Tag Archives: Areis Evans

Cocktails X Couture 2015

Originally posted Thursday, January 15, 2015 by Tampa Bay Times:

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Moving away from Tampa Bay Fashion Week may boost the profile of Cocktails X Couture
Robbyn Mitchell, Times Staff Writer

Flamboyance and fierceness will be on tap Saturday night at The RITZ Ybor as the venue kicks off the year in fashion with the Cocktails X Couture event.

Eight local designers will showcase small collections on an 24-foot by 8-foot runway specially constructed for the evening in the Ritz’s theatre. There will be live performances by musicians, dancers and showcases of art.

“Our theme this year deals with gender identity but it’s not an overarching banner,” said Okesene Tilo, a spokesman (and event organizer) for The RITZ Ybor. “We will have themed cocktails for each room of the venue including male and female interpretations of the Moscow Mule.”

Sassy drink names like Gin Kardashian and Whiskey Brinkley are just the start of the interesting offerings for Saturday’s event. The RITZ Ybor in partnership with Tribeca Color Salon has been hosting the Cocktails and Couture party during Tampa Bay Fashion Week since 2012. Fashion week organizers decided to postpone 2014’s event in favor of spreading the fashion love to other months.

“The idea was to move the party away from Fashion Week to January so there would be fashion week events all year long,” Tilo said.

Tribeca will be styling the manes of all the show models. Sponsor Kevin Murphy will be providing hair product swag bags for all VIP ticket holders. The $50 VIP admission includes reserved seating nearest to the runway and two drink tickets.

The RITZ crew spent six months planning the event, which is expected to have more than 800 attendees. Kicking off at 8 p.m., there will be three runway shows featuring entertainment and designers. The final show at 10:30 p.m. will be an avant garde extravaganza, Tilo said.

“It’s going to be very Lady Gaga — some sexy moments but nothing too racy,” Tilo laughed. Some Little Monsters will even be wearing their Sunday best to the cocktail-attire event.

Cocktails X Couture is one of several events that The RITZ Ybor donates the proceeds to the Pediatric Cancer Foundation. Last year, the venue raised $105,000.00 for the charity through various events.

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London Bridges

If I ate my heart out in Italy, then I drank and danced the rest of the time in London.

Last fall marked my first time back in Europe as an adult.  I was already there with my good friend Neil, and my other good friend Areis was flying over from Tampa just to meet us.  (My measurement of knowing you’re getting older: when you constantly make plans with your friends who live in the same city as you to hang out anywhere else but that city.) The plan of attack for those couple of days in London was quite simple: dine, drink, dance, sleep, repeat.

London London Pub
I’ve long had an indescribable connection to and fascination with the U.K.: Their chart-topping recording artists have always filled my earphones.  Popular television shows like Footballers Wives and The X-Factor (and I’m not referring to that abominable U.S. flop that once had Nicole Scherzinger as a judge) were favorites of mine.  Most importantly, my attempt at only speaking in a British accent when inebriated never fails.  (Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow, I am not.)

So here I was in the most-expensive city in the world with two of my best friends, and I only managed to snap the above two photos the entire that I was over there.  (My measurement of knowing you had a great vacation: when you did absolute zero sight-seeing and took less than three photos your entire time overseas.)

Whoever said that New York City is the capital of the world deserves to be fined and imprisoned for uttering such a false statement.  That person deserves to share a prison cell with the same person who said the following false statements about London: (1) They do not like Americans over there, and (2) the food there is disgusting.  Solely judging from the numerous locals I met at the innumerable places that I Facebook checked-in to, visiting from America and having an American accent was a draw.  And every fish & chips, meat pie with mushy peas, and bangers & mash platter that I had was Hoover Wind Tunnel vacuumed up into my belly with delight.  In fact, the only time I ever raised an eyebrow of concern while in London was my aggressive attempt to locate a nightclub that didn’t intentionally play Disney’s Frozen soundtrack, B*Witched, or S Club 7.  I’ve long known that London loves pop music, but little did I know to what extreme I suppose.


