Tag Archives: Charles Fischer

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: 

Food War Brunch Dish 02

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

 

Food War Brunch Dish 03

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

 

Food War Brunch Dish 04

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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The RITZ Ybor Photos: Phantogram + Shaun White

There’s something to applaud about Tampa when a concert rightfully sells out!  It restores my faith in this city having exceptional taste in music, and gives me hope that other fantastic artists and musicians will take note and head down this way to perform.  Last night’s SOLD OUT Phantogram wih Bad Things concert at The RITZ Ybor was simply put… FUCKIN’ AWESOME!  An even bigger bonus when the music artists are just as cool and genuine as you would hope them to be.

Phantogram 2014 Shaun White 2014

SOLD OUT! Phantogram with Bad Things at The RITZ Ybor
on Sunday, June 29, 2014
Photos by Nicole Abbett

Check out more photos online RIGHT HERE.

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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.

PP2014 Group 02PP2014 CrowdPP2014 ModelsPP2014 Okie GroupPP2014 Rick Crystal Kevin#PP2014TampaPP2014 Okie Aneta Jose 02PP2014 Areis GroupPP2014 GroupPP2014 Uncle KarlPP2014 Okie NicolePP2014 Wedding ModelsPP2014 Okie Kevin JessPP2014 Jaime Jaden 02PP2014 Mike Neil DancingPP2014 WindowPP2014 Museum Lights#PP2014Tampa#PP2014TampaPP2014 Okie ShanePP2014 Okie Jocelyn Jose#PP2014TampaPP2014 Okie KaliPP2014 Okie KristinPP2014 Corina
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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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The Event of 2013!

Okie Group 07

The beginning of summer.  The time of year when your AC thermostat lowers while your electric bill rises.  The start of beach season and sunbathing.  And that time of year when Pride & Passion, arguably one of thee top events in town takes place.

The 8th Annual Pride & Passion was held on Saturday, May 18, 2013 at the Tampa Museum of Art, which this wonderful event has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for each year.  In the four years that I have attended Pride & Passion, it has rapidly become one of Tampa’s signature fashion events known for its pomp, flash and extravagant entertainment and decor.  This year’s event was no exception and easily tops previous celebrations in grandeur and eminence.

This year’s Pride & Passion also happens to be the first that I sat as the Public Relations, Marketing & Host Chair.  So it was fulfilling to not only attend this kick-ass party but to also help plan this event with the rest of the fabulous Steering Committee members.  If you missed out on this year’s festivities or have (gasp) never attended a Pride & Passion, mark your calendars for May 2014 and make plans to be there!

Pride & Passion 2013Okie Boys Group 01Cake Areis Rayda 01Shane Aimee Mike 01Group 01Group 03Okie Boys Group 04Okie Jonathan Cheri Linley JocelynOkie Jess 02Okie Linley 02Okie Linley Billy 01Okie Jocelyn 01

Photography by Radko Keleman
Select Photography by Todd Montgomery & Ruslana.Studio
Noticeable Photography by Okie Tilo’s cellphone

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…and in dedication to my fan that became the it-prop of Pride & Passion 2013:

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Black, White & Pink Rockabilly Kids from the 1990s!

The problem:  You have been invited to three different parties that are all taking place on the same night.

The solution:  You accept your popularity and attend all three parties adhering to an unofficial party-hopper timeline.

The problem:  How do you dress when each party has a distinct theme?
More Info:  Party #1 is a fun 1990s-themed bday party, Party #2 is a very classy bday party with black, white & pink as the event theme colors, and Party #3 is the Rockabilly-themed closing party for the Gasparilla International Film Festival.

The solution:  You wear a bright pink t-shirt to Party #1, wear a black blazer on top of bright pink tee to Party #2 and then just make sure that you are way too drunk to care by the time you arrive to Party #3.

PROBLEMS SOLVED!!! Crisis averted.

GIFF 2013 Group B

Party #3:  Rockabilly Revival, the closing party for the Gasparilla International Film Festival

Jaime Bday 2013 AParty #2:  Jaime’s Black, White & Pink Birthday Soiree

Josh P Bday 2013Party #1:  Josh’s 1990s-themed Birthday Party




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“Finally” by CeCe Peniston, one of my favorite songs from the 1990s.

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The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut 2013

Jokie 2013

Jocelyn and I are no strangers to the historic entertainment district of Tampa, Florida known as Ybor City.  If Jocelyn and I were pugs, all of Ybor City would be our marked territory: We have eaten here.  We have drank there.  We have partied here and there to the front, to the back, to the right, to the left, to the left – everything you own in a box to the left, sideways, diagonally, zigzag and back.  So when the opportunity arose, and after heavy suggestion for both J and I to officially show our backyard to our friends that were strangers to Ybor City, we immediately devised a plan.  Born was The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut.

Here’s how it worked:

The Hosts:  JOKIE…  and for those readers lacking any common sense: just as Brad + Angelina = Brangelina and Ben + Jennifer = Bennifer before them, Jocelyn + Okie = JOKIE!

The Players:  John Fontana (Jocelyn’s leading man, Material Boy and Italian stallion), Kali (Jocelyn’s work baby and Hyde Park Village heir-apparent), Andy (Kali’s main squeeze and boo) and Lorena (no stranger to Ybor City, but a friend in need of an Ybor City refresher after her recent two-month stint in Los Angeles)

The Plan:  The Hosts must show the Players key Ybor City destinations, with stops at JOKIE’s signature hang-out locations.  May the odds be in their favor!

