Wining and Dining

Another weekend, another festival (not that were complaining) and this particular festival  just so happened to feature two of my favorite things- wine & food (clearly I’m the PG-21 rated version of Julie Andrews. Raindrops on Roses? Get real) I am talking about the Tampa Bay Wine and Food Festival which was held at the Straz Center over the weekend. It featured the Southern Charm Wine and Food Gala and Auction on Friday night and continued into Saturday for the Grand Tasting. We were lucky enough to be invited out to both events and let’s just say I’m still coming off my wine buzz days later.

Friday night’s event was black tie optional and not wanting to be scrub status I had to make sure my outfit was acceptable. Therefore lots of outfit changes and roommate advice were experienced before I was good to go. Once decided a friend and I Lyfted over to the event. We grabbed our glasses and headed upstairs to the VIP area. First things first, get in line for a drink. Here is where I was confused, the first drink I had at the Wine and Food Festival was a margarita (I do love myself some tequila) While it was delicious I noticed throughout the weekend the event featured not only wine but some liquor as well. I guess wine isn’t for everyone…

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We grabbed scallops from Publix, lobster rolls from Tampa Palms (and a member for the day card. 18 holes here we come!) cheese from Target (although it was frowned upon by some people- you know who you are) and much more. Now I’m not sure if I missed multiple food stations, but to be honest it didn’t seem like there was much to munch on. There was definitely plenty of wine to go around though. As we weaved our way in and out of the large crowd to the silent auction area we checked out the night’s prizes. Besides items you could bid on, there were a few vendor selling wine glasses and accessories and a band for entertainment. Leaving I wasn’t sure if I could do the whole thing again less than 24 hours later. But who are we kidding, I rallied like a champ.

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Saturday was a lot more laid back, and way more comfortable in my sandals. Also, way more crowded. A few friends had purchased their tickets on Living Social a few weeks back so we headed over in a big group for a day of drinking and eating. Like I said, Day 2 was packed and it was almost uncomfortable trying to maneuver in the narrow spots but after a few glasses of wine we were making new friends in tight corners. Saturday’s event spanned an even larger area and seemed to have way more food. We were upstairs, then downstairs, there was even Jersey Mike’s serving food outside.

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One thing I will say for this event was thank god it was inside. After being outside at events all summer it was clutch to be cool in the AC. Sure, we know it’s getting into fall but it’s still Florida people!!  Despite the amount of wine I consumed this weekend I still may go home and have a glass tonight. After all, I did find a few new favorites!

Salud- Allison

Techies on a Pirate Ship

We like new experiences as you know and this time we are bringing you the ultimate party on a pirate ship! That’s right, Collaborative Technologies of Tampa Bay is hosting its quarterly networking party on the Buccaneers Pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium. Wahoo! We are so excited to mix and mingle with Tampa Bay’s techies overlooking the stadium, sipping on a drink and snacking on some food.

Buccaneers Pirate Ship Raymond James NFL

This event isn’t just another networking event, with vendors and sales people. CTOFTB promotes an environment of collaboration among technical professional. Founder and CEO, Sylvia Martinez says, this event is all about, “collaboration at its finest and opportunity to be surrounded by true peers that understand the day-to-day of the grind.”

There will be giveaways and special offers to those who attend. Make sure you register by using EventJoy.

Event starts at 5:30pm and ends at 8pm. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are playing the Atlanta Falcons at 8:25 so consider this the ultimate tailgate.

Tickets include free light appetizers & the first 100 get a free drink! 

Hope to see you all there!

- Ryan

Turn Down For Rum

As most of you know, tequila is our go to. Very rarely do we drink anything else (we’re snobs that way) but when we happened to fall into some Summer of Rum tickets, we made an exception. My drinking history goes a little like this, vodka and pink lemonade (like any good freshmen lady), rum & cokes (diet to be exact, because you always have to save those extra calories even though you’ll probably end up eating New York New York around 2am) and finally, tequila and Sprite, because you finally learned what you can handle after a few years of experimenting (and if you’re very lucky, what gives you the least hangover). So in late August I was feeling a bit nostalgic as I threw it back to Junior year and my days of rum drinking when we headed to the Summer of Rum Festival at the Cuban Club in Ybor.

