Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Dexters is a Do!

Hi darlings,

As most of you know, I live out in the boonies of NorFLA but most of my best friends live in Orlando and in college I dated a guy from there too, so I know Otown nearly like a native and that central city is my escape many of weekend.

When I was down for the F&W 2009 extravaganza the other weekend it was such a beautiful day my bestie girls and I drove down to Thorton park to walk around and drool over all the wonderful craftsman homes we can't afford. (although Jenna and her BF bought a 1925 craftsman last month and are in the process of renovating it, the luckies...but it's not in prime time Thorton-those are million dollar homes mostly! And sadly those are price tags none of us can afford right now....one day!). All our walking and drooling kicked up an appetite so we decided it was surely time for a nearly Sunday tradition of Brunch. And what better brunch location than Dexters!

Pretty much all the fabulous young professional in Orlando had the same idea (that and Dex's is KNOWN for it's great Sunday brunch) so we had about a 1/2 hour wait.

Once seated my tablemates ordered a round mango mimosas, but I had veggies on the brain, so only a Bloody Mary would do!

You guys know if you've been reading my blog for a bit, or even if you are a new reader (Hi!), I LOVE Bloodies. It's a family tradition on holidays to be awoken with one, so vodka at breakfast totally works for me! And out of all the brunch spots I frequent (mostly in Orlando, Tampa or St. Pete) Dexter's has the best BM!

I guess I was really craving tomatoes, since I ordered a cup of the Soup of the Day for the table to share on the first brisk Sunday of our fall season.
Can't go wrong with Tomato Basil and this hearty soup hit the spot.

Our orders were taking an extraordinarily long time, and even though we were waiting patiently, just enjoying our drinks and the company, our server hooked us with some complementary sweet potato chips and sweet chili dipping sauce.Just a few moments later our lovely brunch plates arrived. And truly lovely they were!

I got the classic Dexter's Benedict, (which I had had before, and it didn't disappoint.): Poached eggs with spinach, tomatoes, smoked turkey on French bread with a lava mustard hollandaise sauce, miniature potato pancakes, and fresh seasonal fruit.
I had forgotten to ask for the chef to go light on the honey mustard hollandaise sauce, but he must have read my mind, and I had the perfect portion of the rich sauce.

Christine got the true winner of the day, however with the Elvis Stuffed French Toast special.

This mountain of yum consisted of (if I remember correctly- Christine correct me if I'm wrong) Brioche bread stuffed with peanut butter cream cheese dipped in a cinnamon egg batter then toasted golden brown, topped with bananas, bacon and maple syrup! I was lucky to have a taste and almost wished I had ordered this instead! Not exactly the lightest item on the menu, but one the KING would be proud of!

Jenna had the Open Faced BLT which was toasted Brioche bread topped with greens, tomatoes, bacon and a poached egg. Plus seasonal fruit on the side.

Kayla went the creative route and tacked the Make Your Own Omelet.

Her end result was one of the more mammoth omelets I've seen, bursting with onions, peppers, ham and cheddar cheese! Plus the mini potato cakes and fruit. I think I may be taking advantage of the make your own omelet in the near future!

Even though the service was slow on that particular Sunday I have never had a reason to complain about any experience at Dexter's. They also have great Friday night drink specials.

If you live in the Orlando area, or are visiting and want to avoid the tourist scene check out this local gem, or it's sister location in Winter Park!

Love to all,
~ A brunch lovin' babe, Jess

Monday, October 26, 2009

How to celebrate Fall in Florida!

Here in Florida we don't get as much season variation as other parts of the country does. Many a year I can recall sweating in my Halloween costumes, and even being in shorts on Thanksgiving day and Christmas Eve!

So, when ever the weather dips bellow 75 degrees as a high I get really excited and am joyfully layering on sweaters and scarves-not because I am cold, but because I long for the stylishness of my Northerner sisters!

Well, my sweaters and boots and scarves are still collecting dust in the closet my dear friends, Ben and Jerry have found a way to help even us Sunshine State Gals ring in the Autumnal Season.

