Month: May 2016

A Trip To Pizzeria Antica (review of a cool destination here)

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We had eaten here shortly after it first opened but I didn’t have time to take pics and think about writing on it.  First, it’s a true cool destination location restaurant. Our downtown area has become quite hip, and is often referred to as micro urban. I should say that it’s close to where I live but I’m 15 min away in a tiny town. Champaign has about 100k people which is still small to many folks. My town has less than 8k lol. So I often refer to Champaign places as home to me.
  OK on to the fun stuff. First, if straight dominoes, papa John’s etc is the only thing you like, don’t go!  I love all pizza but this is wood fired gourmet rustic. Great locally sourced meats and cheese’s plus produce. Lots of olive oil and charred edges on the crust. Very good, and the place is a true experience. It’s in an old publishing building and very industrial looking. I love that!  You can stand and Look at the specially made ovens which came from Naples Italy. Heck you can see the woodpile!!
   A few pictures and then we will talk about the meal after the jump. Enjoy.

To start of I had a great Morreti Rossa and my wife had the house Chianti. We ordered the cheese plate for a nice start. Great local area cheese’s that were fantastic as well as olives/sweety drops jam and bread. It was very good. Not too heavy or much but classically excellent. Artisan local cheese can’t be beat for an experience.

    For the main we had the pizza pomodorini. Fresh mozzarella and fresh cherry tomatoes plus prosciutto Di parma/parmagianno reggianno and fresh arugula. Excellent. Fresh and nice charcoal edges. Again if this isn’t your thing it isn’t your place. Give it a try though. I’m a Giordano’s and Filippo guy but I love this stuff as well!
  

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It was a great meal in a very cool place. Made for a nice and different experience in our area. The only downside was service this time. I never complain about that but she disappeared!  Dropped off the pizza and never saw her again. We really wanted more drinks (especially me!). Gone. We have fun wherever we go and laughed about it but it wasn’t great. Nobody seemed happy to be there. I hope it was a one off as I really like the place and will return, but that needs work. We travel often, eat everywhere and pay well as a general rule. This was off.
   Again, it’s a great place and we had a wonderful time. Check it out if you’re in the area. If you’d like to be part of our sponsor/ad/ ambassador program email us. From inexpensive links to features or social ads/spokesperson work. Hit tompkinscontent@gmail.com today. Also follow @combatsportlife on Twitter.
   Today’s sponsor is the awesome Westbrook Stables. Get a great riding and training experience in a Western family oriented environment!  https://m.facebook.com/westbrookstable/

A link to today’s restaurant
http://anticachampaign.com/

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A Short Review Of Esquire Lounge (my fave in Champaign IL)

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the Esquire is one of the oldest and in the Chambana area. I started going there with my Dad decades ago. It was tiny then. Classic little bar. A grill right in the window, the cook took your order and served you. Back then you could get like 3 things.
        Today it has expanded quite a bit. Two separate bars in two rooms. Lots of windows looking out on to the growing downtown area. It’s become a but if a tech hub around here and that has really helped our downtown become quite cool. The Esquire has changed but stayed the same. Exposed brick walls. Lots of  pool table,gaming and juke boxes. I’ll post some pics of the menu and some other things and we’ll talk a bit more.

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    The menu is bar/bistro but pretty wide. They have good individual pizzas as well.  The bar/beer list is great. The prices are great. I’ve tried a lot of it but I kind of go back to my two favorites. A cheeseburger and fries with a Domain DuPage from Two Brothers Brewing. The burger is great, and they have the coolest fresh condiment bar. That makes the difference!!  Plus that is an awesome beer. I normally lean toward IPA or similar but if a place has this French country ale I get it!  Very smooth, doesn’t bomb your senses or stomach and it’s made here in Illinois.

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  It’s great place to relax and just enjoy spending time. It’s family friendly, clean and just one of those rare places I look for in my travels. Fortunately this one is right here for me. If you like classics come check this place out.
     If you’d like to have us visit your place ( restaurant/bar/hotel etc) or be promoted/ repped by us then email me. We travel the world for martial arts and PR for businesses and write about the travel lifestyle. Hit tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on Twitter.
   Today’s links ( yours could be here).
http://www.esquirelounge.com/

Home

Gratuitous Food and Cocktail Pictures/Descriptions From Recent Trips( and local)

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Just for fun and something different, I thought I’d do a food/travel piece like that. A tiny description/thoughts on a place with a couple of food/drink/ambience pics. Let’s face it, you come here to read my goofy statements and see some pictures!  I’ll never win any awards for this but you guys just keep showing up lol! Let’s do this.
     First Nobu at Caesars in Las Vegas. As with every in Caesar’s, it’s great. Cool look with open modern area and skirted off private booths. Sushi,sushi,sushi! 
 

