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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Return to Polonia Polish Restaurant, Longwood, Florida

"Guilt is the price we pay willingly for doing what we are going to do anyway."

Hi everyone!  Welcome to what I believe may very well be an exceptional week!

Know how to make Tiffany & Chucky smile?  I'll tell you how... Simply answer, "No.  As a matter of fact, we do sell the beer to go." when asked whether Polonia Polish Restaurant sells that most wonderful Żywiec (
zhi-vets) porter beer.  And we're not done yet!  How about $21 a six-pack?  That's only $3.50 per beer!!!  If I had to venture to guess, I'm estimating that a pint of bottle European import at Total Wine & More runs around $7 to $10 per bottle.  Absolutely amazing price on what I believe to be one of the most delicious beers to be found on this planet.  Find me a 9.5% alcohol-content beer that does not taste of alcohol and I'll show you a Żywiec porter beer.

I'm going to allow my pictures to speak for me as follows:

All you can eat Challah bread included with every meal.

Fried onion rings appetizer - $4.99.  Oops... someone has already eaten 1/2!

Kluski noodles in garlic butter appetizer - $3.99.

Pierogi entree - $8.99.  1/2 potato & cheese, 1/2 spinach & cheese.
Crap!  Someone has already eaten two of ‘em
before I had a chance to snap this photograph

Second round!  One Tatra and one Warka please.
Round one?  Two Żywiec porters, of course.

Chocolate cheesecake dessert - $4.99.
Again… Who ate half of it before’
I had a chance to snap this photograph?

12 pierogi to go (sauerkraut & mushroom) - $9.99.
Er… you have to be over 18 to view the 6-pack
of Żywiec Porter ($21.00) that we purchased to go.


But... This meal came with a price. Tiffany and I combined our lunch, wine sipping, snacking and dinner into this single fabulous Polonia Polish Restaurant event!  This might very well become a weekly event.  Guess what has quickly become our favorite dining establishment?  But, sadly, Polish food isn't synonymous with healthy food.  It's going to cost Tiffany and I several other meals, extra exercise, and some reduce calorie eating.  Pssst... It's every calorie worth it!

Hi-dee hi-dee I-can-love-me-some-authentic-Polish-cooking-and-baking-ho my friend!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Wine Tasting - Conde de Caralt Cava Brut & The Spirit of New Orleans Praline Pecan Liqueur


"When I sell liquor, it's called bootlegging; when my patrons serve it on Lake Shore Drive, it's called hospitality."
Greetings, salutations and harmonious wishes of good tidings to you from me in Central Florida!  May you be blessed with a most wonderful day.

Oh no!  Not yet another wine tasting post Chucky?  Say it ain't so Chucky!  "It's so my friend."  This one is another white wine mixer blog post.  Pecan praline liqueur mixes so might fine.

Why all of the Wine Tasting posts lately?  I apologize but I don't really have much in food blogs to post.  Right now Tiffany and I are in the midst of "Operation Freezers" where we promise ourselves to stop making fresh dishes and concentrate on cleaning out two truly over-packed freezers.  I am truly embarrassed because I could feed an army of 1,000 for over a week with what's in our two freezers (exaggeration).  But ~ there is hardly room for even a single frozen pea to be stored in either of two freezers!

You won't be seeing any made-from-scratch cooking posts for awhile my friend.  But, in the meantime allow me to share some wine posts, okay?

Chucky's Point Score:  88
Tiffany's Point Score:  91

Conde de Caralt Cava Brut
&
The Spirit of New Orleans Praline Pecan Liqueur

Wine: Conde de Caralt Cava Brut
Appellation:  Torrelavit, Spain
Grape Varietal(s):  Cava
Retail Price:  $8.99 @ Total Wine & More
Vintage:  unknown
Producer:   Sevisa
Alcohol:  11.5%
Calories:   81 per 4 ounces

Wine:  The Spirit of New Orleans Praline Pecan Liqueur
Appellation:  Frankfort, Kentucky, USA
Grape Varietal(s):  not applicable
Retail Price:  $13.99 @ Total Wine & More
Vintage:  unknown
Producer:   Sazerac Co.
Alcohol:  21.0%
Calories:   > 104 per 4 ounces

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Chucky's Notes:  "Takes a good bubbly and makes it exceptional.  Love the pecan praline liqueur!  Refreshing from first sip to last.  What an excellent mixer!"

