Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Urban Flats: The Trusty Stand By

A few weekends ago Kate and I were debating on where to have dinner. We wanted something casual and tasty, that wouldn't break the bank, and my final condition, I wanted a good cocktail. One place fit the bill perfectly, Urban Flats.

Urban Flats has a few locations around Orlando, the original in WP, there's one in Waterford Lakes and my favorite location Downtown on the corner of Church and Orange. There may be others.. but those are the three I've been to with some regularity.

What I love most about Urban Flats.... consistency. I've never had a bad meal there, the food is always good. Either lunch or dinner, even their special happy hour menus, they never half ass it. Also, the service is always good whether I'm at the bar or table. Maybe sometimes lunch service can be slow over at Waterford Lakes... but if I go out to lunch on a weekday, I'm generally not in a hurry to get back to work. (Read: it's rare I go out to lunch on a weekday)

Anyway, back to dinner. Urban Flats does flatbread pizzas, but not only. However, the flatbread pizzas I think are the best in town. The thin whole wheat crust is great for those of us on a calorie budget, plus the toppings are fresh and as healthy as you want them to be. Yeah, they've got pepperoni. However they offer lean cuts of beef on the black and blue flatbread and turkey on the turkey, pear and brie.

I spied a combination on their lunch 'flatwich' menu, it was called the Artichoke, Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese flatwich. I asked if it could be done as a flatbread instead and the response? 'Of course!' Gotta say, that was my favorite to date. It of course had the artichokes, wild mushrooms and goat cheese but also roasted red peppers and spinach, that created a hearty veggie symphony on my plate.

Normally, I'm not a fan of more than 3 toppings on a pizza however this one each element was proportioned and worked off each other perfectly.

Notice, I couldn't get a pic without taking a bite first....

As for my cocktail, I left it up to the trusty bartender. I asked for Hendrick's Gin, a favorite summertime libation for me. It's dry but light, love the cucumber accent in the gin. Our bartender was well versed and created a cucumber gin spritzer that went fabulously with my veggie delight dinner.

Last note, check the website for happy hour details. There is always something going on, and I can say Wine Down Wednesdays are great!

Urban Flats Flatbread & Wine Co on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 30, 2010

Barnie's Coffee

If you've ever been to Orlando, or more specifically Winter Park, chances are you've heard of Barnie's Coffee. It has been around for over 30 years, and was the go-to coffee shop around town, pre-Starbucks.

Confession time, I started drinking coffee at a very early age. When I was about 7, I was pestering my mom for a soda from a vendor at train station, we lived in Maryland at the time. She decided the lesser of the two evils would be a cup of coffee from her thermos. I didn't immediately fall in love with the flavor, but I didn't hate it either. I surprised her by drinking the whole cup, and from then onwards, every so often, I would request a cup of coffee. We drank it with milk, making it just light enough to turn the color a light brown, and never adding sugar.

It wasn't until much later that I discovered the flavors of sweetened coffee drinks, and to this day, that's what they are to me. Coffee with sugar is a coffee 'drink', not real coffee. Though I now prefer mine black, when I have a cup with my mom, I do add milk.

Back to Barnie's! Barnie's Coffee I think is best known for it's flavored coffee. They add the flavoring to the bean itself. Their best seller is Santa's White Christmas, available all year. The beans are dusted with white powdered sugar which gives the coffee a very slight sweetness, but the flavor is rich with coconut, caramel and vanilla. It is divine! Not to mention a great way to get a sweet treat without a hefty calorie price tag! If you're looking for decaf, the have that too, though I generally stick with the full strength.

On the non-flavored side, and my absolute favorite coffee ever, is Mocha Java. It is a medium roast made with Indonesian coffee beans. The flavor is rich, the aroma is intoxicating. It has been my favorite since I was 16 years old. I never leave a shop without at least a half pound in hand.

Speaking of shops, if you aren't local, you can purchase their coffee and teas online. Though if you get the chance, I highly recommend stopping in a shop. Take a break from the Bux, and give Barnie's a shot!

Barnie's Coffee & Tea on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A New Look

Changing things up a bit here on the BnB blog. Kate is super busy with the always awesome Kate's Kitchen, so I'm going to take the helm on this one.

