Friday, July 31, 2015

Antico Wood Fired Pizzeria, Lakeland, FL

Jacqui, our friendly waitress at Antico
While visiting the Lakeland Chamber, I picked up a copy of Dining- Explore Central Florida. I noticed a small advertisement for Antico- Wood Fired Pizzeria & Wine Bar.  We jumped on the opportunity to try Antico the first chance we could.

Pompeii Pizza with Canyon Road wine
Antico is located in south Lakeland, just off of Florida Avenue. 

 Antico is one of the only true wood fired pizzerias in Polk County.  

The restaurant has a beautiful bar area and is very clean.  As soon as we sat down, the waitress, Jacqui, quickly came up to greet us. 

She immediately won us over with her friendliness and the specials for the evening- $10 bottle of Canyon Road wine and $15 large specialty pizza.  

Half pepperoni and half house pie

We started with the half Pepperoni and half House Pie- Antico sauce, pepperoni, Italian sausage, olives, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms.  It was thin, crispy, loaded with cheese and tons of wood fired flavor!

Here I am enjoying the wine and the pizza. 
We loved the pizza so much, we decided to order another one.  This time we tried the Pompeii- house san marzano tomato sauce, garlic, crushed red pepper, grana padano, mozzarella, hot sausage, diced jalapenos, pepperoni and salami. It was SPICY and awesome! Click here to see their menu. They also offer organic and vegan options.

The owner bringing our pizza to us.
Next time you want a delicious pizza that isn't from a chain restaurant, make sure you try Antico! 

Ask for Jacqui; she will take very good care of you!  

Hours of operation: 
Tuesday-Friday, 4:30-10:00
Saturday-Sunday, 11:30-10:00

Call them at 863-644-8000

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Local shipping container business makes national news

NGB featured on Fox News- America's Newroom
When a local mom and pop business makes national Fox News, then they must be doing something right!  New Generation Builders, based in Lakeland, created national attention with the idea of converting a shipping container into a living space.
Let's start from the beginning.  What is a shipping container, you ask?

Containers at NGB/ATR

According to Wikipedia:

"A shipping container is a container with strength suitable to withstand shipment, storage, and handling. Shipping containers range from large reusable steel boxes used for inter-modal shipments to the ubiquitous corrugated boxes." 

Where do they come from and why are they here? Shipping containers generally come from Asia or Europe. 
Photo from Captain Phillips movie. Retrieved from here.

In Florida, many come through the Tampa Port Authority.

Did you ever watch the movie, Captain Phillips, with Tom Hanks?

It isn't financially feasible to send the containers back. Trying to melt it down, to recycle it isn't the best option. 

Back in 1986, Steve Sawyer saw an opportunity for a new business in Central Florida. He opened American Trailer Rentals (ATR). ATR sells and rents containers. They also convert them into offices. 

Steve with his wife, Brenda, in a container home
Many businesses buy containers from Steve. He makes them into emergency shelters, gun ranges, and even employee break rooms. ATR has been very successful but Steve dreamed of turning ATR into more. 

When you see the American flag truck, you know it is ATR!

A few years ago, Steve opened an additional container company- New Generation Builders (NGB).  NGB focuses on converting containers into living spaces.  The idea of a living space is more than just a home. 

A container can be transformed into the most
Here I am at the Container Bar in Austin, TX
amazing man cave you have ever seen! Or imagine transforming one into a tiki bar by your pool; you would be the most popular home on the block! 

Other container home options are: 
-mother-in-law suite
-hunting camp
-beach hut
-bar (I imagine some live in a bar)

Underground bunker container, retrieved from here.

Or with the Apocalypse approaching, a container would make the perfect underground bunker to protect you from zombies!

Why shipping containers?  Containers are made of steel. 

Container home by NGB
This means they are both fire and hurricane proof. Additionally, they are bug proof! You will never have to worry about a termite ever again.

Because they are re-purposed, they are a more affordable option than even a manufactured home.  For the eco-friendly consumers, you are doing the planet a favor by buying a container.

Consider a shipping container as an option for storage, a new office or even a living space.

Like ATR and NGB on Facebook.

Follow ATR and NGB on Twitter.

