Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Tea Plantation


I lay awake at night dreading it. Yet I cannot wait at the same time.

When I retire, I'm going to do many things. I'm not going to set an alarm clock. I'm going to play bridge often (once I learn). I'm going to knit. I'm going to spend an hour everyday walking back and forth in the community pool, gossiping the entire time. I'm going to drive a golf cart to the grocery store. I'm going to have happy hour everyday. At 5pm. On my lanai. With white wine (preferably Viognier) and shrimp cocktail. And maybe, just maybe, I'll do it in The Villages.

I headed up north to spend the day with my aunt. I love my trips up to The Villages. There's a certain sense of calmness that I rarely feel down here in Orlando. Maybe more of a laid-backness. Regardless, there has never been a trip that I did not enjoy.

We had lunch at the new tea room, The Tea Plantation, located in the Sumter Landing(aka Amity Island) square. Both the restaurant and menu are exactly what you would expect. Which in some cases is a bad thing, but in this case, it was exactly what I was looking for. The ambiance was very, well, British/tea like even down to the uncomfortable chairs. The usual fare was on the menu but I decided to go with the ultimate and get High Tea. Because who doesn't love tea sandwiches? The selection was quite delicious: cream cheese on rye, tuna salad on wheat, chicken salad on a cheddar biscuit. There was also a warm scone and a piece of sponge cake. The only thing missing was clotted cream, replaced by a very sweet Chantilly cream. I also drank an entire pot of cranberry green tea that was fantastic, even if it was bagged and not loose tea (kinda lame for a tea shop!).

So if you're ever up in the area, I'd recommend stopping by for a meal. The table next to us ordered full entrees and I have to admit that they also looked fantastic. And maybe now I'll add High Tea to my list of things to do when I retire.

The Tea Plantation and Floral Boutique on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 19, 2010

Seito Sushi

One word: Torchamaki.

I've been saying for quite some time now that Seito is my favorite sushi restaurant in town. It's not overly authentic, but I like my sushi to be, well, fun. I have no problem experimenting with new sauces or even *gasp* fruit on/in my rolls. So if you're a sushi snob, you might want to stop reading.

The last time I was at the Seito in Baldwin Park, I had a great honor bestowed upon me. It was over the holidays, and my brother and sister (visiting from Houston) and I stopped by for a quick dinner. We were seated in the newly expanded portion of the restaurant, and then were told by our server that we were the first customers to eat the booth we were occupying! So, this entry is long overdue.

My favorite roll is the Torchamaki. The roll is filled with a spicy crawfish salad and topped with a thin slice of white fish, which is then "torched". If you're close enough to the sushi bar, you will know when this roll is just about done: you can literally smell the fish blackening. This roll is so rich in flavors that personally I can only eat two or three pieces. It's best balanced out with a light roll!

A light alternative is the Kani Su roll. It has it's own uniqueness: crab (or should I say, Krab?) wrapped in thinly sliced cucumber with a light sunomono sauce (similar to a light vinaigrette). This roll is almost like a palate cleanser. For those of us who don't enjoy ginger.

My other favorites are the Popeye roll: fresh spinach, shrimp and crab wrapped in rice paper and served with an eel sauce as well as the Sweetheart roll: coconut shrimp, mango, cream cheese, apricot glaze and eel sauce (it literally tastes like the beach!).

I've been to other Seito locations in town, but Baldwin is my favorite. The restaurant is comfortable and hip with a big city feel. I've made a pretty important decision in my current "Good Luck Chuck" status: I will never take a first date to Seito ever again. Or anyone I haven't been dating for more than two months, for that matter. I'm done with gazing into a stranger's eyes and seeing them light up as they taste the Torchamaki for the first time. Seriously, this roll is so good that deserves a bit more respect!

Seito Sushi on Urbanspoon


Straight off the bat, I'm not going to lie. Enzo's is definitely one of our family "occasion" restaurants. As in the "Where should we go for your birthday?" type of place. Ironically my father, mother and I celebrated my 16th birthday there. So when my brother suggested Enzo's for his birthday dinner this year, it was fine by me. And I literally was in anticipation all week for the dinner.

