When I got to the airport in Louisville, I was wearing a winter coat. When I arrived at the Tradewinds Resort at St. Pete Beach, I put on my flip-flops. Reason #1 I was excited to be at this conference: being able to spend time outside, in the sunshine. So once I'd settled in and caught up with my roommate, I headed to the beachside grill to eat lunch (a yummy chicken fajita wrap) and begin picking out the programs I wanted to attend in the days ahead. Yes, some sunshine and salt breezes do indeed make food taste better (even if it's good food to begin with).
Wednesday night, after the opening session and keynote speaker, there was a delightful buffet of hor d'ouevres that included fun little veggie cups and (wait for it) a chocolate fountain! Mmm, mmm. I also added some cheese after this photo was taken, and I really liked the grouper bites being passed by one of the servers.
Thursday, thanks to the fridge in our room (that my roommate had stocked with snacks and drinks), I was able to partake of my leftovers from the day before...
...to enjoy lunch on the patio outside our room. Sigh. I got so spoiled by all the being outside while I was there...definitely something I miss about living in a more moderate climate.
With all the nice weather, my plan had been to go back to the beachside grill for dinner - maybe to try the fish tacos that I kept hearing people talk about. Then it started to rain. Then it started to pour. Then it started to thunder and lightning. Hmm. I think I'll order room service instead.
I opted for a club sandwich (which was fresh-tasting with perfectly-cooked bacon) with a side of guacamole (yum!) and more of the fries. Because I really liked their fries. A bit expensive, sure - but it was nice to avoid the weather, relax, be lazy and have some quiet time.
Friday, as part of the conference organization's 25th birthday celebration, they had cupcakes for everyone. Clearly, this organization knows how to host a conference!
That night, tired of resort food, my roommate and I ventured down the street to Crabby Bill's, a casual seafood restaurant the concierge recommended. I opted for a simple plate of peel-and-eat shrimp with sweet potato fries and coleslaw, and it was perfect.
Then there was my roommate's plate - one of the feast plates piled with clams, oysters, crab legs, shrimp and (the reason she chose this plate) crawfish. That's her in the background, taking a picture to send her husband of all the food she was about to eat - and yes, she ate almost all of it.
Remarkably, after eating all the seafood, we still had room for dessert. Or rather, I should say that she had room for dessert and I had room for half a dessert. This chocolate cake was so rich and decadent that eating more than half of it would have been bad. (But again - we had a fridge in our room, so into a box went the leftover half for a treat later that night.)
Saturday, I finally got to try those fish tacos (at another beachside snack bar, of all places) - and they definitely lived up to their reputation. The fish was firm with a thin, but nicely textured breading; and the salsa and spicy mayonnaise were just the right complements. And yes - these, too, were made even better by the setting.
All in all, not only did I feed my brain with lots of great learning while I was away, but also I fed my stomach with some good eats. Not a bad combination for a professional vacation!
Where I am: home
What I'm re-reading: Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks