Thursday, November 20, 2014

#WrappedInIKEA Foods

Do most people go to IKEA for Swedish food rather than actually shopping for furniture? Perhaps that's me. I was recently invited to taste some of the foods from IKEA's JULBORD party menu as well as hear about other happenings in the Orlando store.

The JULBORD Dinner is what will most likely be of interest to readers of this blog. It is an all you can eat meal of Swedish holiday foods and happens on Friday, December 12. Julbord has two seatings, one from 2-4:30pm an the other from 6-8:30pm. Here's a sample of the menu:

The first thing I tried was the Red Beet Salad. It had nice hints of dill and onion.

Assorted Cheeses were next:

Crawfish Salad, complete with a whole crawfish on the side:

Meatballs and Lingonberries:

Gravad Lax with Mustard Sauce:

Desserts:

Glogg with Almonds and Raisins:

IKEA has also given you all a chance to win free stuff. Enter below for a chance to win a $100 IKEA gift card. You may enter from November 17 – November 30th. IKEA will pick a winner on Monday, December 1st, and contact them via Twitter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 16, 2014

NY Food: Jekyll & Hyde Club

Someone recommended that I try the Jekyll & Hyde Club while in New York. The restaurant is advertised as the club founded by Dr. Jekyll for explorers, philosophers, biologists, and other men and women whose exploits into science and adventure was deemed too unorthodox by their colleagues in accepted society. They filled the club with artifacts and trophies from their adventures. Basically, it sounds like a restaurant for people who's favorite holiday is Halloween, which potentially could be awesome.
Jekyll & Hyde Club is located near Times Square. Its theme is spooky stuff. Think Rainforest Cafe themed to Halloween. There were skeletons playing organs. Busts came alive and talked. Mounted heads of werewolves and elephants started moving. A Frankenstein type monster was brought to life in an hourly show with a live actor.
I ordered the Cheese Tortellini. Way overpriced for what it was, this pasta consisted of a plate of tortellini topped with tomato sauce. It wasn't meat sauce, at least I don't think it was. Still, I occasionally got a bite of ground beef in the sauce. Either way, it means the vegetarian tomato sauce got cross contaminated with beef belonging to someone else or this was one of the most disappointing meat sauces I've ever been served.
In theory, this restaurant sounded like it could have been awesome. I unfortunately came away disappointed. I wanted to like Jekyll & Hyde, but something about it just seemed off. The effects seemed too in your face and annoying when they would have worked much better if they were more atmospheric. Rather than one thing happening at a time accompanied by an audio track played throughout the restaurant, I think it would have worked much better if everything was more subtle and happening all the time. Make it so you have to notice things happening in the building rather than making it obnoxiously obvious. Jekyll & Hyde has a second location and was recommended to me, so maybe I'm being overly critical since everyone else seems to like this touristy restaurant. Perhaps I've worked in one too many haunted houses and take the details in a place like this way too seriously. Perhaps living in Orlando has spoiled me with Disney and Universal quality attractions. Eating here did remind me a bit of Disney's old Adventurers Club in Pleasure Island and how a similar concept was executed much better there. As I finished my meal at Jekyll & Hyde, I couldn't help but think about how I could make a spooky themed restaurant so much better than this one. That is, except for the bathrooms. The bathrooms were the coolest thing about this place. I'm not giving any spoilers and will let you find them yourself...


Jekyll and Hyde Club Times Square on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 15, 2014

NY Street Food: DiSO's Italian Sandwich Society, Halal Carts, and Mister Softee

In a continuation of the last few posts here on Watch Me Eat about foods consumed while in New York, this post is all about various street foods from my most recent trip to the area. My street food adventure began on Governor's Island. Here, I had lunch from a food truck called DiSo's Italian Sandwich Society. As the name implies, they served various types of Italian style sandwiches.
I had a sandwich called Jimmy Two Times. This consisted of prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, sauteed eggplant, sweet roasted peppers, and herbed ricotta spread. The sandwich was served on a bread with a very nice, chewy crust.
The generous amount of prosciutto on the sandwich was sliced very thinly, but the amount of eggplant on the sandwich wasn't nearly as generous. Even worse, I found lots of thin strips of aluminum foil which had somehow made its way into the sandwich with the eggplant. I had unfortunately bought the last sandwich of the day from DiSO's and they closed after making my sandwich, so I couldn't go back to complain. I peeled most of the foil out for this next picture. Could have been a good sandwich. Too bad it was ruined by aluminum foil...

