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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Wine Tasting - Rueda Vacceos Verdejo-Viura 2006 (2)


"I cook with wine; sometimes I even add it to the food."

Hello there!  I tip my wine glass to you.  May it bring you a warm heart, a quick mind, and a healthy long life.

Want a good value in a white wine?  Look no further than Spain my friend.  There are a lot of bargains deriving from Spain.  A country currently undervalued in its’ vino.  Try it now before it’s too late.  Before too long supply and demand are going to dictate rising prices for wines from Spain.  Chucky has warned you.

Chucky's Point Score:  88
Tiffany's Point Score:  90

Ruedo Vacceos Verdejo-Viura 2006

Appellation:  Rueda, Spain
Grape Varietal(s):  60% Verdejo & 40% Viura
Price:  $7.99 at Eat More Produce
Vintage: 2006
Producer:  Cuatro Rayas Winery
Alcohol:  13%
Calories:   91 per 4 ounces

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Notes

Chucky's Notes:  "Very fresh & full of grapefruit on the palate.  It finishes with a slightly sweet tropical fruitiness.  This is a crisp young refreshing white wine.  Very nice."

Tiffany's Tasting Notes

Tiffany's Notes:  "Wow!  If I could fit in this wine glass I would dive right in!  Love the stinky moldy bouquet!!!  Nice thick creamy body of this wine nicely coats the palate followed by a wonderful grapefruit & lime fruitiness!  What a wonderful refreshing summer wine!  Love it!!!"

From the bottle's label:

Tasting NoteMade from a careful blend of Verdejo and Viura (macebo) grapes, harvested when perfectly matured.  A steely pale-yellow coloured wine.  Delicately fragrant due to the blend of varieties from which it is composed.  Smooth palate, fresh and dry, long after taste.

MatchingPerfect companion for all kinds of fish, shellfish or white meat.

Serving Temperature6-8oC

Ha!  Yet another wine previous reviewed by Tiffany and I.  Unbeknownst to either of us as we reviewed this wine today, back on March 7th, 2011 we had already done the same.  And grudgingly I must concede Tiffany as once again, the “Queen of Consistency”. Last time I gave this an 83-point and Tiffany had given it 88-point.

This day I find myself 5-point higher and Tiffany 2-point higher in our evaluations.  But, there may exist a logical explanation.  Perhaps this wine has simply improved over time?  Then, too, Tiffany and I may have developed differing tastes over time.

It really doesn’t matter.  This wine is a most delicious and refreshing treat from the vines of Spain.  The soil, climate, grape varietals, and environment of the Ruedo region has delivered Mother Nature’s best.

Sit back, unwind, take your shoes off, prop up your legs and uncork a bottle of Ruedo Vacceos Verdejo-Viura today my friend!  Life simply doesn’t get any better.  Vino and a healthy lifestyle simply make wonderful dance partners.  Go tango today!

Hi-dee hi-dee uncork-a-white-wine-from-Spain-instead-of-buying-a-plane-ticket-ho my friend.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chuckylicious Scrambled Eggs (Tofu)

Green Eggs and Ham was the story of my life.  I wouldn’t eat a thing when I was a kid, but Dr. Seuss inspired me to try cauliflower!

Well, hello there!  May you be anointed with happiness, health and hope this most wonderful of days.  You are at the helm of your own destiny and steer the rudder.  Beware the rocks of negativity which may cross your path this day.

Chucky and Tiffany do love their scrambled eggs.  Er… tofu.  Uh… both, actually.  But I find myself substituting tofu wherever possible (a lower calorie and higher protein alternative to egg) more often these days.  But ~ I shall grant you that tofu will never substitute for my eggs-over-easy.  And eggs, when I enjoy them, are from local free-range chickens who are fed organic.

Let's make scrambled tofu!

