The food of my people at Puerto Rico’s Cafe

On the night before we were set to leave Orlando, we decided to eat Puerto Rican food at Puerto Rico’s Cafe in Kissimmee, Florida. We like to get authentic Puerto Rican food and we remember it being great when we visited years before.

Puerto Rico’s Cafe is very unassuming and it is decorated how you would see a home decorated in Puerto Rico. The food was what you would expect to come out of a Puerto Rican kitchen.

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Native Decor

We started out with Acapurrias and Empanadas. The Acapurrias were meat-stuffed, deep-fried fritters. Empanadas are little pockets stuffed with meat or cheese. My son Jackson actually ate the Cheese Empanada because we told him it was a grilled cheese and it worked. He said it was delicious and I did like the Empanadas better than the Acapurrias. I’ve helped my dad make empanadas and they are a great handheld food, and now we know we can make them for Jackson and he will actually eat them.

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Acapurria and Empanada

For my entree, I decided on the Mofungo Relleno con Pollo or Stuffed Mofongo with Chicken. Mofongo is made from fried plantains and stuffed with meat, seafood or chicken that is formed into ball.  I’ve had Mofongo in Puerto Rico and the fried plantains were made into a cup and filled with meat. Now, I like it both ways. TK had Mofongo Relleno con Mariscos or with shrimp. The meat, chicken or seafood is always flavorful and tender. It is made and served seconds after, so it is piping hot. The Mofongo was paired with a bowl of chicken broth, but I only tasted it to make sure it was broth and didn’t actually eat it.

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Stuffed Mofongo with Chicken

TK said his Mofongo Relleno con Mariscos was delicious and he still remembers how good it was.

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Stuffed Mofongo with Shrimp

If you are looking for a place with delicious food where you don’t need to deal with the tourist crowd, Puerto Rico’s Cafe will satisfy your appetite and curiosity.

Puerto Rico’s Cafe, 507 W. Vine St., Kissimmee, FL, 407.847.6399

Dining alongside dinosaurs at T-REX

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Prior to arriving in Orlando, Florida, we made a reservation for T-REX in Disney Springs™ . I knew that my son would love dining alongside huge moving dinosaurs.

On the way of our reservation, we shopped around Disney Springs a little bit and then I went to go check in for our reservation. We had two reservations for six and they were able to combine them so we could all eat together. Since, the reservation was very early, they sat us a few minutes after check in.

The hostess walked us by the large animatronic dinosaurs and themed rooms, and led us to a table in the Ice Age room. The whole room glowed blue and we could see a giant fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex. It was pretty cool. We couldn’t see it in our room, but apparently there was a meteor shower periodically that made all the dinosaurs start to move around and roar. We had a Triceratops right behind our heads that moved from time to time.

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When it came time to order, I got myself a Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen and the Tuna Tataki. The  beer was light and crisp, and the tuna was fresh and delicate. It was seared ahi tuna with sesame seeds on top of white rice, sauteed spinach and salsa with mushrooms. There was a wasabi sauce drizzled overtop and a soy sauce on the side. I ate around the mushrooms and dipped it all in the soy sauce. It was the perfect meal if you are expecting to eat a Ghirardelli ice cream sundae afterward, which I was.

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After dinner, I made sure to stop in the gift shop because they had children’s sunglasses and my son kept complaining about the sun being in his eyes.

Consider T-REX when you are making dining reservations in Orlando because it is a unique and fun family experience.

T-REX, Disney Springs™, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 407.828.TREX

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A Friendly Morning at Relish

My close friend Colleen and I decided that we needed to get out and enjoy some breakfast together. We chose Relish in Kings Park, New York because I read a recent article about how wonderful their food is.

Relish

The location looks like it used to house a diner. When we drove up, we were lucky to find a spot in the parking lot. We had to wait a few minutes in the vestibule, but we got there before a rather large crowd walked in. So, we timed it perfectly. We were seated at a large table, which made us feel a little guilty.

I ordered from the menu and Colleen ordered from the specials. I had the Banana Nutella French Toast. It was sweet and fluffy, and completely indulgent. The Nutella was drizzled over the top and also sandwiched between the slices of toast. I loved it. The more Nutella, the better.

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Colleen had the Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Walnuts. The pile of pillowy softness showed up and they were dusted with powdered sugar and covered in sweet frosting. She let me take a bite, so I thought that they were rich and flavorful, and she agreed. I could taste the sugary frosting and cinnamon, and I could see the pureed carrots in the pancakes. This would be the perfect fall breakfast.

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We completely enjoyed our meals and felt totally glutenous after our stomachs were full of sweet and hearty breakfast. The last image pretty much sums up how I felt about Relish’s food. We need to go back for lunch or dinner in the near future.

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This pretty much sums it up. 

Relish, 2 Pulaski Road, Kings Park, NY, 631.292.2740

Enjoy Paula’s Southern Cooking, Yall!

