Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sea Thai in Orlando, FL

I had dinner at Sea Thai in Orlando. Sea apparently stands for South East Asia rather than anything to do with seafood. I know this restaurant from the countless awards that they won over the years, but this was my first visit to Sea Thai.
I ordered the Spicy Basil Duck. This dish was served in a sizzling skillet. The duck was served with sweet basil, chili, onions, scallions, and bell peppers in a slightly spicy sauce. I enjoyed the crispy skin on the duck. While some of the meat was nice and tender, there were other parts which were tough and chewy. Different parts of the duck perhaps? The sauce was good, although it wasn't as spicy as the menu advertised. My biggest complaint with the dish was that there wasn't enough sauce. Being that the plate was hot and sizzling, most of the liquid in the sauce evaporated. I would have liked to use some of that sauce to flavor the rice that was served on the side.
I liked what I tried at Sea Thai. With my one data point of eating here, I don't know if I'd be willing to rate it as the Best of Orlando like all their awards do just yet, but I'd go back!

Sea Thai Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Whole Foods Holiday Menu Tasting Event (Phillips Crossing)

Recently I was invited to enjoy a sampling of the Whole Foods Market holiday menu. The event happened at the Phillips Crossing Whole Foods off Sand Lake Road and what a cornucopia of deliciousness it was! The variety and creativity of the prepared offerings along with menu planning assistance will surely alleviate the stress of any gathering. Bring on the festivities! 

To begin, I tasted a luscious French blue cheese called Persille du Beaujolais served with a honeycomb to balance the savory notes. I learned that persille means parsleyed in french and just describes the blue green veining throughout blue cheese. The creamery in France overlooks Beaujolais vineyards, but it was truly dreamy when I paired it with a white Vin de Savio Apremont, which is a top 10 holiday wine pick. I also found out that Whole Foods Certified Cheese Professionals can create a cheese and wine pairing menu just for the asking. 
Cranberry Walnut and Fig Stuffed Brie is a layer cake made of American artisan Brie filled and topped with cranberries and caramelized walnuts and fig spread. It was a beautiful presentation available in a small or large stack.
Next I tried the St James Smoked Salmon platter. Scottish salmon cold smoked with oak, with no nitrates or preservatives, only a buttery silkiness served with hot house cucumbers, red onions, capers, and sliced eggs, David, the Regional Seafood Coordinator mentioned that St James has a smokehouse in Miami-- nice to support local-- and that the salmon are fed a high quality diet, that I found palpable in the flavor. In addition, the company prides themselves on sustainability. 
The Sasasian Caviar served on bite sized blini with creme fraiche was outstanding. There were three types offered: Truffle Pearls,Trout, and Imperial and I liked them all! The pop of the lightly salted glistening eggs was a tantalizing treat for all the senses.
Of course there was moist roasted turkey and an array of accompaniments and options. Here's the Bell and Evans smoked Cornish hens.
72 hour Beef Short Ribs
One of my favorite sides were the harvest root vegetables, kale, tender brussels sprouts, and butternut squash with candied pecans and cranberries dusted with cinnamon.
There's also a hearty Vegan Field Roast En Croute as a meat alternative. Grains are used as a vegetarian protein combined with squash, mushrooms, apples and spices wrapped in an outer layer. It is a great alternative to soy based proteins.
Pumpkin Cheesecake was creamy, without being too heavy, and had perfect undertones of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and of course pumpkin. It is a creative twist on the traditional pumpkin pie.
Fruit Cake also was sampled and it was nothing like the much maligned variety. It was very moist, tender, and dark with the sumptuous, soft fruits used mainly as a topping. This Fruit Cake would definitely be consumed immediately and certainly not re-gifted! 
With so many wonderful choices from Whole Foods Market here's to happy holidays
and eating!

