Like kids in a candy store…

Ist Oriental Supermarket

This week I took a trip to a local Asian market, hoping that it would be at least comparable to the ones we had back in Seattle and we were not disappointed! 1st Oriental Supermarket on W Colonial (I swear to God that’s what it’s called…I couldn’t make that shit up) gets two enthusiastic thumbs up.

 

Dragon cake

We were greeted by the bakery counter as we entered and some amazing dragon decorated cakes – these would be such a huge hit at birthday parties – I clearly need a fancy occasion to warrant that much awesomeness!

The store turned out to be huge and well stocked with all sorts of goodies. They have a nice produce section with all the basics plus a bunch of exotic fruit and vegetables that I am really not sure what to do with….. research will clearly be required. I picked up some fresh bamboo shoots and various mushrooms for my attempt at summer rolls that evening.

Fresh bamboo - in a toilet???

I was delighted to find quail eggs also which prompted a desire to make sushi too. Not a issue since I had no problem finding nori (seaweed wrappers) and a tub of masago (fish roe).

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fish section was fantastic – all sort of fresh fish and shellfish available – along with a few things I am definitely not brave enough to cook, like eels – I have eaten them many times in restaurants, but not sure I could eat them if I had to do the prep work. Definitely the largest fish selection I have seen here in Orlando.

Fresh fish

There was a fantastic section for cooked food also with ducks and geese hanging up looking crispy and delicious – it was hard to pull ourselves away…

Yum!

We must have spent an hour wandering the aisles and marveling at all the good stuff – I got  my favorite “tempura wasabi seaweed chips” – not sure what they are actually called but these things are like crack cocaine – you cannot stop eating them once the bag is opened.

Best wasabi tempura seeweed chips evah!

Also picked up some fizzy sake, dried shrimp, cool sodas in a clear plastic “cans”, frozen hum bow – for my teenager who could live on dim sum –  shrimp dumplings, rice paper, rice noodles, jars of pickled cabbage, fish sauce, plum duck sauce, sweet chili dipping sauce, sirracha sauce (long live the rooster) and a variety of other things that we couldn’t leave the store without….including some green apple pop rocks that jumped in my cart at the register – hello 80’s

I did not buy this....

That evening I planned to amaze the family with my sushi making skills and yummy shrimp  and pork summer rolls – unfortunately, although delicious, they were just not photo worthy. I need to practice wrapping the rice paper tighter  – they were a bit floppy and messy looking – but dipped in the sweet chili sauce with eyes closed they tasted great.

Jon's vegetable free summer roll

My teenager quickly decided that all those vegetables were not working for him so he made his own rolls with shrimp and noodles only – in a stoke of genius he decided to pour the chili sauce right  inside the roll so he didn’t have to waste time dipping LOL

We had a fun interactive dinner and leftovers made a decent stir fry the next day – now I have a pantry full of random stuff I need to get some recipes for LOL

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Lake Eola Farmer’s Market

Lake Eola Farmer's market

This weekend, we were supposed to have a big grey, wet, stormy time but it really never materialized. We had made no plans because we were expecting all this unrelenting rain – so on Sat we went to the movies and saw Cabin in the Woods – which was great, if you like black comedy and horror movies and we certainly do so that was a big winner – go see it!

Sunday morning we were moving slow and trying to figure out what to do – still expecting the rain to ruin anything outdoors  –  we took the chance that the weather would hold and headed to Lake Eola – a smart decision since it has been sunny & beautiful all day with no sign of any rain.

Although we have been to Lake Eola, in downtown Orlando, before and loved it – we had yet to make it to the Farmer’s Market. It’s on every Sunday from 10 – 4pm and there is live music from noon on  –  we decided that was just about our speed today.

Black swan family with cygnet

The lake is very pretty – nice fountain in the center – swan paddle boats for the romantically inclined, an art deco style band shell and a ton of real swans, turtles, ducks, geese etc wandering around. It is very dog friendly so you see lots of people out with Fido and there are several nice outdoor restaurants to choose from. Next time I will have to bring a couple of our dogs…

I have to confess being from Seattle and being used to Pike Place Market  – my idea of a farmers market is probably outlandish by the rest of the country’s standards – nothing can really compare to that! However, Orlando has a ton of small local markets that are a very pleasant way to spend a couple hours on the weekend.

turtle sunning himself

Today, I was able to stock up on some of my favorite “hippy” Indian incense (normally have to head out to Melbourne Beach for that) and they had some very well priced orchids that I did not score today because I didn’t want to carry them around –  left it too late and the one I wanted was gone – too bad, so sad – next time!

We had some great spinach and cheese empanadas, Jamacian pork kabobs and the cinnamon glazed pecans were to die for…

 

 

 

New hairstick with real orchids ....

There was a vendor I have seen in a few places before that takes live orchid flowers and coats them in resin to create floral jewelry, like necklaces and earrings – today I treated myself to a pretty orchid hair stick. Now that my hair is so long again I am always looking for different ways to put it up.  This purchase makes me feel happy & tropical and it fits well with my orchid obsession.

