Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Halloween candy 10-31-09
What happened to the trick or treaters? Two years ago, over 100 came through collecting candy. This year, only 19. Still better than last year's 10...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Gatorland's Gator Hallow

I went to Gatorland for their Gator Hallow Halloween event. Since no visit to an alligator farm would be complete without tasting gator meat, I ordered some Fried Gator Nuggets from the snack bar before tour left (it turned out Gatorland doesn't actually raise alligators for meat). I really liked the deep fried alligator, especially with hot sauce. The saying goes that gator tastes like chicken, but the truth is that it really does. In terms of taste, consistency, and look, gator tail and chicken does look a whole lot alike. Not too surprising though since reptiles and poultry aren't that far off. Chickens are a close living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex...
Gator Nuggets
Once I finished eating my alligator, the tour started. While I was disappointed by Halloween Horror Nights at Universal this year, I was surprising pleased with Gator Hallow. For $10, they gave a really entertaining tour that was really well done. Having a tour with different guides along the way to move the story along definitely adds something to the experience that you don't get in the standard Halloween maze where you just wander through while people jump out and shout boo. Gatorland had plenty of hoards of zombies, aliens, bigfoot, and of course, gators...
Gator Hollow Zombie Sacrifice
Alien Autopsy @ Gatorland
I'd gladly do Gator Hallow again next year...

Pearl's Patio Smokehouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Devil McDonald's in Orlando, FL

Late one night, I found myself in the Sand Turkey District of Orlando. I was sort of hungry, and the person I was with suggested Mcdonald's. As we pulled up, I recognized the location as the devil Mcdonald's pointed out on the Tasty Chomps blog. I'm fascinated by pareidolia, or the tendency of the human brain to see faces in inanimate objects, so I enjoyed the outside of this McDonald's building. Looking at the front of the building, I see eyes, a big grin, and red glowing devil horns. Perfect for Halloween, but could it be foreshadowing at how the food might taste?
devil mcdonalds 9-26-09
This is a Bistro Gourmet McDonald's, meaning they serve much better tasting food than your average McDonald's. The only problem with the Bistro Gourmet McDonald's is that the Bistro Gourmet part of the kitchen is almost always closed whenever I'm at one of these locations. That leaves your standard McDonald's menu as the only choice.

Person I was with ordered some fries. I had a few, tasted okay, like fast food French fries should.
devil mcdonalds 9-26-09 fries
I decided to try a BBQ Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap. It consisted of chicken, lettuce, cheese, and barbecue sauce wrapped in a tortilla. They were really heavy with the sauce, leaving a puddle of the spicy sauce in the lower half of the wrap. The grilled chicken had a strange consistency, reminded me of boiled chicken from Chinese restaurants. It definitely didn't seem grilled to me. Overall, the wrap wasn't horrible. It was far better than some of the other sandwiches I've eaten from McDonald's. I would have preferred something off of the Bistro Gourmet menu though...
devil mcdonalds 9-26-09 snack wrap1
devil mcdonalds 9-26-09 snack wrap 2

Bistro Gourmet at McDonald's on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 23, 2009

Olde Hearth Bread Company in Casselbery, FL

I came across a bakery that makes really good bread in an industrial park in Casselbery, FL called Olde Hearth Bread Company. While they weren't much of a retail store, they seemed more than happy to sell me a few loaves of bread when I visited. Olde Hearth appears to do most of their business by supplying bread to other local restaurants.
old hearth bread
I tried their NY style rye bread, a few semolina rolls, and a loaf of chocolate mango bread. I think the rye was my favorite. Not only was the loaf of bread huge for the low price they charged, it tasted really good and had plenty of caraway seeds in the loaf, just like a good rye bread should.
old hearth bread company
The semolina rolls were my least favorite. Still pretty good though, although I've had better elsewhere...
old hearth bread company semolina
The chocolate mango bread definitely was the most unique. It had pieces of chocolate and dried mango baked into the bread. I found the bread was really good toasted so the chocolate got all soft topped with some butter. Apparently they bake this bread for the Tusker House Restaurant at Animal Kingdom.
old hearth bread company chocolate mango

Olde Hearth Bread Company on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cody Jack's Seafood in Clermont, FL

Cody Jack's Seafood
I ate at Cody Jack's Seafood in Clermont, FL, not far from the Citrus Tower. Before entering the restaurant, I snapped a picture of the S.S. Oyster Bar in Cody Jack's parking lot.
I'm on a boat...
Inside, Cody Jack's was a bit more of a bar than I was expecting. They had a very loud football games playing on their projection screens. Lots of alcohol was flowing, and eventually a band began to set up. For some reason, I wasn't getting the bar vibe from the outside of the restaurant. It wasn't a big deal though.