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    Murphy’s Pub on the UIUC campus in chambana. A classic bar with great burgers. A nice dive that isn’t a dive.

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Mama Sherry’s in Destin Florida. Pizza, wings and other great things. Great food at great prices in an area where food isn’t always cheap. Beer and wine specials, just an overall vibe that feels like vacation.

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Jean Georges in Aria, Las Vegas. Beautiful, world class Steak house. Stunning selection of meat and seafood with great servers. The wine list and staff Aline make it worth a visit. Expensive but worth it. One of my favorites.

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Black dog Smoke and Ale House in Champaign. Great BBQ in a cool old railyard building. Listed as one if the BBQ places in America. Great sides and a fantastic bar list. The ambience is with the trip alone.

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Costa Di Mare in Wynn Las Vegas. One of the most knowledgeable staffs I’ve ever been around. I got a lesson in fish, and sourcing it from unusual places. Prep and cooking. Wine etc. It was amazing. Truly like nowhere else I’ve ever been. Like everything at Wynn, it is first class, and expensive.

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      Look for more in depth reviews of some these at another time. Just wanted to whet your appetite a bit, and entertain you. Yes a bit all over the page but so am I !  Burgers to sushi from a guy who likes to fight and write.
     If you want to be featured or just get an inexpensive link here email me. Lots of plans and prices. Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on Twitter
    Today’s link
https://m.facebook.com/Murphys-Pub-116375968386068/

Walk Around And See Beautiful Art In Vegas ( sculpture/paintings/performance/landscape)

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I love Vegas. For so many reasons. One of them is that I love art. I know less than a kindergarten child about it but I love it. As someone who has lots of brain trauma from fighting, art helps me relax,enjoy and learn. If you wander around around Las Vegas you will find incredible art. Seriously just walking around. You don’t have to pay for a museum, installation etc. It’s just there. From expensive pieces from masters to performance art and incredible fountain/landscape pieces. It is a feast for the senses. Take a look at these pictures and get an idea of how you can view and learn just walking around.
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For me there is nothing like being able to walk and see incredible art in public areas. Yes Las Vegas is basically one big performance piece, but you can see so much more if you just open your eyes. From fountains and sculpt to opera singers wandering. From master paintings to a 28 million dollar sculp, pictured with my hot wife and her hot coworker/friend on a  trip last year.  Yep, Steve Wynn turned down 28 million for multi colored Popeye!!!
     Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com to have us market and review your business today. Large social media following, and great conversational marketing program.  Lets work together and build your business for a very affordable amount. Follow @combatsportlife on twitter.
    Get your link here for less than dinner out.
Today’s links!
http://www.wynnlasvegas.com/
http://www.palazzo.com/
http://www.venetian.com/
https://www.aria.com/
https://www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/

Start By Doing What You Can Where You Can ( martial arts/travel/writing )

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  Well on #motivationmonday I want to make this point !  You can start. If you have a dream, something you want to do then you need to do what you can. I didn’t grow up with money. It was something far less than money that occasionally resembled a tiny amount of money!  Its why I started fighting professionally for small amounts at such a young age. My parents are great hard working people, we just didn’t have money. Heck, I’ve had periods as an adult that I had nothing! My reason for saying this is that I want you to understand that you can start and you can do it.
    I’m blessed. No argument. I know I am. I know God must really love me. Still, it was a struggle. Whether trying to find training, starting on Wall Street or getting into writing/PR. It’s just a fact. It was always hard to find and get there. That is what makes it sweeeet!  It also allows me to be comfortable enjoying the simple and local. Yes I’ve been all over and get paid to enjoy and promote/ write about luxury. Didn’t start like that, and I enjoy walking around taking pictures of and writing about some small town 20 minutes from me as much as I do anything. In the coming weeks I’ll do a bit more if those just to show that you can make an interesting article out of what’s around you. I should do that more often but IM Busy!!!! Lol. Not complaining. Martial arts?  For 14 years I’ve taught a free class one day a week at a church. I know I’m not the only one. Out of itvive had national champs and a pro. Not as much as my other stuff but that is exciting to me. Look around and see what you find. Plus if you want it, make a way. Don’t buy a game or cigarettes, buy training!  Take a look at this mix of pictures from classes and travel. I’m not going to tag therm. Some are free class, some pro. Some exotic travel, some in my tiny town.all of them equally important and equally as popular when I post.

