Life in St. Pete, Florida

Cyndi Duran

Entertainments writer, and food enthusiast, Palm Beach Gardens campus

On a recent trip to beautiful St. Petersburg, and Clearwater Florida, I experienced all the new developments, and activities in Pinellas county. Great for young professionals and college students who are about to make their move to the west coast of Florida, they are known for their gorgeous sunrises as well.

One attraction is the historical Vinoy Renaissance, a Marriott hotel located in St. Petersburg. The hotel was built in 1925 by architect Henry L. Taylor and embodies a historic Mediterranean Revival-style. It has attracted many celebrities in the past such as Calvin Coolidge, Babe Ruth, Marylin Monroe and also boasts the patronage of Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Julia Roberts. However, with a hotel that has so much history, there are almost always certain to be a few hauntings.

Opal Sands Resort was next. Just about 35 minutes away from St. Petersburg, it sits on the beautiful white beaches of Clearwater overlooking the newly developed downtown area. The Superior One bedroom suite boasts a wraparound view of ocean and city landscapes. Instead of ghosts, we were greeted with a bottle of La Crema wine, and a cheese plate on the dining table.

After check-in, we made our way back to St. Petersburg to review a new restaurant called, Stillwaters Tavern. There, we sat down with Chef Jeffrey Jew, and Dexter (co-creator behind “ilovetheburg” social media handle). Stillwaters Tavern can best be described as a modern American tavern: cooly rustic with modern concrete finishings. Opened in the spring of 2015, it remains one of St. Pete’s hottest culinary spots. The menu is inspired by the chef’s global travels which maintains its originality while also staying true to the signature house flavor favorites.

We sat down with the Chef himself. He prepared the most popular menu items:

For starters – The Med salad, which contained gen lettuce, raw veggies, roasted wheat, feta, salmon pastrami, egg croutons, and a Greek vinaigrette.

Next up, was the delicious Maryland style blue crab spaghetti. It features lump blue crab meat, heirloom baby tomatoes, date pepper, fresh herbs and old bay bread crumbs.

The Shrimp & Grits dish was delightful, and by far one of my favorites. It features Key West pink shrimp, Bradley’s country store cheddar grits, Carolina barbecue creole wine butter, okra, andouille, and scallions.

The following dish was the hogfish. It was pan seared and cooked with dirty rice, snipped beans, escabeche sauce and shaved fennel salad.  For dessert, I enjoyed a bite of chef Jeffrey Jew’s dark chocolate bourbon pecan tart, with Chantilly cream, and candied bacon.

My extraordinary trip shall not soon be forgotten. College students who are looking to venture a little further away from Boca Raton, or Miami should consider moving to the Pinellas county. This lovely region has a lot of adventures to offer.