL FOURTH starting at  8pm,   Macy's mammoth fireworks show is broadcast on NBC also beginning at  8pm, and CBS saves the best for last with THE BOSTON POPS playing right through Boston's waterfront display.  And continuing all week is the Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix Festival, culminating a week from today with greatly anticipated Boat Race. Formoreinformaitonclickhere .


In addition to daily games at  The In-Between Bridge Club, the InterCity Bridge Club has a weekly game and  has relocated to a new location at Temple Sinai of SARASOTA .  Although it is located on Lockwood Ridge Rd, the only way to get there is via Proctor Rd.  Lockwood Ridge dead ends before the entrance to Temple Sinai.  The game is on Tuesday's at 1, but is preceded with a short lesson given by Harriette Buckman, one of the premier bridge teachers in the area.

  Refreshments are served throughout the game, and all this for only $8;  less than the price of a movie ticket and more entertaining; especially if your result is decent.  All level of players are invited, including beginners.  There is no better way to learn bridge than to play better players.  It is humbling, but a great learning experience.  For reservations you can contact Margaret at or call 941-223-3712.

On a rainy evening, ANTOINE'S opened its doors for business.    Christian, fromerly of brasserie belge, and his staff have created a charming and intimate restaurant in an unrecognizable former Kentucky Fried Chicken location.  If you love Mussels, Steak Tartar or food with a creamy presentation, this is the place for you.  The menu is limited, but will be expanded in future weeks as the word gets out about this place.  You can see the current menu on their Facebook page while the web-site is under construction.

Debbie reveals this week...."A long time Sarasota favorite, Demitrio's Pizza, is coming north with a second  location.  They are opening soon in the space previously occupied by Friendly's that has been empty for two years.  Providing a combination of thin crust pizza along with Greek specialties Demitrio's south trail location has kept families coming back for years, including three generations of Yonkers!!"

Now playing at Burns Court...THE EAST.....a suspenseful and provocative espionage thriller from acclaimed writer-director Zal Batmanglij, it is one of the best INDEPENDENT films of the year with an A+ cast and creatively unfolding plot that keeps you riveted until the very end.  As will ALL Burns movies, I recommend use of  the free head sets offered at concession stand to totally hear the dialogue,  as acoustics in theatres leaves alot to be desired.
Not only did Nik Wallenda survive his Grand Canyon Walk last week, he helped create tremendous awareness for SARASOTA and Nathan Benderson Park.  I can smell a 2017 event.  Congratulations to a talented showman and promoter.  Wallenda will be honored with a ticker tape parade Friday preceeding the boat parade.  Starting at 7pm it starts at U.S.301 and Main and ends at Gulfstream.  Nik will also be on Discovery at 8 tonight commenting on his walk as he watches it again.

Contributor, Marcia Clark, recently helped a friend inexpensively  furnish a rental property.  After visiting several thrift and consignment shops in SARASOTA she files this report ..."Women's Resource Center on Pineapple is a popular location, but their prices are not all that great......Goodwill on 17th Street can really be a bargain if you hit it right....Fabulous Finds has a large variety and it is displayed well.  Prices are good...Change a Life in the 2000 block of Cattleman has variety and reasonable prices...Habitat for Humanity with two locations has plenty of merchandise.....Iverson's is upscale for these types of stores, but expensive as well...Simon's on Stickney Point Road had less inventory than most, but fair prices..." 

 My own experience is hit and miss.  Depending on when you visit these shops you could find a gem as we did with a mirror at Habitat.  I also love to negotiate, no price listed is the final price.  Make an have nothing to lose by doing so...."Is this your best price?"

JIM'S it just me or do I get the feeling Hollywood has written off any thoughtful adult this summer?  All we get week to week are Super-Hero's, Zombies, invasion of the White House, comedies for the uneducated, and they think we only look for movies in the fall and winter months?  Have you seen anything this summer worthy of Academy Award consideration?  And now, they are talking $50 movie experiences.....give me a break!!!

I have heard from some of you who do not always agree with me.  I appreciate the feedback and would love to include your comments in future blogs.  Please email and with your permission I will include in the blog.