I give thee Pumpkin Cheesecake Ice Cream!

Oh baby is this good stuff, heavy on the pumpkin, but you can really taste the rich cheesecake essence with a swirl of chew gram crackers!

Excuse me, I think the cartoon is calling my name......

Love to all,
~an ice cream enamored Jess

Saturday, October 24, 2009

So Fine in 2009!

Or the Adventures at Epcot's 2009 Food and Wine Festival.

A week ago today I was reveling in all the culinary adventures the Mouse House had to offer. I figured no better day than exactly a week late to fill all my bloggy darlings in (that and I finally got all the blasted photos loaded)...so here we go!

My day started with a very early alarm considering I had frequented my favorite brewhouse (Stubbies!) for some pumpkin ale the night before...so after washing my headache down the drain in the shower, all the while drinking water like it was my job my darling Christine and I jumped on the road...with a quick pit stop for breakfast at The Bagel Bakery.

I got the Eggal which is a Egg and cheese with meat on a bagel in the form of Fresh out of the Oven Everything Bagel (literally..it was steaming and amazing!) cream cheese, sausage and egg. Oh man, so good.

See I told you it was good.....don't try this at home kids, I am a professional driving while eating-er!
We arrived in Otown at my college best Jenna's house way toooo early of course, because I'm crazy like that, so after some fbook stalking we finally cruised our way over to Epcot and met up with this bunch of crazies! Some photowhoring ensued...and trust me I'm giving you the bare minimum here for your own sanity (that and the mega length of this pooooost)
Christine and I...she hadn't been to Epcot in something like 10 years! So I was very glad to break the streak. Some times I think I should rename this blog "The Adventures of Jess & Christine....oh and I ate some stuff too"!

Jumping is kind of our thing, if you haven't noticed by now...Jenna, Sarah and I.

I love these girls, because we are always laughing...case in point in the above photo. Not to mention we are all gorgeous!

Ok, enough gushing about my wonderful friends...let's get on to the FOOD!

1st stop on our world culinary adventure was Argentina.
Grilled Beef Skewer with Chimichurri Sauce and Boniato Pureé and the Reserva Malbec. I really think that Malbecs are my favorite red wines now, I haven't had one I didn't like. And the skewer? Nothing short of a amazing...and this is coming from the girl who rarely eats red meat anymore. So tender and topped with a super garlicky amazing chimichurri! This ended up being my favorite item of the day!

In classic multitasking fashion Jenna picked up a goodie for me from Mexico too, while she was grabbing her Taco de Cochinita Pibil (aka chicken taco, that we all agreed was tasty, but nothing special)

I opted for the Chilaquiles (Baked Tortillas Layered with Chicken and Cheese). This ended up being even better than described since I love black beans! Plus topped with tomatoes, onions, chihuahua cheese and some sour cream! Very tasty, but nothing I couldn't make myself.

Now that we had some yummy South American food in our bellies we all knew what time it was....Tequila Time!

There is a little known tacquirea inside Mexico...so we met up with our whole group there for some shots (and the classier gals-a category in which I do not fall- got real margaritas....don't let them fool you with that slushy crap they serve outside)Ready to go! Tequila, super tasty tomatoes and cilantro chaser and a lime of course!

Cheers Friends!
Obviously, I didn't enjoy mine at all! I'm more of a beer and wine kinda gal, but I do love me a tequila shooter! Yum o.

As the buzz settled in nicely we cruised over to Poland for a favorite of mine from last year. (did I mention we do this every year? Some times more than once? Oh yes, I love my life!)

Kielbasa and Potato Pierogie with Caramelized Onions and Sour Cream

Only at Disney would Polish sausage be chased with delicacies from China, but at this point I had stopped trying to rationalize.

Pot stickers and a delicious (and totally out of character for me) Mango Gingerita cocktail were purchased and savored.

The pot stickers were fairly classic take out fare, but they satisfied a craving. The drink though...wow! I'm not a huge mixed drink/fruity-girly drink gal but this was so yummy with the sweetness of the mango offset by the spiciness of the ginger (it was ginger packed too). I ended up only drinking about 2/3 of this cup before passing it off to Jenna.

