Friday, April 22, 2016

Black Bean Deli in Orlando, FL

Black Bean Deli has been around for a long time now. They always win awards for the best Cuban food in the Orlando area, but I didn't get a chance to eat there until the past year or so. Since then, I've returned several times to their Orlando location on 50.

I had the Ropa Vieja lunch special on one visit. Tender, stewed, and shredded beef was served alongside black beans, rice, plantains, and a salad. I was surprised when I got the plate of food. Many of my previous experiences with Cuban restaurants involved mostly tasty food, but poor presentation. To me, this plate of food was very visually appealing. Everything was delicious, so that made it even better!
During another visit, I had the Papas Rellenas Platter. This included all of the same sides as the Ropa Vieja, but the meat was replaced with two deep fried mashed potato balls. I had one filled with beef and the other with chicken. I don't think I've ever eaten papas rellenas before. I became a fan!
I also have tried Black Bean Deli's Cuban Sandwich lunch which includes the sandwich and black beans and rice. It was a typical Cuban Sandwich filled with meat, cheese, pickles, and mustard. Cuban sandwiches are always a little disappointing for me, and this was no exception. I always have the expectations that they should be more than they are.

Black Bean Deli & Cuban Café Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, April 11, 2016

Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival

I ventured out to Busch Gardens to check out their Food & Wine Festival. This was my first time going to the park during this event, so I really didn't know what to expect. They had 26 booths set up in the back section of the park, mostly under the ruins of Gwazi. You could have bought everything individually, but I went with the package where you got a punch card to try multiple food options.
The first thing I tried was the Venison Chili from the booth called Southern Station. The Food & Wine booklet described this as Venison Chili featuring roasted corn, black beans, and lime sour cream. Pretty tasty, although it was hard to taste the ground venison once in chili form.
Up next was the Potato and Goat Cheese Tart from the Light Fare Canteen booth. This one sounded good, but the goat cheese flavor wasn't prevalent enough.
Duck Tacos came from the Chef's Plantation booth. I think this might have been my favorites of the food I tried. The shredded duck was nice and tender, served in tortillas with cabbage and duck sauce.
I tried the Smoked Beef Brisket from the Gourmet Lodge Booth. It was served with Potatoes Au Gratin. The brisket seemed to be the same meat that is served elsewhere in the park at Zambia Smokehouse. I'm a fan of the brisket at Busch Gardens, so that's a good thing. Potatoes au gratin were disappointing though. Very bland tasting.
Lamb Chop topped with Tzatziki served with tabouleh came from the Field House Eatery Booth. Two pieces of on-bone lamb were placed over the tabouleh. The lamb was a little chewy, but had nice flavor.
Finally, I ended with the Pan-Seared Creole Shrimp with white corn artisan grits from the Artisan Eats booth. The two large shrimp were topped with some sort of salsa and greens. Can't go wrong with shrimp and grits.
Overall, I had fun at the Food & Wine Festival. They did more for the event than I expected with lots of new topiaries and extra entertainment. More importantly, they did a good job with most of the food. If only they would bring more of this food into the park's restaurants for the rest of the year, many of which could use some work...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Black Rooster Taqueria in Orlando, FL

I tried a new Mexican restaurant on Mills in Orlando called Black Rooster Taqueria. This was a quick service type place where you ordered at a counter, given a number, and had the food delivered to your table. I ordered two tacos: the Achiote Pork and the Chicken Tinga. The achiote pork taco consisted of a corn tortilla stuffed with slow roasted pork cooked in banana leaf, achiote, pickled onion, cilantro, and habanero salsa. The chicken tinga was also served on a corn tortilla filled with pulled roasted chicken, chipotle chile-tomato sauce, lettuce, and crema fresca.
Of the two tacos, I preferred the Achiote Pork. The meat was nice and tender and pickled onions were a nice touch. I wasn't a big fan of the chicken tinga. The chicken was a bit chewy and the lettuce and sour cream were spilling out of the tortilla before I even tried picking up the taco. The tacos also could have been improved if they used double layered tortillas. The single corn tortilla got soggy and was starting to rip as I was eating the tacos. A second tortilla would have helped. Another improvement for Black Rooster in general would have been to put orders on the correct plates. We had ordered multiple achiote pork tacos. They all were served together with other wrong taco combinations on other plates. Actually putting tacos together as they were ordered would have saved some messy rearranging.

