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Rio Coco Cafe, Vero Beach – What a gem!

RioCocoKaraBeanSalad

Finally, a new post!  It seems like it’s been ages since I had posted anything.  Terrible, I know.  So what’s been going on with me?  Work, traveling, trying to be healthy and enjoy life.  During my little travels to Vero Beach, FL I found a cute little coffee shop.  There’s just something I love about coffee shops.  The smell of fresh roasted coffee beans, the relaxing atmosphere, it’s just a good place for a quick mental getaway.

 

RioCocoExteriorRioCocoCounterRio Coco Cafe has all that and it’s been around for over a year.  Don’t let the exterior fool you, the inside is full of goodness!  It’s located in a shopping plaza near the Vero Beach Airport.

When you walk in the atmosphere is instantly welcoming, filled with the smells of roasted coffee.  I absolutely love coffee shops and this place doesn’t disappoint.

The staff is extremely helpful and friendly!  There’s a food menu, drink menu and a coffee beans menu.  The food menu consists of breakfast items, salads, paninis and wraps.  I’m at a coffee place so you know I’ve got to try some of the coffee here!  White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Espresso Drink it is!  Sweet, strong and tasty.  Not a bad way to get the day started.

RioCocoMacadamiaNutEspressoDrink

 

RioCocoKaraBeanSaladI ordered the Kara Bean Salad with Chicken and my boyfriend ordered the Pesto Chicken Panini.  The Kara Bean Salad ($7.01) is vegan and gluten free unless you decide to add additional items to it.  I added chicken for an additional 2 dollars.  This is a vibrant salad with spinach, romaine lettuce, shredded red cabbage, black beans, corn, mandarin oranges, almonds, Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.  This salad had great texture and was very hearty.

 

RioCocoChickenPestoPaniniThe Chicken Pesto Panini ($7.24) has chicken, roasted red pepper, mozzarella, and pesto.  The wraps and sandwiches come with multi-grain flax chips and a pickle.  This was another filling menu item but not overly filling where you want to take a nap after lunch.

 

RioCocoFlankSteakSaladThere are two flank steak items listed with fairly close prices.  The Flank Steak Salad ($7.48) and the Flank Steak Panini ($7.71).  The Flank Steak Salad has steak, spinach, romaine lettuce, sweet peppers,red onions, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette.  The Flank Steak Panini consists of french bread, steak, red onions, horseradish sauce, and RC sauce.

RioCocoFlankSteakPaniniI found the salad to have more flavor and more content than the Flank Steak Panini.

 

 

 

 

RioCocoCoffeeRoasterYou’ll notice their slogan, “good coffee, great cause.”  The folks at Rio Coco Cafe call their coffee 100% humanic.  That’s right, “humanic”, not organic or fair trade.  They have a nifty little video about it on YouTube if you have the time to watch.  Basically the profits that Rio Coco Cafe earns goes to help children and teachers in Nicaragua that are involved with Project Ezra.  The coffee is roasted in small batches, in house.

Overall the food is good and the service is great, but you should really come here for the coffee.   If you aren’t in the local area to try the coffee, you can always order coffee from their website Rio Coco Beans.


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RusTeak Restaurant & Wine Bar Ocoee

RusTeakNYStripSteakPureAwesomeness

RusTeakExteriorHave I ever mentioned that I will travel for good food?  RusTeak in Ocoee does not disappoint!  I hadn’t heard of RusTeak before but I heard about the delicious burgers at Teak in MetroWest.  Both restaurants have the same owners.  RusTeak has been opened for 10 months.  It’s a gastropub with New American cuisine.  They strive to have produce come from 3 Boys Farm (an organic hydroponic farm)  which is located in Ruskin, FL.  This is great because you know it’s organic and the produce is coming in from a few hours away.

RusTeakIceWineMartiniRusTeak has salads, sandwiches, pasta, entrees, signature cocktails, draft beer, bottled craft beer and of course, wine.  The Signature Cocktails Menu had unique drinks but the Ice Wine Martini ($9) caught my eye.  Vodka, St. Germain, fresh grapes, fresh lemon juice, and Malbec.  Light, refreshing and very fresh tasting.  (And might I add, strong…)

RusTeakHouseSaladThe menu has some gluten-free options which are indicated on the menu with a symbol.  I had a house salad ($4) and tried all three of the dressings.  The house salad consisted of a spring mix, peeled and seeded cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, carrots and croutons.  It was typical a house salad.

RusTeakDressingsThe dressings are gluten free and are made in house.  So, there’s the Cilantro Mango, Roasted Tomato & Red Wine Vinigrette, and the Citrus Honey.  By itself, I wasn’t so fond of the cilantro mango but when accompanied with the salad, it tasted pretty good.  Of the three dressings, I liked the Citrus Honey the most.