A long wait in line for the ladies restroom was make a little more pleasant by snacking on this fare from Australia that I had snagged before jumping in line.Seared Barramundi with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula and Lemon Oil. This was the only disappointment of the day. The fish (while super fun to say...go on say it! Beara-MUNDI! and that may have been 1/2 the reason my ginger hazed brain wanted this plate) was rather dry and plain. The high light of the plate was the Blistered Cherry Tomatoes...I would have gladly consumed a whole bowl of those babies.

After wandering around Germany and Italy for a while waiting for our group to get out of an over priced "wine tasting" (aka, buy a bottle and you can taste it here! right.) I swung into Austria for a snack.
Mushroom Soup with Chive Dumplings paired with a taste of the Leth Grüner Veltliner. I had recalled the mushroom soup being one of my favorite from last year, but they had switched it up this time around.The dumplings did nothing for the soup, other than be very VERY green.

We wandered through Japan, and Morocco before stopping to check the Sam Adams tasting schedule.

Seeing that we had about an hour before the next tasting it only made sense to make a jaunt over to France for escargot and champagne!

Yummy pile of snails and bread or rather: Escargot Persillade en Brioche. And yes, I ordered a double order. I knew from last year that three just isn't enough...that and since we all share, I knew hands would be swooping down on this lovely plate! With a sparkling pomegranate Kir champagne to wash down all the lovely garlicky buttery delights!
Even though I was full of delicious French snails at this point I knew I needed something to munch on while waiting in line for Sam....so it hit up the Louisiana stand on my way back to the Land of The Free (aka USA)
Crawfish Étouffée (Spicy Cajun Crawfish and Vegetable Stew over White Rice). A few bites were hijacked before this picture was taken....the boys- most of which had been indulging in the wine, more than the food, part of the festival were getting a little grabby! I love them though, so it's all good. Very tasty. Etouffee is my favorite low country food, second only to a true low country boil, which is far too messy to fit in a little cup at Epcot!

After an overly dramatic wait in line for the Sam Adams tasting we were finally let in and found ourselves seated before this lovely little placemat.

I've sat through this tasting several times before, as had most of our group, so we were a bit rowdy. Let's just say we are the "fun group"...you know the one all the granny panties glare at!

Swirling and smelling the aroma!

I decided that the 14th Anniversary Ale was my favorite, and since you can only get it at the F&W festival, well that that's what I got! Yummy...just what I like on a warm and breezy afternoon. Light, and fruity with some coriander!

Next we wandered across the boarder to our lovely neighbor Canada to enjoy some hearty grub.
Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup and Spicy Chicken Sausage with Sweet Corn Polenta. So good. These two plates rival the beef skewer from Argentia, and that is really saying a lot. Also, they weren't kidding on the spicy part of the sausage! I was happily hiccuping after finishing that baby! Good thing we all shared an unpictured Moosehead to wash it down!

Of course the rowdy kids had to then stuff ourselves (rather unsuccessfully) into a phonebooth next...and this was only 1/2 our group! haha.

One last stop in Greece rounded out my Epcot eats for the day. I wasn't going to get anything from Greece since I eat Greek food fairly regularly, but after I heard a few other park patrons raving about the Spanikopita I had to find out for myself.
With a tasting glass Boutari Santorini on the side, since I adore Santorini wines! Hijacked again, this time the punishment was to be my hand model....which made for a challenge, since my "model" woudn't hold still! haha. All in good crazy fun! Oh and yes, the spanikpita was truly worth raving about. So yummy!

Well, if you made it through this whole post, contulations! As you can see I had a blast. The festival is going on for a few more weeks, so if you are in the Orlando area check it out. It's a bit pricey, but really a fun time!

Love to all,
~An overinduglent, but totally satisified, Jess

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall has Fallen!

Hi all and a Happy Chilly Tuesday to you!

