When Liz touched down for the first time in Tampa she was famished. She was starving and just needed to eat, something, ANYTHING! Although she wasn’t too familiar with the wonderful world of sushi, she was curious. Already well experienced, I had been exploring many spots around Tampa for sushi at the time I had met her. Tampa has awesome sushi. Do not let those snobs from California tell you otherwise. The entire peninsula of Florida is surrounded by the best fish you can get your bite on anywhere in the country- all others need not apply.
The picture above is our favorite roll from Bonsai Sushi. It is the “Doctor Roll” filled with salmon, yellow tail, blue crab meat, scallops, Sricha chilli mayo, scallion, candied ginger and more. It is indulgent to say the least and sets off several fire crackers simultaneously in your mouth. If you’re ever in the Wesley Chapel area please stop in- you won’t regret it.
One of the selling points for my house purchase in 2007 was the awesome backyard view I got from the patio. When I first moved, it was nothing but green field, however over time new townhouses were built. I loved watching the sunset around the time I got back from work. It was just awesome, sitting out there with a beer, and just taking in the fresh air. I miss those days and I hope to one day experience such tranquil moments. It’s good for the overall soul and being.
Liz loved staring outside the patio as well. It was a cool year of adventure for the both of us- but our adventures didn’t always have to require us getting into the Subaru- simply grilling out, sitting out on patio chairs, drinking a glass of wine- the entire moment took us to somewhere most Americans dream to be. Patio Transience is what I like to call it.
When I lived in Ybor city I never took a ride on their trolley system that has been in existence since Ybor as a city was established in the 1880s. I was curious but always felt strange about getting on the trolley by myself.
Liz convinced me to try it one day with her and we took the entire ride that loops around the entire Ybor, Channelside, and Downtown district of Tampa. It was so “old-timey” and we enjoyed it very much. The conductor was quiet but that was good because it allowed us to quietly absorb the sites. The trolley itself is made out of wood and the creaking sounds it makes as the trolly shifts tracks is priceless.
The entire trip was a short one around the aforementioned areas. I think it took maybe twenty five minutes to loop around, however the memories we carry of that ride should easily span twenty five years.
I had been to Ft. Lauderdale before because I had a friend who lived there. I had never actually visited their beaches. Liz and I finally were able to see it in the summer of 2010. We stayed at a Marriott that had this beautiful pool bar area. We lounged out on their beach chairs and took in the sun. We also visited the beach which was literally across Beach Street on A1A in Ft. Lauderdale (about 22 ft. away if I had to estimate). It was beautiful as the picture above illustrates.
The beach scene of Ft. Lauderdale is spectacular. It just permeates with good vibes. The crowd is beautiful, the drinks are a plenty, and the beach-side, Riviera like dining spots right on the beach gave dining out a brand new meaning for us.
I’m sure at some point we’ll revisit during our lives, maybe after we have children so they can enjoy the scene as well. It’s only fair for everyone to experience this in their lifetime.
When Liz first moved to the Tampa Bay area (and even more so Wesley Chapel) she hated it. A serious landslide of homesickness for New York shortly skidded down on her. It was a tough transition for Liz, however after a couple months not only did she settle in- she began calling the Tampa Bay area her home.
This is a picture of her using our laptop. Beyond the laptop you can see a glimpse of our backyard. Most of the homes in Silverleaf had not been constructed yet. It was ghostly in ways but we welcomed the construction because it reminded us of our own marriage in the first several months after getting married in June of 2009. It was rocky, dusty, and much construction was necessary, however we grew to love one another even more deeply and our short stint in Wesley Chapel helped cement that for us.
Whenever we return to Silverleaf we’re always astonished by how much development has come about. It has grown from just one street on Birchcreek Dr. to an entire community- reminiscent of our own marriage.
The first Saturday of each month Wiregrass Mall hosts a Farmer’s Market for the Wesley Chapel locals to explore. It was the largest farmers market we had ever encountered in Florida (we’ve been to a few) and it was a site to see.
As we walked up and down the market we came across a stand that were selling Cumquats. We were both curious to try them since they looked so much like shrunk oranges. We come to find that although there is some relation- cumquats are their own identity and should be respected as such.
