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Bahama Breeze. It sounds nice, doesn’t it? Tropical…relaxing…and all that good stuff. I’ve been to a few and the music is usually entertaining. I recently went to the Bahama Breeze located in the Lake Buena Vista area. It’s close to I-4 and the Orlando Premium Outlets, to say this place is located near the touristy stuff would be an understatement. In general, I try not to be biased and I hadn’t been to Bahama Breeze in awhile so I gave it a fair shot. I remember I hadn’t been there for about 3 years. I didn’t stop going because it was bad, it’s just there are so many other establishments out there. The inside of the restaurants has a lot of foliage and all that tropical looking “stuff”. It’s different and fun. Also, less tacky looking as compared to Rainforest Cafe. (Not to pick on Rainforest Cafe, I’m just saying…)
For a person who hasn’t been here in years, the menu really hasn’t seem to change much at all. I remember not being that impressed with the place but for a chain, I suppose it’s alright. Well, perhaps my newest experience here would change my mind? I LOVE anything robust with flavor and the “Habanero Chicken Wings” caught my eye. I asked the server about the heat of them since my friend told me the wings were very weak. Luckily, the server was honest and said that it’s not that spicy. At least, that’s one disappointment I missed. Why even sell “habanero” anything if it has no kick? Yes, I understand this is a chain restaurant but you don’t have to sacrifice flavor to appease the general public! Well, I better look for something else. Then I saw the “sweet peruvian corn cakes”. That actually sounds good!
Sounding and tasting are two different things, my friend. The pineapple salsa accompanying this dish was not well-suited at all. Also, if the menu item states pineapple, I should taste pineapple rather than wondering if there was any at all in it. The corn cakes had bits of corn that were chewy. You ever cook corn too long and it gets that firm chewiness? Yeah, that’s what I got in my corn cakes. I tend to be pretty animated in general and I’m sure I had a funny face when eating this. I don’t mind corn being in the corn cakes, actually I really enjoy the hush puppies at Bubba Gumps with the pieces of corn in their hush puppies. But not here folks, no sir. The chewy bits of corn distracted me from eating the corn cakes. Well, obviously I’m not a fan of the pineapple salsa. Maybe the butter would make my corn cakes taste better? Maybe just a little? Nope. Eh, this appetizer sounded good but I found it to be very “bleh”. I know that’s not a real word but “bleh” is the most fitting in this instance. As I’m eating this, I’m thinking how I could make it better. Perhaps I shall make my own version of Bahama Breeze Sweet Corn Cakes?
Nothing as far as the entrees intrigued me. I honestly didn’t feel like eating a lot so a quesadilla sounded ok. I selected the “lobster and shrimp quesadilla”. I just love seafood, provided that it’s done right. Sounds like I’m picky, doesn’t it? I’m not, I promise. I figure the quesadilla would be enough to fill me but not overfill me to the point of food coma.
So far, it looks good. Nice golden color on the tortillas, warm and gooey melted cheese. The sour cream? I can do without. Honestly, I really don’t get it. It’s pretty bland, doesn’t really add anything. If something is too spicy than it can calm down the flavors but, other than that, I don’t see a need for it. Growing up, I never ate sour cream. I’m sure that has something to do with it. I take a bite, it’s alright. Nothing to write home about. Overall, it tastes pretty ok. The salsa wasn’t that great.
I wouldn’t say I had a bad experience at this place, nor would I say I had an amazing time. It was… “ok”. The service was decent although it felt like the server was rushing all the time. If you intend on just drinking and listening to music, Bahama Breeze has the atmosphere for it. As far as the food goes, don’t have any expectations then you should be fine. Would I return here again? Maybe if my friends wanted to go but I would not go out of my way to eat here.
It’s been too long! I haven’t seen my chefettes in awhile. Who are the chefettes? Only the most amazing group of ladies ever! Actually, it’s three amazing friends and I from culinary school. Every couple of months we get together and have dinner. With that being said, you know we have good food. It’s an Asian inspired theme night.
This Chefette’s night was held in Satellite Beach. I was glad to see my friends since it had been probably at least a few months. As we get older and have more responsibility, it gets a bit harder to meet with everyone. Especially with my schedule, that blasted night schedule! But we made it happen! And that’s what counts. I had a fun drive of over an hour and some change to Satellite Beach. The drive was straightforward and it didn’t seem like it took long at all. Just the traffic alone in Orlando can be pretty ridiculous. 20 miles in 45 minutes?! Argh. I finally find my friend’s place and sat down. There’s water behind this house? Nice warm weather, palm trees in the back, hookah out. I foresee an amazing night.
