Refreshing Paleterias

On a hot day in Florida, we took a walk through Plant Street Market in Winter Garden.

After a small lunch and a beer, I wanted a refreshing lemonade, but I couldn’t find one. Instead, I opted for a fruit popsicle from Paleteria Original. Watermelon Popsicle

Watermelon Popsicle

I chose the Watermelon, but the Pineapple Mint was also tempting. I ended up sharing the popsicle with my daughter and my husband because we all loved the taste and found the pop refreshing. I loved the fact that there were only a few ingredients and no preservatives, so I felt like it was a natural, healthy choice.

Paleteria Original, Plant Street Market, Winter Garden, FL

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Eat up at Batter Up

Since I moved to Florida in November 2017, we (The Kues) have been on the hunt for all of the fun and new, and that’s almost everything. My coworker who works at another campus invited me to see Arcadia, Fla. and I mentioned cupcakes, of course. She said that there is a place in downtown Arcadia for yummy cupcakes and lattes called Batter Up.

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When I walked in, I loved the look of the place and the display case. It had a southern whimsy that I enjoy and the baked goods weren’t bad either. I bought the Strawberry Shortcake cupcake and cookies for my kids in Peanut Butter and Chocolate Chip. My son said that it was the best peanut butter cookie he had ever eaten. The Strawberry Shortcake was light and sweet, and it is strawberry season in Florida, so the ingredients were fresh.

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The bakers at Batter Up make custom cookies that you have to pre-order and there was a bouquet of edible flowers in the display case for Valentine’s Day. That’s a romantic gesture I can get behind. If you are looking for a sweet treat or you want to bring some for a friend (me), stop into Batter Up.

Batter Up, 12 N. DeSoto Ave., Arcadia, FL, 863-993-0111img_0923

 

The cookie dough is a Wonderland

In the Disney-created city of Celebration, there is a downtown that includes a few worthy places to eat. One of them is for a fun snack that some genius thought up called Wonderland Cookie Dough. They serve cookie dough without egg, so you can eat it without the worry of Salmonella. Dreams = answered.

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The location is small with no tables or chairs, but there is a display case with all of the edible dough and a menu full of options. I decided on the classic Chocolate Chip and TK ordered the Crownie. I had to eat the Chocolate Chip to find out if it tasted the same as the chunks I’ve been stealing since childhood, and it did. TK’s included chocolate chip and brownie dough. He liked his as well.

Chocolate Chip

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

The dough was delicious and basically tasted like it always does when I make Toll House® cookies, but a small is plenty because I couldn’t eat too much of it. The cookie dough is very rich. TK felt the same way about his. Next time, I hope to try the S’mores or maybe even the Chocolate Peanut Butter. Now that I know this place exists, I might just be a frequent visitor. There are other locations in Portsmouth and Manchester, NH and Jacksonville, Fla. so there may be one close to you or you may be planning vacations to NH and Florida.

Wonderland Cookie Dough, 606 Market St., Celebration, FL, 407-964-1474

Great buns at Morimoto Asia

To celebrate the purchase of our Florida home, we decided to try Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs. The menu had something for everyone, including my two little monsters.

We started off with appetizers and I decided on Kanikama Rangoon and Chicken Bao. Kanikama Rangoon are skinny straws of deep fried crabmeat and Chicken Bao are pillowy sandwiches of chicken. I loved the Bao, but wasn’t crazy about the Rangoon, so I passed them off to TK. The teriyaki chicken in the bao buns was tasty and the buns were so cushy, and I love soft bread, so they were enjoyable and have opened my eyes to any bao bun dishes in the future. Bring them on!

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Since the bao buns were like mini sandwiches, I thought I’d go with something kind of light for my entree and ordered the Shrimp Tempura Roll. It had spicy mayo, asparagus and obviously shrimp tempura. I always like sushi when the rice is on the outside or they use the special seaweed. Anything with regular seaweed is a definite NOPE.

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The decor in Morimoto’s is pretty awesome. There was fringe hanging from the ceiling that looked like jellyfish and the booths are cozy, yet chic. Next time, I would consider drinks and a nosh in the lounge area … that may or may not include bao buns.

Morimoto Asia, 1600 East Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 407-939-6686

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Making healthy taste amazing at Tula Kitchen

When my bestie wanted to go out and get some lunch, I checked the list of places that I wanted to try and decided on Tula Kitchen in Bay Shore, N.Y. I had spoken to the owner a few times and loved her concept and vision. And, I love supporting chefs or owners who are down to earth and really “get it.”

So, we headed over there for lunch on a cold December day and when we walked in, the decor was whimsical and calming. We started off with beverages and I thought I was all fancy, so I ordered a San Pellegrino and my friend ordered herself a coffee and it came out in a fancy French press, an adorable ceramic milk carton and a cute jar of raw sugar.

