Sunday Conversations – La Bahia Bakery

Brunch On The Go
A little bit of Puerto Rico ūüáĶūüá∑ on the Northwest side of Tampa.
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Today we were on a mission and trying our best to adhere to the ūüĆé of Social Distancing ūüó®


We’re rollin and I’m talking about how hungry I am and I spot La Bahia Bakery as I have probably 30 times driving in the area. We thought about stopping several times but never did, simply because we were tired of being fooled. Yes, a lot times you will visit an establishment expecting to receive say, Puertorican Cuisine and you are sadly disappointed.
I’m happy to say, we felt like we were back on the Island. The food looked good and the sweets looked even better. The ladies at the counter were courteous so we were anxious to see if the eats would past the test.

I’m a bacalao connoisseur and my eyes could not look past it. I was offered a taste test and I can honestly say I would serve it in place of my own. It was fresh, full of flavour & thick like I like it!


The Pan Sabao (light, airy & sweet bread of Puerto Rico) was fresh! I could have just eaten it right out of the bag.
I was surprised when we saw the Canoas Con Carne Molida (sweet plantains opened like a canoe and filled with seasoned ground beef & topped with cheese).


Our Cafe Con Leche was good, you add your own sugar. They’re using op grade equipment!
I did pick up the last 4 cookies and cream cupcakes to take home to my daughters and the youngest one’s girlfriends. They were munching and talking about the layers of chocolate. I would take that as a sign of approval!

Take your family for breakfast, lunch and an early dinner. We agreed, that this fairly new establishment is now apart of neighborhood go-to resturant list. As long as they keep the quality of food and service like it is, they can only get better!

Tampa Bay welcome La Bahia Bakery!

Sunday Conversations

I started Sunday Conversations because I love to cook and entertain.

I frequently invite friends and family over to gather and break bread. I always prepare a small smorgasbord with a signature drink, music and plenty of conversation, so it seemed quite natural.

Everyone has been dealing with COVID 19, work, working from home, family and everything else and I longed for face to face contact, of course with social distancing in mind. I missed good laughs and even better, food! So I said to myself, Lynn what can you do and hence Sunday Conversations was born.

I sent a simple invitation that basically said we work hard so we’re entitled to play a little, or a lot. I set a date, time and told my guest that the Shae-Lynn’s Bistro and the Castro Lounge was ready to welcome them with open arms. I shared that we should plan for Sunday Conversations once a month, rotating to each others Pad for some “Our Time”. The funny thing is, several guest arrived the week before as they too were anxious to gather and devour. Well of course they were met with silence as we were away at the time. My phone was ringing and I was met with questions and hungry individuals who had to go home and fend for themselves.

With PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) at the door, when our date did arrive it was nothing short of awesome! All of my guest were not able to make it but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and one to another. Let’s start with the hor d’oeuvres. I prepared a Vegetarian Charcuterie with a Signature Drink. The Charcuterie consisted Mozz Balls, Peperoncini, Salmon Stuffed Olives, Artichoke Hearts and Roasted Red Peppers. The Signature Drink, Drew’s Elixir Dram was named after my daughter as she concocted a tea drink which is both refreshing and full of health properties. I on the otherhand used her delicious tea to make a nice stiff but tasty cocktail, hence we have Drew’s Elixir Dram.

We went out to the Castro Lounge to indulge on our hor d’oeuvres and listen to the sounds of Eric Roberson, Vivian Green, India Irie and a host of other Neo Soul and Soulful singers. The table was set before the guests had arrived so when it was time to dine, I plated the goodness in the serving ware and summoned the guests to the Parlor where Shae-Lynn’s Bistro served a truly flavorsome dinner. The menu consisted of King Crab Legs, grilled and sliced Pork Shoulder, a delicious Salad filled with Heirloom Tomatoes, Asiago, Romano and Parmesan Cheese. The dinner was complemented by two wines: KOGARA CANYON, a South Eastern Australian Chardonnay. This wine paired well with the King Crab as its citrus and honey melon flavors danced with a smooth creamy butter finish. We also sipped the velvety waves of LE GRAND Pinot Noir (Black Sheep). This French wine gives off notes of grass, blackberries and cherries. It gave me a feeling of being out in the grassy meadows in the summertime. Its medium body seemed to warm the faces of my guests as they cut into their Shoulder and dipped the steak into the garlic butter sauce that even made the Romaine sing.