I attempt to help my friend, the host of the dinner party. Of course she pushes me out of the kitchen and makes me socialize. It’s always great catching up with people. We all have our own separate lives but to be able to come together is just a great thing. We even had some more people this time around, a total of eight people tonight. Tonight we have a five course menu. The host gives us the cue, dinner is served!
First, we started off with an egg drop soup with seared scallops and fried leeks as a garnish. How can anyone not like scallops!? I love the sweetness. You know what’s a horrible offense? Overcooked scallops. Yes, I said overcooked scallops. It’s obviously not the worst thing in the world, but still, it should be high on the list. Kidding, maybe. Firm, rubbery scallops add nothing to a dish except maybe be used as a dieting tool. The extra time spent chewing overcooked scallops could result in additional calories being burnt. Luckily. my soup was great and the scallops were tender. The great thing about egg drop soup is that you can add just about anything and it’d taste great.
So, what’s next? A yummy vegetarian meal. Second course, the grilled tofu with a granny smith apple and orange glaze served with fried rice and enoki mushrooms. That was a mouthful to say. I added some sesame oil to the fried rice. It’s a nice little addition. If you’ve had Peruvian fried rice, it’s sort of like how that tasted. This dish was tasty with it’s light delicate flavor. The tofu was marinated overnight then grilled. So far, we’re off to a great start. Three more dishes to go!
As we cleared the table, it was time for an intermission. One of the fellows brought out some beer. If you know me, you know I’m not the biggest fan of beer. *GASP* Yes, it’s true. It’s just not my thing. I have been working on it, mind you. So far, I can tolerate the light beers fairly ok but when I heard the words “bacon maple beer”, I raised my eyebrows. Bacon, you say? and maple?? Hmmm… I like both, but in beer form? I don’t know about that. Well for starters, this is an intense beer! It had a intriguing sickening smell for me. It was slightly off-putting yet I kept smelling the beer. What’s wrong with me? I kept wondering to myself and I’m sniffing the beer. Yes, an odd one I am. I’m sure any beer aficionado wants to know how it tastes. Let me not give you my opinion. I’m merely kidding, since I’m not a big beer drinker I can’t comment much on it. The flavors were bitter and strong but the maple was prevalent. As far as the bacon, eh? Perhaps this would be better as a beer float. Yes, I did say beer float. I’ve come across beer floats in the past. Typically made with Guinness or a Framboise. Most people haven’t heard of Framboise. It’s a sweet Belgian beer that is typically too sweet for most common beer drinkers. Perhaps next time I come across this beer, I shall have it with some ice cream. Not only would I consume something with so many calories, then I would intentionally fatten it up. How horrible of me, how horrible indeed.
If you haven’t noticed yet, I love seafood. I’ve debated about becoming a vegetarian at times. Could I give up seafood though? I probably could but do I want to? Not really. :p I love it too much. The shrimp we’ll be eating are huge! I call them prawns. When you bite into it, you can taste each flavorful lobe. Speaking of prawns, is there a difference between shrimps and prawns? Technically, yes. After some thorough reading there are some physical differences but in general most people interchange the two. As a general guideline, prawns tend to be larger in side. Of course there are more to it than that, but I’m not running a biology course here. So, for the third course on the menu we have tiger prawns in a coconut almond curry sauce with rice noodles, topped with toasted cayenne cashews. I added my “sauce shrimp” in the dish as well. I like to have fun and be creative. Perhaps subconsciously I made my sauce look like a shrimp. (This so called shrimp is consists of Sriracha and the curry sauce.) Ahhhh, Sriracha! If you haven’t had Sriracha, then you’re missing out.
Can you tell we eat good? I really am good about my diet but I have to let it go when I see my gals. We get the plates cleared away and get ready for the next course. I open the oven door and see the nice pork belly braising. It smells and looks delish.
Out back to the patio area, the bok choy is on the grill. Can I even eat any more food? Of course. Will my stomach be mad at me for stuffing it? Undoubtedly yes, but it’s worth it. The main course! Let’s see what we have here. Grilled bok choy with molasses and ginger braised pork belly, garnished with a slaw. Being Chinese, I am accustomed to having bok choy in soups and stir fries. The grilled bok choy was an interesting. A charred crispness was a nice contrast with the fatty pork. I like to eat healthy, so when I bet into this pork belly I was a bit overwhelmed with the fatty flavor. Texture-wise, it was soft and mushy. I’m sure most people would love this, but I found it too fatty for my liking. If you’ve ever had lechon, there’s the skin, the subcutaneous fat and the meat. I love the skin and the meat but often times I discard the subcutaneous fat. I know, I know, how could I ever get rid of the best part? Well, if I have any fatty pieces of meat then you are more than welcome to have it. The pork belly had a sweet glaze, the slaw was acidic and gave it a nice contrast.
