Friday, September 25, 2015

SEPTEMBER 27, 2015

From his first meeting with President Obama; his address to a joint meeting of the United States Congress; United Nations; Ground Zero; Central Park to Benjamin Franklin Parkway to all stops in between he charmed and thrilled thousands.  Pope Francis is truly a world leader beloved as no Pope before .  Bon Voyage and safe journey home.  We hope he comes  back again soon.  We need his humility, dignity and grace which is so lacking now in our country.

It's hard to believe that 2015 marks the SEVENTH year of the Ringling International Arts Festival experience.  During that time RIAF has grown into one of our major cultural events drawing talent and attendees from around the country and world.  Time Out London states.."progressive programming that would rival anything in New York and London" this year's edition is as creative and innovative as any that have come before.

Party closing fireworks display
BOLLYWOOD DREAMS opening night party is Thursday, October 15th. It includes open bar, great food stations, dancing, entertainment and a gigantic fireworks show to end the evening.

Performances begin Friday October 16th and continue through Sunday October 18th with last show at 5pm. For specific details and to order tickets click here.  Since most of the performances sell out I suggest you act NOW!!!

If you go to RIAF, visit the Ringling or are planning to attend a performance this season at the ASOLO REP, then make your experience complete by dining for  lunch or dinner at MUSE. You can also drop by from 3-5 and snack on a smaller version of both menus.  Formerly Treviso, Muse is managed by Tableseide Restaurant Group, owners of Libby's, Louies Modern ,The Francis and under construction Oak and Stone.

Smoked Trout Appetizer
Since lunch has been my only meal,  I will not address the other menus.  The food was delicious.  My group had the Chef's Lunch Salad, and though small, it was exceptionally tasteful.  After speaking to the manager, and then he to his chef, we were  promised a larger portion on a future visit.  Those smart enough to order a hamburger, grinder, or tuna salad wrap with all those french fries made a better lunch decision than we did.

MUSE is open for lunch daily and dinner Tuesday-Saturday.  My strong suggestion is to book early this season; especially dinner before ASOLO where you park your car in one convenient location for both events.

The American Character continues to be the theme for ASOLO REP'S 57th season.  Single tickets for all shows are now on sale at box office or 351-8000 or by clicking here now!  The season kicks off in grand style with one of Broadway's classic musicals, West Side Story; previews November 10,11&12 opening the 13th and running  through December 27.  A great Christmas gift for the entire family.
Also new this year are earlier starting times for Wednesday and Thursday performances 1:30 for matinee and 7:30 evening.  The season continues into the summer.  Of particular note is the WORLD PREMIERE in May of JOSEPHINE, which is heading to Broadway after its run here. 

More on the entire season in future blogs.  We've come a long way from Jackie Mason....Renee Fleming to Josh Groban to West Side Story!  SARASOTA is the place to be for the best in music, dance, theatre and performers.  No longer can you call us SLEEPY.  We are now one of the most cultural exciting spots in all of Florida.

TELEVISION ALERT!!! Tonight (Sunday) 60 Minutes begins its 47th season with a blockbuster program featuring an exclusive interview with Vladimir Putin, who is due here this week to meet with President Obama and speak at the UN.  Charlie Rose, the best when it comes to any type of interview, but especially with a world leader,  traveled to Moscow to land this one. 

 AND, Scott Pelley in a no holds barred interview with Donald Trump where he attempts to pin him down on issues.  There is more, but those of us on the east coast may see a shortened version due to football.  Check your listings and if you can't watch live, I suggest taping the show following for extended coverage.

During the summer, one of my favorite Sarasota restaurants changed hands.  Located  a mile east of I75 in Lakewood Ranch, Lucky Pelican looks, tastes and feels no different than previous owners.  Why mess with a good formula?  Obviously they didn't.  And, business is as brisk as ever.

  Lucky Pelican is to that end of town as Dry Dock is to the other.  No surprises; just good food, good service and reasonable prices. And lo and behold, it was announced this week that Gecko's Hospitality Group has purchased Dry Dock!!! According to published reports no change anticipated.  More restaurants seem to be leaning to consolidation.  Stay tuned.