 

***The pictures of the next three entrees are actually half-portioned.  The actual entree sizes of these dishes are very generous.***

RusTeakCrabbySteakThe Crabby Steak ($24) is absolutely fantastic!  Flat iron steak, jumbo lump blue crab meat, topped with hollandaise.  Scalloped potatoes are underneath the proteins and grilled asparagus on the side.  The hollandaise here is on point! Lemony-buttery taste, beautiful color.  Needless to say, I devoured this dish.

RusTeakFishOutOfWaterThe Fish Out Of Water ($23) is snapper, zucchini and squash, roasted beets, cherry tomatoes served on top of a farro and goat cheese salad.  Truth be told, I had never had farro before.  It’s a type of grain, slighty chewy.  It looked like a miniature version of oat puffs.  I wish the flavor of the buerre blanc sauce was more prevalent.  Buerre blanc sauces in general are very light and delicate but since it’s supposed to be a Riesling buerre blanc, I would have imagined the flavor to be a little more robust.  Overall, the dish was enjoyable and tasted very light.

RusTeakFishCandyThe Crabby Steak is a great entree but the Fish “Candy” ($24) is favorite!  The name is slightly off-putting but it is absolutely phenomenal.  Miso glazed snapper, sea salt caramel fusilli pasta, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, and shiitake mushrooms in a brown butter sauce.  Brown butter is also known as buerre noisette, it’s essentially where you heat the butter until it browns.  The brown butter has a nutty flavor.  If you like Teriyaki sauce, you’ll love the dish.  The sweetness of the fish, the savoriness of the pasta, the umami flavor from the shiitake mushrooms, it was great.  The pasta had an ever so slight chewiness but I didn’t mind one bit.  So much tastiness going on with one dish, I was blown away.

RusTeakPinaColadaTrifleI am a happy camper!  So many yummy items!  Well, how about the desserts?  At RusTeak, they have a daily trifle among their other desserts.  The trifle is a mason jar full of deliciousness and it changes day to day.  I had a Piña Colada Trifle.  Pineapple jello made with club soda (so you get that extra bubbliness), layered with pound cake soaked in Malibu rum, coconut creme and topped with toasted coconut.  And trust me, it’s as delicious as it sounds.

RusTeakSign

I enjoyed the food at RusTeak so much, that I returned before I finished my blog post.  When I returned, Courtney (one the managers) remembered me.  That was pretty cool.  So, I decided to sit in the bar area this time.  I had Mary as my server, she was great.  My second visit gave me an opportunity to try more things that caught my eye previously.

RusTeakSweetPotatoTotsSweet Potato Tots ($4), where have you been all this time?!  This is terribly addicting!  I am warning you all!  They are mini-sized tater tots that are amazing.  The sweet potato in these tots aren’t too sweet, it’s very well balanced.  It’s served with a side of ketchup.  Just a little dab of ketchup or plain is great.

SprecherHardRootBeerThe Sprecher Hard Root Beer ($5) was nice and refreshing.  It tastes like…root beer, who’d have thunk it?!  If you love root beer, this is delicious.  It goes down smooth and the flavor lingers on the back of your tongue.  As far as the smell goes, I didn’t notice it as much.  Unfortunately, it’s only 5% ABV.  I bet this would be super duper awesome as a root beer float.

RusTeakCaesarSalad

Between the house salad and the Caesar salad, the Caesar salad wins.  The dressing is light and flavorful, and who can go wrong with Parmesan cheese?  Yum, yum.

RusTeakNYStripSteakPureAwesomenessThe NY Strip Steak ($24) is 10 ounces of NY Strip Steak, scallop potatoes, zucchini with a brandy glazed mushroom creamed sauce.  The sauces here are great!  My friend said he felt this dish was undervalued and would have easily paid $35 for entree.  I wholeheartedly agreed.

RusTeakPureAwesomenessI ordered the Pure Awesomeness ($18) with a name like that, I had to see for myself if it was indeed made of ‘pure awesomeness.’  Sweet potato gnocchi, mozzarella morney (I’m going to assume it’s supposed to be “mornay” – béchamel sauce with cheese), candied walnuts, cherry tomatoes, toasted sunflower seeds and with skewers of shrimp.  My verdict?  It was definitely different, an interesting dish but I found it far too sweet for my liking.  If you’re a fan of walnut shrimp, then this would be a good dish for you.  The dish gets points from me for the originality.

RusTeakShrimpRisottoThe Shrimp Risotto ($18) came with blackened shrimp, risotto and sautéed broccolini.  Well seasoned entree, simple but tasty.  The first time I had broccolini, I thought to myself, “Man, this tastes like kai-lan!”  Well, lo and behold, broccolini is a hybrid of broccoli and kai-lan (Chinese broccoli).  The Shrimp Risotto is a good and safe dish.

