Dinner with a Masterchef

Let me just start off by saying… I’m not one to cook. I can bake brownies and cookies like no one’s business but cooking just isn’t my thing. It’s not to say that I wouldn’t, but when you’re running from work to an event or a meeting or what have you, I just don’t really feel like getting my Giada on and whipping up some baked halibut with arugula salsa verde. Sure, at the gym I enjoy watching an episode of 30 minute meals to get myself through a really grueling treadmill workout (if you know me, you know I’m kidding about going to the gym- you’re welcome for the donation L.A Fitness). But to sum things up, me + cooking = no.

One thing I will say is that I love when someone else cooks for me. So I was extremely pleased to be invited to the Epicurean for their “Dinner with  a Masterchef” Whitney Miller. Friday night team NHIE was on triple duty as the boys were headed to the Food & Wine Conference in Orlando and I was off to the Epicurean for dinner, followed by Cass Contemporary for their new exhibit reveal (it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it) so I invited a friend to join me for dinner and let’s just say it didn’t take much convincing. We arrived at the Epicurean around 6:50 and headed into their theatre for 2 hours of amazingness. The room was jam packed and we made our way to our seats next to a nice couple. After we introduced ourselves they asked if we had watched her on Masterchef (umm, whoops). I’m usually one to do my research before attending an event but just didn’t have the chance to this time, so we felt a little silly after they asked as they seemed to be super fans of Whitney. I’m gonna be totally honest- after this dinner, I’m a super fan too.

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We started things off with Grilled fig with Buttermilk Ricotta Cheese paired with Schiopetto Pinot Grigio. With the tiered seating and large tv screens located on either side of the “kitchen” it was the perfect place to watch her cook. About 5 minutes in I was ready to eat. It didn’t take long for our first tasting to come out and for someone that had never tried figs before, I gotta say- they were delicious (It also probably helps that I had one of the best making them for me). I will also say that arugula is probably one of my least favorite things ever, but combined with the figs, ricotta, and raisin bread I couldn’t help but eat every bit. (I apologize for the lack of picture- I told you, I was hungry).

Next up (OMG I’m so excited to tell you, I am still thinking about it and it’s days later) was her BBQ Shrimp and Cheese Grits served with Black Bird Rose. Being that Whitney is from Mississippi I had no doubts that this was going to be amazing but it definitely surpassed my expectations. Growing up in NJ I never had grits until I went to UT and still don’t eat them that often but this meal changed my mind. Like most people we were dining with, I was surprised to see that the BBQ sauce was not thick like I had expected but rather just more of the flavor of the shrimp. Like a true Southern Belle, she served this meal with a slice of toasted French bread so we could make sure to scoop up all the extra sauce and grits on our plates.

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Finally, my favorite part of any meal- dessert! Tonight we would be treated to White Chocolate Bread Pudding. Prior to the meal I had looked at the menu, saw the White Chocolate Bread Pudding and made the dumb mistake of promising part of my desert to my friend because in the past I had never been a fan of bread pudding (I know, you’re probably thinking, Allison, not a fan of a dessert? It’s a rarity for sure). I am still kicking myself for passing off the other half of my dessert. Served with strawberries this was the perfect ending to a delicious meal, and paired with Rosa Regale I couldnt’ have asked for anything better.

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During the dinner Whitney (who is newly engaged!) told us she would be moving to Tampa in the spring to be with her fiance and asked us to give her the down low on all the amazing restaurants here in Tampa. It was so fun to hear everyone’s favorites and offer a few of our own. Hopefully with Whitney being local soon we’ll be treated to even more delicious meals over at the hotel. It was a great night with phenomenal food and good company and if you haven’t been to one of the events over at Epicurean, what’re you waiting for? Check out their calendar for upcoming events at the theatre and treat yourself, your closest friend, mom or loved one in general to an amazing meal.