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Notes:  "Wow!  I'm in love!  The sweetness of the pecan praline really compliments the dryness of this cava brut!  This combination really  packs a punch of flavors!  Love how the flavors linger in my mouth!  Can't wait to have another glass.   :)"

The Conde de Caralt Cava Brut label doesn't provided any information but the Praline Pecan Liqueur simply reads as follows:

"Pralines have been a New Orleans tradition since the French first brought the candy to the Crescent City in the 18th century.  Pralines remain today the essential confection identified with the city.  In fact, you could say, they are part of the soul of New Orleans.  Historically, these rich brown sugar and pecan treats were sold by Creole praline ladies in the French Quarter who carried them in baskets perched upon their heads, as they strolled through the Vieux Carré, singing their tuneful sales pitch.  'Praw-LEENS, frais praw-LEENS!'

The original Praline Pecan Liqueur captures that rich praline flavor ~ 'The Spirit of New Orleans'.  Sip Praline with your coffee after a meal on the patio, or make a Nutty Russian with it.  Praline is also an ideal ingredient for desserts or just served over ice cream ~ then close your eyes and listen for the tuneful cry of the praline lady, 'Praw-LEENS, frais praw-LEENS!' 

Check our website for tasty drink and dessert recipes.  www.geminispiritswine.com"

Tiffany and I have experimented with orange liqueur, violet liqueur, creme de cassis liqueur, Frangelico (hazelnut) liqueur, and this pecan praline liqueur.  All were exceptional mixers but The Spirit of New Orleans Praline Pecan Liqueur simply had something over and beyond the others.  If you love wine and love pecan pralines, you would be doing yourself an injustice not trying the combination my friend!

Hi-dee hi-dee ya'll-need-to-try-this-pecan-praline-stuff-ho my friend.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wine Tasting - Croft Fine Ruby Porto

"A bottle of wine begs to be shared; I have never met a miserly wine lover."
Hi one, hello all!  Find me a finer day than this and I shall call it a different day.  May the world be your organic apple tree and bear ripe delicious fruits of happiness.

Um-um... Port wine is such a special little niche wine.  Bearing strong fruit taste with sugary results of the fermentation process.  Aged in oak for an extensive long period of time.  "We will bottle no port before its time."

Chucky's Point Score:  90
Tiffany's Point Score:  90

Croft Fine Ruby Porto

Appellation:  Vila Nova de Gaia, Douro Valley, Portugal
Grape Varietal(s):  Who really knows?  Over 100  varietals are sanctioned for port production.  But, they all have to be grown in the Douro Valley region of Portugal to be considered Port wines.
Retail Price:  $13.49 @ Eat More Produce
Vintage:  unknown
Alcohol:  20.0%
Calories:   > 104 per 4 ounces
Note:  You won't (shouldn't?) drink 4 ounces of port wine in a sitting.

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Chucky's Notes:  "Yummy port.  Not too syrupy.  Swish in mouth and over palate to maximize taste.  Elsewise too much alcohol (taste).  Rich dark burnt fruity port.  Quite pleasant on the finish."

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Notes:  "Wow!  For not being a port drinker this one is a must!  What a wonderful gem we stumbled upon at Eat More Produce!  Very fruit forward bouquet followed by an incredible smooth creaminess for the palate!  Ports I've had in the past usually burn too much going down, but this one is like velvet.  We will definitely by buying these for Christmas gifts for our port loving family & friends!  Love it!  What a value!"