 

RusTeakCoconutMangoMojito

The Coconut Mango Mojito ($8) wasn’t too minty and it was a nice refreshing beverage.
Bacardi Rum Coconut, mango schnapps, fresh squeezed limes, muddled mint.

RusTeakMojitoFeistyFoodist

I really enjoy the food and atmosphere at RusTeak.  The music here is mostly been alternative rock like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam.  Outdoor seating is available.  It’s casual environment with top notch dishes and great drinks.  For the folks who like draft beers, they have a draft beer flight.  I always leave here full and happy.  I definitely plan on bringing more people back here!

 

 

***FYI:Monday Mayhem: 1/2 priced all bottles of wines all day ($50 and under)***

http://www.rusteakwinebar.com/

HOURS: Mon-Sat: 11:30am-11PM
closed Sundays

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Vespr New Menu Items

VesprMan'sManSalad

VesprCupVespr has quickly become a new favorite of mine.  In my previous post about Vespr, I shared some awesome items such as the “Barrel Smoked Sweet Iced Tea”.  Currently, Vespr has baked treats which is good and all but how about some REAL food?  Don’t get me wrong, cookies and all them baked treats are fine but…this girl likes to eat!  Well, let me tell ya… new items are coming soon.

VesprMotherJarSalads, parfaits and lattes, oh my!  Yes, that’s right…I said salads at Vespr.  The new menu items are set to launch Saturday, July 20, 2013.  The two featured salads are the “Mother Jar” and the “Man’s Man Salad”. Both salads are served in large Mason jars.  The “Mother Jar” is perfect for the vegetarians and it’s a nice, light salad.  Mixed greens, sweet cherry tomatoes, penne pasta, fresh mozzarella, and a delicate spice vinaigrette.   I loved the fresh basil in the slightly sweet dressing.  The dressings are portioned out to be 0.7 ounces.   I’m not a big salad dressing girl but I thought I would need more.  Nope, it was jusssst right.  I highly suggest after you thoroughly shake your salad,  to let it rest.  Letting the dressing permeate into the salad allowed the flavors to really come out.

 

VesprMan'sManSaladNext up, the “Man’s Man Salad”.  Mixed greens, bacon, grilled chicken, cheddar cheese, toasted pecans, with whiskey and candied bacon vinaigrette.  Let me tell you, this was a hearty salad.  The whiskey and candied bacon vinaigrette was something I hadn’t had before.  By itself, I can’t say I’m terribly fond of it but with the salad, it was really good.  This salad  is full of protein with the chicken, bacon (who doesn’t love bacon?!) and blocks of cheddar cheese.  Each salad is uniquely different but delicious.

 

The new menu features a “Smart Snacking” section.  This is the perfect snack food while working or studying.  There’s the Agave Parfait (low fat yogurt, agave nectar, granola), the Vespr Parfait, and the Vespr JAB.  The Vespr Parfait is composed of greek style yogurt, speciality jam, and granola. All the specialty jams come from local Forbidden Fruit Jam Company.  For the Vespr Parfait, you have your option of Sweet and Sassy Tropical Jam or the Watermelon Mint Mojito.  The Sweet and Sassy Tropical Jam is pineapple, blueberry and grapefruit.  Just so ya know, the Watermelon Mint Mojito does not contain any alcohol.  I am not the biggest fans of mojitos in general but I fell in love with this jam.  It tasted like a sweet minty watermelon jolly rancher.  MMMMMM….   I decided to go with the sweet and sassy tropical jam for the Vespr parfait.  It is served in a long jar so that you have enough room to stir the parfait.  As soon as opened my jar, I smelled the parfait.  AHHHH…. The delightful aroma reminded me of a blueberry pie.  The tartness of the greek yogurt, the sweet jam, the crunchiness of the granola.  Me gusta!  I even found some almonds in here!VesprParfait

TheVesprJABThe Vespr JAB (Jam & Almond Butter) is served with celery sticks.  The jam choices are the  Ménage À Trois Berry (raspberries, blackberries and blueberries) or the Peach-Raspberry Seduction (made with Jupiter peaches).  This is another great healthy snack.  Nuff said.

VesprButterscotchLatteVespr has 3 new specialty lattes they will be introducing.  The Butterscotch Latte, the Maple Madagascar Vanilla Latte, and the Lavender and Rose Latte.  The Butterscotch Latte is amazing!  Served with whip cream on the side of the cup, you could either stir it in or drink it from the whipped cream side.  A little whip cream mustache never hurt anyone.  The espresso still really shined through even with the extra flavors.  Needless to say, I drank all of this to the very last drop.