So many to thank this week....Tracy for her talents as proof reader and editor, Debbie Y for her restaurant review (more next restaurants seem like a weekly occurrence) Marcia and a new contributor Debbie H.  Happy Anniversary to my daughter and son-in-law, Cathi and Scott Finkelstein! Have a great day. 

The picture below is of Manny the happy Blackhawk dog/fan.........

Saturday, June 22, 2013

SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 2013


Tonight is the BIG EVENT.....Nik Wallenda attempts to cross the Grand Canyon.  You can watch beginning at 8pm on the  Discovery Channel.  The actual walk begins around 9pm.  I saw him a few times at Benderson Park.  He was charming, entertaining and patient with hundreds of people.  He also sold books, t-shirts, took countless pictures and signed autographs.  NBC expects over 1 billion viewers to watch worldwide.

It is difficult to put into words the enjoyment of seeing THE WORLD GOES ROUND currently extended through this week at FST/Gompertz Theatre.  It is easily the most entertaining show of the season, and one of the best I've ever seen at FST.  I encourage you to get tickets before the week is sold out.  AND, just announced the Tony Award-winning musical SPAMALOT is kicking off the fall season.  With a larger stage available at Gompertz, FST is able to present bigger productions.  Tickets are on sale now for the rest of summer and next season.  They are offered at 1/2 price.....EASILY the best bargain for entertainment in SARASOTA.

We went to a crowded and exciting P.F. Chang's last week.  It was their third night and when we arrived at 6:30 there was already an hour wait.  HOWEVER, they take and HONOR reservations and our wait was under 5 minutes!!! They also pick up the phone to accept your reservation.   If you've ever been to one of their locations in several cities including Tampa, you can expect great food, realistic pricing, great service and a welcoming atmosphere. Their phone number is 941-296-6002.  To learn more click here 

 From time to time they offer free appetizers on line as well as an opportunity to buy gift cards with $$ rewards.  I bought one and got an additional $20.  But, even without any come-on, this place is the real deal and shines brightly on downtown SARASOTA.  The location is ideal for the entire market.  I should also mention valet parking is available, but if you know the area you can find your own parking no more than a block away.

If you plan to visit P.F. Chang's or any of the wonderful downtown SARASOTA restaurants, you should plan your trip around a wonderful new documentary playing at BURNS COURT SCATTER MY ASHES AT BERGDORF' you a peek behind the back-room doors and into the reality of the fascinating inner workings and fabulous untold stories from Bergdorf Goodman's iconic history.  Now owned by Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf's is one of New York's historic Fifth Ave. buildings.  Women will love the movie.  I really enjoyed it.  Very entertaining and no one gets killed, the world is not in chaos, and buildings don't crumble to the ground.

Looking for a good summer read?  I have one for you....Floridian, Carl Hiaasen, has written his funniest and wittiest book since SKINNY DIP.  As with all his books, the story takes place in Florida and begins on the water with a fishing charter hooking onto a human arm.  It takes off from there.

We don't eat out every only seems so.  But we recently celebrated friends Sheila and Merrill's  50th anniversary at one of our favorite restaurants, MOZAIC.  The SAVOR SARASOTA menu was available to us.  What a meal...three courses...several choices with each course...and enough food for Buckhead to feast on the next day.  Not one of the courses was the dreaded dessert of sorbet.  We did get a dessert for the table which was comped as an anniversary present.  MOZAIC has extended the SAVOR SARASOTA menu through the month.  This restaurant, better than any I've been to, understands the value of this promotion.  We will be back again this summer.  click here to view the Savor Sarasota menu .