The label simply reads as follows:

"Established in 1678, Croft has been renowned for Ports of distinction for over three hundred years.  This excellent young Port wine has matured in traditional oak vats.  Made from a selection of full bodied and ripe Ports from some of the finest areas of the Douro valley. This wine has sweet red berry fruit flavors inter-twined with blackcurrants.  This Port is ready to drink and does not need decanting."

This is one of those rare instances where both Tiffany and I gave the wine the exact same total score (90).  However, our individual tasting sheets show differences in our areas of scoring.  But, we both agree that this port wine is a true winner.  Inexpensive, a true port wine, delicious and everything one can expect of a good port wine.

Do yourself a favor and see if you can locate a bottle at your nearby wine merchant.  If you like delicious sweet wines, this one is a true winner.  After sipping on this wine selection we revisited an Australian tawny port wine.  What a difference!  The Australian tawny was young fresh fruit tasting whereas the Portuguese ruby port tasted of more mature and aged dark fruits.

Hi-dee hi-dee PORT-means-Place-On-ouR-Table-ho my friend.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Wine Tasting - MontGras Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah 2009

"Wine cheers the sad, revives the old, inspires the young, makes weariness forget his toil."
Greetings my fine friend.  I hope these words to find you well and good.

Remember the MontGras Reserva Carménère 2010 that we wine tasted from Eat More Produce a week or so ago?  Imagine our surprise when we noticed their Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah available at our local Costco for only $8.99!  Yes, it was a happy day indeed.

Chucky's Point Score:  89
Tiffany's Point Score:  93

MontGras Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah 2009

Appellation:  Colchagua Valley, Chile
Grape Varietal(s):  60% Cabernet Sauvignon & 40% Syrah
Retail Price:  $8.99 @ Costco Warehouse Club
Vintage:  2009
Producer:   Viña MontGras S.A.
Alcohol:  14.5%
Calories:   101 per 4 ounces

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Chucky's Notes:  "Extremely wonderful tannins.  A truly smooth bold red.  The class of a Cabernet Sauvignon with the big bold 'umph' of a Syrah.  Love it!  A can't miss red (wine) worthy of wine cabinet real estate.  :)"

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Notes:  "Wow!  Powerful cherry bouquet also delivers on the palate.  This complex wine is packed with explosions of red and dark fruits!  Gorgeous windows on this one!  This is a very elegant yet bold wine.  If blind taste tested, I would guess French or Australian wine!  Super dry fruity wine!"

The label simply reads as follows:

"Founded in the early 1990s, the MontGras Estate is the result of a shared dream to create a new definition for quality Chilean wine making.  Handpicked grapes and a judicious selection from specific vineyard Blocks lie at the core of the MontGras Reserva wines.  The MontGras vineyards, located in the Colchagua Valley, are in the heart of the Chilean wine country.  The climate is typically Mediterranean, favoring the production of rich concentrated red wines.  Each variety, sourced from the San José Vineyard, is vinified separately.  The Cabernet Sauvignon is aged eight months in French and American oak barrels, while the Syrah is vinified in stainless steel.  Deep red in color, the aromas combine ripe plums and cherry, while rich cocoa, spice and supple tannins fill the palate."

Their web site reads as follows:

"(Their web site currently posts information only for the 2006, 2007 and 2008 vintages.  No information on the 2009 vintage has yet been posted.)"

The same standards as set for their 2010 Carménère are met by their 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon - Syrah blend.  But, of course, 2009 comes before 2010 doesn't it?  A deliciously affordable bold red wine.


I did find it interesting that MontGras describes cocoa on their label but neither Tiffany nor I noted chocolate in our tasting.  But, of course, the red wines having dark fruit notes can be inherently said to possess a somewhat chocolate taste.

Hi-dee hi-dee oh-boy-does-Chucky-love-his-big-bold-red-wines-ho my friend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taco Heaven at Wrap Planet, Winter Park, Florida

NOTE:  It is with much regret (but many happy memories) that I must report that Wrap Planet is now out of business.

