Destination Mazzaro’s

We get together with Steve and Diane monthly for “Game Night”  We play QwirkleMexican Train, or maybe cards.  Once we played Clue but decided it took too much thinking.  It is, after all, designed for eight-year-olds. When we play our mentality shifts to six or under.

My favorite is Mexican Train.  Steve and Diane’s version is better than ours. Theirs has a button to press when you are down to one tile and a “WHOOOO WHOOOOO” train sound plays.  In our house, the down-to-one-tile person has to do the Whooo Whooo aloud.

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Steve and Diane put together the most beautiful charcuterie platters.  Fancy word, that.  I think it means Cheese and Meat and other random snacks.  I don’t know how to pronounce it, or how to duplicate their marvelous rendition.  BUT, now that we live in Saint Petersburg we have a secret charcuterie platter weapon.

Mazzaro’s Italian Market!

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Prior to moving here, I’d heard of Mazzaro’s.  So, shortly after we got settled we took a field trip to the huge ethnic market.  I was overwhelmed.  The place was packed with shoppers and loaded with foods I didn’t understand.  Philadelphia cream cheese is about as exotic as I get.

That visit we left with a biscotti.  One.  For Jim.

Yesterday we decided to take the plunge again.  We were determined to go slow and enjoy the process.

About Mazzaro’s—I found the following description online:

Enter the always lively St. Petersburg food emporium known as Mazzaro Italian Market and you can easily mistake the scene for a bustling, European street lined with butcher shops, bakeries, produce stands and displays of freshly caught fish and fragrant cheeses.

Mazzaro’s Old World ambiance may even trigger a childhood memory of a long-ago visit to a neighborhood grocery with a loved one.

“We are selling time travel,” says Kurt Cuccaro, whose family founded the local landmark. “Shopping at Mazzaro may transfer you to a time when growing up, there was a place you used to go to with your grandparents. Or it may remind you of somewhere you once lived, a store you used to shop at or a market in Europe.”

From its humble beginnings as a boutique coffee roasting operation, Mazzaro grew to become a beloved, robust retail destination that is among the Tampa Bay area’s most enduring –and endearing – businesses.

That metamorphosis from a modest mom-and-pop shop into a sprawling, 25,000-square-foot market makes Mazzaro the ultimate convenience store. With just one stop, shoppers can fill their baskets with foods from around the world, as well as locally sourced items from around the block. They can select from vast arrays of fresh meats and seafood, freshly made bread, pastries and pasta, signature soups and sandwiches, and well-stocked shelves displaying whatever is needed to make gourmet meals from scratch.

I wandered around with my phone taking photos.  Who knew there were so many versions of balsamic vinegar?

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And sausages?  We were in way over our heads.  I grabbed a small salami of some sort.  Cut it up earlier today.  It’s hard as a rock but delicious.  The one I picked came out of the little basket to the left of the “Please take a number” thing.  That guy to the right of the numbers saw me taking the photo and wanted to know if he was “lookin’ good”.  I assured him he was.

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Look at all the amazing prepared foods!

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The walls inside and out have been handpainted with scenes of Italy, and pictures of famous Italians.

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Also offered a butcher, handmade pasta and pastries!  Oh my.  Those pastries look sinfully delicious. Fortunately, not a single pastry was gluten free which saved me from me.

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I have a sneaking suspicion Mazzaro’s owners might be Catholic.  Your thoughts?

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Here is the assortment of delights we lugged home.  I will NOT be getting on the scale in the morning.  To all this, we will be adding crackers and fruit.  Now I have to display it in an appetizing looking way.  I should do that and add a photo.  But won’t.  Want this blog post published.

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Steve and Diane should be here soon.  I always lose at these games.  I have no knack for “strategery.”  But it’s all about the laughs.  And the food.




We Survived Irma!

All of Florida was in a panic a week ago. The television stayed on hurricane watch. At first, it appeared the East Coast would take the hit. Then things shifted. But when a three-hundred-fifty-mile wide storm hits a one-hundred-mile-wide state, things get ugly East, West, and center.

Our friends, Steve and Diane, live in a mandatory evacuation zone. We don’t. They came here to hunker down. As the storm approached, we grabbed umbrellas and walked to Rusty and Lynda’s.
They were more prepared than we by a long shot. ‘

Generator? Check.
Storm shutters? Check.
Fan blades removed? Check.



Their house was a dark as a tomb. I think Steve and Diane worried they had sought safety at the wrong house. No matter, they had no room at their inn. Lynda’s cute German mother, Erika, was ensconced in the guest room. Their friend John slept on his air mattress on the family room floor.


Meanwhile, here at our house, we dragged in anything that could become a missile. We submerged our heavy metal tables in the pool.



While we still had electricity I cooked Ina Garten’s recipe for pork tenderloins. Pulled it out of the oven, bundled it in towels and it was still hot hours later.

We spent the evening playing games. Sequence and Mexican Train was fun. I won Mexican Train.  Diane later learned we had been playing it wrong.



We placed bets about what time the electricity would fink out. I picked the nine o’clock hour. We all tossed in $5. Winner? Me again! Electricity was out by 8:30.

I took my winnings and bought scratch-off off lottery tickets. Tuesday night we’re going to dinner and the Cubs game with Steve and Diane. We’ll scratch them off while at the restaurant. Whatever we win we’ll split by four.

Jim and I watch HGTV David Bromstad’s Lottery Dream House. David helps lottery winners choose homes they pay for with their winnings. Some of these people have scored huge money on a little scratch off card. One guy won seven million on a card he found on the ground. So sad for the person who dropped it. After the government takes their portion he’d have what? Three and a half million? He set his “Dream House” budget at only about $350,000.

With my big winnings, I plan to buy a condo in Chicago.  That will be considerably more than $350,000.  I’ve been manifesting the win and condo in my mind since we purchased the tickets.  I plan to invite my son-in-law’s parents to use our place when they visit the kids.

As for damage here, there was very little. Some roof tiles broke and a couple of trees are listing to the left. The electricity was only off for a short while. Our evacuees didn’t lose power or take water at all.

The apres-storm view from Rusty and Lynda’s home to ours.  


Rusty and Lynda’s backyard following the storm.


Many nearby continue to be without electricity. It’s terribly hot and humid. Hopefully Duke Energy will resolve things soon.

All-in-all it was very exciting. And we got VERY lucky.