INGREDIENTS:
  • Tofu, firm, crumbled - 2 packages
  • Tomatoes & chili pepper - 2 cans
  • Nutritional yeast flakes - 2 Tbsp
  • McKay’s Chicken Style Instant Broth & Seasoning - 2 Tbsp
  • Mushrooms - 2 cans
  • Salt & Pepper, freshly ground - to taste
  • Dill spice, dried - to taste
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Open tofu package and rinse.  Pat dry and crumble into medium size mixing bowl.
  2. Add nutritional yeast flakes and McKay’s seasoning into bowl and mix.
  3. Allow mixed tofu to rest approximately 5-minutes allowing flavors to absorb.
  4. Cook in skillet over medium heat until slightly browned.
  5. Add un-drained tomatoes & chili pepper and un-drained mushrooms into grilled tofu mix.  (See Note 1/ below)
  6. When about half of the liquids have evaporated, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally until all liquids have evaporated.  This may take considerable time but the flavor pay-off is worth the time spent.  You want the juices of the tomatoes, pepper and mushrooms to meld with the nutritional yeast & McKay’s seasoning leading to a culinary crescendo.
  8. Serve immediately with corn or flour tortilla shells or store in refrigerator for later use.
Note 1/ - Chucky prefers his scrambled "eggs" somewhat on the rubbery side.  If you prefer yours to be softer and fluffier, first drain the cans.


Tofu draining in the sink.
Crumbled tofu in cast iron skillet.
Scrambled tofu browning in skillet.
Cans of tomato & chili and mushrooms (with juices) simmering down.
Now that juices have cooked down, breakfast is ready!

Delicious!  Absolutely delicious.  Of course this is only my opinion.  If you dare make this recipe I would certainly love some feedback and know what you think.  After you’ve made them and tried them would you so do me the honor or returning to this blog post and share your opinion.

Hi-dee hi-dee Chucky-will-never-tire-of-this-particular-recipe-ho my friend.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Tale from the Silicon Swamp


Manufacturing and commercial monopolies owe their origin not to a tendency imminent in a capitalist economy but to governmental interventionist policy directed against free trade and laissez faire.

I graciously extend my sincerest wish that you have nothing short of an extremely fabulous day my friend.  However, the caveat being that my wish alone cannot make my desire come true.  Be positive, keep positive, to make positive.


Yes.  This is a swamp.  This is Florida.  We have many.

Chucky wants to go down Memory Lane today.  Many, many moons ago when Chucky graduated school and took his first job in high-tech manufacturing he was eager and gun-ho to make nothing short of favorable impressions.  My first “real” job dealt with the manufacture of integrated circuits (“computer chips”) in what we affectionately called “The Silicon Swamp” (Melbourne/Palm Bay, Florida).  We who produced world class I.C.’s in Florida considered our Florida location to be as good, if not superior, to our counterparts in “The Silicon Valley” (San Jose, California).  You literally drove your car for miles and miles through prime Florida swamp land (through the Deseret Ranch in Florida) to arrive at this high-tech mecca where I.C.’s were being made.

Anywho… Without going into too much detail my job was basically supporting the entire manufacture process of these computer chips.  In the early years, the better part of my day was spent in the midst of the humongous I.C. test area ("Test Floor").  Imagine an enormous building where literally hundreds of machines and employees were electronically testing countless bins of computer chips.  Now imagine Chucky standing in the midst of this organized havoc ready to test a specially selected box of engineering prototype chips.


Integrated circuit (die and bonding)

If you ever thought that I was proud of my Hollywood movies, you have not seen anything my friend!  I was young, on top of the World, thought that I knew everything, and certainly knew that I would conquer and impress all who crossed my path.  If I only had a cape and some additional super powers back then, huh?

My job this day was to test a production lot of military grade integrated circuits.  They had to be subjected to and pass electronic testing at three temperature extremes:  -55oC “low temp”, +25oC (“room temp”) and +125oC (“high temp”).  The success or failure of my task this day would be scrutinized and measured by my peers and management.  I wanted to have absolute flawless success!  I could accept nothing short of a spectacular performance.  Second best just wouldn’t do.

I was a smart punk kid.  I knew the logical testing succession was low temp and then high temp to dry out any moisture from the test chamber.  After both temperature extremes I would be required to open up the electronic chamber and allow it to cool to room temperature before completing my daily task.

In accordance with binding military specification requirement; at each task along the way I summoned an authorized (certified) Calibration technician who calibrates and certifies the machine accuracy.  As duly noted by their signature and stamp on the processing document, I have met environmental calibration requirements before proceeding with my electronic tests.  I would be thorough, meticulous, and precise in adhering to all military requirements & standards.  No-one would meet a military firing squad on my watch!