Never underestimate how much assistance, how much satisfaction, how much comfort, how much soul and transcendence there might be in a well-made taco and a cold bottle of beer.
Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume 
 

A standing ovation from me to everyone who logs on to read this blog!  I thank you so much for allowing my words to become but a small part of your life this day.  May your mind be enlightened, a smile be forced upon your face, or memories of something of pleasant days gone by appear within your heart. 

Who does not love a taco?  I'd bet that everyone reading this blog would have an infinite number if asked to count all of the tacos consumed in their lifetime.  And varieties... How many ways to make a delicious taco?  Just about anything edible can be smacked inside a tortilla shell and crowned a "taco".

Taco with tofu, mashed potato, and steamed veggies

This blog post will focus on the creativity, simpleness and most delicious culinary creation from Wrap Planet in Winter Park, Florida.  You can call it a taco but I desire to call it a piece of heaven in a flour tortilla shell.

Wrap Planet requests that you have your taco your way.

Like almost everything on Wrap Planet's menu, you can create it a countless number of ways.  Flour shell or corn shell?  Chicken, tofu, steak or pork?  (Guess which protein choice that Tiffany and Chucky chose?)  Steamed veggies or mashed potato?  Cheese, sour cream or neither?  Pico de Gallo, corn salsa or jalapenos?  I'd bet you a shiny little dagger that Olga would even be willing to include white rice, brown rice, or pesto sauce if you asked (nicely).

At Wrap Planet you are going to get a healthy and delicious taco.  The perfect ratio of tasty ingredients.  Nothing funky, nothing absurd.  Wholesome and deliciousness wrapped within your choice of flour or corn.

Add a cup of fresh soup and a drink and you've got yourself the perfect meal!

Hi-dee hi-dee Chucky-loves-himself-a-taco-or-two-ho my friend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wine Tasting - Nalewka Babuni Cherry


"To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge."
A glass of my finest sincere wishes to everyone this fine day!  Sip it, don't gulp it down in a single swallow.

Let's share something yummy today, why don't we?  Neither Tiffany nor I are much for the conventional liqueurs unless blended with a white bubbly wine.  In most instances it's simply too syrupy and burns the throat with high alcohol content.

This Polish dessert wine is not one of these "conventional liqueurs".  Instead, it's more wine-like, elegantly sweet and the epitome of smooth.  Granted, it's not something which you would want to drink too much of during a seating.  You'd probably get a sugar rush and gain belly real estate as you sit drinking the stuff!

Chucky's Point Score:  91
Tiffany's Point Score:  90

Nalewka Babuni Cherry & nut roll slice

Appellation:  Poland
Grape Varietal(s):  Not applicable
Retail Price:  $13.49 @ Total Wine & More
Vintage:  unknown
Producer:   Nalewka
Alcohol:  18 %
Calories:   > 104 per 4 ounces.  Psst... don't drink 4 ounces per serving, okay?

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Chucky's Notes:  "Yummy!  If you love the taste of maraschino cherry or the inside of a chocolate covered cherry, this is the wine for you!  Doesn't taste like alcohol as I had expected.  Absolutely delicious!  Can't wait to try the peach, honey, and raspberry flavors!"

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Notes:  "Excellent dessert wine!  Normally not my style of wine, but this is super smooth!  It's very warming going down my system to my belly, yet so smooth!  Just had a bite of Polish nut roll, which brought out even more sweetness in this wine!  Like drinking a cherry & white chocolate candy bar!  Love it!  What a great value!"

The label simply reads as follows:

"(Sorry.  Nothing available on the bottle to share with you.)"

The web site reads as follows:

"(Sorry.  I neither speak nor read Polish.) 
 (Przepraszam. I ani mówić, ani czytać polską.)"

Much to each others surprise, Tiffany and I thoroughly enjoyed this wine.  Yes, it could have been the slice of a nut roll that we purchased at Polonia Polish Restaurant's deli but it wasn't that alone.

