Tag Archives: Clay Barnhart

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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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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Halloween Temptation 2013

Since I was a child and even as a candy-addict adult, I just never got into the whole concept of dressing up in costume, trick or treating, getting spooked out and celebrating Halloween.  In fact, I can count on one hand the number of times that I’ve ever dressed up, with six years ago being the last time that I donned a costume.

With Tampa’s largest Halloween party called Temptation taking place at my work on Halloween night, along with one of my best friends hosting a Halloween party at her abode the weekend after, I decided to get into the All Hallows’ Eve groove and break tradition by dressing up.  I constructed my first Halloween costume (Fifty Shades of Grey) from Home Depot paint sample color cards for the Temptation party, and lazily threw together whatever I could scrounge from my closet (Dirty Hipster Sex meets Ooooooohhh… on the TLC Tip!) for Jess’s party.

Two Halloween costumes in one year?  Sometimes, I spook myself out.

Temptation 2013 OkieTemptation 2013 01Temptation 2013 02 Temptation 2013 Group A
Temptation 2013 Group B
Temptation 2013 Girls
Temptation 2013 Jess Jenn

Temptation Halloween Party: The Haunted Theatre
@ The RITZ Ybor on October 31, 2013
www.temptationhalloween.com



Halloween 2013 JessHalloween 2013 Okie Areis AHalloween 2013 Okie Areis Steven ClayHalloween 2013 Okie Clay Areis Halloween 2013 Okie Jess Halloween 2013 Okie StevenHalloween 2013 Okie Areis

Jess’s Halloween Party
Saturday, November 2, 2013



“Do What U Want” by Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly: Hands down, Mother Monster’s most hypnotic and BEST single since “Pokerface”!


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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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Food Throwdown: May 2013

One of my most favorite periodic gatherings with friends, the Food Throwdown (the first one of this year) took place last weekend.  What exactly is a Food Throwdown?  My good friends Katina and Justin open the doors to their home and host these Food Throwdowns which are culinary competitions where a specific dish and cocktail are selected for the event.  Anyone from our social network of friends is free to prepare that particular dish and/or cocktail for everyone in attendance to taste, publicly offer their taste buds’ critique ala Bravo’s Top Chef and then anonymously vote for their favorite dish and cocktail.  (Fun Fact: Katina still holds a grudge from the very first Food Throwdown where I criticized her BBQ Short Rib’s pasta for tasting like Chef Boyardee despite voting for her winning dish.)  What’s fun is that anyone tasting the food is completely unaware of who concocted any of what’s being served.  What’s not fun?  The Food Throwdown winner only wins bragging rights.  (C’mon people, can’t we all throw money towards a prize already?)

Previous Food Throwdowns have involved a pasta dish with all ingredients including the pasta and sauces made completely from scratch, and a very fun quesadilla and margarita challenge.  This past Food Throwdown had my friends competing by making their favorite tacos and sangria.  While Rayda’s AMAAAZZZING beer-battered chipotle tilapia tacos with homemade peach salsa and tartar sauce did not come out on top with the other guests, Stephanie’s St. Germain white sangria did win proving that there was some palatable justice after all!

And since I’ve been told that I can typically be a bit harsh on my table comments (Chef Boyardee anyone?), I am making a vow to obliterate the competition enter my very first Food Throwdown as a contestant the next time around to prove that I can take the feedback as  much as I serve it.  (You hear that Katina?!  I’m coming for ya!)

Congratulations to Jesse & Stephanie who won this season’s Food Throwdown and a very special THANK YOU as always to the lovely hosts Justin and Katina!  Bon Appetit!

Food Throwdown May 2013

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Aquarius Triumvirate

Jess 2013 Bday Okie 2

My dear friend Jess a.k.a. the reigning Queen of running late celebrated her 27th Birthday at Martini Republic in downtown Tampa and at CineBistro in Hyde Park Village over the weekend.

…in all actuality, the entire weekend was spent celebrating Aquarius birthdays.  Three birthdays in one night to be exact.

It was a Saturday night.  My favorite gal-pal Jocelyn and I had plans to start off at her college buddy Mark’s birthday at Mangroves, followed by her sorority sister Michelle’s birthday party at what could only be described as mine and every other red-blooded human being’s dream mansion on Davis Island, and ending with Jess’s birthday celebration at Martini Republic.  Jocelyn and I were no strangers to the party-hopping routine, and have in fact become experts on the subject. (For proof, READ: Legally Fabulous post from January 2011.)