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We ordered our meals and I ordered lunch and she ordered breakfast. I chose the Chicken Bowl that had an array of interesting ingredients like purple rice, radishes, grilled chicken, sauteed kale, chick peas, cucumbers and feta, with grilled warm pita on the side. Even the dill tahini dressing was a great addition to this complete and colorful dish. I know what you’re thinking, “Since when do you eat kale?” Well, it really does matter how it is made. Some kale tastes like Easter grass and some tastes delicious and you need to remind yourself that you are eating kale. That’s how this meal was. Tula Kitchen really makes you forget that you are doing something good and right for your body because the food is so multifaceted and flavorful.

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I obviously enjoyed my meal and by the looks of the rest of the menu, I think I would’ve enjoyed everything else. Well, maybe not anything with tofu. I’ll eat my share of kale, but I draw the line at tofu.

If you want to go out and celebrate, but not stray too far from your summer bikini plans, try Tula Kitchen and nourish your insides while also giving your taste buds a treat.

Tula Kitchen, 41-43 East Main Street, Bay Shore, N.Y., 631-539-7183

Good pizza in Florida (Yes, it exists)

We moved to Florida three months ago and have been on the lookout for good pizza, bagels and Chinese food. Of course, they all pale to what I am used to in New York, but we have been able to locate a slice of pizza that is incredibly enjoyable and worth eating for us New Yorkers.

We love to visit Disney Springs because it is like Disney light and doesn’t cost anything to get in, but you do spend money when you get in there and it depends on how hungry you are and what tempts you in the retail shops.

We were starving one night and were in the mood for pizza. Pizza Ponte is an extension of Maria & Enzo’s Ristorante, like the many Italian restaurants in N.Y. that have a pizzeria attached. I got on line to place my order and saw that the big round slice, the Big Roman, was $7. “Holy smokes! That’s a lot for a slice,” I thought, at first but, their one slice is as big as two slices. Look!

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I ordered a square slice with fresh mozzarella too, but it was cold because obviously the only slice moving quickly out of those ovens is the Big Roman. The square slice, listed on the menu as Tomato, was tasty, but I vowed to never order any other slice than the Big Roman from there ever again. So far, it is the closest pizza that I have found that is even remotely close to a N.Y. slice and we’ve eaten some cardboard with cheese and ketchup. I won’t name names, but the mom and pop pizza joints down south are not even as good as Pizza Hut. Sorry, not sorry.

I mean, I am still up to the challenge, but the Big Roman will be the one to beat. And, the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in my life was from Patsy’s in Brooklyn and Grimaldi’s in Garden City. Now, they make a stellar slice.

Pizza Ponte, Disney Springs, 1486 Buena Vista Dr., Orlando, FL, 407-939-6244

 

 

 

Coming home to Homecomin’

This fall, I moved to Florida from Long Island, New York and with the move, I’ve discovered new eateries. One new favorite is Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ in Disney Springs. We LOVE Disney Springs (obviously) and go almost every weekend. On special occasions, like finding an apartment to rent, having Mom along for the ride as we moved to Florida and actually being in Florida, we have dined out at Homecomin’ and enjoyed what Florida has to offer gastronomically, since Chef Art Smith is a Floridian at heart. That means moonshine, fried chicken, biscuits and deviled eggs; all southern and all delicious. The decor is even very farmhouse elegant and it’s just my style.

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We love deviled eggs, so we began our meals with the Church Lady Deviled Eggs and the pickled onions that garnish the top are delicious additions that you’ve never had at any picnic or family barbecue. They even arrive in a little ceramic egg crate. On one occasion, we also added the Thigh High Chicken Biscuits which are lovely little fried chicken sliders and on another we ordered the Bunch of Puppies. The hush puppies weren’t our favorite, but the other two were.

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The menu has an array of southern delights, so it is very hard to choose just one meal. My tip is to make sure whoever you are dining with does not order what you do so that you can try a forkful of something else. I’ve tried the Art’s Famous Fried Chicken and realized that it is famous for a reason. The flavor in the skin and the meat is astounding. It is really amazing how that flavor spreads all the way to the bone. The mashed potatoes and gravy were great and so was the cheddar biscuit that accompanied the dish.

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Luckily I follow my own advice and my husband ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich that had that same delicious fried chicken and a handful of house-made potato chips on the side.

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At Homecomin’, the menu includes cocktails mixed with flavors of Ole Smoky Moonshine from Tennessee. We didn’t order a cocktail during any of our visits, but we tasted the array of flavors at the tasting room when we vacationed in Gatlinburg, Tenn. in 2015 and many were good and didn’t immediately light my esophagus on fire.

Homecomin’ is a fantastic location if you want to get an idea of southern Florida cooking, but can’t venture too far from Walt Disney World or Orlando. You can make a reservation on the My Disney Experience app, on disneyworld.com or by calling the dining reservation line at Walt Disney World (407-WDW-DINE), but make it early because this place fills up. Did I mention the fried chicken?

Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, Disney Springs, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 407-560-0100