Overall, Black Rooster Taqueria was okay. Not the best tacos I've had, but not the worst. I think I'd prefer a Mexican restaurant serving a little more authentic tacos for a lower price point over Back Rooster, but I still might return here eventually...

  Black Rooster Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Fuji Express in Deland, FL

I ventured to Deland and had dinner at a restaurant called Fuji Express. This fast food Japanese restaurant served both hibachi style food as well as sushi. There were other people eating there, but I don't know if I'd trust this restaurant with raw fish. I ordered the Shrimp Teriyaki Bento Box. The shrimp was cooked with carrots, baby corn, and broccoli in teriyaki sauce. It was served with California rolls, goyza, and steamed rice. Everything tasted adequate enough. None of it was outstanding, but nothing was bad either. I wouldn't rush back here for fast food Japanese food, but wouldn't necessarily object if someone suggested eating at Fuji Express again.

Fuji Express Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, March 25, 2016

Polar Parlor at Sea World Orlando

I found myself at Sea World one evening and decided to get some ice cream. I was going to get the ice cream from a location in the back of the park but they didn't have waffle cones. I made my way up to Polar Parlor near the park entrance, and found that their waffle cones were cheaper than the regular cones elsewhere in the park. Weird.
I had strawberry and mint chocolate chip in a waffle cone. The portion of ice cream was huge, overflowing over the edges of the large waffle cone. Out of the two flavors, I preferred the mint chocolate chip. The strawberry flavor wasn't as pronounced as it should have been, while the mint chocolate chip tasted like I expected.

Polar Parlor Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, March 21, 2016

Dragon Court Super Buffet in Lake Buena Vista, FL

Dragon Court Super Buffet is a Chinese buffet located right off Disney property. I've assumed it catered towards tourists, meaning overpriced bad food. Dragon Court has been around for as long as I can remember, but I recently ended up eating there at lunch for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised.
They had some items not typically found on other Chinese buffets in the area and the majority of the food was pretty tasty. On my first trip to the buffet, I tried the curry chicken, fried rice, Chinese eggplant, beans, lo mein, tempura vegetables, pork dumplings, and a crab rangoon. The stand out dishes were the eggplant and curry chicken.
Second plate had a few more items. There was some baby bok choy, chow mei fun, boneless spareribs, chicken and broccoli, and some sort of spicy pork. 
I did enjoy the food that I ate on my first visit to Dragon Court Super Buffet. Hopefully their quality stays consistent.

Dragon Court Chinese Buffet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, February 29, 2016

Emma's Pizza in Cambridge, MA

When I started thinking about going to Boston, I got a very strong recommendation that I go try Emma's Pizza in Cambridge. Turns out the person who gave this endorsement worked for Emma's Pizza at one point, but let's not let that invalidate the recommendation. They had some tasty pizza...
I couldn't decide what type of pizza to order. Lots of the menu choices sounded really good, so I split the pie in half. One half of the pizza was topped with The Coop. This consisted of garlicky green olives, cracked black pepper, garlic olive oil feta, and goat cheese. The other half was The Red Line. This side of the pie had hot sausage, roasted tomato, scallions, traditional sauce, mozzarella, and goat cheese. Both were good, but I think I preferred The Red Line. The flavors on this side of the pizza were a bit more balanced, while The Coop was a bit of a salty overload with the olives and feta.
It wasn't exactly traditional pizza with a thin crispy crust and creative toppings. I know a couple NY style pizza purists that would have hated this pie, but I very much enjoyed my meal at Emma's.