Mark 2013 Bday Jocelyn

BIRTHDAY PARTY #1:  I’ve attended quite a few events with Jocelyn where the statement “all of my friends from UT from back in the day will be there” accompanied her invitation.  Those events are always a good time and Jocelyn’s “old school” crew is always welcoming and friendly.  Mark’s 40th birthday party at Mangroves was no exception.  You can’t help but enjoy hearing any group of longtime friends reminisce with past stories that cement their deep-rooted bond and enrich their history with one another.  (Fun Fact:  According to all of the stories I’ve heard at these blast to the past parties, Jocelyn was just as legally fabulous as a college freshman as she is today!)

Michelle 2013 Bday Jocelyn

BIRTHDAY PARTY #2:  On the way from one 40th birthday party to the next, Jocelyn commented on how “40 is the new 30.”  I used to dismiss those type of statements as something we all say to ourselves and one another as a way to help cure our fears of aging, but Jocelyn is 100% correct: getting older just means more money, better jobs, more mistakes made to learn from and an authentic understanding on who your true friends in life are.

Jocelyn’s sorority sister and college cohort Michelle celebrated her 40th birthday party that evening at her house mansion on Davis Island.  The party was a Hawaiian luau themed soiree equipped with a live band and performers, tiki torches, a balloon entrance arch the size of The Hulk, catering and dessert stations… the works.  As evidenced in the photo above, Jocelyn and I only felt it fitting to pose in corny photos as if we were honeymooners aboard a Carnival cruise ship that actually had running water and working toilets.  Aloha!

Jess 2013 Bday Martini Group

BIRTHDAY PARTY #3 and the final celebration of the night for Jess’s 27th birthday.  Her birthday party was a two-parter this year: Saturday night at Martini Republic and Sunday afternoon painfully watching the dreadful Identity Thief movie at CineBistro.

It’s hard to believe that I met Jess five years ago when she was just 22-years-old, new to the Tampa Bay area from Illinois and also newly separated from her husband.  We immediately hit it off when our mutual friend Harry introduced us that one summer night, and we’ve only been going strong ever since.  Seriously, I love that girl despite the truth that she runs 30-minutes late for every planned event, well except her 27th birthday this year.  But of course.

Happy Birthday Jess & all of the other Aquarii in the world!

Jess 2013 Bday Cinebistro Group

 

CLICK ON THUMBNAIL TO ENLARGE PHOTO:

“Losing You” by Solange

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You’re Not Alone

KVBS Bday 2013 Okie KristinKristin, my best friend that I’ve known the longest, celebrated her 33rd birthday at CHEAP in Tampa last Friday with her most favorite friends.  And in honor of her palindrome birthday, I present three FUN FACTS about me and Mrs. Schmidt:

#1:  POP DIVA CONCERTS & OUR FRIENDSHIP DO NOT MIX WELL…

Britney Spears’ Oops… I Did It Again Tour 2000:  A huge fight over post-its an hour before Brit Brit’s Oops… I Did It Again show nearly derailed our plans to see the Mouseketeer.

Janet Jackson’s All For You Tour 2001:  Our first time seeing Janet Jackson became my first time seeing Janet Jackson, because Kristin and I once again got in a huge fight over Sandy Frink.  (Side note: 10 years later, we finally saw Janet together at her Number Ones, Up Close and Personal show.)

Madonna’s Re-Invention Tour 2004:  We drove to Sebring, Florida to be the first in line to purchase tickets to what would’ve been her first Madonna concert, but I wound up taking someone else because Kristin and I got in a silly fight over who’s the Rhoda and who’s the Mary.  (Side note: Last year, we finally saw Madonna together at her MDNA show in Chicago.)

KVBS Bday 2013 Kristin Cake

#2:  KRISTIN AND I HAVE MATCHING TATTOOS…  and matching tramp stamps to boot!  Sue me.  I was 21-years-old.  I was in in Ybor City with her, and we both randomly made the decision after knocking back a few Jack Daniels’ drinks.  I always told myself that I would never ever get a tattoo unless it was original, designed by moi and had personal meaning.  So the Japanese symbol for “God” may not be original nor was it designed by me, but it does carry a lot of personal meaning because Kristin and I are both trashy and tramp stamped branded with it.

