Disney and A New Restaurant

J and I finally renewed our Disney passes. We put it off during August because it is so freaking hot here and no one wants to be outside waiting in lines sweating like a pig.

Sadly, last weekend was super busy at Disney, so all we were able to do was walk around. The great part of living here and having annual passes is if you do go on a day with tons of other people, just walking around is fine.

We were really excited to see the open parts of the Fantasyland expansion. One of the many circus-themed signs.

Fantasyland Expansion Circus Sign

Fantasyland Expansion Welcome Sign

This area had lots of new rides and a water area for the little ones.

J in front of one of the many retro circus signs.

Old Circus Sign Fantasyland Disney New Area

Cinderella’s fountain.

Disney Cinderella Fountain

Inscription next to the fountain.

Disney Cinderella Fountain Sign

The castle.

Disney Castle Magickingdom

J trying his luck at the sword in the stone. This picture was fun to take, I kept giving instructions like make it look like you’re straining. People may have been staring.

Sword In The Stone

The sign.

Disney Sword in the stone sign

I took a picture of this sign because I am five and the word nugget makes me giggle.

Disneyworld funny sign

After walking through the crowds of people pushing strollers, we needed to eat. Of course because we left it to the last-minute we could not get reservations anywhere in the parks. We decided to go over to the Boardwalk and see what we could scrounge up.

Cat Cora has a new to us restaurant called Kouzzina by Cat Cora that looked promising. Sadly, it had a very long wait. We decided to try our luck with one of the restaurants at The Dolphin Hotel and found another new to us restaurant called Todd English’s BlueZoo. We were able to sit at the bar at BlueZoo, so no waiting required.

The bar menu’s are tablets.

BlueZoo Bar Menu Tablet

BlueZoo Bar Menu Tablet 2

The food was really good and it looks like they have some crazy happy hour specials. J and I will definitely be paying Todd English’s BlueZoo another visit.

Aliens And Other Weekend Activities

There was no working out this weekend what-so-ever and very little movement.  I’m still sick but over the worst of it. Fingers crossed, I should be back to running on Monday or Tuesday.

So instead of lying around in my pajamas feeling sorry for myself, J begged me to see a movie and grab some food with him on Saturday.

He claims to have waited eight years to see Prometheus, so we headed into Orlando to see it on the IMAX at Pointe Orlando.

Prometheus Movie

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I have not seen any of the Alien movies so I went into Prometheus with no real expectations. The 3-D was pretty cool and I enjoyed the story. It was somewhat predictable but it set up the next movie in a really interesting way. Definitely worth a watch if you like Sci-Fi movies.

The most exciting part of the movie was seeing a preview for The Hobbit. I am such a huge fan of this book and Peter Jackson’s movies that I wanted to clap after the preview. That movie is going to be amazing.

For dinner we went to the Brick House Tavern + Tap on International Drive. It is one of those places that we have driven by a few times and both commented that we should check it out but always forget to stop there. I am so glad that we did.

Brick House Tavern and Bar Orlando Place

The Brick House Tavern + Tap has a really cool look. Very masculine and industrial. I loved the sofa tables and was glad we were able to sit at one. Very comfortable and both sides had good views of multiple TV’s.

I had a Kona Koko Brown Nut Brown Ale and J some kind of cider (which he is really into lately.) I have yet to be disappointed by any Kona beer and this one was no different (even if I only sipped it because my whole face hurts from this stupid head cold.)

Brick House Tavern and Bar Orlando Beer

The waitress pointed out the bottle cap teaches you a Hawaiian word.

Brick House Tavern and Bar Orlando Bottle Cap

Akamai which means smart or clever.

J had the Fried Stuffed Olives to start. They are stuffed with Italian pork sausage and brie before being deep fried. Not for me (because I don’t eat sausage) but J enjoyed them.

Brick House Tavern and Bar Orlando Stuffed Olives

A Philly Cheesesteak for J with tots. Not sure the last time I had any tater tots but they were as good as I remembered.

Brick House Tavern and Bar Orlando Philly Cheese Steak

I had a BLT with fries. It was served on Texas toast with a thick slice of tomato. I would order it again.

Brick House Tavern and Bar Orlando BLT

Brick House Tavern and Bar Orlando Menu

Brick House Tavern and Bar Orlando Beer Menu

Peeking

If you are in the International Drive area and looking for good beer, food, and a trendy atmosphere then the Brick House Tavern + Tap will fit the bill. J and I will definitely be back.

