Wednesday, February 25, 2015

MARCH 1, 2015


Siesta Beach is #1 beach destination  thanks to's recent "Travelers' Choice Awards" The awards are determined by travelers who take the time to vote and rate vacation destinations.  It has been four years since SIESTA'S  first #1 designation, which is still visible on signs all around the KEY.

The water is still too cold for most of us, but not for the thousands of spring breakers who will be here again this month.  If they are interested in art, culture and food they've come to the right place.

Re-Purposed continues to draw record crowds to the Ringling Museum where it will be until May 17.  The exhibit explores several of the more recognizable trends among artists who consistently "re purpose" garbage, tin cans, musical instruments, and almost anything within reason to create their works of art.  Themes of the exhibit are Index, Identity, and Environment.  Each theme is a potent reminder of our close connections to the materials we use to create and facilitate our lives.   

The Ringling Museum  is a perfect addition to any tourist's journey throughout SARASOTA. 

GIUSEEPPE'S Ristorante, located at 1900 Main Street across from Hollywood 20, has been open awhile.  Why did it take us so long to discover it?  Guiseppe's is a find to say the least.  This Italian gem serves their own homemade pasta that is as good as it gets.

  The food is served piping hot, and not only plentiful, it is priced almost half of that other Italian restaurant just a few doors east.  So the room is not beautiful, the food is, and that's what counts.

  Also important to dining in SARASOTA these days is the NOISE.  I am happy to say by sitting at a side table,  we could carry on a conversation with our dinner companions without shouting to be heard. Remember that next time you make a reservation....366-6610.

Open for lunch as well with Hand Tossed Pizza, baked or grilled, Giuseepe's is quickly being discovered by many more than me.  And if you love dessert as much as I do, try one.  All made on premises.  I highly recommend....

ACADEMY AWARDS recap....  A highlight for me was Lady GA GA performing songs from Sound of Music and the appearance by Julie Andrews.  Also, John Legend's performance of Commons's Glory from Selma was truly remarkable.  My predictions were accurate except for Eddie Redmayne.  Length is always a problem with these  Awards, and this year was no exception. Don't quite understand why major awards are bunched at end of telecast.  They should be placed throughout the program!!

It was announced almost immediately after the awards, Lady Ga Ga, who has really branched out as a performer;  first with Tony Bennet, then the Sound of Music medley,  will be one of the stars in this fall's American Horror Story/Hotel on FX.  By now you know, this is one of my favorite television programs.  Another one to watch is Empire on Fox.

I saw one of the final performances of FEARLESS, this year's Circus theme,  and was blown away by production as well as the tent and location.  Could have done away with pig act, but all in all it was a few hours well spent.  This year's edition was a total sell-out which can be attributed in part to the Wallenda publicity.  If you have not seen his pyramid act, start marking your calendar for next year.

Next month, in the same location, and for only two performances,  CIRQUE DES VOIX, takes over the tent.  Nik Wallenda will be there, but do not know what act he will be performing.  However, it features a 100 voice chorus along with an orchestra and several circus acts.  I urge you to get tickets NOW, as word of mouth from FEARLESS will make this an instant sell-out. To purchase tickets on line please click here.

There are so many restaurants opening on the University corridor, it is hard to keep up with them.  Currently under construction are Tom and Cheese adjacent to Fresh Market along with Fresh Kitchen plus  Daily Eats in front of the Cooper Creek shopping center.  Which leads to new contributor Joan Blum's discovery of MAEMI on Tourist Center Drive near New Balance.

Joan writes, "MAEMI features a combination of Japanese and Peruvian influence foods such as sushi, fish and beef dishes prepared with wonderful flavorings.  The bouillabaisse with clams, mussels, fish and octopus had a distinct flavor all its own."

Quoting Joan again,  "delicious! with pricing lower than most of the current favorites."  She closes by stating, "give it a try."  Think I will in the near future and let you know my take.

Now playing in the Gompertz at FST, and generating rave reviews, is FLY. A powerful story of discrimination in the ranks of soldiers during WW11.  A true tale of brotherhood, acceptance, and equality.  FLY continues this exceptional season of high-quality drama for minimal ticket price.  Playing through April 4, you have ample time to see this one before heading back north.  And, if anyone is interested, FST is already selling season tickets for 2015-16.  A perfect gift for any occasion.

For those of you fortunate enough to have tickets to Wednesday's Alan Dershowitz lecture, you heard a man dedicated to Israel, not afraid to say so, and as a Liberal Democrat put President Obama in his place for not supporting the State as well as most President's before him.  Hats off again to the Mazur family for making this event happen. Their plans going forward include more lectures of this type in memory of husband and father Lenard. 