We laughed, sipped and had long moments of silence as we grazed and filled our bellies. We delighted ourselves in individual servings of Cr√©me Brulee which never made it into the photos. The best part for me was seeing satisfaction, love and a sense of calmness in a different way on everyone’s face, even if only for the few hours we spent together. We all got to let go and unwind. I can’t wait until it’s time for our next Sunday Convesations.

Fine Dining at Home

Just because we’re home, it doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy an nice meal that could easily be served in the restaurant you visit for special occasions, when friends and family visit or just to make you feel good. It’s up to us to bring fine dining to our own dining rooms and that is what I’ve done.

Just because we’re home, it doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy a nice meal that could easily be served in the restaurant you visit for special occasions, when friends and family visit or just to make you feel good.

It’s up to us to bring fine dining to our own dining rooms and that is exactly what I did.

I prepared Steelhead Trout, roasted Vidalia Onion and a fresh Rainbow Salad, accompanied by an earthy Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

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Steelhead Trout, also known as Rainbow Trout is one of the healthiest types of seafood you can eat. It is full of Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids and yet low in mercury.

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Most, generally serve fish with a Chardonnay or a Pinot Grigio. I chose the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2013 because I think it elevated the way in which I prepared my Trout, that I marinated using vibrant herbs and spices. The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (the only red d.o.c. Italy) provided the savory element and accompanied well with the sweet tones from the onion and my rainbow salad.

This dinner was everything! One thing is for sure and two thing’s for certain.  You can expect this lovely meal to be served at one of my future dinner parties.

Ciao!

Lasagna Anyone

I’m always in the kitchen making a superfied version of something awesome.¬† I like food, I love food, in fact I actually adore food!¬† So it’s nothing for me to feel a vibe and start a movement in the Cocina.

For the New Year, I debuted my famous Cabbage Lasagne/Lasagna and it was a hit on Instagram, in my home and basically all over the world (in my head).¬† I wanted to share this recipe with you and hopefully spark your flame in the kitchen.¬† I’m a Pescatarian that knows her way around the garden of food and I’m all for sharing the details of deliciousness with you.

Here’s what you need to make my Cabbage Lasagna.¬† A totally good vegetarian meal that your family will love.

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2 packs of meatless meatballs, baked and then cut in half. Cut and saute 1 large onion, 1 package of mushrooms, 1 cup of shredded carrots, 4 – 6 garlic cloves sliced thinly. Cut up 4 – 6 vine ripe tomatoes in chunk form and add to the veggies along with 1 carton of vegetable broth and saute on low heat.

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Once you have sauteed for 15 minutes add the meatballs and simmer. You may have to add more vegetable broth. Add your favorite spices to taste during this process.¬† If you are not in to making your own sauce, pick up your favorite pasta sauce at your local grocery.¬† Most every sauce I make is from scratch, it’s work but we’ll worth it.

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Get a large cabbage and peal off the layers, rinse and pat dry.¬† Get your favorite cheese ready.¬† I use Parmesan, Asiago and Ramano.¬† From here you layer accordingly, sauce, cabbage, sauce and cheese.¬† Bake at ¬į375 for 30 minutes. Let it sit for at least 30 – 45 minutes or so because it will be juicy from the sauce and the cabbage.¬† Serve your family this deliciousness with a nice salad.

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Let me know how yours turned out.  My family did indeed love it.  We usually have leftovers and there were none!

Tea Time

I had lunch with my daughter on Friday and it was great to spend time with her at Kaleisia Tea Lounge. I was impressed with the place she choose to have tea. As we entered it seemed inviting and the people were helpful with kind smiles. I loved their “I ‚̧Tea” shirts!

We both enjoyed Asian Noodles that were combined with red peppers, lemongrass seasoned tofu and a touch of cilantro. I of course spiced mine up a bit with chili paste. The dish itself was dainty and colorful in the big off-white bowls they were presented to our table in.

My daughter had her favorite, Vietnamese Coffee in the “TEAtanic” size. Vietnamese coffee is coffee mixed with condensed milk. I am not sure what blend this tea house uses but those that we’ve had in the past are made with Cafe Du Monde Chicory Coffee and the condensed milk. We thought their blend was very nice.

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I had the Dirty Chai, which is a mixture of both tea and coffee. This milky drink was very smooth and satisfying if you are a tea drinker who occasionally likes to have coffee like me. Our drinks came in these huge mason jars that made us anxious for our first sips!!! We were happy with our choices as we chatted away. Oh and you must to try the Matcha cookies, were shaped like stars and some I’m always day dreaming this was special to me. The cookies had a nice matcha flavor and were covered in bakers sugar. The cookie had a semi hard exterior that crumbled in your mouth.