So... where have I been lately? Well... like most people I am trying to live a more healthy life. So this means cutting back on things like high calorie food (burgers) and drink (barolo). Of course, part of a healthy life is being happy, so while I may be cutting back, I'm certainly not shutting them out. Is it possible to enjoy a glass of wine and still consume only 1400 calories a day? Yes. I do believe it is. And this is where I will prove it can be done.

While I'm not a chef, I do really enjoy cooking. So when I try out a recipe that is worth sharing, I'll post along with nutritional info. Along with food I am exercising regularly and have been courting the ability to run long distances. I ran (and by that, I really mean jog) my first 5k last December, and kept up a good pace for a while. Now in the heat of the summer I am back to more of a brisk walk, however this fat girl will run damnit. I will be posting about my adventures there as well. What does that have to do with food and wine? If you want to be able to eat and drink the good stuff, you've got to be able to burn off the excess calories, darling.

So! That's the scoop on the blog to date. Here we go again, take two!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Feasting at Anatolia

A few weeks ago, a friend and I set out to find Anatolia a relatively new Mediterranean restaurant in Restaurant Row. We were going for lunch, but were planning a big meal.

Anatolia beautifully combines Turkish and Lebanese cuisine, think falafel and kababs. Appetizers tend to lean more towards Lebanese with entrees more Turkish. After looking at the menu, we decided to make a meal of appetizers. So we opted for the cold appetizer platter, your choice of 5 apps for $21. Not a bad deal!
As soon as I saw the dolmas on the menu, they were as good as ordered. I love stuffed grape leaves. If I could, I'd eat them every day. They are tricky though, sometimes they can get kind of dry, particularly because most people don't want to eat food slathered in oil. These were just delicious though, there was a subtle taste of lemon and mint, and the texture was perfect.
Also in our platter, Hummus, Imam Bayildi, (eggplant, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions all sauteed together, served cold), Haydari (a yogurt dip with dill, cucumbers and walnuts) and a feta cheese plate.

Everything was good, but what I enjoyed most (other than the grape leaves) were the Haydari and the fried eggplant salad. Generally speaking, I'm not a fan of eggplant. This however may have made me a believer, the texture was slightly firm and it blended really well with the other vegetables.

I did mention we were feasting, right? So on top of this platter of deliciousness, we ordered 2 hot appetizers, a falafel plate and a dish called Mucver, described as zucchini pancakes. Being a huge fan of both fried zucchini and potato pancakes, I couldn't wait to try it.

This was by far, my most favorite dish. Yes, even more than the stuffed grape leaves and fresh (SUPER FRESH) falafel. Holy smokes! It's like a low-carb latka! Granted... I don't know just how 'low carb' it is, but I'm going to try to find a recipe and try it out myself. The zucchini was shredded and somewhat creamy, the outside of the patty was golden crisp. It was awesome!

Overall I had a great time at Anatolia, and though we freaked out the server a bit (the amount of food we ordered for lunch actually made her gasp), I can't wait to return and try out an entree (or two).

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Foodie Trip to DC

Holy mackerel, it's been a while. Well, a few weeks ago I went up to DC with my sister for a mini-vacation. We lived up there for a few years and I was back up there for a stint as a congressional intern after college. It was fun revisiting our old haunts and discovering some fabulous eateries.

Some highlights...

Our first night we had dinner at Michel Richard's Citronelle. This was an amazing dining experience. You have the option of ordering a 10 course or 3 course menu, or ala carte. We opted for the 4 course, which actually was more like 6. It came with an amuse bouche and pre-dessert, plus we added a cheese course. The food was creative in design and scrumptious to taste. For instance, my first course was a mosaic of tartar, which meant each of the thinly sliced meats were arranged on the plate to form a mosaic design. The artistry in these dishes went far beyond taste... truly one of the best dining experiences I've ever had.

One other amazing item to note, Chef Richard was in the kitchen when we were there. The kitchen is completely open to the dining room (and there is a chef table as well that some lucky souls were dining at) so we could see in. So many 'celebrity' chefs have restaurants that they never seem to actually be at, not here.
Chef Richard was expediting food throughout the night, it was such a treat to look in and watch the magic happen. If you're in DC, make sure this spot is on your hit list.