VesprMapleMadagascarVanillaLatteThe Maple Madagascar Vanilla Latte has real maple sugar around the cup.  This is a very sweet latte and it’s pretty much how it sounds.

VesprLavendarRoseLatteThe Lavender and Rose Latte is definitely interesting.  It has rose sugar crystals around the cup and lavender syrup in the latte.  I probably could eat this sugar by the spoonful.  It was floral, sweet and tasty.  And did I mention this latte is pretty?  Before you take a sip, make sure you stop and smell this latte.  One of my friends loved the latte but for me, it left me a bit perplexed.  I’m not quite sure what to make of it, I didn’t necessarily dislike it nor did I love it.  I kept smelling and drinking it, it really left me on the fence.  This latte is one of those you either hate it or love it, except for me.  I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  It’s a latte of interest.

 

So, my fav picks from the new menu: Man’s Man Salad, the Vespr Parfait and the Butterscotch Latte.  Bottom line… lots of new delicious items at Vespr!

 

http://thevespr.com/
Vespr Craft Coffee and Allures on Urbanspoon

 

 

The Hyppo Downtown Orlando

TheHyppoPistachioCoconut

TheHyppoExteriorIt’s getting hot out there and what better way to cool off then to get a delicious frozen treat.  How about a gourmet popsicle?  What madness is this?!  It’s true, organic popsicles in downtown Orlando.   Close to Lake Eola and underneath Post Parkside, you’ll find the Hyppo.  Small little place but tons of flavors inside.  The Hyppo has interesting flavors such as the Cucumber Lemon Mint or the Mexican Hot Chocolate.  Some of the pops have dairy in it, which are labeled on the board.  They are constantly rotating the selection here, so you’ll have plenty to chose from.  The “Elvis” is a popular hit, it’s made with peanut butter, banana and honey.

TheHyppoFlavors

The interior has mint chocolate green walls, two tables and seven chairs.  Pretty small place, so it’s good to get a pop and walk around the neighborhood.  The gourmet pops are flash frozen and the texture is soft yet firm.

TheHyppoPistachioCoconutPineappleGingerTheHyppoPistachioCoconutThe Pineapple Ginger was alright for me but not a favorite for me.  The ginger was prevalent but not too strong.  I thoroughly enjoyed the Pistachio Coconut.  With the creamy coconut flavor and the tastiness of the pistachios, I was a happy camper.  Neither overpowered one another, it was a nice delicate balance.  The Champagne Mango was also another delightful treat.  Just so you know, it doesn’t have any champagne in it.  It’s actually a type of mango,  Ataulfo mango.  The name is a bit misleading especially when you see a flavor like Riesling Pear.  The Riesling Pear pops are made from fresh pears blanched in a Riesling wine.

TheHyppoColdBrewedCoffeeTower

The Hyppo has cold brewed drip coffee which they get from Credo.  It’s a fun process to watch.

The original location is in Saint Augustine and the pops brought over from there.  Each pop is $3.50 including tax.  You can get extra fancy and get it dipped in chocolate for an additional dollar.  For those can’t get enough of the Hyppo, you can actually order the pops online.  How awesome is that?!

The Hyppo has only been open 3 months but they’re already looking to open another location in Orlando.  The Hyppo is a wonderful addition to Orlando and I look forward to trying the other flavors!

http://www.thehyppo.com
https://www.facebook.com/TheHyppoOrlando

HOURS:
Sun-Wed: 11am-10pm
Thurs-Sat: 11am-11pm
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Vespr Craft Coffee & Allures Waterford Lakes

VesprSweetTea

VesprExteriorHow much do you love coffee?  I mean “REAL” coffee?  Not the ones full of syrups and artificial flavors.  For the true coffee aficionados, I’m excited to say I’ve found a place for you.  Vespr Craft Coffee & Allures in the Waterford Lakes area will not disappoint.  It’s only been open for a little over a month but this place is definitely amazing.

Vespr would be classified under the “Third Wave Coffee” movement.  The first wave is coffee like Folger’s where you’re just drinking typical mass produced coffee.  The second wave is where people start getting fancy with their coffee with their speciality roasts.  Then we get to the third wave of coffee.  This is for the person who takes it to another level.  You truly adore coffee.  You want to know where it came from, you want that perfectly brewed coffee, you appreciate the depths of the flavor.  It’s all about the quality here.

VesprInteriorAs I entered Vespr, it came off as very spacious and minimalistic.  The gray walls had a few quotes here and there but not much else going on.  Chairs and tables against a wall here, large work table and bar stools there…I’m getting a workplace environment vibe as a opposed to a lounging on a couch place.