(Written by Florence R.)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tortilleria La Mexicana #11 in Longwood, FL

I had lunch one afternoon from Tortilleria La Mexicana #11 in Longwood. They are located in a small strip mall near the intersection of 434 and 427. The restaurant is attached to a convenience store, selling various products. The Mexican convenience store has been in this location for as long as I remember, but the food is a relatively new addition. I'm assuming by the #11 that this is part of a Tortilleria La Mexicana chain.
I ordered three tacos. I tried the Pollo, Chorizo, and Al Pastor. Each taco was served in a corn tortilla. These were interesting. They weren't completely soft, but they didn't have the consistency of hard shelled fried tortillas either. They were still soft and pliable, but had a bit more character. I am guessing the tortillas were pan fried. Each of the tacos was topped with onions and cilantro, with lime slices to squeeze over top and salsas on the side. As for the meats, the pollo was a little plain. The chicken was shredded into fine strips and was good enough. Similar to my experience at El Taco Amigo in Deland, I was unable to tell which meat was the al pastor and which was chorizo. Both were good, but in terms of taste, texture, and appearance, both meats were very similar.
I enjoyed my visit to Tortilleria La Mexicana. The tacos were good, the prices were very affordable, and I now know where to get good tacos in Longwood. I'll be back...

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Provisions & Buzz Co. Grand Opening in Baldwin Park, FL

I was invited to the grand opening of Provisions & Buzz Co. This restaurant is located along New Broad Street in Baldwin Park and was formerly Jack's Steakhouse. The decor of Provisions & Buzz Co. seems to be loosely themed around bees. There were hexagonal honeycomb designs hanging on the walls of the restaurant. Bees appeared on the menu, jars of honey were given as parting gifts, and the obvious Buzz in the restaurant's name.
Small, sample size bites of many of the menu items were served at the grand opening. The Tuna Tartare was one of my favorites. It was topped with avocado, pickled cucumbers, micro greens, wonton chips, and sweet soy.
Crostini: The bread was a little too hard for my liking, but the tomato topping did have a very nice garlic flavor.
Cheese Puffs: Lightly fried pillows, filled with fontina cheese and crispy pancetta. These were good. They resembled tater tots in size and appearance from the outside, but were filled with cheesy deliciousness inside.
Pork Shank: Braised served over soft goat cheese polenta with roasted garlic and onion gravy.
Caramelized Onion and Smoked Gouda Quesadillas: I liked the smokey flavor of the cheese in these quesadillas.
Tempura Shrimp: Tempura fried then tossed with spicy honey aioli. I guess the honey aioli brought us back to the restaurant's bee theme.
Drinks were also offered at the grand opening to accompany the food. Here's an Earl Grey Martini:

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Zona Fresca in Winter Park, FL

Zona Fresca is a new restaurant which has recently opened in Ravaudage near the intersection of Lee Road and 17-92. This fast-casual restaurant serves fresh, healthy, Baja-Style Mexican food. They are based out of South Florida and this is Zona Fresca's first Central Florida location. I was invited to give Zona Fresca a try, and I did enjoy what I sampled!
I started out with the Pozole Soup. In all my experience eating in Mexican restaurants, I don't think I have ever ordered soup. This soup had braised chicken, hominy, onions, cilantro, and radishes in a guajillo chili broth. I very much enjoyed the soup, and may be my favorite dish out of everything I sampled at Zona Fresca.
I had a sampling of tacos on the Three Street Taco Plate. I tried the Chicken Breast, Machaca, and Baja Fish tacos. Each was served on a double layer of corn tortillas. Of the three, the Chicken Breast taco was my favorite, exceeding my expectations. The chicken was topped with cactus, avocado, cilantro, onions, and a lemony dressing. With a meat that had the potential to be bland, the combinations of toppings on the chicken taco made it burst with flavor. The Machaca was my second favorite. I don't think I've ever ordered machaca at a Mexican restaurant before. This was slowly braised shredded beef, topped with poblanos, tomato, and queso fresco. It reminded me a bit of ropa vieja with the shredded beef being tender and flavorful. The Baja Fish Taco was my least favorite of the three. Nothing wrong with the taco, but the fried fish topped with cabbage, pico, and tangy dressing really didn't have anything that stood out.
I also tried the Chili Rellenos. Two charbroiled poblano peppers stuffed with jack and cheddar cheese, served with black beans, cilantro rice, and pico de gallo. The peppers had a nice charred flavor and were very tasty.
I had the Flan for dessert. Can't go wrong with custard-like desserts topped with honey.
I liked everything I sampled at Zona Fresca. When it comes to Mexican fast food chains in the area, I enjoyed Zona Fresca more than some of their competition. The menu provided interesting flavors not typically found at non-sit down Mexican restaurants. I'll be returning...

