Monday, April 14, 2008

Bikes, Beans and Bordeaux

So I was driving around town running errands this afternoon, desperately trying to think of a witty line to open this entry.

I went to lunch this weekend over at Bikes, Beans and Bordeaux, the new cycling/coffee/wine café over on Corrine Drive near Baldwin Park. But here’s the problem: I don’t really know all that much about cycling. So that clever one-liner just wasn’t popping into my head. And to be truthful, my only working knowledge on the subject comes from Kevin Bacon’s brief stint as a bike messenger in Quicksilver. And that super sappy 1985 American Flyers (remember-with Kevin Costner? And he had the brain tumor? And he couldn’t finish the bike race with his brother??). Point being, 3B is a new cycling themed neighborhood café.

Initial impressions were quite positive, and the atmosphere lived up to the “uber-cool ambiance” promised on the website. Earthy colors with cycling inspired art cover the walls, with a few tables and couches comprising the dining area. Even the curtain rod was fashioned into handlebars, and the hook in the restroom from a bike pedal. The only other customer present when we arrived was a singe, enjoying a cup of coffee and taking advantage of the free wi-fi. We sat perusing the menu and coming up with our own personal three word themes. Running, Rooibus and Rioja. Or, for me, Walking, White Tea and Willamette.

The menu was overwhelming yet interesting with quirky sandwich names and the stories behind them. I got the SAG Stop Special-peanut butter, banana and honey served on honey wheat bread with a cup of peppermint tea. (A quick google search informed me that a Support and Gear (SAG) stop is basically a resting point with snacks and water or to apply sunscreen and first aid.) Choices for sides are either chips or carrot sticks, and every meal was served with an adorable mini bag of Jelly Bellys. I actually giggled a bit when I got my meal-a PB sandwich, carrot sticks and Jelly Bellys-talk about a flash back to being nine years old. (Hmmm, self analysis says this may have led to my association with mid-eighties cycling movies! I never should have quit being a therapist!) I don’t really know what to say about my lunch-it is what it is. But you really cannot go wrong with PB and bananas.

My dining companions both had sandwiches also. The Lance-wich, named after the infamous Armstrong, is a double-decker with turkey and ham and served in yellow deli paper ala yellow jersey for the Tour de France champion.

The Caprese Panini was also a big hit. Styled after the traditional salad, it was served barely warm on a too crispy Ciabatta bread (it seemed to be more baked then the preferred pressed).

For the second time in recent months, I had a cordial interaction with owners of new cafes around Orlando. I couldn’t help but make comparisons to Ethos-both restaurants encouraging the hopefully long lasting trend of healthy eating. And both restaurants really seeming to have all their ducks lined up in a row with planning and organization. (Even down to the super size coffee mugs.)

One of the owners came to our table after our meal and told us the Hollywood like story behind 3B. Boy who likes cycling meets girl who likes cycling and together the open a restaurant for people who like cycling. And here’s the thing: I don’t even cycle! But I found myself very comfortable, relaxed and happy to have a new place in the neighborhood.

No, I haven’t forgotten the third B in the name. 3B also offers a nice selection of wines and beers. And to go with the theme, they focus on regions where there are current cycling races. Right now I guess there is some racing in Belgium, hence the focus on Belgium beer. Soon the races are going to Spain and we’ll see a good selection of Spanish wines. They also have a nice variety of Orlando Brewing Company beers (which, for the record are seriously starting to grow on me). Future plans involve contests for sandwich recipes to be featured as a monthly special.

My only real (and probably important) issue is the menu. A bit overwhelming and too hard to read, it doesn’t actually feature a large variety of items. (Although the kids section appropriately titled “Training Wheels” is quite adorable.) But, it’s a small establishment so I can kinda see where that would make sense. I'm sure I'll be back-it really seems like a great place to grab a quick bit and a drink without any preteniousness. And by the time we left, numerous customers had poured in and seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Check out their website:

Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 3, 2008

White Oak Conservation Center

Alright, so I know this is a food blog. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve found that I really love writing about food. And talking about food. And, of course, eating food. But at the same time, it’s my blog, so I’ve decided to break from the norm a bit and tell you all about an unusual experience I had this week.

I’ve had the week off from teaching for spring break, but ended up cooking for clients on Monday and Tuesday. I would have loved to take the entire week of, but, they’re depending on me, and quite honestly I’m depending on the money. So that’s how my week started, but on Wednesday it started to get interesting.

I have a cousin who is currently interning at White Oak Conservation Center just outside of Jacksonville. Don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of it either. White Oak is a wildlife research facility focusing on endangered and at risk animals.

I’m sure it’s not a secret that I’m not exactly, well, a nature type of person. I think I went camping once as a child when I was in Indian Princesses. In both high school and college, I had friends that loooved to camp. But I think their idea of roughing it was to get as drunk and stoned as possible and pass out by the campfire. Regardless, and point being, I don’t exactly run towards forests (especially after seeing Blair Witch Project!). But after a fantastic report from my grandmother, I decided to head on up towards Georgia and see what all the hoopla was about. And I’m really glad that I did.

My fears were soon head on as we drove on the dirt/clay road for a few miles, my Matrix creaking and groaning the whole time. But as we pulled up to my cousin’s housing (after passing through strict security), I was literally amazed to see the Rhinos just a few feet away from the building. My cousin lives above the hospital unit in an African inspired dorm unit and we settled in for a few minutes while she went to collect semen from a crane. Yeah, I’m not kidding. I remember pushing her around in a stroller and now look at her.

After the unsuccessful collection, we hit the road for a tour. Here are the highlights:

The Cheetahs:
Currently suffering from habitat destruction and being killed as livestock predators in Africa.

Scary Cheetah on his way.

But it turns out he is Max, hand raised and quite sweet. His purr was very very lound!

Max fur.

My cousin and I with the baby Cheetah she has been raising.

Really, how cute is this?

The Cassowary:
Aggressive with long dagger like claws (hello Jurassic Park!). The bird that which “the most human fatalities have been attributed”. It also made scary noises!

The Maned Wolf:
Described as looking like a tall fox, these wolves have a distinct skunk like odor.

This one in particular was quite aggressive and apparently does not like blondes.

The Okapi:
A native of the Republic of Congo, this animal is in the Giraffe family. Quite skiddish, it’s kick can decapitate a human. It’s velvety fur is quite oily leaving a dark brown shine on finger tips. (And apparently, after petting it, we also heard that it tends to head butt people).

The Giraffe:

They really love bay leaves!

My favorite part of the day!

I hoped you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. White Oak is not open to the public, but continues to be a leading center for research and reproduction of endangered species.
Check out their website:

And since this is a hodgepodge entry, here's me and my buddy Anthony: