Tag Archives: Doug Coe

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 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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Commencement to Be

Robby HS Graduation

It seems like just yesterday that the above photo was taken… me watching 18-year-old Robby graduate from High School. 

And then just two weeks ago…

Robby Graduation Okie 2

…Robby graduated from college and moved to Fort Liquordale!  Huh?  WTF?!  Where the @#$% is time going?!

Robby officially became a USF Alumni, and relocated down south with A.J.  To celebrate this achievement, he hosted a nearly 8-hour bar crawl that terrorized my liver and checking account sauntered through the hot spots of Ybor City.  And to celebrate this very same achievement my way, I will post 5 of My Favorite Things about Robby.  Let’s begin:

#1:  Paula Deen… I mean, Robby introduced me to his famous McDonalds Apple Pie & Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae concoction-in-a-bowl dessert.

#2:  Robby forced me to watch the Game of Thrones Series Recap.  After I stopped watching the show during its snoozefest second season, he promised that the current Season 3 was worth watching the show again.  A mere 10 minutes of my life and I am officially all caught up on Game of Thrones.  Bring on the damn dragons!

#3:  Robby watched Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary and afterwards, remarked that he totally understood why my friends and I act the way we do.  (Now that I think about it… was that even a compliment??!)

#4:  Robby’s random insightful but hilarious text messages like the one he sent when describing his first impressions of being a new resident to the Fort Lauderdale area.  See below:

Robby Text Message

and last but not least…

As two gigantic music fanatics, Robby and I are constantly trying to introduce new and great songs to one another.  The “oh I’ve already heard this before” and the “I’m not really feeling this one” do often pop-up in our conversation.  So when a great song is truly introduced to one of us by the other, it becomes a mini-event.  When Robby first played “Blood” by The Middle East, I instantly fell head over heels for that song and had to immediately add it to my Current Favorites Playlist on Spotify.  To my surprise, the song was already on there.  So Robby playing “Blood” wasn’t my virgin time hearing it.  I still don’t remember ever adding that song to my playlist.  Nor did I ever figure out when exactly I first heard it either.  But just like mine and Robby’s close friendship, there really is no explanation for something that was meant to be.  Oh and #5: Robby has great taste in music.

Congratulations again to my old soul friend for graduating!

Robby Graduation ZOYA

Photo by Branden Hollywood

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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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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

 

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“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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Congratulations, Happy Birthday, Farewell!

The past few weekends, I have been booked solid.  After reviewing my Google Calendar, yours truly has been on a non-stop celebration tour extravaganza of my friends: most notably, a wedding reception, a birthday gathering and a farewell dinner.

Congratulations to Gary & Kat!

My friends Kat and Gary tied the knot last month in Antigua, but held their wedding reception celebration in St. Pete, FL earlier this month.  I’ve known Kat for a few years now, and can attest to her being my one friend who wanted to get “made an honest woman out of” more than any of my other friends.  Fortunately, she found something special with Gary, and they both seem to be having the time of their lives with one another right now.

The beach-esque reception was a very simple, succinct and standard affair, and had Kat’s unique style written all over the event.  Besides the opportunity to share Kat and Gary’s monumental day with them, it’s always a bonus to have an excuse to dress-up and hang out with friends that you haven’t spent time with in a while.

Happy Birthday Katina!

My old friend Katina held her celebration in St. Pete as well, but her celebration was in honor of her 32nd Birthday.  Just now typing “32nd birthday” reminded me that I have known Katina for over 20 years now.  20 years?  20 years!  That’s just one year shy of a Robby Nichols!

Katina invited a close group of friends for dinner at Snapper’s Sea Grill (which had the most amazing and award-winning blueberry-teriyaki tuna appetizer).  We dined, we drank, we laughed and I was instantly reminded why I’m such good friends with Katina.  The girl is silly, entertaining, love-able and fun.  It also doesn’t hurt that she laughs at every single one of my idiotic jokes.


 Farewell Nathan!

Nathan was my first roommate (that wasn’t a sibling or someone related to me) ever.  He and I first met nearly a decade ago, became good friends five years ago or so later, and lived together for a little under a year.  (And what an entertaining era that year of rooming was!)

Before he flew up to Minneapolis, Nathan held an intimate dinner with his closest friends at Yummy House China Bistro in Tampa.  I never get sad or emotional during friend’s farewell gatherings, mainly because I know that I will still keep in correspondence with them.  In fact, I’ve spent more time with a handful of my former Tampa resident friends now that they’ve relocated somewhere else.  So fluff the guestroom pillows and stock the fridge Nathan, for you will surely have at least one friend visiting you in Minneapolis very soon.

Congratulations… Happy Birthday… and Farewell to my friends!

Oh… and R.I.P. Zombie Jocelyn!

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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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The Big Easy & Back!

I’m at the stage of my life where the typical hype before any type of monumental life event fails to exist anymore.  I hadn’t seen my very good friend Neil or Jason since… I cannot even remember.  I had never been to the annual Southern Decadence celebrations in New Orleans ever.  I had been feeling burnt out with work, friends, life and everything in between, so suddenly embarking on a new vacation with two of the only people who can read me like a book failed to phase me.  What on Earth was going on?

When you get older in life, it seems like you automatically sign a contract with time to rush by faster than ever before.  Back in my 20’s, a trip such as the one I took over Labor Day weekend would have been met with “butterflies in my stomach” tossing & turning with anticipation and excitement for at least 3 days prior.  However, I didn’t even flinch a thought of the reality of this trip until I needed to secure: (1) a ride to and from the airport (I love you Nicolas) and (2) luggage to borrow since the handle on my carry-on decided to break (I love you Jocelyn).

Let’s just say this about celebrating my first Southern Decadence in New Orleans with Neil and Jason and Tanner… I could not have needed more of a gust of fresh, new air than what that weekend brought upon me.  I smiled.  I laughed.  I laughed even more.  I laughed until my stomach hurt.  I laughed so much that I should have a six-pack.  Neil has always been a constant source of amazement in my life, and Jason Moriarty… the same guy who I could viciously turn sour on at the drop of a hat, became someone that I hold dear in my heart.  I never considered someone as a “best friend.”  I’ve always been fortunate in life to have a plethora of “very close & good friends,” and Jason has definitely ascended to that category.

The Vacation Trio

Neil lives in Chicago but works in St. Louis.  Jason and Tanner live and work in NYC.  Every Memorial Day, we made a pact to meet one another in Chicago.  Every Labor Day, we made another pact to meet again in New Orleans.  The thought of spending time with those two negates the first half of this post, because I will be holding a countdown in absolute excitement until my next weekend that I am able to spend with them.

Coming back from New Orleans could not have been more difficult.  Every trip, I crave and obsess over coming back home… being back in my bed… being back in all that is familiar… returning to what has become my home.  Something was completely different with this trip.  I found myself dreading coming back home.  Why was I still living in Tampa?  Why did I continue making Tampa my home if returning home was nothing more but upset?  These questions clouded my mind, and stayed with me for a good two days after landing.

What could’ve and should’ve homogenized into a full-blown month-long depression instead vanished after this past weekend…

I truly do have the best friends here in Tampa, and feel like I am FINALLY with others who are in the same, exact boat as me.  I am 31-years-old and making the most out of every single breathing minute of life.  Whether enjoying a spontaneous $100.00 steak dinner with friends on a Friday night, or getting obnoxiously intoxicated the next evening and suffering for it the entire next day… it is all worth it.

I love my friends as much I love life.  As Tom Cruise told Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire, they, my friends, “…complete me.”


Until the 4th Annual FangBanger True Blood Finale Party…

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