#3:  MINE AND KRISTIN’S THEME SONG IS…  no not that one Madonna song.  And no, it’s not a song by Britney Spears.

Every great friendship has that one song that when randomly heard or played manages to make you instantly think of the other person.  For some reason, Olive’s “You’re Not Alone” (below) is our song.  I do not exactly know how or remember when it was decided that “You’re Not Alone” would be blessed as the one-song soundtrack to our 22-year-old friendship.  Yet everytime I hear that 90’s electronic-trance-pop masterpiece, I immediately think of Kristin.  (And no we both weren’t sporting JNCO pants and sucking on lollipops when this song became our anthem in the 90’s.)




Happy Birthday Kristin!  Click on image below to enlarge photo:

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L’italiano Scrive

My close friend (as well published author and proud Italian) Billy Jolie celebrated his 33rd birthday the other week at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe’.  One of my favorite parts of attending Billy’s birthday gatherings each year, obviously besides celebrating with the bday boy, is the opportunity to come together amid our mutual friends’ crazy and hectic schedules.

With jobs, families, kids, marriages and relationships, any opportunity to come together counts.

Right now, Billy is busy in the midst of a blog tour for his debut novel, The Lust Garden and is currently working on his second book.

He took time from writing one Saturday last month to kidnap me so we could attend Teresa Giudice’s (from Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jeresey) promotional signing of Fabulicious!: Fast & Fit, her latest cookbook, at the Orlando Barnes & Noble.

I waited nearly an hour to meet another Italian author.  Next time, Teresa’s handlers should seriously consider Billy’s “Italians to the front of the line” suggestion.

Two Italians.  Two authors.


Happy Birthday Billy!



“Let It Go” by Alexandra Burke

 

Be sure to purchase The Lust Garden, the debut novel by Billy Jolie online HERE.

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Black & Gold

For one of my favorite gal pal’s special day, a small group of Jess’s close friends decided to celebrate her 26th birthday last Saturday with a very lowkey, intimate dinner at the new Boca Kitchen Bar & Market with drinks at Ciro’s Speakeasy & Supper Club, both locations in South Tampa.  Maybe it was the thrill of breaking out of the normal weekend routine and being somewhere new?  Perhaps it was reuniting with friends that I haven’t had the fortune of spending time with as often as I would like to lately?  Or maybe it was the energy of it all?  Whatever the case, last Saturday night was exactly what I was craving… great conversation, greater company & cocktails from Ciro’s comparable of being a religious experience.

“‘Cause if you’re not really here
Then the stars don’t even matter
Now I’m filled to the top with fear
That it’s all just a bunch of matter
‘Cause if you’re not really here
Then I don’t wanna be either
I wanna be next to you
Black and gold”
Sam Sparro’s Black and Gold 

Happy Birthday Jess!



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Cheri’s Visit: August 2011

One of my absolute most craziest (& in a good way) friends, Cheri a.k.a. Emily Rose, came to visit Tampa this past weekend mainly to spend time with Kristin, who is a mere week away from having her first baby.  Cheri currently lives in Los Angeles, and moved there three years ago for a change in scenery and to be closer to her boyfriend (the just-as crazy) Michael.

I always love when an old friend comes to Tampa to visit, because it gives all my other friends a reason to come together and do something as a group.  This weekend was no exception.  Thursday night, we all congregated and partied at our old stomping grounds, The Castle, a nightclub in Ybor City.  Friday night, we had dinner at a tapas restaurant called SPAIN downtown and partied at The Honey Pot.  Saturday and Sunday, we pretty much just hung out and spent the day with one another.

What will stick in my mind from Cheri’s visit this past weekend will be our car ride with Nicolas to Taco Bus at 3am.  Listening to music loudly, singing together, making silly jokes, having the time of our lives.  Suddenly, I was transported back to the year 2006 where Cheri, Nicolas and I could find ourselves in the same exact setting.  Five years later, and here we were doing the same routine.  It felt nice to feel like nothing had changed, that Cheri still lived in Tampa and to feel like we were young again.

Cheri, I cannot wait until November when I will see you again!

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