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Cheers! – Allison

 

 

Outeraction Awesome-ness

Being that 2 out of the 3 of us are University of Tampa Alumni, we are always pumped to see someone from UT doing big things. So when Matt Rutkovitz decided to start Outeraction we were thrilled that he asked us to come out to his very first “experience”. Outeraction puts on “microexperiences” for millenials in an effort to get them to meet new people, create community involvement and more or less just have an awesome time with like minded individuals. Each experience is no more than 3 hours, no more than $30 and for ages 30 and under. Besides just focusing on individuals, Outeraction offers these experiences to businesses as well as a form of teambuilding. I’m currently trying to coerce my company into hopping on the Outeraction train after our experience, so let me tell you why…

On a rainy Wednesday night Ryan, Nicholas and I headed into Ybor and sprinted the two blocks from the parking garage to Tampa Bay Brewing Company.  And let me tell you, the only thing that was going to make me feel better about the water in my shoes was a cold brew, which thankfully was handed to me upon arrival (already off to a good start). We mingled with some millenials as the rest of the crowd filed in and  about 10 minutes later we were ready to get started. Each experience starts off with ice breakers which Rutkovitz likes to call “energy openers” in an effort to get everyone feeling comfortable and create connections among the individuals at the experience. We all circled up and were confused when he pulled out a roll of toilet paper. (a brewery seems like an odd place to bring your own TP but hey, to each his own) we were told to pass it around and take as many sheets as we normally use (talk about getting personal; this may not be something you want to do with someone on a first date, just sayin’) Once everyone had awkwardly grabbed their toilet paper we were told that for every sheet, you would have to share a fact about yourself. Besides being a little awkward at first, it was a really good way to get to know the people around us and we were able to build on those facts for future conversation later in the evening.

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Once the energy openers were done it was time to get to the brewery tour. Now I don’t know too much about beer besides that I like to drink it, so listening to the process and how the different beers are brewed was actually really interesting. We learned about everything from their Iron Rat Imperial Stout to their True Blonde and after the tour was done, it was on to our favorite part, the tasting. We headed back to our meeting area and were treated to some delicious snacks before getting our sampling on. We were lucky enough to try 8 different beers and in the end it was “One Night Stand Pale Ale” that came out on top for me. During the sampling it was great to converse with the other attendees and make connections for the future.

All in all it was a great first experience and since then, Outeraction has not slowed down one bit. You may have seen articles in the Tampa Bay Business Journal and 83 Degrees Media regarding the company and it’s CEO. Besides our brewery tour, experiences have included rock climbing and even a give back experience (because who doesn’t love having a great time while giving back?!) and there are way more to come. The next experience will be a Gin Cocktail Class this Wednesday (7/23) at Ciro’s Speakeasy where you will get to learn how to make drinks and of course, taste the creations. If you’re looking to get a little more physical with your experience, Laser Tag this Sunday (7/27) might be more your speed. Sponsored by the University of Tampa and featuring Brew Bus beers, it will be the perfect end to your Sunday Funday!

experiences

 

For even more upcoming events from Outeraction, be sure to check out their Facebook page!

-Allison

Total Knockout

With beach days and pool parties in full force this summer, I knew I needed to get my butt to the gym and start something new to get beach ready. Cue….Title Boxing Club, newly opened in South Tampa. We met the girls from Title back at the Taste of South Tampa and immediately began planning our trip to check them out once they opened. Now that they have been up and running for a little over a month, I called and scheduled my free training class and made my way over ready to hook, jab and cross my way through the class!

Title One Boxing South Tampa

I was a bit nervous about taking a full hour class as my first time in since I hadn’t been exercising in quite a while. Either way, I conjured up the courage to try it out and all I can say is…WOW! What a workout!! A “Power Hour” class as they call it,  consists of a 15 minute cardio warmup, followed by 30 minutes working the punching bag with different combinations broken down into 8- 3 minute rounds (just like a standard boxing match) and finishing up with a 15-minute cool down which is all core and ab work.

Schedule

After signing in, sharing some information and suiting up with wraps and gloves (FYI…if you want wraps for your free class, they are $10 for a variety of colors which I highly recommend to protect your knuckles), I grabbed a locker to stow away my stuff and chose my bag for class. The class was challenging, but what was great was the varying levels of experience each person in the class had. I never felt uncomfortable and never felt like everyone was watching me or I didn’t know what to do. The trainer was easy to follow, challenged each of us, but made the movements and combinations easy to understand and maneuver.  The hour flew by and the music that was playing to keep us moving was a great distraction to the fact that I was getting my butt kicked (in the best way possible).