 

 

 

I love this - I need a frothy cocktail STAT

The live music today was really good, I was surprised to hear “That’s Entertainment” by The Jam which is a blast from the past for me, since I wore that record out back in the day of my misspent youth. My teenager was, of course, less than impressed with my account of how I listened to that all the time when I was his age…..whatever I refuse to feel ancient on such a beautiful day LOL

Gator tail - yummy!

We walked around the lake and stopped off at 310 Lake side for some cocktails and pan-fried gator tail in mustard sauce  – yum!

All in all a lovely way to spend a sunny (not stormy) afternoon.

Food Truck Wednesday

Food Trucks Wed

Orlando has a pretty cool food truck scene – there are multiple regular events locally to sample their delicious wares – one particularly fun one is Lake Lily Park in Mailtand. This is very close to where we live and the setting is really nice – pond with fountain, live music, lots of people bring their dogs  and usually about 9 – 12 trucks to choose from – it is a weekly event on Wed nights from 6 – 9pm

This week we were hosting a co-worker from Dundee, Scotland so I suggested that the team go together and try it out. A lot of the food trucks use Square which lets you pay using your iPhone – so for a UI designer and self confessed tech nerd that is always fun. Plus, I was pretty sure that it hadn’t reached the UK yet – so for all intents and purposes we could claim it was a work related, educational trip LOL

Crab with Pork Belly by the lake

The weather was perfect  – sunny, mid 80’s and we had 9 trucks to choose from. A favorite of mine is Big Wheel Provisions so I made a beeline for them and got the crab rice bowl – which I have had before and absolutley love. This time I was asked if I wanted the pork belly – I had no idea that was even an option –  of course I said hell yes!

It was fantastic!!! I may be back next week for more. Andrew our Scottish coworker followed my lead and was not disappointed – much better than haggis, or the standard fish  & chip trucks from back in the UK, that is for sure.  Another designer on the team tried the fish truck and got some healthy salmon, my teenager hit up the Brisket Bus and got some sort of meaty grilled cheese that made him beyond happy….

Another coworker got some mac & cheese, and yet another had deviled eggs & fried oysters –  which seems like a weird combo to me but what the hell – try anything once, right?  The Korean BBQ truck was also there which I will have to try next time if I can be pulled away from the amazing pork belly…

Paula Deen Burger - heart attack time....

One of the highlights of the evening was realizing that the Treehouse Truck was serving the “Paula Deen Burger” Basically a bacon cheeseburger between two Krispy Kreme doughnuts – probably with a side of butter –  but of course we wanted to make sure Andrew had a good story to tell back in Scotland about eating like an American LOL

 

 

 

 

 

Andrew eating American Style LOL

Teenagers always up for a burger challenge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So obviously we ordered one and it was ceremoniously split between three of the guys (my teenager included – what teen can resist a challenge like that?) They all proclaimed that it was actually very good before slipping into their diabetic comas…

Yum Yum Cupcake selection

Oreo cupcake

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yum Yum cupcake was also in attendance and we had to sample some of those – there was a salted caramel and chocolate cupcake, an Oreo cupcake, a peanut butter chocorama and of course red velvet –  my choice for the evening was Dolce Gabbana – a tres leches cupcake which was milky and delicious. Yum yum is right!

A good time was had by all and I don’t think it will be too long before another trip is required >8)

Brazilian Steakhouse – the way to any man’s heart

Meat on swords - yum

Last night we finally ended up at Nelore in WInter Park – a restaurant we have been meaning to try for ages – one I even had a Living Social deal for which was going to expire soon – so that got us moving to make reservations asap.

We invited a couple friends and brought our teenage son and had a really lovely, but seriously carnivorous evening.

Florida in April is beautiful – the weather was in the 80s and Winter Park is one of my favorite places to go. The restaurant was just off of Park Avenue and had an amazing salad bar to go along with all the skewered meats. I finally got to try heart of palm which was pretty delicious – especially if you like artichokes. But lets be honest we weren’t there for the lettuce…

If you have never been to a Brazilian steakhouse, it works like this – you basically get a small disc or token by your plate that you flip to the red or green side depending on whether you are ready for more food – and waiters, or meat wranglers as we like to call them, wander round with large swords of meat.  (I really can’t make this stuff up) If they see your disc is green they come on over and slice chunks off for you which you catch with a small pair of tongs so you can put it on your plate before it hits the ground.

It is a pretty entertaining and interactive way to eat vast quantities of food. They have everything from flank steak to ribs, bacon wrapped chicken, sirloin steak, sausage and parmesan encrusted pork – all cooked and served on swords. This is a carnivore’s paradise – there is no girly fish or seafood here just meat LOL

In case you are wondering, this style of cooking comes from the 1800s in South America – the cowboys or gauchos lived off the land and herded cattle for local ranchers. Churrasco (shoo-rhas’co) is their way of cooking – since they had no way of preserving food, the gauchos would gather together after butchering a cow, and skewer and cook the large portions of meat immediately over a wood burning fire. We decided that the salad bar and cheesy bread were likely modern additions LOL

All the guys were having a blast, but the look of incredulous joy on our teenage son’s face was hysterical – flip that disc and a meat wrangler appears by your side and brings you more delicious food – all you can eat! Magic words for any teen who is pretty much a bottomless pit of food consumption.