Unlike Margarita Fest, this was our first time so we had no idea what to expect. A group of six of us Lyfted it over later in the day and headed right inside, as there was barely any lines. Even though there was no line, there was still tons of people. We thought we were being smart heading over later in hopes that it would have cooled down by then but there was no such luck- it was HOT. Those of us with VIP tickets were instructed to cruise up to the 3rd floor to get our wristbands for our rum tasting. We headed inside, made our way through “Club Rum” (more about that later) and onto the 3rd floor. With our wristbands on, it was tasting time. Let me just put it this way, starting off our Rum Fest basically taking mini shots of different rums was a poor choice. Note to self: have a drink first to get yourself mentally prepared. After a few sips I was ready for a cocktail. We headed downstairs, past the large theater which was appropriately playing Pirates of the Caribbean and out to the VIP tent.

Summer of Rum Fest Tampa Drinks

 

Here we had an option of six drinks. I went with my old school classic of rum & coke while the boys branched out and tried “The Instigator” & “Shakedown Highball”. After a few sips they decided it was a no go and switched it up to a classic rum & ginger ale. With our drinks in hand we decided to see what else was going on. There were tons of different rum companies on hand and each was serving up some delicious drinks. We stopped to check out the band playing and take a break in front of one of the fans. (did we mention how hot it was?) We headed inside to cool down but things only got hotter as we made our way toward the dance floor. (Oh yes, we said dance floor) As previously mentioned, it was “Club Rum” on the first floor (note: this name was dubbed by NHIE, not the event itself- we would hope they would come up with something a little more clever) None the less – this had to be my favorite portion of the event. We had such a fun time on the dance floor and it was apparently everyone else was too. The band played everything from Turn Down For What to Reggaeton and the crowd never stopped dancing.

Summer of Rum Fest Tampa

All the dancing made us hungry and we finished off the day with some grub from the line of food trucks on location. While it did take us a drink or two to get back into “Rum Mode” it was a nice change of pace from our usual drink of choice. Despite it being the end of summer, the drinks and dance floor were enough to keep our minds off the heat and on the awesome time we had!

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XOXO- Gossip Girl

Sip Your Way Through Tampa History

In early May, NHIE got a sneak peek of Ulele in Tampa Heights, a restaurant which celebrates and honors Tampa Bay’s history. Last weekend, we sent our friend Megan from I Run For Wine to check out the final project. Here’s what she had to say about the great time had at Ulele!

Hi NHIE fans! I was honored to be part of Ulele’s media night on behalf of NHIE on Sunday night. I first learned about Ulele in June of 2013 when I met Keith Sedita, Ulele’s managing partner. From that day, I knew there was no question Keith was passionate about Ulele, owned by Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart. With the overwhelming positive media coverage Ulele has received over the past week, I am sure by now you know the background of the building and the amazing food which is offered. I want to highlight the amazing craft cocktails, wine and beer offered at this establishment.

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights

My jaw dropped the second I walked through the double doors I knew that Ulele was more than just a restaurant. Keith found me right away and gave me a quick tour of the restaurant which showcases art and furniture which was locally sourced. The tabletops were made from a 100-year old Florida barn, the bar was made in Ybor City.

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights  Wine Room Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights  Wine Room

I quickly found my way to that bar made in the city I live in and ordered a glass of wine from an extensive list. There are many wines available by the glass which makes me very happy. The wine cellar is located inside the glass enclosed staircase to the second floor.

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Cocktail Pisco Morado

After finding a few friends, we decided to check out the hand crafted cocktail list, experiencing what Ulele had to offer. I can proudly state I was the first person to order the Pisco Morado – a beautiful cocktail with Fontana Pisco, house-made Chicha Morado, fresh lime juice & simple syrup.

 

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Native Summer

The Native Summer, made with Nolet’s Gin, John DeKuyper Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and cucumber slices was my surprise of the night. I am not a fan of Gin, however, this drink was delicious and refreshing

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Princess Ulele Caiphirinh

The Princess Ulele Caiphirinha with Leblon Natural Cane Cachaca, Canton Ginger Liqueur, simple syrup, muddled fresh lime and pineapple would be a cocktail my fiance would flip over. If you like drinks that are on the sweeter side, you could easily put a few of these down without realizing it.