Now I will bring this post full circle and end where I began with aliens.

Falling Skies on TNT

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J and I have been counting down the days for Falling Skies to come back. This is some much watch alien TV.

What are your must watch summer shows?

J’s Birthday Extravaganza

J’s actual birthday was on Wednesday but we decided to celebrate over the weekend.

The party started on Friday when J opened his birthday presents from his parents.

Justin With Eagles Sweatshirt

The only thing he may love more than cats is the Eagles. (We even have Eagles fathead stickers all over our garage.)

I needed to keep my gift giving on the low-key side because of a serious lack of funds (and job). I got him a Ron Swanson bobble head from the NBC store.

Ron Swanson Bobblehead

Ron Swanson Bobblehead Box

Do you watch Parks And Recreation? If not, you should it is ridiculously funny.

We received a second package from the in-laws for Easter.

Dina with Easter Basket

(Yes, those are snowmen in the background. It being April, I probably should put those away.)

Easter candy! I love Peeps with a vengeance. (I can never decide which candy holiday is my favorite. Valentines, Easter, or Halloween? They all have really good candy but there are strong arguments to the merits of all three.)

Easter Basket Candy

If you like licorice, you have to try the Darrell Lea brand. They sell it at Target and it contains only natural ingredients. It is by no means a healthy snack but if you are going to eat candy, at least eat the kind with the most natural ingredients. Plus it is extremely tasty.

There was also a few little doodads included.

Pink Easter Chick

This little chick lights up like a disco ball. We also received some notebooks and a few plush Easter toys for the cats.

Friday night we saw Jerry Seinfeld perform at The Lakeland Center. It was a great show, Jerry is as funny as ever. For his encore, he took questions from the audience which was different. Most of the questions were mundane but someone did ask about the Superman references on Seinfeld. Jerry discussed all the reasons why he liked Superman.

On Saturday we stopped at the Track Shack and I picked up my new shoes. (Cannot wait to run in them. My old shoes are being held together by duct tape and hope, so the new ones should feel amazing.)

We had an early dinner at The Ravenous Pig, where we have eaten once before and loved.

To drink, I started with a Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale which was delicious and had zero aftertaste. J even liked it and he is not a big fan of brown ale’s. J had a vodka martini with blue cheese stuffed olives.

We shared a Gatherer salad (baby lettuces, avocado, pickled beets, radish, goat cheese, pistachios, herb vinaigrette) which was amazing. This is the half-sized salad but was still a sharable size.

J had the Seared Labelle Farms Foie Gras. It is served on ginger bread with apple butter, tokaji syrup, and cocoa nib granola. A really interested combination with the foie gras but J absolutely loved it.

We split the House-made Soft Pretzels. They come with a mustard and a taleggio-porter fondue that was incredible. The pretzels alone were wonderful and would be perfect with a nice beer if stopping in for a drink and appetizers.

For the main course, I had the Pub Burger. The last time we ate at The Ravenous Pig, burger after burger was ordered around us. Seeing that, I knew it had to be special and it was. The burger is topped with caramelized onions and buttermilk bleu cheese and the combination of these two items move it into otherworldly territory. Topped off with a brioche bun and served with truffle fries, it was impossible to put down.

J ordered the Colorado Lamb Leg which is served with a side of nettle and ramp gratin and topped with fried lemons, dill yogurt, and arugula. J is more of a rack of lamb person but enjoyed this dish. It was cooked to perfection and the nettle and ramp gratin was very unique.

We shared a Tomato Tart as a side. The tart was very summery and quite good.

There was one cocktail on the menu that we had to try, The Ravenous Pig Old Fashioned. The description for the drink is “bacon infused buffalo trace bourbon, vanilla maple syrup, and bitters.

Any drink garnished with bacon is after my heart. Neither of us are big fans of bourbon but enjoyed the drink. It is interesting to drink something that tastes so much like bacon.

Overall, The Ravenous Pig is two for two with us. Both trips had excellent service, unique and delicious food, and is not too pricey. I highly recommend if you are in the Orlando area.

Happy Birthday J, I had an amazing time celebrating it with you!

Valentine’s Day Part Two

On Saturday, J and I finally made it to Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales. We have been meaning to eat there for years but never managed to. Chalet Suzanne has a fascinating history and has been around since 1931 which is incredible in Florida.