Magic Meat Wrangler

There was a lot of conversation around taking the little colored discs home and wondering if they would magically work anywhere…. Sitting in class –  flip that disc and it rains pork ribs on your desk….Need a midnight snack and the meat fairy shows up with flank steak and a chicken to put under your pillow….

Amazingly enough the parade of food on swords seemed to make the conversation sparkle even more than usual – we lingered over dinner for a couple hours and there was a lot of laughter and good humor. The mood was so infectious that my teenage son ate vegetables and proclaimed that they were really good – I immediately alerted the media since that is a very rare occurrence. He even talked about his math class being fun that day – leading me to wonder “Who are you and what have you done with my son?”

Apparently “meat goggles” make the world seem a little brighter just like “beer goggles” are supposed to make people look better LOL

Somehow we made room for dessert – Creme Brûlée FTW –  before staggering home in a meat coma. This is not an event to take lightly – you can’t possibly do this often – I don’t think the human system can take feasting like that on a regular basis,  but it was a really fun night and a unique memory to share.

Flower filled weekend

New Cattleya

With all the work traveling I have been doing lately I think I was due a stay at home sort of weekend – so although we planned to go to the beach or a theme park,  instead we ended up being homebodies and messing around in the garden all weekend.

Saturday, I went to a local Orchid Show with a friend and of course came back with a couple new plants to add to my collection LOL  I got a lovely yellow green Cattleya and another one (whose name escapes me right now) that is about to bloom and is completely new to me with deep raspberry colored flowers and an odd bulbous base.

I took about a million photos of some of the prize winners on display at the show, but unfortunately most of those were either not for sale or too expensive for me – a very small version of one awesome stripey one was listed at $100 – way too rich for my blood  – I maybe obsessed, but I am not crazy!

Meewon's first orchid

Meewon bought her very first orchid (muahahahahah – evil laugh – welcome to my obsession >8) a lovely yellow Phalaenopsis which is probably where most people start – easy to care for and so very pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

I also picked up a fun plant stand made out of a PVC pipe from a local vendor. It has a solar powered light on top and notches cut into it so you can hold 5 little 6 inch terracotta pots staggered around the pipe – it’s on castors so I can move it around the pool deck to my hearts desire.

Funky plant stand

Originally I thought it would be perfect for Eric, who needs a place to put his growing herb garden but it was really crying out for flowers, so instead we hit a great local nursery about 15 minutes away, the next day and picked some up. I ordered Eric a 5 shelf plant rack for his herbs instead.

Jonathon had been wanting a cactus, so we picked up a couple of those too and he started a cacti garden in a shallow pot on the pool deck. He managed not to damage himself while replanting thanks to some heavy duty gloves and used some compressed air to clean off the dirt from the spikes  – he plans to add a couple rocks to complete his miniature arid landscape.

President Hibiscus

I found a beautiful bright red hibiscus at Lowes for only $15 – which was a complete steal if you ask me! It is apparently a President Hibiscus and has flowers the size of my hand – something I could never have dreamed of growing before moving here and makes me happy just to look at it!

 

 

 

 

 

I could not resist this Stargazer lily either, which is pretty much the best smelling flower of all time!  Back in Washington it was a special occasion, cut flower that I would buy and put in a vase – not something I could actually grow…

Stargazer Lily - nothing smells better...

Everything grows here – it makes gardening way more fun – annuals practically become perennials – even impatience last forever – we even have a Bird of Paradise plant in the yard! We planted our Christmas Poinsettia and it is growing like a weed. We have a tomato plant that is over a year old and still producing fruit… Although we are in a pitched battle with our ninja squirrels to see who can get to them first! Basically we get to eat whatever they leave behind…

Last year I got some Jasmine and Gardenias (which are a really close contender for the best smelling flower of all time) which we planted in big blue pots. (Frankly all our plants are in pots since this is a rental and I want to take my garden with me when we go) I had a tough time with them last year since they got infested by bugs and all the buds dropped before flowering – which was just heartbreaking 😦

Gardenias - also smell beyond fantastic...

This year, however, they are going nuts  – a million buds and now beautiful white flowers that smell completely amazing! So after repotting all our new plants this weekend (we are swiftly running out of space – believe me!) we got to sit out by the pool while I wrote this, surrounded by our lazy puppies  and with the heady scent of gardenias and stargazer lilies filling the air – perfect!

Much better than the usual stinky dog poop smell which is what we normally deal with since we have four dogs in a hot humid climate – occupational hazard I guess.

 

 

Even Coco approved – although this angel face puppy thinks that her poop smells like gardenias all the time. So says the Princess Puppy – best not to argue with her really…

Angelic Coco