Scenes from the Northeast Seminole Heights progressive dinner

by Joey deVilla on December 11, 2019

Part of the patio at the progressive dinner’s first house.
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Last Friday, our neighborhood — Northeast Seminole Heights, an area with trees, bungalows, and hip restaurants and bars galore — held its annual progressive dinner (or, as it’s called in the UK, a “safari supper”). It was a multiple-destination dinner party, where four different courses were served in four different houses within walking distance of each other. While we’ve gotten to know some of the people in our neighborhood thanks to the weekly happy hour at Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe, Anitra and I are still new to the area. We figured that this would be a chance to get to know more of people who live nearby.

Our house is a five minute walk from the Hillsborough River, on whose banks you’ll find the pricier houses. The progressive dinner’s first stop was at one of these houses, which had a large patio complete with a huge outdoor tiki bar.

One view of the bar at the progressive dinner’s first house.
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We were among the first to arrive, but we weren’t lonely for long. There were easily eighty or more people on the patio in short order.

Another view of the bar at the progressive dinner’s first house.
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This was the appetizer course, and people came hungry! Luckily, the place was prepared.

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The patio was built right up to the edge of the river, which provided a great view. I had to get a photo:

A view of the Hillsborough River from the first house.
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After about an hour, it was time to mosey on over to the next place. I took one last photo before leaving:

One last photo before leaving the first house!
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I was so engaged in meeting new people at the next house that I didn’t take any pictures there. The soup and salad course was served there, and there were several to choose from. The stand-out dish was a cold spliced pear soup, which was fantastic. I got a couple of servings of that one.

The main course was served at the third house, which had a nice large kitchen island and buffet counter:

The third house’s nice large kitchen, as seen from the living room.
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As the place where the mains would be served, they were expecting the biggest crowd. Luckily, they had a back yard big enough to accommodate everyone and had even set up rows of tables, a fire pit, live entertainment, and a couple of off-duty police officers:

The back yard at the third house.
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There was a break in the entertainment so that the dinner’s organizer, Christie Hess, could address the crowd. She’s been putting the event together for the past 12 years, and it’s a key part of the neighborhood’s character. I’m glad that we’ve got people like her here.

Christie Hess addresses the crowd.
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Here’s another look at the crowd. It was a cool night by Florida standards (52°F / 11° C), so Anitra wore her festive zebra-strip fun fur coat:

Another look at the crowd.
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Finally, we made our way to the dessert house, which was also on the river. As with the other courses and houses, the food was a group effort. Our contribution to the dessert table was an assortment of brownies.

The dessert house.
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Some folks stayed closer to the house (and desserts), while others chose to get a better look at the river:

The view near the river.
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Another view near the river.
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While we were done with the houses, we weren’t yet done with the party! The final stop of the evening was London Heights pub with a handful of drink tickets…

Some of the taps at London Heights that evening.
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…and an invitation from Willie, one of the owners, to perform some numbers to close out the evening.

The accordion comes in handy once again!
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It’s been a while since I’ve lived in a place with this much of a sense of community. I’ve talked more with my neighbors here in the past five months than with the neighbors in the old place in the last five years, and I’m a schmoozy guy. The progressive dinner was a great excuse to walk around the neighborhood and get a better look at a couple of places, as well as to catch up with the people we already knew, and get to know dozens of other folks in the area. I look forward to greeting more people on the streets here by name, and hope to be at more of these local get-togethers!

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Diane December 18, 2019 at 7:36 pm

I can’t believe nobody has taken the opportunity to comment, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

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