Another spot on our food tour was Old Ebbit Grill, one of the oldest restaurants in the city. If there was such a thing as an operational restaurant museum, this would be it. Maybe it's because we had spent the day museum hopping, but you could really feel the history here. The mural's on the walls are favorites of many of our Presidents, the dark wood gives the place a special feel, and the food.... The crabcakes were amazing!! Having spent some of my formative years in Maryland, I am picky about my crabcakes. It pisses me off when I order them and I am served a fried blob of cornmeal or stuffing with some meat mixed in. At Old Ebbits you get a patty of lump crab meat that is so fresh, you'd think it had just been cracked.

Save room for dessert because the butterscotch blondie sundae will knock your socks off. Definitely it is one to share, my sister and I couldn't finish it. It was total butterscotch heaven.

For lunch on our museum hopping day we went to the Mitsitam Cafe in the National Museum of the American Indian. This is not your average museum cafeteria. There are 4 or 5 different menus all offering items from the native peoples of the different regions of the US. It's a 'small plates' kind of place, but prices add up quickly. I had 3 different items, that plus a drink was over $20. The food was really good though, I particularly liked the cucumber soup from the South American menu and the squash and bean tamale pie from the Meso America menu. There is plenty for meat eaters to choose from, but vegetarians will really enjoy all the different options.

My last DC shout out is going to the Lincoln's Waffle Shop. It's just across the street from Ford's theater, right on the corner of 10th and E. They are a few spots down from their old location, so some people might think they are closed. They are very much open, 7 days a week serving breakfast (on the cheap!) all day. Of course I had the waffle, and it was good. Pretty standard stuff really, but they are freshly made and the batter is tasty. The true standout for me was the salmon cake. My boyfriend makes them for brunch every so often, and these were as good as his, but bigger and flatter. It could easily be a side instead of sausage, which is what I was going for. Again, it's mostly meat, not alot of filler which I dig. I didn't try it, but something worth mentioning... Scrapple is on the menu here. I was not brave enough to try it, but I wish I had been.

As soon as my computer is back from the shop, I'll edit this post and add some pics.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Purple Olive by Annette

I had the pleasure of dining at the Purple Olive of St. Augustine this past weekend. There are plenty of eateries to choose from, but this one caught my attention from the positive reviews on both Urban Spoon and Yelp.

Florida has to be the strip mall capitol of the world. Like many hidden gems, don't let the location put you off. Yes, it's in a strip mall. When you open the menu, you forget all about the location.

When we first sat down, we were treated to a small bowl of some deliciously marinated olives. I tasted a little fennel and mint in the olive oil, being an olive lover I was very happy to see these little gems right away. We were so impressed with them in fact, we started with an Olive and Cheese plate from the appetizers. This was a huge plate, easily enough for 4-6 people. Unfortunately the olives from the first sitting didn't make it on to the appetizer plate. We did have some black olives stuffed with sun dried tomatoes, and what I would call nicoise olives those were the highlight. There were some Spanish olives on the plate that seemed to be extra salty. I wish those had been marinated or in a different brine.

Another shiny delight was the sesame cilantro marinade on the house salad. WOW. I would have walked out with a bottle of that stuff if it were possible. It was lightly gingered, just enough to give flavor and a little bit of heat. The sesame and cilantro worked so nicely together, it was just delicious.

For dinner I ordered locally caught Triggerfish that was served blackened with wok-fried veggies and I opted for a side of kale with golden raisins and pine nuts over the cashew pesto linguine. It was topped with a lump crab slaw that was siracha spicy and simply divine. I really couldn't get enough of this, but also couldn't finish (damn those tasty olives!)

Steven opted for a classic dish from the menu, lamb shank over mashed potatoes. The meat was prepped skillfully and just fell off the bone. Sometimes lamb can be fatty, but this was cooked perfectly and the gravy was very tasty.

This is certainly a place I would teleport to Orlando if possible, in lieu of that, I'll definitely return when traveling to St. Augustine.

Purple Olive on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blood Into Wine

Alright all you Tool and A Perfect Circle wine fans out there! There will be one showing of the new documentary, "Blood Into Wine", at Enzian on Wednesday, March 24th at 6:30pm.

"Blood Into Wine" is a documentary about the struggles of making wine. It tells the story of Caduceus, the winery in Arizona owned by frontman Maynard Keenan.

I won't be able to make it to the showing....but will definitely catch it on DVD.