Road Warrior Influencer Dinner at AQUA

September 13, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Last night I was invited to meet with some representatives from General Motors in the Southeast by their awesome PR team. They asked a group of people who had participated in GM marketing events in the past to have a meet and greet and discuss ideas for more grassroots marketing efforts. I had a great time participating in the Chevy Fit4Life Tour  and the Chevy Go For the Gold Challenge, so I was very excited that they asked me to attend. We were invited to have dinner at AQUA Bar & Grille.

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AQUA is located in the Westin hotel in the Rocky Point area of the Courtney Campbell Causeway (one of the three bridges spanning Tampa Bay for you non-locals). It has a large patio outside and there is even a sandy beach with lounge chairs.

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My friend Christie (of Baby Boot Camp and Karna Fitness) was also invited, so we rode together from St. Pete to Tampa.

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Before we sat down everyone sort of mingled and introduced themselves informally. I was happy to learn that my friend Rachel, a fellow Tampa Bay Lady Blogger who blogs at Runners Tales, was also invited.

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The GM representatives told us that they were traveling around meeting “influencers” (please don’t tell them I’m not much of an influencer, okay?) in the southeast region and brainstorming ideas for future campaigns. GM loves to get involved in the community at the local level and find fun ways to showcase their vehicle line by letting “real people” get behind the wheel.

This was my first time visiting AQUA, but I had heard very good things about it and it is highly rated on Yelp. I should have taken more photos of the interior of the restaurant because it is very cool and interesting, but I was trying to appear cool and interesting and not like a camera-obsessed blogger. I did manage to snap a photo of the open kitchen which is at the very center of the restaurant.

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The menu looked enticing…

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especially the drink menu. We were asked to please choose ONE beverage, as they did not want to encourage drinking and driving of course. It was hard to choose, but I settled on the Berry Berry Blue martini.

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You know I like a fruity, pretty drink.

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It was delicious. I should have asked Christie to drive!

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We went around the table and everyone introduced themselves. Everybody spoke of the organization that they represented, and when it was my turn I sort of awkwardly said, “My name is Caroline Calcote and I write a somewhat frivolous blog about my life called, uh, My Fascinating Life.” I’m pretty sure everyone was impressed. I also mentioned the Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers because I was there to represent! Luckily I had Rachel by my side so we kept all the food photography on one end of the table.

I had fun photographing food in a restaurant with our new camera for the first time.

The market salad with seasonal greens, goat cheese, grape tomatoes, candied pecans, apples, and a champagne vinaigrette:

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It’s not listed in the description, but there were also slivers of potatoes in the salad which was my favorite part. It was delicious.

While we ate we chatted with the other invitees around us as well as the GM representatives. I really enjoyed meeting the president of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce. He gave us the inside scoop on this year’s Guavaween celebration (think 50 Shades of Ybor).

The drink and salad pictures above were taken while it was still light outside and we were sitting right in front of some huge windows. By the time our entrees arrived, the sky was darkening, so this photo was taken in fairly low light with no flash:

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Not bad, huh? That’s the citrus Atlantic salmon with heirloom black bean ragout and smoked tomato gazpacho. It was divine. The smoky gazpacho was a perfect accompaniment to the citrus glaze on the salmon. If I wasn’t such a cool “influencer” I might have licked the plate.

By the time dessert came it was totally dark outside, so this photo is lit only by the ambient light in the restaurant, which was typically dim:

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I think I’m pretty happy with the new camera! That is banana caramel cheesecake. I was pretty happy with that too.

Thank you for the invitation Tucker Hall and General Motors! It was a fun evening and I hope that the Tampa Bay Lady Bloggers are able to do more events with GM in the future.

Now that the fabulous part of this blog post is over, on to the mundane stuff I usually write about. Like walking Mack to school with Chewie. I love this tree that we pass on our walk every morning:

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I think it’s a live oak. They have it lit with a spotlight and it looks so cool against the predawn sky. I think it may be dead though, probably thanks to the Spanish moss.

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These days I’m getting back home just as the sun is truly rising.

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But I guess the time will be changing soon enough and then we’ll get to walk to school in the light again for a little while.

My breakfast this morning may not have been AQUA quality, but I think it was kind of beautiful.

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I made pomegranate pecan Kodiak Cakes and they were so good.

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After Cal got off to school I started to get all geared up to ride Specialized Snowflake to the gym and then this happened:

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Oh well, it could have been worse. At least I had on underwear (as my friend Lynn pointed out later on in that comment thread).

Today was a yoga day, and typically I ride Star the Trek on yoga days so that I can carry my yoga mats on her rack. But today I got to use my new Yopa back pack for the first time.

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It is this extra long, narrow back pack which can actually be used for all sorts of things (like kids’ sports equipment, skateboards…whatever), but it is perfect for carrying two rolled up yoga mats.

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The straps are not super comfortable since they are just unpadded vinyl webbing and two yoga mats are fairly heavy, but it was fine for the six miles to and from the gym.

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It’s really hard to get a picture of a backpack on your own back.

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I made it to the gym safely despite being more top-heavy than normal. I love that backpack! I seems really well-made and I like the details such as the mesh drawstring pocket on the outside and the attached zippered change purse on the inside.

Yoga:

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On the bike ride home the bike path was blocked by a big utility truck that I had also passed in another location on the way to the gym.

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If I had been riding Star I would have just ridden through the grass. But on Snowflake, with my clipless pedals and his skinny tires, I was afraid what might happen. So I got off and walked around. Wimp?

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I didn’t want to risk crashing right in front of those guys.

Once home (safely) I showered then made lunch.

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It was a salad with leftover crockpot pork tenderloin, potatoes, and green beans (the boys’ dinner last night while I was at the fabulous AQUA) dumped on top.

Then I did laundry until time to go pick up Mack from school.

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Mack and I weren’t home very long before we had to go pick Cal up in the car line at his school.

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I had to pick him up so that we could make it to karate in time. After karate we made a little detour before picking up our Thursday night pie at Tour de Pizza. We went by the grand opening of the new St. Pete location of Fit2Run!

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You know I have a ton of friends in the Tampa Bay running community, so there has been a lot of buzz in my circles about the opening of this store right downtown. My friend Dawn (fellow IRunMommies member) is working there and is their event coordinator. Here she is with her beautiful daughters, manning the VIP table.

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The boys checked out the colorful Newtons.

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We got there right as they were doing the official ribbon cutting. The place was packed. We had to park two blocks away.

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Inside they had all kinds of product samples, as well as champagne and a huge buffet of some delicious-looking food.

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Since we had already ordered pizza we didn’t eat, but we definitely could have just had dinner there. I saw a bunch of my friends (Hi Amy and Kelly and Ali!) including my friend Carrie who was manning the Karna Fitness table for Christie, who was out of town today.

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They also had a table set up for Beach Beast, which I am planning to do (thanks to Yelp!) in a couple of weeks.

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I’m going to have a free pass for a friend as well, so my local crazy runner athlete girls…stay tuned.

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We didn’t stay long because the boys were getting hangry and it was starting to rain. We grabbed the pizza on the way home, but I managed to avoid the temptation. They ate pizza, but my dinner consisted of a large wedge of this ginormous Florida avocado that Chad brought home from the office. It was from a co-worker’s tree. It was the same size as Mack’s head.

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I actually intended to make something else for myself for dinner later, but that avocado was delicious and I ended up eating quite a bit of it with tortilla chips and I’m just calling that dinner.

Whew. That’s it. Long day. Long post. I guess that’s why I’m publishing this after 9 p.m. Maybe tomorrow’s post will not be so ridiculously long. Maybe.

Cya.

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