We planned to get dinner at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen as soon as we heard that it existed in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. It is located in a new entertainment location called The Island at Pigeon Forge and it is definitely a must-do when in the area. We eventually decided that we would visit for my mother’s birthday in September.

Shortly after we sat down, the bread plate was added to the table. This may be my favorite bread plate/basket at any restaurant. The plate was covered in Hoe Cakes and Biscuits. The Biscuits were cheesy, like the ones you get at Red Lobster, but less salty. The Hoe Cakes were also good because they were a mix between a light pancake and a corn muffin. There was also Sweet Potato Butter to accompany the Hoe Cakes, and that was a subtly sweet addition.

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Cheesy Biscuits and Hoe Cakes with Sweet Potato Butter

We started the meal with the “Shore is Good” Seafood Dip. It was creamy, but chunky and very good. There were lumps of crab and shrimp in it, and it paired nicely with the crunchy bread. If you are allergic to mushrooms, be aware that there are tiny amounts of them in this dip.

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“Shore is Good” Seafood Dip

We only found out after the fact, but everything was fine because it is such a small amount. The dinner is served family-style, so we ordered our dishes and waited for all of them to come. We decided on Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken, Collard Greens, Mac and Cheese, Creamed Potatoes, Chicken Pot Pie, Poppyseed Tossed Salad and Spare Ribs. We also received Creamed Corn by mistake, and TK and I ate it.

The Poppyseed Tossed Salad was interestingly sweet, but it had a good amount of fresh ingredients mixed together as your only hope for a healthy meal. A few forkfuls and you earn the next dish.

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Poppyseed Tossed Salad

The Chicken Pot Pie was a little salty, but it was tasty. The flaky pastry laid across the top was great to dip into the creamy pie, but it seemed more like a personal dish than a shared one. It was probably for the best though, since it was pretty salty.

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Chicken Pot Pie

The Spare Ribs had a good amount of zesty sauce on them. I do like to get sauce all over my fingers when I eat ribs. I prefer a wet rub over a dry rub, and these were very good.

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Spare Ribs

The Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken had a very crunchy shell and flavorful meat underneath. I enjoyed this dish because I could tell that every aspect of the bird was planned for taste and it was not just slapped together.

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Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken

One of the sides was the Collard Greens, which I don’t usually eat, but I tried on this occasion. I just don’t understand this dish because it messes with your mind. It smells like meat and the first taste is of smoky meat, but then, you realize that you are eating floppy leaves. Then, confusion sets in. My parents love it, but I am not a fan.

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Collard Greens

Another side was the Mac and Cheese. I eat Mac and Cheese a lot because my son is basically surviving on it. This Mac and Cheese was just like homemade and it really gave me the warm and fuzzies. Also, the Creamed Corn was pretty good, but sweet. No one else at the table appreciated it, but that was fine; more for us.

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Creamed Corn

The Creamed Potatoes may have been my husband’s favorite item on the menu and that’s because he is a Mashed Potato Aficionado. He gets it everywhere and I am always so confused because mashed potatoes are pretty basic. Well, not these. They were great.

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Creamed Potatoes

For dessert, we were each able to pick one item. I chose the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and it tasted like butter and sugar with a slight crunch. The portion was a little small for my liking. I would have liked a larger slice to get the full experience. This was a few bites and goodbye. My other family members got the Peach Cobbler and the Bread Pudding. All were happy, but the desserts paled in comparison to the entrees.

After this meal, I decided that if I were actually a member of the Deen Family, I would probably be a very large, yet joyful, individual. If you are in Pigeon Forge, make sure you stop by The Island for some shopping, but shop after eating at Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen because you will need to walk off all of those calories, happily.

Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen, 131 The Island Drive, Suite 8101, Pigeon Forge, TN, 865.366.1510

 

Pratt Street Ale House: First Stop in B-More

When TK and I arrived for our long weekend in Baltimore, Maryland, we drove by the Pratt Street Ale House and decided that we had to stop there for lunch. We checked into the Hyatt Regency Hotel and walked toward Camden Yards for our ballpark tour.

We headed right to the bar and asked for the craft beer menu. I ordered the Cherry Blossom Ale (wheat ale with cherries) because I thought it would be the most refreshing and easiest to drink. I was correct and it was the most vibrant color red. Most of the beer on the menu is from their house brewer, Oliver Brewing Co. TK had a Dark Horse (an English dark mild ale) and a Creator/Destroyer (a nut brown ale). He loved them both. We have very different tastes in beer.

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With our beer, we decided to order an appetizer. I love soft pretzels and crab dip, so we chose the PSA Pretzel. I didn’t have to twist TK’s arm too hard because he loves when I make crab dip. The pretzel was soft in places, but unfortunately hard in others. The soft spots are the best, so the pretzel with the creamy dip on top of it was great combination. The pretzel was a good vehicle for the dip and I actually thought it was a genius idea, but I guess so did every other restaurant in Inner Harbor because this original idea of crab dip on a pretzel was featured on most menus. I am not complaining, though. It was delicious. The Pratt Street Ale House serves mustard with the PSA Pretzel, but I didn’t know it was there. It didn’t need anything else besides that smooth dip.