I stood tall.  I stood proud.  And I stood 4-foot that day standing beside my test station screening the devices!  My dagger was safely tucked in the back pocket of my overalls as I proudly commenced forward through my testing.

The calibration process was simple really.  I walk into the Calibration Lab that was adjacent to the Test Floor.  I walked up to a huge white board, picked up a marker, and signed my name, the workstation number that I was at, the current time and the temperature that I requested to be calibrated.

So… Initially, I walked into the “Cal Lab” and wrote “Chucky, Station ABC, 10:05 AM, -55oC” on that big overwhelming white board.  I walked out to the test station and stood there awaiting the Calibration Tech’s arrival.  Within a few reasonable moments, they arrived.  We exchanged pleasantries and I introduced myself as “one of the new guys”.  “I work for John Doe upstairs.  I work in the Engineering department.”, etc.  They inserted their calibrated measurement equipment into the environmental test chamber, waited the allotted period of time, confirmed that I was good-to-go, and certified my processing document.  I was, indeed, in high heaven.  I then proceeded to test all devices until done.

An hour or so later (I cannot recall exact times) I was complete.  Time to crank that chamber up to +125oC.  Once the equipment was up to the desired temperature, I again walked into the Cal Lab and re-signed the behemothic white board, “Chucky, Station ABC, 1:15 PM, +125oC”.  Again… I waited.  Again… Someone soon arrived, ran the calibration measurements, provided their blessings and let me get back to my certified testing.

Wow!  Chucky is kicking it!  One more test iteration and I can go back upstairs to my office and rejoice.  Having subsequently tested many, many more production lots during my lengthy Silicon Swamp career I can clearly remember that it took MUCH more time to bring the test chamber down from +125oC to +25oC than it did to dry it out (-55oC to +125oC).  For the sake of my tiresome story, let’s say that it took only an hour to get that machine down to +25oC.

Oh yeah!  The environmental chamber had a nickname.  In the Engineering department we affectionately referred to the Daymarc tester as a “R2D2”.  It had a very strong resemblance to R2D2 of Star Wars movie fame, only much bigger.  Sorry... I was unable to find an image of the Daymarc 4100.


This is the R2D2 and not the Daymarc.

I walked into the Cal Lab and promptly wrote “Chucky, Station ABC, 3:15 PM, +25oC” on that imposing white board.  Again, I walked back out into the Test Floor and waited.  I waited.  I waited.  And I waited.  What gives here?  Where IS the calibration technician?

I walked back into the Cal Lab and found that my entry had been erased!  Being of acute intelligence I quickly deducted that someone must have erased it by accident thinking that it had already been handled.  So… I, again, recorded “Chucky, Station ABC, 3:15 PM, +25oC” on that board.

Back at Test Station ABC I waited and waited and waited.  What the heck is going on here???  Believe me you… Chucky was getting frustrated.  I haven’t got all day guys!

So… I walked back into the Cal Lab.  Guess what?  Yes… You guessed it.  Someone had erased my request once AGAIN.  This time I wasn’t going to go easily.  For a third and obviously more notable demanding time I wrote “CHUCKY, STATION ABC, 3:15 PM, +25oC” on that d#$%^@ white board!

No!  This is not good enough.  I waited until the first sign of life entered into the Cal Lab and promptly informed the tech while pointing to my latest white board entry, “What’s going on here?  This is the third time that I’ve come in here and had to make my request.  I’ve been waiting since 3:15 PM and really need to get my testing done.”  The tech had an initial look of shock on their face, walked over to the white board, erased my entry and asked, “So… You’re Chucky?”

Yes I am.

“You’re new here, right?”

Yes.  I started a few weeks ago.

“Hang on just a second Chucky.  Okay?”

This is good, I thought to myself.  He has gone to get his supervisor.

A second or two later the tech returns with another Cal Lab team member by his side.  Tech One looks at Tech Two and explains “This is Chucky.   He’s new here and started a week or so ago.”  “Remember those +25oC calibration requests on the white board?”  “It was Chucky who was writing them.”

I was really feeling good.  Finally!  My requests are getting heard and getting some prompt attention.

Tech Two looks at me and sympathetically asks, “So Chucky, you want a +25oC calibration at Station ABC.  Right?”

