Where: Quaker Steak & Lube, 10400 49th Street North, Clearwater, FL 33762
Where: Quaker Steak & Lube, 10400 49th Street North, Clearwater, FL 33762
Please keep in mind, tastes on food certainly differ, and boys and girls don’t need all of the same items (e.g. tampons!), but this is a robust list that will help you get ‘er done!
Parents, maybe shopping can take your mind off the whole LEAVING part…
Hoppy Eastover! That’s my Easter / Passover combined greeting. It’s tradition at a Passover seder (grand meal) for the youngest person at the table to recite “The Four Questions”. There are 4 specific question, usually sung in Hebrew, but the point is to open the floor for anyone at the seder to feel comfortable asking any questions they have while retelling the story of the Hebrew slaves leaving Egypt.
The 3rd question is, “Why is it that on all other nights we do not dip [our food] even once, but on this night we dip them twice?”
One answer: The first dip, of the green vegetable in salt water, symbolizes the replacing of our tears as slaves (salt water is like tears) with gratitude, and the second dip, the bitter herb (horseradish is bitter like slavery) in charoset (a yummy blend of apples, nuts and wine), symbolizes the sweetening of our burden of bitterness and suffering. Charoset also looks a little like the mortar used between bricks by Hebrew slaves to build Egyptian pyramids.
This was not my favorite of the 4 questions, because I happen to be a “big” dipper. I love sauces and juices, and making foods more luscious by adding more drippy flavor. From flavored ketchup at EVOs, to hoisin sauce, to garlicky pesto, dipping is the fun in my meal.
Ironically, I rarely eat fondue. I LOVE cheese, and I enjoy fondue, but I guess I forget about it. The people around me don’t. My aunt used to love The Melting Pot in St. Louis, and now that we are in St. Petersburg, my daughters have enjoyed The Melting Pot near our home with birthday parties, dates and girls nights out.
Before Homecoming this year, DD1 was with her boyfriend at The Melting Pot and was seen by my friend Beth. Beth flashbacked to a prom she went to way-back-when, and someone paid her check, so she decided to pay-it-forward, and asked her server to cover DD1′s bill as well as her own. The teens were stunned and thankful!
I was part of a lucky group of people (through Tampa Bay Bloggers) who got to test out the new menu items at The Melting Pot last week! I finally made my way beyond picking up a daughter in the parking lot to a private room in the back with deliciousness and friendly faces.
The new menu includes traditional fondue you prepare yourself, as well as fonDONE - with your courses already served cooked to order.
I am thankful for the great server Darryl who speaks very quickly, but if you listen carefully he has tried every combination on the menu and will tell you exactly what to dip in what to have the best meal possible.
We started with drinks: Brian tried the Whiskey Thistle – Jameson Irish whiskey, white peach, raspberry, fresh lemon and a splash of Sprite. I had the blackberry sage lemonade with Bacardi limon. This can also be served without the rum for a nonalcoholic favorite.
While we chatted and enjoyed our drinks, Darryl brought out starters: Premium Cheese Fondue Dippers – artisanal Italian meats, chopped apple and little gerkins for dipping. Rosemary fries – thick cut french fries with rosemary infused sea salt, not originally meant for dipping but PERFECT in the Classic Alpine fondue – aged gruyere, raclette and fontina cheese with white wine and garlic. We also had the Wisconsin Trio fondue – Fontina, butterkase and buttermilk bleu cheese with white wine, scallions and a hint of sherry. I don’t usually like bleu cheese, but blended with its cousins everything was divine!
Next we moved on to the FonDONE Small Plates. Instead of a small pot of fondue, three hot dipping sauces are kept warm over the fondue burner and you can dip your already prepared foods into them.
For dipping, we were served filet mignon prepared beautifully and tender over horseradish mashed potatoes with a great kick, lemon pepper chicken over quinoa and tomatoes, jumbo shrimp over corn chutney, lobster tail, wild mushroom sacchetti with a trio of dipping sauces – goat cheese fondue, marsala and savory cabernet.