To get to the restaurant, you turn down a long drive that leads to this interesting collection of buildings (there is an Inn and Spa plus the dining rooms that make-up the property.)

Chalet Suzanne Exterior

Chalet Suzanne Exterior at night

We might be dorks but both felt that this door was very Hobbit-like.

Chalet Suzanne Yellow Door

Chaley Suzanne Lake Wales Historic Place

Walking into the restaurant, there are tons of antique accents.

Chalet Suzanne Interior

We would love to come back just to get a better look around.

J found this and thought it was hilarious.

Chalet Suzanne Florida

Each table setting was different and really pretty. I particularly liked mine.

Chalet Suzanne Vintage Plate

J started with the Caramelized Grapefruit and Organic Chicken Liver.

He loved it especially the chicken liver.

Then there was the Escargot Cappuccino.

So cute and delicate in a teacup with the puff pastry hanging over the edge. It had loads of garlic and the paring with the puff pastry was delicious.

J then had the famous Moon Soup (otherwise known as Romaine.)

They call it Moon Soup because it was taken on Apollo 15 to the moon in 1973.

This soup was a real standout and J loved it.

We both ordered salads but it started to get dark and the pictures for both came out awful. J had the Caesar and I had the Baby Blend with Citrus & Pear.

For entrees, J ordered the Maine Lobster Newburg. He had done some research into how Lobster Newburg is made and was really looking forward to trying it. (Some information about Lobster Newburg if you are curious like J.)

The waiter breaks up the contents in the bowl and puts it over the puff pastry. J loved this dish and would highly recommend it.

I had the crab cakes.

I prefer crab cakes served with tartar sauce but these were decent. If you like crab cakes, these definitely will do the trick.

We grabbed our desserts to go because the service was a bit on the slow side and we were both getting tired.

Overall, I liked Chalet Suzanne but found it to be a tad over priced. (J’s Ketel One martini’s were $18 each.) The atmosphere is really beautiful and romantic, so come early to walk around and take pictures. We are planning a return visit to try more of the interesting dishes on the menu.

Ten Miles, The Mall, And Deep Dish Pizza

I had my first long run of the new training plan yesterday. It was a breezy ten miles through my favorite local park. I ran ten miles on a one mile loop. I need to find some new places to run before my mileage increases.

J needed to go to the mall to pick-up a few things. So we headed into Orlando and to the Mall at Millennia. This mall always has such beautiful Christmas decorations.

Mall at Millenia Christmas Decorations

Mall at Millenia Christmas Tree

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If you are interested in seeing more lovely pictures of the decorations, please visit The Good Spot.US.

So we shopped a bit and by that point I was ready to gnaw my arm off.

We headed over to the only deep dish pizza place I like, BJ’s Brewhouse.

I had a Nutty Brewnette, which I always get there and find very tasty, while J had a dirty martini.

Nutty Brewnette & Dirty Martini BJ's Brewhouse

From the BJ’s about the Nutty Brewnette:

Nutty Brewnette® is an American-style brown ale. A blend of four different dark malts contributes to a flavor profile that is sweet with “nutty” notes. A healthy dose of hops makes this beer hoppier and more balanced than most English brown ales.

We had the boneless wings for an appetizer. They were quite good and not greasy at all. I really liked the Garlic Parmesan sauce.

Boneless Wings BJ's Brewhouse

Then comes the pizza with pepperoni and extra cheese. So good.

Pepperoni Pizza BJ's Brewhouse

Two slices each and we were stuffed.

This pizza does really well reheated, so we were glad to have some to take home.

How do you like your pizza?

Orlando Magical Dining Month At Vines

Orlando Magical Dining Month is when different restaurants in Orlando offer a special menu where you get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $30. One dollar from each meal is given to the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida.

J and I decided to try Vines Grille & Wine Bar again. We ate there a few years ago and really enjoyed it. Vines is located in Dr. Phillips dubbed restaurant row because there are a ton of great restaurants in the area.

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I decided to order from the Magical Dinning Menu, J did not.

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We both started out with salad.

Arugula Truffle Salad

Arugula Truffle Salad for me. It contained fresh hearts of palm, marinated mushrooms, shaved Pecorino Romano with a truffle vinaigrette. It was excellent. The truffle did not over power the other ingredients, which it tends to do, and the peppery flavor of the arugula was a great balance for the other, lighter ingredients.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad. It contained very delicious white anchovies which I ate off J’s plate.