An update on still under construction ANTOINE'S the new creation of Christian formerly of brasserie belge.  Their Facebook page finally  announces GRAND  OPENING on Tuesday 6/25 at 4pm. I stopped by the other day and saw a finished restaurant with  some work still to be done in the kitchen.  Since there were cars in the parking lot, I assumed someone was on premises.  No one answered my yell, so I took this picture of a blackboard list of daily specials. Some of the appetizers are lobster ravioli as well as their famous warm goat cheese salad.   I am looking forward to most everything on their menu. See you Tuesday!!
A few weeks ago, our granddaughter Cori was on a trip of a lifetime.  Ten days in ISRAEL as part of a Taglit-Birthright group, all expenses paid by generous philanthropists and others who want to strengthen Judaism amongst our youth.  Birthright's vision is to reinforce Jewish identity, Jewish community and solidarity with Israel by providing this trip to Israel for Jewish people ranging in age from 18-26.  Over the years thousands of young adults have experienced the miracle of this tiny country in the middle of total chaos around them.

A $250 deposit is required and is returned after the trip; however, most if not all donate their deposits are matched by others to provide future trips.  After arriving at Kennedy airport, Cori exclaimed..."these were the ten best days of my life."

Each day spent in Israel was filled with sight seeing, walking tours, museum visits, camel rides, reflection at the Western Wall.....just enough to make every one of the thousands who have experienced BIRTHRIGHT ISRAEL to want to go back on their own and experience even  more.

JIM'S RANT this week is directed at a SARASOTA icon.  I am upset with the Asolo Theatre pricing policies.  After spending the better part of 11 years here and experiencing culture at its finest, why can't the Asolo make itself more accessible to those of us who live here and support theatre.  FST's productions, though maybe more off-Broadway than on, nevertheless are professional, for the most part rewarding and  above all affordable.  Instead of empty seats at most performances and discounts when tickets are not selling, why can't the Asolo provide an opportunity to buy season tickets at reduced prices at least semi-comparable to FST?  A flex-package is a good idea, but not an inexpensive one. Revenue from ticket sales, though necessary, is not enough to keep any of our arts alive.  ALL rely on generous contributors to stay afloat.  A more flexible pricing policy would keep the seats full and not necessitate last minute discounts.....

Thanks as always to Tracy for her expertise in cleaning up this Cori for her Israel pictures, and to you for reading.  Debbie ,George and Marcia  return next week with more restaurant news ,George's trip to the Vatican, and ideas for furnitrue shopping in SARASOTA.

CORRECTION:  I was misinformed about Panera under construction at Target Center.  It turns out to be for a Fidelity branch.  However, I don't think their bread is nearly as good as Panera.....


Saturday, June 15, 2013

SUNDAY, JUNE 16, 2013



A few weeks ago during Savor Sarasota we had dinner at FLEMING'S. I'll let George Miles tell you about his experience first..."Janet and I went to Fleming's last Sunday night...I ordered a bone-in rib eye(need I tell you the price).  It was one of the worst steaks I have ever had....tasted like fast food...I told management of my bad experience...they were apologetic, but unmoved...hopefully this was a one time experience..."  I'm sad to say that Roberta and I along with two friends took advantage of Savor Sarasota and had a similar experience.  The place was packed, the service lacking ( which used to be a highlight) and the steak was minuscule, tasteless with ordinary potatoes.  No way to use a promotion to get me back again!!!

Those of you who are here in the winter months and frequent Longboat have a favorite restaurant DRY DOCK.  We went on Friday and it was as crowded as an evening in March.  The twenty minute wait was well worth it.  We had Salmon BLT with fries and cole slaw...yummy and reasonable.  The service was swift, the atmosphere exciting, the food as always delicious and only 17 minutes from University Park.  We'll be going again.

Another major chain restaurant opens this week in SARASOTA...P.F. CHANG'S China Bistro located in its own building on the corner of Mound and Osprey.  I've been to their Tampa location, but that's a long way to go for Chinese cuisine!  I've also been at PEI WEI, their fast-food Chinese restaurant at University Park, but having a PF Chang's around the corner makes my mouth water.  I am in no way giving up YUMMY HOUSE, but welcome the opportunity of choice.  Stay tuned for a review next....I'll be shocked if it's anything but excellent.

Now playing on only 44 screens across the country, THE KINGS OF SUMMER is one of the best coming of age movies I've ever seen for both adolescents and their parents.  It is the story of three boys who leave the comforts of difficult family settings to build their own home in the woods and provide for themselves.  The film won several awards at CANNES and should be going into wider release in a few weeks.