Before going up to the register, there’s a “sniff bar.”  Definitely stop and take a moment to sniff the coffee beans and tea leaves.

VesprSniffBarTea

Vespr offer baked goodies from bakeries around the US.  Some were locally from here in Orlando such as Iced Bakery.

VesprTreat

Unfortunately, the coffee beans are not roasted in house but they are ground to order and brewed by the cup.  The coffee here is fair trade and single origin, meaning the coffee you buy comes from one specific area and your purchase benefits the farmers.  Even though the coffee menu is limited, you’re getting higher quality coffee beans and Vespr constantly rotates the selection.

VesprSiphonsVesprSiphonCoffeeFor hot coffee, you can elect to have it brewed with a siphon or with a trifecta brewer.  I had the Marcala brewed on the Siphon, also known as a vacuum pot.  If you choose to get your coffee via siphon, it is an additional $1.50.  Getting your coffee the siphon route gives a lighter color and it removes the coffee oils.  Alicia, one of the baristas made my coffee.  It was SOOOOO cool.  I hadn’t seen such a thing before and I was mesmerized by the orange glow.  OOOOOOHHHHH!  Depending on the coffee, it takes about 90 seconds or less for the coffee to be brewed.  I’m not going to get into how it works since there’s a lot of fancy schmancy science stuff going on here between the pressure and water vapor.  Alls I know, that it’s fantastic coffee.  If you want to know how the process really works, the staff here would be happy to explain it to you.

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The coffee is served in a double wall insulated glass.  I loved the presentation of the beverages here!

VesprSweetTeaThe Barrel Smoked Sweet Iced Tea ($6.5) is a new favorite of mine!  The mason jars are smoked with oak chips and a mint essential oil.  The tea is served only in-house and you prepare it yourself.  The ice is already in the mason jar.  You can definitely smell the smokiness when you open the jar.  The tea used is a loose leaf Yunnan tea (black tea) cold brewed for 10 hours.  You’ll also get one ounce of Grade A Vermont maple syrup.  This syrup has been aged for a year and what a difference it makes!  It was a fun experience putting the tea and the syrup in the jar, and then shaking it all up.  I was concerned initially if it was going to be too sweet with the maple syrup but it was perfect.  It reached a nice balance without it being too sweet.  An interesting side note is that the ice cubes are well, “cubed.”  Vespr has a Kold-Draft ice machine which produces perfectly square ice cubes.  Each cube is exactly one ounce and with it being cube shaped, the ice melts slowly.  Such ingenuity!

VesprSmokedSweetTea

 

Elderflower Champagne ($4) is non-alcoholic beverage made with natural elderflower syrup and carbonated distilled water.  The glass is sprayed with a mist of rose hydrosol.  The rose hydrosol is pretty much like an essential oil but more water based.  This is a sensory delight as you smell the roses while drinking the elderflower champagne.

VesprElderflowerChampagne

All the cups and lids are compostable.  Even the stickers are compostable.  After talking to Edd Siu, co-owner of Vespr, I saw how detailed everything was in here.  It really surprised me and I had a wonderful time.  This truly is a place focused on sustainability.  Even for the folks who aren’t crazy coffee fanatics, you’ll find something you’ll enjoy here.  Vespr will give you a unique experience, an amazing sensory journey!  (And you can feel good about it too!)

 

http://thevespr.com/
https://www.facebook.com/thevespr?fref=ts

HOURS:
Sun-Sat: 7am-10pm
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The Dessert Lady Dr. Phillips

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DessertLadyEXteriorI was recently invited to an “Tweet for Treats” event at the Dessert Lady Bakery.  I had heard this place was really good and even saw a recent post from Foodbidden.  Awwwwwwesome…  The Dessert Lady used to be in downtown but ended up moving to the Dr. Phillips area.  It’s in the shopping plaza, a few doors down from Pinkberry’s and Christini’s.  Even before I entered the Dessert Lady, I knew it was going to be a great time.  Cute exterior with the black and pink, it definitely stands out.  Adorable display in the window full of cupcakes and cake slices, I felt a little “teehee” go off inside me.  The set up was a long table with white linens with twitter cookies laid out.  I felt like I just entered the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party  but much more girly.

DessertLadyInterior

DessertLadyBlueCupcakeDessertLadyWhiteCupcakesCupcakes, cookies, and quiches, oh my!  As I wandered around, I finally met the Dessert Lady herself, Ms. Patti Schmidt.  Patti has such an effervescent personality!  I talked with her a little bit about the move from downtown to the present location.  She seemed very happy with the move.  Being at her previous location , it took her away from the customers, she was always so busy.  When you come to the bakery now, it will usually be Patti taking your order.  You can tell she loves to mingle and interact with her customers.

