Tuesday, 28 July 2009

New York, Old Florida mix

It's always nice when someone from up country comes to see us and tells all the folks back home how nice it is here. Well, those lovely people at the New York Times have been singing the praises of Anna Maria Island's restaurants recently, thanks to an article by Cindy Price.

It starts: FLORIDA is a clever little peninsula. Just when you think you’ve seen everything under its proverbial sun, you stumble across a place like Anna Maria Island — a seven-mile slip of cushy white sand tucked in the Gulf of Mexico where you can dump the car, rent a bike, swim in smooth, teal waters and eat remarkably well.
That last part doesn’t happen entirely by accident. Not in the Florida I grew up in, where chain restaurants line the landscape from Jacksonville to Miami. But Anna Maria Island, about 40 miles south of Tampa, has always kept things old school. A free trolley-style bus runs the length of the island, and colorful old cottages dot the landscape. There are practically no chain restaurants, no high-rise hotels or party beaches — just a laid-back, margarita-by-sunset kind of place with establishments committed to keeping things fresh, independent and local.

Cindy goes on to explain where she ate, and each experience seems to have been a good one. Check out the whole article here

Don't just visit Anna Maria Island, stay here. For the very best in vacation rental properties visit www.annamarianetwork.com and spend your vacation in a real home from home.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The future of food

We do like to eat, but what we eat has changed so much over the years. Consumers nowadays are a lot more calorie-conscious and careful about what they eat.
One thing remains constant when we Americans eat out, however: we want what we want, how we want it.
The latest study by R&I Magazine, the USA's leading source of food and business-trend information and exclusive research on operators and restaurant patrons, shows that less is more in most chain eateries.
'The big theme shaping chain menus in 2009 is the drive to help diners tighten their belts, both literally and figuratively,' says its senior editor, Allison Perlik.
The study also attempts to predict food trends and what we'll all be eating next. Take a look at some of these, and then try not to go an make yourself one...

Chipotles, sliders, mojitos—every few years, an ingredient or recipe makes such a big splash with chain consumers that it becomes a virtual menu must-have. So what’s up next? R&I culled a list of the latest contenders:

Already huge among independent-restaurant chefs, meatballs make an ideal menu addition for chains for the same reasons they work for single-unit operations: They’re affordable; they’re simple; they’re comfort food. Already on board: A spring promotion at Littleton, Colo.-based Champps Americana featured a Chicken Meatball Sandwich on a toasted hoagie roll with marinara sauce and provolone cheese; Concord, Calif.-based Round Table Pizza got into the act with the Meatball Marvel pizza and sandwich; and Dallas-based T.G.I. Friday’s added a Meatball Sandwich on ciabatta.

Hot Browns.
Sandwiches are about as close to recession-proof as menus get, and Philly cheesesteaks, Reubens and Cubanos have all had a turn as “the” hot build. Next up: the Hot Brown, an open-faced turkey sandwich blanketed in Mornay sauce (béchamel with cheese). Already on board: Atlanta-based J. Christopher’s Kentucky Hot Brown layers turkey over toasted French bread with creamy cheese-and-bacon sauce. Meanwhile, Calabasas Hills, Calif.-based The Cheesecake Factory added the Hot Turkey Supreme, an open-faced turkey sandwich over grilled brioche and fresh spinach with white-Cheddar sauce. Hybrids. Chain diners are notorious for craving new flavors that don’t stray too far from recipes they know and love, so dishes that combine two or more well-established favorites seem a sure bet. Already on board: Carlsbad, Calif.-based Rubio’s Fresh Mexican Grill’s All-American Taco delivers a char-grilled burger, American cheese, salsa, garlic-chipotle mayonnaise and lettuce inside a warm flour tortilla. San Diego-based Jack in the Box’s Taco Nachos uses chunks of the chain’s signature tacos as a base for Cheddar-cheese sauce, melted pepper-Jack cheese, jalapeños and salsa.

Hot dogs.
This American classic isn’t yet in high supply beyond dedicated concepts such as Carlsbad, Calif.-based Hot Dog on a Stick, but hot dogs’ nostalgic, economical appeal means the ballpark favorite increasingly is cropping up on all kinds of menus. Already on board: Lakewood, Wash.-based The Ram Restaurant & Brewery recently featured beer-battered Crab & Shrimp Corn Dogs. Columbus, Ohio-based Rise & Dine Restaurants offers the Back to Basics Value Menu, built around regionally influenced dogs from Chicago, New York and Texas, as well as jalapeño-cheese and Reuben dogs.

These all-in-one meals are back, and for good reason. They’re fast, versatile and operationally simple. Already on board: Cypress, Calif.-based Chevys Fresh Mex’s $7.99 Lunch Bowl offers ramped-up flavors such as grilled salmon with Mexican rice, tomatillo sauce and roasted-corn salsa, or chicken with house-made mole, rice and mesquite-grilled vegetables. At Jack in the Box, the Hearty Breakfast Bowl with scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage and Cheddar cheese was among the year’s most successful debuts.

Fried potatoes.
Potatoes are a cost-effective kitchen staple, and fried foods are always a home run, so it makes sense that operators are serving up multiple renditions of the crisp, golden treat. Already on board: Glendale, Calif.-based IHOP’s Loaded Country Hash Browns featured toppings such as sausage, Cheddar cheese, grilled onions and country gravy, while Atlanta-based Hooters debuted Bleu Chips (fresh-cooked potato chips covered in blue cheese, bacon, diced tomatoes and green onions) and Lots-a-Tots (fried potato tots with cheese sauce, bacon, green onions and sour cream).

Mmmmmmm. Hungry.
Read the full article here (over a sandwich if you just can't wait).

There really is only one company to trust with your Anna Maria Island vacation, and only one website you need to visit. Click on www.annamariavacations.com for the very best in vacation rentals on the island. From two-bed cottages, to huge homes for the whole family, waterside, gulf front, secluded, we have it all.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Skinny's will fill you up

Here's the skinny on Skinny's, it's just about the best place on the island to get a really cold beer, and eat a really great burger.
There are other burger joints, sure, but Skinny's has become something of an institution on Anna Maria Island, and that is for a very good reason.
Here's what it looks like inside - nothing special you might think, but think again...

Don't just visit Anna Maria Island, stay here. For the very best in vacation rental properties visit http://www.amisland.com and spend your vacation in a real home from home.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Lego no-go for Orlando

Was hoping this rumor would be true, but it seems not. According to the Orlando Sentinel there will be no Legoland in the city anytime soon.

Reports the Sentinel: 'Is Legoland looking to open a theme park in Central Florida? The chain's operator says no, at least not any time soon.
Rumors that the chain, inspired by Lego building blocks for children, was considering the Orlando area for a second U.S. theme park spread across the internet last week after some Central Floridians reportedly received surveys gauging their interest in a Florida Legoland.
But Merlin Entertainments Group, the parks' British-based parent company, said the rumors of a second U.S. park weren't true.
"This is pure speculation!" wrote Sally Ann Wilkinson, a Merlin spokeswoman reached by e-mail last week. Wilkinson said the company, which already has Legolands in California, Germany, Denmark and England, considers the United States a key market for expanding all of its attractions, including Madame Tussauds and Sea Life.
"To this end we are assessing the potential of several key areas, including Florida, and this often includes us undertaking consumer research. However, we have no specific plans as yet for the state."'

Shame, those places are great. Oh well, back to relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sun.

Don't just visit Anna Maria Island, stay here. For the very best in vacation rental properties visit www.annamarianetwork.com and spend your vacation in a real home from home.