Call them at 800-759-4459

View the ATR and NGB websites.

Visit them at:

 3020 E. Main Street, Lakeland, FL 33801

Monday, July 13, 2015

Weekend Visit to Cedar Key, FL

The Island Post at Cedar Key, FL
When I think of Old Florida, I think a place where every restaurant is local and not a chain.  I think of a place where everyone in town knows each other.  There is still one truly Old Florida town, Cedar Key.  

If you are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle, Cedar Key is perfect. You probably won't get phone reception and most of Cedar Key does not have wireless internet. I took my mother for the weekend for her birthday.  

Beach Front is the blue building on the
top right corner of this picture.
We stayed at the Beach Front Motel.  It is located on the corner of the island, which provided us a view of the Gulf of Mexico from almost any angle.  

The room rates are affordable and the pool is very refreshing in the Florida heat.  Plus, being on the corner of the island, made the motel extremely quiet.

What is the first thing every woman wants to do when she gets out of town? Go shopping! At the Dilly Dally Gally, we found all kinds of fun souvenirs for ourselves and our family.

Tropical scarf from Dilly Dally Gally

Clam Rockefeller from The Island Room
After a little research, I wanted to take her to The Island Room for dinner. Cedar Key is known for its clams. We started with the Rockefeller Baked Clams. Clams topped with spinach, herbs, Pernod and Parmesan cheese.  

To continue our clam experience, we tried the Clam Chowder.  Both dishes were delightful and highly recommended. Click here to view The Island Room menu.

Clam Chowder from The Island Room

After a peaceful night of rest, we woke up refreshed and ready for breakfast.  There is not a McDonald's within a twenty mile radius. Instead I found a homemade donut spot called Holey Moley. The coffee was fresh and the donuts were to die for! 

Reese's Peanut Butter donut from Holey Moley
One of the coolest activities you can do in Cedar Key, is an aerial tour of the island in a Cessna. For only $25 a person, Marvin Franks will take you up in his airplane for about thirty minutes.  

As you are viewing the island from the sky, he will tell you all of the fun facts about Cedar Key. Make sure you get to the airport early. It is first come, first serve with no reservations. Click here to check out Marvin's website.

Aerial view from the Cessna

Blue Crab Quiche with Kona Joe's
hot sauce
To end our trip, we had lunch at Kona Joe's Island Cafe. I had to go with one of the local favorites, Blue Crab Quiche. It was creamy and full of flavor.  

I couldn't resist trying their own hot sauce. It was so good, I had to buy a bottle!

Since it was a girl's trip, we didn't go fishing.  On our way out of town, we stopped by Robinson Seafood to pick up Fresh from Florida approved seafood. 

Robinson Seafood market
If you don't want to cook it, they also have a restaurant you can try as well!

Without a doubt, Cedar Key is a perfect getaway for a family vacation, an anniversary getaway, or even a fishing trip! 

To view more photos from our trip click here.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Nom Nom Nom at the Blu Mangrove, Palmetto, Florida

The City of Palmetto is often overlooked because of its neighbors, Anna Maria Island and Bradenton.  

However, Palmetto has a lot to offer! 

A great location in Palmetto is the Blu Mangrove Grill. The grill is located on the Manatee River, in front of the Riviera Dunes Marina.

View of the Riviera Dunes Marina from the restaurant

We sat on the back porch and were able to listen to live music, while overlooking the marina. We are always suckers for calamari.

Blu Mangrove's calamari was very delicious with its mix of fresh red onion, grape tomatoes, and arugula. 

For dinner, Brian order the Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Cakes. They came with smoked Gouda cheese grits, truffle corn coulis, red pepper sabayon, and orange-jicama salad. 

(If you aren't familiar, sabayon is similar to a custard made of lemons, egg yolks and sherry. Jimcama is a Mexican turnip.)

blue crab cake
Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Cakes
I ordered the Grilled Corvina in a lemon-caper butter sauce, with the goat cheese and bacon spinach, and the smoked Gouda mac & cheese.

We were both very happy with our meals. The fish was cooked correctly. The drinks were very cold. This is definitely a spot we will return to! 

