News, Views and More from a Reporter's Notebook

By staff March 1, 2005

Best Bite

Although it's not on the printed menu, it's often on the "specials" board and nearly always available if you ask. I'm talking about taramosolata at El Greco Café, a splendid example of the classic Greek appetizer.

A whipped combination of olive oil, fish roe (caviar, if you prefer), shredded bread and touches of onion and garlic, taramosalata is a standard in Greece, where I first encountered it and fell in love. Now you can find an example of it at El Greco on Main at least as good as I found in Greece-and Sarasota is the richer for it.

A big scoop served with hot pita is $4.95 and makes a great, if rich, lunch.

Sarasota's Las Ramblas

Perhaps the most romantic city in the world, Barcelona has a series of walking boulevards called Las Ramblas, where thousands of strollers each evening walk themselves, their children and the pets, meet other strollers and sometimes even fall in love.

Surrounding the strollers on Las Ramblas is a continuous open-air market featuring everything from beautiful flowers to snacks to exotic live birds and fruits, all designed to appeal to the walkers.

Now Sarasota has its own indoors Las Ramblas, and it's called Whole Foods.

Strollers face an amazing series of choices with the best of just about everything from around the world-and narrow aisles that positively encourage discussing items with whoever is standing next to you.

It doesn't take much observation to realize Whole Foods is the new "meeting place" in Sarasota. Go in some evening about 8 p.m. (they're open to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday), and you'll find a fair number of people strolling the aisles with their minds upon meeting people as much as buying fruit and seafood. The place is spotlessly clean, amazingly diverse (both products and people), couldn't be safer and guess what-it's fun.

No, you won't end your stroll on Sarasota's Ramblas standing on the very dock from which Columbus first sailed for the America, as happens in Barcelona. But here in Sarasota you'll quite possibly end up having a friendly glass of wine at an outdoor table next door at Mattison's City Grille.

Read Any Good E-mails Lately?

Anyone can now look and see what Sarasota's city officials and staff are reading and replying to on the city's e-mail system. That's thanks to a new publicly accessible computer set up in the city clerk's office.

It's in keeping with the real spirit of the Florida Open Records Act, and we can all thank city auditor and clerk Billy Robinson for making the effort (and taking the heat from some) to make this possible.

The routine is simple. You walk into Robinson's office at City Hall and just tell the receptionist you'd like to scan the e-mails of any city staffer or official. You'll see both what they're receiving and sending out.

No, you're not likely to discover some city commissioner making a deal for a vote (because we all know they don't do that, anyway); but it can be enlightening to see who actually does e-mail the mayor or city manager and about what. For more information, just call the clerk's office at 954-4160.

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