“Rather Be” by Clean Bandit ft. Jess Glynne:
 This song was utterly inescapable in London that entire week: being played on every radio station, in every pub and bar, in the hotel lobby, on TV.  The lyrics to “Rather Be” also perfectly sum up the entire magic that was experienced while there.  London, England… there’s no place I’d rather be.

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Loco Moco… Tales of an Epic Brunch Party

Food War Brunch Brunch Group
The Brunch Edition of the Food War / Food Throwdown Party took place last Sunday.  For those unfamiliar with the dinner party concept that my good friends Katina and Justin started, it’s basically an episode of Chopped meets Top Chef played out among friends and fellow foodies.  [READ HERE for the specific event details & rules.]  From these parties, I somehow managed to  earn a Simon Cowell reputation for my harsh honest critiques, and am constantly asked to put my money where my mouth is by entering a challenge and preparing a dish.   I have only entered one previous challenge where my Peanut Butter Chicken Chili tied for the top spot.  Truth be told, I will only enter any contest if I know that I will come out victorious on top, hence why I never participated in the homemade pasta and Moroccan challenges.

My friends Jaime and Jaden put so much work into hosting these parties at my dream their house, and creating such fabulous dishes, that it would only be fitting that I participate in this edition.  So the challenge was on: contestants must prepare a Brunch Dish, savory or sweet and not limited to specific ingredients, to be critiqued by all guests, but ultimately selected as the winning dish by chosen judges.  The cocktail challenge: to create the ultimate Bloody Mary, not limited to specific ingredients.  Being that I can barely properly pour a beer, I stuck with preparing a Brunch dish for the challenge.

I have a reputation with my friends and co-workers for not knowing how to cook, solely because I may dine out often.  Truth be told, I am a fine, young cannibal chef in the kitchen, and when I throw down, I throw it the @#$! down.   For my brunch dish, I knew that I wanted to create a hearty dish.  I also knew that I wanted to prepare something from Hawaii or Samoa that didn’t involve spam.  (And yes I can make that joke!)  Although, I may have lost this Food War, I am very proud of my dish and had quite the challenge with all of the wonderfully prepared and delicious dishes.  I am looking forward to DESTROYING Jaime and Jaden participating at the next challenge.

Sunday afternoons don’t get much better than spending it with old friends, new friends, enjoying delicious cocktails and homemade food.

 

Here were the brunch dishes entered at this Food War / Throwdown: 

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Jessica & Amber’s Dish:  Peruvian fish ceviche  made with lime, onions, spicy peppers, fresh cilantro, and served with a sweet potato round and toasted corn kernels

 

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Lauren’s Dish:  Homemade almond, raisin monkey bread  served with creme anglaise

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Food War Brunch Dish 01

Areis’s Dish:  Southwest stuffed breakfast pepper – stuffed with eggs, spinach, potatoes, pepper jack cheese, and topped off with black beans, pickled onion, pickled jalapenos, avocodo scallions, and sour cream

 

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The Best Dish in the Universe My Dish:   Hawaiian Loco Moco: coconut beef patty and brown tapioca gravy served over steamed jasmine rice, topped with a fried egg and bacon crumble

 

And of course for the WINNING DISH:

 

Food War Brunch Dish 05

Jaime & Jaden’s Dish:  Sweet potato hash, tossed in a spicy curry and sundried tomato sauce, topped with an olive oil poached egg, bacon crumble, and fresh herbs, and served with a gin, honey, simple syrup, ginger liqueur, fresh lemon juice topped with an IPA.

 

Food War Brunch Winners Judges Food War Brunch Winners

 

A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Jaime and Jaden for not only winning the Brunch Challenge, but for also winning the Bloody Mary Challenge.  And yes… they won Trophies for their victory.  We foodies take these challenges very seriously!