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The point is, if you want to train martial arts, you can find a way. Maybe not free where you are but work to afford it heck I’ll teach you cheap through video ( coming product). You can, you just have to try. Want to be a travel writer?  Start with writing about things in your area. Parks, malls and even super cheap restaurants. Sharpen your skills and see where it goes. Remember, people who don’t live where you do might think joes hog fest cafe is the coolest place they’ve read about! Take a look at a few more pics and we will talk about helping you.

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To get personal coaching/ help with your writing /PR/travel blog business contact me. I’ll set up an extremely Affordable rate set to get you started and understand the contacts and intricacies of selling yourself. You can also email me to be notified when our new martial arts training video series is available. An inexpensive way to start learning and get going. Not a replacement for a dojo, but a way to get going for a small amount. Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter

Random Walk And Pictures In Destin Florida ( plus thought on the area)

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  For those who follow me you already know why I do these pieces. New people? It’s all about learning what an area is like when you go there. Not the glitzy fake shots but what it looks and feels like. Yes I get paid to Promote some places, but I always tell you what it is like. Really Iike!  While I have been all over and treated to an incredible life, I’m a normal guy.  I grew up throwing hay and hunting.  These posts are how I show my kind of people what they should look for.
   So in the continuing series of this kind of post please enjoy my thoughts, opinions and pictures on the area. Before I start the pictures which I will kind of put into areas and ideas ( I’m an old fighter not a journalist!!) Let me say that I LOVE!!!! Destin!!!  The water is as gorgeous as anywhere I’ve been in the world. Great restaurants from gourmet to bar food ( my fave). Sugar sand beaches and great shopping. Above all, it has these things in a relaxed southern environment!!!! So let’s get ready to see what it looks like.

     I’m going to wander a bit in these pics with a short description overall. First up some random beach shots, mostly down near embassy & the beach hut but a few other shore shots. The water here is gorgeous and some of the cleanest softest sand I’ve been on.

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   There are many great restaurants and bars in the area from casual Beach places to chef driven Culinary masterpiece spots. Take a look at some food and spots.
  

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There are some very cool shopping spots from tourist kitsch stores along the beach drive (Alvin’s island) to the awesome Destin Commons.
   

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   Destin is gorgeous and relaxing with world class food and shopping. I had a great time here and look forward to sharing more about it with you. A couple more random shots just for fun

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If you would like to have us visit your hotel, restaurant or other business to do a piece about it or represent you through our marketing channels email today. From full featured posts about you to ad campaigns or just very inexpensive links. Get involved in our conversational marketing programs. tompkinscontent@gmail.com & follow @combatsportlife on twitter.
   Today’s links
   http://www.destincommons.com/
http://www.embassydestin.com/
http://www.harryts.com/

Enjoying A Dolphin Cruise In Destin Florida ( pictures, video and details)

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My wife loves dolphins. We have watched them and chased them along the beach in many locations. We had never done a dolphin cruise though. Partially because she gets motion sickness, and fairly easily!  Yes I know, strange for people who travel all the time.
   

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So this recent trip to Destin our 20 yr old daughter was with us. They both spotted the dolphin cruise sign as we were walking through Harbor Walk Village ( see my piece on it in the archives ). Sandy said she wanted to try and the water looked pretty flat so we went for it. Myself and our daughter Kaleigh don’t have issues with that. Heck you could hang us from a ceiling fan lol.
    The  company was Southern Star Dolphin Cruises. They are well known and seemed to be well thought of. Our trip proved that they should be. It was excellent.  The staff was great and the cruise well done. You were able to see much of the marina and harbor area at the start and learn a lot about it ( read my earlier piece and learn more). Beautiful views of both the shore and great open water views as we got out further.
      Dolphins are wild so you can’t guarantee seeing them, and the cruise before us apparently didn’t. Fortunately we saw lots. In fact a bunch right up close before we got out of the marina. Almost as soon as we untied.
    I’m going to let some video and pictures do the talking and then I’ll come back and give some details about the boat and my two favorite parts!

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   The boat is an 80 ft glass bottomed vessel. There is a top deck that’s open air and a galley and seating inside. A decent snack bar is in the galley. It makes for a nice two hour ride.
   We did the evening one which brings me to my two favorite parts of the trip. Being able to see things along the shore and learn about the area. That was great. The best part was being on the water and watching the sunset on the ocean. Amazing!  Here are a few pics of that.

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   You can get all the details and prices on the website ( link below) but ours was $29 per adult which is great for the experience. Kids and seniors were much cheaper. I loved this outing. For an old fighter that’s been all over, this was so relaxing and yet let me learn a bit. Both good things.  Check it out.
   If you want to be featured here , have us come check your place out or just get a cheap link here email us today. tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter.
  Today’s link
     http://southernstardolphincruise.com/