Oven-Roasted Black Grouper

Oven Roasted Black Grouper with an asparagus and watermelon salad. Huge portion of perfectly cooked fish. I loved how the used a syrup, which was sweet, instead of a sauce. Kept things light but interesting. The watermelon salad was very good, I have never eaten watermelon in this fashion but would like to again.

American Kobe Beef Fillet

American Kobe Beef Fillet. J loved this and would order again. It also made him want to try the Kobe burger on the menu.

Potato Gratin

Potato Gratin as a side for J.

Key Lime Pie to go (not pictured.)

Vines has a live jazz band that plays, which is such a great touch. It really makes the experience, which was already excellent, over the top.

After Vines, I finally got to go to Pinkberry!

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I had chocolate with assorted fruit and it lived up to the hype.

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Cheese, Candy, And Beer

I had the most amazing Saturday. It started with a glorious run (many fun pictures taken with picplz which I am now obsessed with) and ended with pumpkin beer.

First,  we headed to The Cheese Shop on Park in Winter Park. We had a gift card from Christmas to spend.

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Winter Park 008

If you love cheese and wine, I highly recommend The Cheese Shop. Not only are they the nicest people, they are super knowledgeable and the cheese is out of this world. Plus, they carry lots of great local products (jams, salad dressing, and hot sauces) plus gourmet honey and crackers.

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We bought many different types of cheese but the one I am most excited about is Pecorino with truffles. I have an idea for a pasta dish that this cheese will taste amazing grated over.

We walked around the lovely Park Avenue for awhile. Admiring the sites and the cute storefronts.

Winter Park 003

Topiary dog!

Loved this display in the park for breast cancer awareness.

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We finally made it to Sassafras Sweet Shoppe. J is literally a candy nut (for example, he might be the sole person in Polk County who buys out the Darrell Lea Licorice every week at Target.)

Winter Park 015

Such a cute store! Great mix of vintage candy and local products. We had a lot of fun looking around. Also, buying one item just for laughs. (J may have actually tried this but I will not be.)

Roast Beef Gum

Dinner time and I finally got to eat at Shipyard Emporium.

Shipyard

Pumpkin beer!

Pumpkin Beer

J.

J Shipyard

We started with the trio of dips They were Buffalo Chicken, Roasted Pablano Artichoke Dip, and White Bean Hummus. Each one was delicious but the Buffalo Chicken was the most unique (hello real pieces of chicken.)

Winter Park 016

I had the BLT Flatbread. The sundried tomato combined with the bacon was smoky awesomeness.

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J had the Lobster Flat Bread which he did not like as much. He felt the tarragon was overwhelming.

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The beer menu was really cool and the desserts looked delicious. We will definitely be coming back to eat here again.

Are you doing anything fun for the holiday weekend?

Agree or disagree, pumpkin beer is the best beer ever?

The Ravenous Pig

Last night was J and my last hurrah before he starts year two of Law School. During the school year, he is so busy with school, that we are not able to spend much time together and rarely will get to go out to eat.

So we decided on The Ravenous Pig in Winter Park.

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We have attempted eating here before but have never been able to get a reservation but we went by early, prepared to sit in the bar area, and they had a cancellation.

As a beer lover, I was excited to see the beer menu. It is filled with micro-brews which you do not get as often in Florida as I was used to living in Connecticut. I went with the Brooklyn Brewery Lager which was very good.

To start, we ordered the Gruyere Biscuits with smoked sea salt butter. The reviews on Yelp praised these, so I had to try them.

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They were flaky, buttery perfection. I love to make homemade biscuits and can tell when a restaurant takes the time to actually cut the butter into them. These were not short-cut biscuits.

For a starter, J and I split the House-Made Charcuterie and Artisan Cheese. It contained: Duck Pastrami, Brown Sugar Fennel, Toscano, Coppa, Chicken Liver Mouse, Pork Smokies, Country Terrine, Bresaola, Lardo Toast, Pleasant Ridge Reserve Cow’s Milk Cheese, and Le Chevrot Goat Milk’s Chees.

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It was delicious. The standouts were the two cheeses (the cows milk had a sugary rind that J and I love and the goat milk was firm but creamy) and the duck pastrami which would be amazing on a sandwich. The portions were very generous and could easily be split between a much larger party than ours.

For a salad, we split the Famer which contained hammock hollow bitter greens, house smoked bacon, parmesan, lake meadow soft-boiled egg with a caesar vinaigrette. It was delicious and the portion definitely sized for sharing.