I simply can’t eat anymore at this point. I’m just stuffed. We decided to take a break. THANK GOODNESS! So, I brought out my muscadine wine that I had purchased in North Carolina. Yes, I said wine from North Carolina. It’s called Sweet Serenity. Try it out, especially if you enjoy sweet wines. The after notes are amazing. It makes you go “MMMMMM”. These days, I’m not into such sweet stuff but I still enjoy this one. We decided to make Thai Tea. I love the deep orange color. The thai tea we made was sweetened with condensed milk. Being the culinary people that we are, we took it up a notch. Not only did we make Thai Ice Tea, but we turned it into a Thai Ice Tea Russian! Has this ever been made before? I don’t know but I’ll tell you what, this is amazing! I am going to have to hunt down the Thai Ice Tea Russian master to give me his recipe. You can’t even taste the alcohol which to some it may not be a good thing. HA.
I think I’m ready for dessert now. Let’s give you a timeline of our chefette’s night. I got to Satellite Beach at 6:30pm. It’s now 1 in the morning. Pretty crazy, huh? So for dessert, I’ve got the tapioca in the oven. Broiler on! Look at that beautiful color! I can talk about food all day long. Isn’t it obvious? So this a tapioca brulee. After the sugar caramelized, I placed the pudding in the freezer. It’s already getting pretty late and three of us had to return to the Orlando area. This tapioca pudding brulee was intended to be eat cold but I enjoyed it warm. Honestly, I think it was better warm than if it were to be cold. I went ahead and took the ramekins out and topped the dessert with toasted coconut and pomegranate. I think I’m going to have a food coma soon.
Usually, I don’t enjoy that many restaurants in Kissimmee. Off on 192, near the Osceola Square Mall is Tarantino’s Italian restaurant. I’ve driven past it a few times but never really took notice of it. I decided to go there for dinner.
Upon entering the restaurant, the hostess was quick to seat me. The typical “elevator music” was playing, a bit too loud. I ordered the stuffed mushroooms with crab meat. Yummy! Mushrooms! They looked great although I guess I just so happen to be a big fan of garlic, so it was a bit lacking in the garlic department for me. Sigh.
As I ate my stuffed mushrooms, the server brought out my bread. I’ve been trying to follow a Paleo-esque diet but it can be very challenging especially being in an Italian restaurant. Tonight, I shall enjoy my bread and pasta! The bread was warm and served with a pesto/olive oil dipping sauce. Mmmm..bread. Then my salad came out, just a standard side salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. Sometimes, I forget how much food restaurants give you.
Ah… the main entree. The “stuffed basa”. I happen to love seafood. Actually, I love all food but that’s beside the point. The stuffed basa entree consists of the fish stuffed with crab meat cooked in a garlic, butter, and white wine sauce. Ah, finally, the garlic flavor is coming through! The linguine was cooked perfectly. And a lot of it too, I must say. Probably about 1.5 to 2 cups of pasta. I would definitely recommend this dish.
Ah, onto dessert. I got the creme brulee. It’s always a fantastic choice although the one I ordered was a bit on the, charred side. Someone got a little too happy using the blowtorch. I ate around the burnt sugar, otherwise it was creamy and delicious. It didn’t have any additional flavors, just the typical goodness. Random funny story to mention, while I was at this restaurant. I watched an older female at another table, grab ice from her cup of water with her bare hands. She then places the ice into a cup of wine and then drank the wine from a straw. I silently shuddered inside for I too once had ice in my red wine. Reluctantly, I might add as far as for me. I’ll tell you one thing, ice and red wine do not mix. BLEH.
If you’re thinking of going to Olive Garden for some odd reason (aside from the Never-ending pasta, which I don’t ever do anyways) then go to Tarantino’s! You will get much better quality food and service.
I’m hungry and I don’t feel like driving far. I also don’t want to eat fast food, what options do I have left?! Well, it’s lunch time so lunch time specials, here I come! For anyone who has a hearty appetite, Aztec D’Oro is a great spot. Aztec D’Oro is located in the Hunter’s Creek area on South Orange Blossom Trail. I haven’t been here that frequently but I’ve always enjoyed the food. Today was no exception.
