Pier 22 in Bradenton, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Pier 22 in Bradenton, Florida! Perched on the edge of the Manatee River since the 1920’s, with a panoramic view of the marina and beyond, Pier 22 is a road trip destination to Historic Bradenton that culminates in a fabulous meal on the riverside deck. From casual occasions on the patio to formal celebrations in the ballroom, time spent here becomes a memorable experience. The building itself resembles a charming Mediterranean villa with bobbing bateaux against the distant skyline. Meals are made from scratch, creating art-on-a-plate presentation worthy of the crown. Take your time by enjoying the seafood bounty, the gussied up entrées, the summery cocktails, and the fabulous desserts. No matter the hour or weather, Pier 22 transforms the entire scene into one of life’s perfect moments.

Celebration Park in Naples, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Celebration Park in Naples, Florida! Food trucks are all the buzz. Think about it. Resident chefs tend to zero in on specialized foods, are typically fresh, and often prepared on the spot when you place the order. They offer unique combinations for trying something new as well. In the mood for seafood? Try the lobster roll. Care for a cocktail? Permission granted. At Celebration Park an added bonus is a waterside table, a seat at the open-air tiki bar, or picnic table-style dining. With over half a dozen stationery food trucks, order a bite to eat or a complete meal. Happy Hour is often highlighted with live music. Green space encourages lawn games for friendly competition. An atmosphere filled with memories that encourage hanging out for relaxation turns an ordinary outing into a contagious destination.

Mango’s Dockside Bistro & Sushi Bar on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Mango’s Dockside Bistro & Sushi Bar on Marco Island, Florida! It’s a tough decision when you need to think about sitting outside with a backdrop of the local marina or inside where you can watch exotic salt-water fish swim by in a huge aquarium. Try a tropical appetizer like the Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp Jalapeños. Spicy, with a touch of natural saltiness. It’s a nice starter along with the Yellowfin Tuna over Seaweed Salad. Quench your thirst with a crafted cocktail like the Key Lime Pie Martini. It’s more like a dessert for those who enjoy a touch of sublime sweetness. After all, isn’t that the reason you walk two miles along the beach every day? Eating out is fun and something everyone looks forward to for socialization. The Tropical Island Salad makes quite a statement served in a fresh pineapple boat over a bed of mixed greens. A scoop of Mango’s famous chicken salad takes center stage surrounded by juicy strawberries, crushed walnuts, and Gorgonzola crumbles. The menu goes on and on to satisfy every palate.

Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House on Marco Island, Florida

Dining Outside the Home: Joey’s Pizza & Pasta House on Marco Island, Florida! My husband always says, “It’s more fun to eat at a bar than drink in a restaurant.” At Joey’s you can do both… or choose to eat and drink outdoors in their welcoming patio area. No matter where you settle in, the mood is contagious. Everyone seems to be having a good time. The drinks are cold and thirst-quenching, the food is definitely spot on. That’s probably due to the fact that Italian pasta dinners, specialty pizzas, and sweet desserts are made from family recipes. Pace yourself by sharing appetizers. Pizza is the main attraction offered in the New York style of thin-crust, which can be folded in half to eat, or the popular Sicilian thick-crust version covered in olive oil. Either way, go overboard. Leftovers can be taken home and eaten later when the cravings return.

After the Holidays

Now that the period of time from Thanksgiving until New Year’s Day is in the rear view mirror, everyone can take a deep sigh of relief to figure out what to do with the abundance of leftovers as well as homemade sweets we’ve accumulated. Let’s approach the days ahead with the clear vision of waste not, want not. I’m the first to admit I limit trips to the grocery store, during the current pandemic, in order to be proactive about my health. Thankfully, I have extra freezer space which keeps my husband and me from eating the same meals over and over until it’s finally gone. I’ve found a few minutes of planning works as a productive strategy to keep foods from going to waste. Perhaps that is also the secret to offer balance, color, texture, and food presentation. After all, isn’t that what the pros do? And speaking of the pros…Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest and Parler at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures as you eat with your eyes. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: After the Holidays!” This remarkable journey of the palate is unique because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and daily words of encouragement.

Splurge-Worthy Goodness

All good things come at a cost. And that includes groceries. Most of the general public discovered during the recent pandemic that cooking at home doesn’t necessarily come cheap, especially when attention is paid to the quality and freshness of ingredients. At our core we all understand the things we should do: eat healthy portions, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. It’s pretty basic stuff our mothers drilled into our heads as teenagers. In adulthood we may even find ourselves sounding like our parents, while echoing the same ideas to our kids and family members. Here’s the secret, though. By choosing some organic and natural items even eating desserts can be okay. Be splurge-worthy, like the professionals do. There’s no reason not to. You must value yourself before you can treasure others.

And speaking of the pros…Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures as you eat with your eyes. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Splurge-Worthy Goodness!” This remarkable journey of the palate is serendipitous because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement. You’re the best.

Sift Bake Shop in Mystic, Connecticut

Dining Outside the Home: Sift Bake Shop in Mystic, Connecticut. How lucky to discover a celebrity pastry chef, who won the Food Network’s “Best Baker in America” award, owning a bakery in Mystic, Connecticut. Talk about a hidden gem. Adam Young’s French inspired bakery will lure you down to Water Street with its fresh-out-of-the-oven aromas. Follow your nose to be pleasantly surprised by artisanal breads, sold by the whole or half loaf. Croissants might be stuffed with meats, veggies, nuts, or chocolate. Choose wisely. Exquisite cakes and delectable cookies satisfy the sweet tooth cravings now and later in the day. Better get extra. By dilly-dallying around you could find yourself yearning for something another customer already placed in her French market basket.

Hualani’s Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Hualani’s Restaurant in Lihue, Kauai. Celebrations of life are a good reason to reserve a table at Hualani’s Restaurant, where the ocean stretches forever in a sea of aquatic blue. After all, there’s nothing quite like watching palm trees sway against a torch-lit sky as the sun slides behind the Haupu Mountain Range. Relax with a crafted cocktail. Stretch your palate to try something extraordinary from land and sea like Whole Fried Market Fish, Mashed Okinawa Potatoes with scallions, and Spiced Rum Pineapple Confit. It’s the attention to detail and presentation that embrace a dining experience that will be long remembered.

Dining Outside the Home: Olympic Café in Kapaa, Kauai

Dining Outside the Home: Olympic Café in Kapaa, Kauai. Even on rainy days you have to venture out for a bite to eat. For starters, a slightly salty/savory-rimmed Bloody Mary with a spicy kick is in order. Perched on the second level of the Olympic Café overlooking street activity has proven to be quite entertaining as more clouds rolled in and the sky opened up. A guy on a bicycle got drenched from the pounding rain. He nestled a paper bag under his armpit while his legs pedaled full speed through potholes filling with street water. Meanwhile, a steaming hot humongous burrito lunch arrived, so the open air seating was perfect for watching passing showers at a warm and dry distance. After all, you can’t rush perfection.