The usual Kate's Kitchen family dinner at Enzos always starts out the same. We split an entree of the Bucatini alla Enzo as an app. Words can hardly describe how I feel about the Bucatini. Perfectly seasoned with hints of black pepper and the rich balance between the saltiness of the prosciutto and sweetness of the peas make this probably my favorite pasta dish. Tonight was extra special: we got a prime table by the windows over looking the lake. As we were eating our Bucatini, we watched the lovely sunset. And I'll say this right now, quickly. If, by chance I do ever get married, I would love to have it at Enzo's. There, I said it. Don't tell anyone.

Anyway, I also ordered my favorite entree: the Sogliola al Limone (Dover Sole). The first time I had Dover Sole was in Paris, and I thought that I'd never find a dish in the US that could compare. But this was does. It was literally melt-in-you-mouth goodness. The fresh and perfectly cooked fish is topped with a very light butter sauce. De-boning is a tableside service that adds to the elegance of the dish.

We finished off the meal with a slice of the Italian Wedding cake. Moist with a not too sweet whipped icing, it had chunks of fresh strawberry and kiwi between each layer. The wine list is also outstanding with a great variety of all the heavy hitting Italian favorites. My stepmom I enjoyed a rich Vermentino with the Sole that was a nice pairing with the butter sauce. My father and brother had voluminous Brunello that was perfect with their Filets.

If you get a chance, I'd highly recommend Enzo's. The location is a bit odd, up in Longwood on 17-92. But it is worth the trip. Especially at sunset.

Enzo's Restaurant on the Lake on Urbanspoon

Friday, March 12, 2010

Blood Into Wine

Alright all you Tool and A Perfect Circle wine fans out there! There will be one showing of the new documentary, "Blood Into Wine", at Enzian on Wednesday, March 24th at 6:30pm.

"Blood Into Wine" is a documentary about the struggles of making wine. It tells the story of Caduceus, the winery in Arizona owned by frontman Maynard Keenan.

I won't be able to make it to the showing....but will definitely catch it on DVD.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Toasted Coconut Farro Pudding

That's right. Farro Pudding. Proof that I can lead a life with plenty o' healthy grains. Even in my dessert.

I made this dish for an Oscar party. The challenge: one guest who is not eating refined sugar or any starches. Oh, she also doesn't eat any nutrasweet products. While we're on the subject, she doesn't eat onions either. But I digress. This dessert was delicious and I will make it again. Often.

The Plan
Cook Farro.
Toast Coconut.
Toast Pecans.

The Ingredients
1 Cup Farro, soaked in water for 4 hours
1 can Coconut Milk (I used light. Just because.)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 pinch Salt
1 cup Coconut, toasted
Dried Cherries, for garnish (optional)
Pecans, toasted and chopped, for garnish (optional)

The Method
Preheat oven to 350F.
Combine Farro and Coconut Milk in a medium sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed. Cool mixture. Easy money.

Place Coconut on a sheet pan and roast until just starting to get golden brown. Don't forget about it in the oven and burn it ike I did. I'll admit it. My name is Kate and I am a Facebook addict.

Do the same with the Pecans. Chop them when they have cooled.

Combine Farro, Vanilla, Salt and half of the toasted Coconut.

The Presentation
I served the pudding cold. But feel free to be wild and crazy and serve your warm. Top with remaining Coconut and optional Cherry and Pecan garnishes. Or use other garnishes of your choice. One warning: serve small portions. This yumminess is extremely filling!

Food Fight Online Challenge

This was kinda fun. An online Food Fight bracket challenge to find the most popular food in America. My final round was Hamburger vs. Bacon. Guess what I put down for America's favorite food!

The overall champ gets an Apple Ipad!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Baldwin Park Food and Wine Fest

Ack. Fine, I admit it. I want to go.
Anyone interested? It's Saturday night. In Baldwin Park. (In case it wasn't obvious.)