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A few weeks back, I asked my friends on Facebook to recommend some cool date spots nearby so I could take Andres on a surprise date. My friend Katharine suggested that I take him to the Vinoy in St. Petersburg. In my head I thought “Vinoy, Vinoy, Vinoy. Isn’t that that big pink hotel I’ve driven by a few times and always figured I couldn’t afford?”

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Well, yeah it is.

I google it and it’s like over $250 a night. That’s not surprise date material. That’s 10 year anniversary material for this broke-ass chick. Ha! That’s why it was so ironic that not a week later I got an email from one of their marketing girls asking if I’d like to attend a blogger/media dinner there.

Umlemmethink, yep! SCORE.

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Andres will have to wait until next time to check out the Vinoy (sorry honey) — and hey, I wanna make sure it’s cool enough for him first, right?! (Yeah, just checking it out for your first, that’s it!)

But the thing is, see, last year I went vegan for a bit…found vegetarian to be more manageable, and then ultimately ended up pescetarian (seafood only). That’s totally do-able for me. I have a lot of reasons for this, mainly nutrition and animal cruelty. It’s like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie saying they won’t marry until everyone in this country can.

Well, it’s kinda like I don’t want to eat meat that comes from unhappy cows until all the cows are happy. Does that make sense? Lol. I try my best and do pretty well, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still into the whole meat thing. More thorough explanation and talk about nutrition and health-related stuff to come!

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Salty smoky salad. Florida avocado, crisp prosciutto, pickled radish, duck egg, rocket greens, buttermilk dressing

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Lake meadow’s game hen, orange-honey crust, charred cabbage, saison beignet

So it makes it really hard for me to attend events like this if the only part of the meal I feel right about eating is the microgreen garnish. But this one, since I eat seafood, I knew I’d be able to eat some of it. But then thinking of my stance, and considering it’s a local/seasonal ingredient meal, I figured the farms sourced would probably be along the lines of those I’d be happy to promote. Translation: I could eat some meat for the first time in like 6 months and feel great about it.

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A quick back and forth between marketing and yes! My suspicions were right. I’d get to blog about some awesome, local, seasonal, happy food  at a locale I’ve been meaning to check out! Win-win-win-win-wine…wine, wine, more wine….lots of wine to look forward to!

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Plant City strawberry cannoli

So I get all ready for the evening. I’m the one coming from the farthest away, and wouldn’t you know it, it was raining for the first time in like 3 months, so everyone and their brother forgot how to drive. Luckily they pulled themselves together soon after and I make it to St. Pete with 10 minutes to spare. Walk in hotel, amazed by how chic it is. Wonder why I haven’t been here before. Oh yeah, I’m broke. Now about those free drinks…

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1920’s fresco renovation at Marchand’s

…I catch up with the group and am delighted to see my old blogging friend Carlos from CarlosEats.com. Food blogger event within a 50 mile radius of Tampa and you know he’ll be there, doing his thang. I get to meet the super nice directors and marketing folks and the rest of the bloggers and settle into my first drink of the night, a Moscow Mule. (read: dangerously freaking awesome. Not to mention the super sweet Russian Standard cups they use). Cocktail recipe idea noted. Slurp….

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Moscow Mule

We shmooze, learn about the cool history of the hotel (been around since the 20’s!!) and settle into our dining arrangement. I end up surrounded by hotel and marketing people, which at first I thought bad because I wouldn’t get to talk to the other bloggers, but it ended up to be a wise move, because I scored a free hotel room that night — let the drinking beginnnn!!!! Literally, once I knew I’d have a room, I chugged my Moscow Mule and got to catching up!

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Fried flounder, corn spoon bread, andouille stuffed peppers, jalapeno butter

The conversation ended up to be really great, from marijuana girl scout cookie mavens, to living in small town France, to West Coast Swing dancing, to oohhs and ahhs over the food and the Vinoy’s Farm to Fork effort; I was truly impressed with the effort they put in. All these locally sourced, fresh ingredients and happy animals. As a carnivore at heart, but pescetarian by choice, I am happy to say that this was a great middle ground for me. Each course was paired with an equally delicious wine or beer and let’s just say that by the morning I realized I maybe shouldn’t have mixed so many different alcohols….

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Braised veal cheeks, cabernet linguini, escarole, bronzed sweet onion, pecorino. DEFINITELY my favorite meal of the night. When a former filet mignon lover goes cold turkey so to speak, fall apart tender meat doesn’t go unappreciated.

Cocktail, Wine, Wine, Wine, Beer, Beer, Prosecco.

Yeah, I’d say I miscalculated a bit. But when the prospect of a hotel room with its own private jacuzzi all to myself loomed, I couldn’t let it go to waste totally sober! I was all…

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…when I first got to the room. When I woke up with the hangover…that, well….somehow I forgot to take a picture of that.



About the restaurant:

The Farm to Fork menu changes every month on the first Thursday. Menu items range from $8 – $38. (also, awesome sushi menu and chef available Tuesday – Saturday 5pm -10:30pm). Vinoy is located at 501 5th Avenue NE in St. Petersburg, Fla. and the phone number to Marchand’s is 727-824-8072.

Also, don’t forget about the 1925 menu! Available Sunday – Thursday 5pm-6:30pm this menu is seasonal and only costs $19.25 (to align with the original opening in 1925) for three courses. Menu 
ALSO – Couples Getaway Package which starts at $239 a night and includes:
  • Upgraded bay view room
  • Complimentary valet parking
  • Half bottle of champagne 
  • Breakfast for two
  • Late check-out at 2 pm