Friday, November 28, 2008

Survey time!

Just a few questions (about shopping, of course!) and you can win $25:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let's all show some local love to our shops!

Every year I cringe when I watch the news stories about people that actually SLEEP outside the big ticket stores to get their hands on whatever thing is "it" that year for gift giving. Has the holiday season really become that commercialized?

Maybe I just see another side. I have responded to injuries and assaults in stores when shoppers flip out after Best Buy runs out of iMacs on sale or Target didn't stock enough Bratz castles. And I won't even get into when Walmart doesn't have things at the price they advertised them at. Last season, in the wee hours of Black Friday, I drove through Tyrone on my way back to the station and watched the cops wrestling someone to the ground outside Macy's.

I mean, really. What have we become?

This year, I say we boycott the whole deal. How about spreading the wealth to our local businesses? And get some original gifts for everyone on our list, things that they'll never expect and that no one else will have! One of a kind boutique things, or a gift certificate to that little mom-n-pop place on the corner that you know has the best lasagna. A day of spa gifts from a place that's not on the map, or an awesome coffee gift set from that cafe you love to sit in on a Sunday morning. A handcrafted journal from the local stationary store.

If we all pitched in, this could be the year that we shift the tides. And make it a happy holiday for more than just the department stores.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A bit of Chicago in the heart of Bradenton

Just like my endless mission to find the best hotwings on earth, my other half is always on the lookout for real Chicago-style food. I've been dragged in and out of various hotdogs and pizza joints taste-testing beef sandwiches and such (well, o.k., not dragged per se; I love food).

I think we've found what he has been looking for: Joey D's of Bradenton. This little family owned and operated eatery is tucked in on 14th St West, and admittedly doesn't look like much from the outside. Inside, though, is an impressive shrine to Da Bears. They boast to be the only local place you can actually watch the Chicago football games, and have huge screen TVs on every wall.

But what got me was the smell: that warm, cheesy, baked, meaty, garlic-y goodness that wraps around you when you walk in the door. Pure olfactory heaven.

"I want some of whatever that is that I smell," I told the waitress when it was time to order. It turned about to be their special deep-dish Rush Street Stuffed Pizza, filled with onion, green peppers, mushrooms and sausage. And while it takes 30 to 40 minutes to cook, it was well worth the wait. A medium 14" pie was more than enough for the two of us with leftovers for the next day. A large, I'm told by other patrons, will kill you.

They also have a full menu of other Chicago-style goodies, like Vienna beef hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches. My picky husband, who grew up in Chicago, swears that Joey D's is the real deal.

Joey D's is right on the corner of US 41 and Cortez Road, open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays until 11 p.m. Dine-in, take-out or delivery. (941) 753-8900. Give them a try if you're in the neighborhood. Amazingly wonderful good eats!

Or as one customer put it, their pizza is "Un-frickin'-believable!"

We agree.