Title One Boxing South Tampa

I finished class feeling empowered and really wanting to come back and try again. As I headed out, I asked about any promotions that were being offered and was in luck to hear that there is a “New Teacher Promo” going on RIGHT NOW! I was instantly sold and set up my membership. I have been going now for a few weeks and have LOVED every second of it! The teacher promo basically breaks down to getting 1/2 off enrollment (a $50 savings) and a free kit of gear (a $100 savings). Membership rates will be increasing August 1st, but by joining now, teachers will be locked into the low rate of  only $59/month! This gets members UNLIMITED access to not only the South Tampa location, but any Title Boxing Club nationwide. There are 133 active clubs currently, and that is increasing to 500 in the next 2 years.

Title Boxing Club South Tampa

 

Title also offers classes to accommodate any schedule, as early as 5:30AM and starting as late as 7:30PM on weekdays. They also offer classes both Saturdays and Sundays. The trainers and staff have been great and have made each class challenging. In fact, they actually have a challenge during each class in which you can be dubbed the “Power Hour Champ”. Earning this title  means you stood out among the crowd and pushed through the pain. I won champ last week and here is my pic with trainer, Keith and the champion belt. As they say, “THE CHAMP IS HERE!”

Title Boxing South Tampa

The first class is always FREE, so call to schedule your appointment TODAY! 813-289-5420. Remember to tell them Nicholas from NHIE Tampa Bay sent you. Also, they offer some really exciting and unique events throughout the month as well. There are networking events to meet like-minded people after a class like the Boxing and Beers event THIS FRIDAY NIGHT and the upcoming self-defense course as well (exclusively for the ladies) happening on September 27th so keep an eye out for more info soon..  Last but certainly not least, who doesn’t love a good giveaway?!! Title Boxing Club is so awesome that they have provided YOU the opportunity to begin your quest to success by giving us a free set of gear and a 2 weeks unlimited pass to test the boxing waters. Just apply now for the Title Boxing Club South Tampa Rafflecopter giveaway. The kit includes gloves, wraps, a gym bag and the membership. The contest will close on Tuesday, July 22nd and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 23rd. GOOD LUCK!!

Title Boxing Club South Tampa

Title Boxing Club South Tampa

Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!

-Nicholas

Just Let Go

And as the title says, that’s EXACTLY what we did! Recently, we were invited to come check out a new aspect of the TradeWinds Islands Resort on St. Pete Beach called the Guy Harvey Outpost. This awesome new addition has TONS to offer its guests. Not only is it prime real estate for beach goers, it also has a full restaurant (equipped with amazing fish tanks made on the TV Show, TANKED), two pools, beach bars, lounges, an entire kid-friendly area, and a great new food spot called RumFish Grill.

Opened June 1st of this year, these new additions to the TradeWinds not only expanded the resort, but have now set their target on some new clientele. Locals. As you walk up to the front of RumFish, you can see the outdoor dining space and bar equipped with tvs, comfy furniture, great music and misters/heaters when necessary. As you walk inside, you make your way through a 2,200 sq. ft. retail space, one which we commented was very open and spacious (unlike many of the typical beach stores that you have to play a calculated game of driver’s ed to make it through without leaving behind any broken knick knacks). After passing through the retail space, guests can take their choice of where to go next: the restaurant to sit and eat (a bit more upscale with great views of the largest fish tank on site), the hallway gallery of art leading to the largest aquarium on site, or the bar and grill section of the restaurant that boasts a jumbotron of televisions, great drink specials and some delicious sounding bites to eat. Before heading towards the bar and grill, be sure to stop and snag the photo-op of you reelin’ in a big one!

