Saturday, March 21, 2009

A Taste of Tampa

Ahh, Tampa. Home of the Bucs, the Rays, and drivers who can go from 0 to 60 and back to 0 in three meters or less. Who needs Disney or Six Flags when you get the thrill of a lifetime by merely driving through downtown?

Of course, that’s not the only fun thing about Tampa. There was the bellman at the hotel whose name tag had “Puerto Rico” etched beneath his name. Curious, I asked why that was there, and he replied in perfect American English, “That’s where I’m from.” Being me, I had to ask if everyone had that on their name tag, at which my dear hubby looked wide-eyed at me and said, “Honey, they’re not all from Puerto Rico!” Predictably, the bellman laughed at my husband’s oh! so funny joke, and I, also predictably, felt a little miffed at the deliberate misinterpretation of my question. On the other hand, since I’m such a snob about proper speech, maybe I deserved it.

Tampa has a lot going for it—if you can overlook the incredibly busy streets and highways—such as a beautiful Bay and myriad restaurants. My favorite restaurant was a quaint and casual Irish establishment named “Four Green Fields.” Gaelic posters celebrating Irish history and scenery cover the walls, and the menu boasts everything from authentic Irish soda bread to corned beef and cabbage as well as various brands of Irish beer that I’ve never heard of (besides Guinness). I was told by our hosts that a live band plays Irish ballads on Friday evenings. Being an aging colleen myself, I couldn’t help wishing I could have been there on Friday to hear all my old favorites, and I found myself humming “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen” all the way back to Tallahassee. The evening before, we had discovered “The Capital Grille”—a decidedly posh restaurant catering to those wishing to “make an evening of it”—which featured gracious waiters, an extensive wine list, and abundant gourmet food served in courses over which diners were encouraged to linger. Upon leaving to return to our hotel, my stomach complained, “I can’t believe you ate so much.”

At any rate, it’s great to be home at Shell Point (40 miles south of Tallahassee) where our Bay is also beautiful, the atmosphere is decidedly casual, and golf carts go from 0 to 15 in 100 meters or more. Kathleen Lamarche, author -- The Plot and The Gumshoe

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