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Bavarian Haus in Mt Dora, FL

I had lunch at The Bavarian Haus in downtown Mount Dora. This small restaurant lived up to it's haus name, being that it was in a small house. Bavarian Haus had indoor seating as well as outdoor seating on a patio out front.
I had the Bratwurst lunch special. According to our waitress, the bratwurst were one of the best things on the menu so that's how I made my meal decision. The normal side accompanying the bratwurst was German Potato Salad. Instead, I asked if I could have the Kartoffelknödel, or potato dumplings as my side. They gladly obliged.
Two sausages were served. They were good, although nothing that would stand out when compared to other bratwurst I've had elsewhere. The kartoffelknodel on the other hand were new to me, therefore much more memorable. These dumplings sort of reminded me of matzo balls, both in shape and consistency. The texture was interesting. They weren't mashed potato smooth, nor were there chunks of potatoes. It was all somewhere in between. A gravy-like broth was served on top, which went well with the bratwursts as well.

I liked the food I tried at Bavarian Haus. Everything tasted good. The prices for lunch were reasonable. I have no complaints overall!

The Bavarian Haus German Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Copper Canyon Grill in Orlando, FL

Copper Canyon Grill has been located in Pointe Orlando on International Drive for years now. I had been warned multiple times from different people about how horrible the restaurant is and to avoid Copper Canyon at all costs. I finally decided to ignore those warnings and give the restaurant a try. 
I was there for lunch on a Sunday. These lunch specials were advertised outside the restaurant and it must have worked. I ordered the Korean Pork Belly Tacos.
The food took quite a while to be served. The restaurant was mostly empty. They had an open kitchen and the guy cooking was getting loudly upset at something and yelling at some of the servers. If you have angry cooks, don't put them in an open kitchen where the guests can see and hear them. Once the food did come out, I had no complaints. The tacos were delicious. The pork belly was tender rather than rubbery (I've been served rubbery pork belly one too many times at other restaurants). The sauces were delicious. The side of kimchi was unexpected, but I graciously devoured it.
Prices at Copper Canyon Grill were a bit too high for most of the food which was served, but I suppose most of their business is from the convention center with people with expense accounts. Besides the high price point and the angry cook, I have no complaints about the food itself. Copper Canyon definitely didn't live up to their reputation as a horrible restaurant...

Copper Canyon Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, October 1, 2015

NY China Buffet in Lake Buena Vista, FL

I ate lunch at NY China Buffet in Lake Buena Vista on 535. Buffets in this area could be scary tourist rip offs, so I was surprised to see lunch was just under $8.
Plate #1: Chicken with broccoli, mixed vegetables in a white sauce, egg roll, steamed dumplings, red bean filled sesame balls, and lo mein. The mixed vegetables were the tastiest food on this plate.
Plate #2: Stir fried bean curd, fried dumplings, fried rice, mei fun, and crab rangoon. The standout here was the bean curd. This stuff was delicious. 
Plate #3: Dessert. Pineapple, glazed fried wonton chip, cheesecake, and butterfly cookies. Apparently they like the cheesecake here. I saw an employee eating a plate of six slices of the cake. 
NY China Buffet had a good selection of food. Some of it was not the typical Chinese buffet foods, which was a good thing. There were enough people eating here for a decent turnover and everything was edible. Not bad for a buffet across from Disney...

