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Beer and Loathing in Tampa

(Or why I was at the gym at 5:13 Wednesday morning and expect to assiduously count calories for the remainder of this week.)

It’s hard to believe the Republican National Convention has been over for almost a week.

Many of those who braved Tropical Storm Isaac to cover the coronation of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney are once again battling the elements (and countless talking heads) in Charlotte, N.C., even as we speak.

Yours truly was spared the indignity of living out of a suitcase for two weeks in a row. Which is not to say I escaped Florida completely unscathed.

As you can see from my exhaustive dining diary, covering the convention was no picnic. Most days, I failed to eat a single nutritionally balanced meal.

And don’t even ask about my liver.


Saturday, Aug. 25 (travel day — en route to Tampa)

Breakfast: salami-roasted chicken-asiago wrap

Lunch: snack bag of pomegranate-flavored rice cakes, snack bag of chocolate chip cookies; ginger ale

Snack: N/A

Bandeja paisa at La Pequena Columbia
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)


Dinner: chicharron and fried yucca appetizer plate, rustic feast of more fried pork, thinly sliced steak, spiced sausage, beans, rice, plantains and arepitas at La Pequena Colombia; multiple Aguila beers

Nightcap: N/A


Sunday, Aug. 26

Breakfast: N/A

Lunch: N/A

Snack: N/A

Dinner: Hard Hat grinder (generously stacked with salami, honey ham, roast beef, pastrami, pepperoni, provolone, lettuce, tomato and mayo) from CDB Pizza; multiple glasses of unsweet tea

Nightcap: countless cubes of aged cheese and slices of cured salumi, zesty shrimp, crispy goat cheese fritters at Cassis; enough whiskey and vodka to blind an ox


Monday, Aug. 27

Breakfast: scrambled eggs, sausage, biscuits, sausage gravy, home fries at Courtyard Marriott; single cup of coffee, single cup of orange juice

Lunch: N/A

Snack: N/A

Dinner: bacon jam wedges appetizer (s’aright) and small New Haven pie (terrific clams) at Wood Fired Pizza; multiple glasses of unsweet tea

Patron ice bar at DISCUS reception
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Nightcap: pulled pork sandwich with sour orange glaze and crisp slaw at Florida Aquarium; vodka, club soda, whiskey, ginger ale (repeat until bleary eyed)


Tuesday, Aug. 28

Breakfast: N/A

Lunch: chopped salad at Carne Chophouse; gallons of ice water

Snack: snack bag of Doritos in media workspace; multiple bottles of water


Arroz moro and plantains at La Teresita
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Dinner: mounds of gouda, brie and crackers at Carne Chophouse; two glasses of Stella Artois; mojo-soaked roast pork with shredded beef-filled tamal, fried plantains and beans and rice at La Teresita; one bottle of Presidente beer

Nightcap: vodka, whiskey, assorted mixers at Dallas Bull; cheese, crudite and fistfuls of M&Ms at Honey Pot; more vodka


Wednesday, Aug. 29

Breakfast: one liter of pomegranate-flavored soda water

Lunch: three-piece fried chicken meal with potato wedges from Publix

Snack: N/A

Dinner: handfuls of crab-spiced chips, half a Cuban sandwich (very good) and one carne taco at CNN Grill; So. Much. Whiskey.


Alabama Slammer station at Taste of Southern Hospitality reception
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Nightcap: bottle of Bud Light at Hammered Harry’s; multiple vodka, whiskey drinks at Florida Aquarium; bites of baby back ribs, shrimp and grits, breaded crab cakes at Raymond James Stadium; shot of Southern Comfort-laced punch


Thursday, Aug. 30

Breakfast: N/A


Cigar Tent at Liberty Plaza
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Lunch: tree-trunk-like stogie at Liberty Plaza

Snack: chicken kebabs at Glazer Children’s Museum; multiple bottles of Stella Artois

Ari Fleischer at CNN Grill in Tampa
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Dinner: after waiting an hour and a half for an illusory Cuban sandwich at CNN Grill — Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush’s former mouthpiece (pictured above), seemed to have no problem scoring a meal — I retreated to the media workspace, where I finally broke down and pounced on a days-old vegetarian sandwich (roasted red peppers, sliced Portobello, ripe tomatoes) crunchified by a handful of Cheetos

Nightcap: mini slices of pastrami-topped pizza, two cheddar cheeseburger sliders, single serving of sausage and peppers at Hattricks Tavern; multiple drafts of Stella Artois; an ungodly number of barbecue meatballs and a makeshift grilled chicken sandwich at Liberty Plaza; few more vodka drinks (what the hell).


Oddly enough, I somehow still managed to LOSE 1.5 pounds during my stay in Tampa — a benefit, no doubt, of having to hike every which way in stifling heat.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find an AA meeting that dabbles in colonics …

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