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For my entrée, I had the Grilled Florida Wahoo with tomato soffrito, chickpea panisse, and red pepper chutney. I had never had Wahoo before and would say it is a slightly meaty but flaky white fish. The red pepper chutney really stood out here and made the dish.

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J had the Lobster and Short Rib with potato puree and fennel-apricot agrodolce. J appreciated that the short rib was removed from the bone. He loved it and would definitely eat it again.

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At this point we were much too full for dessert but did take some home for later.

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The Ravenous Pig is my new favorite restaurant in Orlando. It is interesting, the service was excellent, and the food was outstanding.

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J also gives it a thumbs up.

Date Night

After my long day of running and driving to Tampa to visit my family, J and I wanted to eat at The Ravenous Pig but could not get a table. We decided to check out one of the restaurants in the Omni Hotel in Champions Gate instead.

We walked around the hotel and decided on Trevi’s.

The meal started with a roasted garlic clove and butter. Always a winner for me because I love garlic more than I love cake.

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We both had salads.

Caprese for me.

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Antipasto for J.

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The Caprese was good but it is impossible to get that wrong. The Antipasto was OK but   generic. It had all the right ingredients but was missing something.

For dinner I had the Penne Pomdoro Fresca.

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It was just alright. Mostly kind of bland. I cannot remember the last time I salted my food, especially in a restaurant where foods tend to be very salty, and I did put some salt on this one.

J had the Filletto di Manzo which was, again, juts OK. Pretty generic and a bit overpriced.

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Overall, if you are staying in the Omni hotel, Trevi’s is a solid bet but I would not go out of my way to eat here again.

After dinner, we walked around a bit. This hotel is gorgeous and would be nice for a golf vacation in Central Florida. You have easy access to all the attractions without being in the middle of tourist city (International Drive or anywhere on 192 in Kissimmee).

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One of the three pools we saw.

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Florida sunset.

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How has your weekend been so far?

If you missed yesterday’s post about my super cute cats. I am looking for cute cat pictures to feature in a new series. If you have a cute cat, please email me pictures to DinaRuns@gmail.com.

Dinner and a Movie

Good morning!

Last night I got to see Cowboys & Aliens which was awesome but before that had a dinner experience that was not great.

Yesterday, I had entry four in the Hotter than Hades Virtual Half-Marathon. I slept so late on Saturday, that my run was done at noon,  it actually was hotter than Hades.

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(Can you see how sweaty my arm is? Was really gross.)

Looks like I have 2.83 miles to go to finish this virtual race.

We headed over to Pointe Orlando and decided to give The Oceanaire Seafood Room another shot. Being New Englanders, J and I love seafood, so when this restaurant opened a few years back, we were excited to try it. The experience was not pleasant, from very slow service, to a table that blew cold air directly on us and our food. I do like to give any restaurant, especially one that has such good reviews on Yelp, a second chance because it could have just been an off night.

Big mistake. We arrive around 7:30 and the place is pretty dead, especially when you compare it to the packed Capital Grille next-door. We are seated right away which is great because we are both starving and want to make it to the earliest movie showing possible. Drinks are ordered right away and come out at a reasonable about of time. The Oceanaire uses two waiter teams, so there was a bit of confusion about whether we had ordered drinks already but it happens and it was not an issue. Waiting to order, we sat for about 30 minutes. During this time, we did not see either waiter. When we finally order, it takes about 10 minutes for the salad to come out. It was a really delicious anchovy salad with truffle oil dressing.

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It took another 30 minutes after the salad for our entrees to come out. These entrees should not have taken this long.

J had Alaskan King Crab Legs. This was supposed to be a pound but compare that to the pound he ordered last week.

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I had grilled Salmon with corn and lobster salsa. I would guess my dish sat under a heating lamp because it was just warm and not really hot. 

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Side of matchstick fries which were very good.

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I asked for the check as soon as a waiter came by to check on our food. Even still, we did not get out of this restaurant until 9.

If this had been a Chili’s or Friday’s, this service would not have bothered me but this restaurant is on the pricey end. The food was just ok and the service really left much to be desired.

On a more positive note, Cowboy’s & Aliens was awesome.

If you like this.

Daniel_Craig

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You will like it. It was exciting and fun. There are aliens and Daniel Craig is hot.

What do you do when you have a bad restaurant experience? Have you seen a movie recently that you really liked?