Dinner for One

Every now and then The Chef will have to work nights. I don’t totally mind this. Yes, I miss him and enjoy spending time with him, but I’m a natural introvert and also enjoy some alone time every now and then. It also means I get complete control of the TV remote πŸ™‚ It also means that I’m on my own for dinner.

A few weeks ago when The Chef had to work nights pretty much every day I met up with a friend for dinner. I was busy with my own stuff, didn’t want to cook and wanted to be social. However, that week burned a mighty big hole in my wallet. The cost of eating out sure does sneak up on you!

So last night when The Chef had to work I made sure to pick up dinner for myself on the way home. I went to trusty Rollin’ Oats and picked up this…

Salmon cakes, spicy kale and black bean quinoa.

I love how healthy I eat when it’s just me. Not that The Chef and I don’t eat healthy together. But I just always seem to be uber healthy when I’m by myself.

Topped off my meal with the Fall Woodchuck.

I enjoyed this SO much more than the pumpkin version. I was excited about the pumpkin flavor, but it didn’t come through as much as I had hoped. This Fall flavor tasted…well..like Fall! All those Fall spices we love…cinnamon, clove…they all shined through this cider without being too sweet. Delish. Definitely getting a six pack next time.

Conversation Starter: If you’re in a relationship do you find that you eat healthier when dining together or separately? What about with friends?

The Day of Fails

This week is just flying by! Can’t believe it’s already Wednesday.

Yesterday I continued my goodies from Rollin’ Oats with making a simple sandwich with their special tuna salad with apple. Quite good! I’m always happy when places don’t over-mayo their “salads”. I enjoyed a 3 bean salad on the side as well.

After work I finally got my butt over to Revolve Clothing Exchange with a bag of clothes I’ve been meaning to sell. Unfortunately they only took 4 items and gave me $10 and some change. Boo. I donated the rest of the clothes. While they were sorting through my items I looked around the store and within 5 minutes had an armload of dresses and rompers I wanted to try on. Also unfortunately…none of them worked 😦 They either didn’t fit right or look right. One dress I had high hopes for but the zipper was broken. Fail.

While I was out I got a call from the guy saying he’d gotten out of work early…translation: what’s for dinner? My original plan was to eat more Rollin’ Oats goodies and lounge in front of the TV. This quickly changed to a night out at Central Avenue Oyster Bar. We had a Groupon!

Unfortunately…our experience was not as good as mine and my friend’s last week. Although I should note that the guy and I are pretty convinced we have a “going out to dinner” curse set upon as most of the time something goes wrong.

Our server was very nice and accommodating. He stated the specials without a pause and only gently suggested an upgrade to a bottle of wine and house salads. We each had a glass of Crossings Sauvignon Blanc, which was very nice, and each had a house salad. I’ll note right here that it is also somewhat different dining with someone who works in a kitchen. The guy knows all the ins and outs, what’s fresh and what isn’t, what could easily be fixed for little money, what preparations went wrong, etc. On the salad I loved how they added green beans (though they were not fresh). But it still makes a plain boring house salad a little more special. The bread we were served was not the same as last…the bread we got were dinner rolls and while they were good they didn’t exactly go well with the equally yummy olive oil and parmesan cheese mixture they serve.

Then the entrees…I ordered the Grouper Picatta, which they stated is red grouper that comes in fresh. Served with a scoop of mashed potatoes and asparagus with hollandaise sauce. The grouper was excellent and the sauce was light and lemony. The aspargus was a little overcooked (I like a bit more crunch) and the hollandaise on top was broken and looked like butter. The mashed potatoes had nice bits of potato in them, but were just okay. Of course I don’t think I’ve ever had mashed potatoes at a restaurant that are as good as making them at home.

The guy ordered the Lobster Pasta, which was probably a mistake from the start as he knows he loves their oysters. But he wasn’t in the mood for them and wanted pasta instead. The pasta is served with a sherry cream sauce and while the flavor was there his dish came overflowing with sauce (which was thin). It looked like noodle soup instead of a nice pasta dish. As a result the guy only could handle a few bites.

Once the owner got word he did come over and agreed with how the pasta looked and offered his apologies. They quickly took the pasta dish off the bill and our 2 glasses of wine, which was great customer service, but a bit too much since we also had a Groupon. Needless to say we left the server a nice tip and left feeling a bit guilty. But a bad dish is a bad dish, am I right? Double fail.

We wanted to end the night with a nightcap at our favorite bar, Mandarin Hide, which is only a few steps from Oyster Bar. Only to find they’re closed Tuesdays. Triple fail.