JIM'S RANT....Next Sunday I will be riding in the second annual PEDAL FOR PUPS starting at Nathan Benderson Park.  If you would like to support my efforts with a contribution to Nate's Animal Rescue you can send one to 8437 Cooper Creek Blvd. Bradenton, Fl 34201.  You are all welcome to come out and cheer....If you want to enter ..There is still time to register by clicking here.  Hope to see you next Sunday.  Walkers are welcome as well as your furry animal.

 By the way, after picking up ball from hole,  Joe was able to stand up and complete the round!!

Thanks to Tracy and to all of you for reading and hopefully supporting my efforts in Pedal For Pups next Sunday morning (Sunday 3/8)......JIM 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015



Those of you who are lucky enough to have purchased tickets to this event should have received a letter with tickets and parking instructions.  If not, here is some very important information for the February 25th event at the Ritz-Carlton.  Doors open at 6:00PM.  Attendance for this first Len Mazur Memorial Lecture has grown to 1,000.  

Valet parking will be available.  NOTE, if you intend to valet your car there will be traffic in the area so expect delays arriving and departing.  Gratuity is not included.  The best option is to carpool  and park elsewhere.  The Palm Parking Garage (1289 N. Palm Ave) and Marina Jack Parking Lot 2 (Marina Plaza) are available.  There is street  parking East of 41, but it will go quickly.

If you did not receive your ticket in mail, you can pick them up at the door. For those arriving early there will be a cash bar.  AND, in addition to his books for sale, Alan Dershowitz will be available after his lecture for a signing.

TONIGHT at 8pm on ABC is the 87th annual ACADEMY AWARDS with this year's host of hosts, Neil Patrick Harris.  All the stars from this year's nominated pictures will be there either as presenters or winners.  Among them, Bradley Cooper, Julianne Moore, Oprah Winfrey, John Legend, Rosamund Pike, and Michael Keaton.

As with all these award shows now, a Red Carpet presentation begins at 7pm.  There you will see arrivals of many of the nominees and others who make up a dream team of Hollywood performers, directors, and entertainers.  Melissa Rivers is carrying on without her mom on the E channel starting even earlier welcoming the same A list you will see on ABC. It just won't be the same without Joan!!

In my estimation there are two locks:  Julianne Moore for her flawless portrayal of a woman in the early stages of Alzheimer's and how she prepares for the inevitable in Still Aliceand J.K. Simmons for his creation of an over the top college orchestra professor in Whiplash.

Other picks are not as easy.  After going with Bradley Cooper for weeks, I am switching to Michael Keaton for his over the top portrayal of aging movie star forced to Broadway to regain his footing in Hollywood.  I am also going away from Boyhood as winner to Birdman.  Both failed to find a significant audience, but both are worthy of the big prize.  Tune in next week to see how I made out. 

Continuing my "magical mystery tour" of older SARASOTA Main St. restaurants, we visited CAFE  EPICURE last week.  We had not been there in a few years and noticed significant changes since our last visit. 

The biggest is the is better with more to choose from including specials, pasta, soup and of course thin crust pizza.  The main dining room has eliminated several tables which helps reduce the noise level greatly.Their dessert display has been increased with the addition of several varieties of pastry along with  homemade gelato selections

On this evening, several tables were occupied outside and the wine bar was nearly filled to capacity with diners or others drinking at their magnetic bar.  There is also gelato available in this area along with those wonderful pastries.  The prices are reasonable for dining out these days and you won't find a better atmosphere anywhere.  I am happy to say Epicure has gotten better when faced with competition across the street and around the corner.

Good friend, neighbor and rapidly gaining stature as a renown painter, Lori Simon, has left real estate to devote full time to painting.  Several pieces were commissioned by Saks Fifth Avenue at UTC.  They are available for viewing on the second floor.  Here is a sample of her work.  You can learn more about Lori by clicking this recent article written about her.  The article was written by well known journalist, Suzy Farbman.
Lori works most days at her studio in the Rosemary District away from the big downtown galleries.  For more information you can email her at . 

Having been to CHICKEN KITCHEN at 5215 University, I can attest to the quality and taste of their famous Chicken Chop salads either on a bed of lettuce or rice.  The large is enough for two.  Now part-owner Gris Bette is offering a 50% discount to readers of Jim Knows Sarasota.  Stop by the rest of this month (February) and mention you saw his video in blog or read about the Kitchen and get your discount. Click the following address to learn more about this truly delicious meal 

JIM'S RANT.....Driver beware.  If you park downtown or for that matter in any parking space that has a time limit you will be subject to a ticket with hefty fine.  A good friend found a ticket on her car and after getting home realized it couldn't be.  She left  the parking space several minutes before her time expired.  Further examination confirmed her suspicions.  Someone else was ticketed and left same ticket on her car in hopes that person would pay.....the world is full of scammers....even in SARASOTA........

