Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kayaking and Good Food

4/15 - 4/22

On Thursday the 15th we took another kayak ride down the Little Manatee River from Canoe Outpost. The water in the upper part of the river was considerably lower than on our last trip, which meant more work for us! Instead of just floating along on the current we had to paddle and steer around sandbars. We rubbed bottom a number of time and at one point Dennis had to get out and push!

We started about an hour earlier in the morning, so we went on past the normal lunch point and stopped at the take-out point and had lunch.Then we went a little farther down the river. We had planned on going around the Little Manatee Loop, but the river widens out and there was a fairly stiff breeze blowing downstream. We were concerned about how hard it would be to work our way back upstream against the wind, so we did not go too far, opting instead to to explore a few side channels. That came to an end when Nancy saw a large alligator slip into the water about 20 feet away from us!

We also saw the same small alligator as last trip near the take-out point and a number of turtles, although not as many as last time, maybe because it was earlier in the day and the banks were not yet in the sun. Not a lot of birds this time either. The last trip we saw some Swallow Tail Kites.

On Friday the 16th we took another drive up to Tarpon Springs in celebration of our 18th wedding anniversary and had lunch at Rusty Bellies. We sat on the deck and watched the fishing boats come in to the seafood store dock next door. After stocking up on fresh local shrimp we came back home. Says something about our desperation that we are willing to drive two hours through fairly heavy traffic just for a good place for lunch (and the fresh shrimp!).

On Tuesday the 20th we went to Ybor Grille to celebrate Dennis’ 65 birthday - hello Medicare! As usual it was an excellent dinner.

We tend to visit a grocery store almost every day since the trailer has limited storage, a fairly small refrigerator and a tiny freezer. So we have hit a number of different grocery stores while we are here. Seems the best one for the kinds of foods we like is Publix. There do not seem to be any Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s type stores around here and Nancy is feeling the loss.

The weather is still reasonable, although it is getting hot. So far we have not needed our AC as it is cooling off quite nicely at night and we are parked in the only shady spot in the Sun Lake RV Resort! We are backed up to fairly large trees on the west side that shade us from the sun from mid-day on and it is quite pleasant.

Thursday the 22nd - We went over to E G Simmons Park and took a nice walk along along the beach. There are a couple of areas where you can walk through the mangoes along the shore and out on small fishing piers. On one of these we saw a manatee out in the estuary. It was rolling around and surfacing quite frequently. We stood and watched him for 15 or twenty minutes, really kind of a neat thing to see. Being a weekday there was hardly anyone in the park, so we had the whole place to ourselves, although the boat ramp was fairly busy.

Thursday evening we drove into Tampa and had a delightful dinner at Chefs on the Loose . We stumbled across this outfit on-line, they offer small group dinners with “hands on” participation in preparing the dinner. It is a very nice room, very crisp and minimalist, with adjacent kitchen and work counters with room for all of the attendees to participate. The dinner was presented by Chef Bobby Triplett, who is a guest chef at Chefs on the Loose. He did a really nice job preparing an interesting menu:

“Roasted and Ripened” Bruschetta: (Roasted Red Pepper and vine Ripened tomato)

“Real Deal Cesar Salad with herb roasted Sunday Chicken” A from scratch Cesar salad with roasted chicken and croutons like you have never seen before.

“Green With Envy” A grilled Pork chop marinated in Basil Spinach pesto, topped with the most perfect poached egg. Served with Sweet Potato Chips and creamy BBQ vinaigrette

For Dessert: “Grilled Peaches and Cream” Grilled Peaches served with a Homemade Vanilla Pecan Ice cream, topped with a dark cherry caramel rum sauce.

There were only nine guests there, so everyone got to participate in preparing the food as much as they wanted. Dennis sliced tomatoes for the bruschetta while Nancy learned to slice "ribbons" of basil. Chef Bobby and the rest of the staff at Chefs on the Loose were fun and personable. It was a a lot of fun; we picked up some good tips on food preparation and recipes; the food was wonderful; and the guests and staff made for a very enjoyable evening. Next time you are looking for an interesting evening in the Tampa area you can’t miss with Chefs on the Loose!

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