As I got seated, the server Natalia, promptly greeted me in Spanish and English. She was very friendly and knowledgeable of the menu. The decor reminded me of when I was in San Antonio, TX. I start to browse the menu searching for something I hadn’t tried before. As I continue looking, I already start eating some of the complimentary chips and salsa. Usually, the salsa the Mexican restaurants bring out are pretty mediocre but this had a hint of a slightly sweet and a roasted pepper flavor. Needless to say, I ate a ton of chips.
Ah, I see soup! Love me some chowdah, although it’s not the typical kind. “Azteca Diablo Shrimp and Tequila Chowder”. Don’t mind if I do! It had a whole bunch of awesome in it. Shrimp, chorizo, cilantro, green chiles, and jalapenos were the key players. Definitely something to try although I will say that the shrimp in the soup was overcooked. Aside from that fact, the soup was delicious. Very hearty and the size portion was a lot bigger than I anticipated. At first I thought they accidentally gave me a bowl until I saw another customer order the bowl of soup. Oh my. Also, beware of the super hot plates!
Yes, I said lettuce soup. Have you ever gotten tired of just eating lettuce? It’s good for you, but how many salads can you really eat? I decided to look into what else I could do with lettuce. I had 3 romaine heads in the refrigerator and I really didn’t feel like eating any more lettuce. I came across a recipe for lettuce soup. Hmm… this could be very interesting. Try this soup hot or cold!
Romaine Lettuce Soup:
- 2 TBS of unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 onion, chopped (I used red onion since that’s what I have on hand)
- 2 garlic clove, minced
- 3 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 1/2 cups of water or vegetable stock
- 1 cube of vegetable bouillon if you use water
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put pan on medium to high heat, place butter in pan.
- Add onions, sauté for 8 minutes or until onions are translucent.
- Add garlic, be sure to stir ingredients around and not let the garlic burn.
- Add parsley and lettuce. Constantly stir to let the lettuce cook.
- Add some water and bouillon to help cook the lettuce. If you’re not using any bouillon, add 1/4 cup of stock.
- After all the lettuce is wilted transfer contents to a blender and add enough water to blend the contents well. Do not add all the water, this is to ensure you don’t have a messy kitchen and get soup splattered on your face. If you don’t have a blender, use a hand immersion blender but make sure the contents are in a pot.
- Heat contents in pot, reduce the soup if desired.
Ah… mushroom powder, how much I love thee! Sounds a bit odd, I’m sure. Seems like these days, not many people are that fond of mushrooms even though they’re so yummy! If you’re not familiar with the term “umami” then be prepare for some education.
Pop quiz: How many types of taste are there? Any guesses? 4, 5? Well, there’s sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. That’s it, right? It depends on who’s answering the question. For awhile, people stuck to the four but there are others (including me) who stick to the 5 types of taste buds. So, what’s the fifth one? Umami, which is a Japanese word that doesn’t have an exact translation but you will find it described as “deliciousness” or “savoriness”. I just prefer to call it “that ‘je ne sais quoi’ “. Research has shown that mushrooms are high on the umami scale. On a side note, you will find in Ayurveda (a holistic medicine derived from India) that there are 6 types of taste: sweet, salt, sour, pungent, astringent, and bitter. I don’t have much knowledge on the matter but it does seem like an interesting topic. Perhaps something to read more about at a later point. I am definitely a nerd so this type of thing seems right up my alley.
If your dish or soup needs some extra pizzazz, try using mushroom powder. It works great as a flavor enhancer due to the high glutamate levels. A natural MSG, so to speak. Since this is my first time making mushroom powder, I just stuck to the good ole regular button mushrooms. Next time, I get some portabella mushrooms or shiitake mushrooms.
- 1 ounce package of mushrooms
- Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel to remove the dirt. (I actually like to quickly rinse my mushrooms, drain, then clean with a damp paper towel. In a culinary sense, you shouldn’t wash them but my personal preference is to do so. You could also have a mushroom brush but I don’t see a need for that.)
- Slice mushrooms to desired consistency. 1/8″ to 1/16″ thick. The thinner you cut them, the faster the mushrooms dry. For consistency, I used a mandolin.
- Arrange the mushroom slices evenly on the food dehydrator tray. In six hours, it should be done. Be sure to rotate the trays and have the vents open up top (if applicable). If you don’t have a food dehydrator, then the oven works just as well too. Just set the temperature to 150°F on an non-oiled baking sheet for an hour. Flip the mushrooms and let it bake for another hour. If you can break it easily then it’s done.
- Let the mushrooms cool, then place mushrooms in food processor. You can also use a coffee grinder.
I FINALLY got a Vitamix.