The marsala and cabernet sauces went well with everything and tasted as expected. The goat cheese was unique but a little limiting because of its distinct flavor. Luckily you get all 3!
The wild mushroom sacchetti was delicious. These wavy pillows of pasta are filled with light mushroom mush. They were superb and flavorful and melted in my mouth! DD1 tried them yesterday and loved them too. They don’t need sauce because of their flavor, but it’s still fun to dip them. I asked if the pasta was made fresh there, and it’s not, but it sure tasted like it! I thought both the chicken and lobster were slightly overcooked and tough to chew. I didn’t try the shrimp but Brian loved it.
We also had 2 shareable sides: the quattro macaroni and cheese had a bacony flavor without the bacon, and the fresh asparagus risotto had the crunch of barely steamed asparagus and a kick of lemony flavor.
Darryl says to try the rosemary fries and the mac and cheese with the marsala sauce for a flavorful surprise!
Then Destiny came out with plates for everyone that she had decorated with gel icing individually to reflect our blogs and media outlets.
These were for dessert! Rob brought out dessert with the advice that, “There’s always room for a cream puff.”
For Dessert: We were able to try both the Flaming Turtle chocolate fondue - milk chocolate, caramel and candied pecans flambéed tableside; and the white chocolate creme brulee - white chocolate and caramelized sugar. I was pretty full by then and a bowl of sugar didn’t really tempt me even though I’m often a chocoholic, but I tried a few bites from the dipper plates of raspberry cheesecake and berries. There were also crème puffs, pound cake, cookie-crumb-covered marshmallows, bananas, pineapple, rolled gaufrette cookies, and crisped rice treats which Brian wanted to gobble up!
I learned two fun things about The Melting Pot that night:
FonDONE is new to The Melting Pot and is being tested in the St Pete market. I tried it on the 19th day! It’s a way for even those in a time crunch to enjoy The Melting Pot. Try not to overdose on deliciousness!
(I received a free meal with my husband at The Melting Pot. All opinions are my own. Eastover does not exist, but I hope your spring holidays rock!)
Attention all Muggles! If you act fast, you can catch a great show for the whole family this week at the Straz (in Ferguson Hall, so every seat is a good seat). It’s a more than a summer camp skit, better than your college improv class, but not quite the next Broadway blockbuster… It’s Potted Potter!
Are we a family of Potter fans? Let’s just say when we took our daughter on her very first college tour, we asked her at the end of 2+ hours what she though of Dad’s alma mater and she replied, “They had me at quidditch.” Yes, St. Louis University has a quidditch team! And my nephew’s name happens to be Harry. We might have a couple of fake Hogwarts house ties. But I digress into my geekdom…
In this show you’ll get all 7 Harry Potter books in 70 hilarious minutes. Some scripted, some on the fly and some audience participation scramble together and abra-cadabra – Poof! Potted Potter!
Now, it’s fast… they talk and sing and fight and play and your head is trying to keep up – but it will, and so will the brain of the wizard lovin’ 10 year old next to you who wore a cape and brought a light-up wand from Toys R Ollivander’s. References to other kids movies may slip in and add to the giggles, and political or timely news quips will make you wonder how often they update the script – or if there is a script at all.
There’s a bit of a set, as many props as I have in my tub of Halloween costume accessories, and just 2 funny guys on stage having a good time at the expense of a rather dull boy-wizard, his arch nemesis, some mighty good friends, a gay mentor with a long beard who for some reason decided to go in to teaching, and little critters like owls, house elves and Scabbers – musn’t forget Scabbers!
(For those of you who know the funny side of Brian, he could TOTALLY be in this show and pull it off.)
The whole audience (made up of all ages) was rowdy and made for a fun crowd. Sometimes they cheered or heckled, and if you’re lucky enough to sit in the front row you may get pulled into some of the action!
