Monday, February 23, 2009

Oysters and Grouper Cheeks

Yesterday during our weekly tennis match with the Chow men, my husband started talking about Oysters. Random, yes, but it reminded me of a recent trip to Panama City Beach. The coldest, sweetest, biggest Oysters I have ever had were at the Acme Oyster Bar in New Orleans. But on my last trip to PCB, my client and friend Susan Ester and her husband Alan showed me that Panhandle oysters are as delish.

The village of St. Andrews reminds me of some of the Maine towns I visited last summer. And the restaurant, The Captain's Table, is a snapshot of life on the water. We shared great conversation, cold beers and fresh raw oysters topped with horseradish and cocktail sauce. Then, the talk turned to the main meal, to which Alan decided to be adventurous and try grouper cheeks. This, being a food I have never heard of, I was wary. But then Susan decided to try it too. The pressure, I thought. After a few agonizing moments, I succumbed to the "When in Rome" theory. And so glad I did.

While the thought of eating a grouper's chunky little cheeks makes me uncomfortable, the moist white nuggets are delicious. I tried not to count how many groupers' cheeks I actually ate, because my visual artist side would then picture these fish swimming around the sea without their cheeks. A warped post I realize. But sometimes the truth is a bit off center. 

Thanks for a great time, Susan and Alan!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Trip Down Memory Lane

Fun Fact: Facebook, the number one social networking site with over 150 million users, experienced a 276% rise in its 35-54 year old demographic in the last six months alone. I am part of this revolution in communication. This is a forum where we can find friends, reconnect, keep in touch, and share our personal lives with many at once. What a gift! 

I have been blessed to have reconnected with my two longest friends from elementary school, Christine and Carmella. It happened about 5 years ago as a result of one of the first social networking sites, And with much prodding, I recently got them both on Facebook. Now to work on Dawn.

So, Mella, the queen of high school reunions, has started a FB group for the John  Jay Class of 1984 (yes, you can do the math on me). This has started the phenomena of finding old photos and posting them. My most recent contribution are these photos from the 20 year reunion a few years ago. As you can see, I am very experimental with my hair color. 

This reunion was awesome, because not only did I get to spend time with Chris and Mel and their wonderful husbands, but our childhood group from "the neighborhood" converged (Dutchess Park, that is). And, to top it off, one schoolmate brought her 6th grade class photo, and we realized many of us were in that class together. So the very large picture are the kids from Mr. Safford's 6th grade class at Brinkerhoff Elementary in Fishkill, New York. What a trip!

P.S. Another Fun Fact: Classmates Dawn Rendi and Todd Perri "hooked up" at the reunion and made a return visit a couple years later to the location of the event to tie the knot!

My Favorite City

This year, my January trip to NYC was faster than usual. I traditionally try to make it last as long as possible, and often bring friends and family to tag along. All the same, it was a blast and I made the 2 days worth my while.

The reason for the trip was to attend the Adrian Awards, an annual award gala presented by the largest international hospitality organization in the world, HSMAI. Everyone who is anyone in the world of hospitality is there, and we spent the evening surrounded by impressive travel companies such as Norwegian Cruise Lines, Ritz Carlton Hotels, Delta Airlines, and the State of Hawaii. My business partner Kimberly, myself and our client Jessica Grace from the Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau accepted five awards for our work on their website,, and for our 2008 integrated web marketing program. While our tourism award tally is near 40, this was a record-setting number for our agency and the first time all awards were received in the web category.

Enough boasting and on to the personal highlights of the trip. I have to give credit to Kim for the adventurous tram to subway ride to the hotel (although I made a wrong quick judgement which took us even longer!). Since the E was down, Kim, Alicia and I ended up spending some quality time touring Manhattan via underground subway. Always colorful. Our afternoon was full of reminiscing, first the arrival of Kimberly's college buddy Scott from Connecticut and then my college pal Gwen from Jersey. We all shared a beverage at my favorite Carmine's before Gwen and I went off to have dinner with the ladies of Chi Omega from Syracuse University.

Our soiree included 10 sisters, most of whom I have enjoyed 4 or 5 of these mini-reunions with over the past couple years. I also was happy to see a few of whom I hadn't seen since college. With my newfound love for planning reunions and the ever-awesome Facebook, those moments of reconnection warm my heart (sorry, I know that's corny, but its true).

I also got to see my beloved brother-in-law Billy, who is a big time international money trader downtown in South Street Seaport. We lunched at Mark Joseph on incredible steak and chatted about the kids and such. Always a pleasure.

I was so happy to score a couple of great gifts for my daughter and husband, but unfortunately, did NO shopping for myself this time! All my minutes were spent just being together with friends - the ones I traveled with and the ones I visited with. Without a doubt, not a regret.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Superbowl in Tampa 09

I am going out of order by jumping to the Superbowl when I have not yet finished posting my Anna Maria trip from December, or any of my other travels in the last 2 months. But when you get a chance to spend the weekend in the city that is hosting the Superbowl, it trumps the rest. Besides, it's my opportunity to expand my technical abilities since I am anxious to try and imbed the Superbowl commercials. I am, afterall, an ad girl at my core! My favorites: the Clydesdale generation spot and the CareerBuilder screaming spot.

It was a whirlwind weekend in Tampa. My hubby has been "moonlighting" from his day job for his mother's employer, (a limousine service), acting as a greeter for their corporate client, Phillip Morris. This time, the whole family got involved at the Clearwater Beach Sand Key Resort. We joined Gene's mom and her boss Robert in Tampa to help coordinate transportation for PM's clients, who were gathering to attend Superbowl 43. It was a blast. We met Michael Strahan from the Giants, and Taryn got her SB 42 jersey signed by him, as well as a picture with him and a signed football. He was very nice, very tall and had his beautiful girlfriend with him, who is a model and I believe the ex-wife of Eddie Murphy. We also met Roy Firestone, sports commentator and author. We were given an autographed copy of his book, Up Close.

There was more black and gold going on in Tampa than I've ever seen, and the Steelers fans outnumbered the Cardinals fans by at least 4 to 1. My daughter attended the NFL experience on Saturday, while I worked the Tampa Int'l Airport greeting guests while Gene was over at the Corporate JetPort. Not only did we have fun, spend time with my mother-in-law and Gene's cousin Kathy, and meet some great people, but we also made some dinero to save for our summer cross country trip. Not a bad way to spend a weekend. And for those wondering, no... we didn't make it IN to the Superbowl this year, but we got as close as they come. And, after a couple hours watching the crazy crowds of fans outside the stadium, Taryn and I drove home in time to pick up a pizza and watch every second of it from the comfort of my cozy bed! And, what an exciting game it was!

Can't wait for next year in Miami!