Happy Hour: Monday-Friday, 11-6 PM, $2 off House Wine and every Martini 

Grilled Corvina

Like the Blu Mangrove on Facebook.

View the menu.

Call them: 941-479-7827

Join the Blue Mangrove Club!

Open everyday at 11 AM

Blu Mangrove Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 27, 2015

Emiliano's Cafe, Best Brunch spot in Central Florida!

The Brunch Bunch at Emiliano's Cafe!
I know some people feel that bottomless mimosas make a great brunch. For me, incredible food makes for a better brunch!

With a Cuban flair, Emiliano's Cafe in Gainesville, is definitely one of my new favorite brunch spots.

We sat on the front porch with a great view of downtown. The weather was perfect for my close friend's birthday brunch.

Portobello-brie crepes

Katherine ordered from the "unch" in the brunch menu: Portobello-brie crepes filled with roasted portobello and warm brie, topped with a mango-jalapeno glaze.

Crab Cake Benedict
Matt ordered one of my all-time favorites! You can never go wrong with crab cake benedict: pan-fried, panko breaded, lemon-herb crab cakes served on grilled corn arepas, topped with poached eggs and a rich hollandaise sauce.

Guava-Strawberry Crepes
Rachel ordered from the "Easy Like Sunday Morning" menu.  I was so jealous that I didn't order the guava-strawberry crepes: warm crepes stuffed with a guava-strawberry cream cheese filling, topped with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar.

Gaucho steak and eggs
I am definitely the carnivore of the group.  My favorite brunch menu item is always steak and eggs. Emiliano's had the best brunch steak I've ever had.  Their gaucho steak and eggs came with a half pound of churrasco, fire-grilled steak, topped with chimichurri, served with two eggs sunny side up, skillet potatoes and cuban toast.

Emiliano's Cafe is Delicious! Photo obtained via Facebook.

To view the entire Emiliano's Cafe brunch menu click here.

Sunday isn't the only great day to visit Emiliano's Cafe. They have great events such as martini madness, farm to tapa, and musica and mojitos. Make sure you view all the exciting events they have by clicking here!

Emilianos Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 16, 2015

Great View, Great People, The Wharf, St. Pete Beach, FL

"Party like a pirate where the locals hang out!"

The Whaf- Photo obtained from RoadTrippers

Are you looking for a fun place to go by boat,
Conch Fritters
car or trolley? You have to check out The Wharf.

The Wharf has an awesome view of the water, and the people are awesome.

Hot Wings
We went by boat after a beautiful day of fishing. With no food on the boat, we were starving!

We started with jalapeno conch fritters. They were huge, hot, juicy and loaded with flavor.

I wanted to try the Oyster Rockefeller. This is always one of my favorites.

Oyster Rockefeller

The wings and cheeseburger were both tasty and served fresh and hot.

Cheeseburger in Paradise

The Wharf is definitely a place you will want to visit.

Wharf on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fresh Florida Seafood at the Blue Marlin, Bradenton Beach, FL

Sea Scallops over Pulled Pork
If you are looking for delicious, Gulf of Mexico seafood, Blue Marlin is where you will want to eat.  Located in downtown Bradenton Beach, Blue Marlin is a small 1920s cottage converted into a rustic restaurant.

Inside the Blue Marlin
Blue Marlin offers weekly specials with fresh seafood from local fishermen. As appetizers, we tried the BBQ scallops. 

The scallops were seared perfectly, laying on top of mouthwatering pulled pork, alongside homemade coleslaw.  

Crabcakes with a Fried Green Tomato
For a second appetizer, we tried the crabcakes that were on top of a fried green tomato.  We both agreed they were finger-licking good!

Florida Clams with Snapper
For my entree, I order the snapper with fresh, steamed Florida clams. It was refreshing to eat seafood that was so fresh!

Brian ordered the Thai Snapper dusted and sauteed with a Thai chili citrus glaze with an oriental veggie "noodle" salad.

Overall, I would highly recommend a visit to Blue Marlin.  Make sure you call ahead to make a reservation at 941-896-9737.

Brian's entree: Thai Snapper

Hours of Operations:

Monday-Saturday: 5pm-10pm
Sunday: 5pm-9pm

Blue Marlin on Urbanspoon