We then decided to try Ruby’s Elixir, which I’ve been anxious to try. The decor in there is not really nice at all…and they had the doors wide open so the sticky FL heat followed us in. We sat down and started to look at the drink menu, but then quickly changed our minds and left. Quadrupal fail.

We finally ended up at Central Cigars, where I was thankful there weren’t too many people actually smoking πŸ™‚ The guy was happy with his gin martini and I with my glass of Malbec.

Hopefully today fares a bit better. I have a busy after work schedule this week that doesn’t leave much time for workouts. I tried for the first time in months to get up early to get in a quick strength training workout…but I definitely hit snooze and slept until I had to get up to get ready for work.

On the agenda tonightΒ  is dinner at BJ’s and seeing The Help with some Junior League ladies. Excited!

Conversation Starter: Have you ever just had one of those days where it seems nothing goes right?

Shake It

Zumba was fabulous πŸ™‚ It’s been awhile…I almost forgot how to shake my butt!

What I love most about zumba is how an hour can just fly by…espicially when you’re amongst friends…it just feels like one big dance party.

Unfortunately there was barely any air movement in the super cute dance studio where the class was held. So needless to say it was a super sweat sesh.

Our weekend was spent in Cape Coral. We’ve been having many wonderful weekends there the past few times we’ve been down. So much so I will save our fun for a separate post πŸ™‚

This…

…was not how I wanted to start my morning, day or week. I hate having blood drawn, but in a nutshell if we want cheaper health insurance at work we must participate in a health screening each year. The results are pretty interesting to look over, but gosh I hate this part 😦

I rushed back to my office afterwards to chow down on some overnight oats I brought from home.

Around lunch time I was still feeling a bit out of it and decided I needed something really substantial and possibly unhealthy.

I ended up with 3 Publix chicken tenders, a garden salad and a “new to me” Brianna’s poppy seed dressing. All went very well together.

Dear Publix, please include spinach salads in your salad selection because this is not salad…at least not to me.

Snack was my new favorite Luna bar…it was so good I gobbled it up before I could snap a photo of the actual bar πŸ™‚

Got in a quick Open Gym sesh at Fit for Fashion that included running in the sweltering heat, burpees and kettleball swings. Then a stop at Rollin’ Oats to get some quick dinner and lunch items for the week.

Met up with a dear friend at her apartment so we could dine al fresco for dinner and share a bottle of wine. Leftovers for her, and I piled my plate with yumminess from Rollin’ Oats.

A spinach feta turkey burger with a side of quinoa salad with sweet peas and sesame green beans. Everything was really good…I espicially enjoyed the green beans. Turkey burger was flavorful and moist, which I was kind of surprised for take away food.

I love it when the sky looks like this…

Conversation Starter: Did your week start off on a high note or a low note?

What I’m Loving Right Now

Things that I love right now:

YogaBlu

I’ve made an oath to myself to include yoga into my fitness schedule once a week. I have a friend who’s quite the yogi so I usually go where she goes, which led me to YogaBlu. Beautiful space, great staff and probably the best class I’ve taken in the Tampa Bay area. I go to Destry’s YogaFlow class, but unfortunately she’s moving in a few weeks 😦 Time to test out another teacher!

My fitness routine consists of a lot of cardio and some weight lifting, which leaves my muscles sore and tight. Yoga is pretty much the only thing that really helps me stretch out…plus I just love that “yoga high” you get after a class.

Fit for Fashion

I’ve been exercising regularly since I was 18. But I never really knew what the hell I was doing. I knew how to run and that’s about it. It wasn’t until I was out of college that I started getting into yoga and zumba classes, and thus realizing I really loved a group class setting. After my friend taught a zumba class at F4F I went on their website and saw all of the other types of classes that were taught. Most of the classes were boot camps and I decided to give one a whirl. It. Kicked. My. Butt. And I loved every minute of it. The setting was also very comfortable. It’s mainly an all women fitness studio…there are a few co-ed classes offered and the occasional guy will show up (usually dragged by his girlfriend). Most of the classes are taught by owner, Rebekah Reidy, but she just recently hired a new trainer to take some of the load off. The best thing about the classes is that they are always different, which means you never get bored. And it’s not all boot camps…there’s an awesome circuit style weight lifting class called Pink Iron (one of my favs), yoga, pilates and running clinics. Whether you’re just starting to get into working or you’re training for a marathon, this is a great place to go. The price is also the cheapest in St. Pete at $10 a class, but if you’re over your budget one week you can hit up an Open Gym, which is free.