A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Nicholas and Allison with NHIE Tampa Bay, who judged the Brunch Portion, and were amazing troopers for putting up with my bribery, harassment, extortion tactics  allowing me to call them un-American graciously being a part of this challenge.  Be sure to check out their amazing NHIE: Never Have I Ever – Tampa Edition BLOG online at:  www.nhietampabay.com

 

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Happy Everyday

My good friend Katina urged me to attempt the 100 Happy Days Challenge that she and numerous other participants have been posting about.  So, I visited and read the website.  I recognized and understood the concept.  Hats off to her and anyone else playing along with the challenge, because it really seems to be one of the more genuine and harmless social media gimmicks flying around out there.  I definitely am not knocking it, but for me, it’s (simply put) just not me.  Just as I loathe those silly website lists telling me what 20 places I need to visit before I die, or those ludicrous and annoying personality quizzes that “determine” which Real Housewife, 80s Pop Star, 90s Rock Star, Hollywood Movie Star, Boy Bay member I am based on my answers to 5 brainless questions… my happiness, my personality, and my future will never be validated, defined nor governed by any website.

HOWEVER… Katina was ON to something, and her enthusiasm with how the 100 Happy Days Challenge has inspired her wound up inspiring me.  I DO need to quit making the excuse that I am too busy to find time to spend with old friends.  I DO need to make more of an effort to stay in touch with others outside of the realm of social media.  I DO need to always remember that I have a pretty awesome life, and to be grateful for its privileges and the individuals living in it with me.

I didn’t quite make 100 days, but I did document the last 7 days that were pretty damn magical.

2014 Edison Okie Steven Dinner

Happiness:  having dinner with one of your best friends

2014 Filthy Richard Okie Jamal Areis Traye

Happiness:  a sudden night out on the town with your boys

2014 Ybor Wine Bar Okie Linley

Happiness: enjoying a long-overdue dinner, movie and wine night with a loved one

2014 GD Okie Neil Jason Areis2014 GD Okie Cody Areis Jason

Happiness: acting as if not one day has passed when reconnecting with your travel crew and best friends from Chicago and New York

2014 GD Okie Dani Steven 2014 GD Okie Nathan Dani Steven Carlos2014 GD Okie Will O

Happiness: randomly running into old friends when in another city

2014 Oxford Exchange Hyacinth Robby Jason Charles Areis

Happiness: when a best friend visits and wants to meet for brunch

2014 Rooster Till Katina 2

Happiness:  nearly ordering the entire menu when dining with a best friend

2014 Little Dragon Group

 Happiness:  experiencing a concert with loved ones
Happiness Bonus:  when the presence of a photo bomber makes you smile

Cheers to #100daysofhappiness A LIFETIME of happiness.

“The world is ours, and no one can take it away except the exhaustion of enjoying it so much.” -my friend Michael Maurer

“Inner Smile” by Texas:  After all these years, this song still makes me feel happy!

 

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Pride & Passion 2014: an avant garde wedding

Yet another Pride & Passion event gone by!

In its 8 years, the event has slowly transformed into a fashionable night out downtown to dress up and party.  This year’s theme was an avant garde wedding celebrating the union of art + community + diversity.  I decided to play with the theme, and turned the pimp factor level up a few notches when dressing as my interpretation of an avant garde groom.  And that’s one of the many things that I love about Pride & Passion: how one can be decked out in leather and fur with opera goggles in Florida during the summertime, and not one person bats an eyelash at the ridiculousness of it all.  Pride & Passion is a night to play dress up, and an evening to play with one’s Uncle Karl Lagerfeld André Leon Talley Okie Fierce alter ego.

However, the true importance of this event is the $75,000.00 net that was raised from just one evening for the Tampa Museum of Art, its exhibits and community programs.  As an avid supporter of the arts and of Tampa raising its profile, I applaud this year’s Chairs Kevin Reder and Rick Scherer, the Museum staff, and the Pride & Passion steering and host committee for a spectacular event.

P.S.  Next year, I plan to dress even more ridiculously!

Photos courtesy of Nicole Abbett, Owen Hunt Photography, Todd Montgomery and Nicholas Cardello.