Right!”  My little plastic eyeballs were probably gleaming bright.

“+25oC.”  “Right?”

Yes.”  “Thanks!

Well you’ll have to close your eyes and simply imagine my demeanor when Tech Two takes his index finger, sticks it quickly in his mouth, holds it up highly in the air and says to me… “Yep, Chucky.”  “It’s frickin’ (word substitute) in here dude.”

As I was standing proudly outside on the Test Floor by Station ABC awaiting my room temperature calibration there were several technicians inside the Call Lab wondering just who is the smart-arse who keeps writing “Chucky, Station ABC, 3:15 PM, +25oC” on the white board.  It wasn’t funny and was beginning to get really old!

I may not remember much from those Silicon Swamp days many, many moons ago.  But, I can assure you that I never again asked for test equipment calibration for room temperature (+25oC) testing!

What is your "I will never forget" story? 

Hi-dee hi-dee if-you-can't-laugh-at-yourself-then-you-need-to-loosen-up-ho my friend?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Creamy & Greenie Pizza

"For the first time ever, overweight people outnumber average people in America.  Doesn't that make overweight the average then?  Last month you were fat, now you're average - Hey, let's get a pizza!"

Greetings!  Here's to a healthy you.  Here's to a healthy me.  Here's to a healthy them.  And here's to a healthy planet!

Now that's what I call dinner!

Mmm... Who doesn't love pizza?  So many endless variations.  Too many dough recipes, sauces and toppings to contemplate a thought of sampling them all.  This to me is probably the hardest part of whipping up what should be one of the simplest meals to make, pizza.  What crust shall I use?  What sauce shall I make?  What toppings shall I use?  Which method shall I bake it?

Okay, the plan?  Store-bought (Publix deli) pizza dough, unique homemade sauce, mixed greens, and topped with ricotta & goat cheese.

Toasting the almonds via skillet.

Sauce ingredients ready to blend.

INGREDIENTS:
  • Pizza dough
  • Sauce (see recipe below)
  • Mixed greens, drained
  • Low-fat ricotta (optional)
  • Goat cheese (optional)

Simply the brand we found and chose.

SAUCE:
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cherry peppers
  • 1/3 cup almonds, toasted (or roasted)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp spaghetti spice (or oregano, basil, garlic blend)
  • Olive oil
DIRECTIONS:
  1. Allow dough to rise.
  2. As dough rises, open and drain can of mixed greens.
  3. As dough rises, make sauce.  Blend ingredients until smooth adding olive oil until desired consistency has been reached.
  4. Prepare pizza pie and spread sauce evenly.
  5. Carefully lay out mixed greens evenly on top of sauce.
  6. Lay out cheeses (optional).
  7. Bake until done.

Pie topped with sauce.
Sauce topped with drained mixed greens.

If I had to do it over again I would have thawed my frozen ricotta cheese in preparation of this pizza.  But Tiffany and I enjoyed every bite which was not only tasty but relatively healthy (for a pizza).  We ate most of the pie as our dinner with a few slices left-over for lunch on another day.

Hi-dee hi-dee this-pizza-rocks-ho my friend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Palm Coast Villas, Hammock, Florida

"I stayed at a really old hotel last night.  They sent me a wake-up letter."

I bid you ado my friend.  May this day find you prosperous in the heart, healthy in the soul, and positive in the mind.  Remember... It's mind over matter.  It really doesn't matter if you pay it no mind.  Allow your actions this day to be that which you expect of others do unto you.

Tiffany says, "Hi ya'll!"

Back in mid-November Tiffany and I had the distinct honor of being invited to a dear friend's wedding.  The wedding was held at the Hammock Beach Resort which is located along the shores of the Atlantic Ocean in Palm Coast, Florida.  As customary with a lot of wedding packages, invitees are afforded a special reduced wedding rate if they elect to stay at the motel.  In the case of Hammock Beach Resort, this was an overnight rate of approximately $200 (starting room rate).

Well... this is where the quandary begins.  Certainly, it would be nice to stay where we attended and celebrated the wedding festivities.  However, it was a little much for nothing more than a few hours of room sleep.  We had to take "The Seed" into consideration.  We can drive an hour away to Palm Coast but what about the dog?  If we chose to stay at Hammock Beach Resort we'll essentially be paying for room amenities that we would not be exercising (spa, golf, etc.)  After all, we need only a simple place to rest our head for but a single night.