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Dirty Richard Martini

I have a weakness for Dirty Martini’s, so when I saw the Dirty Richard Martini, I sat there a little confused. Made with TIto’s Handmade Vodka, Noilly Prat Original Vermouth – they freeze the olive in an olive juice ice cube.

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Magbee Manhattan

The Magbee Manhattan was named after James T. Magbee, a circuit court judge who was a reported drunk in the 1800’s. The Spring that Ulele sits on was once named the Magbee Spring but was renamed to the Ulele Spring a few years back. The drink named after the judge was the strongest drink I tried this night, made with Ulele Barrel Selected Knob Creek Bourbon & Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth.

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Pyrat Old-Fashioned

The Pyrat Old-Fashioned was a delicious take on the classic cocktail. Made with Pyrat Rum XO Reserve, Sugar in the Raw & Angostura Bitters.

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Patron Oyster Shooters

If Oyster shooters are your thing, you’re in luck – Ulele has Patron Oyster Shooters – Fresh Oyster, Sangrita, Patron Anejo tequila. They also offer an alcohol free version.

Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Brewery Ulele Restaurant Tampa Heights Brewery

One of the most impressive features of Ulele is that they have it’s own brewhouse; 15-barrel stainless steel brewing system and will serve its own craft brews. Brewmaster Tim Shackton is passionate about his beer and his favorite is a fruit beer called ‘Wedding Beer’, because he has provided it for many friends weddings. Wedding beer is a cold fermented, fruit lager brewed with blueberries and a blend of red and black berries. Other beers include “Ulele Light” (light lager), “Magbee’s Honey Lager”, “Rusty’s Red” (amber lager), “Water Works Pale”.

I don’t know about you guys, but I am suddenly thirsty! Cheers – Megan

“Get The Point? Good, Let’s Dance”

Growing up I always considered myself to be a pretty good dancer. I took ballet, I can do It’s Raining Men and Cotton Eyed Joe with the best of them, I mean… I can do the worm for Christ’s sake.  But with choreographed dances seemingly only existing at weddings now-a-days, I had lost my panache for the old dance floor. Thankfully, in doing this blog, we’ve met so many people with seriously awesome talents and let’s just say I met a dance instructor who can WORK.

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A few weeks ago Nicholas and I had the chance to judge a friend’s brunch competition. Besides the AHMAZINGGG food and drinks we were so graciously served, we also met some exceptional individuals. One being Areis, an instructor at Soul Rooster Dance & Fitness. Located in Britton Plaza the studio is a little hard to find but once you get inside you’ll feel right at home. With a friendly staff, bright lights and pumpin’ music it’s like walking into your favorite club on a Saturday night. Lucky for me, tonight was the Janet Jackson World Tour Class. Every few weeks, Areis’ Soul Fusion class turns into a “World Tour” class designed to make you feel like a straight up backup dancer. While I was super upset to have missed the Madonna MDNA class, I was definitely not going to miss out on Miss Jackson (if you’re nasty).

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Going in I was a little nervous after seeing a Facebook notification pop up on my phone stating “2 hours left do not eat anything from this point on please” (so the Evo’s Steakburger and Fries I just ordered should be returned?) Lucky for me I was OK but it’s not to say I didn’t have my ass handed to me in that class. It took me a little bit to warm up and get into the rhythm of things but after a few minutes I was ready to shake it. One thing I loved about the class was that not only did we do choreography, but it also had cardio intertwined. We danced, we did squats, we danced, we did step ups, we danced… you get the picture.

 

The great thing about the class was that everyone was on different levels, so you never felt like you were out of place or holding anyone back. Areis was so upbeat and encouraging that it didn’t feel like working out at all, it was just fun. I swear I had a smile on my face the entire time- and let me tell you, I do NOT have a smile on my face the entire time when I work out at the gym. When things started to wind down I was not ready for it to end, so I went ahead and bought a package to come back for more! Next up: BRITNEY! My 14 year old self is freaking out.

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If you’re looking to mix up your workout, enjoy a fun class with some girlfriends or just try something different, make sure to check out Soul Rooster. Not only do they have their World Tour classes, but they also offer Pound classes, Salsa, Zumba and so much more. Planning a dance party for your closest friends or a birthday party for your young one?  Soul Rooster is the perfect place. They’ll have you feeling like a superstar in no time!

 

Wake Up Your Soul- Allison

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