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“I Can’t Keep Up” by Tourist featuring Will Heard:  There’s just something in the way that Will Heard sings SANGS this song that does something to my soul.  When the frenetic pace changes up at the 3:00 mark, the song becomes pure, unadulterated audio ecstasy.

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Festa Italiana Weekend 2014

Four days of food, wine, cocktails, bocce ball, and live entertainment.  Months upon months of planning, securing, scheduling, ordering and promoting.  Years upon years, 17 to be exact, of culture, heritage and tradition.

This year’s 17th Annual Festa Italiana (i.e. the Italian Food & Wine Festival) opened with the Wines of Italy tasting event and concluded with the main Festa Italiana event in Centennial Park.  Over 20,000 attendees flooded the historic Ybor City district in celebration of Italian culture, the Italian community and of course, wine and pasta!

18th Annual Festa Italiana Weekend
Save The Date:  April 9 to 12, 2015
www.festaitalianatampa.com

WOI 14 GroupWOI 14 DessertsFesta Italiana 14 BocceFesta Italian 14 VinoFesta Italiana 13 FoodFesta Italiana 14 Paul SalosClub Italia 14 GroupClub Italia 14 BarFesta Italiana 14 DitaFesta Italiana 14 IC

 

“Jerk Ribs” by Kelis: God Bless Kelis Rogers! Unhappy with ever becoming yet another one-hit wonder, or the girl who sang that “Milkshake” song, or even the ex-wife of Nas, she has consistently reinvented her sound and image to stay relevant with the current musical landscape.  She fully embraced dance music on 2010’s Flesh Tone album, and now reveals a new electro-soul sound with her recently released, concept FOOD album.

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GIFF it to me

Another year, another Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF).  This year’s Closing Party FINALLY took place at The RITZ Ybor historic theatre, where I’ve always said that it should take place since I attended my very first one four years ago and not because I work there.  It only makes sense that Tampa’s independent film festival kick off and conclude at this city’s oldest theatres that are still in operation: the historic Tampa Theatre built in 1926 and the historic Ritz Theatre built in 1917.  Hats off to GIFF for making that magic happen this year!


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“Artifice” by SOHN:
  My latest song obsession is “Artifice” by British singer-songwriter-producer Christopher Taylor who performs under the moniker SOHN.  One listen to SOHN’s gentle, delicate vocals singing the chorus lyrics “Somebody better let me know my name, Before I give myself away… Somebody better show me how I feel, Cause I know I’m not at the wheel…” gliding across a lush, layered electronic backdrop, and you’re instantly hooked.

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The ROAR of a Perfect Party

How to throw a PERFECT PARTY

Jaime Bday14

My friend Jaime knows how to throw a party!  Every year, she selects a different theme for her birthday and transforms my dream house her house into her very own magically themed wonderland for the evening.  From the catering to the decor to the handcrafted cocktails to the glassware and tableware, everything is handled with detailed attention and an atmosphere of hype among her invited guests is created.

This year, Jaime chose the roaring 20s as the backdrop for her celebration.  All of her guests were clothed in their most stunning flapper and Jay Gatsby ensembles.  Cocktail connoisseur and genius Ro Patel concocted a handcrafted cocktail menu of muddled and shaken masterpieces.  And a stunning dessert bar was on display parading cake pops and bite-size creations that resembled featured accent decor from Z Gallerie.  “Should I eat this?… but this is too pretty to eat,” constantly ran through my head.

Jaime Bday14 Dessert 02

Every party that Jaime and Jaden host should be the blueprint for any EVERY party thrower in their mid-30s to follow.  Food, cocktails, friends, and a helluva lot of personality and heart with a splash of creme de violette.  It also doesn’t hurt to have various theme props around your house for your silly friends to snap even sillier photos with at the end of the night.

Happiest Birthday again to my friend Jaime!