Tiffany had a business acquaintance who happened to live in the general area and we inquired whether there might be any decent accommodations nearby with a more reasonable rate.  They weren't absolutely positive but there is the place they drive by all of the time that always looks inviting and that they have been considering for a weekend getaway.  It's on Florida Highway A1A along the St John's River and is called "Palm Coast Villas".  It certainly appeared worth consideration and checking out?

I did a little online research and was pleasantly surprised at what I found.  Great reviews, close to the resort, and extremely fair room rates.  Guess what?  We found they are animal friendly and can take "The Seed" along next time for a weekend getaway.  The rate?  How does $70 a night sound?  For laying our heads on a pillow for a few hours and a shower in the morning, it sounded pretty good to Chucky.  Especially good to Chucky when he arrived and saw his accommodations for the very first time.

When we pulled up, we felt that we had arrived back to the laid back early years of Florida life.  There on the front porch laid "Betsy", the manager's best friend and welcoming dog. A very relaxed atmosphere far from the hustle and bustle of the city.  They had an exercise room, wi-fi, free Continental breakfast, bicycle rentals, fish rod & tackle rentals, and pathways behind the motel that leads to the banks of the St John's River.  The Palm Coast Villas own the property from the highway (FL A1A) all the way back to the banks of the river (St John's).  Half of the property is developed with rooms, old and new and the latter half is naturally landscaped.  "Feel free to take a stroll down the pathways out back if ya'll like to." we were told.

When I had made my reservations I elected to rent the "Original Style Villa" style rooms.  Much older and less modern rooms that are part of the original motel complex.  Where else can you stay in rooms decorating with natural coquina?  I believe that it's since been outlawed from use to preserve natural resources.  But, back in the early Colonial days of Florida the Spanish mined coquina to build their structures.

My English ancestors quickly developed a true hatred of the stuff.  Imagine the English surprise when they returned to the previously burned wooden Spanish fort at St Augustine (Castillo de San Marcos) to find it had been rebuilt, by the Spanish no less, of couqina.  What the heck is this stuff?  Is it "magic rock"?  The English fired cannon shell from their ships in Matanzas Bay only to have the cannon fodder collected overnight and fired back at them the following day!  How rude?  After the Spanish rebuilt Castillo de San Marcos of coquina, it was never defeated again.  To the coquina fort builders go the spoils?  But...I digress.

Rather than rambling on and killing an already dead block of coquina, how about another "picture book blog" post to speak the story for itself?  Here 'tis my fine friend.  Enjoy.

What a beautiful day for an afternoon wedding, huh?

Room 22 needs a plaque, "Tiffany slept here."

Foyer lined with coquina throughout.

A view of the kitchenette & dining area.

Who doesn't just love bathroom pics, huh?

If you loved the commode,
you'll go goo-goo gaw-gaw over this shower pic!

Tiffany waves from the driveway that wraps around back.

As seen looking back towards the back of the motel.

A courtyard to allow Fido to run, roll and fetch.

The trail that leads to the St John’s River.
Notice the palm trees, oak trees, magnolia trees
and palmetto shrubs.

That's Spanish moss hanging from the oak trees.
Henry Ford used to stuff his Model-A Ford
car seats with this stuff.   Did you know that?

The bank as looking up from the river.

Again.  The banks of the St John's River.

Looking down the St John's River.

Looking up the St John's River.

If not for a wedding in just a few hours,
I’d go back to my room and change into some swimming trunks.

These images take me back to my childhood
and playing along the banks of the bayous & bays.

Ever look straight up a palm tree from its trunk?
Well... you have now.

Hi-dee hi-dee Palm-Coast-Villas-is-highly-recommended-by-Chucky-and-Tiffany-ho my friend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wine Tasting - Mantellassi Morellino di Scansano 2009

"Old wine and friends improve with age."
 - Italian Proverb

I tip my glass to you my friend.  May you be blessed with health, happiness, and ecologically decent surroundings this day.  If you see a piece of trash or litter aside your path this day, why not simply pick it up and see that it gets to its proper place?  I know... I know... You would never be able to know who littered your path to ram it up their arse, would you?  In this case, perhaps a trash can or recycling bin may be appropriate.