Jokie 2013 Gaybor

The Details:  We began the evening with ear candling (yes, ear candling!… don’t ask) at mi casa and then strutted on over to The Columbia for a pitcher of their famous Spanish sangria, James Joyce for a Framboise, Bernini for 1/2-priced dinner entrees and $2 mango martinis, Tampa Bay Brewing Company for the sampler beer tray, The Bricks for an art show and Pisco Sours, Liquid Tampa for a twirl, Bradley’s on Seventh for a whirl, Reservoir Bar for second-hand smoke inhalation and a beer, Hamburger Mary’s for the 10pm Drag Show, Hurricane pitchers and a photo with Mark & Carrie (above), The Castle for dungeon photo-ops and a vodka cranberry minus the cranberry, MC Film Fest for a lil’ shopping, The Honey Pot for shots of Patron and dancing and G.Bar for more dancing but this time with blurry vision and slurred speech.

It was indeed a long night, but the Players threw their hands up in exhausted and inebriated defeat and called it a night.  The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut failed to reach the final three destinations: an ice shot at CZAR, a hookah at Zoya and a slice of pizza at New York, New York Pizza / Shepherd’s pie at The Dog’s Bollocks.

The Players (minus a few still recovering from the night before) reconvened the next morning at Gaspar’s Grotto for the Booze Cruise Brunch and to officially conclude the inaugural JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut 2013.

Conclusion:  While the Players showed bravery, dedication and very admiral attempts at hanging with the Hosts, and as much fun was had by all…  another JOKIE Strut must and will be planned at a later date and time.

Special Thanks:  Jocelyn and I would like THANK all of our friends who we texted, messaged & called for any special favors, along with their wonderful staff for showing our Players true Ybor City hospitality at its very finest!

Who run this mutha?  For all-intended purposes of this blog post, please press play and replace the words “WORLD” with “YBOR” and “GIRLS” with “JOKIE”…  “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce

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Jameson Bartenders Ball 2013

Jameson Bartenders Ball 2013

Whenever I am out and about with any friend of mine who is a bartender, it is expected to be asked that inevitable question: “Hey, wanna do a shot?”  Inevitably the answer to that question is always of the “uh… f@ck yeah!” variety, but the expectation of ever being suggested to down a shot other than Jameson is always out of the question.  Why is it that all bartenders are Jameson shot takers and pushers? It’s not that I am not a fan of the Irish whiskey, but moreso that it never ceases to amaze me that bartenders + Jameson go together like Lindsay Lohan and court hearings.

Jameson Ball 2013

With that said, the annual Jameson Bartenders Ball took place at The Castle on Monday, February 11, 2013.  It was my second time attending ever the event which changes location every year, and I had a helluva time being as drunk as a Jamesonofabitch.  Bonus points for real drunken food such as brisket sliders and macaroni & cheese being available at the Jameson buffet.

Cheers to next year’s Ball!

Jameson Ball 2013 Group Jameson Ball 2013 Niely


Lost” by Frank Ocean… the feeling experienced after drinking too may Jameson shots!

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The RITZ Ybor Photos: Churchill, The Used & The xx

Churchill 2013 A Churchill 2013 B

Churchill LIVE at The RITZ Ybor on Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Used 2013 A The Used 2013 B The Used 2013 C The Used 2013 D

The Used LIVE at The RITZ Ybor on Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The XX 2013

The xx LIVE at The RITZ Ybor on Thursday, February 7, 2013
no meet & greet (insert sad face)

Check out Churchill‘s music video to their catchy and addictive title single from their Change EP.

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The Repeal Day Party 2012

Repeal Day PartyI currently work in the event industry, and have been involved with putting on events for nearly a decade.  I am also an avid event-goer who seeks out any excuse to buy a new outfit and down a cocktail with friends in a social setting.  Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend the annual Repeal Day Party at the Don Vicente de Ybor Historic Inn and was blown away.  The party is thrown by the Left Coast Bartenders’ Guild, an organization of bar professionals and enthusiasts whose primary goal is “to build a better cocktail culture for the Greater Tampa Bay Area.”  Eff the frickin’ weekend Rihanna, I cheers to that!

On paper, the Repeal Day Party is a celebration of the passage of the Twenty-First Constitutional Amendment that ended the Probition Era.  The event became a time machine that transported guests to the late 1920’s decade.  Every single hotel suite of the Don Vicente transformed into a theatrically-themed bar offering shaken and muddled cocktails from a particular region.  There was a London bar, a New Orleans bar, a New York bar, a very fun Miami bar, a Mexico-themed bar.  Specific detail was paid to each and every suite and bar from the decor, music and nosh to the way the staff in each area was dressed and costumed.  There were burlesque and cabaret performances, video screens showing film from the Prohibition Era and a wall-to-wall crowd of patrons dressed and outfitted from that time period.  It was evident to anyone in attendance that a lot of love and labour went into putting on such a grand event, and the Left Coast Bartenders’ Guild should feel very proud for bringing such a spectacular event to the area.

The Repeal Day Party definitely ranks as one of the Top 3 events in the Tampa Bay Area, and needs to be on everyone’s Must-Attend List in 2013.  My only suggestion to anyone attending next year: be prepared by requesting the next day off from work.

Repeal Day Group 1 Repeal Day Group 2 Repeal Day Group 3

Repeal Amber

Repeal LinleyRepeal Robby

Repeal Niely

Repeal Charles Linley

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