DessertLadyKitchen

I had a little tour of the bakery where all the magic happens!  The pink is everywhere but it’s infectiously positive.  (Even the restroom was pink.)

DessertLadyCarrotCakeDessertLadyQuicheDown to business, how wonderfully wicked are the desserts here?  Ohhh…. they are wicked indeed.  I can’t recall when I had a meal solely made up of desserts.  The blue and white cupcakes had cream cheese frosting.  Not overwhelming sweet and very light.  I personally am not a fan of buttercream so this frosting was great.  To me, buttercream is too greasily sweet.  So if you’re hanging out with me, I’m more than likely going to give you my frosting.  The Carrot Cake was firm yet moist.  As in, it was dense but not dry or oily.  Patti says she loves all her desserts but the carrot cake is the best seller.  I’ve had carrot cake many different ways but this is seriously good.  I am really loving the cream cheese frosting because it’s so light and slightly tart.  We also sampled of the ham quiches and spinach quiches.  Both of which were very tasty.

DessertLadyCoconutBruleeCheesecake

The other food bloggers and I had the opportunity to sample her other desserts.  The Coconut Brûlée Cheesecake was amazing.  FYI, this is not a dense cheesecake.  It is a bit lighter but definitely full of flavor.  Macadamia nut crust?  Yes, please!  To make it even sweeter, there was a toasted coconut and caramel sauce on top.

DessertLadyKeyLimeCake

The Key Lime Cake is soaked with a special rum glaze.

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The Fudge Ripple Bread Pudding was another amazing dessert.  Although it was a bit rich for me, it balanced out with a cup of black coffee.

DessertLadyPecanPie

The Bourbon Pecan Pie was also another amazing treat.

DessertLadyCake

We even tried a cute chocolate cake filled with cannoli cream.

I had so much desserts at this point, I couldn’t fathom to take another bite.  The Chocolate Zucutto looked great.  Dessert overload, I really was stuffed.  I noticed most of the frostings were light but very flavorful and none of the desserts were too rich.  Presentation was great, the staff at the Dessert Lady was very friendly, there was not a bite I ate that I regretted.

DessertLadyChocolateZucutto

Okay, so the exciting news!  The Dessert Lady is joining the food truck scene!  (But with a twist.)  How awesome is that?  It’s a great thing to hear and I know Patti is going to do so well!  It’s not quite ready yet but definitely keep your eye out for it.  :)  Everything I tasted was absolutely wonderful.  Here you have a woman with no culinary training, who has turned something she loved into something amazing.

DessertLadyFeistyFoodist

It’s a bit hidden to find the Dessert Lady but it’ll be worth it.

http://www.dessertlady.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DessertLadyOrlando

HOURS:
Mon-Sat: 10am-6pm

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Matilda’s on Park

MatildasRooBurgerHalfView

I absolutely love going to different restaurants and trying new food.  Matilda’s on Park doesn’t disappoint!  I hadn’t heard much about Matildas but recently a friend told me that they served Kangaroo burgers here.  Oh really?  Hmm….

Matilda’s on Park is located on Park Avenue across the street from Panera Bread.  Outdoor and indoor seating is available.  In the front of the restaurant, the doors were open so it was more like covered outdoor seating for me.  Towards the back of the restaurant, there were more dining tables.  Flat screen televisions throughout the front area and in the men’s restroom as well (from what I was told).

MatildasCrabBitesThe menu had a nice selection of salads, sandwiches, burgers, classic entrees, and gourmet mac and cheeses.  One of the appetizers jumped out at me.  The Jalapeno, Cream Cheese, Cheddar & Crab Bites ($11).  When I selected it, my server’s eyes lit up.  “They’re soooo good!”  Brittany was so genuinely enthusiastic about it.  I could only hope I’d feel the same way afterwards.  The crab bites had a nice crunchy layer on the outside and lots of crab meat inside.  Bits of jalapeno throughout, not overwhelming with the cream cheese flavor.  It was very tasty although I wouldn’t have minded if it were spicier.  The crab bites were served with a mango honey mustard although my friend and I agreed the mango flavor wasn’t that prevalent.

I just knew I had to get the kangaroo burger.  Even for the sheer novelty of bragging rights.  The Roo Burger is not 100% kangaroo meat due it’s leanness.  There is some beef mixed into the kangaroo meat to form the burger patty.  They no longer carried the pretzel buns but brioche, multigrain and croissants were still available.  There was an option to make the burger “Aussie style” by adding a fried egg and beet but I really wanted to just try burger without the extra fixings.

