Volume 13 | January 2022
January Piece Of Paradise:
Food Delights
We enjoy exploring Sarasota's food scene any chance we get. While downtown Sarasota is nearest to our Home Watch service zone, Lido and Siesta Keys and downtown Venice have their fair share of locally-owned restaurants, too. This month we went to St. Armands Circle to check off a longstanding activity on our to-do list: a more formal tasting experience via food tour.
We met our guide at the bronze John Ringling statue. Susan was perky, polished, and kept us fed with local trivia (in addition to the food samples).
One of our first trivia tidbits revealed why some consider this statue of John Ringling to be woefully unrealistic.
Our small group made its way to the first food stop - a restaurant we know and love, the Columbia. Though they have multiple locations across the state of Florida, the St Armands location is their second oldest and it is Sarasota's oldest restaurant. Their recipes are based on over 100 years of Spanish-Cuban menus, spanning five generations of family ownership. The assistant manager talked with us about the restaurant's history before a server prepared their infamous 1905 salad tableside. Key takeaway here: while the 1905 dressing is available in stores, they suggest adding two fresh ingredients to it before applying to an at-home salad.
A 1905 salad in the works (left), accompanied a Cuban sandwich on our plated sample (right). We learned in the east coast vs. west coast Cuban sandwich debate, the question is
"to pickle or not to pickle?"
Our next stop was a "foodie hangout" rather than a restaurant, and may have been our favorite part of the tour. We received an introduction to olive oils and balsamic vinegar from staff at The Ancient Olive (and didn't say no to a sample of wine). We went back to the store when our tour concluded, to buy an oil/vinegar combo for dressing some grilled chicken at home. We also shared our new knowledge about strippaggio with our children.
There was still much more to come - we enjoyed a coastally-themed Greek restaurant, an Italian establishment where the gentlemen were gathered at a table to roll out pasta, and a perfectly-pink dessert and pastry shop, in addition to another "foodie store."
(From left to right) Imported Greek beer surrounded by a meatball, baklava, and other Greek fare a ravioli and bruschetta followed homemade rolls, and the glass display of French patisseries.
The restaurants we visited didn't seem to be interested in impressing us with shocking presentations or unexpected flavor combinations. They were dedicated to delivering authentic cuisines and quality customer experiences. A job well done by all participants and our tour guide!
Related Considerations
View of St. Petersburg Municipal Marina from The Dali.
After our time at The Columbia Restaurant, we couldn't kick the craving to indulge in more Spanish-Cuban influence. As we've mentioned before, one of the great benefits to life in Sarasota is its proximity to other Florida destinations. St. Petersburg is less than an hour drive and is home to another item that has long been on our bucket list: The Dali Museum. Visiting the museum seemed like the perfect excuse to find ourselves a St. Petersburg restaurant specializing in Cuban sandwiches.

The museum app has multiple self-guided tour options, and the family-friendly "mustache" tour worked well for our 8-year-old. We noticed a docent-led tour in action, and it was easy to get an up-close look at each art piece. With that, most of the artwork is confined to one space and we spent some time in the outdoor garden to stretch our stay to two hours. More of our time was spent on the beautiful walk between the museum and the St. Pete Pier. The Pier was bustling with vendors, artists, street performers, and lots of people with dogs.

And then it was time for more taste adventures with a trip to Bodega. The walk-up ordering on the outside of the building, with indoor seating, was different than the norm but added to the restaurant's charm. We tried the Lechon, Cuban, and Pollo Asado sandwiches with a side of rice and beans. All were fantastico. We would totally go back.
Outdoor walk-up order window, indoor/outdoor dining at Bodega
Bodega's Cuban sandwich
Homeowner Tip
Motion Sensor Lights
Whether you're out to a meal or away for the season, motion sensors for outdoor flood lights are a good way to keep neighbors aware of unusual movements on your property. They're also pretty convenient when you're home and need to do quick tasks like put a bag in the trash or let out the dog!
Coastal Haven Home Watch of Sarasota delivers peace of mind... for your piece of paradise. Share your Sarasota pieces of paradise with us! We'll include them in an upcoming newsletter for other Home Watch clients to consider during their next stay in Sarasota.