This comedy really is fun for the whole family if you enjoy Harry Potter. If you haven’t read the books and your friend is begging you to go, you will probably still find it funny and learn a little something. If your child has been too young for the books or movies, this is too fast-paced for an initial introduction to the lore and lingo of Hogwarts. I will say the show is SO MUCH BETTER than playing Harry Potter Scene It! (Don’t buy that game.)
I’m so happy Tampa Bay Bloggers got us in to this show. They’re like my own Gryffindor cheering section. The opinions and laughs noted here are my own, though my 2 tickets were free. To see what others had to say, look at the #pottedpotter #straztweetseats comments from last night on Twitter!
P.S. you don’t have to come in costume, but don’t laugh at those who do!
If you are the parent of a high school junior or senior, you may start to receive invitations to special informational events on college campuses. Perhaps your child is vying for a scholarship, a spot in a prestigious honors program, or they just want to get to know a potential school better.
Although you can attend local seminars in high schools, in hotel conference rooms on random evenings, or at college fairs, you learn more by attending events on a campus if you can make it there.
Recently my daughter was invited to one event that was wrapped up with such a nice scholarship offer that we decided to fly out of state to attend. We figured she could get questions answered, get a feel for the campus, understand how to travel there from home with me by her side the first time – and possibly end up with a free college education. Good ROI.
I contacted the university about 6 weeks before the event. College counselors will often tell your child to contact schools on their own, but I had something up my sleeve this time. Instead of contacting the local area rep, like my daughter would do, I contacted the Honors department of the school who was offering the prestigious scholarship. They were kind of recruiting my daughter, letting her know all the great things she could accomplish in their program. I wanted them to know all the great reasons why they wanted my daughter on their list for sure.
I called the right contact, let her know we’re scheduled for the event on campus, and that it would be our first time in the area. Then I asked if we could come a day early so my daughter could spend the day before the event seeing what it would be like to be a student on their campus. I told them that she has friends in college, but when they come home they don’t chat about classes, they chat about sororities, football games and parties. My daughter makes a point of studying and getting good grades, and she wants to know that other students around her will be doing the same thing. (Not everyone gets drunk every weekend at college. I know because I didn’t. I went out and had fun, I went to bars, and parties, and comedy clubs. Sometimes I even had a drink, but I never got wasted. I never threw up or passed out. And I was able to keep my place on the Dean’s List. My husband wasn’t a big partier, and neither is my daughter’s boyfriend.)
The woman at the college was VERY receptive. She sounded thrilled over the phone. She asked me to email a list of what DD1 was interested in and exactly when we would be there.
There was some passing back and forth of duties in her office, and I had to follow up a couple of times and resend an email once, but a couple days before our flight out I was emailed an itinerary and it was just what we wanted.
While at this school my daughter spent Friday:
Everything was prearranged and they gave her a schedule with who to see when, and what their phone number was, along with a highlighted campus map.
On the 2nd day we were together the whole time for the event that about 600 other people came in town for. We learned about residence halls, financial stuff, had a mock Honors Seminar class, had lunch in a different dining hall, heard a panel of engineering professors, and she spoke with the professor who would probably run the research she’d get to be a part of in 10 months.
So she had a day that was completely personalized – and got to feel like a college kid behind the scenes without mom. Then she had a day with mom acting like a tourist and getting a sales pitch. After both days she was completely exhausted. Not only is she often an introvert, she felt like everyone she spoke to was kind of interviewing her, so she was trying to be her best self constantly. But if we had only had that 2nd sales pitch day, we would have just scratched the surface. The extra day really let my daughter see beneath the veneer.
That’s all I can say for now. Perhaps when she has made a final decision I can share with you how we came to that decision. It will probably be another 6 weeks before that happens. Applying to college these days has a lot more steps then when I went through the process! My daughter spent about 4 months writing essays for colleges, scholarships and special programs within those colleges. Hopefully her decision will be the best one for her!