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There is a Tatami-esque room with Shoji doors that transported my daughter back to a Japanese Tea House she’d visited in Japan last summer. She was very comfortable and in her element during oura time at the Kaleisia Tea Lounge.

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We did see the owner, she assisted us with the reward card for our drinks. She has a beautiful smile and a calm aura surrounding her.

Kaleisia Tea Lounge is a lovely tea house that we will be visiting again.

Wine For A Time

 

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A Lover of Wine

I’ve been a lover of wine for many years. I am not talking of the younger years when I drank the $5 dollar bottles with family and friends that had my head pounding before the next day. Nor¬† am I speaking of the sips I took when my aunts were busy in conversation that I slipped in during the holidays.¬† Those were good times so don’t think for a second that I did not enjoy the occasions of my past, but as the years have moved on I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the grapes on the vine.

I have visited wineries and vineyards since the early 90’s but it wasn’t until one particular night that the love of wine really grew on me. One Saturday night my cousin and I cruised the aisles of our local liquor store for a wine that would arouse our taste buds. After about 30 minutes of looking, laughing and greeting others coming in we found this bottle dressed in beautiful white etched flowers atop of the green bottle. Yes, it was the bottle that caught our eyes. Everyone knows that a unique bottle or a lovely design will catch the eye of two women. More importantly, two women who were invading the world of wine while they took on the “City of Churches”.

The wine that woke me was smooth and had a suttle finish that left us wanting more. We finished this particular bottle of wine over and over again for what seemed liked a year and then life took its course. I moved away and life happened, but I will never forgot the nights with dinner, laughs and bonding together. It helped me but more importantly gave me a reason to start my journey in wine.

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Fast forward to spring 2018, my family was coming to town for a family get together and it was my mission to turn it into an extravaganza! I was going to make sure whether they’d admit it or not, this would be a¬†soir√©e they would not soon forget. I had pulled all the punches with dining and entertainment for the early birds that it made those who were on their way pretty anxious for their arrival.

For My Ladies

I’d pulled off almost a week of hosting and entertaining but the real fun was about to begin. My immediate family and I pulled off an exceptional Barbake¬†(we can talk about this another time) that had never been done during prior family gatherings so one would ask, in fact my cousin from Tennessee said “I mean she has out done herself, what more could she (meaning me, smile) possibly do? It can’t get any better.” I just smiled and gathered all the ladies in the parlour and the kitchen and started giving directions. This is where X marks the spot.

We pulled out a cheese board and grabbed¬†a few different cheeses from the fridge. One girl-cousin took to the serving table on the lanai to bring in some brisket to set atop of some Cuban bread, a couple of girl-cousins sliced some fresh fruit and prosciutto and another went to the pantry to find some dark chocolate. One thing about the ladies in my life, they can make something happen at a moments notice. By the time I asked for the wine glasses to be set-up, well everyone knew the “Ladies Meeting in the Parlour” as it read on the itinerary was sure to be a hit.

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The doorbell rings and all of my ladies are in formation, the wine tasting is about to begin. I chose Wines For Humanity to provide an evening of wine and education for my event. I’d been a great host up until now and Lee, my Sommelier was going to assist me with the reigning title of hostess of the 21st century! Wines for Humanity provides an educational and entertaining presentation of 6 exclusive wines from around the world,¬†and a portion of the proceeds from the wines selected benefits a local charity in your community.¬†The one thing that was disappointing to me was that right now Wines for Humanity is currently only able to deliver wine to 14 States and Indiana, Georgia, Virginia, D.C., Maryland and Tennessee are not on the list.

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After the initial shock and the room settled our evening began. The wines presented came from different regions of the wine world such as Germany, Italy, France and California. In each of these regions the wine, the way its made and the flavors are very different. And hearing these notes being presented to my guests was amazing. The notes such as the smell and the taste of wine can be an exciting adventure. Understanding and engaging in the five senses of wine will last a life time and allow for a pleasant experience every time.

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The ladies were swooned by the fragrance of the wines and how they paired with the hors d’oeuvres. It was interesting to see how everyone’s palette was different and how senses were starting to develop as well as those that were yet evolving. I loved seeing my parlour transform into this seductive place of seclusion in the world of wine that we’d found ourselves in. This night the start of many more experiences that I am sure have set the tone, poise, posture and presentation for years to come.

