Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Bern's Steak House - Tampa

I really don't know how to express my experience eating at Bern's Steak House in Tampa, Florida.  I would simply have to say it was a true privilege.  From the moment you walk into Bern's, you're struck by the history of the place.  It started as a single dining room in a strip mall, but grew to fill the entire space as they bought out the building.  To call the place in institution is appropriate.  They say it's about the "art of steak", but truly it's about food as an art.

Everyone who dines at Bern's is able to take a tour of the kitchens and the wine cellar.  According to my wine cellar guide, one of a few who spend all night finding the wines people order in the massive library, only 15% of their wine is housed in the cellar.  The rest is in a warehouse nearby.  We're talking HALF A MILLION BOTTLES and 6,800+ labels to choose from on a given night.  There's a wine worth $30,000.  There is port made from grapes that were grown when Abraham Lincoln was a CHILD.  It was like a library of wines.  It was like the Hall of Prophecy from Harry Potter, but filled with wine.  The guy said you could drink a bottle a day for like 18 years and never drink the same bottle twice.

The kitchen was no less impressive.  Our tour, given by a waiter in training, allowed us into the busy, loud world of the kitchen.  They have 60-100 people in the kitchen alone.  They have huge grills for the meat that take up some serious square footage.  Thousands of pounds of steak per week, tons of salads from their garden... it's an insane operation.  They even grow some herbs in the kitchen for the salads.  (Note: I do not like salad, but I ate like 25% of mine... and the waiter told me not to feel bad, because all the rest would go into compost.  Yeah, I was totally being environmentally conscious, right?)

I figured I needed to have a steak... but had no idea everything that would come with it.  Without asking, your steak comes with a French onion soup course, salad with so many dressing options, a baked potato, fried onions, and fresh vegetables. Oh. Em. Gee.

My side of the table also indulged in some White Truffle Macaroni and Cheese... which I could have eaten as my meal.  Seriously, what was in that?  It was divine.  The best macaroni I've had in my life.  I need to recreate this decadence.  Oh, and the steak was perfect.  Of course!

One nuance about Bern's?  You need a separate reservation for dessert.  No joke.  You head upstairs to semi-private rooms (built with giant wine casks as walls) to page through the most intensely amazing dessert menu I have ever seen.  I could have eaten multiple courses there and stayed all night.  The private rooms are so sweet and intimate.  I chose the Banana Bread Bread Pudding: toasted banana pecan bread baked in banana custard, dulce de leche, banana caramel ice cream.  I DIE.

Traveling for work is exhausting.  It takes me away from my home and my boys for days... but there are definitely perks. Being taken on culinary adventures is one of them.  Bern's will remain in my memory as one of those unforgettable meal experiences for sure.  Tampa, I'm impressed!

Bern's Steak House on Urbanspoon 

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Monday, April 21, 2014

My Life in GIFs, v.5

You guys.  The other day, I fainted.  I was out cold for 5-10 seconds.  So dramz!  And to make matters worse, it was in front of my friends from work, Dan, and everyone else at the brewery.  I wanted people to calm the eff down and totally tried to brush it off like I was fine.  I was so embarrassed.  I tried to be like:

I was super thankful for the people there to help me out, even though there was this one chick I didn't know who's a nurse talking to me SUPER slow like, "Hi, do you know you fainted?"  And I was on the ground like:

But then everyone wanted me to go to the Emergency Room.  I didn't even hit my head, and I really just wanted to go home:

But Dan and one of our brewery family members took me to the ER.  And I had to explain that I'm an idiot and didn't hydrate enough while taking antihistamines and decongestants.  FAIL.  They wanted to give me a CAT scan, but I was lucid enough to know that is expensive shit, and I was already worried about how much this SNAFU would cost me.  Not to mention they needed to draw blood and I'm terrified of needles:

And then because my little veins were all constricted from my idiotic dehydration, it took two nurses FIVE attempts to find a vein, resulting in three blown veins as depicted in this actual photo:

My actual arm and bruises.

When people saw these bruises in public later, I felt all like:

So basically I decided to be a hermit for the better part of three days, drinking Gatorade and living on the sofa.  Basically, I was like:

Finally, I felt good enough to put the fainting spell behind me and start to live life normally again.  Sure, everyone's going to be force-hydrating me for weeks and looking at me like I might faint at any moment.  But I figured I might as well just move on and not make that mistake again.

Then I found out more than one person was disappointed that my fainting was not a side effect of pregnancy.  And I was like!!!

I knew it was time for another edition of My Life in GIFs.  You're welcome.
P.S. THANK YOU to my wonderful friends and boyfriend for taking care of me during this unfortunate event.  It sucked, but I had the best help anyone could ask for.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Vintage Cookbook Giveaway - WINNER

CONGRATULATIONS to Connie on being the winner of the Vintage Cookbooks!
Look for an e-mail from me to claim your prize.

I love her comment about the vintage Betty Crocker cookbook being a  favorite, as I grew up seeing one in my Mom's kitchen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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