Where would I be without Tracy????.......See you next week....JIM

THE WAIT IS OVER....DWTWILER'S NOW OPEN at University and Lockwood Ridge.  An amazing store with fresh produce, fruit, meats, fish and other tasty items. Lots of free food at grand opening.  Closed today (Sunday) but open Mon-Sat every week.   See you there!!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

FEBRUARY 15, 2015

Eddie Murphy, who has not been back since he left is returning for this one.  Also expect Dan Akroyd, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Kristen Wigg, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan ....and the list goes on and on   This is one show you should record for posterity.  AND, in keeping with tradition, this is a LIVE broadcast. 

RED CARPET interviews will air on NBC an hour before the live SNL 40th CELEBRATION starting at 7pm.

In case you missed the announcement late Friday afternoon, Whole Foods is expanding to a second Sarasota location on the corner of University Parkway and Honore Ave.  It's at least 18 months to 2 years away.

Tomorrow is another FEDERAL Holiday, as we once again celebrate PRESIDENT'S DAY honoring the memory of two American greats, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington.  Of course it wouldn't be a holiday without SALES...TV, Auto, Furniture, Clothes....any excuse to get the consumers to do it!!!!  You will have plenty of time since there will be no mail delivery and banks will be closed as well.

As we inch ever so slowly towards SPRING events move outdoors.  Spring Training will be in full swing next week, and the second annual WINTER FEST at Lakewood Ranch is in two weeks.   Doors open at noon and remain open all day long with the first band taking the stage at 1:30.  This year's lineup includes performances by Les Sabler, WAR, Thompson Square, American Idol and former  Bradenton resident Sam Woolf and The Doobie Brothers all performing at Premier Sports Campus 5395 Post Blvd.

You can expect vendors galore with all your favorite outdoor foods. There is even a Family Fun Zone for the young ones who may be visiting this time of year.  So bring a blanket or lawn chair and enjoy the sounds of SARASOTA at Lakewood Ranch.  To buy advance tickets and for more details click here.

The Sarasota Opera's season has begun.  You still have several weeks left to see some of the greatest Opera's ever written.  Tosca, The Golden Cockerel, The Marriage of Figaro.  For all of you who are enjoying New York's opera on the big screen at Hollywood Twenty, see it performed  live right here at Sarasota Opera House.  The season ends March 28.

Tuesday, February 17 through Sunday21st, SARASOTA is hosting the 2015 Modern Pentathlon.  Titled World Cup #1,  40 Nations and 250 athletes will be  participating in events. You can attend either at Nathan Benderson Park, YMCA's Selby Aquatic Center as well as an opening ceremony at Ringling Museum.  This is the first in a series of qualifying events leading up to next year's Summer Olympics.
For a complete schedule of events and to purchase tickets to opening ceremonies click here.

With so many new restaurants to visit the past several years; it is easy to overlook what got us here.    Last week, I wrote about Pho Cali.  This past week we had an opportunity to be on Main St. again,  and revisited an oldie, but goodie, EL GRECO CAFE.  Ownership has changed hands, but nothing else has.    The inside is as it has been for years; dingy and tired.  The lighting is soft to poor and the menus have been around awhile.  That stated, the food was delicious.  Everything was served piping hot with extra cheese or sauce or whatever else we wanted.  And their prices have been held in check.   The best Mediterranean we've had  in Sarasota hands down!!!!

JIM'S RANT...On a rare evening at home this week, I was watching television when not one but two bulletins crawled at the bottom of the screen....during  taping of Tuesday's Comedy Central, Jon Stewart told his audience he was stepping down from the program at end of his contract....then came the news of Brian Williams six month suspension without pay.  

My background in broadcasting makes me qualified to put my own spin on this.  I'll be brief.  As for Stewart, his show was and continues to be creative, funny, biting and imaginative as he points out the media's over-reaction to the days news and how foolish ALL of them look.  He will be missed.

As for Williams, he will not be missed.  When an anchor becomes the story it is inappropriate and unnecessary, unless his ego needs to be fed.  Williams lied not only to his audience, but on an appearance with David Letterman as well.  His credibility as a news person is irreparable, and NBC, instead of dismissing him AFTER all the evidence was in, only compounded its problem withe the six month suspension.  Now his audience and others wonder if he will be back at all, while at the same time they also wonder if anything more will come of NBC's current internal investigation.  Watch ABC and CBS move past NBC News in the evening.  ABC already has. 