I ordered a crab cake dinner. It came with two really good crab cakes, really flavorful and plenty of crab meat in them. For the two sides, I choose the collard greens and cheese grits. I realized after ordering that my sides seemed really southern, not that it matters. The collards were bitter and could have used some more flavoring, but I liked the grits. You can't go wrong with cornmeal mixed with cheese!
Crab Cakes
I enjoyed my meal at Cody Jack's!

While writing this post, I found out this restaurant has a miniature golf course out back. If I knew that, I would have played a round of golf!

Cody Jacks Seafood Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 19, 2009

Twistee Treat in Lakeland, FL

When you want to eat ice cream, what better place to get it from than a giant fiberglass ice cream cone?
twistee treat
I stopped at the Twistee Treat in Lakeland, FL late one night and got soft serve strawberry ice cream in a waffle cone. The ice cream didn't taste very much like strawberry, but I've noticed this is often the case in ice cream shops that can make several flavors out of a single soft serve machine. It seems they add more color to the vanilla ice cream than actual flavor.

Although the strawberry ice cream tasted like pink vanilla, it was still pretty cool ordering ice cream from a piece of classic roadside architecture...
strawberry ice cream
Twistee Treat on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 16, 2009

Firehouse Subs in Lake Mary, FL

Somehow I ended up on Firehouse Subs' birthday list, so I received a coupon for a free medium sub in the mail for my most recent birthday.firehouse subs
I went to the Firehouse Subs in Lake Mary, FL and ordered a turkey sandwich. Perhaps this picture was taken at a bad angle because it looks like the pickle was just as big as the sandwich. The sandwich was definitely bigger...
turkey pickle
It was a pretty good sandwich, with turkey, cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, and onions on wheat bread. My only complaint was that the sandwich could have been toasted more. Interestingly enough, on my last visit to Firehouse Subs, they toasted the sandwich to the point of having burnt bread. Either way, I liked it!
turkey inside
Firehouse Subs on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pei Wei Asian Diner in Orlando, FL

pei wei
Pei Wei Asian Diner is a fast food Asian fusion restaurant owned by P.F. Chang's. Their first location in Orlando was on Colonial Drive, just on the outskirts of the Mill's 50 District where you have a high concentration of wonderful private Vietnamese and Chinese restaurants. I think the main reason I had never tried Pei Wei was because of it's location. If I was in that area of Orlando and was hungry for something in this genre of food, I'd always pick one of the great Vietnamese places right up the street rather than an Americanized chain version of Asian food.

A few months ago, I saw Pei Wei had a promotion where they were giving out coupons for free Japanese Chile Beef Ramen on Facebook. Once I got my coupon, I stopped into Pei Wei one night and got my Beef Ramen to go. Interestingly enough, the two people in line in front of me both had the same coupon, so apparently Pei Wei was giving out a lot of free food.

Soon enough, I opened up my to-go order and started eating. The Japanese Chile Beef Ramen was really tasty, with beef, carrots, onions, bean sprouts, red chiles, and cilantro, all over noodles. To me, it tasted very similar to Chinese lo mein for the most part, but I didn't mind. I like lo mein! And most lo mein doesn't have hot peppers in it either! I'd go back again.
beef ramen revolution
Pei Wei Asian Diner on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 12, 2009

Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce & Contest

A few months ago, the Watch Me Eat Blog was offered two bottles of Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce to try and review. I am not one to turn down free stuff, especially when it comes to trying new food, so I gladly accepted. A few days later, a box filled with the bottles of sauce arrived in the mail.
country bob's sauce
On the bottle, it recommended the sauce be used on steak, hamburgers, chicken, fries, or barbecue. I chose to be difficult and didn't use the sauce on any of the above when I tried it the first time. I used the sauce to top a dish of pasta!
Country Bob's on Pasta...
The second time I ate Country Bob's Sauce, it was used as a gravy to flavor the inside of a shepard's pie...
country bob's shepard's pie
Finally, I got a chance to try Country Bob's Sauce on something that was (almost) recommended on the bottle. I had a Boca Burger and dipped the meatless burger into Country Bob's All Purpose Sauce. Eating the sauce on a burger definitely gave the best idea of what it actually tasted like. The initial taste of the sauce reminded me of ketchup, but after a few seconds it left a spicier aftertaste, very similar to some barbecue sauces. I liked it!
Country Bob's with a Boca Burger...
The Country Bob's Sauce Giveaway is over. Congratulations to Lego and TASTYCHOMPS! You have won free sauce! Please check your email for more information. Winners were randomly chosen by being assigned a comment number and then using to pick the two winners.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que in Apopka, FL

I've been to the Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ in Altamonte Springs several times. It's generally pretty good, and has always been semi-fast food where you order at the counter and then have the food brought to your table with no other interactions with the employees.