Seldom do Chucky and Tiffany's wine assessment lead to the exact same total rating.  But, this wine happened to be just that.  It's a most delightful wine which Tiffany and I purchased back on April 17, 2011 during a wine class.  It was most probably a "Wines of Italy" course.

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

Mantellassi Morellino di Scansano 2009


Appellation:  Toscano (Tuscany), Italy
Certification:  DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)
                               ("Controlled Designation of Origin Guaranteed")
Grape Varietal(s):  85% Sangiovese & 15% Sauvignon Blanc, Canaiolo Nero
Retail Price:  $11.99
Vintage: 2009
Producer:   F.lli Mantellassi
Alcohol:  13.5%
Calories:   94 per 4 ounces

Tasting notes as follows.

Chucky's Tasting Sheet

Chucky's Notes:  "Nice windows.  Smoky deep cherry on the initial taste evolves through respectable tannins into an earthy strawberry-like finish.  Not over powering but eloquently delicious.  Close your eyes and you are in Tuscany, Italy sipping on a $50 bottle of vino.  Love it!"

Tiffany's Tasting Sheet

Tiffany's Notes:  "Bold dark fruits, especially plum, smooth out the tannins in this amazing wine!  Bursting with bold fruitiness, which coats the palate with delight!  It’s another affordable Italian gem to keep on hand."

From the bottle's label:

The Mantelassi Winery was founded in 1960 by Ezio Mantellassi, who is considered the father of Morellino di Scansano.  This wine is made from 85% Sangiovese grapes and 15% of Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo Nero.  This fresh and perfumed wine has an intense ruby colour and displays bright cherry flavours with touches of tobacco and leather.  Match with tomato-based pastas, pizza or grilled meat.

Where Tiffany leaned more towards Flavor Intensity than I and I more towards Balance than she, we both agree it worthy of 90-points.  In addition, our actual notes reflect an incredible amount of similarity, having not peeked at each others sheets until they were completed. 

But... Know what?  In drafting these words I had not realized that Tiffany and I have previously reviewed this wine!  Back on April 17, 2011 it had previously been reviewed.  This makes an interesting case of how time changes our tastes?  I grudgingly concede Tiffany as the "Queen of Consistency".  Her previous review gave this identical (same wine, same vintage) wine a 91 whereas I had given it only a 87 score.

Tiffany is only 1-point different from then and now.  Heck... That can happen on anyone's taste buds from one hour to the next.  But I, on the other hand...  What was I thinking back nine months ago?  Abet 87 is certainly not a bad score, only that 90 is a more appropriate one. 

Hi-dee hi-dee why-not-revisit-a-bottle-of-Italian-red-wine-today-ho my friend?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Unexpectations

"Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even though you wish they were."
 - Author Unknown

"In these days and times, it is truly sad that you can't but help but notice good service and come to simply expect inferior service as the norm."

Hi everyone!  Thanks for visiting my blog site.  It's either Tuesday or the the 2nd Monday of your work week.  It's up to you to decide which you will be having.  Me?  I prefer my glass to be half full.  This way, there is always wine left to be drank.

Tiffany:  Asian Salad with Hummus and Butternut Squash Soup

Oh no!  Not another Green Day Cafe blog post, Chucky!  We get it.  We get it.  Tiffany and you are fond of this place.  'Nuff already, okay?

Well, my friend... This isn't so much a post raving of this most excellent dining establishment but rather how the local businessperson truly wants your business.  Tiffany and I ate there today (when this blog post was typed).  I noticed a couple of things I feel are almost impossible at your local "McChow" mega franchise.

Chucky and Tiffany were lucky enough to find Chad working behind the counter this day.  Chad, who happens to be the proprietor of Green Day Cafe.  We haven't seen Chad in quite some time since he opened his second Orlando location in December (in the Orlando Fashion Square mall).  As a proud owner who knows that he has a niche restaurant that cannot be approached by others, he was quite the pleasure to exchange idle chit-chat.

Ha!  I can only imagine the cogs of his mind churning when he leans over the counter, looks downward, and begins to take the orders from two 4-foot little plastic bubble-headed patrons!  But, again I drift...