JIM'S RANT...Dealing with a cable company is an awful experience.  From phone prompts to the correct department to finally connecting with a person not trained with phone etiquette to getting cut off numerous times....well, frustrating to say the least.  Attempting to cancel one service, several additional services were also deleted from email confirmation necessitating additional calls and more dropped calls.  Life was much simpler with that 13" black and white picture and 4 channels.

As always a great thank you to Tracy.  Until next week, you all have a great one.......JIM...... and as always please email suggestions or comments to
This past Wednesday we went from summer to fall
In a few weeks those of you back North will see this!!! 
Here in Sarasota summer lingers!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

SEPTEMBER 20, 2015


Tomorrow (Monday), active members of Sarasota Film Society are being rewarded with free admission to any movie currently playing at Burns Court and Lakewood Ranch Cinemas.  All you need is your membership card to see  the films.  Free coffee, tea and cookies as well.  For a list of current movies along with start times click here 

Also, if you are a fan of CINE WORLD, the dates for this year's film festival are November 6th through 15th.  Mark your calendars now to avoid any conflicts!  I cannot reveal some of the films already committed, but I can attest, this year's will be filled with Academy Award potential nominees.

 In the mood for authentic Southwest Mexican Cuisine, head to my favorite spot, EL TORO BRAVO. Located 2720 Stickney Point Rd. They are currently offering weekly $10 specials through October 3rd in celebration of their 10th anniversary.  This is not a fast food restaurant, but a casual neighborhood gem located in a strip mall that also is home to Paisano's Italian Bakery, another SARASOTA original. Click here for menu and specials.

Under construction now at the entrance to Cooper Creek shopping center across from Pier One Tampa based Ciccio Restaurant Group is opening two restaurants under one roof; Daily Eats and Fresh Kitchen.  The building and parking lot are ready; so far minimal work has been done on the interior.  The food concept is "healthy" with one,  Fresh Kitchen offering  a wide variety of salad bowls with either a rice or lettuce base and Daily Eats, serving  breakfast all day long.  

Opening soon in the Fresh Market shopping center is TOM+CHEE.  The menu consists of varieties of tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches.

  This one comes with backing of Shark Tank's Barbara Corcoran, from the ABC program where entrepreneurs pitch ideas to a group of wealthy, successful investors. They negotiate deals to partner together to bring the business to the next level.   With over 20 locations in several states, it's just a matter of time before the grand opening here.   They are next to Jason's Deli in the shopping center housing Kohl's and Fresh Market, among others.

Though The Perlman Music Program SARASOTA winter residency does not begin until December, it is expanding the program to include three concerts with PMP alumni who have moved on to established careers in their field.

The first is October 10th at 3PM at the Sarasota Opera House and features Molly Carr on viola and Yannick Rafalimanana, (try pronouncing that one!) on piano.  Carr holds several degrees, among them, Julliard.  Yannick studied at the Conservatory of Lille. 

 Both musicians were part of the PMP Sarasota residency and return here as part of the PMP alumni outreach program.   As we get closer to the other two events, I will have that information for you.  Tickets are available here or 941-955-4952 

Just in time for this week's blog, saw  GRANDMA, featuring Lily Tomlin at her best. It is a wonderful small film that has heart, comedy, tears and terrific acting from an exceptional cast .  Sam Elliot, Marcia Gay Hardin along with newcomer Julia Garner and several more move this one along at a rapid pace. Timely as well,  since it deals with abortion, which has become a hot topic in this year's Republican debates. It is rare that a movie can be entertaining and topical at the same time.  This one succeeds on both levels.

As a Film Society member you can see it free Monday at Burns Court Cinema or in your neighborhood at AMC20 or Royal Palm20.  Finally, adult movies are hitting the big screen and I'll be here each week to tell you about them.

