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Published: January 31st 2012
Kristina's Cafe as seen from the north.
3590 34th St N
Saint Petersburg, FL33713
This is a bit of a combination blog, partly a food blog and partly a travel/adventure blog. It is the St. Petersburg Amateur Radio Club’s annual after-the-holidays party that was hosted by Kristina’s Café in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is an interesting concept, the after-the-holidays party. From November through New Years there are big meals, lots of guests, preparations and decorations galore. With the passing of New Years it all suddenly stops. The end is a welcome respite from the hurried activity of the holidays but it is now kind of empty, a big vacuum. The after-the-holidays party fills the void with a minimum of fuss and bother. It is casual dress, meet at the restaurant, eat, drink and be merry with good friends, and when it is all over, it is time to go home. A party with no fuss, no muss and no bother.
The St. Petersburg Amateur Radio Club, SPARC, is much like any other amateur radio club. It is made up of men and women of all ages, all professions, a general sampling of the community at large with a
Chocolate Chip Pancakes
A stack of all-wheat flour chocolate chip pancakes.
common single interest, communicating with radios. The amateur has nothing to do with their skill level. That merely means that they are not paid for what they do. And they do plenty. Amateur radio operators, familiarly known as hams, worldwide, are there when everything goes wrong. When earthquake, tornado, flood, any disaster strikes, hams are the first to get their own personal equipment on the air, sending the messages that coordinate the rescue and relief efforts. It may ne weeks or even months before the conventional telephone systems are repaired. In the interim everyone relies on the ham operator to get the message through. There is no possible government program that could put that many skilled operators and that much sophisticated equipment in such strategic locations. Hams do it because it is their hobby. Makes me feel kind of proud to be one of them.
This year, as last, the party was scheduled at Kristina’s Café, a small family-style restaurant. Half of the dining room was set aside for the SPARC members and their family. The final tally was a few less than fifty attending. That is a lot of people to feed all at once. Usually, for affairs
My Burger and French Fries
It takes a platter to hold the burgre and fries.
of this nature, the restaurant will offer a limited menu, many of the items prepared in advance to facilitate serving. It was open menu at Kristina’s and it is a rather extensive menu at that. Kristina’s does feature daily specials, Shepherd’s pie was featured today, and several people selected that delightful looking dish. That would have helped out a bit in the kitchen but most ordered a wide selection of the offerings.
Kristina’s is open 24-hours a day and serves breakfast anytime. The party time slot was between lunch and dinner. Our ordering options were for the entire menu, breakfast, lunch or dinner. My wife, Janis, chose the breakfast option and ordered one of her favorites; chocolate chip pancakes ($5.25). Her serving was three large, nicely browned pancakes with lots of chocolate chips. Although her favorite chocolate chip pancakes are made with a portion of buckwheat flour, these all wheat flour pancakes were tasty, nicely browned on the outside, cooked through on the inside (not doughy like some) and the chocolate chips melted and gooey but not burnt. There was a sufficient supply of butter and syrup provided. The three pancakes were a large serving for her and she
Bacon Mushroom Cheeseburger
It is a tall burger with bacon, mushrooms and cheese.
finished most of them; the dogs got very little. That should attest to them being tasty and a worthy dish to sample. She had coffee ($1.25) along with her pancakes. I don’t know what is usual at Kristina’s but at the banquet seating of the party there were insulated carafes of coffee being passed around that the servers kept full.
It is really hard for me to pass up a hamburger. Somewhere inside me is a part of Wimpy from the Popeye cartoons… “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” And so it was that I chose the mushroom and bacon cheeseburger, deluxe of course with French fries (you have a choice of potatoes, $6.95). It is a large burger, served on a platter with the fries. A smaller platter along side has the vegetables, lettuce, onion, tomato and a pickle. When dining out I order ground meat medium well, just in case. My burger was cooked to order. There was no skimping on the bacon, cooked crisp, and the mushrooms. It was a mound onto pod the burger patty and it needed the melted cheese to hold it all together. By the time I added the
lettuce, onion and tomato, it was a very tall burger and I really had to squeeze down to get a bite. The flavor was good, nice and juicy and didn’t really need any mayo or ketchup. The burger along with the fries was a big meal and I was quite satisfied. I had a soda with my burger. They feature Pepsi products so I chose a Mountain Dew ($1.35).
Entrees at Kristina’s are large. So, dessert is a “loosen the belt a notch” kind of thing. When the servers came around for dessert orders, I relented and chose a tapioca pudding with sprinkles of cinnamon and topped with a swirl of whipped cream ($1.25); a nice 4-ounce serving. It tasted like tapioca should, was sweet and cold and made for a nice touch after the heavier taste of the bacon mushroom cheeseburger and fries.
Think for a moment about this event. A small restaurant has almost fifty guests arrive almost all at once. They are seated, served their beverages of choice, meal orders taken and served in a time frame commensurate with the regular diners at the restaurant. Add to that the fact that the menu was not
Tapioca Pudding With the Works
Pudding with cinnamon and whipped cream.
abbreviated. We all got to choose from the full, rather lengthy menu. There were a couple of times that a dish went to the wrong person, but that was rare. For the most part each order came to exactly the right person. On top of that, checks came to the individual parties; our tab was correct. The servers out front and the staff in the kitchen did yeoman service to keep that all together. I can see why SPARC chose to return to Kristina’s. And by the way, the other half of the dining room was able to accommodate the regular customers, our servers doing admirable duty for them also.
I am a new member to the SPARC club. Many of the people I only know as voices on the radio. The club meetings and events like this party bring the members together. It was pleasant conversation with people, once strangers, now friends. The food was good and I enjoyed that. The interaction with my fellow hams was the spice that turned a meal into a veritable feast; one I will long remember. At the end of the dinner hour, the club president passed out favors to all the
A box of chocolates and a bag of double-fudge brownie mix.
guests. It was a select a wrapped gift from the basket event. We did quite well. A nice box of chocolates and a bag of double-fudge brownie mix.
If you have an interest in amateur radio and would like more information, visit the St. Petersburg Amateur radio Club at http://www.sparc-club.org/index.html
. There you will find many links to provide all the information you may need to become a ham yourself.
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