For those of you who don't already know, I have a "sweet tooth" and long for the good old days of the corner bakery.  Well, I found one!!!  Not exactly on a corner, but in one of the many shopping areas in GULF GATE VILLAGE near Mama Mia's....Jim's SMALL BATCH BAKERY (no, I don't own it, but wish I did) featuring real SCRATCH baking.  On a daily basis, Jim bakes cookies, croissants, breads, bagels and other delicious pastries even better than Main Street's PASTRY ART and much less pricey.  Jim also serves lunch daily  11:30-2:30 offering a variety of homemade soups daily.  Several customers recommended that day's chicken soup. The address is 2336 Gulf Gate Drive.  Open Tues through Friday 8-4 and Saturday 9-3.  It is well worth the drive.

Last week's blog was replaced by JASON'S GRADUATION.....moved indoors due to Tropical Storm ANDREA it was a very special event for Roberta and me..  After receiving his diploma Jason heads to Camp Skylemar as a counselor this summer and then to Tulane for four of the best years of his life.  While in Baltimore, we had Maryland blue crabs at OCEANPRIDE and crab cakes at PAPPAS.  You can fed ex order from them and have same day delivery. For more information click here.   Anyone who advertises Maryland Style crab cakes in Sarasota is guilty of false advertising....there is only one Maryland crab cake and you get it there!!!  Roberta and I toured Harbor East, a new area in Baltimore's  Inner Harbor.  If you have the opportunity to visit Baltimore you will be impressed with the area's activity and improvements.

Also took in an O'S game against the Los Angeles Angels, who so far this season have under-achieved big time.  It rained most of the game, but we were spared due to Club Seats undercover.  Go ORIOLES!!!!

After graduation, we took an overnight visit to Philadelphia to dine with
Sarasota friends and visit two of the most amazing exhibits....The National Museum Of American Jewish History and The Barnes Foundation.  Several months ago some of you went and I wrote about your experience, but one has to see the exhibits and buildings themselves to get a real feel of the depth of presentation.  The Jewish Museum takes you from the very beginning of Jewish immigration to the USA to present time and features prominent Jews from business to sports to show business.   The Barnes is a collection of art and objects purchased through the years by Albert C. Barnes, an ordinary chemist who had a keen sense for art and artisans and years later finds his billions of dollars collection in a modern building in the heart of downtown Philadelphia.  Do not miss the video that begins your tour.  And the Cafe Restaurant is as good as it gets at a Museum.

Nik Wallenda continues to practice at BENDERSON PARK for his......LIVE.....walk across Grand Canyon next Sunday 8pm on the Discovery Channel.  Hopefully the NBA and NHL playoffs will be over by then and Nik will have the stage to himself.  If you are currently in SARASOTA, Wallenda practices daily at 10:30 and again at 6 and 3 on Sunday.  Get there early since schedule is strictly adhered to.
JIM'S RANT is food related.  Savor SARASOTA is a wonderful promotion to get people to eat out during a slow time of the year.  It is also a way for restaurants to showcase their menu.THEN WHY IS IT several restaurants choose this time to skimp on portions, presentation and service?  $29pp is not inexpensive these days even with three courses.  Some restaurants like MOZAIC  have extended their Savor SARASOTA menu until the end of June.  They are worth a visit, as their product now is as it always is outstanding.  I cannot say that for several of the participating restaurants.
Father's enjoy your day.  Thank you Tracy for the fine editing and proofing this week.  Thank you to George for your contribution as well.  And congratulations to JASON on his High School Graduation!  Good Luck at Tulane.  Until next week....have a great one...JIM