Rollin’ Oats

I’m really on a health food kick right now so after a sweat session at F4F on Monday I headed to Rollin’ Oats for the weekly grocery shopping. I hadn’t been in there in ages so it took me a bit to find everything I needed. Plus their aisles are so narrow that two carts can barely fit down one. But I was all googly eyed at all of the different products and definitely got a bit grab happy, which showed when all of the goodies were rung up. I want to keep shopping at local health stores, but going to try another one in the area to see how prices compare.

MyFitnessPal iPhone App

I’ve always hated counting calories. And a lot of times for a lot of reasons I think it’s silly. At the same time I practically do it every day. I’ve tried a food journal and online website, but I’ve always fallen off the wagon. But ever since I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app on my phone I’ve been going pretty strong. They make it so super easy to find different foods, and they have even added a barcode scanner feature. It’s important to note that I’m not a crazy calorie counter who is doing it to loose weight. I in no way am looking to loose weight (my fitness focus is strictly in the tonage area). I mainly like to track my cals so I know that I am eating enough. Or it’s nice to know that I have extra wiggle room at the end of the day for dessert or an extra drink πŸ™‚ Anytime I go out to eat I pretty much stop counting for the day, because please…it’s pretty much worthless at that point. You can also keep track of how many calories you burned during a workout, and it automatically adds it to your allotted calories.

Cafe Vienna

The boy and I have driven past this place a few times and it’s always been on our list of “places to try”. So this week when they popped up on Groupon I snatched that puppy up right away. After a long few days and lack of motivation to cook we decided we wanted to go out to eat last night. I remembered the Groupon and the decision was made.

What we drank:

The boy drooled over the draft German beer selections and promptly ordered one πŸ™‚

He also chose one of their premium house wines for me, which was a really delish Riesling. Light and fruity and not too sweet. It was also served in the most adorable glass I’ve ever seen:

What we ate:

Escargot

Not the best I’ve had, but you can never go wrong with tons of garlic butter πŸ™‚

Spaetzle

Noodles were very tasty, but were under seasoned. We doused it with salt and pepper and it was much better.

Agramer (mine)

Pounded breaded pork loin stuffed with swiss cheese and prosciutto served with lyonnaise potatoes, cooked carrots and the most amazing red wine, mushroom sauce.

Wurst Plate (his)

Mine was good, but next time I want this (I’m truly a meat and potatoes gal at heart). Bratwurst, Debrizinger and Veal loaf sat happily on the plate alongside sauekraut and german potato salad.

Viennese Nut Cake

Lots of nuts and buttercream, but we both wished it had more cake.

Overall, everything was delicious. And the atmosphere was wonderful…the decor is adorable right down to the antique cuckoo clock. And authentic German music played through the speakers sealing the deal that I want to visit Germany/Austria one day. To top it off the staff was super sweet and it definitely felt like a great neighborhood place…while we were there the staff seemed to know everyone who was walking through the door, welcoming them with hugs and boisterous hellos. We could definitely get used to that.

Things that I definitely don’t love:

GratzziΒ Β 

I remember Gratzzi being one of my first dining experiences when I moved to St. Pete. Β I remember walking up the stairs of BayWalk and entering the restaurant and being impressed by the simple elegance of the decor. And I remember the food being really good. This was six years ago so I can’t really get any more specific than that. But as the years went on in their BayWalk space the food got worse and worse, and eventually I stopped going. So when they closed it was not a big surprise. But ever since they reopened in their new location I’ve been highly curious…everytime I walk by the dining room seems to be full and I’ve heard rave reviews both from critics and people walking out of the restaurant.

Finally, after a long yoga class my friend and I decided to give it a whirl. The decor resembles their old space, but with a bit more of a modern flair. I really liked how they had smaller booths for two rather than chairs. Our waiter was very nice and accommodating. The menu looked exciting and filled with classic Italian favorites. I ordered the Rigatonacci alla Vodka, one of my favorite Italian dishes that I rarely let myself order. My friend got the Chicken Piccata. Needless to say neither one of was impressed. I still can’t pinpoint what I didn’t exactly like about my dish…it was definitely too salty and lacked much other flavor. My friend picked at her chicken, which she said was too oily. We determined that we may come back, but only to sit at the bar for happy hour and maybe sample some apps. More frustrated than disappointed by Gratzzi since it’s so hard to find a good go-to Italian place in the Tampa Bay area.