I know this sounds pretty trivial but over the past year and a half, I kept going back and forth between the Vitamix and Blendtec. If you have no clue what I’m talking about, then this is only just the comparison for the two most expensive/powerful household blenders. Just only. Why on Earth would anyone need to buy an expensive blender? A blender is just a blender, right? The answer to that is, “NO”. I have had blenders from all different price ranges and for my needs, I need something with some oomph. I remember the time my magic bullet died from making hummus. HUMMUS?! Seriously. As I continue my quest for a healthy lifestyle, I wanted to do more green smoothies. From the Oster blender I was using, I just wasn’t getting an appealing texture. Don’t get me wrong, I like my Oster blender. It’s made of glass and I can unscrew from the bottom, which made cleaning really nice. Have you ever looked around the blades? Gross looking if you don’t clean it well. “Once this blender stops working, then I’ll get a Vitamix….” The Oster is still going strong, just to let you know. Although as I’m blending at times, I’ve had to stop it and stir things around. Perhaps I do need something stronger after all.
Vitamix has been around for decades, and I’ve met people who’ve had the Vitamix that had been passed down through their family. I thought the blender looked a bit old-fashioned, but who am I to judge? It didn’t seem worthwhile to spend hundreds of dollars on a blender but as I read the reviews, I began to think otherwise. The Blendtec looked very nice, very modern. The display, the colors, everything just seemed great. Yet, I kept debating with myself about a Vitamix. If you look on YouTube, you’ll see all those “Will it blend?” videos. It’s very entertaining and tempting to try at home, even though they clearly state not to. I don’t think I’ll blend those lighters after all. Anyhow, I read pages of reviews between the two blenders. Oh how tiring it was… In general, it really seemed to be an even draw. Or, a slight edge to Vitamix due to it’s warranty and customer service.
Well, I decided I’d get myself a nice present for my birthday this year. It’s not there yet, but it’s close enough. Why not get the blender that’s made to last? I headed off to Costco today and took a gander. The store location I went to did not have the package that I saw on-line. The package deal included the Wet Blade container along with the Dry Blade container. Do I really need the dry blade container? It’s probably great if you want to do flours and things of that sort but since I’ve changed my diet to a more Paleo-style, it didn’t seem necessary for me. (Also, it’s cheaper by itself, obviously.) I bit the bullet and purchased the Vitamix 5200.
Finally, I got home and I anxiously opened this box. Is this blender all they say it is and more? Did I just waste all this money on a blender?! Oh the thoughts ran across my mind. Might as well give it a go!
The contents included the 64 ounce wet blade container, the vented lid, the blender unit, the getting started guide with dvd and the tamper. This blender is tall! I might end up needing to use a step-stool.
Yesterday, I made a dairy free smoothie and I used the same exact recipe for comparison.
Dairy-free Berry Smoothie
- 1 cup of vanilla soymilk
- 2 frozen strawberries
- 1 Tbs frozen kiwi pulp
- 1 Tbs frozen beet pulp
- 1 berry all-fruit bar
- 1 tropical all-fruit bar
I poured the soymilk into the container first and then added the rest of the ingredients. Let me tell ya, this thing has got serious power!
The finished product was a nice, smooth texture. Even the strawberries seeds were so finely blended, you wouldn’t have known I put whole strawberries in. My smoothie from yesterday was good but this was definitely better. I can’t wait to use this blender more and see what awesome creations I’ll come up with!
Anyone near downtown in the mood for a hot dog? How about a beer to wash it down with? At Frank & Steins, they have a variety of franks even veggie hot dogs (“the Greek Goddess”). As you step in, it’s got a warm appeal to it although it’s cold in there. Brrr… Also, the service has been on the “eh” side. Nothing spectacular and sometimes it’d be hard to flag down the server. With that being said, the hot dogs are tasty as long as you’re not in a rush to go anywhere. They have board games, which are always fun in my book. The beer list is also extensive, you’ll be sure to find something you like.
During this trip, I chose the “build your own frank”. Between drinking my Framboise, watching TV, playing a board game, my food finally came. It had a marbled rye hoagie, all beef hot dog, tomatoes, onions, corn salsa, pickles, cucumbers, fried onion strings, relish, fresh garlic, and grated cheddar cheese. Let me tell ya, there was a lot of flavor with this hot dog.
I also ended up ordering a Texas Frito Pie. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are the best. It really hit the spot. So if you’re not looking for great service and don’t mind getting a little messy, go to Frank & Steins.
On a side note when you tell friends to meet you here, make sure you say “frank AND steins”. One of my friends kept looking for “Frankenstein”. :p
Doritos I saw at a store in Toronto.