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PSA Pretzel

We truly wanted to come back and try more beer and food, but there are so many places to eat in Inner Harbor that we forgot. Fortunately, we plan to come back in the future because we now know how good it is, and it would be truly awesome right before a ballgame.

Pratt Street Ale House, 206 W. Pratt St., Baltimore, MD, 410.244.8900

Toast to Toast

IMG_7042The folks in Patchogue were impatiently waiting for Toast to finally arrive on Main Street. Everyone kept harassing Terry, the owner, every time they saw him asking, “When are you opening?” He’d say, “Next month,” or “Next week,” and then finally, it was, “Tomorrow!”

Their other location in Port Jefferson, New York is known for their delicious breakfast and fondue. Unfortunately, right now the Patchogue location is only open until 3 p.m. on weekdays and 3:30 p.m. on weekends, so no fondue … yet. My fingers are permanently crossed.

You may have to wait on line to get a seat because this new spot is so popular, but it will be worth it. The decor is really eclectic with canvas paintings of farm animals in formal clothing, an old school electric chair and some steampunk details. Take a look around.

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Each time I eat at Toast, I find a new favorite. I decided pretty early in the game that I would not order the same thing at any of my visits until I have exhausted all of the items that I want to try on the menu. I visited three times so far, so I ordered three different items.

The first time, I ate the Three Cheese Trio and it was crispy and creamy. The three types of cheese are Cheddar, American and Swiss, and they are layered with tomato between two slices of toasted multigrain bread. I got a salad on the side instead of fries because I was pretending to be sorta healthy.

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Three Cheese Trio

The second time, I had the Chicken Salad Wrap. It was fresh and cool, and I ordered a Greek Salad on the side because once again, I was trying to be sorta healthy. The salad’s welcome crunch and sweetness came courtesy of some apple slices tossed in. I always order chicken salad when I go to lunch, but I have never had apples in it. I don’t usually mix my veggies with my fruit, but I made an exception for this yummy wrap.

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Chicken Salad Wrap

And, the third time I dined was during Lent, so I ate the Sweet Potato Pancakes. They were fluffy and were just like a warm hug for my belly, especially with the sweet honey butter.

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Sweet Potato Pancakes

Everything sounds and looks so delicious on the menu that I already know what I am going to decide between on my next visit: The Krispy Nutella French Toast (strawberries and Nutella) or The Graham Cracker French Toast (peanut butter, bananas and caramel). At the Patchogue location they even have exclusive Eggs Benedict dishes called The Splendid Benedict and The Haberdasher’s Delight, which I am actually also considering. At this rate, I will probably have to visit a dozen more times to be able to taste everything I want, and then wash them down with the variety of fruity Mimosa options.

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The Bad Larry

I highly recommend breakfast or lunch at Toast and will continue to check off items on the menu. Fortunately, Toast allows you to order online and pick up your food, so there’s always that option. On their website, it says that “Eating Toast makes you happy,” so go find your smile.

Toast Coffeehouse, 46 East Main Street, Patchogue, NY, 631.654.7091

So Glad Local Burger Co. is Local

I love burgers and the messier they are, the better. I am always looking for unique burger joints that put all kinds of toppings on their patties, and Local Burger Co. in Bay Shore is one of them.

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TK ordered the Return of the Mac. It comes with homemade mac & cheese, cheddar cheese and bacon on it. The mac & cheese wasn’t overpowering and the burger was not dry. He thought it was excellent and it was one of the better burgers he’s had. This burger may not be on the menu at the location, so you may have to ask for it, special, from your server. He also ordered the Southern Style Baked Beans and loved them because there is meat in the recipe.

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I ordered the Smokeshow and it had pulled pork, slaw, pickles and the house BBQ sauce. I really enjoyed this burger. The sauce was zesty, the pork was sweet, the slaw was cold and the pickles were sour. It was a great mix of flavors and the beef was top notch. I also asked for the Sea Salt and Truffle Fries. The taste was subtle on the fries, but they are fresh cut and great.

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Local Burger Co. even had a fountain soda machine behind the bar that had a number of appealing flavors, such as grape, lime and black cherry. My brother got himself a Root & Rye which combined Widow Jane Rye and Saranac Root Beer. Many people aren’t aware that Saranac doesn’t only make beer, they make soda too. They actually survived through prohibition by making and selling sodas. Their root beer was one of my pregnancy favorites. Order yourself a flavored soda, a unique burger and a tasty side because a meal at Local Burger Co. is really a treat and you won’t leave hungry.

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Local Burger Co., 62 E. Main Street, Bay Shore, NY, 631.647.8300