MatildasRooBurgerThe Roo Burger ($14) has onion straws and a cheese lager sauce on it.  I made my fries the Crab fries with a cheese sauce.  The old bay seasoning wasn’t overpowering and made the fries extra delicious!  The cheese sauce was really good as well but the only problem when you have a cheese sauce like this, it tends to solidify quicker.

So the real question is, what did the kangaroo meat taste like?  Absolutely amazingly delicious.  It was beef like; however, it gave me a food flashback to summer of 1997.  That’s when I had my first venison burger.  It wasn’t too gamey but there definitely was a unique flavor here.  I was surprised how much I enjoyed this burger.  It was simple yet so tasty.  The buttery flavor of the brioche bun, the crispness of the onion straws, the light saltiness from the cheese sauce.  I really enjoyed it overall.  Unfortunately, I was so stuffed from only half of the burger.

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Considering the location of the restaurant, the quality of the food, and the portion size I don’t think the entrees are overpriced.  Nice atmosphere, unique menu items, I’d definitely return here.

 

If the thought of eating a kangaroo burger isn’t appealing , I’m certain there is something here everyone.

https://www.facebook.com/MatildasOnPark

Hours:

Mon – Sun: 11:00 am – 1:00 am
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Michelle’s Homemade Golden Sana Banana Chips

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Banana chips. So many kinds, so many flavors? Let me tell you, Michelle’s Homemade Golden Sana Banana Chips are DELICIOUS! Golden, sweet, crunchy, and just plain amazing. Amazon does sell these chips but it’d be worth it to check out at your local Asian grocery store. Everyone that has tasted these chips so far absolutely love it. These banana chips are not different in their taste but also by the way they’re sliced. It’s more like long banana chips so you have various size of pieces yet the flavor and thickness remains consistent.

MichellesHomemadeGoldenSananBananaChipsNutritionLabel7 grams of dietary fiber never tasted so sweet. And no preservatives? Yes, please! These Phillipino snacks are a new favorite for me!

 

Hot Krust Panini Kitchen

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HotKrustExteriorI walked into Hot Krust Panini Kitchen not knowing anything about it and left loving it.  Recently, I had an opportunity to attend an event where I got to sample many of the food items.  I meet the owner Evan Dimov and he’s so genuinely nice and super passionate about this place!  Everything is fresh, no processed meats, the meats are actually roasted in house and they don’t even have a deep fryer.  I did have a little difficulty locating this place.  It’s somewhat hidden from the main road of Turkey Lake but it’s next to Barnie’s right by the Whole Foods.  I really came in here with no expectations aside from knowing that they offered sandwiches.  As I entered inside, I get a sense of a simple, clean, and open atmosphere.  The menu is on a screen above the registers.  It’s definitely got this “new” appeal in here.  By the soda fountain, there are Fat Cat hot sauces which are locally based.  The Purry-purry sauce was my favorite, garlicky flavor with a medium level of heat.

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I had the cactus chili first.  It was hearty but not the typical dense chili I was accustomed to.  The menu description lists: “Savory cactus, ground beef, diced tomatoes, onions, corn, northern beans & spinach in a spicy broth.”  Spicy broth?  Well, it wasn’t THAT spicy which is fine since some people’s heat tolerance can be quite low.  The cactus chili wasn’t just a name, it actually had cactus in it.  That was a first for me but no complaints on my end.  Next, I tried the waffle fries.  Hot Krust offers three types of waffle fries where are regular, spicy and sweet potato.  These fries are actually baked so I didn’t feel as guilty about eating them.

Then I see the Burgernini “HK Monster”.  Wow, what is this?  I took a bite and wanted more!  The  100% Angus beef burger patty was cooked perfectly.   Wait, am I eating fries in it too?  Yep but it works especially with the BBQ-honey mustard sauce.  I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of a burgernini before but whatever this is, it’s just great.  The actual size of this sandwich is an 8 ounce burger on a huge bun.  The Cowboy Jack was my second favorite sandwich.  It has steak, horseradish peppercorn, black olives, tomatoes, spinach, red onions and Monterrey Jack cheese.  Fear not, the horseradish peppercorn is mild.  It does sound a bit intense but the sandwich is seriously fantastic.

The Florentine chicken panini had roasted chicken, sundried tomatoes,  havarti cheese, spinach,  lite mayo & pesto sauce.  It was really good.  And I mean, really good.  The Buffalo Bill Chicken (chicken, buffalo sauce, onions, jalapeno peppers, lettuce, provolone cheese and blue cheese crumbles) was a bit strong on the blue cheese flavor.  A little blue cheese definitely goes a long way and in this instance it managed to overpower the other ingredients.

My vegetarian friends, I can assure you the veggie sandwiches here are great.  The Alibaba Veggie (hummus, fresh mozzarella, red onions, lettuce and tomatoes) was good but Veggie Vacation (freshly roasted portobello mushroom, Swiss cheese, bell pepper, pesto, spinach, red onions and tomatoes) was even better.  They definitely don’t skimp out on the toppings here.