I am so happy that from seeing and hearing of my adventures over the years, businesses and ideas have started and are flourishing. I am content in the fact that the world of wine is welcoming and will embrace you with open arms.

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Salute.

 

 

 

The Fish House

We took our aunt and uncle visiting from Indiana to The Fish House for their anniversary dinner.¬† My aunt loves the blues and my uncle (originally from Miami but gone over 30 years) is a drummer, we’d heard of The Fish House having live blues and jazz so we were banking on a good time and it paid off!

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The Fish House has live music on Fridays and Saturday’s in the BackRoom. The BackRoom is just that, a cozy room on the right side of the restaurant where you are pretty much up close and personal with the musicians while you dine and enjoy your party.

The restaurant is known for their seafood which was another reason I choose it to gather as my aunt loves fish and crab legs! We were seated immediately which was good, however I was both confused and surprised when I walked up to the hostess area and requested seating for a party of 4 and was asked if I had a reservation. Reason being is I called twice, once during the week and the day of our visit and was told that they did not take reservations on Saturdays but their were reserved signs on 2 of the tables… They just kind of dismissed my inquiry regarding the reserved tables when I questioned why I was told that I could not make a reservation.

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Since no one in our party had dined there before we were both overwhelmed and excited about the menu. My aunt is allergic to tilapia so we needed to confirm how the seafood was cooked. She was a bit disappointed to learn that all of the fish was cooked in the same grease as she wanted to try the yellowtale snapper on the menu.¬† She ended up going with grilled shrimp and I wanted to surprise her with a crabcake, however the waitress after putting in our order learned that the crabcake was also cooked in the same grease and fryer that tilapia was cooked in so she changed the order to a lobster tail but didn’t tell me. I really still don’t know how to feel about this, I just know she was trying to help me surprise my aunt and make her evening special.

The rest of the party had the following. Island conch fritters for an appetizer and a shrimp and rice entree for my uncle in which he said the conch fritters were made different from those he grew up having as they were more like cakes or patties versus the balls he had on this night.  Marty had the golden fried sailors platter that included calamari, wild jumbo shrimp, sea scallops, mussels, and fish nuggets. Lightly floured and deep fried with coleslaw and tostones. I had the yellowtail snapper fillet with a caesar salad and grilled vegetables which consisted stringbeans, corn, and mushrooms from what I can remember.

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We enjoyed our meal while listening to Motel Mel delight us with blues, R&B, jazz and soft rock. He was good and very engaging with the room (BackRoom). I can tell you that our table could sing and name just about every song. My uncle won the trivia (I bet you can’t name the group) that Motel Mel shouted out and he also wished my aunt and uncle a happy anniversary at our secret request.

Upon leaving, the lady in charged thanked us for coming and asked if we enjoyed ourselves.

Well.. Yes, we hit the nail on the head this night.

This Summer My Daughter Joined A Band

Summer break was right around the corner, it was so close that I could feel the heat on¬†the heels of my feet. Summer starts for me in April. By that I mean, it’s already so hot to me that I am feeling like its summer in the middle of spring. We had our family meeting and the topic was what will you spend your summer doing. I’d already made an announcement three months prior to the end of the school year, letting my family know that everyone had to have a summer activity or I would pick an activity for them.

My daughter was and is already taking up coding, skateboarding, and an occasional neighborhood library reading challenge. I thought that we should tighten up on some of the activities she was already particpating in but I knew she would want to try something different so I was prepared to be frazzled. My tween decided to go to guitar camp. ¬†Can you believe it, I was actually going to be able to use the phrase “my kids in a band”.

Two years ago it was the Djembe drum. The Djembe drum is a small west african drum played in ceremonies. ¬†The drum makes beautiful sounds with a flick of the wrist or hitting the drum in a certain way. This summer she moved on to the guitar. The wants of a tween are forever changing but as a mother its my job to help her explore every avenue she possibly can. If you’ve ever thought of entering the mind of a 12 year-old, I would caution you to think twice before venturing down this long uncertain winding road. Let me tell you, my experience is lengthy as a mother of 2 beautiful young ladies but I’m still learning. It’s not easy following their logic, dreams or what they deem to be dramatic situations, but I have always considered it to be an honor to be apart of their journey.

In regards to taking up guitar, we had a choice of private one on one lessons or Guitar Camp where she would be amongst her peers and not feel singled out for every mistake made while strumming along to Work by Rhiana or Jealous by Nick Jonas. We choose Guitar Camp because by the end of the camp she will have made a friend or two, become more confident than she already is and will have actually played in “The” band. Either way by taking part in the camp she would be able to decide if playing the guitar would become a life long hobby or that Jimmy Hendricks couldn’t have possibly been her grandfather.

