Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seasons Cafe and Bakery

There needs to be an overarching name for the vast area that encompasses the bottom half of the giant peninsula that has Clearwater to the north and St. Petersburg to the south. I'm finding that boundaries here are oddly nebulous; places tend to be geographically claimed simultaneously by a number of townships. For example, there's a park I visit often that is alternately referred to by official sites as being in Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and even Tampa itself, which is on the other side of the bay. And when you get deep in the heart of the murk at the center, even the locals aren't sure where Largo becomes Seminole becomes Pinellas Park becomes Lealman. And, it must be said, they don't seem to particularly care. Good for them.

But the stretch across the peninsula's bottom, running the full length of Central Avenue, has a distinctly separate personality from the more northerly Clearwater/Safety Harbor/Dunedin/Tarpon Springs area. And the more I hang out with locals down here, the more I find them repeatedly speaking of Central Avenue and everything south of it as one big unified community, connecting St. Petersburg, Bayview, Gulfport, Pasadena, Treasure Island, and St. Pete Beach. Many refer to the whole schmeer as simply "St. Pete" but I don't want to impinge upon the individual character of each of these locales, so I'm going to call it something else. Exactly what, I haven't decided yet.

Anyway. Reason I bring it up in the first place, this vast fuzzy area of quantum indeterminacy is another perfect example of the concept of "Interzone", a place of constantly shifting boundaries and blurred lines. And like the original William S. Burroughs Interzone in Tangier, this region is a rich melting pot of cultures. From where I sit in my office right now, I am minutes away from more authentic Italian restaurants than you can count (and by authentic I mean the menus aren't in English), a Filipino grocery, a Santeria/Voodoo "spiritual botanica", a Brazilian steakhouse, an Arabic Halal meat market, a Moroccan fusion bistro, Thai diners, German cafes, Cuban delis, African import stores and literally two dozen Vietnamese restaurants and markets.

Which brings us to Seasons Cafe & Bakery, located in, more or less, Pinellas Park. You know how I feel about the Bubble Tea, and Seasons excels at this delicacy. I highly recommend the taro boba smoothie. It's fluorescent purple and has a taste that is unique and indescribable, but I'll describe it anyway - it's kinda like a cross between a sweet potato and Lucky Charms cereal.

They also have delicious Thai Tea, Vietnamese Iced Coffee, and some wacky contraption called a "Koko Loko" - coffee jelly, egg pudding, and shaved ice with condensed milk. Beat that!

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