I would have been terribly guilt-ridden had I not measured the nut roll slice and limited myself to but approximately an ounce of this liquid cherry treasure.  Trust me... it's liquid cherry dream in a bottle!  Oh yeah... When we finish this particular wine I shall be the owner of a most beautiful salad dressing bottle.  I can picture Tiffany's 1,001 Island Dressing inside the empty vessel.

Hi-dee hi-dee try-some-dessert-wine-the-next-time-that-you-are-having-dessert-ho my friend.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wine Tasting - Bosca Verdi Spumante & Chambord

"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today.  It is already tomorrow in Australia."
Greetings everyone!  Wow, is it another day already?  It seems like just yesterday that we had a new day.  Or is it just me?

Mixing sparkling wine with flavored liqueur is one of life's simply delicious pleasures, I tell you.  Tiffany and I kept being told by everyone, "Try mixing Chambord with your sparkling wine.  You'll love it!"  Okay.  Maybe not from you.  But, from everybody else?

Tiffany and I looked at each other with plastic bubble-headed dumbfounded wonder.  What in the heck is this "Chambord" stuff?  "I dunno."  and "I dunno either." were our responses if I recall correctly.  It was one of us who said, "Let's to into ABC Fine Wines & Spirits and see if we can find this stuff!"

Raspberry?  Blackberry?  Black raspberry?  Madagascar vanilla?  Wow... how can we possibly go wrong with this stuff, huh?  "Hmm... why is Madagascar vanilla better than that from anywhere else?"

Chucky's Point Score:  90
Tiffany's Point Score:  91

Bosca Verdi Spumante & Chambord

Grape Varietal(s):  Blackberry, Raspberry, Currant, Vanilla
Retail Price:  $19.99 @ ABC Fine Wine & Spirits
Vintage:  unknown
Producer:   Chambord, France
Alcohol:  16.5 %
Calories:   > 104 per 4 ounces

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Chucky's Notes:  "Chambord (1/4 ounce) goes on the bottom of the glass, then bubbly.  Each and every sip is more delicious than the last.  It's not wine, it's candy!!!  It's like sucking on a jelly-filled raspberry candy and getting to that delicious nectar in the last bite (sip)."

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Notes:  "What an incredible blend!  The Chambord reminds me of having a raspberry Tootsie Pop!."

The label simply reads as follows:

"Bosca Verdi Spumante:  See prior review.

Chambord:  'Chambord is an infusion of the world's finest raspberries, blackberries and the exotic flavors of black raspberries, black currant, Madagascar vanilla and cognac.  According to legend, Chambord was inspired by a luxurious raspberry liqueur produced for King Louis XIV during his visit to Chateau Chambord in the 17th century.  Today, Chambord continues to inspire cocktail and culinary creations around the world.'"

Their web site reads as follows:

"Bosca Verdi Spumante:  See prior review.

Chambord:

'LIQUEUR -

Flavorful Ingredients - Chambord is the premium black raspberry liqueur with a fine French heritage. Chambord stands alone in its category — and in its iconic, captivating packaging. For the person who appreciates a life full of great experiences, Chambord is the essential spirit that elevates and brings magic to cocktailing and culinary experiences. Captivating to the most discerning palate, Chambord tempts and rewards experimentation. 

PROCESS -

Chambord uses a unique three-step process that unites natural ingredients to create a liqueur possessing an unprecedented level of high-quality ingredients, complexities, flavor and aroma. 

STEP ONE: Double Fruit Infusion & Extraction

Infusion begins by extracting the juices from whole fresh raspberries and blackberries. They infuse for four weeks in French neutral spirits.
The second infusion, which takes two weeks, occurs when a second layer of French spirits washes the fruit to extract additional flavor nuances from the whole fruit blend.
Only after six weeks of double fruit infusion is the fruit delicately pressed to capture the natural juices and sugars to meet Chambord’s high quality standards, resulting in a rich, silky infusion base.