Biting into one produced a sweet, slightly tart ball of citrus juice for us. An added bonus is the fact that you don’t have to peel off the skin. They’re edible! It was a cool experience to try something different fully homegrown from our lovely state.
Although there are a multitude of bars to grab a Mojito or, as the pictures illustrates, a nice, cheap glass of Hob Nob Pinot Noir, the Prime Bar in the Wiregrass Mall has always served us well.
This picture was taken during our visit of Wesley Chapel in January of 2012. Although we’re not the biggest fans of their food, save their cheesesteak quesadillas, we find their drinks to be well crafted. The patio outside is equally as nice. We’ve even been there on Thursday nights when local bands come by and play out on the patio while we get served at their outdoor verandah bar rendition. Well done.
P.S. Liz’s favorite drink from here is the Berry Mojito. The blackberries they put in are an excellent touch and mesh well with the fresh mint leaves incorporated.
When I moved back to Tampa in 2007 I got a job as a Science teacher at Davidsen Middle School in the ritzy Westchase neighborhood. I hated my job, as I hated every teaching job I ever had. On Fridays I would drive by this pizza joint in and every day but I would never stop by because it, well, it was just a pizza joint. One Friday, after quite possibly the longest week of my short life, I decided I needed a drink. I had no idea about the neighborhood of Westchase. I remembered the pizza joint and watching people drinking beers on the outside patio. I decided today would be the day I ventured in. All hail Mellow Mushroom.
I have never had an experience like this since then. It was my kind of place. An establishment that served great food, great beer, coupled with great music, and great art. The employees were down to Earth and always willing to commiserate with you over how torturous the last five days had gone. It just a splendid time for me. I felt like I was at a hippie’s version of the country’s greatest media made pub- Cheers. Golfie was Woody Harrelson and Byron was Ted Danson. I missed the nights where musicians would come by and play music while the entire place was amuck with chatter, mug clinking, and pizza slicing. As strange as it may be- it was a lot like family to me where most of the guys that worked there new me, the beers were cold for me, and the menu was always an arm’s reach away.
On our last day there before our trip back home they bought us shots, gave us a free pizza, and autographed a pizza box with the entire staff. Coolness.
On an episode of Perfect Strangers, Larry tells Balki that life is a lot like pizza. A full pie with eight slices is when your born, each slice you take and eat away is about 10 years of your life, and when your down to your last slice you burp, reflect on all you have done with the time given to you, shrug and then finish it. I took my last slice at Mellow Mushroom in June of 2009. I hope in my next life I have a full pie all to my self- to count my life away slice by slice.
Ybor City in Tampa was the port of call for all immigrants new to Tampa. During the turn of the 20th century, immigrants from Cuba, Italy, Greece and as far east as China, entered the outlets of Cigar City to set up shop and call this “new” city hope for generations to come. For about four decades these main four groups grew up together, learned from one another, ate with each other, worked with each other, lived life with each other. History even states that things got so close with all the communities that a special hybrid language called “Tampanese” started which co-mingled the language of each ethnicity and in ways created one uniform way to speak to one another. A distinct language cooperated between four different nations. Very awesome, forthcoming, and progressive.
In the picture above you see an obscure bronze statue of an immigrant family. It’s uncertain what country the bronze minuets are specifically from and rightfully so. It should be left arcane and really not placed any emphasis on. Who cares where they are from? It doesn’t matter. All that does matter is welcome. Tampa is glad to have you.
Across the street from where we lived in Wesley Chapel, Florida was Wiregrass Ranch. It’s had quite a history in these parts and has supplied the area, and perhaps even the state, with its produce, dairy, and cattle. In the last several years Wiregrass Ranch began selling sections of its property to assist in the metropolis enterprise that is currently going on in the town. Wiregrass Mall, Wesley Chapel Medical Center, a soon to be in fruition satellite campus of Pasco County Community College and a huge sports complex. This is a picture Liz took of the Wiregrass Ranch that Wesley Chapel has known for decades now in it’s picturesque, unadulterated state. The beauty of Wiregrass, as the picture denotes, is how the contrast of the emerald green flora kissed the bright sky-high blue cascade of Florida. The clouds were faint and almost purposely so to not pilfer away from the magic of this shot. It’s always been quite the visual for us like an ethereal duet between the spectors of land and sky.