I know this snap of fall weather is really just a tease, but I've so been enjoying the crisp fall air the last few days. And since you all know my favorite food is soup, well, even more reason to love temperatures below 85 degrees F!

I'm still working on my uber long recap of my adventures at F&W 2009, but in the meantime please enjoy this soup and sweater montage!

Tomato Basil Bisque at Dexter's of Thorton Park

Homemade Sirloin Veggie Soup (I'm not a huge steak fan these days, but this soup was so packed with veggies-oh it rocks!) Plus yummy Arnold Farms Flatbread

Chicken Chili with % Fage and chips for dipping

The Cutest (and most modest!) Teacher on your block

And Ben and Jerry's Fair Trade Vanillia Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Dreams PB....whoops were did that come from?! Don't be hatin!

Love to all,
~A cuddle bug in the cool weather, Jess

Monday, October 19, 2009

Baby Octoberfest!

Everyone knows a good weekend in my book starts with a Friday night at Stubbies, and thankfully this evening couldn't have come at a better time. With the end of the marking period falling on Friday this teacher had had it up to her ears with wails of "Ms. M what's my grade? What do you mean I have a D? What? I had to turn that in? Well, can I make it up? NO!?! Can I do extra credit...wahhh, wahhh, wahhhh." If only they cared about their grades all term and not just the last week off it. Needless to say an evening of good food, friends and beer was just what the doctor and/or stressed teacher ordered!
I was so ready for this night out that immediately after meeting up with the usual Stubbie's Friday Crew I ordered a surprise Hefeweizen (the surprise being I just asked the bartender to bring me which ever one he wanted....they have something like ten different Hefeweizens in stock at all times). My Russian Roulette beer choice landed me with the Pinkus and I couldn't have been happier! Oh so yummy.

After that tall glass (literally) of refreshingness I was ready to dive into the season pumpkin beers that are available this time of year. Sadly they were out of the Dogfish Head Pumpkin ale on both draft and bottle so I went with a darker choice of the Weyerbacher Pumpkin Ale.

This baby smelled like Big Red (and I love cinnamon gum, so you won't hear me complaining) and tasted more like pumpkin pie spice than the actual gourd, but was very drinkable.

Around this time I knew I needed some food, pronto so I actually had one of Stubbies famed sausage platters.

Knockwurst with krout plus hot German Potato Salad, cold cucumber salad and pumpernickel bread. Very tasty, but all rather salty. The only things I really enjoyed was the crout, cukes and bread. What is wrong with this Sausage Lovin' Gal? I think I'll stick with the Brats from now on!

Lastly to round out the night I had this dark beauty. I don't remember what it is called, but I know it's similar to Spaten Optamater, because that is what I wanted and they were all out (2 strike outs in one night! Bummer! But with 300ish beers you really can't go wrong) so I said, just bring me something similar. and Tada! Here it is:
A round of waters later we said audu for the evening, with tickets in hand to come back on Sunday, October 25th for the true Octoberfest! So my beer and brat loving babes, you will have to anxiously await at Jess and Stubbie's update until this weekend!

Love to all,
~A oh so proud to be a beer drinking girl, Jess

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Here we go round....

....the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush....here we go round the....what the heck is a mulberry bush anyways? Anywho!

The theme tonight is round things.

As in what goes around, comes around. As in how often does your boss apologize to you? As in, thank goodness mine did so I can finally put aside the frustration I've been harboring since she wrongly accused me of something in a meeting on Tuesday morning. I like those kind of come-a-rounds!

Here are some other "round" things I like...in the form of today's eats.

The yummy Pesto Tortalini I had for lunch, care of Amy's Pasta Bowls. This was a first time around for me and I can't wait to go round with Amy's Bowls again!

The indulgent stack I had on the way home from work in the form of Peanut Butter M&M's! Totally my fave and so worth it! After giving out candy as Bingo prizes to my students all day as we reivewed for their midterms tomorrow I really had a classic "drugstore" candy craving! Yum.

The amazing grape tomatoes on steroids that made my hum-drum leftover chicken dinner so much more interesting. And juicy! Yay for round rockets of yum!