Up next on my street food adventure was Kimo's Halal Food. This Halal cart was parked on a corner across from Bryant Park. I saw somewhere on this cart that Kimo's was serving Egyptian food. I honestly didn't notice a difference in the menu that made this cart any more Egyptian than any other similar cart in the city.
I ordered the Lamb Platter. Like most Halal carts, this consisted of a mountain of rice topped with gyro meat. Iceberg lettuce was served on the side as a salad. The entire thing was smothered in both white sauce and hot sauce. This was very tasty. I do enjoy eating large amounts of Middle Eastern food covered in delicious sauces.

After exploring Central Park, I decided to stop for food and visited another Halal cart. This cart was set up on the edge of the park at Bolivar Plaza. I didn't see a name associated with this cart.
 
Here, I ordered a falafel platter. Pretty same setup as the Lamb from Kimo's, but nowhere as good. The falafel was served in crumbs and tasted burnt. The rice was it bit hard as well. I don't know if I got the bottom of the barrel, or if this cart was just bad. Don't get food from here.


For my last bit of street food from this visit to New York, I had some Mister Softee from a truck parked outside the 190th Street Subway Station.
I had a vanilla cone dipped in chocolate. It tasted exactly how a dipped Mister Softee cone should!


Friday, November 14, 2014

NY Asian Soups: Global Kitchen and Minnis Shabu Shabu

In a continuation of the last few posts on this blog where New York foods were discussed, this post is about Asian foods that consisted of soup.

We'll start at a place called Global Kitchen. This restaurant was located in the Theater District and was set up food court style. The place reminded me a bit of the nearby Oliviero Cafe which I had eaten at during a previous trip to New York. There was a station focusing on sandwiches. Another focused on salads. There was an Italian/pizza section, then there was where I ordered. I went for the Japanese/Sushi counter.
I had a bowl of their shrimp tempura udon soup. The large styrofoam bowl was filled with a tasty broth and lots of thick udon noodles. After the broth and noodles filled the bowl, the soup was topped with various vegetables, tofu, and two large shrimp fried in tempura batter.
This was a tasty bowl of soup overall. I wasn't exactly expecting much for a place which was essentially a food court, but this was a very nice bowl of udon that rivaled what I've had at fancy Japanese restaurants!

Global Kitchen on Urbanspoon

The second soupy food adventure happened at Minnis Shabu Shabu. Minnis was a Taiwanese style hotpot style restaurant located in Flushing Chinatown. Shabu Shabu is a style of eating where you cook your own meats in pots of boiling broth. I've been to restaurants where you cook your own foods and I always find them a bit intimidating. That makes food adventures much more fun!
Everyone in Minnis was seated at large communal tables. All the seats had a bowl of hot broth in front of them to cook your food.
Everyone then received a large tray of various non-meat foods items to cook. These included cabbage, corn, onions, multiple types of mushrooms, two different dumplings, noodles, egg, tofu, and more.
I ordered the lamb and pork combination for my meat. Thinly slice meat was soon delivered to the table and cooking began.
Cooking the meat was the intimidating part for me, mostly because I rarely cook meat by boiling it. I didn't want to undercook the pork, but it cooked extremely fast since it was sliced so thinly. Some of the vegetables took longer to cook, such as the corn or large pieces of cabbage.
There was a large sauce/condiment bar to add some extra flavor to the food. They seemed to like MSG at Minnis.
I also had a shaved ice here for dessert. This large bowl was filled with finely shaved ice topped with sweetened condensed milk, pineapple, and something called grass jelly. Shaved ice like this is way better than a snow cone!
Minnis Shabu Shabu was a very fun eating experience. Having a pot of boiling broth and a huge pile of raw foods in front of you, then having to figure out how to cook everything definitely makes things more interesting than just having cooked food delivered to your table.

Minni's Shabu Shabu on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 13, 2014

NY Food: Veselka

I decided to have some Ukrainian food while in New York. This happened at a restaurant called Veselka in the East Village. I ate at Veselka a few times in the past and enjoyed my previous visits, hence the return. I saw that Veselka is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. That's a really long time for a restaurant's lifespan. I guess that's because pierogi are good!
I ordered the Meat Ukrainian Combo Plate. This started with soup, salad, and bread. I picked the lentil soup. The soup was my favorite of the three items. It had plenty of lentils and good flavor. The salad consisted of leafy greens, carrots, and dressing. It was exactly what should be expected in a salad. The bread was a little disappointing. It was a slice of non-toasted white bread. Butter was not served with the slice.
The meat plate itself included two potato pierogi, two meat pierogi, stuffed cabbage, and beet and horseradish salad. It's hard to go wrong with potato pierogi, and these were my favorite. Dumplings filled with potatoes are very satisfying. The meat pierogi were also good. Veselka's menu didn't specify the type of meat in the filling, but I'm assuming it was either beef or pork. The stuffed cabbage did specify the filling. It was stuffed with beef, pork, and rice. The cabbage was topped with a mushroom gravy.
Much like my previous visits to Veselka, I enjoyed my dinner. Perhaps I'll end up back at Veselka again on a future visit to New York.

