Category Archives: Tampa

>Courtney Visits IKEA or "Oh! I LOVE THAT!"

>Last Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny and with a glimmer of glee. It would be my first trip to IKEA. I don’t really know if it should be typed Ikea or IKEA, but after my visit IKEA seems to be correct.

We started out with a visit to Starbucks on Gulf to Bay, in Clearwater. My friend was trying to decide if he should join Sam’s Club or Costco, so we sat having Mocha Frappythings and trying to determine which club carried the Holy Grail. Uh, Pardon me. I meant we had to figure out which store carried Nestle Quick since that’s all he cared about. Costco won the war. We were there. He joined and got his Nestle Quick. We then went on the Costco sample tour which included two B-12 Supplements (1 sublingual tablet and one liquid fizzy drink,) three Acai drinks, several food items, and the worst thing I have EVER tasted, Salad in a cup. (Salad in a cup is actually juiced lettuce.) I was pretty hyped at this point, thanks to over indulging in B-12 and Acai, and suddenly I was in love with EVERYTHING. My poor friend was laughing himself silly. He couldn’t take it anymore when I fell for the backyard bridge and was envisioning myself in a backyard production of Romeo and Juliet, so we ventured on.

IKEA is located in Tampa. On the drive over I pondered what it would be like. The general response from people “IKEA… SQUEEEE! YOU WILL LOVE IT!” My friend and I discussed it before we arrived, but he basically said that it was big and that I’d see it when we got there. We pulled into the parking lot. It is so huge that they have parking people to direct you to emptpy spots. We parked near the back, but that’s the best place to get the full view. Holy SNAP! This place is BIG.

We walked in. You are asked to not take a cart because you will wander through the showroom first. ALWAYS, follow the arrows. This keeps you safe and not lost. We headed up the escalator and it began. “OH! I LOVE IT!” I said it so much that by the time we left my throat was raw. They have furniture, utensils, storage solutions, dishes, plants, pots, and pretty much every other thing that your little heart could want for your home.

They have bookshelves filled with books. The books are all in a language that I am going to assume is Swedish. I thought they would be fake books, but upon picking one up, I found them to be real (and very funny.)

All of the items have funny names that often have to do with their function or the room they are meant to be in. This one was for a light that went in the bathroom. Way to keep it classy, IKEA. (My kids are gonna love this.)

After you think you just might die from looking at more home items than you ever wanted to look at in your natural life, you stumble into my favorite section of the store. The cafeteria. Yum! I ordered the Swedish Meatballs with mashed potatos and Lingonberries. I drank Lingonberry juice. It was so good. The Lingonberry is everything the cranberry wishes it was. Also, I call it the Klingonberry, because it makes me laugh. The food tasted good, but it was not hot enough. It was barely lukewarm.

Bob had the Lox plate. It looked and tasted wonderful. He’s a good guy, he let me taste his food. I would have gotten the lox, but I was starved and it didn’t look filling. Paired with the soup and Garlic bread they offer, I bet it would have been just right.

To end our meal we had their chocolate cake. It was highly reccommended by another shopper. We liked it. It was more mocha than sweet chocolate, but it was a good end to a meal. I would have taken a photo of it, but we kind of scarfed it before I had a chance.

After our lunch we went back down the escalator to the self serve portion of the store. At this point it is acceptable to grab a cart and fill it up. I ended up buying a set of little cups, a doormat, a pot for my fully recovered mother’s day plant, and an ice cube tray for heart shaped ice (for the kids, I swear!)

I did love it, but IKEA is not a place where you can pop in and out. IKEA is an adventure. You really need to devote several hours to pawing around and figuring out what you want and how things work.

>Food Review: Big John’s Alabama BBQ.

>Yesterday, my brother Cameron and I ventured out into Tampa to look at an apartment. On the way, we saw a giant smoke stack and Cam yelled “Stop! We are going THERE!”

The place in question was Big John’s Alabama BBQ. We walked into a place filled with the aroma of roasting meat. It was wonderful. I never know what to order because I want everything. Cameron ordered the chopped pork sandwich and I followed suit. Cameron ordered the slaw and beans. I ordered the macaroni salad and potato salad, so all of the sides were sampled.

Cameron scarfed the slaw down and loved it. He also liked the beans, but said he wanted to make his own at home later. I thought that the potato salad tasted alright, but that it had a much too liquid consistency. The macaroni salad also tasted as it should have, but it was not the best the restaurant has to offer.

After the opening act, it was time for the star of the show. It was time for the pork and barbecue sauce. I ordered my sauce on the side. Cameron did not. I tasted the pork first and it was wonderful. It was tender, juicy, and delicious. I tasted the sauce next. Cameron said that it tasted like ketchup with a lot of vinegar added to it. I agreed with him, but we both felt like it grew on you. It wasn’t bad at all.

Big John’s has the feel of a barbecue joint. The room has about 6 small tables, padded metal chairs, and plastic picnic style table clothes. You walk up to a big counter to order and they bring your food to you there. If you are thirsty they sell canned soda and I was very happy to find that they stocked Coca-Cola.

All in all, it was a good experience. The food was good. The pork was great. We were happy. My brother insists that I will take him there again.

Big John’s Alabama BBQ is located at 5707 N 40th St, Tampa, FL 33610‏.

Note: Due to the widening of 40th Street, Big John’s will be closing for three months starting on the first of April, 2009.

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