STEP TWO: Flavor Marrying

The berry infusion is filtered then blended with extracts of all-natural black raspberries, black currant and other high quality raspberry varietals. Additionally, it is married with a proprietary blend of French cognac, extracts of Madagascar vanilla and other fragrant herbs, developing into a flavorful concentration with exceptional character.

STEP THREE: Flavor Blending

The Master Blender balances the flavor profile of the fruit infusion to ensure the character of the product is worthy of bearing the Chambord name. This traditional and essential step derives a rich, yet subtle finish from the concentrate that adds depth to the complex black raspberry taste known around the world as Chambord.

LEGEND -

According to legend, in 1685 King Louis XIV visited Château Chambord, where he enjoyed a marvelous liqueur made from wild raspberries. This liqueur inspired the spirit that today is known as Chambord Liqueur Royale de France. The rich heritage of the Liqueur Royale is now celebrated in the reintroduction of Chambord, the world-renowned black raspberry liqueur for the modern mixologist.

Just two hours south of Paris, in an area fondly called The Garden of France, is the home of Chambord. The liqueur is crafted in a state-of-the-art facility on the grounds of La Sistiere, a magnificent chateau nestled in Cour Cheverny in the Loire Valley. Here, the Master Blender watches over the blending of each batch according to a 300-year-old tradition.

THE LOOK -

In the 25+ years since the previous design was released, Chambord’s orb-shaped bottle has become an iconic presentation of the brand. Regal and steeped in French heritage, the new design continues the tradition of reflecting the quality of the spirit inside.

Enhanced Closure

New shape, better grip and perfect pours. The Chambord bottle has been redesigned to improve every detail.

Flavor Recognition

The black raspberry flavor of Chambord is prominently displayed.

Enduring Heritage

Crown imagery speaks to the royal legacy and is prominently displayed on the cartouche. 

Streamlined Trimwork

Sleek, durable and contemporary with branding embossed on opulent gold foil. The Chambord name is enhanced by lattice detail. 

Boosted Punt

Risen to perfection, the elevated glass foot refracts more light and reveals Chambord's vibrant color. 

Regal Adornments

Jewels, taste and sophistication surround every pour of Chambord. 

French Heritage

"Product of France" speaks to the quality of the liqueur inside. "Royale de France" tells of the legendary beginnings of Chambord. 

Improved Glasswork  

Cleaner, clearer and lighter weight glass showcases the magical color of Chambord.'"

From our tasting scores and our notes, it was indeed a Lucky Charms moment!  "Huh?"  "What?"  The combination was 'magically delicious'.

I do have one observation however.  The instructions that Chambord give are wrong.  You should probably add the Chambord to the sparkling wine, not the opposite.  But, to be perfectly honest, it's delicious either way.

This is one of those blog post instances where the taste is as truly delicious as the photograph above leads one to believe.  It's not good... It's great!  It takes my $5 bottle of bubbly and makes it $40 good.

Do yourself a favor and buy a reasonably priced sparkling white wine.  Mix 1/4 ounce of Chambord into your glass and sit back to enjoy.  You will NOT be disappointed (unless you're not a fan of raspberry).

Hi-dee hi-dee mixing-liqueurs-with-sparkling-wine-makes-life-a-little-more-interesting-ho my friend.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Polonia Polish Restaurant, Longwood, Florida

"The sword of destiny has two edges. You are one of them."
 ~ Andrzej Sapkowski, The Sword Of Destiny, Polish fantasy writer.

Most magnificent wishes that you experience nothing short of a fabulous day my friend!

Polish coat of arms

Well... How do I put my words into this blog other than to say that Tiffany and I hit culinary pay-dirt when we visited Polonia Polish Restaurant, Longwood, Florida for our very first time this afternoon (Friday).  We had a "Hot Deals Orlando" coupon for $30 worth of food from Polonia Polish Restaurant.  We had both taken the afternoon from work and had the visit in our plans.  Instead of having both lunch and dinner this day, we chose a higher calorie lunch/dinner at Polonia.  Psst... it was worth every single delicious heavenly calorie.