Emma's Pizza Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Boston Asian Food (Pho Pasteur & Kim Kim BBQ Truck)

I arrived in Boston on a Monday evening. I decided to explore the city a bit and get some dinner. After wandering around downtown, I was surprised how little was open. Boston apparently has an early bedtime on a Monday night for a city of it's size. I did notice this gets better later in the week, but apparently everyone eats home on Mondays here. Chinatown seemed to be the neighborhood where everything was open, but almost every restaurant was completely void of customers. I didn't want to be the lone diner in wherever I ate, so I chose Pho Pasteur since there were a few other customers eating here. 

Pho Pasteur:
I ordered the Tai Gau. This was a big bowl of noodle soup with rare steak and brisket. It was a cold night in Boston (by Floridian standards), so a hot bowl of soup was very satisfying. This was a pretty standard bowl of pho. The broth was tasty. There was a good about of vegetables in the soup (scallions, onions, and other greens), along with the side dish of bean sprouts, basil, jalapeno, and lime. Overall a very good dinner of Vietnamese food!
Pho Pasteur Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Kim Kim BBQ Food Truck:

I found this truck parked in a greenway going through Downtown Boston at lunch time. They shared the spot with a few other trucks, and this truck was one of the busier options.
I ordered the Spicy Pork Rice Bowl. It was a bowl of brown rice, topped with the pork, carrots, lettuce, cucumber slices and a fried egg. The pork was pretty tasty, but it didn't have enough sauce to cover the other ingredients in the bowl. The fried egg was a nice touch, that is until I found a long hair cooked into it. Kind of ruined the meal for me...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Boston Desserts (Omni Parker House Hotel and Modern Pastry)

During my adventures in exploring Boston, I had desserts on a couple occasions. This blog post chronicles these desserts...

Omni Parker House's Boston Cream Pie:

I took a guided tour along parts of the Freedom Trail. One of the stops on the tour was the Omni Parker House Hotel. Our tour guide spouted out all kinds of interesting facts about this historic hotel, ranging from the presidents and celebrities who have stayed here to the hotel's ghost stories. The one fact that made my food blogger radar perk up was that the dessert known as a Boston Cream Pie was invented in one of the hotel's restaurants.
I decided I needed to try a Boston Cream Pie from the place it was created. I later returned to the hotel and found out their coffee/gift shop sold the pies without having to go into the pricy Parker's Restaurant. The price almost scared me away. Eight dollars and change for a small dessert that was three inches in diameter. Still, I had walked across town to try the pie, so I splurged.
I think I may have had Boston Cream Pies and Boston Cream Doughnuts mixed up in my head. I was expecting much more cream in here. Instead, the pie consisted of two layers of cake with a thin layer of cream sandwiched in between. It was topped with chocolate icing. After the initial surprise that this was more of a cake than a cream filled pie, I enjoyed the dessert. The cake was moist. The small layer of cream provided a little change in flavor to mix things up. Although it was tasty, the Boston Cream Pie definitely wasn't worth the price and I wouldn't spend that money again. Still, I can say I've tried the original Boston Cream Pie!

  Parker's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Modern Pastry:

During the same tour where I found out about the Boston Cream Pies, the guide also recommended checking out Little Italy. I took up that advise and found myself getting dessert at a bakery called Modern Pastry. For a place with modern in the name, they had a very retro neon sign.
The place was filled with cases and cases of delicious looking pastries, cakes, cookies, pies, and other sweets.
I had a sfogliatelle. This flaky lobster tail-like pastry was filled with a delicious cheesy filling. I ate the sfogliatelle in a nearby park where a flock of sparrows really enjoyed eating all the crumbs that fell from the flaky crust...

Modern Pastry Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Boston Seafood (Boston Chowda Co & Beantown Pub)

I was told that while visiting Boston, the two foods that are absolute must eats while in the city were New England Clam Chowder and Lobster Rolls. The person behind the desk of where I was staying told me Boston Chowda Co was the best place to get these foods for affordable prices.

Boston Chowda Co:

Boston Chowda Co was is located in the Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall. This was basically a big food court in a historic building. It turned out lobster rolls were really expensive here compared to prices I saw elsewhere in the city. I guess the person who recommended this place was saying it was affordable because it was fast food.
I did have a cup of New England Clam Chowder. It was okay, but I would have expected a bit better from a place called Boston Chowda Co. The soup was creamy with lots of potato. It had a typical creamy flavor, but nothing really memorable. The clams were really chewy, so that was disappointing.