Fans of the Orioles, Rays, Pirates, Red Sox and Phillies take heart.  Though your team is not headed to the post season, it will be taking part in the Fall Instructional League  here and in their own spring training facilities. Several day games are scheduled at Ed Smith Stadium from September 22 through October 13.  Games are free and open to the public.  Rosters are made up of minor league players working their way through minors to major leagues. For the complete schedule of games click here.
During our many weeks of travel, I read several interesting books; all of which I am prepared to recommend.  I will do that over the coming weeks.  Two come to mind quickly. One by Stephen King, who when I mention his name, most cringe.  However, in a followup to his Mr. Mercedes trilogy comes Finders Keepers, a suspenseful story with several twists.  Nothing occult, just old fashioned mystery.  And, it reads fast.  The other one even more suspenseful but requiring more of your time is I Am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes.  Not easy to put down, but if you do, the story takes you from past to present; from the Middle East to New York and several places in between.  In other words, to get your best read dedication is a must.

JIM'S RANT....Many of you responded to my review of  the new BEULAH  restaurant last week.  Most agreed.  Some did not.  I love hearing from all of you; especially those who disagree.  The purpose of Jim Knows SARASOTA is to give you an overview of what's happening here as well as movies, television, books etc.  Strictly my opinion to either share or not. However, as always Thanks For Reading. To send a question or comment email

And a special thanks to Tracy, who is spending time with her sister Cathi, for taking a few moments away from their shopping, University of Georgia visit and sight seeing  to edit this issue.  Until next week, to my Jewish friends, have an easy fast on Wednesday, and to all of you a great week.......JIM


Saturday, September 12, 2015

SEPTEMBER 13, 2015

L'SHANA TOVA....Translated means "Good Year"...and to all my Jewish friends and readers may the new year be filled with joy, happiness and good health.....

As promised last week, I am going to review several new restaurants and reveal  others opening soon in SARASOTA. One blog cannot name them all but it's a start.

BAKER&WIFE, open since March is located in the strip mall on Siesta Dr, near Rick's and Andreas.  The food is good with generous portions.  The atmosphere created; especially in the bar area, is akin to being in someone's kitchen.  Open for lunch and dinner, but with the same menu.  There are a variety of entrees  for all different tastes. Click here for a look at the Baker&Wife menu I have only been there for lunch, but several friends who've been for dinner RAVE!!!

There was much anticipation as BEULAH took its time renovating what once had been a true SARASOTA gem, Dvino.

Sad to say, Beulah is far from a gem.  It is a dud!!  So disappointing.  From the noise level that greets your entrance to the food itself, it is difficult to fathom how Flavio's, a well- known Siesta Key casual restaurant, could have thought an upgrade would work on Main St.  When not busy, the restaurant interior  is charming and has an outside patio in back for quieter seating.  Why it was not open on the night we were there is a mystery.  If you have been there and disagree, by all means let me know at

A popular national chain, FUZZY'S recently opened on University Parkway literally next door to Culver's, and has been  loaded with customers of all ages ever since.  On the other hand, Culver's parking lot has thinned.  Their early success has worn off quickly, while Fuzzy's continues to grow.  Open all day with breakfast, lunch and dinner their unique  and inexpensive Mexican style menu is both tasty and inexpensive. And their bar features hand made margaritas, and all the varieties of beers one could ask for. 

If you are in the mood for authentic Vietnamese cuisine, and live close to the Landings, I recommend you head to PHO SAIGON.  Open for lunch and dinner, PHO offers a full variety of Vietnamese dishes of rice, soup and stir-fried.   Especially now, while Pho Kali is on vacation and Main St. is difficult to traverse due to construction you can get your noodles here!!

A frequently asked question from last week's blog "where is the new deli location?" It is currently under construction in Oaks Plaza at the corner of Central Sarasota Parkway and U.S. 41; however as of this writing there isn't even a firm lease.  So before getting too excited let's wait for this one to actually happen.

Typical construction site

The list of new restaurants either under construction or on the drawing board is exhaustive; especially in the University Corridor area which seems to be adding them on a daily basis. 
There are  several firm commitments moving forward as we speak.  However, I don't have any opening dates.  An interesting out-parcel across from CVS in the Home Depot shopping center will house three restaurants.

One, I've actually been to in Atlanta.  NEWK'S is an express cafe offering a variety of salads, pizza and sandwiches.  Reasonably priced with ample portions.  You walk in.  Order your meal and it is brought to your table in minutes. Not fine dinning by any stretch, but very good!!!