Chucky:  Buffalo Hummus Salad & Vegetarian Chili

Since I had the opportunity to be speaking with an actual owner instead of an employee, I noted to Chad that I sure wish he would consider offering the Black Beans and Rice side as a half portion size.  When I order my "Pick Two" of salad and soup, I sometimes would like an additional Black Beans and Rice.  However, in the past I was shocked to see how large the side of Black Beans and Rice.  Alas... Too much to be ordered as a side item.  Besides, Chucky does not have the self-control to eat part, stop and take the remainder home.  I purport to get to this self-control level one day but Green Day Cafe's food is simply too delicious to wait.

Chad paused churning over my suggestion in his mind and offered, "I could sell the Black Beans and Rice in a smaller portion but it wouldn't be half the normal $2.49 price."  "I have packaging costs to consider."

"How much then, may I ask?"

Green Day Café?
The right healthy
food at the
right price(s)!

"I could offer the reduced portion at $1.99." he responded.

"Sold!"  "Please add a cup to my order today."  Know what?  I felt giddy inside.  I'm getting what I truly wanted in today's meal!  Totally awesome!!!

The other nicety today?  Chad had inadvertently forgotten to include the signature dill pickle wedge with the salad and the oyster crackers with the soup.  When he brought our reduced-portion side of Black Beans and Rice to the table, Tiffany politely inquired whether they were out of pickles and crackers.  Chad quickly apologized and promptly left our table side to go get them.  Between you and I, he had only forgotten in the first place because Tiffany and Chucky were sharing the gift of gab when we placed our orders.  

Chocolate Brownie and Carrot Cake
(vegan 100-calorie desserts, compliments of the house)

When Chad returned, he brought us two complementary 100-calorie vegan desserts to try.  One is Chocolate Brownie and the other Carrot Cake.  Tiffany and I plan to enjoy them later this afternoon when we are back home sharing a glass of wine.

I ask you, my friend... Can you get this personal level of service with your run-of-the-mill mega fast-food franchise?  I seriously doubt it.  Perhaps on occasion, if at all.

"Oh?"  The Black Beans and Rice portion?  "Absolutely perfect!"  Not skimpy whatsoever but not a meal-in-itself as is the standard side size.  Sign Chucky a very happy camper indeed.  "Thank you Chad."

This is another added benefit of dealing with your local businessperson.  It keeps the money at home, it's more appreciated, and you simply have to feel better for doing so.  This was truly a win-win scenario.  Chad certainly did not lose money on his sale to Tiffany and I.  Tiffany and I walked away with a reinforced notion that we had chosen the right place to eat on this day.


Whether I am eating at Green Day Cafe on Sunday or Wrap Planet on Saturday, I know that I am at the right place to take my business.  Olga at Wrap Planet encourages you to create your own wrap or salad if you find yourself with an inclination for trying something absolutely different.  Chad at Green Day Cafe will make accommodation to offer a varied menu portion size.  About the biggest change that you are able to get from "McChow" is "Hold the pickles, please."

The next time that you're inside "Red Pony Tails" placing your order do me the favor and try this.  Ask the non-empowered counter person, "Can I have half of the lettuce and perhaps extra onion on that dead-animal burger please?"  "Oh yeah ~ I'd like a half-portion of the small fries if that's possible."  "Thank you."

But... but... whatever you do, please don't hold your breathe thinking that this is going to  happen otherwise you'll be laying on the cold tiled floor awaiting paramedics to resuscitate you.  Remember... You're inside "Red Pony Tails".  You're not at Green Day Cafe or Wrap Planet my friend.  If you click the heels of your red ruby shoes three times and mumble "There's no place like my local dining establishment." you're just going to run the risk of clicking off some ruby red sequins.

Postscript:  Upon sharing a glass of wine and trying Green Day Cafe's 100-calorie vegan desserts, all I can say is "O-M-G are they delicious!"  Tiffany and I have concurred that these sweet delights are worthy of 100-calories treadmill time.  "Thank you Chad!"  If you ever wish to increase sales of these culinary delights all you have to do is give out a small sample with each meal served.  Perhaps a tiny spoonful sample?  Once it lays on the tongue, you'll have a captive customer for life.

Hi-dee hi-dee do-you-have-any-similar-local-business-success-stories-to-share-ho my friend?