It was my first week in Tampa, and I was driving our little area known as Westchase. I saw the sign as if was the only lighted sign on a darkened country road. It said “Punch” and I think I knew right then and there that somehow I was going to be going part of it.
Fast forward a few weeks, and I had checked it out on the internet and found out that it was a combination boxing gym and group fitness facility. The boxing facility aspect seemed cool. I always wanted to learn how to do those speed bags. Beating the shit out of some bag seemed a positive way to deal up with some pent up frustration. Then again, group training had its downfalls. I hate being the fat person in class and I suck at jump rope and push-ups and ab work.
So instead of just dropping it, I told my life coach about my interest in the program, and of course, he challenged me to check it out. So there I was, walking into this gym and I met Martin. Martin assured me that I could do push-ups on the ring, that there was no real jump rope, and everybody sucks at abs. Martin, by the way, is 5’ 10’’ and a rock. I would later find out that he is amateur MMA fighter at the 185 level, who hopes to be pro in the next year. He also sports a bright red faux hawk on top of his tightly cropped black hair. Three weeks later, I had signed my yearly contract and I was training, so to speak.
Meal One…. I had the pleasure of having lunch with Joyce, a childhood friend of my mother-in-law. Joyce has been a longtime Tampa resident, and I found out that like myself she worked in IT, loved a good meal, and could be expected to hate the rules. Joyce met me at Datz Deli, which seems to be one of Tampa’s most talked about spots. And while the food was great, I wasn’t able to get good pictures because of the lighting. Hence, I plan on doing a more thorough write-up after my next visit. READ MORE
I have always been close to my family. I talk to mom on the phone quite frequently, something on the average of once a day. The setup we had in Richmond was one where we would see my parents at least twice a month, and towards the end of last year, we were seeing them once a week, as they would come and help with babysitting duties.
Moving to Tampa changed all that. We would now see them less frequently in terms of visits, but actual hours spent with them might increase. Instead of 4 hours a shot, now they would visit for 8 days at a time. 8 days takes its toll. Don’t get me wrong, we had a good time, but normalcy, routines and rhythm all took a hike when they were in town.
Saturday was probably my favorite day with them because I didn’t have that work thing to get in the way. We started off the day by driving to St. Petersburg to check out Mazzaro’s Italian Market (which was open this time). My parents were in heaven! They were buying deli items, fresh pasta, prepared foods, desserts, coffee. They were chatting it up with anybody and everybody. It was perfect. This place was no joke. READ MORE
The biggest of perk of having to travel to DC for work is that I can schedule my trip to allow me to visit Richmond from time to time. I desperately needed this trip. I hadn’t had but one chance to hang out with somebody outside of my family since being in Tampa, and for the sanity of Mrs. Marinara, I needed socialization. I flew into Richmond late Monday morning, and by lunchtime I was hanging out with friends at Pasture, where sous chef extraordinaire Joe Sparatta with a wonderful grilled chicken and ratatouille to fix my strict diet.
I worked the afternoon, and I spent the evening grilling and conversing with some more wonderful friends. An early breakfast at City Diner with Richmond’s nicest servers, and I was on the train to DC. The two days in DC were jam packed, but I was able to squeeze in meals at Brasserie Beck , Rays the Steaks, and Hill Country BBQ.
I was back home by Wednesday night and ready to get back into my rhythms.
Since my trip wad filled with copious amounts of meat, I was ready for a plethora of veggies and some home cooked food. It wasn’t until Saturday that we made it out for some restaurant dining. READ MORE
A few weeks ago, I promised you a blog post a week about life and new restaurant experience. So, while I am staying faithful to the promise, I complicated things a bit by starting a 5 week detox/cleanse program. Throughout the program , I slowly eliminate sugar, sweeteners, caffeine, alcohol, dairy, refined flour and other stuff until you get to the point where all I will be eating in Protein, Veggies, Fats, and Spices. I’ve enjoyed the process and the health benefits; however, it is problematic when I try to properly visit and analyze restaurants. Matter of fact, I went to a Tampa favorite, Daily Eats, for brunch the other day, and I just wasn’t able to truly experience the cuisine with the limitations on my diet. I promise to revisit at a later time.
One of the things I have been trying to learn as part of the program is to let my body tell me what it likes and what it doesn’t like. My flavor profile has been set over the years to enjoy certain food, but often that food has left me feeling tired, groggy or sick. As I explore new options based on my program, I am seeking foods that taste great and make me feel great. READ MORE
I don’t mind my in-laws. I actually like them, and I am very grateful for them. Leaving family (my parents in Charlottesville and my in-laws in DC) was probably the hardest consideration in choosing to move. So yes, I was actually glad to see my in-laws.
More importantly, I was glad to see the Lil’ Marinara for the first time in over a week. He had stayed with his grandparents up in DC so he could experience the 4th of July activities in our nation’s capital. I love the Carbonara, but he is 18 months and waking me from my sleep. The Lil’ Marinara is 5 and perfectly capable of having a conversation…. If it involves Star Wars. (Note, for some reason he thinks his mother is the expert on Star Wars, when in fact I used to be a huge Star Wars geek until George Lucas went and screwed everything up).
Packing and moving to Florida did not completely cut me off from the Richmond dining scene. I was still able to publish a few more articles at Richmond.com. I continued my Chef Chat series with two more chefs: Kevin LaCivita– Chef at Blue Goat & Caleb Shriver– Chef at Azizas on Main & soon to be, Dutch and Company. I think both of them turned out really well, and hopefully, you’ll find out some interesting about them personally, as well as learn some of the thought process of someone who runs a kitchen.