The second is KeKe's Breakfast Cafe open 7:30-2:30 serving, you guessed it, breakfast all day. I've never heard of this one, but I'm anxious to try it.

The third is a new creation from Tableseide, owners of Louie's Modern, Libby's, The Francis and recently opened Muse at Ringling Museum which I will review in two weeks.  Its new creation is called Oak and Stone. Have no idea of menu, but if others are any indication, it will be creative, and more up-scale than their two neighbors.

I will address several more next week including the newest Evie's location on Main st. which includes a bowling alley.  There are even more under construction in out-parcels at UTC as well as Cooper Creek Shopping Center.

With the fall television season slowly introducing its new shows, I will devote more time to them in the coming weeks.  It won't be until October 7, when Lady GaGa makes her debut in the Ryan Murphy Brad Falcuhuck American Horror Story/ HOTEL(my favorite)!!  If you can't wait until October, their new FOX series Scream Queens debuts next week.  It is a "slasher-comedy"!!!  I will be watching because this team has created some great television over the years.  Remember Nip-Tuck and Glee?

Best Time Ever with Neil Patrick Harris starts LIVE this coming Tuesday at 10 pm NBC.  The initial commitment is 8 weeks which takes us to Thanksgiving.  More on this next week.

This past week Stephen Colbert assumed command of CBS's The Late Show, long the domain of David Letterman who signed off earlier this year.  If the first week is any indication, Colbert is a qualified successor to Letterman, presenting  an eclectic list of guests you would expect out of adult oriented late night television.

Though lacking the sophomoric humor of the two Jimmy's, Colbert in his own persona is funny, witty and intelligent.   He is a worthy addition to the late night television. And his interview Thursday with Joe Biden was one for the ages.  Get it On Demand. 

Jimmy Fallon, who competes on NBC has picked up his game.  The Friday Donald Trump interview was a classic as was his entire program.  So far the same old from Kimmel.

While waiting for the fall movie product to surface, there is a wonderful one at Burns Court worthy of your attention.  PHOENIX, a spellbinding mystery of identity, illusion, and deception. It unfolds against the turmoil of post-World War 11 Germany.  A survivor of a concentration Camp returns home to find the person who betrayed her to the Nazi's.  Phoenix grabs your attention immediately and doesn't let go until she learns the truth.  AND, the good news for those of us who have difficulty with the Burns sound system, this one is with sub-titles. 

JIM'S RANT...It's been a year since opening of UTC.  Though the jury is out on usage, I can tell from experience it is growing.  The restaurants are always crowded, more and more people are walking around with bags, and new stores are opening.  One BIG mistake was their  parking lot with rows of the same numbers, but no additional information as to location. It was easy to misplace your car as I did on more than one occasion.   I did mention this last year and finally management has begun to put letters on those numbers  making it easier to locate your car.  

Tracy sends her best wishes for the New Year as she continues to slave over this blog.   Roberta too, but no two cents this week!!!


Saturday, September 5, 2015




This week, the VAN WEZEL PERFORMING ARTS HALL announced its schedule. Though promising in scope with a variety of acts, shows and music, when all added up, it is very much in keeping with previous seasons.  However, there are some very special attractions worthy of your consideration.

Already, The Book of Mormon, scheduled February 9-14 for 8 performances is a tough ticket to get your hands on.  Along with The Producers, Beauty and the Beast and Bullets Over Broadway, you can easily see why this venue has become SARASOTA'S most visited.

Kristin Chenowith, Sophia Loren, Paul Anka, Yanni, and the incomparable Renee Fleming performing with the SARASOTA Orchestra under the direction of Anu Tali are just a few of the shows scheduled.  Those who purchased tickets in the past should have  received  their schedule this week.  For a complete schedule click here.

A few weeks ago before several SARASOTA residents and hundreds from around the country and world, our wonderful SARASOTA Ballet made its debut at the world renowned Jacob's Pillow in the Berkshires.  Rave reviews followed in the New York Times, Washington Post and Boston Globe along with the Herald Tribune.  For those of you who are not aware of Jacob's Pillow it is considered one of the country's finest summer dance venues.