Zywiec Porter
Please… Give them a break.
They’ve only been brewing it for only 130 years.

Verdict?  Absolutely out of this world!  Every single bite, every single item and everything about this gem of a restaurant was beyond wonderful.  Sorry...  I did not take pictures (this time) but can assure you that we will be back.  Tiffany and I have already agreed that this will be our wedding anniversary place to visit.

A charming and quaint establishment.  A welcoming ambiance embraces you.  I felt both at home and on vacation.  Be forewarned!  You cannot enter the dining room unless you first visit the deli.  Terrible!  <hehe>  They have two table within the deli area that I have affectionately named "the torture tables".  You sit enjoying your meal while facing Polish bakery goods, wine, meats, and take-out foods.  Oh no... You cannot turn around to hide from this torture 'lest you face a cooler full of the world's finest Polish beers!  There shall be no hiding.  If available, ask to be seated in the dining room.


Pierogi picture borrowed from Wikipedia

Our waitress Stella introduced us to an amazingly tasteful 9.5% bottle pint of Zywiec dark porter (beer).  "Be careful!" she warned.  Many a customer has been laid to rest (snooze) while drinking this particular beer.  Unlike it's high-alcohol beer counterparts, this one doesn't taste of alcohol. Instead it's pure delicious port flavor.

Tiffany and I shared the following culinary delicacies:  Strawberry Salad (salad greens, sliced strawberry, Gorgonzola cheese, crushed pecan, with a fresh strawberry dressing), kluski noodles with mushroom sauce (like German späetzle), potato pancakes, and pierogi (potato & cheese, spinach & cheese, and sauerkraut & mushroom).  The meals comes with the most delicious all-you-can-eat slightly-sweetened potato bread.  Along the way we added a couple more Warka (amber wheat, 7%) Polish beers.  I've never felt better or more satisfied when paying the bill and leaving the table.


Warka Beer
Only been brewing it for 533 years.
One taste and you'll understand the longevity.

But wait!  The Deli!  Did someone say "The Deli"?  We bought a package of 12 spinach pierogi and a gigantic nut roll to go.  We'll now be able to enjoy a little of Polonia Polish Restaurant before our next visit.

Upon conclusion of our meal, I looked at Tiffany, smiled and asked, "How come you can't cook food like this?"  (Okay... maybe it was a teasing smirk.)  Tiffany is of Polish and English heritage.  Me?  I am of English, German, Scottish and Hollywood heritage.

No.  This certainly isn't health food but it's delicious food.  Tiffany and I sacrificed lunch in order to enjoy and in-part pay for this meal's calories.  It was our first visit to this wonderful culinary gem (not our last).  It's not the type of place we can frequently visit.  Instead, it's the place where we can go as "reward" for losing some weight and making the preparatory caloric sacrifices.

If you are ever in the Longwood, Florida area and wish a short delicious vacation to Poland, have Tiffany and I the place for you!!!

Hi-dee hi-dee why-do-ethnic-foods-seem-to-taste-more-delicious-ho my friend.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bean Tostada

"High-tech tomatoes.  Mysterious milk.  Super squash.  Are we supposed to eat this stuff?  Or is it going to eat us?"
 ~ Anita Manning

Hello everybody!   As you go through this day, please remember...  This perhaps may very well be the best Friday that you experience this week.  (Of course, you only get but one Friday per week.)

"What's for dinner tonight Chucky?" I was asked by Tiffany.  My mind immediately began doing an inventory of any perishable foods that our refrigerator may contain.  Is there anything fresh nearing it's lifespan?  Any left-overs needing attention?  Next I began to analyze which items may be nearing the end of their shelf life.  I suppose you can call my process "kitchen triage"?

My criteria was to utilize ingredients needing some attention, it had to be simple (long day in the software mines), healthy is a must, and it has to be edible.  The verdict being "Bean Tostadas".