The Sangria Shrimp was “different”.  It has grilled shrimp glazed with sangria vinaigrette, pesto, red roasted pepper, spinach and provolone cheese.  I’m sure there’ll be fans of this one but it was a tad too sweet for me.  I do appreciate the originality of this sandwich.  If they have any chocolate chip cookies, go for it.  MMMM cookies…..  My only gripe would be that I wish the chicken wings were a bit more crisp aside from that, everything really was enjoyable.

I’ve tried enough sandwiches here that I bet everybody will find something they’ll like.  The price of the food is definitely reasonable considering the quality of the food here.

 

This place may be small but the flavor certainly isn’t!

www.hotkrust.com

HOURS:
Mon-Sat: 8am-8pm
Closed on Sundays

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Taco Bus Tampa

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Two words.  Taco Bus.  I’ve heard about it but I hadn’t ever been there.  Well, no better time than now to try it out!  I’m on my way to go see Muse in Tampa and I’m in need of some good food.  It’s number 1 for Cheap Eats for the Urbanspoon Tampa Bay area.  There are quite a few locations in the area but I decided to go to the one in Tampa.  Located on Hillsborough, near 275 it’s in an easily accessible location.  There was ample parking.  To be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of food trucks.  Often times, I find that it’s too greasy but I know it isn’t always the case.  I see the bright yellow bus with the menu in front.  Oh man!  The choices, I’m getting pretty excited.  I’m here at the Taco Bus, so I’m definitely going to get some tacos.  They also have burritos, quesadillas, ceviche, desserts and other items.  Ok, step 1. Taco.  Next, the protein.  Man, I want it all!

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A server comes by and informs me that there’s a seating area available.  Awesome, I can sit down and figure this out.  I looked around and there’s an “outdoor” seating area and also an indoor seating area.  I really like this, getting food truck food and having actual places to sit.  I’m looking for any unique items on the menu.  The beef tongue is jumping out at me.  I’m definitely going to have to get that.  The do have a 2 taco deal for $8.99 which includes 2 tacos, rice and refried beans.  Personally, I’d rather forego the rice and beans for another taco, so I’m going to get three tacos instead.  I’m in the mood to get some different meats rather than the traditional carne asada.  Ok, I think I’m finally done.  1. Fish taco 2. Beef tongue taco 3.Cochinita Pibil taco.  I really liked all the colors going on.  Fresh flavor, some pickled veggies, I’m digging it.  The tacos were a double-ply of the corn tortilla but it worked out since it had so many toppings.  I didn’t eat all of the tortillas (I find it a bit much at times) but I was glad to have it though.  The fish taco was fried, white cream sauce was a bit reminiscent of mayo.  (Which I’m not the biggest fan of.)  Next up, the beef tongue.  I’m trying to think of how beef tongue “should” taste.  Not.. quite sure.  I remember the last time I was adventurous with a taco, I wasn’t too pleased since it was pork rind taco.  It was nothing what I had imagined.  This time, I figured it would be meaty-like.  I didn’t think I was ever going to say this statement but…”That is some good beef tongue there!”  I was truly surprised.  Beef tongue?  Who knew what delicious it entailed?  (Too bad it wasn’t an oxtail taco, then the “entailed” comment would have really worked.)  Wow.  Last but not least, I had the cochinita pibil taco.  The menu describes it as “Shredded Pork marinated in Achiote and bitter orange, then wrapped in banana leaves and slow roasted in a smoker  (BASED ON A 5,000 YEAR OLD MAYAN RECIPE!)”  It’s definitely not spicy but flavorful.  I could taste the bitter orange.  All in all, everything was great.

 

2tacodealMy friend ordered the 2 taco deal with carne asada, rice and beans.  For the vegetarians out there, you’ll be glad to know the rice and beans are vegetarian friendly.  The rice was “okay” for me.  It had corn, carrots, and peas in it.  Both the rice and beans were fluffy.  The menu also had some seasonal drinks and also horchata.  Horchata is a sweet drink made from rice, condensed milk, vanilla and cinnamon.  It was very sweet, a little too sweet for my tastebuds.  (Although I must say, this drink is really good with some Crown Royal.)  Three tacos in and I’m done.  Everything looked great and I can’t wait to try more.  They have plenty of vegetarian options that actually sounded delicious.  This location is open 24/7, which gives Taco Bus even more cool points.  I’m a night owl and it’d be great to have something else to eat aside from the typical Denny’s.  I’m sold on this place and I’ll definitely swing on by here next time I’m in Tampa.

 

 

 

 

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