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Summer has come and gone.¬† I was dupped into buying a beautiful mahogany guitar, the stand and carrier.¬† My tween has gone from guitar camp mania to I’ll practice tomorrow.¬† Will tomorrow ever come?¬† To be honest, I am proud of her accomplishment this summer, she tried something new and actually liked it.¬† We got to see two great concerts and my baby is in a band!

It’s now time to have a family meeting and decide what the kiddos will be doing this school year.¬† I am now attending FFA (Future Farmers of America) meetings and helping to get our Shih Tzu ready for the State Fair in February.¬† I will continue to support my tween in all of her endeavours while making sure to drink my vegetable smoothy to gain enough energy to keep up. I will continue to check out our local libraries, parks and recreation centers for our next adventure. I am prepared to help my children make learning and exploring fun!

Who is Dick Gregory?

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Mr. Dick Gregory

 

Dick Gregory!   Who is Dick Gregory? This is a name I have heard much of my natural born life, not just from my Mom or Dad but more like from a teacher, a stranger, television or a book.  Mr. Gregory has been on this earth 85 years this coming Wednesday and as he tells it, he has not stopped being unapologetically real since the beginning of his realization at 9 years old.

I got the chance to listen to Mr. Dick Gregory up close and personal last night and I haven’t slept yet! ¬†I am first so honored to be in the presence of history. ¬†This man has fought, lobbied and advocated for human rights, cival rights and social economics your life and our children’s future. ¬†He has went on hunger strikes to raise awareness for campaigns in America and overseas. ¬†I see a man who will and has risked everything for the cause of the right thing. ¬†How many of us talk about it, yet we are truly never being about it.

Tonight¬†Richard Claxton “Dick” Gregory was funny, he was conscious, he was a teacher, your neighbor. ¬†But most of all he was and is real. ¬†Unapologetically real! ¬†If you are not woke, seeing Mr. Gregory on a civil, educational, social or comedic platform will make¬†you want to open your eyes to embrace love for one to another, social injustices, American culture, healthy eating and the loving of ones self.

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Mr. Gregory is not only a living legend, he is powerful.  Power is in the mind.  He teaches all people that you too can be powerful.  It is not how much you have as much as it is what will you do with what you have been given.  So before I lay my head down @ 2:22 A.M. est.  I will look in the mirror once more and marvel over how beautiful I am and the power that I have been given to do something good and great in this world.  I challenge you to do the same if not more.

Thank you Mr. Gregory for being you.

 

5 Reasons Why Customer Service Is Important

untitled-designWe all do some sort of shopping everyday.  We buy groceries, we purchase cars and we plan our annual vacations for our family.  There is no way to get around shopping whether it’s done in person or online your still shopping.  So tell me what is your first expectation when you walk into your local market or frequent a store in the mall?  Is it a simple  hello, or a smile?  Do you want space?  Are looking to be treated like your patronage matters?

I can tell you most of us expect friendly faces and knowledgable associates to be able to assist us at a moments notice.

Allow me to share five reasons why customer service is important.

1. Your customers will remember
Your customers will remember if they were greeted and whether or not their interaction with you or your employee’s was a pleasant one.  Good communication and representing the products with the customer goes a long way.  It could help you gain more customers or cause you to lose customers and gain negative press.

2. Building trust
Trust is important for your business; people need to know they can trust you and your brand.  The representatives of your company can make your customers feel agreeable and thus willing to spend their money.  Being able to resolve issues as they arise quickly and with a smile will make patrons more apt to return the next time around.

3. Customer service encourages promotion
When you provide excellent customer service on top of a great product your customers will advocate for you.  A postive word of mouth can be spread as quickly as picking up the phone and clicking one of the many social media apps out there in cyber world, walking out of your store front or logging off of a webinar.  Creating an welcoming environment can get you customers who will be with you for the long haul and bring their friends along with them.

4. Happy staff = Happy customers
The more motivated your staff is the more positive energy they will give off to a customer.  If your staff feels important that will show it in the way they provide the services you offer.

5. What the customers are saying
80% of consumers say they would pay more to have a high-level customer experience.

Customer service plays an important role in the overall customer experience with your business.  It can help you attract new customers and sets you apart from the competition.

I hope this blog has provided insight on why excellent customer service is vital to the success of your business.