Santa Swag Swap – a Photo Frenzy

Last week, the Tampa Bay Bloggers hosted their first Santa Swag Swap. The lovely Denise contacted Datz, the best restaurant in Tampa Bay!!!, and once again we were introduced to their updated menu at a private chef’s table.

Each blogger was supposed to bring a swag item they received from their blog that they had not used. White elephant swag. And we did the traditional “pick a gift from the tree or steal from your neighbor” swap.

I brought a black neglige with matching thong panty. Totally see through. Not enough room for my boobs. Never even tried on. But it’s the PR thought that counts. I also brought an extra gift in case someone came without one and would feel uncomfortable.

Brian brought a Disney Marathon lunch box filled with runner goodies – a Disney Marathon shirt, a Disney Princess Half Marathon pin, a Digital Running Bondi Band and more.

We were the first ones to arrive at Datz. While waiting we perused the menu.

Datz does their menus like mini newspapers. Lo and Behold on the inside was a photo from the LAST Tampa Bay Bloggers Datz experience! I can’t believe we were in the menu, right under a photo of Eddie Vedder (from Pearl Jam).

I think he has my haircut.

Little by little, the guests trickled in. Brian was NOT the only man present, and we had a wide variety of blog types represented.

Left to Right: Caroline Calcote – My Fascinating Life, Me, Brian – my husband, Jina – Behold the Turtle, Danny, Asha – The Dansha Diaries, Denise – RunDMT, Kirsten – Gone Bananas. Not pictured is Marisa who joined us later

Here we are enjoying our first course, the Wreck The Halls Martini. Our menu was preplanned by Datz, and I was excited to see each course roll in. I knew poutine was on the menu, and I had never eaten that before (don’t worry, explanation coming) and I also heard the main chicken course contained tea, which I am allergic to, so I knew I need to speak with the chef briefly.

It was a little odd starting with a dessert drink instead of something more savory, but it was fun & sweet & so holiday esque with the candy cane! (Adult Chocolate Milk, Kahlua Peppermint Mocha, 360’s new eco-friendly Madagascar Vanilla vodka & a Candy Cane)

Chef Jason is awesome. Not only is he a genius in the kitchen, he came out to check on us and to explain each course. He fielded questions about ingredients and allergies with a smile. He didn’t mind at all skipping my tea-basted chicken and making the vegan stew side-dish portion larger for me as a main course.

Soon the appetizers made their rounds.

Figtastic Flatbread: sliced fig, Asian pear, roasted red onion, bleu cheese, baby arugula. This was tasty, but I am not a fan of bleu cheese, so I picked off the plump figs and saved my carbs.

Bruschetta Flatbread: pesto, parmesan, mozzarella, roasted red onion, plum tomato, basil, balsamic glaze. This seems like such a basic – but it was so unbelievably delicious. I took two. But wanted three.

Then came the Poutine which is crispy fries, gravy & cheese curds topped with a fried egg. Holy cow. I’d never had poutine before, and it was the most delicious heart attack ever. This was also my first time eating cheese curds, and Chef Jason told me that the good ones squeak in your teeth. They are NOT cottage cheese, like my teacher told me when learning about Miss Muffet all those years ago.

These were the Corn Fritters with powdered sugar and jalapeno-maple syrup. Easily the best fritters I’ve ever had and the jalapeno-maple syrup was divine. Just that hint of kick, but still sweet and not too sticky.

Before the main course, we had our gift swap.

Jina got a microfiber hair towel turban. My daughters have those!

Ha ha! Brian got Calgon – take me away! But also in the bag was a scented reed diffuser, which I had been wanting.

I got a tote bag filled with sports bottled. I went home, through all of my plastic ones in the recycling bin, washed out the new stainless steel ones, and now we have enough for a small army, so Alice can leave them around her bedroom after running and I won’t care.

Caroline got a cute candy dish with snowman candles.

Denise won the negligee I brought, and tried it on over her clothes for everyone!

Soon, Chef Jason came out with the main course and delectable explanations:

By now, Marisa from Fit Kids Playground arrived (above, left). She brought some of my daughter’s favorite snack for everyone:

Flavored applesauce that does not need a spoon. Wendy puts these in her lunch and soccer bag all the time. She says all the 9th graders eat them.

Marisa also brought a gift card for an oil change for the gift swap. Why an oil change? She does social media marketing for Century Buick GMC in Tampa, and you would not believe the amenities they have! While you wait for your car to be serviced, you can go to their salon and get a manicure or their movie theatre and catch a flick. Got the kids? No problem, wait in their playroom!

Chicken Little: black tea-spiced baby free-range chicken, tri-colored quinoa, honey-fig sautéed spinach, Asian pear chutney. I tried the honey-fig sautéed spinach, which was delicious but tasted bad for me. Lots of oil?


Instead of the allergy-ridden-chicken, I was treated to this amazing Curried Vegan Winter Stew: carrots and butternut squash braised in a tomato curry broth, tri-colored toasted quinoa, toped with cilantro, mint and pumpkin seeds! It was spicy and chunky and delicious. I had it for lunch the next day too.

Finally, we got a sneak peek at the new dessert menu:

No, we did not eat all of that – but I think we got the most unique taster of them all!

Oreo beignets! Now, in New Orleans, these are fried dough with powdered sugar. If that isn’t enough for you, stuff each one with a warm, soft Oreo cookie! Even as I was eating this goodness I was thinking, “this would be amazing dipped in hot fudge!” Like it needed more?!?! That’s what Datz does to you, they make you think you can have it all, with more on top and extra flavor for good measure!

And downstairs by their dessert case I found these gourmet flavored adult marshmallows – Guinness marshmallows? Gingerbread? Bourbon?!!:

Many of the dishes we tried are new, seasonal menu items at Datz. They change their menu about every 8-16 weeks. They treated our group, but the opinions are my own. The photos are not ALL my own, thanks Caroline!

More of my photos from around Datz:


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4 thoughts on “Santa Swag Swap – a Photo Frenzy

  1. I was so bummed that I couldn’t make it! It looks like you had a lot of fun though. I was wondering about the photos of Denise running around in the lingerie…haha. A PR rep really sent you that? I love Datz and need to visit soon. I am also hunting down those marshmallows as I type. : )

  2. That looks like so much fun! I’m bummed I had to miss–I guess it just gives me an excuse to go back to Datz another time soon!! And if you like their aprons, I’ll have to show you the kind my Mama makes and sells in Georgia. I have one at my apartment that I use–when I remember to put it on, that is!

  3. Obviously I haven’t been in the bay area long enough, or I hang out with the wrong people . . . I’ve never heard of Datz! It looks fantastic and you all look like you had tons of fun!

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