When I decided to get some barbeque from Bubbalou's Apopka location, I was surprised to see that this restaurant is a full service. You are told which table to sit at. You have a waitress that gets everything for you. It's just like any other sit down restaurant. Bubbalou's is a chain, so I would have thought that all of their restaurants had to work the same way, but apparently this is not the case. Being served is better anyway. It takes away some of the tipping confusion that sometimes happens in places like the Altamonte store that are semi-fast food.

I ordered the Pulled Pork Dinner. Whenever I've tried Bubbalou's pork, I've always been happy, but today it was really fatty. There were a few good pieces of meat on top, but underneath was mostly gelatinous, chewy pork fat. A little bit would have been okay, but there was far too much and it seemed like they were trying to hide the fact that they were giving the inferior pig parts by placing all the good meat over the fat. For the sides, I choose mashed potatoes, black eyed peas, and collard greens. All three were good, although the collards were a little too salty. All this came with two pieces of garlic bread. The dinner was a whole lot to eat and I ended up leaving a lot of the pork over due both the fatty pork and a full stomach.
Pulled Pork Dinner
Bubbalou's Bodacious Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Harry's Seafood in Lakeland, FL

harry's seafood lakeland
When I saw the Harry's Seafood in Downtown Lakeland, I knew I wanted to eat there. I ate at the Harry's in Downtown Ocala several years ago and was really impressed with their cajun food. Later on that day, I found a coupon for a free appetizer at Harry's and that pretty much settled it to where I'd be eating dinner.

The appetizer coupon was for free fried calamari or fried green tomatoes. Although I've never tried tomatoes like this, I'm not the biggest fan of the fruit in their natural form so I went with the calamari. My dining companions were disgusted by the thought of eating fried squid, so it was all for me. It was good calamari, not chewy at all, and they even served plenty of tentacles on the plate...
free calamari
For the main course, I had the Jambalaya. Consisted of shrimp, chicken, and sausage served over rice. I enjoyed it, although I thought it could have been spicier.

Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 5, 2009

Black & Brew in Lakeland, FL

black & brew
I ate lunch at the Black & Brew Coffee House in Lakeland, FL. I'm not always happy with the food from coffee shops, but I enjoyed my sandwich at Black & Brew. The restaurant is right in the middle of Downtown with a nice view of Munn Park across the street. I ordered the Spicy Thai Peanut Panini. The sandwich consisted of chicken, red peppers, green onions, carrots, and a side of peanut sauce. It also came with a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips and a pickle. The sandwich was made fresh and tasted good. I had no complaints!
thai chicken sandwich

Black & Brew Coffee House & Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 2, 2009

5 & Diner in Orlando, FL

I ate at 5 & Diner in Orlando, FL late one evening. The restaurant was going for the classic diner look and was pretty successful at achieving it. It wasn't quite at the level of the Greek diners up North with the huge menus featuring somewhat ethnic food that never close, but was one of the better diners that I've seen in the Orlando area. Rather than being open 24 hours, 5 & Diner closed at ten PM and featured mostly pretty standard American food on the menu. At the time I didn't realize it, but apparently 5 & Diner is a franchise based on their website.
I ordered the California Chicken Sandwich. After a very long wait, the sandwich finally was served. It consisted of a chicken breast, swiss cheese, alfalfa sprouts, lettuce, tomato, onions, and guacamole on a sesame roll. Fries were served on the side. I had no complaints about the sandwich, it was really big and tasted good!

 A word of warning though about 5 & Diner. Check your ketchup before putting it on your food. At the next table, I overheard the restaurant customers complaining to the waitress that ants came out of the ketchup bottle onto the food. 5 & Diner then proceeded to replace their food and check all of the ketchup and mustard bottles on the tables. From what I could tell, the ants were isolated to the one bottle, but be careful...

5 & Diner on Urbanspoon


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