New York China Buffet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Joe Smoked Meat in Quebec City, QC

Smoked meats seem to be another food that's popular in Quebec. I passed several restaurants specializing in smoked meat, so I figured I'd try one. I ended up at Joe Smoked Meat in downtown Quebec City. Looking at their website now, it looks like they are a chain. Didn't know that at the time.
They had smoked meats served various ways. Someone I ate here with had smoked meat poutine. I decided to go with a sandwich instead and ordered the Assiette Garnie. Out of all the menus in Quebec City, I had the most trouble translating/understanding this one. Because of this, I picked my sandwich mostly because there was a picture of the Assiette Garnie on the menu. The sandwich reminded me of something found in a Kosher style NY Deli. Sliced meat was piled upon rye bread with spicy mustard. Fries, coleslaw, and a pickle were served on the side. I never confirmed for sure what sort of animal the smoked meat was from, but I'm assuming beef. The smoked meat in the sandwich was tasty, but I had the same complaint which I have in the Kosher delis. There was too much meat and not much else going on in the sandwich. Some other flavors would have been nice.

Joe Smoked Meat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, September 28, 2015

D'Orsay in Quebec City, QC

I found that Quebec City seems to shut down pretty early. I was looking for dinner one evening around 9:30, and almost everywhere in the Old City was closed or closing for the night. D'Orsay was one of the few restaurants which was still open, so that's where I ate.
Because I was in a French speaking province, I felt the need to order French Onion Soup for some reason. The soup here was a bit overpriced. Still, the tasty bowl was filled with salty broth, soggy bread, and topped with lots of cheese. Can't go wrong.
I ordered a lamb sandwich for my meal. The sandwich was served on fig bread (according to the menu- I detected no figs). There was a huge mound of thinly sliced, tender lamb between the bread, with lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise. A mixed green salad and fries were served alongside the sandwich. Everything was tasty and the sandwich exceeded my expectations!
For the limited choices of this evening's meal, D'Orsay was a very nice choice!

Pub le D'Orsay Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Quebec Boulangeries

While in Quebec, I had breakfast almost every day at a different bakery. Quebec City has some excellent bakeries and they are all over the city. My first bakery experience was actually in the Montreal Airport while I was waiting for a connecting flight to Quebec City.

Second Cup (Montreal Airport)
The restaurant was called Second Cup. It was a coffee shop which sold assorted pastries and sandwiches. I was initially going to get a sandwich, but even in Canadian dollars, the sandwich prices here were insane for something pre-made. The pastries were much more reasonable and I ordered an almond croissant. The croissant was filled with almond paste and topped with slivered almonds and powdered sugar. It was good for airport food, but much better croissants were coming in Quebec City.

La Boite a Pain (Limoilou)
In Quebec City's Limoilou neighborhood. This was my first experience in Quebec where I felt lost with not being fluent in French. Nobody in here instantly switched to English with my first word of bad French, and I was lost once entire sentences of words I didn't recognize were spoken to me. Turned out nobody working in here spoke English (Yay! It actually felt like International travel!), but I was able to get the point across that I wanted an almond croissant. It was much better than the almond croissant from the airport.
La Boîte à Pain Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

La Fournee Bio Boulangerie Artisanale (Limoilou)

I think I would say La Fournee Bio Boulangerie is my personal favorite restaurant that I found in Quebec City. The bakery items here were amazing. There were pastries, breads, sandwiches, and all sorts of other baked goods. The shelves of deliciousness were perfectly laid out, all looking beautiful. This was another place where very little English was spoken. The employee's very broken English and my very limited French allowed me to order here. Multiple times. I think I ended up here at least four times during six days in Quebec City.
Ham and cheese croissant.
Almond Crossant
Turkey sandwich. This was my least favorite thing here. Stick with the baked goods rather than a pre made sandwich.

Brulerie Limoilou
Brulerie Limoilou was more of a coffee shop than bakery, but they did sell baked goods. I stopped in here upon somebody's recommendation for a snack.
I had a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Nothing was wrong with it, but it was pretty forgettable in the big scheme of deliciousness which was eaten on my trip. It was a bit pricy as well for what ended up being half of a full grilled cheese. 
Brûlerie Limoilou Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


I had breakfast at Paillard one morning in Quebec's Old City. I couldn't really figure out if this restaurant was a chain or not, but I definitely got that vibe. The restaurant was doing a huge amount of tourist business. There were very few open tables and they had a constant line. I ordered one of their breakfast combos, which included a bacon, egg, and cheese croissant, fruit, and a coffee. The buttery croissant and bacon resulted in a very greasy sandwich. Still, it was much better than the Tim Hortons bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich.

Paillard Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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