Veselka on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NY Thai Food: Yum Yum Queens and Aceluck Thai Cuisine

In a continuation of the last post on the blog about New York foods, this post is about the Thai food which was eaten on my trip. I ended up at two Thai restaurants while in the area. The first was called Yum Yum Queens in Sunnyside.

I visited the restaurant at lunchtime and had one of their lunch specials. The meal started with a dumpling appetizer.
I had the Chicken Pad Kie Mao, or Basil Noodles according to the English translation on the menu for my main course. This dish consisted of rice noodles with broccoli, onion, bell pepper, basil, and egg. The huge bowl made the portion look a bit small, but this was plenty to eat.

Yum Yum Queens on Urbanspoon

Next up on my food adventure was Aceluck Thai Cuisine in Hell's Kitchen.
The inside of Aceluck was very green.
We started out by ordering a Duck Wrap appetizer. This consisted of roasted duck, scallion, cucucmbers, and hoisen wrapped in a pancake. I liked the presentation with this appetizer. The wrap was cut and arranged vertically, served next to pools of swirly hoisen/peanut sauce. The duck in the wraps was very tender and was balanced nicely with the rest of the fillings.
I didn't realize it at the time of ordering, but I think I had the same thing at Aceluck as Yum Yum. I ordered the Pad Kee Mao. Rather than Basil Noodles, this dish was subtitled Drunk Man Noodles here. The two dishes at both restaurants were similar but had their differences. The noodles were spicier here. There was more peppers and onions in this version of the dish. The presentation was also very nice with strings of shredded beets and carrots topping the noodles.


Aceluck Thai on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 23, 2014

NY Pizza: Pronto Pizza, King Umberto, Sunnyside Pizza, and Hyatt House

I went on a trip to New York fairly recently. Like all good trips to New York City, lots of food was consumed at some of the city's countless eating establishments. One food that New York is known for is their pizza. Because of this, I consumed far too much pizza while visiting. This post is my recent NY Pizza highlights:

Pronto Pizza was my least favorite of the slices I tried during this trip. They are located near Bryant Park and may or may not be connected to a larger, nationwide chain also known as Pronto Pizza.
I tried a slice of plain cheese and a white slice topped with spinach. Both were very cheese heavy. The crust was somewhat soggy on both slices. The cheese had a weird, cheap tasting flavor to me for some reason. I don't think I'd get pizza here again.

Pronto Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunnyside Pizza was a much better pizza experience compared to Pronto Pizza. Sunnyside Pizza is located in Queens, directly across from a stop on the 7 train.
This tiny restaurant pretty much consisted of their kitchen and a couple tables by the door.
I tried a slice of Grandma pizza and cheese. The grandma was different from what I've had elsewhere. I think all other Grandma pizzas I've experienced up until this point have had thin crust. This particular grandma pizza had a thick, Sicilian-like crust. It was topped with a chunky tomato sauce, mozzarella, and basil. The cheese slice was nice and thin. The sauce and cheese both had good flavor with a good ratio to one another. I did enjoy the crust on both slices. Sunnyside Pizza put sesame seeds on the edges of the pie, which I do enjoy.

Sunnyside Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

King Umberto in Elmont has been discussed on this blog in the past, but I ended up there again twice during this particular trip to the New York area. I had a stuffed vegetable slice and a fresh mozzarella slice. I do enjoy King Umberto's stuffed slice, filled with spinach, broccoli rabe, and cheese.
The second visit to King Umberto on this trip consisted of a slice of cheese and white. I think I caught Umberto on a bad day because both of these slices were forgettable.

King Umberto on Urbanspoon

A couple days later I ended up at the Hyatt House Hotel a bit upstate in Fishkill, NY. I was attending an event there, and pizza was involved. I don't think the hotel itself made these pizzas and most likely had them delivered. Regardless of where the pizza came from, these pepperoni slices were tasty. I'd rank them above Pronto Pizza.
I enjoyed eating far too much pizza during the time I was in New York!

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