Guy Harvey Outpost St. Pete Beach

Check out this virtual tour to really get an idea of what I experienced:

If guests choose to head down the hallway of art, they will notice pieces on display by local artists. A great thing about this resort is that they are very interested in involving the locals and want them to enjoy the amenities they offer. Additionally, they are hoping to “give back” to the community by promoting local artists within their property. After passing through the art gallery, visitors reach a dead end where an aquarium wraps up and over your head with an array sea life that are all indigenous to the Gulf of Mexico enjoying a leisurely swim.  This is also the same tank that overlooks the dining area where resort guests are now invited to take a lesson in snorkeling to “Swim with the Fishes”.

 

Guy Harvey Outpost St. Pete Beach
Check out this clip of the episode of TANKED from Animal Planet featuring the Guy Harvey Outpost and RumFish Grill!

Once visitors have checked out the art and the largest tank on the property, they can head into the bar area for a refreshing cocktail or to catch their favorite sporting event on TV. Now we all know that we here at NHIE love us some tequila, and yes they have tequila at the bar, but what makes this bar so different is that they have their own concoction of rum created on site called the Vanilla RumFish. We had a chance to taste test, and I was very intrigued. In addition to their own rum, patrons can choose to test out a series of rum flights which is a great way for someone who likes rum to enjoy a variety of different flavors in one sitting. When ordered, the flights of rum are presented on a “placemat” of sorts that describes each of the different tastings that are provided. Another aspect of the bar that I found to be awesome was the fact that they serve craft beer from one of our favorite, local breweries, 3 daughters (It’s not every day that you see craft beer at a beach bar in Tampa Bay, so this will hopefully also draw more of the local crowds to the bar as well.).  This area of the bar and grill had both an indoor and outdoor option for guests’ enjoyment. Although my first thoughts were,”UGH, outside in Tampa during the summer is awful because of the heat and humidity”, the seating area outside is equipped with misters to keep guests cool in the heat and heaters for the winter chill. Pair that with the local music that is offered from 8-12 every night, and you can’t go wrong.

Guy Harvey Outpost St. Pete Beach

Guy Harvey Outpost St. Pete Beach

I could probably go on and on about all of the great amenities the resort boasts inside, but I’d rather you see it for yourself, so let’s move on to the best part…. The BEACH! Once we made our way around the inside of the resort, we walked out the back, through the poolside restaurant and outdoor “Sandbox” where there is live music each afternoon and the “Serpentine Lounge” where guests can kick back and relax on lounge chairs and outdoor furniture. The weather was beautiful the day we toured, so we set up shop on some lounge chairs closest to the water and relaxed with a delicious cocktail from the bar. After enjoying the day of sun and sand, we packed up our things and went back up towards the resort to play on some of the attractions they offer the younger guests. I tested my luck (and balancing skills) on the mechanical surf board, but passed on the giant blowup slide and mechanical shark ride. The surf ride was tricky, but for a first-timer, I thought I held my own. You be the judge below!

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After the ride, we cooled down in the second pool on the resort reserved only for adults, which is tucked away in a private cove on the side of the hotel. It was the perfect end to the day and a great way to rinse off before our drive home.

Guy Harvey Outpost at Tradewinds Resort St. Pete Beach

For those of you who love the Rays and Lightning, the resort has watch parties for both of our favorite local teams that play on a huge screen pulled onto the beach. Drink specials and giveaways are offered to guests with discounted room rates for those who want to really “enjoy” the game and spend the evening. The next watch party is scheduled for July 20th, so pack a bag, throw on your swim suit and head on out to Guy Harvey Outpost at the TradeWinds Islands Resort and Just Let Go!

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RumFish Grill on Urbanspoon

- Nicholas

 

Marvel Universe LIVE! Giveaway

Marvel Universe LIVE! Giveaway

Hey All! As you know, we here at NHIE Tampa Bay are all about sharing different things going on in the Bay area, so we have a GREAT giveaway for all you parents out there (or big kids at heart)! We are giving away a PAIR of tickets to the Marvel Universe LIVE! Tour at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The tickets will be left at will call under the name you provide us and they are only valid for the show at 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 13th.

All you have to do is enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for the a chance to win the tickets to Marvel Universe LIVE!

There are many ways to enter, so the more options you choose, the better chances you have to win. You can enter everyday too. The contest will run through Tuesday night with a winner announced on Wednesday, July 9th. Good luck everyone!

 

- Nicholas

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