Saturday, June 1, 2013

SUNDAY, JUNE 2, 2013

Many of us have children, grandchildren and friends graduating High School and or College in the next few weeks.  To all of them and you CONGRATULATIONS...I have faint memory of High School and College graduation, but both marked the beginning of a great adventure.  Roberta and I will be in Baltimore celebrating our grandson Jason's graduation and will return FATHER'S DAY, June 16 with the next JIM KNOWS SARASOTA.
Several of you have seen the exciting new show at Asolo and all recommend it highly.  What a perfect Father's Day gift.  George Miles, who saw the show with his wife Janet writes..." just got in from seeing Noah Racey's PULSE....The Beat of Song and Dance at the Asolo Repertory Theatre.  I cannot begin to tell you how GREAT this show was...The choreography was world class...It is a must SEE electrifying theatre experience...There were several standing ovations throughout the performance.  PULSE is premiering at the Asolo with visions of Broadway.  In my view, PULSE will make it to the BIG WHITE WAY....."  Better purchase tickets as the show closes  June 16.

Starting tonight, AMC'S original and thrilling series THE KILLING returns with a two hour premiere at 8.  There are 12 episodes this summer, and if you like your television dark and scary, this is the one for you.  And since I will not be publishing next week THE 67th TONY AWARDS airs Sunday June 9, 9-11 on CBS. 


Last weekend we had a visit from grandson Josh and his friend Bryson.  Both live in Atlanta and were in SARASOTA for the long MEMORIAL DAY  weekend.  We started with brunch at UPCC, which has the best Sunday valued brunch in Sarasota.  After chilling out at home we went to TREEUMPH! which is as close as it gets to an amusement park here . 


THE adventure can last anywhere from 3 to 5 hours depending on crowds and time of year.

After a long day we were treated to a tasty meal of Italian specialties with inexpensive prices at

  We had not been here for several months due to heavy in-season traffic ,  and were pleasantly surprised with the quality and quantity of food as well as the wonderful service for which they are known.  We ate pasta, mussels, chicken, salads and more.  No one went home hungry.

We dropped Josh and Bryson off at St. Armand's Circle where the traffic approached July 4 size.  We rarely get to the Circle this time of year.  What with beach traffic, tourist shoppers and those who actually live in that area it is busy..busy..busy.

Nik Wallenda begins practice for his June 23 walk across the GRAND CANYON this Thursday at Benderson Park off Cattleman Road and University Parkway.  Nik and his team will be practicing twice daily with times tbd.  This is a tremendous coup for Benderson and SARASOTA.  Expect to see coverage on NBC, whose Discovery Channel is carrying the 23rd walk live as well as several other networks.  Television stations as well as newspapers from around the world have indicated a desire to cover this unique SARASOTA event.  This week's PEOPLE has a Wallenda article which mentions his home town!!!
Today's update on Christian's new restaurant ANTOINE'S located on Fruitville Rd. east of McIntosh:   I stopped by, and there has been much progress since my last visit.  Permits are forthcoming with an anticipated opening in a week or two.  The interior is modern contemporary with intimate seating.  If it is anywhere near Brasserie Belge quality, ANTOINE'S will be a big hit.  It recently had a feature article in the Hearald.

FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE has kicked off its summer season this week with Kander and Ebb's popular musical THE WORLD GOES ROUND.  Following is Steve Martin's hilarious play THE UNDERPANTS and ends with SOUTH BEACH BABYLON.  Many performances sell-out so you would be wise to purchase tickets now.for more information click here .

Looking for a bike or bike repair, my SARASOTA favorite is VILLAGE BIKES with locations on S. Osprey Ave. or Main Street in Lakewood Ranch.  Reservations a must for a tune-up, but they are fast and efficient with flat tire repairs.  for more information click here .

JIM'S RANT this week is a positive one.  A thank you for all who contributed food distributed by the post office last week.  ALL FAITHS FOOD BANK received over 155,000 pounds this year compared to 99,000 last year.  Feeding the homeless and less fortunate is an ongoing problem.  You can contribute money or food to ALL FAITHS at any time for more information click here . And, I don't know if last week's rant helped, but RAIN finally came to SARASOTA this week.

My next blog is  Sunday June 16.  We will be in Baltimore for Jason's high school graduation as well as a visit to Philadelphia.  Much more on all of that in a few weeks.  Thank you, Tracy, who will also be with us in Baltimore...Debbie, George and Carole who will not be and to all of you who keep reading JIM KNOWS SARASOTA....JIM