Boston Chowda Co Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Beantown Pub:

In order to check the lobster roll off my list of Boston foods, I ended up at the Beantown Pub. Beantown Pub was a very busy place with very few open tables. Luckily I didn't need to wait too long. Something I noticed about Boston, including this restaurant, was that I felt underdressed. Almost everywhere I went, the majority of people in here were wearing business attire. Do people dress like this all the time in Boston?
The lobster roll here cost much less than Boston Chowda Co's. It also came with fries and coleslaw, while the more expensive roll came with nothing. I'm honestly not a lobster connoisseur, but I'd much rather eat the crustacean in sandwich form like this over plain lobster dipped in butter. The sandwich was tasty enough, as were the fries and coleslaw.

Beantown Pub Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Amtrak Acela Food

I was in New York and wanted to extend my travels a bit by going to Boston. I wanted to do this in a way I have never done long distance travel before: by train. When booking my train tickets through Amtrak, I saw that the Acela high speed rail was an option. It was expensive compared to the other choices, but I decided to go for it. I wanted to say I've rode the fastest train in the Americas!
I left from Penn Station in New York and traveled to Back Bay Station in Boston. While on the train, I explored a little bit. I made my way to the Cafe Car and bought myself some food. I had low expectations for train food, and my low expectations were met.
The pizza that I ordered was frozen and microwaved. I think it was a Digiorno brand pizza. The crust was a soggy mess, and the tiny size didn't make it worth the price. This is not a pizza I think I'll crave any time soon.
While waiting for my sad little pizza, I was talked to the employee working in the cafe. I was sad to find out that my high speed rail experience wasn't exactly high speed. The train had the capabilities of going 150 mph, but only reaches this speed for about ten minutes on the trip from New York to Boston. Average speed was about 50 mph. Apparently the Acela trains are much more high speed along the route between DC and NY. Regardless, I guess I can say I've been on high speed rail during that ten minutes. I still like the idea of traveling by train, but I don't think I'd spend the extra money for high speed rail again (especially when I found out there's a $30 bus between NY and Boston that makes the trip faster than the train)...

Monday, February 1, 2016

Long Island Asian Food (Chaba Thai Cuisine and Tony's Sushi)

Here's a couple more restaurants from my travels. Today we're going to be visiting a couple restaurants in Long Island, NY serving Asian food. We'll start in Long Beach for some Thai food...

Chaba Thai Cuisine in Long Beach, NY:

Chaba is located in downtown Long Beach. They were a small restaurant but they were very busy with both people dining in and take out.
I had the Chicken Curry Noodles. I was a little afraid that this might be a boring dish of chicken, noodles, and sauce from how the menu described it. Luckily, this turned out to be a beautiful bowl of deliciousness. There was plenty of variety with lots of vegetables mixed in, arranged in a very structural fashion. The sauce was very tasty. No complaints about this meal.

Chaba Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tony's Sushi in East Moriches, NY:

I had dinner on another evening at a restaurant called Tony's Sushi. They had the menu split into three different sections. One each for Japanese, Chinese, and Thai food.
I had the Singapore Mei Fun. There was a nice presentation with an orchid served alongside the mound of noodles, but the portion was a bit small for the price. The noodles tasted fine, although there really wasn't anything that made them stand apart from other noodle dishes I've had either. The annoying part of this meal was the employee's apparently urgent need to clear the tables. From the beginning of the meal when we were served noodles with duck sauce, all they wanted to know if they could take that away for us. Someone else ordered soup and salad with their meal. They were delivered at the same time, and the servers wanted to take away the soup before it was touched while the person was finishing up the salad. They did eventually take away someones plate before they were finished with it. It was strange. It seemed like they wanted us out really quick, but there wasn't a wait or lack of empty tables. Some manager probably told the servers to make sure they clear the tables and they really took the advise to heart...

Tony's Sushi & Chinese Food Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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