As always, Tracy has done a good bit of cutting and editing.  Until next week hope you enjoyed yesterday....JIM


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

FEBRUARY 8, 2015

With most of the clever cards long gone, maybe a piece of jewelry will do the trick!!!!

Here are a few last minute ideas.  FABULOUS ART BOUTIQUE 2015 at South Gate Community Center, 3415 South Gate Circle.  Beginning with an opening reception on Wednesday February 11 from 6-8:30 PM ($10 donation) and then running through Saturday February 14th 10 am-5pm daily with a $2 admission.  The quality at this show is in every way equal to the last SARASOTA craft show a few weeks ago. For directions to the Community Center click here.

With over 80 participants offering one-of-a-kind clothing, jewelery, art quilts, purses, baskets, hand wovens, wall hangings, and so much more you are sure to find that special gift for your Valentine!! 

If you are looking for that real unusual gift, not candy or clothes or jewelery, then you might be interested in a new book recently published by well known California photographer Jeff Vespa.  He just happens to be the son of Marlene Meyer,  a very good friend of mine, but that stated I have seen the book and it is a knockout. Titled The Art of Discovery, it is filled with dozens of photos as well as personal discoveries of actors and how they chose acting as their profession.   The book is available on Amazon, and makes a wonderful addition to a coffee table collection; if you have one. To learn more about Jeff click here.

AND, if you want to give the ultimate VALENTINE take her to the movie of one of the biggest selling series of adult books in a long while.  FIFTY SHADES OF GREY opens on February 14th, but there are all sorts of screening parties the night before.  Those of you who are members of Sarasota Film Society should have been notified about their screening and party.  I don't know of any more, but I am sure there will be several.

Great SUPER BOWL especially if you bet on New England.  My prediction of 34-16  did not hold up;  however I was only 2 points below final score of 28-24.  I don't love the Patriots, but hats off to them.  And what was Seattle doing throwing the ball with one of the best runners in all of football ready to gain the few yards for a win??? I'm ready for some BASEBALL!!!!

Now open on Cattleman Road,  across the street from UTC is BLAZE PIZZA.  For those of you who like instant gratification along with good food, this is the place for you.  Pizza is ordered as you pick your toppings; of which there are no end.   Then the pizza is cooked while you wait a few minutes either with salad or drink, and in the flash of an eye there it is.  Thin crust and inexpensive. Carry out or dine in.  For a menu and or to order on line click here.

Good news for those of you who have not yet seen Dancing Lessons at the Keating theatre. FST has extended the run through March 8.  It is a must for anyone who loves great theatre.  Only 90 plus minutes, it packs a powerful punch. A high-functioning autistic man asks a dancer fighting a career threatening leg injury for a lesson so he can dance at  a banquet in his honor.

I won't spoil the ending for you, but the entire production is a quality work of art that one has come to  expect out of FST and they deliver big time with this one.  If you see only one show this season then by all means see this one.  Its messages on life are meaningful and heartfelt. 

TONIGHT on CBS at 8 pm is the  57th annual THE GRAMMY AWARDS.  Though music continues to change some of your favorites from the past will be performing...Madonna, Celine Dion among them along with John Legend, Adina Manzel, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga plus many more.  With more entertainment than awards, this is easily the liveliest of all award shows.

Returning this week as a contributor is Debbie Yonker.  She recently had dinner at REV-EL-RY and writes "Last week, along with a friend sought out a quiet neighborhood restaurant where we could get good food and hear each other speak.  Rev-el-ry gave us both.  Seated in a private booth with a terrific server who was prompt, courteous and quick to refill the delicious biscuits without prompting.  The Chicken Milanese and Turkey dinner came hot and well prepared.  Good food, good service, near home, reasonably priced.  What more could you want?  We will definitely be back."

What makes Rev-el-ry unique in an area of franchise restaurants is their local ownership.  They deserve our support.   Located at 3005 University Parkway, they offer a unique variety of dishes.

JIM'S RANT.....most of us remember the "good old days" before cell phones, computers, DVR, cable television, multi-million dollar get the picture.  Back in the fifties when life was much simpler and to prove it please take a few minutes to watch this wonderful video  and remember the simple ways of life gone by.

See you again next week.  As always thank you Tracy for making me look good and welcome back Debbie.  We've missed your restaurant reviews......HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY...JIM

The reviews are in from Randy Silagy and this year's CIRCUS " ever"  He also suggests parking at well lit Mall and walking across street to circus tent; saving $5 parking fee!!!!