Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Return from Europe

Well, the fun is over and time to return to earth. When I last posted, I had about one week to plan and arrange a trip to Europe for my family and I. As this was a very spontaneous thing, our plans changed a least a dozen times, but by time we landed in Milan, we had it all figured out. When it was all said and done we traveled to the following cities:

Milan, Italy
Geneva, Switzerland
Chambery, France
Rome, Italy

Of course, being who we are it was crazy, but fun. We ate a lot of good food and drank a lot of good wine and beer. And being August, it was hot. However, the heat did not deter us and the evenings were gorgeous. As Europeans tend to stay up later, this worked out great for us. Over the next few days, or weeks, and I am going to talk about my trip to Europe. Some of my posts will be informative, while others will be impressions and thoughts about the people and countries, and the cultures of the places we visited.

Oh, and lest I forget, my husband took a lot of really beautiful photos of our trip, which I will be posting along with my posts. For this post, I have attached a photo of a train. This is one of the things I love about traveling in Europe. They get you where you want to get, without any hassle. You do not need to rent a car to travel in Europe, if you are sticking to the cities. The only reason I would ever see the need to rent a car is if you want to travel to the countryside or perhaps you are doing a tour of the various wine regions, for example. But if you are sticking to the cities, don't even think about renting a car because the rail and metro systems of the cities within Europe are great.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Italy, here we come......

I am so excited to say that my family and I will shortly be traveling to Italy. This is kind of one of those last minute, spur of the moment sort of things. The price was right and we were in need of rejuvenation. We will be flying into Milan and taking the train down to Rome. We have been to Italy before, but the last time we were there, we missed Rome. Unlike our previous travel to Europe, we will try to contain ourselves largely to Rome and just soak up the atmosphere. Usually, when traveling in Europe we go crazy and do this multiple city and country thing because there is so much to see and everything is just so tempting. This time, we are really trying to make a commitment to not go around like mad. Hopefully, this will turn out to be a more sensible approach. I can't wait for the sights, the food, and above all.....the wine.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bin 27 Bistro- Tampa, FL

This is an elegant, yet casual place to enjoy a nice dinner and good wine. I went there one Friday evening with my family to hear one of my favorite Tampa Bay singers, Julie Black, give a great performance. First off, we started off with a good impression by the host who met us very warmly at the door. Our server also made a good impression. These things always count a great deal toward setting the mood for a happy dining experience.

Now, for the meal itself we started off with the Tasmanian Sweet Crab Cakes that was served along with a wonderfully spiced remoulade. For my entree, I enjoyed the Hickory Hanger steak, and my husband had the vegetable risotto with steak added, which I tried and thought was very sumptuous. Along with the meal, we enjoyed a bottle of the Urban Malbec. Don't hesitate to ask for a sample of any of the wines that are offered by the glass, before ordering a bottle. We sampled a couple of wines before making our choice. Although not very large, they have a nice wine selection. For a nice end to our meal, we ordered the Chocolate Mousse and Hazelnut Terrine, which rounded out our meal nicely. Altogether, Bin 27 offered nice service, a good atmosphere, and great food.

Bin 27 Bistro
2702 W. Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, FL 33609

Bin 27 Bistro on Urbanspoon

The Dubliner Irish Pub - South Tampa

One Sunday, my family and I headed over to south Tampa to hear My Little Trotsky play some music. We have heard them a couple of times now, and as usual, they gave a very good performance. Anyway, they were playing at The Dubliner Irish Pub, at their South Tampa location. We had never been there before, but we always love pubs and were eager to try out a new one. This was a nice location just off Howard Street and they have a lovely set up. The outside patio was surrounded by old, shady trees and would have been nice to sit, if it had not decided to rain that afternoon. Nonetheless, the inside was just as lovely with plenty of stools at the bars and bar tables throughout. Kinda of nice too, because the inside bar was connected to the outside bar, so the bartenders are able to work between the two easily.

As far as the food went, it was good. I can hardly go to an Irish pub without ordering Shepard's Pie, and this instance was no exception. It was a very good Shepard's Pie, and while not my favorite version, it left me fully satisfied and happy with my choice. Everybody else went with burgers, and I thought those were good, too. Add a cold Smithwick's to our meal, and along with the good music, it made for a lovely afternoon. There is not much more to add, and all I can suggest is go over and try it yourself. They have one pub in south Tampa and one in North Tampa.

The Dubliner Irish Pub
2307 West Azeele Street
Tampa, FL 33609

Dubliner Irish Pub on Urbanspoon