To even be  invited to perform for a week is an honor in itself, but to garner standing ovations each night speaks volumes to the depth of artist and tribute to director Iain Webb.  Next summer, the company will reside for a few weeks in New York.  But you don't have to wait til then.  Their 25th season is in full swing. For a complete schedule and to purchase tickets click here.

At the new FIT2RUN  location on UTC's first level next to Dillard's, they have included a food service as healthy, nutritious, fresh and  delicious as you can find anywhere.

UTC, lacking a food court, is a tough place for a quick lunch or dinner.  Not anymore with Fit2Run's ambitious Fitness Bar dispensing what is described above quickly and inexpensively. You can take your order to seating nearby or center court where there are tables by STARBUCKS. 

We had the California Wrap.  It comes with 2 choices of fresh fruit for the unbelievable price of $7.99.  I highly recommend to eat it there or take home.  Healthy, convenient and delicious.  What more could you ask for? Hours are 10am-9pm daily and 11am to 6pm on Sunday. OH, and don't forget they do have a wide variety of athletic shoes and wear for sale inside the store.

Those of us who live in University Park are fortunate to have our own magazine Life In The Park. Published monthly, it keeps us up to date with Park events, as well as featuring our neighbors, local events and unique advertisers convenient to our area.   Thanks to Tim Trout, area director for Life,he creatively schedules monthly events for residents.

  This month Golf Tech  at 6249 Lake Osprey Dr. Sarasota, is hosting a 5:30pm-7:30pm social with light bites and a few minutes of personal instruction.  A week later on September 24th a B2B Networking meet and greet will take place at Courtyard by Marriott, 8305 Tourist Dr, Sarasota. RSVP

The quiet tranquility of NANTUCKET
Last week, I wrote about our trip to New York. Continuing our summer travels, we spent several wonderful days in Nantucket.  This was not our first trip; however staying close to the center of town, it allowed us more flexibility  to explore the island and all of its culture and beauty.  Along with boating,  beautiful beaches, bike trails, loads of stores and restaurants, there is culture.  

A non-profit multi-million dollar Film and Entertainment Center dominates the downtown landscape.  From its own Summer Festival of Films, to live performances, to first run movies, to National Theater Productions, to galas and special events, DREAMLAND would be the envy of any vacation spot anywhere in the United States.  While there, we saw a performance of Tony Winner Helen Mirren's  Queen Elizabeth in The Audience.   FYI, the same production will be screened at Historic Asolo October 23. If you want the complete Asolo National Theatre schedule click here.

Our visit to the Nantucket Whale Museum, included a movie recreating the history of the island.  In  addition to their continuous exhibits, one  dedicated  to Ron Howard's film, In the Heart of the Sea, due in theaters later this year stood out.  Originally due out this summer, Sea was held to December release because it is considered  worthy of Oscar consideration.  This true story adventure, partly filmed in Nantucket is  based on the  sinking of the Nantucket-based whaling ship Essex, which inspired Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick.  

A tour of Nantucket would not be complete without a viewing of the many flowers, plants and trees indigenous to the area; especially this time of year.  It seems just about every home has an outside flower box under several of its windows. We would love to go back NOW, when kids are back in school, weekenders have had their fill of summer travelling, and the streets are empty of tourists.  Nantucket in the summer definitely brings to mind SARASOTA in the winter.

 JIM'S RANT....I plan to devote a considerable amount of space next week to several restaurants in various stages of building as well as a few of the recent openings.  Many under construction may look different but feature more of the same:  burgers, pizza, pasta salads and breakfast.  I don't know how they can all survive, even in season. There was one piece of good news in Wednesday's Food section, an authentic Jewish-style deli is in the works for a late October or early November opening.  However, I'm not rushing over until some good word of mouth.  Who could forever forget Carmine Goldberg??? A disaster....

Thanks again to Tracy for her fine editing and in some cases re-write.  Now only a father would admit to that.  Also, Roberta for her 2 cents!!!  Until next week.....JIM
Congratulations to Carole and Mickey Fox on granddaughter Rachel's marriage to Major Stephen Toth