Bean Tostada smothered in green enchilada sauce

Nope.  Nothing exciting.  It's not particularly elegant looking.  Maybe interesting?  But, trust me my friend... in just a couple of words, "It's delicious!"

INGREDIENTS:
  • Corn tortilla shell
  • Refried beans (as simple as draining and then mashing a can of beans)
  • Boca crumbles
  • Diced onion (I used shallots that needed a home)
  • Sliced olive
  • Diced (or sliced) tomato
  • Cheese (vegan, if desired)
  • Enchilada sauce (I used green only because I did not have red sauce)
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Layer on four generous tablespoons of refried bean onto each tortilla shell.
  2. Sprinkle on about 1/8 cup of Boca crumbles.  Alternatively, use rehydrated TVP, crumbled veggie patty, tofu crumbles or sliced seitan.
  3. Sprinkle on diced onion, sliced olive and diced tomato.
  4. Cover with shredded cheese.
  5. Bake for approximately 20 minutes at 425-degrees.  Alternatively, you can cover with ample portion of enchilada sauce and microwave this dish.
  6. If taking the baked approach, cover with an ample portion of enchilada sauce before serving.
NOTES:
  • Get creative with the toppings.  What's available in the refrigerator that may need to be used before having to toss into compost?


Ready to place into the oven (or top with sauce and microwave)

I've said it before and I am about to say it again, simple is sometimes all that it takes to make a delicious and nutritious meal.  It doesn't have to be brain science nor require a recipe to make something this simple.  Go ahead!  You know what you and your family likes and dislikes.

Baking in the oven.

For those who get handed the safety scissors or the knife with the extremely dull blade, it's quite easy actually.  If you love the taste, it's an ingredient candidate.  If you despise the food, don't use it.  And rule #3, don't go mixing strange ingredients.  Refried beans and candy corns probably wouldn't be an optimal mix.


Nutrition - 1 bean tostada

That's it folks.  Simple, nutritious, appetizing, delicious, and easy to make.  I know that Tiffany and I will be making these again really soon.  Maybe some grilled onion next time?

Hi-dee hi-dee go-ahead-and-whip-up-something-a-little-off-the-beaten-path-ho my friend.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wine Tasting - Fun with Sparkling Wines

"A woman drove me to drink and I didn't even have the decency to thank her."

Salutations and expressions of good health to everyone!  May all news come to you this day in the form of good word.  May you hold your greed well and pass along a bit of this good word to another.


No, not exactly another wine tasting.  Time for something off of the beaten wine lover's path.

Bosca Verdi Spumante
&
Drillaud Crème de Violette

Bosca Verdi Spumante
&
Grand Imperial Orange Liqueur


This is a trick that we learned from James, one of the wine managers at Total Wine & More on Colonial Drive, Orlando.  It was during last year's champagne class that James introduced us to mixing sparkling wines with a splash of liqueur.  On that day James transformed into "salesman extraordinaire"!  Besides the usual class purchases, he sold us a bottle of violet, orange, cassis, hazelnut, and praline pecan liqueurs.

Instantly, both Tiffany and I fell in love with the practice of mixing up the wine to add a new twist.  Not every wine is capable of doing so but most work quite well.  It's simply a matter of matching the sparkling wine with the proper amount of liqueur.  Yeah... fun mad scientist type stuff.

This past Sunday, Tiffany and I found the Bosca Verdi Spumante to be a most perfect candidate wine for liqueur mixing.  Not only did we enjoy a glass of Bosca Verdi Spumante by itself but we enjoyed one with a splash of violet and another with a splash of orange liqueur.

Tiffany and I don't socialize much.  You know... It's the dagger and bad movie image thang.  But... If you hold frequent parties, why not consider some quality sparkling wines and a selection of flavored liqueurs to add a pleasant twist to the fun 'n frolic?  Me?  No... I'm not sharing my wine with anyone!   Grrr...

Hi-dee hi-dee sparkling-white-wines-and-mixers-play-very-well-together-ho my friend.