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“Sleeping With A Friend” by Neon Trees: Press play if you want this song to stay stuck in your head for the rest of the weekend! Let’s all sing along…


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The Rooftop Eve 2014 – Cabaret en Rouge

FINALLY… a New Years that was epic!

NYE14 Rooftop

Year after year of either last-minute or zero New Years Eve plans, I actually had a fabulous gameplan to welcome 2014.  Jocelyn secured a private cabana at the sold-out Rooftop Eve party in Hyde Park Village, and invited a few friends to help her “drank” bottles of Grey Goose and Moët.  It had been nearly a decade since I rang in a brand spankin’ new year at such a massive event that I completely forgot how much fun they truly were.  I had slowly become one of  those social naysayers who branded New Years parties as amateur night when in truth, getting older had gotten the worst of me.   Being hangover-free in my 20s had escalated to weeklong hangovers in my 30s.  Afternoon naps were necessities and not perks.  Given my recent track record, I had pretty much reverted into being an amateur myself.   So who really cares?  Amateur night or not… get me out of the house and let it rain vodka!

Any event that transports me out of Tampa with its energy, decor and pizzazz is a must-attend event, and I gladly add The Rooftop Eve party to that list of local events.  Any individual seeking a posh, swanky and fun New Years Eve partay, add The Rooftop Eve party to YOUR calendar list.  It’s definitely worth every penny of the admission price.

THANK YOU Queen Jocelyn for the tickets.  Happy New Year everyone, may 2014 be in your favor.

NYE14 Group 2NYE14 GroupNYE14 BoysNYE14 Okie JocelynNYE14 Okie Mike AndyNYE14 JocelynNYE14 Okie MikeNYE15 Okie Mike Areis AndyNYE14 Okie Areis




“Ready” by Elizabeth Rose…
Neil has christened this hyptonizing dance single from Australian DJ Elizabeth Rose as the winter anthem of 2013-2014.

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Bow Ties & Clutches 2013

BTC13 Okie Corina Jess Areis

Earlier this month, I attended the 2nd Annual Bow Ties & Clutches event at the Florida Museum of Photographic Art (FMOPA).  It was my first time attending the Best of the Bay Award-winning event (which required all guests to either sport a bow tie or clutch) and stepping foot inside the FMOPA downtown.  Bow Ties & Clutches, presented by a local fashion events and marketing company The Fashion Movement was an enjoyable evening of fashion, cocktails and mingling.  Proceeds from the event benefited the Friends of Joshua House Foundation, Inc., an organization that provides a safe haven for abused, abandoned and neglected children.

BTC13 Okie

For the fashion event, I channeled my inner Lexx Miyake-Mugler and went for a K.Pop boy band meets Rhythm Nation look.  And YES I sported a bow tie… conveniently pinned to my coat.

Bravo to The Fashion Movement for hosting a wonderful event that benefited such a valuable cause.

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“Drunk in Love” by Beyonce with Jay-Z: Despite her obvious Rihanna impersonation in the music video, I just cannot get enough of Mrs. Carter’s new single. In fact, I cannot get enough of BEYONCE, her surprise album and music video collection that was quietly released to iTunes last Friday without any announcement or promotion. Love her or hate her, you have to bow down to Bey’s marketing genius behind this album’s surprise release. She relied on word of mouth buzz to spread the word of her new album’s availability, gave fans no option but to purchase the ENTIRE album, ensured that her entire album was listened to by releasing an accompanying music video to every single track, and sold nearly a million copies in a mere three days.

In today’s social media era of creating gargantuan hype around a project with trending hashtags, teaser photos and videos, release date countdowns, and “surprise” album leaks, Beyonce’s risky gamble of no promotion paid off BIG TIME. BEYONCE: The Visual Album sold more in its first three days than the COMBINED first-week sales of superstar Miss Spears’ Britney Jean, Katy Perry’s heavily-hyped Prism and Lady Gaga’s overhyped ARTpop , proving that you don’t need a golden semi-truck, a helicopter dress, or numerous “personal” Twitter Q&As to sell quality music.

To you Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, I gladly bow down.

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