The round and bubbly Breast Cancer Research pen my mom got me today. It's cute, round and supports a good cause. And couldn't have rolled in at a better time, since my favorite pen bit the dust this week!

Hope you are revved up for a rocking and rolling roundhouse kind of a weekend!

Love to all,
~the rolly, polly, round Jess

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Post Shopping Trip Bliss...

...is what I've got...oh say it again! Post Shopping Trip Bliss is what I've got....

Oh, hi, thanks for stopping by friends...and yes, I really do sing about daily activities in "real" life too. Offkey of course, just ask any of my best friends, family, students, neighbors or strangers I may have scared at the mall last night! Some of you may be wondering why I would bother singing about just going to the mall, and frankly a year ago, I wouldn't have been.

Why you ask? Well, it's very simple. A year ago I lived in a city smack dab between 2 malls, both of which were only 15 mins from my condo. Now I live where the only thing 15 minutes away is a gas station and a dairy. So a shopping date with my Mom? Well, that's a precious (and planned weeks in advance) kinda thing!

So let's cut to the chase and see the goods, shall we?Two new "teacher dresses" (the polka dot one is so cute on...I'll take a picture the day I wear it!), some fantastic skinny jeans, a party dress (30 bucks from JC Penny's) that I'm thinking you will see around the holiday time, and some new sandals. Plus underwear and other freebies from Vicky C's (Victoria's Secret-don't ask me why, but Mum and I have called it Vicky C's for years) and some yummy Archer Farms and other necessary products from Target.

Let's take a closer gander at those shoes shall we? Oh we shall....
These puppies are so freaking fantastic! I call them my "primitive man shoes" because they seem like a slightly sophicated version of what our early, early, think caveman early, ancestors would have worn. "Oh, me need shoes. Wrap animal fur around foot. Good shoe." (and yes, I'm crazy, and yes! I acted that out in Dillard's as I was considering purchasing them). So ugly they are cute, very circa Jaslene's Cycle of ATNM (Cycle 8 if you don't recall them by season winner like I do). But seriously, does anyone else remember the fashion show she and Natasha (who totally should have won, fyi!) walked in? It was the evolution of fashion and they had the same shoes...just with 4 inch heels. So hot.. and now I have some. The tame version. Speaking of ANTM I only have 5 mins before it starts so I'd better hustle this post along.Close up of all the other goodies. Pink line underwear and the return of my beloved Secret Crush body lotion! Aussie is ending my line of hairspray so I've been stocking up, plus a bunch of Archer Farm stuff you will be seeing in the near future, plus some Green and Organic 70% and Lavender Method Frangance Pills, since my classroom still tends to reek of dead cat on humid days...which considering this is Florida, is every. single. day.

Of course no shopping trip would be complete without a dinner out. So we headed over to Romano's Macaroni Grill.

They have the table Chianti, so of course I had to have a glass. And a nibble or 4 of their crusty bread too! (Don't worry, that is the whole loaf, not my plate!)I was torn between a few menu items, but finally realized it garlic and spinach I was really craving. So, I ended up ordering

Pasta Milan-Tender chicken, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh mushrooms and imported farfalle pasta in a roasted garlic cream sauce

from the menu, but then asked the server if I could add spinach too.

Oh man this came out good. What a wonderful mix of flavors with a nice earthiness from the mushrooms and sundried tomatoes, plus that green zing from the spinach I was craving. I ate 1/2 and the leftovers made a great lunch!

A few months ago I would never have considered requesting anything that deviated from the menu, since I was a server for years, through high school and college, as to not inconvenience someone I consider a comrade! But I've also realized at most restaurants if you are asking for an addition of some item they have in other dish (such as spinach or artichokes at an Italian restaurant) it's typically not a big deal. I just have to remember that I am the paying customer and I have the right to ask (politely) for what I want!

Now I'm off to bond with the TV (ANTM and Glee!) and grade some papers-it's never ending.

Love to all,
~A shopping and dinning savvy, Jess